Super Bowl XLVI summons the higher ire of New York vs. Boston
The rivalry that has produced the Curse of the Bambino, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, David Tyree’s catch and disagreeing forms of clam chowder — exposing the nastiness of arrogance and an inferiority complex along the way — has returned.
In the Super Bowl, no less.
New York and Boston’s vitriol might not be on the level of Yankees-Red Sox as the New York Giants and New England Patriots prepare for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, but the deeply ingrained disdain between the Eastern corridor metropolises is in play.
“Look, Boston’s the capital of New England and we’re the capital of the world,” Giants fan and New York-based boxing promoter Lou DiBella said. “That’s what it comes down to. We’re superior to what they have to offer.”
Asked what Bostonians think of New Yorkers, Boston Herald sports columnist Ron Borges chose a simple, eight-letter swear word.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stayed true to the reputation of his city’s confidence, despite the Giants’ being a three-point underdog against the Patriots, forecasting victory in the game and in a symbolic wager against Boston’s mayor.
“I think when [Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino] loses any bet that he makes, he will take it in the spirit that it was meant,” Bloomberg said.
As another reminder of who’s superior?
“Everybody else in the country who comes to Boston and thinks of us as pushy — that’s how we think of New Yorkers,” Borges said.
“They think they’re better than us, but they come to the Cape to vacation in summertime and make us miserable. So many send their kids here to go to college that we joke they don’t know how to read or write until they get here. They’re bad drivers. … Everything we can think of, we hate about them.”
DiBella said he has been approached to promote small boxing shows that would showcase New York-Boston, Italian-Irish matchups. “Can’t miss,” he says. “Anything New England versus New York grabs people.”
The Giants and the Patriots have a different edge than the bitter division-rival friction that exists between the NBA’s New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, or of that in this year’s potential NHL Eastern Conference finals between the New York Rangers and defending Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins.
Before the Patriots were born into the American Football League in 1960, the Giants were actually Boston’s team.
“I grew up a Giants fan,” Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said. “Every Sunday it was Chris Schenkel calling the game on our televisions. People over 55 remember the Patriots had to fight the Giants for this market.”
The momentum soon turned, of course, never more than when the Patriots shed their also-ran stature by upsetting the St. Louis Rams in the 2001 season’s Super Bowl, starting a run with Tom Brady as quarterback of three championships and now his fifth title game appearance.
Boston’s sports renaissance of the last decade has made it the envy of the sports nation, with the Celtics regaining an NBA trophy, the Bruins the Stanley Cup and, to the Hub’s greatest delight, the Red Sox’s 2004 and 2007 World Series titles.
Before those crowns, New York involved itself in Boston’s pain seemingly every step of the way, starting with Red Sox owner Harry Frazee’s 1919 decision to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Or as Borges says, “From the time the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the Yankees won the World Series and we sucked.”
The legendary Curse of the Bambino hung over the tormented Sox and an 86-year championship drought, including the haunting home run by light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent over Fenway Park’s Green Monster to win a 1978 one-game playoff that capped a New York rally from a double-digit deficit of games.
In 1986, Boston first baseman Buckner failed to glove a ground ball that scooted between his legs and let the New York Mets come back from a ninth-inning deficit to win Game 6 of the World Series, and capture the title one game later.
In 2003, Aaron Boone of the Yankees slugged a Tim Wakefield knuckleball over the left-field wall to end Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Among those who witnessed the hostility, hatred and resentment between the communities is Boston-raised Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White.
“When I first started building the UFC, people would ask me, ‘Is it OK if I bring my wife or kids to your fights?’” White said. “I’d say, ‘Yes, of course, it’s OK. Have you ever been to a Red Sox-Yankees game?’
“Right in front of little kids, Sox fans will stand up and yell, ‘Hey Jeter! Your mother’s a ... !’ Some girls will walk by in Yankees jerseys: ‘Yankee ... !’
“The things said in those crowds will blow your mind — pure, unfiltered hatred. It’s like racism, passed on from one generation to the next for 100 years now. My two uncles were psychotic, lunatic Sox fans, and all I heard growing up was ‘Dirty, rotten, stinking Yankees!’ That’s what happens when you have two proud cities so into their sports teams.”
Finally, in 2004, the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to beat the Yankees and went on to claim the World Series. In 2007, the Red Sox won it all again.
Yet, old misery revisited months later as the Patriots tried to become the first team since the 1972 17-0 Miami Dolphins to accomplish a perfect season.
The Patriots were minutes away from a 19-0 season when Giants quarterback Eli Manning evaded a heavy pass rush and threw desperately, Tyree amazingly catching the ball atop his helmet with Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison draped over him. Manning finished the drive by connecting with receiver Plaxico Burress for the game-winning touchdown.
Brady has told reporters he still can’t bear to watch the replay of the game. Same with owner Robert Kraft.
The Patriots haven’t won a Lombardi Trophy since.
“That one is way up there on the medal platform of disappointments,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s why this [Super Bowl] is a Boston-New York thing, for sure.”
The game is dotted with New York-New England crossovers, including Giants President John Mara (Boston College grad), New York Coach Tom Coughlin (ex-Boston College coach), New York long snapper Zak DeOssie (son of former Patriot Steve) and University of Massachusetts grad Victor Cruz, the Giants’ star receiver. Cruz was raised in Paterson, N.J., about a 10-minute drive from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I have a good contrast of both rivalries. ... It’s definitely intense ... that’s for sure. Both fans are adamant about their teams,” Cruz said.
When at UMass, Cruz said he was encouraged to become a Patriots fan.
“I was holding strong and I wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Borges said Patriots fans view this matchup as the 20th game of the 2007 season, describing how the looming showdown “adds fuel to the ongoing inferiority complex here, while in New York, it’s laughable, like they’re dealing with a little brother.”
DiBella, who wore a Manning jersey instead of a suit on the night of a fight he promoted in Temecula before the 2008 game, said he’ll don the same jersey inside Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb 5.
“I go there knowing we have to beat one of the greatest coaches ever” — the Patriots’ Bill Belichick — “and the best quarterback of the last 20 years, so it’s with healthy respect and concern on this trip, knowing that I may experience a very long, lonely ride home,” DiBella said. “But look, we can’t play the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, so the AFC team I’d most love to beat is New England. It would just be the best. Again.”
Anthony Salerno, a Westside attorney raised in Boston who catches games at Boston-influenced locales in the Southland such as Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica and Fat Face Fenner’s in Hermosa Beach, originally said he didn’t sense “the same bitterness” in anticipation of the Patriots’ meeting with their infrequent, nonconference opponent.
But then, as he began considering how his city “has this chip on its shoulder over this haughty, arrogant neighbor to the south,” he reconsidered.
“A Giants fan just drove past me in a Prius,” Salerno said. “I think I should flip him off.”
Times staff writers Geraldine Baum and Sam Farmer contributed to this report.
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