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The Old Rivalry is New Again 

FROM LEFT: ERIK DROST PHOTO, JAKE MYSLIWCZYK PHOTO
  • From left: Erik Drost photo, Jake Mysliwczyk photo

Since 1999, when professional football returned to the shores of Lake Erie, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers have played each other 37 times, twice per year plus one playoff game. During that dismal span, the Browns have won only five times. Five. From Oct. 5, 2003 until Nov. 24, 2012, the Browns couldn't manage a single victory over their quote unquote "rivals."

What a farce. This once-vaunted sports rivalry has become a cruel and unusual joke, so perverted by the Steelers' success and the Browns' ineptitude that Pittsburgh fans are now known to occasionally root for the hapless Browns. It's unreal. They root for us in the way that people root for the terminally ill. Good for the Browns, these mittened soup-slurping yokels have the audacity to patronize.

Eat a turd, Pittsburgh. We don't want whatever the hell it is you think you're offering: Compassion? Rust Belt allyship? Prayer? Cleveland's not above acknowledging that the football rivalry is a thing of the past. But it is part and parcel of an antagonism that is only dormant, not dead. When the Cleveland Scene and the Free Times merged in 2008, the cover image depicted something unthinkable, something unnatural, something almost profane: a Browns player and a Steelers player locked in romantic embrace. It was horrific to behold. Why? Because even though the current legitimacy of the football rivalry is an illusion, it has produced a deep and inbred antipathy, one that transcends sports.

So Pittsburgh, ye barbarous wasteland, we invite your alt-weekly's greatest minds to match our wits on where this rivalry is headed now. Rest uneasy in the knowledge that your garbage football team and the rapists thereon represent the only edge that your city has on ours. Take your victories and your stupid field. Take your shitty city colors and your interminable hills. Take the fact that your entire civic identity consists of worshipping condiments. We'll take the fact that we're better in every other way.

And we're happy to tell you why ...

LOCAL BOOZE

Cleveland

Cleveland is home to the region's best and most widely distributed craft beer: Great Lakes. The only brewery that comes close in the Midwest is Bell's, maker of Oberon and Two-Hearted. Is Bell's in Pittsburgh? Of course not. It's in Michigan, which is a god-forsaken state but somehow still way better than Pittsburgh. Do they even make beer in Pittsburgh? It turns out they've got a swill factory that produces something called Iron City, which the Burghers are evidently very proud of, but it tastes like Keystone Light mixed with dishwater. Why is this even up for discussion? Cleveland has emerged as a microbrewery Oz, with nationally recognized ventures like Market Garden and Fat Heads, not to mention smaller innovative brewpubs mushrooming up across town. (They don't even know how to buy booze in Pittsburgh. Is it any wonder that they haven't figured out how to brew it?)

Pittsburgh

With another distillery or brewery opening up seemingly every week, it's safe to say that Pittsburgh is a great place to enjoy a beverage while supporting your community. Rich with history going back to the development of rye whiskey and the rebellion that followed, Pittsburgh is a breeding ground for innovation informed by heritage. Distilleries like Boyd & Blair, Wigle Whiskey and the award winning Maggie's Farm Rum offer something for everyone. And the city's first-wave craft brewery, East End Brewing, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

TIKI CULTURE

Cleveland

click to enlarge Stefan Was, Porco Lounge - PHOTO BY KEN BLAZE
  • Photo by Ken Blaze
  • Stefan Was, Porco Lounge

Porco Lounge and Tiki Room has so completely dazzled and dizzied Cleveland with their delicious and powerful Polynesian concoctions that the name has become an adjective unto itself: porcoed. That's just the half of the charm. It takes a lot to get Clevelanders to forget that they're actually in Cleveland — the ever-present songs of angels and affordable housing are inescapable — but step into Porco and you're instantly transported to a tropical oasis where everything is fun, tasty and filled with three shots of alcohol. Don't believe us? Of course you don't — you're drunk on Rolling Rock. Then take the word of all the bevy connoisseurs at the 2016 South Beach Wine and Food Festival who gave Porco the People's Choice Award. And did we fail to mention they hold the record for making the world's largest daiquiri? Next!

