Ranking the 25 Most Infamous Moments of the Phillies-Mets Rivalry
It is a rivalry that has involved great players across generations. From Jim Bunning and Tom Seaver, to Darren Daulton and Doc Gooden, to Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes.
The rivalry has cooled off a bit and changed over the last several decades, but the fact remains that these are two teams with a pure dislike for each other, and it is easy to forge a rivalry in that manner.
So as the Phillies and Mets battle for another division title in 2012, what better time is there to take a look at what made this rivalry one of baseball's all-time greats?
25. 2001: A Scheduling Change
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It took officials until 2001 to figure out that intradivisional battles were going to put fans in the seats.
Of course, that was the birth of the MLB schedule as we know it today, at least until the end of this season.
The Phillies-Mets rivalry was in full swing by 2001, but the difference was significant. From then on, these two teams would play each other upwards of 18 times a season, giving the rivalry a chance to develop even further.
24. Pointing: Fair or Foul
Players obviously don't like being shown up.
One of the most memorable moments between these two clubs came in a game at Shea Stadium, when then-Mets shortstop Jose Reyes slugged a home run and rounded the bases pointing towards the sky.
Several members of the Phillies' club took offense to the antic and were quite vocal about it.
Amongst those Phillies was starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who after calling the Mets' "choke artists," added fuel to the fire by pointing out Reyes' flare for "showboating" and how the Phillies had chastised their teammate, Shane Victorino, for doing something similar in the postseason.
So I'll pose a question: Is pointing towards the sky fair or foul?
23. Jim Bunning Throws a Perfect Game
As 1964 season rolled around, the Mets were in just their third season of existence. After failing to win more than 51 games in either of the first two, it is safe to say that things weren't exactly looking up heading into '64.
As it turns out, that was exactly the case.
The Phillies took off in '64, and the Mets continued to sputter. The two clubs would meet for a double-header on Fathers Day, and history would ensue.
On the mound for the Phillies was their ace, Jim Bunning, and though it was the middle of the summer, the right-handed pitcher would carve up the Mets like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Bunning would throw the first perfect game in the history of the Phillies organization and set the tone for what would soon become an intense rivalry.
22. Shaw Beans Dalyrmple
In its early stages, this was a rivalry that never took a break. Not even in spring training.
The Phillies were set to take on the Mets down in Clearwater back in March of 1967. The game would eventually turn into an absolute hitting showcase as the teams combined for 27 hits, but the game was marked by a beaning incident.
Clay Dalrymple was at the plate for the Phillies, but not for long, as Mets pitcher Bob Shaw plunked him on the head. Dalyrmple was okay, but his teammates were steamed. Phillies pitcher Joey Jay took to the mound in the next half-inning and threw two pitches behind Shaw.
The benches were warned, and Phillies skipper Gene Mauch came out to protest. He was subsequently ejected, and the Mets would go on to win the game.
21. Realignment Intensifies Rivalry
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The early 1990s were a tumultuous time around the game of baseball. The decade ushered in a lot of change, perhaps none greater than the divisional realignment.
But it was the teams that remained in the division—namely the Phillies, Mets and Atlanta Braves—that formed new rivalries that would escalate quickly over the following seasons.
20. Burrell Takes Wagner Deep Twice
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At the height of this rivalry, the Phillies and Mets mutually disliked each other, so I'm not sure that there was any single "public enemy No. 1." But if there was, it was Billy Wagner.
We'll talk about Wagner more later in the slideshow, but most fans already know the story. Wagner, once the Phillies closer, spurned the club and kicked the town on his way out the door. That's not something people get away with.
After Wagner joined the Mets, he and Pat Burrell, a notorious Mets killer, went at it through the media. But Burrell also did his talking on the field.
During the 2007 season, Burrell hit two memorable home runs off of his former teammate, resulting in blown saves.
19. Mets Sign Rodriguez
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The Phillies won the World Series in 2008, and you can bet that the Mets took notice.
During that winter, the Mets went out and made one of the biggest free-agent splashes of the offseason, signing closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year deal.
