Follow in their footsteps

By BEN TARHAN
On March 5, 2013

  • Many students in the ROTC program have a chance of being deployed after they graduate, but they won’t shy away from the challenge. They’re proud to defend their country, and they’re honing their skills and getting prepared here in Buffalo. Courtesy of U.S. Army

Rivalries make the sports world go 'round.

Entire sports leagues thrive off the high-octane matchups of their biggest rivalries: Red Sox-Yankees, Canadiens-Bruins, Lakers-Celtics and Packers-Bears.

When these teams get together, the intensity is unrivaled and the competition is cutthroat.

But there is a different kind of rivalry that doesn't always get the national attention the other games do. Rivalry games between regional rivals don't always boast the best teams, but they are emotionally charged and fans' energy is at an all-time high.

As a Mets fan, the early '00s were entertaining only because of the Subway Series. For two weekends in the spring, a dead stadium and team came awake for a few hours, just long enough to remind fans what it was like to be a fan of an energized, exciting team.

For the less-decorated teams, these games are often their only chance to prove their superiority over their more-successful brothers.

Unfortunately, every city has its team, and it's rare you will find an evenly split fan base. The Yankees, Giants, Rangers and Knicks own New York City, while Los Angeles is a Dodgers and Lakers town. Chicago is arguably the most split of these cities, but when the Cubs are winning, the Windy City belongs to them.

The size and profile of these cities allows for a lot of media coverage, but most of it is dedicated to these teams.

It makes being a fan of one of the less-covered teams very frustrating.

I know, I've been a Mets fan my whole life.

Even when the Mets were good in 2006 and they could actually fill a stadium with fans, the Yankees got all the attention. The only two times I can remember the media openly admitting the Mets were more relevant than the Yankees were when Sports Illustrated predicted the Mets as the World Champions in 2009 and in June of last season, when the Yankees weren't even a .500 team.

We all know how those seasons went.

Basically, even when the Mets win, they lose.

So you'll understand why I commiserate with the Clippers when it comes to basketball. The Clippers have been playing great all season and currently hold the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

The Lakers weren't at .500 until Monday and are still in ninth place. But every day on SportsCenter there is a Lakers update or debate on whether they make the playoffs and the latest installment of the Dwight Howard saga.

On the complete other side of the media coverage spectrum is the New York Giants.

The Giants run such a tight ship; there isn't really much to say about them. The biggest story out of the Giants every year is Osi Umenyiora's continuing contract debate, but that's put to rest well before the regular season starts every year.

So instead, the media flocks to Jets camp, where Rex Ryan and his players practically line up to speak to the media and talk trash about their teammates and opponents.

But the Jets are also considered one of the biggest jokes of a franchise in the NFL. So goes to show what you get for opening your mouth.

It isn't easy being the little brother to a hugely successful sports franchise, but it also shouldn't make you irrelevant. When sports media largely ignores or dismisses whole teams because they aren't the main show in town (i.e. every article written about the Mets and the fact that they aren't winning yet) it takes away from their credibility because they are ignoring a major league franchise.

It's time to recognize the little guy for more than being the little guy.

Fans may hate a loser, but everyone loves an underdog.

 

Email: ben.tarhan@ubspectrum.com


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