Does it burn you up, Washington D.C.? Does it hurt to see what your hockey franchise could be in the near future? The Pittsburgh Penguins, among the most hated pro sports franchises around these parts, took the impossible and converted it into a glittering reality for hockey fans.
How about it, Baltimore? You are a blue collar lot. Your city knows how to get down and dirty. You love hard-hitting defense and a smash-mouth running attack. Yet in the moments that count, the Pittsburgh Steelers can hang their hard hats on unshakable nerves and a fan base that lives and dies on every tackle evaded by Ben Roethlisberger.
Two metros with Three Rivers envy. Pittsburgh, at least in the ranks of professional sports, is everything we want to be.
Sure, colleges and universities dot the periphery of our collective metropolitan conscience. Fine art is accessible to the masses, a sprawling nightlife beckons to all that enter the limits of both cities, and the surrounding counties are a safe haven for those who just want to tour the concrete jungles on occasion.
There is more culture on I-295 than in the whole of Pittsburgh, but the Steel City continues to lord one thing over yuppies of the mid-Atlantic: championship-caliber sports.
For as much as we enjoy the trappings of city life, Baltimore and Washington leave much to be desired in the pride delivered by championship-winning teams. The Ravens unexpectedly delivered the goods in 2000, and while they’ve been consistent enough, they are never the favorites to win their own division, let alone the Super Bowl.
As for Washington pro football, we don’t even have to go there. Daniel Snyder continues to drive the crown jewel of the city into the ground, while Ted Leonsis has turned the city’s dunce cap into a shimmering crown of glory, making the Washington Capitals the franchise closest to competing for—and winning—a league championship. A championship that figures to run through Pittsburgh, at least for the near future.
We hate to admit it, most less-than-intelligent fans based here won’t. But Pittsburgh fans reign supreme in this axis of a sports rivalry, and so do their teams. We could say that they don’t know how to handle their success, but success itself is always the best response.
We yearn for your excitement. We envy your homegrown love for your teams and wish we didn’t have to suffer folks who move to our cities to work while holding their allegiances to other squads.
We hate the fact that you have fans all over the world, that Dan Rooney is savvy and beloved, and that your hockey star can be a crybaby and still find success.
And yes, we especially hate the fact that your rapid transformation into a Boston-like collection of ignorant, arrogant jerks is well-deserved. Lord knows how much we want to show off the jackass inside of all of us, if we only had the chance.