The Mets backed up the truck for Rodriguez. He was coming off of a season with the Los Angeles Angels in which he set the single-season saves record. They knew he would add some flair to the back end of their bullpen and this rivalry.
He certainly did.
18. Mets Acquire/Sign Santana
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It was a retaliation move, no doubt.
The Phillies battled the Mets throughout the 2007 season and won the NL East on the final day, and though the Phillies would be dispatched from the postseason quickly, the message was clear: They were here to stay.
Jimmy Rollins' "team to beat" prophecy had been fulfilled, and it was the Mets' turn to answer.
They did just that in the offseason when they made a huge splash on the free-agent market and acquired Minnesota Twins' starting pitcher Johan Santana. They signed him to a lucrative extension before the deal was finalized.
The rivalry was ready to rock and roll.
17. Roger McDowell vs. Gregg Jefferies
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Every great rivalry has a bit of bad blood. So did this one.
One of the most infamous moments came in a bit of a long-standing battle between Phillies reliever Roger McDowell and the Mets' Gregg Jefferies.
McDowell was able to get the final out of the game as Jefferies grounded out to second base, but on his way back to the dugout, McDowell and Jefferies exchanged words.
Jefferies charged the mound and took McDowell down, clearing both benches. Punches were exchanged, and the rivalry intensified.
Jefferies later claimed that McDowell had thrown at him...during a previous game.
16. Phillies as Spoilers
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At one point in time, this rivalry became so intense that the Phillies' goal became keeping the Mets out of the postseason.
It's no secret that the Phillies weren't a playoff-caliber team for a long time, but the Mets were, and the Phillies would do whatever it took to keep them from going to the postseason.
This was the case in a few different seasons, but none more apparent than in 1987. The Mets were coming off of their second World Series victory, and the Phillies wanted nothing more than to rain on their parade.
At the end of the season, the Mets came to Philadelphia for a three-game series and the Phillies stuck it to them, dropping the club further out of first place while playing out of the cellar in their own right.
15. Phillies Keep Mets' Champagne on Ice
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The Phillies nearly played the ultimate spoiler in 1986.
After looking up at the Mets in the standings for most of the season, their rivals came to Philadelphia at the end of the season for a three-game set at Veterans Stadium and an opportunity to win the National League East in Philly.
The champagne was ready. How sweet would that be?
But the Phillies wouldn't have that. Mike Schmidt homered in the first game, while Bruce Ruffin outdueled Doc Gooden. One down. The Phillies would win the next two games and sweep the Mets right out of Philadelphia.
Of course, the Mets would laugh last. They'd eventually clinch the division at home against the Phillies and move on to win the World Series.
14. Mets Win the 1986 World Series
The 1986 World Series was a sweet one for the Mets.
They fielded an interesting club that year, to say the least—they were a fun group of guys to get behind. The rivalry with the Phillies was strong this season, and the Mets had a chance to win the division in enemy territory, but as mentioned, the Phillies swept them out of town.
A couple of weeks later, the Mets defeated the Phillies at home and clinched the division. They would go on to win an improbable World Series title, effectively warning the Phillies.
13. Beltran Calls out Rollins
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The Mets weren't happy about Jimmy Rollins' "team to beat" prediction in 2007. They were even more upset when it actually happened. One of the most frustrated Mets players was clearly Carlos Beltran, who went on a tirade prior to the 2008 season (via the New York Times):
"I have no doubt we’re going to win our division,” and, “So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.”
Of course, the Phillies would go on to win the World Series.
12. The Mike Schmidt E-Mail
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You know that a rivalry is legitimate when a former player and team legend sends an e-mail to the club's current skipper and it later serves as a tool for encouragement amongst the players.
That was exactly the case for the Phillies when Mike Schmidt, who was once a huge player in this rivalry, sent an e-mail to skipper Charlie Manuel offering his club words of encouragement:
One pitch, one at-bat, one play, one situation, think "small" and "big" things result, tough at-bats, lots of walks, stay up the middle with men on base, whatever it takes to"‘keep the line moving" on offense, 27 outs on defense, the Mets know you’re better than they are…
They remember last year. You guys are never out of a game. Welcome the challenge that confronts you this weekend. You are the stars. Good luck. #20.