Pittsburgh

Recently called an "eccentric tiki mecca" by Punch Magazine, Pittsburgh is bursting with friendly faces behind the bar that are eager to bring the aloha spirit to the city's bar patrons. Hidden Harbor in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood is the most recent bar to join the tiki drink slingers with tons of island decor and a collection of over 250 rums to choose from. Sip 20 selected rums on their "rum passport" and you'll be admitted to the Dead Parrots Society. And Tiki Lounge in the South Side has been whisking patrons away to tropical locales inside their bar since the early 2000s with the help of tiki classics and an indoor waterfall or two.

SIGNATURE SANDWICH

Cleveland

click to enlarge The Polish Boy - PHOTO BY KEN BLAZE
  • Photo by Ken Blaze
  • The Polish Boy

The Polish Boy transcends the already sacrosanct word "sandwich," becoming in Cleveland an "experience" for all ages. It's messy, and often requires at least a half day off work simply to deal with the post-consumption buzz alone. Shoutout to Seti's, where we eat Polish Boys at a truck on the side of the road and love it. For you uncultured PA hillfolk, a Polish Boy is a sausage topped with coleslaw, fries and barbecue sauce, all tucked neatly into a bun. It's beautiful. And not to get off-topic, but we've already got the excellent Panini's, so we don't need no ripoff Primanti Bros. to come around here thinking they're hot shit n'at. Pass the napkins, please.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge The Primanti’s sandwich - PHOTO BY JOHN COLOMBO
  • Photo by John Colombo
  • The Primanti’s sandwich

I'm actually sort of embarrassed for you, Cleveland. You brag about your "signature sandwich"? You open up a package of Hillshire Farms, slip it into a hot dog bun and slap some Bullseye BBQ sauce on top. "Sad," as our president would tweet. The Primanti's sandwich is a work of art starting with the two best slices of Italian bread your pollution-muted tastebuds can imagine. Then you put those fresh-cut fries, vinegar-based coleslaw and fresh tomatoes on top of proteins ranging from corned beef and pastrami to steak and sardines. Also, you know we're right because you have a shitty rip-off joint called Panini's. Bottom line: If the Primanti's sandwich had a mouth and fully functioning digestive tract, it would eat the Polish Boy alive and crap it out in the middle of Public Square, which really doesn't matter because it looks the same coming out as it does going in.

CULTURAL DISTRICT

Cleveland

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MICHAEL SPRING
  • Photo by Michael Spring

Playhouse Square is the largest theater complex in the United States after New York's Lincoln Center. The theaters there — the Ohio, the State, the Palace ­— are not only aesthetic marvels; annually, they host more touring Broadway productions than any other city east of Chicago. The local theatrical energy is electric as well, with adventurous community theaters emerging in the past decade. That's all alongside Cleveland Public Theatre, one of the country's most highly regarded theaters for new and experimental work; and, of course, Karamu House, in Fairfax, the oldest African-American theater in the United States. In Pittsburgh, we understand they've given up on live theater because they all decided it was too hard to memorize their lines.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's downtown is modestly sized, but culturally, it's as loaded with talent as the Steelers receiving corps. Our symphony regularly tours Europe, and our ballet and opera companies are top-notch. The district boasts three accomplished theater troupes, three grand performance halls, an art-house cinema, several cutting-edge art galleries, a comedy theater, and the newly reborn August Wilson Center, focusing on African-American culture. It's got a nationally known museum of cartoon art. The district's bar-and-restaurant scene draws national media attention, all within walking distance of three pro-sports venues. And every summer, thanks to Anthrocon, there are more furries on this little patch of real estate than can be found in some developed countries.

