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Who’s the biggest Philly rival?

December 20, 2010
Eagles @ Giants 2009-12-13 (PHL:45/NYG:38)

Image by TuttleTree via Flickr

Watching yesterday’s historic comeback by the Eagles at the Giants New Meadowlands Stadium got me to thinking, as a Philadelphia sports fan, who is our biggest sports rivalry?

Among the big four sports, I think it breaks down like this:

1) NY Giants
2) Dallas Cowboys
3) Washington Redskins

A good rivalry tends to need two things, proximity and history. Fan bases will carry the memories of a team for generations, and those memories can fuel true hostilities if opposing fans are nearby. In the case of Eagles versus Giants, a mere 92 miles of I-95¬†separate¬†two loud and energized fanbases with long memories. It also helps that their past is so full of great games, Chuck Bednarick breaking Frank Gifford, The Miracle at the Meadowlands, Randall Cunningham and Ron Jaworski tying for first place on Lawrence Taylor’s all time sack list, Cunninghams’s 91-yard punt, Donovan McNabb sacked 12 times, and The Miracle at the New Meadowlands.

The Cowboys are second on the list for one reason, everyone hates the Cowboys. While there are plenty of great Cowboys/Eagles memories – the Tommy Hutton game, Wilbert Montgomery’s run, the Bounty Bowl, Emmitt Smith rushes for 237 yards, etc. – the rivalry itself isn’t actually that strong. Mostly Eagles fans just hate Cowboys fans living in their midst.

As for the Redskins, their chief rivalry will always be the Cowboys. Period.

1) NY Mets
2) Atlanta Braves
3) LA Dodgers*

This one can change with the seasons more than others, but because both team’s fans travel so well, it probably needs to be the Mets. Some of the best fan fights I’ve ever seen have been Phillies vs. Mets. It really doesn’t matter where the teams rank in the standings, both fan bases hate to lose to the other.

The Braves come in a close second, based primarily on their dominance through the 1990’s. However, as Atlanta’s win totals have dropped in the 2000’s so has the interest for most Phillies fans.

The Dodgers are a special case, this rivalry is almost totally based on post-season play (with one notable exception, when Tommy Lasorda attacked the Phillie Phanatic), where the Phillies and Dodgers seem to take special pleasure in knocking each other out of the playoffs. In the 1970’s the Dodgers held the upper hand, but in the 2000’s it’s been the Phillies turning the Dodgers blue.

1a) NJ Devils
1b) Pittsburgh Penguins
3) NY Rangers

Hockey may be the most generational of the sports. In the 1970’s I’d venture to guess the Boston Bruins were the Flyers biggest rivalry. In the 1980’s, the case could be made that the Stanley Cup tilts against the Edmonton Oilers were a true rivalry. In the 1990’s, the Devils were a constant frustration for the orange and black. In the 2000’s, it seems like Penguins games tend to be the most chippy. Cases could also be made for the Sabres, Canadiens and Panthers. So I’m going to go with proximity, it’s just easier to boo our closest enemies. Plus, we can all agree to hate Martin Brodeur and Sidney Crosby.

1) No one
2) cares about
3) the NBA, anymore

In case you missed my earlier blog about the NBA, here it is “Who cares about the NBA?”

However, I do miss the days of the 76ers vs. Celtics rivalry. (Must see video of Dr. J and Larry Bird fighting.)

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