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D.C. vs. New York in the Postseason


It's been so long since they played in the playoffs, I can't find a photo. This is '95 regular season. (By Ray Stubblebine - Reuters)


Chatting at 11. Submit questions now.

For all the years of stupid NY-DC city comparisons, and for all the talk about those cities as the two centers of East Coast power (one for fashion/media/finance/coolness, the other for half-smokes), the sports rivalry thing is pretty dormant.

The best rivalry? Georgetown-St. John's? But that one's been dead for more than a decade. Redskins-Giants? Maybe, but the Giants are only the Skins' third-best rival in their own division. D.C. United-Red Bulls? Sure for passion, but not for prominence. Orioles-Yankees? Not Baltimore, and not a rivalry.

Part of the problem here is that these New York and D.C. teams haven't played each other in the postseason much, certainly not lately. That's where the real hate comes from.

The last time the Skins played the Giants in the playoffs? If I'm not mistaken, that would be the 1986 NFC Championship game, a 17-0 New York win. Here's Kornheiser, the next
day:

And so much, too, for the theory that the Redskins had mystically gained the psychological advantage by losing twice before this season to the Giants. Send that baby back to the analyst's couch in care of that old all-Vienna defensive back, Sigmund (The Hammer) Freud. For the first time since Nov. 16, 1980, for the first time since Joe Gibbs became their coach, the Redskins were shut out. It was 17-0, and in the second half it may as well have been 77-0. Strike three. They're out. "What can you say?" asked Curtis Jordan. "They beat us three times. They're the better team."

The last time St. John's and Georgetown played for a Big East title. Try 1985, at MSG, a 92-80 Hoyas win. Of course, they later played that year in the NCAA semifinals, and have had plenty of battles since, but the high-water mark was when I was in elementary school. Wilbon, the day after the Big East finale:

If St. John's really is the No. 2 team in the nation, then playing the NCAA tournament will be a waste of time. Georgetown reconfirmed with exclamation tonight that it is the best team in college basketball, whipping the Redmen, 92-80, to win the Big East tournament before 19,591 in Madison Square Garden.

Georgetown won its fourth Big East tournament title in the league's six years and its second straight. The Hoyas (30-2) go into next week's NCAA tournament with 12 consecutive victories. Most of the Redmen played wretchedly. For a team that is supposed to be one of the most talented in the game, this was a straight-up embarrassment.

The Bullets and the Knicks? They met in the postseason six consecutive years from 1969-1974, with the Knicks winning best-of-seven series five of those years. If it's before I was born, it doesn't count.

D.C. United and the Red Bulls? They played in the conference semis in '96, '04 and '06, all D.C. series wins, but this just doesn't ignite the masses.

Which brings us to the Rangers and Caps, whose playoff history is at least compelling as any of these other examples. Dump and Chase is reviewing all four past playoff series, while Blueshirt Banter reviewed all four at once. They're 11-11 all time in playoff games, and 2-2 all-time in playoff series. All four meetings came within a nine-year span, and it's been 15 years.

The last one was in the '94 Atlantic Division semis, a 4-1 series win from the favored Rangers. From Johnette Howard, the next day:

The quality of this playoff run, the moves to get Juneau and Schoenfeld here, should save GM David Poile's job. Now, here's hoping Caps owner Abe Pollin and Poile will be emboldened by the Juneau and Schoenfeld successes and move to add more to this team. A goal-scoring forward to finish Juneau's passes would be wonderful.

Some hard, hard questions need to be asked: Will Bondra ever be better than he is, or is he terminally held back by his skittishness about contact? Is Pivonka best used as trade bait? Can the Capitals be contenders with any of the goaltenders they have now? Time will tell. For now it should be enough not going into an offseason carrying galling memories about the Capitals -- but mostly good ones. When's the last time hockey fans could say that in Washington at the season's end?

Anyhow, New York seems unlikable enough, all in all. There are plenty of jokes to be made about politicians versus financiers, and stimulus plans and all the rest. And this is a rivalry that needs some serious updating.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 14, 2009; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , College Basketball , Orioles , Redskins , Wizards  
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Next: Playoff Beards and Mohawks Begin

Comments

Dan, you forgot about 1 fact. The DC v NY rivalry has been written of in Theatre with the play "Damn Yankees"
A story about a Washington Senators fan who makes a deal with the devil to have the Senators beat the Yankees to win the world series.

If Philadelphia can make their greatest sports hero a fictional boxer a stupid city rivalry can be created in a play staring Jerry Lewis.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 14, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Some hard, hard questions need to be asked: Will Bondra ever be better than he is, or is he terminally held back by his skittishness about contact? Is Pivonka best used as trade bait? Can the Capitals be contenders with any of the goaltenders they have now? Time will tell. For now it should be enough not going into an offseason carrying galling memories about the Capitals -- but mostly good ones. When's the last time hockey fans could say that in Washington at the season's end?"

Bondra did become better than he was -- he'd score 402 more goals in the NHL after that season.

Pivonka would play only 242 more games with the Caps over five seasons (maybe they should have traded him).

The Caps' goalies that year were Don Beaupre, Byron Dafoe, Rick Tabaracci, and Olaf Kolzig. They won with one of them (although Jim Carey would show up the next year to begin his 15 minutes of fame).

And as for good memories, we hadn't even really begun to see the horror that would become playoff series against the Penguins yet.

Posted by: fjc33 | April 14, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

My happiest Caps-Rangers playoff memory: I was a sophomore in college during the 1990 Patrick Division finals. The Caps had never advanced out of the second round, but they were up 3-1 with game 5 at MSG. The NHL had some horrible TV contract back then and I couldn't watch the game at school in North Carolina. But I was keeping track of the score, and when the game went into overtime, I called home and my dad held up the phone to the TV until the Caps finally scored the goal that put them in the semifinals for the very first time.

Posted by: TheFingerman | April 14, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"If Philadelphia can make their greatest sports hero a fictional boxer a stupid city rivalry can be created in a play staring Jerry Lewis."

Oh, please. That was a mid-90s touring revival road company. To talk about "Damn Yankees", you should mention the original Broadway production with Ray Walston as the Devil and Gwen Verdon as Lola. They're also in the very similar film version, although Hollywood's version of Joe Boyd/Joe Hardy is played by Tab Hunter.

For a brief time at RFK, the Nationals used "You've Gotta Have Heart" from Damn Yankees as a rally song when the Nats were behind and as part of the seventh inning stretch.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 14, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"For a team that is supposed to be one of the most talented in the game, this was a straight-up embarrassment."

hey, he writes like he talks!

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | April 14, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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