Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 2/1/12

New York. Boston. The Evil Empire. The ‘Roid Sox. Knickerbockers and Chowderheads. The Big Apple and Beantown. Put those two together, and not only will you get a bad case of flatulence with the latter but you also end up with one of the most spirited rivalries in sports.

Yes, folks, it appears we have reached another chapter in the ongoing East Coast rivalry between New Yorkers and New Englanders which has served to make the shemozzle between the Capulets and the Montagues look like a quarrel’s equivalent of two old ladies fighting for the same checkout counter at the supermarket.

The New York Giants are playing the New England Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl, and even though the former officially plays its home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey and the latter in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the matchup has rekindled fan-fueled enmity that has existed since shortly after the Red Coats returned to the Old Country.

Any casual sports fan could tell you about the hostility shared by New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans dating back to the time when then-Boston owner Harry Frazee needed money to finance a Broadway show, No, No Nanette. The bitterness is surprising, since the show ended up winning a number of Tony Awards in the 1970s. In addition, what ever happened to that Ruth character? No one knows. Perhaps, they should have let Nanette go to Atlantic City after all: A weekend of craps and cocktail shrimp probably wouldn’t have been as costly as throwing away a Hall of Famer and numerous World Series titles. (My apologies to my less Broadway-savvy readers who have no idea about the reference I just made.)

But the rivalry is more about transcending trades of musical comedies for championships. There are certain parts of Boston where, if you mention the names Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone, you will never be seen again. You’ll get the equally unpleasant Jimmy Hoffa treatment in New York if you are spotted wearing a Tom Brady or Larry Bird jersey. And, assuming you make it to the eighth syllable of Doug Mentkiewicz’s name in any of the five boroughs, you will know what the definition of ‘idiot’ is, and it has nothing to do with the nickname of the lovable ’04 Sox.

The violent nature of the rivalry extends past curses and a Murderer’s Row. The two areas have seen their share of spoils, though the expiration date on the animosity has still not passed. Think of Pedro Martinez’s famous ‘ear-**** takedown’ (my terminology) of 72-year-old Don Zimmer in the 2003 ALCS, which probably would have been scored in Martinez’s favor if not for the forty year age difference. The madness hasn’t just been confined to a baseball diamond. There was the time in 1979 when members of the Boston Bruins turned New York’s famed Madison Square Garden into a scene straight out of the Revolutionary War after a New York Rangers fan reached over the glass and punched Boston’s Stan Jonathan in the face. In the end, after the fighting on the ice and in the stands, MSG was turned into the Garden of Beating.

This week’s Super Bowl has also turned into a where-are-they-now referendum for David Tyree. In case you have forgotten or have voluntarily been lobotomized in order to seek that end, Tyree became enshrined in football lore for his catch during Super Bowl XLII. It has become known as “The Helmet Catch.” With the Giants down four and less than three minutes remaining, a pressured Eli Manning uncorked a throw that was secured by Tyree with his helmet after his left hand had been knocked away by Rodney Harrison. A perfect season for the undefeated Patriots was soon ruined when the Giants scored the game-winning touchdown four plays later. New Yorkers celebrated the mensch while Tyree became the target of many a Bostoner’s ire, a distinction that has been historically reserved for folks like the perpetrators of the Boston Massacre, Rudy Giuliani, and Roger Clemens.

The rivalry between New York and New England has even ended up in the culinary arena, where the two locales duel over who has the best clam chowder, for crying out loud. At some point in history, civility was ditched in the name of substituting milk for tomatoes. Thus began the only known conflict to come about involving tomato-based broth (though an informal research shows that families have been divided over ramen.) This new chowder became known as “Manhattan chowder” as a way for New Englanders to further denigrate their Eastern Corridor stepchildren. A New Englander will tell you that they like their soup heavily creamed like their New York sports opposition.

Even if the madness simply ended there, Sigmund Freud would have had enough material to craft a tome. Nope, now the anger has seeped into the beverage aisle. Last week, Foley’s, a Manhattan pub, made headlines — must have been a slow news week — when it announced that it was not going to be selling Sam Adams, a favored Boston brew, during the day of the Super Bowl so as to not show any support for New England during the game. I guess if I stop by, I’ll just have to order a Zima.

The newspapers of the respective areas have even feuded. New Yorkers guffawed back in 2011 when the Boston Herald made President Barack Obama’s purported “Enemies List”, getting banned from the President’s media pool during a visit to Boston last year. The New York Post and New York Daily News this week afforded the chance for many Southies to further decry the publications as “pinko KAH-mee rags” (phonetics added for effect) when they accused Boston golden boy Tom Brady of guaranteeing a Pats win in the Super Bowl after his comments during a team pep rally. New Yorkers called it “arrogance” while the Boston folk condemned the tabloid exaggeration. If there was only a way to get the New York and Bostonian writers to square off. Watching the two of them break their electronic tablets over each other’s heads might nearly be half as interesting as the time when Moses broke his. (Historical note: Moses’ tablets did not come in iPad form).

New York, New England. This weekend, two sides will duel. There will be plenty of yelling, arguing, bumps and bruises. Imagine what it will be like on the field.

Image via Squidoo

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