CELEBRITY ALUMS

Cleveland

Hey, is anyone on your list named Harvey Pekar? No? Okay, then we're done talking. Celebrities come from all over, their geographical origins irrelevant to their rise, really, since it's their talent and ego that propel them on their path to stardom. Paul Newman wasn't a better actor or more marketable because he grew up in Northeast Ohio any more than Gene Kelly could credit his ascension to the A-list to his origins in Pittsburgh. Ah, but Harvey Pekar, the man who drew fans worldwide through his comic books and frequent appearances on David Letterman. The man who was famous because of, and whose talent resided in, his city. It made him, and he made it. You can't come close to claiming such a dominant cultural figure who divined the ordinary straight from the veins of his surroundings. Also, you gave the world Jay Mariotti, and for that you will never be forgiven.

Pittsburgh

Producing such treasures as Singin' in the Rain and Mister Rogers Neighborhood is just the tip of Pittsburgh's celebrity iceberg. Film-and-dance icon Gene Kelly was born and raised in Pittsburgh and Fred Rogers, from nearby Latrobe, produced his children's show at Pittsburgh's WQED television station for 35 years. In Cleveland, getting your face onto a Chef Boyardee can of shitty pasta is enough to be a celebrity. Pittsburgh can also claim a Batman (Michael Keaton), a dinosaur wrangler (Jeff Goldblum), a pop diva (Christina Aguilera), a Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and one of the county's most well-known billionaires, Mark Cuban.

UNIVERSITIES

Cleveland

The university landscapes in Cleveland and Pittsburgh are remarkably similar, with one key distinction: Cleveland's colleges are much better. Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon is ranked slightly higher than Cleveland's Case Western in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, but nobody reads U.S. News and World Report anymore because it's become a destitute sell-sword publication good only for stroking the egos of colleges and hospitals and used cars. Cleveland State is on the rise, while Pitt's only claim to fame is being named after the smelliest body part. Oberlin, natch, is the wokest of the woke.

Pittsburgh

Do they still have polio in Cleveland? Didn't think so. You can thank the University of Pittsburgh's Jonas Salk for that one, who developed the vaccine in '55 and gave it to the world gratis (that means free, for our Ohioan friends). Down the street, Carnegie Mellon University is leading the world in robotics and artificial intelligence, while churning out Tony Award-winning actors. Credit where it's due: Oberlin's a pretty good school. Facts where they're needed: it's 40 miles outside the 216. Quite a reach there. Why not rope in Xavier and Ohio State while you're at it?

Hope Memorial Bridge - PHOTO BY ERIK DROST
  • Photo by Erik Drost
  • Hope Memorial Bridge

BRIDGES

Cleveland

Sure, you guys have some impressive bridges. But where's the imagination? Where's the panache? They're all thematically colored to match your teams, but we'll overlook that flaw for now. Here in Cleveland we put up mighty statues to technological wonders on our bridges. We house old streetcar rails under ours and provide the city's wonderful residents annual tours thereof. We honor guys like Bob Hope with our bridges, American icons who brought joy to untold scores of the Greatest Generation. And when the public works crew isn't looking, we paint lovely elegies to friendship on the sides of those bridges.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Fort Pitt Bridge - PHOTO BY JAKE MYSLIWCZYK
  • Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • Fort Pitt Bridge

According to a 2006 study, Pittsburgh has 446 bridges. How do you even compete with that? But we don't just top Cleveland in numbers alone. Our bridges are also really cool. The Roberto Clemente Bridge isn't just named for a baseball great. On big game days, we shut it down so baseball fans can get to the ballpark. We also host entire festivals on our bridges, like the annual Picklesburg. And right now the Rachel Carson Bridge is home to 27,000 multicolored LED lights as part of a temporary light display run by wind turbines. That's right. Our bridges also generate energy.

