Sep. 26, 2016
Five sports rivalries losing their sizzle
By Ryan Decker of Now On Deck.
Rivalries are an instrumental part of the fabric that creates our sports.
Whether its athlete vs. athlete, athlete vs. team, or team vs. team, every sport has its rivalries.
Some of them as old as, if not older than, the leagues that the players or teams play in. Others are relatively new.
New or old, rivalries are a large part of what makes sports tick.
Sadly, though, some of them have lost their flare. We as fans and as part of the media, build each of them up as if they’re in the glory days.
But they’re not.
Here’s a list of five that have lost that flare.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers franchises have been playing professional football since before the Great Depression.
Despite the all-time series being tied at 93-93-6 between the two teams in the regular season, as well as a 1-1 draw in postseason matchups, let’s be honest, this is the Packers’ series now. And it has been for a while.
According to ESPN’s John McTigue, Green Bay has won 35 of the 49 matchups dating back to 1992. Update that for this year, it’s 37 of 51.
Since then, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have started every game against the Bears, posting a [37-14] record against them (including the playoffs). The Bears have started 15 quarterbacks against the Packers in that time. –– John McTigue
Even more recently, since the start of the 2010 season, Green Bay has completely owned the series, posting a 12-3 record. GB also hasn’t lost consecutive games to the Bears since 2007, when the Bears swept the season series.
Green Bay, on the other hand, has swept the season series four of the seven years.
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
Baseball is America’s Pastime, and possibly the oldest rivalry of said pastime is Yankees vs. Red Sox.
It’s included some of the biggest names in the history of the sport: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz. The list goes on and on.
The two have played in some of the most important games and series in postseason history, like in 2004 when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 series deficit en route to the franchise’s first World Series in 86 years.
However, the current makeup of both these franchises includes a lot of young players and/or players that haven’t been part of the rivalry for very long. Because of that, the once exciting, hatred filled-rivalry has seemed to have lost its edge.
Since the start of the century, the Yankees held a .523 win-percentage (162-148) over their archrivals. Since 2006, it’s gotten a little closer, and overall since 2010 the series is deadlocked at 65 wins apiece.
Sounds tight right? It’s not.
In four of the seven seasons since the calendar flipped to 2010, the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry has been decided by more than five games; as many as eight in 2012. Two other years there was a three-game difference, and only in ’10 did they split the season series.
Not only are the records separated, but there isn’t the same intensity on the field that there was years ago.
The only players that remained part of the rivalry this past season from the 2003 and 2004 classics in both the regular and postseason were Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.
They’re both gone, as is the rivalry for now.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Wasn’t it fun a few years ago when you could flip on the television and watch a Clippers/Warriors game knowing you had a decent shot of seeing a scrum between the two?
Not only would you see a scrum, or at least some trash talk that led to a technical or two, but you’d see a close game every time out.
That’s not the case anymore.
As the Golden State Warriors have continuously gotten better over the half-decade with the formation of the Splash Brother Duos, fruition of Draymond Green and others, and most recently the addition of Kevin Durant, the Clippers have seemingly stayed in place since bringing together the team’s current “Big 3” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Let’s review the last 5.5 seasons in this rivalry.
Golden State has won 15 of the last 21 regular season meetings since the start of the 2011-2012 season. Not only that, but the Warriors have also won each of the last seven meetings, dating back to March 8, 2015.
Despite each of the first five games of GS’s seven-game win streak being decided by eight points or less, the last two get togethers have both resulted in blowout victories for Dub City.
Not only that, but let’s not forget that the Warriors have won one NBA Finals series while being in another. The Clippers, on the other hand, have never made it past the second round of the playoffs.
As long as Stephen Curry and company rules the West, this rivalry is over.
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The two most historic franchises in basketball have clashed 284 times in the regular season, as well as in 12 different NBA Finals.
Basketball is at its best when the rulers of the East wear shamrock green, and the kings of the West are decked out in purple and gold.
Sadly that hasn’t been the case recently. The Celtics have went through up and down seasons with the departure of Doc Rivers and the Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, meanwhile the Lakers have regressed mightily as of late with the departure or retirement of every player from its 2010 championship team.
Games played between the two teams since that Finals series have been relatively close, just decided on average by 8.2 points per game. But they have undeniably lacked a marquee marketability factor for some time.
Neither team has finished a season with 50 or more wins since the 2010-11 campaign, and while the Celtics have made the playoffs five times since the start of the decade, the Lakers haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2013.
Like the aforementioned Red Sox and Yankees rivalry, these teams do have exciting young players that could help them return to prominence in their conference, but it could take a few years.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
The New England Patriots and New York Jets have been rivals since the inception of the American Football League. Regular season and postseason meetings have made the rivalry one of the best in football.
Well, at least it was.
Bill Belichick and company have owned this “rivalry” since the turn of the century. Just since 2010, the Patriots are 10-4 overall against the Jets, and since 2000, they’re 24-11.
Over that time period, the two franchises have only met twice in the playoffs, splitting the two meetings. However, the Jets can blame themselves for why the Pats have been so dominant.
It was Jets linebacker Mo Lewis that tackled then-Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe, which handed the job over to Tom Brady. And we all know how well that has turned out for New England.
Admittedly the games have remained close throughout the decade, whether it’s with Rex Ryan coaching the Jets or Todd Bowles. But the outcome has remained vastly the same no matter who’s on the Jets sideline.
New England has coasted to four Lombardi trophies and two other trips to the Super Bowl, meanwhile the Jets have only made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons twice since 2000 and have made it to the AFC title game just twice.
New England and New York face off once again Saturday in Foxborough with the clubs going in different directions. The Jets will try to bring the regular season to a close in a pleasant way, whereas Brady and the Patriots will clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win.
As long as Brady and Belichick remain a duo, and as long as the Jets remain in disarray, more of the same will follow in this rivalry.