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The Ultimate Sporting City Round 2: Detroit vs. Los Angeles

Detroit and LA look on with anticipation.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Detroit and LA look on with anticipation. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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In the first round, Detroit brutalized Tampa. Los Angeles faced about the same difficulty in neutralizing Cleveland. For the second round, Winfield and myself really wanted to focus on fan involvement particularly in the Big Games - Rivalries. Every good fan knows what teams they're supposed to hate. Every good fan knows the traditions and history of their respective teams. Here's a look into the history, rivalries, and traditions of Detroit and Los Angeles...


Joe Kaufman of Conquest Chronicles, the SB Nation Southern Cal blog, leads us off with a background on the fans of L.A. and the USC-UCLA rivalry:
There is certainly some validity in the stereotype that LA fans can be a little lax and fairweather. But even still, I don't think it's fair to say that those characteristics represent the entire city. First and foremost, this is an NBA city that is driven by the Lakers. I can't tell you how many times I've been at Dodger Stadium on summer nights and the guys behind me are discussing the NBA Draft, and Laker trade rumors. There's no question that in terms of popularity, long-term loyalty, and passion, that the Lakers represent the very core of the Southern California sports universe.

But since I'm representing one of SB Nation's college blogs, I thought I'd address the USC-UCLA rivalry, for it is what truly makes the LA sports scene unique. Most heated rivalries nationwide are concentrated within states or regions. Michigan-Ohio State, Oklahoma-Texas, Duke-North Carolina, etc. But USC-UCLA is the country's primary crosstown rivalry. The schools are separated by just a few miles, and as a result, you have a city of 3 million people split in terms of collegiate allegiances. Not only is there a rivalry on the field, but it extends to the culture of the city. 'SC grads compete with UCLA grads for jobs downtown and for political offices. The nature of the institutions are different as well. UCLA is public. USC is private. Thus, creating somewhat of a class of cultures. But in the end, both are incredibly successful institutional academically and athletically. Both are ranked towards the top of the U.S. News and World Reports college rankings, and are one and two in terms of total national championships.
Not only is there a strong collegiate rivalry in the town, the City is divided amongst the two incredibly popular baseball franchises in what's been dubbed the Freeway Series. The term comes from the fact that both stadiums are separated by a short trip on Interstate 5. The two teams have met 74 times with the Angels owning a slight advantage in the series.

A lesser intracity rivalry was born in 1984 when the Clippers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. The Lakers and Clippers have both played their home games in the Staple Center since 1999. Since the 1984 move, the Clippers trail the Lakers 27-92 but Clips Nation blogger, Steve Perrin cites the rivalry as a testament to the L.A. sports fan:
...any city that can find a way to support both the Lakers and the Clippers in the same building is certainly unique.
The Dodgers have built up two major intercity rivalries during their illustrious franchise history. The move from Brooklyn to L.A. was seen as a slight by the people of New York so those loyal to the City abandoned their beloved Dodgers to follow the Yankees while those loyal to the Dodgers stuck true to the white and blue. The other major rivalry associated with the Dodgers is the interstate rivalry with the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry is the oldest rivalry in baseball dating back to the two teams' first meeting in 1883 as the Brookyln Dodgers and New York Giants. Since then the two teams have played 2,161 times. Amazingly, the only "postseason" meetings were the NL-tie breaker games in 1951 and 1962.

The king of NBA rivalries is the L.A. Lakers-Boston Celtics Rivalry. Between the two franchises, there are 32 of the 63 total NBA titles. The two teams have met 273 total times including 67 games played amongst the franchises in the NBA Finals. In case you were oblivious to modern sports, the two teams are playing in the current NBA Finals.


Brendan From Old Virginia doesn't wear Detroit on his sleeve but has a penchant for sneaking Michiganderings into his UVA blogging. Here's Brendan's take on the City's greatest professional rivalry:
When you talk about Detroit's rivalries, there's really only one rivalry in all of pro sports that has ever really risen to the level of intensity that college rivalries have. No, not Red Sox-Yankees - that one's entirely between the fans. The players don't care. Red Wings-Avs - the best pro sports rivalry that ever existed. It has its legendary games (March 26, 1997), legendary fights (McCarty-Lemieux, Vernon-Roy, Osgood-Roy, or anybody that happened to look at anyone else funny), legendary players (Yzerman, Lidstrom, Shanahan, Fedorov, Sakic, Forsberg, Roy) legendary playoff series (five of them), meltdowns, tantrums, media sniping, fan sniping, and of course, two great teams vying for the Cup every year. It had everything.
I'll be honest when I say I don't know much or care much about hockey. So let's talk college football - an area I'm more comfortable with. I asked Seth Fisher (or Misopogon) to fill us in on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry:
Well, there's um THE GAME. The one ESPN called the greatest rivalry in sports. The one where 100,000+ people pack into some 90-year-old stadium or other in late November and the hits rattle the whole country. Michigan has a history of taking its greatest players (Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, et al.) out of Ohio State's backyard, then using them to beat the best Buckeye teams. The Buckeyes have a history of deserving it.

Key moments: Two Heisman Trophies were won on long returns, a guy named Tshimanga Biakabutuka had so many yards that everyone in both states learned how to spell his name correctly, and in 2006 the teams came in ranked No. 1 and 2 a day after Bo Schembechler died, and no less than three universes were born.
And because I thought this was a fairly funny comment, I had to include Misopogon's inclusion of the Lions in his incredibly detailed Detroit diatribe:
The Lions' biggest rivalry has been no less intense despite being wholly one-sided for the last 53 years. That rivalry is with their fans, who continue to fill the stadium every Sunday as the Lions have continued to find ways to torture us for it.

Key moment: After definitively proving himself the worst GM in the history of sports, in 2005, the Lions re-signed Matt Millen to a five-year contract extension that made Millen, at the time, the highest-paid executive in the NFL.
According to Misopogon, the Red Wing fans are full of traditions. Any good Tech fan can appreciate good old Detroit traditions. Here's a quick run down of traditions entertained by the fans of the Detroit hockey faithful:
No list of Detroit traditions can be complete without flying mollusks, i.e. our penchant for hurling octopi on the ice during Red Wings playoff games. The ‘Legend of the Octopus’ dates back to the 1952 playoffs, when eight legs symbolized the eight wins needed to win the Stanley Cup. The tradition has remained unique to the Red Wings due to two remarkable features: 1) we have our own closely guarded code for when it is appropriate to toss an octopus, something copycat tossers have yet to figure out, and 2) they are actually really slimy and gross and smelly and nobody would touch those things if it wasn’t already a 50-year-old tradition.

Less famous is the tradition of Red Wing lady fans tying a red string in their hair for each playoff win, and a white for each playoff loss (due to the playoffs often lasting two or three months, the ribbons are now usually tied to a hat or wrist).

A relatively recent tradition has been the dressing up of the city’s signature sculpture, "The Spirit of Detroit." The iconic sitting man by the late Detroit-area sculptor Marshall Fredericks (our resident Michelangelo) tends to rock a giant jersey of whichever local team seems to be making a championship run.
And as a final note, Misopogon reminds us that since 1934, there's been one constant on Thanksgiving Day. It's not the turkey that can be too dry or too cold. It's not the family members that can be too abrasive or too obnoxious. That one constant is the Detroit Lions playing their annual Thursday nationally televised game ensuring that every football fan has something to look forward to in the most awkward or surreal of family holidays.

Alright, I broke down LA and Detroit. Let us know who you think should move on to the Final Four!