BIKE LANES

Cleveland

Cleveland has a national reputation for imbecilic traffic engineers — one in particular — so do consider our handicap at a maximum. That said, we've got something called "guerilla stripers," local transit activists, apparelled a la cat burglars, who paint bike lanes on streets in the dead of night to force the city's hand. What a cool, participatory citizenry! That's way cooler than anything Pittsburgh's got, which as far as we can tell is just a responsive, compassionate city government that prioritizes things like sustainability and transit equity. What a bunch of squares.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Downtown Pittsburgh Bike Lanes - PHOTO BY JAKE MYSLIWCZYK
  • Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • Downtown Pittsburgh Bike Lanes

It may seem like Pittsburghers hate bike lanes, but they don't. Mayor Bill Peduto's 2017 mayoral campaign opponents basically argued bike lanes were responsible for Pittsburgh's troubles, but Peduto won the primary in a landslide. Pittsburgh now has about 45 miles of bike lanes, including more than 4 miles of protected lanes. Penn Avenue's protected lane in downtown sometimes gets more than 1,000 riders a day. And our Great Allegheny Passage trail provides 335 miles of car-free travel from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. All Clevelanders can do is loop the half mile around Public Square on their training wheels.

AMUSEMENT PARKS

Cleveland

When the esteemed Golden Ticket awards debuted their 2016 list of best wood and steel coasters in the world, you all probably felt tickled to see four of Kennywood's rides on the list. How utterly and adorably cute. The kind of accolades usually reserved for kiddie parks. Maybe a town whose idea of thrills is avoiding Ben Roethlisberger in public bathrooms thinks that's fun. Cedar Point, meanwhile, clocked in with seven nods from the Golden Ticket voters who probably didn't bestow more awards for the king of all amusement parks because they still couldn't feel their brains or hands after getting off the iconic Millennium Force.

Pittsburgh

No matter how old you are, every Pittsburgher knows the feeling you get when you're on your way to Kennywood and you see the tips of the highest rollercoasters. It's a thing of beauty. We don't need chrome rollercoasters. Nothing beats the old-timey charm of the Jack Rabbit, Racer and Thunderbolt. And a great amusement park is about more than just the rides. The food at Kennywood is where it's at. Around Pittsburgh, Potato Patch fries with a healthy serving of cheese and bacon on top are the stuff of legend. We spend the whole winter salivating over them.

ACCENTS

Cleveland

No one in Cleveland believes that we have an accent, though we'll quietly admit that we each have a great-aunt who pronounces "off" like "ahf." It's cute, and we're all in on the gag. Plus it's always a fun bar debate, because we're lighthearted and easily understood people. Yinz over in Pittsburgh may as well be speaking a drunken form of Orcish. Are you intentionally slurring your words when you plead down your DUIs or is that just normal Monday-morning banter? Readers: We had to hire a very expensive translator for our calls with the City Paper staff, and we're still not sure if they're a legit paper or some sort of 1-900 outfit with a lust for writers.

Pittsburgh

If hearing the way Pittsburghers say "out" as "aht" or "you all" as "yinz" doesn't bring a smile to your face, then you're not human. Our accent is so distinct and beloved that regional grocery store chain, Giant Eagle, used to have video-rental stores called "Iggle Video," corresponding to our phonetic pronunciation of "eagle." Elocution is for suckers. Pittsburghers embrace efficiency when speaking; no one can talk more and speak faster than Yinzers. Why say three syllables in "slippery" when "slippy" will do? "Bologna" is unphonetic, so just say "jumbo." If you want to talk proper and precise, you're probably a jagoff from Cleveland.

ARCHITECTURE

Cleveland

Listen: The Terminal Tower is one of the most iconic buildings between Willard and Empire. It's a near-perfect representation of all a metropolis can be. Then – then! – we built a modern rendition on the design with Key Tower. We googled "Pittsburgh skyline" and just got some images of an old Tower of London Lego set strewn across a kitchen floor. Is that a backyard castle playhouse, guys? We've got so much choice architecture in Cleveland that we literally let it sit unused, like the Arcade, a monument only to aesthetic grandeur and food-court dining. Goodness gracious, even our downtown grocery story is the stuff of Instagram architecture porn. It's hard to match that when everything is painted black and yellow; it's okay.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Pittsburgh Courthouse - PHOTO BY MIKE SCHWARZ
  • Photo by Mike Schwarz
  • Pittsburgh Courthouse

