Why do I love a derby? I nervously await each Merseyside derby as if it is the most important match of the season. I bite nails. I refresh webpages. I await injury updates. I lose sleep. This doesn’t make sense for two big reasons:
1.) I am not from Liverpool.
2.) The Merseyside derby is almost never pretty. (Every Liverpool victory I’ve seen over Everton inevitably ends with Red supporters in our pub agreeing: “That was an ugly win but I’ll take it.”)
And yet, for me, these fixtures are as exciting (and as anticipated) as battles against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, even if the match itself turns into a bloodbath with more red cards than convincing attacks.
The thing is the local derby is not a widespread for professional sports in the States. I love it because we barely have them over here. We don’t have many to even mention.
In Major League Soccer the only true derby is between LA Galaxy and Chivas USA who share the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, but neither have really been around long enough to have the deep history of a traditional European derby.
In baseball, the cities of Chicago, New York and LA each have two teams as does California’s Bay Area (the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics), but these pairs are all split between Major League Baseball’s two leagues, American and National, and since inter-league play wasn’t introduced until 1997, the few contests that arise within these cities don’t have anything close to the feel of a longstanding derby in London or Liverpool or Manchester.
The closest thing in baseball today is probably the Giants and the Dodgers who used to both reside in New York and still play in the same league today. Though they’ve relocated to different parts of California they still enjoy a long-standing rivalry that dates back to when they shared a locality. Hey, at least they’ve got the history down, even if they couldn’t stay put.
The National Football League (gridiron) boasts “the Turnpike Rivarly”, meaning there is only a two-hour drive between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. This may seem a long trek compared to the commute from White Hart Lane to Emirates Stadium, but plenty of fans won’t blink before making that journey and it makes it easy for a sizable away contingent: a key ingredient for a good derby.