Northern Californians know many things. Mostly, we know that we are better than Southern Californians. This is an accepted rule of nature that carries over into our sports rivalries.
And this week, with both the Giants and A's playing their SoCal rivals, plus the Sharks and Warriors ready to start playoff series with the Kings and Clippers, we are practically drowning in rivalry stew. That's both delicious and somewhat silly, when you think about it.
Here's why: Most of the teams from NorCal and SoCal consist of athletes from other parts of the country who are purely performing their professional duties. Some of them do get caught up in the California regional loathing spitball fights. Many don't. They do care about winning the games, of course. But often, the fans get more caught up in the rivalry emotions more than the players.
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (32) and Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut (12) get in a fight as Cippers' DeAndre Jordan (6) tries to break it up in the second half of a NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Green was called for a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected of the game in the fourth period of the Warriors 105-103 win. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
On the other hand, some of the rivalries do develop with personal animosities toward players on the other teams, based on previous games or the fight for a division title -- or best of all, in postseason matchups.
Given all this, I thought it would be a fun exercise to rank the intensity of the pro sports' NorCal-SoCal rivalries -- in two sets of ratings, one from the players' standpoint and one from fans' standpoint. This is not a scientific ranking, just my seat-of-the-pants opinions. Feel free to discuss and debate.
And no, sad to say, it does not include the arena football rivalry between the San Jose Sabercats and LA Kiss, which stages its first big confrontation on April 26. No data on that one yet.
My intensity ratings:
FOR PLAYERS 1. Sharks vs. Kings -- Trust me, these guys really have developed a dislike for each other. It's no act. 2. Warriors vs. Clippers -- Coming up strong on Sharks-Kings, based on this season's regular-season games. 3. Earthquakes vs. Galaxy -- Never forget soccer. These teams have had some classic confrontations.
4. Giants vs. Dodgers -- So much roster turnover prevents long-term passion from gurgling as much as the other sports. 5. A's vs. Angels -- See above, except even more so. 6. Raiders vs. Chargers -- On the field, this has never developed into as big a rivalry as the others.
The San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns (88) fight for the puck against Los Angeles Kings Matt Greene (2) in the third period at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, April 3, 2014. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)
FOR FANS 1. Giants vs. Dodgers -- The tragic Bryan Stow incident sobered up the most irrational hatred of both fan bases, but emotions still run hot. 2. Raiders vs. Chargers -- There has been parking lot violence between fans and the games in San Diego are always a tornado of taunting. 3. Sharks vs. Kings -- This is the third playoff series between the teams in the last four years, with fans traveling back and forth, loudly. 4. Earthquakes vs. Galaxy -- Have you been to one of these matchups? Even if you're no soccer fan, you'll be impressed by the passion. 5. Warriors vs. Clippers -- Building into something. Clips fans aren't exactly Dodger fans, though. Next two weeks will be interesting. 6. A's vs. Angels -- Has never caught on between fans the way the two teams' other rivalries have. Come to think of it, who do Angels' fans consider their biggest rivals? (You could ask same of A's fans.)
Read Mark Purdy's blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/purdy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.
San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey (28) double play in against Los Angeles Dodgers Justin Turner (10) in the seventh inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)