If we're talking sports metaphors, sure, Cleveland might take a couple of games in a best-of-seven series. Frank Gehry's Peter B. Lewis building at Case Western edges out Scogin and Elam's Gates Center at CMU for best 21st century building. And Koning Eizenberg's Children's Museum of Pittsburgh versus Farshid Moussavi's Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland could come down to a call at the plate. But Pittsburgh's turn of the 20th century buildings, such as the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Frick Building, surpass Cleveland comparables, and our vernacular housing in the picturesque landscape is unmatched. Most importantly, the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail is our series-ending walk-off home run.

WATERFRONT

Cleveland

Pittsburgh's downtown is called the Golden Triangle, which is a truly aberrant sexual reference we'd rather not discuss just now. It's got rivers. Big deal. Cleveland has a river, and a lake too. A Great Lake, complete with beaches and other lakefront amenities, like sailing. Like the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in Pittsburgh, the Cuyahoga River offers watersports like standup paddleboarding, kayaking and the like. But Cleveland's has an additional extreme-sports edge: Watercraft users get the thrill of dodging the Great Lakes freighters that chart their southward course toward ArcelorMittal Steel on a daily basis, making for sublime photo ops and a perfect blend of commerce and recreation that dramatizes the city's diversified resurgence.

Pittsburgh

To be honest, we didn't think a backwards town like Cleveland would have such a cool new sport like standup paddleboarding, but after some research, it appears you do. But you know what you don't have? Surfing. Oh wait; you have that too? And you do it on a lake with real waves instead of the manmade ones we create off the back of a boat? Whatever. Our three rivers still beat your one. And none of ours have ever caught on fire.

MOVIES

Cleveland

Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh have played prominent roles in major superhero movie franchises. Significant portions of both The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier were shot in Cleveland. Pittsburgh was converted to Gotham for the The Dark Knight Rises. Cleveland, with its verdant landscape and rich architectural diversity, was converted to Stuttgart, Germany; Washington, D.C.; and New York City for the films. Pittsburgh was just sort of a droopy dimestore Chicago that everyone preferred in The Dark Knight. Cleveland has bent over backwards for the film industry — you could argue almost too much so, what with the closure of the Shoreway for Winter Soldier — but our city is obviously much nicer and more photogenic: All the best scenes from Dark Knight Rises took place underground.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge "Night of the Living Dead" - FILM SCREENSHOT
  • Film screenshot
  • "Night of the Living Dead"

There is more to a city's film scene than simply subbing in for a fake comic-book town. Pittsburgh has movies actually set in Pittsburgh, a character in itself. Like Flashdance: She's a welder by day, stripper by night, and a ballerina at heart; there is no greater Rust Belt queen. For eggheads, we got Wonder Boys: With great universities come rumpled professors and wine parties. Other brains come serious — Concussion asks how you tell a football town that the sport is killing its heroes — or for dinner in the genre-defining Night of the Living Dead. Striking Distance is a cheesy cop actioner set on — ahem — three rivers. Oh, and Sudden Death, because Pittsburgh has a hockey team.

MUSIC

Cleveland

We're known almost singularly on the national stage for rock 'n' roll (to say nothing of the Browns' factory of sadness), and we back it up nightly in any one of our 174 music venues across the city. Hell, we even host shows in living rooms and basements and ad agency offices. (See more below, folks.) We're home to one of the greatest concerts of all time — Springsteen in '78 — and still our local bands very nearly outstrip the Boss of his title on the reg. We might not have Nashville's Broadway Avenue, but neither does Pittsburgh. You guys may lay claim to some serious jazz heavyweight DNA, but we're a blues town and we'll always take our 12 bars with stiff drinks at 12 different bars — and we'll do it in one evening.

