Guest Blogger: Marisa Gothie Pitchers and Catchers reported to their respective Spring homes this week. And for me, that brings great news! As a north-east girl who can’t stand the cold, the start of Spring Training signals the start to everything I love: warmer/better weather, anticipation of days spent lounging in the sun, and my favorite boys of summer readying themselves to take the field.
Spring training is the time for media members to re-engage themselves with the players and rehash stories from last year. Those players that have come off non-stellar years are questioned about their off season work ethic and those that led their teams with glory and are still held in high esteem. Fans wait with bated breath to see which of the field players will show up early, which will show us that they have winning attitudes and that they are ready to play. In Philadelphia another question is playing on repeat on the airwaves. It’s our most touted rivalry and every year the sound bites that come out of it get better and better; our rivalry with the NY Mets.
The rivalry has been heated since we both have gotten “good." It has been a war waged both on the field and off with fun predictions from the top players, fans making signs to taunt one another and even the managers getting into it at press conferences. It is what makes East Coast baseball worth watching. It started in 2007 with Jimmy (J-Roll) Rollins uttering the now infamous and backed up words of “We are the team to beat in the NL East," it followed with the Mets signing big name pitchers and coming back with the words “we spend the money.” But as J-Roll put it at the parade where the Phillies were glorious and finally captured the coveted World Series trophy, “One man does not make a team."
Over the years the Mets players have become enraged and stated that it is immature for our players to make comments directed at them. David Wright has stated that we should focus on ourselves. But as Hamels stated, they are choke artists and sometimes the truth does hurt. (Just today Johan Santana came out with the fact that he is “the beast of the East”) it seems like the rivalry just motivates the teams to get better. Winning the division (and not just getting to the post season) plays a much bigger role in the minds of the fans. The rivalry is all in good fun and the best part about it is that it does carry over onto the field when the Phillies head down to Citi Field or the Mets come to Citizens Bank Park to play. The boos heard for opposing players can be heard for miles and the players want to have their fans become victorious. In 2008 the Phillies were losing to the Mets 7-1 going into the 8th inning, they ended up winning that game 8-7 and it felt almost as good as winning the world series.
There isn’t much “in trading” amongst the Phillies and the Mets. In press conferences players for the Phillies have publically stated that they would not want to play for the Mets and that they wouldn’t fit in with their guys. Again its probably all in good fun and I’m sure as we’ve seen with Pedro Martinez and most recently with Chris Coste if the teams open their wallets and want to sign a player to that long term deal they will play where they are needed. Because they both play in the NL East and the teams are so close geographically even if the standings weren’t as close as they have been in the past few years, I think the Mets would still be our biggest rivals. Its hard for me ever to cheer for a Met-during the All star game, if they make it to the playoffs.
I’m sure Mets fans have the same feelings toward Phillies players. The rivalry grows every year. I know it will never be as big as the Yankees and the Red Sox, but its something to get Philadelphia and New York NL fans excited about. All I have to say is Spring Training games start in just 14 days and the season begins in less than 50…the Mets come to CPB for the first meeting of the season on April 30 for the first of 6 series between the teams and I’m not ashamed to admit that I keep track of our series wins against the NY Mets as closely as I do our record. If we can have a winning season against them it means something. Bring it on David Wright, Johan Santana and others… Chase, J-Roll and the rest of Philadelphia is waiting! What are your favorite rivalries?