Neighborly rivalries

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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When observing (with mixed interest) the battles going on in Washington D.C. over our rising debt it makes my awareness of sports grow even more. Whereas the politicians on different sides go at it with more concern over keeping the other side from “winning,” sports tells a different tale. Yes, athletes, coaches, and fans want victory, but not to the detriment of the game. In Washington one has to wonder if they even care what happens to America’s game. As the sports editor of both Rocklin’s Placer Herald and Lincoln’s News Messenger I have detected rivalries existing, or in the making. Of course, this summer has been Little League. Rocklin has two leagues, Tri-City Little League, and Rocklin Little League. Tri-City has been around for over half a century, and Rocklin is the newcomer. However, Rocklin Little League has been around long enough to make its own tradition. Now, the two leagues have established a postseason playoff called Top of the Rock. The No. 1 Majors teams from both leagues go head-to-head to determine bragging rights. It’s great theater, but also proves single victories can also be short lived. For instance, this year Rocklin came out on Top of the Rock when the Rocklin Little League Rangers topped Tri-City’s Cardinals. Although Lincoln doesn’t have two leagues, it does play off its two top teams for that city’s bragging rights. In Lincoln’s intra-city battle, its Rangers defeated the Padres. But Tri-City then bounced back to win all three of District 11’s Tournament of Champions. Ironically, the No. 2 teams from both Rocklin Little League (Yankees) and Lincoln Little League (Padres) ended up squaring off in the Majors’ TOC championship game. Tri-City’s sweep of the Juniors, Majors, and Minors tournaments was a feat that took no less that 51 years to accomplish. That can happen when tradition and competition combine to elevate play to a higher standard. There, too, is a growing rivalry within Rocklin itself, Rocklin High School and Whitney High School. Although the two schools are in different leagues, they match up pretty well in sheer numbers. It may be the in the not too distant future the Sac-Joaquin Section will put both in the same league and that would cement the rivalry; for now, like the Causeway Classic between Sacramento State and UC Davis, it will have to remain a preseason rivalry. Lincoln High School is in a league outside of either of Rocklin’s schools, so there isn’t any real rivalry there. Still, many of the students from all three campuses know one another and there is pride of school whether or not the three teams ever meet on the field of competition. But all that is good if the rivalries remain neighborly, and there is reason to believe it would. In recent 10-11-year-old All Stars Little League action, after Tri-City had beaten Lincoln for the District 11 Area 1 championship, Tri-City Manager Jason Field had this to say about his Lincoln opponents. “That (was) no easy task beating that team. They’re a classy team and have an outstanding manager,” said Field, who said he knows Lincoln’s manager and players. “They’re an outstanding team, and they deserved to be in that championship game with us.” Just as cross-state rival Auburn University fans came to the aid of Alabama University when Tuscaloosa was devastated by a tornado this spring, it’s that kind of respect that makes a rivalry what it should be – big, but not bigger than life.