Pittsburgh

Where would modern jazz's rhythm section be without Pittsburgh? Nowhere, that's where. From the early work of drummer Art Blakey, bassist Ray Brown and a handful of pianists — Errol Garner, Horace Parlan, Sonny Clark — to modern drummers like ex-pat Jeff "Tain" Watts and hometown denizen David Throckmorton, the Steel City has contributed more to the music's foundation than the Mistake by the Lake. We've birthed countless horn players (which could fill this space), not to mention the musicians that nurture on and off the bandstand, from Roger Humphries and Nelson Harrison to Joe Negri. While the Burgh loves its past, we're not resting on our swinging laurels either.

DIY SCENE

Cleveland

For a time, Cleveland played host to one of the great underground punk venues in the Midwest: Speak In Tongues, which now bears legendary status in local lore and which spawned several awesome DIY spots around town. We now hang out at Now That's Class or any number of house shows, where dedicated guys and gals put up touring bands and pass around a beat-up Tribe hat for gas money. We're not sure what passes for DIY in Pittsburgh, if only because we're too busy cleaning up the basement from last night. (Don't you Pittsburgh people all have toilets in all your basements? That's actually pretty cool.)

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JORDAN MILLER
  • Photo by Jordan Miller

Pittsburgh's DIY scene has always evoked reactions of starry-eyed fascination. We've got artfully crafted flyers, venues from houses to warehouses to galleries to bars to a cooperative all-ages space. Local labels range from tape labels to full works with PR folks and marketing campaigns. There are so many good bands here, there's not enough space to write about all of them. Any given night, there are multiple shows happening. How much time do you have? I'm just scratching the surface. I'll sit here all day and tell you what I love about our DIY scene. It's that damn good.

MUSEUMS

Cleveland

We could go on and on about the entire district of museums on the east side, but we'll narrow the focus now to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Its iconic design (from world-renowned I.M. Pei) is instantly recognizable to anyone who's spent a night of teenage joyriding with the Stones on the stereo. It's a Day 1 agenda item for any visit to Cleveland, and we're damn proud that it stands tall at the top of our city. Whattaya got? Warhol? A can of Campbell's chicken noodle? If soup is art for you people, then maybe we should just get back to the football talk.

Pittsburgh

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JAKE MYSLIWCZYK
  • Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk

As if it weren't enough to celebrate the life, works and legacy of a native son who's merely one of the most influential artists ever, the Warhol is North America's largest single-artist museum. Visitors from around the world traverse seven floors of exhibits, ranging from archival material from Andy's childhood to his epochal soup-can paintings and beyond. Catch his groundbreaking film and video works on demand, see temporary exhibits noting his inescapable influence on latter-day giants like Ai Weiwei, and even — if it's rock 'n' roll you're into — learn about Andy's crucial role in the career of a little band called the Velvet Underground.

SOCIAL JUSTICE LEADERS

Cleveland

"No matter how events of the [1960s] are reported or analyzed, Cleveland will always be the first major American city to have elected a black mayor, and Carl Stokes will have been that first black Mayor." — Estelle Zannes.

Pittsburgh

Cleveland can probably name just one important figure (like their one measly sports title), but our social justice reach is far reaching. Without Rachel Carson, it's easy to imagine a world where everyone's a climate-change denier. Carson's book Silent Spring is often credited with kickstarting modern environmentalism. Without Pittsburgh native August Wilson, it's easy to imagine a world with far fewer powerful black voices. Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning plays gave theatergoers empowered African-American characters willing to tackle racial stereotypes. And Andy Warhol was openly gay well before it was socially acceptable and his art unapologetically portrayed LGBTQ folks as the beautiful subjects they are.

