In the summer of 2002 I had the luxury of going to Wrigley field to witness a Cubs-Cardinals game. The crowd was about 60% Cubs fans and 40% Cardinals fans along with of course two Astros fans, my Dad and myself (they were in first place at the time so everybody hated us).
I had heard all my life about the rivalry and had witnessed it on television, but was joyfully amazed when I got to see it in person. Fans, who are always passionate about their teams, had stepped it up to a new level to cheer on their team against their hated rival.
I was amazed but also somewhat jealous that my team didn’t possess something similar. Only one of my teams has a definitive rival that I could love to hate like Cubs and Cardinals fans do, unfortunately even that has come to an abrupt ending.
I’ve watched the Texas Longhorns play football for as long as I can remember. Although I have no family ties to the university I’ve always wanted to wear burnt orange. My short tenure as a University of Texas student was a dream come true because I got to see my team up close and personal. Naturally I screwed that all up…but that’s a story for another day.
Being a Longhorn fan meant that I was supposed to hate anything that had to do with Texas A&M. To me anyone who went to A&M or was planning on going to A&M was a backwards redneck who didn’t know his right from his left. That is of course until I married into a family of them.
Only in the past four or five years have I been introduced to a lot of very interesting and inspiring things that go on in Aggieland which has lessened my dislike for the school and caused me to actually enjoy many things about it. That can’t get back to my family, of course, because it would diminish my opportunities to tell Aggie jokes like this one: Why is ice no longer available at Aggie sporting events? Because the student who knew the recipe graduated last year.
These two schools have always split our great state in half (no, Tech fans, you don’t count at all), and unfortunately, thanks to greedy and jealous tactics on both sides, a rivalry that has lasted generations has come to an end. Now the two are no different to one another than any other Division 1 school in the country. It is a sad thing that will forever change Thanksgiving Day in the state of Texas. The only question is where does each team go next?
The Aggies will look for a rival in the SEC, but Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, or any other school will never quite equal up to the tradition of a 100 plus year in-state rivalry. Will Aggie fans link up and sway back and forth to represent sawing off a Tiger’s tale? Will they change the words of the War Hymn to “Goodbye to Louisiana State University, So long to the purple and gold?” Or is it possible to have a rival that you don’t play for seven or eight years?
The Longhorns will focus on their rivalry with Oklahoma, but it won’t be the same. Hating OU in Texas is a given. My wife and I were once walking in public, her in a maroon Aggie sweatshirt, me in my orange Longhorn shirt when a man wearing an OU pullover came and asked us “man is there anything you guys agree on?” I responded as nicely as I could, “ya we both hate you.”
No rivalry in Texas will ever be as big as the one between Texas and Texas A&M. However, Bud Selig and all his cohorts in Major League Baseball believe they can create something similar by moving the Houston Astros to the American League West with the Texas Rangers. They are trying to manufacture a rivalry that does not belong.
I’ve already voiced my strong opinions on the matter, but unfortunately my letter did little good. They found an easy way to do it by strong arming a new owner and giving him what it seems he cares about most, money. I have no intention of hiding my dislike for what Jim Crane has said and done so far as the Astros owner, but once again…that’s another story.
For now, the fact that the game has decided to “create” this rivalry between two teams in the same state, rather than admit the fact that they shouldn’t have moved the Brewers to the National League in the first place 17 years ago is what disturbs me the most. Will the Rangers/Astros be like the Cardinals/Cubs or Yankees/Red Sox in twenty years? Who knows?
I do know that a rivalry should develop rather than be artificially created. I would like more than proximity to be involved. Officially the Yankees are closer to the Baltimore Orioles, but that doesn’t make them great rivals. A history (of bitter hate) between the Red Sox and the Yankees has driven that rivalry for 90 years.
From experience I can tell you that a lot of Texas baseball fans enjoy watching their team play, but will also casually root for the other Texas team. Now they will be forced to hate that other team despite the amicable relationship the two have had for years. It will be an unnatural transition that many Texas fans (including myself) are not looking forward to.
Good rivalries are enriched in tradition and history, and are very good for sports. I understand the want to develop a rivalry, but I believe that Major League Baseball is going about it the wrong way. Unfortunately on the other hand, the people at Texas and Texas A&M had a great thing and ruined it. It is a shame when the suits make business decisions that negatively affect the coaches, players, and fans. Those are the people who lose the most with the elimination of the state’s best rivalry.
Maybe I’m bitter because my sports world is being turned upside down in ways I don’t agree with. Maybe in the future the Rangers/Astros rivalry will be one of the best in the game. Lastly, maybe I’m a little bit relieved because deep down I know my kids will eventually go to Texas A&M and it will make wearing maroon to support them a little easier. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m sad to say that for the most part, I’m not looking forward to it at all. In the end I will continue loving my teams unconditionally.
Despite the fact that the Astros are the worst team in the league and are determined to sell off any players whom the fans recognize; and that the Texas administrators are money hungry business men who ran off their long-time rival. I guess bad baseball is better than no baseball, and even though I won’t have an excuse to tell them, I’ll always have Aggie jokes. Which reminds me, did you hear about the library at Texas A&M that burned down? It was a shame because about half of the books hadn’t been fully colored in yet. The OU library burned as well, their book could not be saved.