In a much simpler time, back a half century ago, there was just one real rivalry in town.
Manhattan had its Giants and Brooklyn had its beloved Dodgers.
With the teams meeting 18 times a season, the hatred between the fans of the two clubs grew and the blood feud hit it zeineth in 1951, where they met in a three game playoff for the National League Pennant.
You don’t have to be a passionate fan to know how that turned out and Russ Hodges call of the “Giants win the Pennant!” is part of history.
Seven years later, both teams were gone from New York and the rivalries over the years never got to the point of the Dodgers vs. Giants.
Sure, the Mets and Yankees staged their own personal World Series back in 2000 and the Rangers always had the Islanders, but up until this season, that pairing was the city vs. the suburbs.
There was hatred and there was meaning. The two teams played in the same division and back in the 1980s, the Islanders road to their four cups had to go through Madison Square Garden.
Over the years, even when the Islanders and Rangers had lean years, the rivalry remained and the games seemed to bring out the best and worst of the players.
And now, with the Islanders moving to the Barclays Center, the rivalry may reach the levels of the Dodgers and Giants.
We started to see that on Wednesday night., as the Islanders beat the Rangers, 2-1 in a shootout.
“Fans were great,” said Islanders captain John Tavares. “Atmosphere was great. That was the best we had all year so far and it’s always fun against the Rangers. It’s a big rivalry for both teams, obviously I’m glad we came out on top.”
Added Rangers coach Alain Vigneault: “Tonight there were a lot of hits being thrown out there, both sides had to have the willingness to take a hit to make a play. I liked how we competed and it was a good game.”
There was a buzz in the crowd and for the first time this season, the Barclays Center came alive with the two teams battling. It was a good start.
However, the Islanders have a way to go to get the Borough of Kings to embrace the team as their own. Right now, the fan base is still Long Island and the team isn’t being marketed to Brooklyn. Eventually, when the team becomes Brooklyn’s own, then this rivalry will move up to the next level.
Manhattan will have its Rangers. Brooklyn will have its Islanders.
And the blood feud will reach the levels of 1950s baseball.
Wednesday was a good start.