After the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl LI, Boston earned its tenth major pro sport championship in 16 years. The decade-and-a-half of sports dominance in Boston is largely unprecedented and also invites questions about where Boston ranks among the sports cities in America, especially against Boston’s sports rival: New York.
New York and Boston have had a long sports rivalry since pro sports came into existence. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have been bitter rivals in baseball for quite some time, and the New England Patriots have had serious disputes both on and off the field with both the New York Giants and New York Jets. While Boston’s hockey team, the Boston Bruins, and basketball team, the Boston Celtics, have their own archrivals from Montreal and LA respectively, the tension between Boston and New York is palpable in the four major sports.
Part of the rivalry between these two cities may just be because of the level of success and passion both cities have had. In particular, Boston and New York have critical media and fans that expect their teams to win consistently at a high level. As Bleacher Report writer Ben Carsley said, “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with playing in the Boston market.”
Both cities have an enormous amount of sports championships, not rivaled by the rest of the country. So, the real question is, which city has more titles? When looking at the four major sports the numbers seem grim for Boston fans, as New York has over 50 championships. Boston still has 36 championships, as the Patriots have five Super Bowl wins, the Red Sox have eight World Series titles, the Celtics have 17 NBA Finals titles and the Bruins have six Stanley Cup championships.
While some may consider the debate to be over there, you can’t simply measure success by the aggregate titles of each city. While Boston has only one team in each of the four major sports, New York has several, which radically increases their statistical chances of more titles. In most sports they have two or three teams, or even three or four if upstate New York and New Jersey are counted.
Is there a fair way to compare these two sports cities then? One way would be to take the best team of New York for each sport and compare them to Boston teams. This basically compares the ideal New York fan to that of a Boston fan. This makes sense to compare because fans by definition do not usually commit to more than one team in each sport.
The ideal New York fan would be a baseball fan of the Yankees (27 titles) over the Mets (two titles). They would be a hockey fan of either the Rangers (four titles) or Islanders (four titles), but not the Buffalo Sabres (no titles) or the Jersey Devils (three titles). They would be a basketball fan of the Knicks (two titles) instead of the Brooklyn Nets (no titles). Lastly, the ideal New York football fan in the Super Bowl era would be a fan of the Giants (four titles) instead of the Jets (one title) or Buffalo Bills (no titles).
So where does that leave the rivalry? Well the best team of each sport in New York adds up to a grand total of 37 championships, which means Boston falls just one title short with 36 championships. New York is, for now, still superior when it comes to championships all-time.
This makes the continuation of Boston’s sports dominance over the past 16 years all the more important for Boston fans. If Boston sports continue to win at a high rate, Boston may soon surpass New York as the greatest sports city in America.
With the continued success of the New England Patriots and the recent signing of ace pitcher Chris Sale to the Red Sox, Boston fans may expect the city to finally dethrone its rival and counterpart in the coming years. After over a century of bitter sports rivalry, the stakes of success in this feud might never be so high as they are today as both cities continue to chase sports immortality.