Ranking the best rivalries of the DMV
Ranking the best rivalries of the DMV
In a back-and-forth game between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals on Thursday that included Bryce Harper taunting Mets fans and Jayson Werth getting called for an illegal slide, it became clear: the Mets and Nationals is turning into a budding rivalry. And that's awesome.
There are few things in sports as great as a rivalry. A rivalry can make a regular season game between two bad teams feel like the most important game in the world. Some people will root as hard against a rival as they will for their favorite team and when two rivals meet, anything can happen. Remeber the Kick 6 between Auburn and Alabama? Or when the Boston Red Sox climbed back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the New York Rankees in the ALCS?
So what are the best local rivalries? Here are the rankings.
18. Ravens vs. Browns
In 1995, owner Art Modell announced he was moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, starting a legal battle that ended with the Baltimore Ravens being officially labeled an "expansion team" rather than a relocated one. That's how ugly things got. The Browns franchise was then resurrected in 1999 and placed in the same division as the Ravens. Awkward.... All the pieces are there for a great rivalry, given the history between these two teams, but it has never come close to the level of some of Baltimore's other rivals because of just how bad Cleveland has been over the years.
17. Nationals vs. Braves
The Atlanta Braves were really the first nemesis of the Nationals. When Washington finally started building a competitive franchise, the one team they could never seem to beat was the Atlanta Braves. What many don't remember, however, is that this rivalry started in 2011 when the Nationals took two out of three from Atlanta in the last weekend of the season and the Braves ended up missing the playoffs by a single game.
16. Maryland vs. Penn State
James Franklin was the coach-in-waiting at Maryland under Ralph Friedgen but elected to leave following the 2010 season to become the head coach at Vanderbilt. The move rubbed a lot of people the wrong way as Friedgen was fired soon after and the program was turned over to Randy Edsall. That would have been the end of it...except Franklin beacme the head coach at Penn State, a divisional rival of Maryland. Now the Terps find themselves competing for the same recruits as the coach they expected to lead them in the future.
Do football players even notice these kind of things? They certainly seem to. In 2014, the Maryland captains refused to shake hands with Penn State's captains prior to their game and the rivalry was on. The only reason this rivalry doesn't have a lot more juice is because how much more basketball matters to Maryland than football.
15. Capitals vs. Flyers
There's always good jawing between fans whenever the Philadelphia Flyers come to town. The play is always physical and sometimes downright nasty. Then again, it's the Flyers. Philadelphia fans can make games against every team feel like a rivalry.
14. Virginia Tech vs. Miami
In the late 90s, early 2000s, when both teams were members of the Big East, this was one of the most impactful rivalries in college football as both teams were national powers. From 1994 to 2003, Miami or Virginia Tech earned at least a share of the Big East title eight times. These teams also left the Big East together to join the ACC, keeping the rivalry alive. The rivalry is now dormant as both teams are experiencing down years, but perhaps Justin Fuente and Mark Richt will be able to return both programs to glory and rekindle the flames.
13. Maryland vs. Duke
Maryland and Duke shared some incredible games over their history, but this rivalry has two problems: First, As much as Maryland hates Duke, Duke's rival is North Carolina and everyone knows it. Second, these two teams no longer share a conference and will no longer face one another regularly.
12. Capitals vs. Rangers
From 2009 to 2015, the Caps and New York Rangers met in the playoffs five times. That would be enough to build bad blood between teams in any sport. The only problem is that they may have played each other too many times. Whenever fans from either team look at the standings and see they could face one another again in the playoffs, there's more of a feeling of boredom than excitement. Admit it, you don't want to see them play in the playoffs again, do you? After so many matchups, this one seemed to get a bit stale.
11. Nationals vs. Mets
The newest rivalry on the list, this was sparked in the 2015 season as the Nationals saw themselves as championship contenders, but could not even win their own division thanks to the surprising Mets. Instead of living up to the hype, the Nationals had to watch from home as New York made it all the way to the World Series. This year, fans have every series between these teams circled in their calendars. It remains to be seen whether this rivalry will stand the test of time, but for now it's appointment television.
