Thomasville rivalry? Sounds good to me

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

DISCLAIMER: No one, especially Thomasville residents with easy access to firearms, should take this column too seriously.

But just as everyone knows there wouldn’t be a Batman without a Joker, no Pac-Man without the ghosts, no Richard Scrushy without the U.S. Justice Department, so sports fans know sports is always better with a rival.

Magic Johnson was a great player, but without Larry Bird he’s just another failed talk show host. The only thing separating the universally beloved Boston Red Sox from the universally ignored Chicago White Sox is the universally hated New York Yankees. And while beating up on Vandy and Kentucky is nice and all, without that school on the other side of the state a lot of Auburn and Alabama fans would spend their Saturdays raking leaves and trimming the shrubbery.

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So when I joined up with the Times, I knew I’d start rooting for all the teams in our coverage area. But I’d also need a city outside the coverage area whose teams I could start rooting a little harder for ours to beat. It’s just more fun that way. And after talking to several of Demopolis’s baseball and softball players and coaches these last few months, I discovered that for many of them, victory’s just a little sweeter when it comes against Thomasville.

Since I am (as the Simpsons would put it) the highly suggestible type, that alone was enough for me to buy in and start a general sure-be-nice-to-beat-them-again-next-year kind of feeling, and that was before I passed through Thomasville on my way back from the Gulf Coast and picked up a not-entirely-undeserved-but-still-thoroughly-frustrating speeding ticket. And then their Dixie Youth All-Star baseball teams helped eliminate Sumter in 7-8’s, Demopolis in 9-10’s, and Sumter and Linden in 11-12’s. Which means that, thanks to the fewer games I get to cover, it’s MY sports page they’re messing with.

Now? Oh, it’s so on.

I have nothing, of course, against any of Thomasville’s players, coaches, parents, or people. Everyone I spoke to during my trips there for the 9-and-10-year old Dixie Youth Area tourney was more than welcoming, the facilities were top-notch, and I had an excellent time. Lots of good people in Thomasville, no doubt.

But don’t both sets of fans benefit when there’s a little something more on the line than just another mark in the win column? Especially now that football season’s on the horizon, we’ve got to have some place where “bragging rights” are involved, right?

For me, that place shall be Thomasville. And in the spirit of this newfound grudge (with tongue firmly planted in cheek…remember, NOT entirely serious here), here are five completely arbitrary reasons why I’m really, really hoping for wins over Thomasville, and so should you:

1. The name “Thomasville.” Gosh, how creative: taking someone’s last name and adding “-ville” to it. Genius. Bonus boredom points for using one of the most common last names in the country. I guess “Smith Town” had already been taken, huh? Actually, I don’t guess that would have mattered–Georgia and North Carolina each had a Thomasville decades before Alabama did.

(By the way, there’s still one, and only one, Demopolis.)

2. The color Maroon. Seriously, does anyone think it’s coincidence that, when it comes to football, Alabama is Alabama and Mississippi State is Mississippi State? Maroon is what happened when Red decided to go Purple, couldn’t get an appointment with its usual stylist, and bought the wrong bottle of Clairol. Of course, it’s still better in a lot of ways than…

3. The color Gray. As in, “shades of gray,” or, “a gray area,” i.e. the color of that wishy-washy middle ground where no one’s angry but no one’s really happy, either. Gray’s the color that hates mayonnaise, asked them for no mayonnaise, got mayonnaise on its burger anyway, and will just eat it anyway because it’s not worth the trouble. Gray is Silver’s scrawny younger brother, that pale-looking kid that for some reason always has a runny nose no matter what time of the year it is. (Don’t touch his sleeve.)

4. Thomasville is in Clarke County. As in Clark Kent, the person Superman becomes when he wants to be boring and bossed around (and wear a gray suit). As in Arthur C. Clarke, the guy who wrote the screenplay for “2001: a Space Odyssey,” or as I like to call it, “Two Hours of Hitting My Head With a Tuning Fork to Stay Awake.” Or Wesley Clark, the Democratic presidential candidate who so thrilled and excited voters he was crushed at the polls by John “No, I Stand for Something, Really I Do” Kerry. Sense a pattern here?

5. That %#*@ speeding ticket.

There you go. All the reasons you’ll ever need. Now, how many days until football season starts again?