The Crosby Parade - PHOTO BY JORDAN MILLER
  • Photo by Jordan Miller
  • The Crosby Parade

STAR ATHLETES

Cleveland

With all due respect ... Nevermind. No respect given. Seriously, come the fuck on. Even though Pittsburgh's only relevant experience with professional basketball comes from the too-shitty-to-even-be-campy 1981 film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (the plot: a struggling basketball team takes the advice of an astrologer who claims that having only players who are Pisces on the team is the recipe for success), we assume you still have the internet and television and are vaguely aware of LeBron James. Maybe you even have a movie theater where you've seen him deliver showstopping cameos and supporting actor roles alongside Hollywood's biggest names. Or has your horoscope warned you not to leave the house the last decade? We just assume that's how you make all your important decisions.

Pittsburgh

LeBron James and Sid Crosby. Few people would argue that these two guys are the best in their respective sports. Both men have won multiple world championships and MVP titles. So, let's talk intangibles. Loyalty: In his first foray into free agency, Crosby signed a long-term deal to stay in Pittsburgh until 2025; James left for Miami during a vomit-inducing announcement special on ESPN called "The Decision" and he's probably leaving again after the upcoming season. Drama: Crosby brings none. The Penguins fire a coach, hire a bad one, fire him and hire a good one. In all three situations, Sid the Kid played his heart out and did his job. LeBron wasn't a fan of former coach David Blatt, despite Blatt getting the team to the finals the year before, and reportedly applied pressure to get him fired. And, finally, footwork: Crosby can skate. Skating is much harder than running. Although James is a better runner. You'll see that when he runs to join the Lakers next year.

OTHER FOOTBALL LEAGUES

Cleveland

Ah, and we return to football, the genesis of the rivalry. And without hesitation or equivocation, we can say that the Cleveland Gladiators, our lovable arena football squad — owned by noted, petulant huckster Dan Gilbert — which has never won the AFL championship, is far superior to the Pittsburgh Passion, your women's pro team that has — let us just check the history books one second — yes, won a championship, been the first female team with a game broadcast on a major sports network, and once enjoyed a 23-game winning streak over three seasons. I think our case really makes itself here.

Pittsburgh

Thanks, Cleveland, we couldn't have said it better ourselves. One of these is competitive tackle football, played at a high level by passionate athletes, outdoors in the elements. The other is played by a bunch of has-beens and never-weres in the same arena as the Foghat reunion tour the night before. The Pittsburgh Passion is a venerable franchise in women's professional football. The Cleveland Gladiators is a nomadic AFL team that came from New Jersey by way of Las Vegas. Formed in 2002, the Passion, co-owned by trailblazer Theresa Conn and former Steeler Franco Harris, have won three world titles and two division titles. Team leader Lisa Horton — yes, I know she's from fucking Berea — is more talented and more successful than any Browns quarterback of the past 15 years. As for why the Cleveland Gladiators suck? It's football played in a fucking gym. We have that here, it's called high school P.E.

ALL THAT BEING SAID...

If we can't have the football rivalry — and our team certainly threw that one out the window years ago — then we can sure as hell have everything else we've gone through, Pittsburgh. Like you, we're a gritty stock built on industrial dreams and shot-and-a-beer hopes. We just happen to have better drinks here.

The pain and misery we experience on Sundays (yes, only Sundays, because everyone agrees primetime audiences on Monday and Thursday nights should never be subjected to the Browns) is eclipsed daily by the inventive fountains of culture and community that we've built on every street corner and in the booths of every restaurant in town. You can't imagine how much fun we're having. Our mustard's better too, obviously.

But, and we should be very clear on this, you're all right too. In fact — aw, hell, Pittsburgh — we love ya. You're like the kid brother we used to holler for when we needed a second player in Goldeneye. You're doing great things over there, and we like to visit every now and then. Your riverfront is an example of good development, and we've been leaving long, rambling messages on our mayor's direct line every weekend to remind him that he too should pay a visit to the banks of the Allegheny and learn something.

We'll still demand that your bartenders put the Cavs game on, and we'll still begrudgingly watch the Pens after being called "jagoffs." But between the weird vocabulary you're spouting and the ass-backward traffic patterns, we're ecstatic to share this incredibly important rivalry, whatever stupid form it takes.

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