10. Georgetown vs. Syracuse
Syracuse-Georgetown was one of the best rivalries in college basketball before conference alignment again reared its ugly head and Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC. As great as it is to see Syracuse play teams like Duke, North Carolina and Louisville every year, wouldn't we all rather see the Orange back in the Big East competing against Georgetown? Sure, they still play one another, but a regular season non-conference matchup just doesn't carry the same weight.
9. Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
Though this has been a rather one-sided rivalry for some time—Virginia Tech has beaten Virginia in football 16 of the last 17 times including 12-straight—this one gets bonus points for having a rivalry trophy, the Commonwealth Cup. Plus, both teams are still in the same conference which is a big plus in this day and age of conference realignment.
8. Redskins vs. Eagles
The Redskins do not have the same history with the Philadelphia Eagles as they do with their other two conference rivals, New York and Dallas, but the Philadelphia fans always make this one feel heated. There are few things as satisfying to a Redskins fan than seeing an obnoxious Eagles fan silenced by a Redskins win.
7. Nationals vs. Orioles
The proximity between these two teams makes the Battle of the Beltway great. Add in Jonathan Papelbon plunking Manny Machado in 2015 for seemingly no reason and you've got yourself a full-fledged rivalry.
6. Redskins vs. Giants
The glory days of the 1980s really sparked things between the Redskins and New York Giants and both teams have been at each other's throats ever since. When the Giants won the Super Bowl for the 1986 and 1990 seasons, the Redskins responded the following year with a Super Bowl win of their own in 1987 and 1991. There's even some bad blood off the field. Remember, it was Giants' owner John Mara who imposed the cap penalties on the Redskins in 2012 for not abiding by the "it's not collusion because we don't call it collusion" rules on player salaries.
5. Ravens vs. Patriots
Two of the most consistently successful teams in the NFL—Baltimore's 2015 season notwithstanding—the Ravens and the New England Patriots have met in the playoffs four times during the Patriots' modern dynasty. Baltimore won two of those matchups in the extremely intense matchups which is an accomplishment in and of itself considering how unbeatable the Patriots seem to be in the postseason. In their first matchup in 2009, the Ravens handed New England their biggest playoff loss at home with Tom Brady at quarterback. The two teams also met in consecutive conference championships in 2011 and 2012.
Heck, Terrell Suggs won't even refer to Brady by name.
4. Capitals vs. Penguins
While most Pittsburgh Penguins fans would say the Philadelphia Flyers are their biggest rival, the Flyers have nothing that can compare to the rivalry between two of the biggest superstars in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby both entered the league in 2006 and the competition between the two has been one of the storylines of the NHL in the past 10 years. It's a shame they've only met in the playoffs twice (and an even bigger shame the Penguins won both meetings).
3. Ravens vs. Steelers
Few NFL rivalries can boast the physical intensity of the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a rivalry renewed twice every year in the regular season and made more intense by each team's postseason success. Despite a dismal 2015 season in which the Ravens won only five games, two of those wins came against Pittsburgh.
A five-win team beating their playoff-bound rivals twice in a season? That's what rivalries are all about.
2. Army vs. Navy
There was a time when Army and Navy were two of the best football teams in the nation. Those days are long over, but the importance of their annual matchup remains. The Army-Navy Game is one of the biggest events in the sports world. It is one of those moments that actually transcends its sport. It doesn't matter if you're a college football fan, you still want to see this game. The history, the pagentry and the tradition with the military backdrop surrounding the game makes this a can't miss each and every year.
1. Redskins vs. Cowboys
What other rivalry could possibly top this list? The rivalry between the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys dates all the way back to the founding of the Cowboys when Clint Murchison, Jr. bought the rights to the Redskins' fight song "Hail to the Redskins" and used it as leverage against Redskins owner George Preston Marshall in order to get approval for a new team in Dallas. Few teams share the storied histories of these two and that just adds to the intensity.
What adds to the fun/insanity is the number of Cowboy "fans" that appear out of thin air every football season. That co-worker who has never step foot in the state of Texas? Suddenly their bringing their Romo jersey to work and trashtalking with you. That friend of yours who was born in Maryland? They pull up to your house with Cowboy flags hanging from their car window.
No matter what the records are, no matter the circumstances, everyone knows when it's Dallas Week.