Philadelphia is sometimes called The Sixth Borough of New York City. The nickname is meant to be a gesture of kinship for the blessed City of Brotherly Love, which has often played the unwanted role of little brother to Gotham.
Still, how dare the wags give Philadelphia any kind of a break in print. Holy Cheesesteak, Batman! What misplaced loyalty and kinship to bestow that moniker on Philadelphia. In fact, I’d make my case in much blunter terms. But this is a family publication, after all.
You see, it is not only chic to hate Philadelphia. It has become a matter of civic pride in these parts. Pure and simple, Philadelphia has emerged as Public Enemy Number One among New York City sports fans.
Think about it. The Eagles just embarrassed the Giants in the NFL playoffs by a score of 38-7, and Giants fans will mutter that the game wasn’t even that close. The Phillies sneaked past the Mets and took our team’s rightful place last year in the World Series. The Sixers defeated the Nets, 137-133, in a thrilling game this Jan. 25, a year after the two teams made a huge trade of problematic stars and are now blood rivals in the NBA. John Tortorella, hardly the Rangers’ most popular coach of all time, now plies his trade in – you guessed it – Philly.
And while local college hoops fans always hope to watch the St. John’s Red Storm break the hearts of the Villanova faithful, it rarely happens, even though their rivalry goes back some four decades. Remember back in 1985 when the the Red Storm were the top seed in the Big East with only one loss all year but it was Villanova Wildcats, who only had a Big East record of 9-7 and were seeded eighth in the tournament who pulled off a major upset and captured the men’s NCAA championship against Georgetown, in what is widely regarded as one of the best championship games ever. The Johnnies that year boasted the heralded pair stars Chris Mullin and Walter Berry and the much-admired head coach, Louie Carnesecca.
Philadelphia is a brisk 100-minute train trip away from New York. Lots of people commute to one of the cities every day for work. It should be noted that basketball superstar Wilt Chamberlain lived in New York when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1960s – that’s how little he thought of his hometown.
Teams playing in New York and Philadelphia are age-old rivals as they have shared the same divisions and conferences. Geographically, it has always made sense to group the franchises together to permit the teams to play many games a year against one another (an arrangement which also allows the teams to save a good deal of money a year on travel expenses).
The best is yet to come.
This spring, the Nets and the Sixers will be among the most anticipated basketball contenders. Last year, the teams swapped stars – James Harden to Philadelphia and Ben Simmons to Brooklyn – which upped the tension between the franchises and their rabid fans. At the time of publication, the 76ers were in second in the Eastern conference a few games ahead of the third place Nets and the fourth place Knicks.
If the Nets and 76ers teams square off in the NBA playoffs, the confrontation would loom as one of the most memorable series in recent memory.
Plus, this coming baseball season should produce fireworks. The Mets and the Phillies, who in decades past never seemed to be good at the same time, now figure to be two of the best teams not just in the Eastern division that they both inhabit, but in the entire National League. Both have spent lavishly to acquire prime free agents. And the Phillies’ surprising charge last fall to the World Series sure upped the ante for this year.
The 2023 NFL season is right around the corner. The NFL has shrewdly scheduled media-friendly events–such as the annual college draft and the signing of free agents–so fans stay engaged well beyond the final whistle in the Super Bowl. The NFL has smartly become a 52-week league.
This plays nicely into the Giants-Eagles rivalry. The Eagles won all three games that the teams played this season, highlighted by Philadelphia’s drubbing of the Giants in the playoffs.
To the victor goes the spoils, as they say. And the Sixth Borough is certainly on a roll. But it won’t last. This year, the New York teams will finally teach their Philly counterparts a lesson and give them a series of reality checks.
So, keep those blasted Philadelphia cheesesteaks. I’ll take a New York slice of pizza any day.
This year, the New York teams will finally teach their Philly counterparts a lesson and give them a series of reality checks.