Cleveland is 115 miles from Pittsburgh. You can easily get there in two hours. I’ve gone there for a baseball game. Saw the Pirates play the Braves when they were still at Three Rivers Stadium. I have to admit that I took the opportunity to write a message to the Steeler fans there in the bathroom. I wasn’t a Christian yet. That is my excuse. Anyway, The Cleveland -Pittsburgh rivalry is legendary in the area. What is funny is that the Browns and Steelers are the only two teams that play each other within the two cities. The Indians don’t play any meaningful games against the Pirates, Cleveland doesn’t have an NHL team, and Pittsburgh has no NBA team.
Detroit is only 94 miles from Cleveland. Again, easliy reached within a two hour drive. There is however, very little rivalry between the two cities- before this year. When the Cavs beat the Pistons on the same weekend that the Indians were beating the Tigers created quite a stir in the city of cars. The Pistons stirred this rivalry by suggesting that the Cavs had no business beating them. That they lost the series instead of the Cavs winning it. You could tell Detroit is still pumped about beating Cleveland when the Indians went back to Detroit recently.(More after the jump.)
Now Indian fans are getting pumped about the rivalry. Many blogs and fan sites are talking about the rest of the games against the Tigers. This race should be fantastic, right down to the wire, and if it ends up with Cleveland on top, watch out for the venom coming from the North.
This rivalry should have little trouble catching on, after all, most Cleveland fans already despise the state of Michigan, and likewise for them I’m sure. The cities themselves are fairly similar, and have long been the butt of jokes and ridicule. The auto industry in Detroit has had several set backs in the last decade or two, much the same as the steel industry in C-town. They both border Lake Erie, and have their share of foul weather and snow.
The rivalry might have been at its peak back when the Browns and Lions were contending for football supremacy. The Lions own the post-season advantage 3-1 over the Browns, but the Browns beat the Lions for the ’54 championship. In the regular season the Browns are a mere 4-12 against the Lions. The Pistons of the 80′s and early 90′s had their way with the Cavs. (But then again, who didn’t.) When the Cavs became a contender in the East with Price, Nance and Daugherty the Pistons of Isaiah, Dumars and company were on the decline. At that time the Bulls were everyone’s rival, and so Detroit really didn’t get us too excited.
As the Indians found their form in ’95 the Tigers were simply awful. In fact from 1995 until last season the Tigers went 712-1050 for a .404 winning percentage. That stretch includes the ’02-’03 seasons in which the Tigers lost 225 games, and owned a .302 winning percentage.
It’s pretty simple- when both teams aren’t playing well and winning there isn’t a rivalry. One team may have a distaste for the other, but it doesn’t count as a rivalry. It seems that Cleveland and Detroit might both be pretty competitive for the next couple of years, at least in baseball and basketball. So let’s enjoy our new rivals- and GO Tribe!