Auburn versus Alabama, Miami versus Florida State, Florida versus Georgia: Southern culture is defined by its rivalries. A good rivalry is the lifeblood of sports that allows fans and athletes the ability to possess those all-important bragging rights and claim that their town and their team are superior.
A great sports rivalry is critical for any team attempting to establish themselves at the upper echelon of their sport. Where would the Los Angeles Lakers be without the Boston Celtics? Where would the New York Yankees be without the Boston Red Sox? It is for this reason that it is imperative that the Blue Wahoos find a rival that everyone in Pensacola can rally against in mutual hatred.
The Southern League offers plenty of worthy rivals. It’s easy to hate the Montgomery Biscuits just because of their team name. How is a biscuit supposed to be intimidating, or cool? Is their mascot just a clump of leavened bread? Dumb names aside, it is clear that the natural rival for the Wahoos lies about an hour away in our so-called “sister” city of Mobile, Ala., home of the BayBears.
Pensacola and Mobile share a long history as well as a state line. Two of the oldest, proudest cities of the South, both fought with each other during the Civil War, and now fight against each other for tourism dollars and the respect of being a signature city of the Gulf Coast. Being the larger city, Mobile’s vibrant downtown scene and culture has long eclipsed Pensacola. However, in the last decade, with the redevelopment of downtown Pensacola, and the advent of the Community Maritime Park and the Blue Wahoos, Pensacola has arguably surpassed what Mobile has to offer.
The BayBears will make a worthy rival because it’s easy to dislike Mobile. I mean, they do claim to invent Mardi Gras, and it’s grammatically wrong that their team name isn’t broken up into two words. Being a proud representative of Florida, Pensacola has long resented jokes that it should be annexed to Alabama and will gladly take any chance to show it’s better than anything Mobile has to offer.
Jokes aside, the BayBears are a great franchise filled with worthy players and passionate fans. A great rivalry elevates both teams and provides water cooler talk that lasts long into the off-season. A rivalry between the BayBears and Wahoos can help in establishing this region as the pre-eminent place for minor league baseball in the South. It’s time to let Pensacola’s “big sister” know that “little sister” isn’t going to be pushed around anymore. Go Wahoos.
The Wahoos don’t take on our rivals, The BayBears, until next month but they do have some other home games coming up. So pick a game, any game, and go cheer on the home team.
BLUE WAHOOS NEXT HOME GAME
Blue Wahoos vs Mississippi Braves
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 23
WHERE: Maritime Park, 449 W. Main St.
COST: $5 and up
DETAILS: 934-8444 or bluewahoos.com