Rivalries bring spirited energy to campus
By Jordan Hall
The air is cooler and the leaves have begun to change color, which means colors are turning on Rider’s campus as well.
The defending World Champion Phillies have students sporting a sea of red and blue, while the Yankees, with the best regular season record in baseball (103-59), have transformed Rider into “Bronx Bomber” country with midnight blue pinstripes.
The 2009 Major League Baseball postseason has arrived, and the annual Fall Classic is in sight.
At Rider, you won’t receive any one-sided opinions like most schools across the country; instead, you’ll get two, even three points of view.
Rider possesses a unique, yet exciting fanhood because there is more than one professional team to love. With students coming from all parts of New Jersey, and a smaller percentage from New York, Pennsylvania and other states, three teams equally share the bragging rights at Rider: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. This being said, the MLB playoffs have Rider abuzz.
Not all Yankees fans despise Phillies and Mets fans, and vice versa. Actually, many are close friends and enjoy the feisty rivalries. Senior Josh Rodriguez, a diehard Yankee supporter and communication major, doesn’t mind the split fanhood.
“I absolutely love it,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool and it adds to the fun.”
The Bronx native believes Phillies fans at Rider outnumber Yankees and Mets, but not by much.
“There are probably more Phillies fans here on campus,” Rodriguez said. “I would say 55 percent of the fans are Phillies fans.”
In fact, an unsystematic survey polled 96 students from the Lawrenceville and Westminister fan base, showing 71 percent believing that the Phillies have the most fans on campus. However, the same students reported an even split between Phillies and Yankees for their own personal favorite teams. The Mets drew only 14 percent, proving Rider as a more Phillies-Yankees campus this year.
Oddly enough, Rider isn’t the only school with this rare split. Quinnipiac, located in Connecticut, has a divided rivalry on campus between Boston Red Sox and Yankees, according to sports editor Leonard Neslin of the student newspaper.
The Phillies and Yankees both captured their division titles, punching their tickets into the postseason. The Mets, on the other hand, endured an injury-riddled season, forcing them to watch the playoffs from their television sets and leaving Rider a two-team nation this October.
Don’t be surprised at hearing heated arguments sparked over who has the superior ballclub — Phils or Yanks — because both teams have plenty to boast about. Last season, the Phillies ran through the playoffs, capturing the ultimate triumph, while the Yankees missed the postseason for the first time in 13 years. Philadelphia fans felt they had the right to jeer the Yankee and Met faithful while Yankee fans commented back with “26,” referring to the number of World Championships their historical franchise has won.
Trash-talking and heckling may be at an all-time high this month, and Phillies and Yankees apparel have been seen constantly, but many fans can be realistic and appreciative of their nemeses.
Senior Paul Macrie, a devoted Phillies follower from South Jersey, thinks the fans for multiple teams is great but wasn’t shy in showing his hatred towards his New York enemies.
“It makes it more interesting around campus, and it should be fun to witness Yankees fans watch their team lose in the playoffs,” he said. “If it is the Phillies, however, losing, then it will not be fun taking the abuse. It is part of the rivalry, though, so I will take it.”
Even though the journalism major doesn’t feel the Yankees or his beloved Phillies will reach the World Series, he’s very excited for the event if it does happen.
“It should be really fun around here if both get to the World Series,” Macrie said.
Mets fans haven’t been able to join in on the fun because of their disappointing campaign, but it doesn’t mean they don’t care or have their opinions too. Senior Steve Kleiman, a management and leadership major, resides in Edison and loves his Metropolitans.
“I’m hoping it’s anyone but the Phillies and the Yankees, but I feel that they will both make it there with the Yankees defeating them for ring number 27,” he said.
Even with his team’s struggles the past three years, Kleiman has enjoyed the campus action.
“I love being a part of a school with fans of rival teams,” he said.