11. Phillies Acquire Dykstra
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It was one of the most one-sided trades in the history of these two clubs.
The Mets, looking for a spark, agreed to send a part-time outfielder and a reliever to the Phillies for a man with a lot of potential.
When you put names to the those players, the trade looks a lot different. The Mets would send Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Phillies for Juan Samuel.
Dykstra would go on to be a legitimate MVP threat for the Phillies, and McDowell was a huge piece to the bullpen puzzle. Meanwhile, in half a season with the Mets, Samuel posted an OPS of .599.
10. Phillies Win the 1980 World Series
After the Mets won the World Series in 1969 in storybook fashion, the pressure was on the Phillies to win their first championship.
It was about bragging rights. The Phillies had been around a lot longer than the Mets, yet the Mets were the ones with a championship.
It took a while, but that all changed in 1980.
After coming close in three out of the previous four years, the Phillies were ready to do whatever it took in '80. The year prior, they had brought Pete Rose aboard and reaped the rewards in 1980.
The rivalry was all even again. But not for long.
9. Phillies Acquire McGraw
The Lenny Dykstra trade certainly hurt the Mets on the field, but the deal that hurt the most was the one that sent Tug McGraw to the Phillies—because it was the entire package.
McGraw was an immensely popular player anywhere he went. He was a member of the Mets' 1969 World Series team and even coined their rallying cry, "Ya gotta believe!"
He was a big part of the bullpen and a lot of teams wanted him, the Phillies included. The Mets were finally willing to part with him after learning that he was dealing with an arm issue. The Phillies jumped, and the rest is history.
McGraw would become one of the most popular players in Phillies history and an immensely important part of the 1980 World Series team.
Moreover, the McGraw deal was a blow to the Mets' morale.
8. Choke Artists
At one point in time, you wouldn't expect Cole Hamels to be much of a troublemaker. Now it seems to be the opposite.
I say that only half-jokingly with the whole Bryce Harper bean-ball incident in mind.
But long before Harper was even a twinkle in the MLB's eye, Hamels was calling out the Mets. During a radio interview, Hamels was asked if he thought that the Mets were choke artists.
Not many fans of the Phillies or Mets forgot his reply: "For the past two years they've been choke artists."
7. Mets Win the 1969 World Series
This is the one that stuck in the craw of Phillies' fans.
The Phillies organization had been around since 1883 and owned a grand total of zero championships. By the time the 1969 season was over and the Mets had a title, the Mets had only been around since 1962.
To make things even worse for Phillies fans, it was a great run for the Mets. They were a great cast of characters that put on a show to win the World Series, and the Phillies definitely knew it. Their strategy would change big time over the next couple of seasons.
6. McGraw Makes Sure Mets Are Aware of Phillies' Success
Phillies fans certainly know the story. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals, Tug McGraw was on the bump trying to get the final out of the World Series.
The only man that stood in his way was the Royals' Willie Wilson, and McGraw made quick work of him. The Phillies celebrated around him, and the city of Philadelphia around them.
Over the next couple of days, the Phillies would say a lot of things, but no shot rang louder than McGraw's salvo towards the Mets (h/t Sportsillustrated.cnn.com): "All through baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat to New York City. Well, New York City can take this world championship and stick it, because we're No. 1!"
5. Phillies Win 2008 World Series
The Mets may have laughed first, but the Phillies laughed last.
The Phillies were a bad team for a long time, and though the fans were growing impatient with the ridiculous on-field product, the Phillies were quietly biding their time and building an incredible farm system.
By 2007, the Mets were definitely aware of what kind of team the Phillies were becoming. As the Mets recorded one of the greatest collapses in MLB history, the Phillies unseated them and were ready to show that they were there to stay the following season.
Led by the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge, the Phillies would eventually defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to win their second championship.
Neither team has won a World Series since.
4. The Doc Gooden Incident
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One of the most infamous "bad blood" moments in this rivalry occurred in 1990 and centered around Mets ace Doc Gooden and Phillies catcher Darren Daulton.
Gooden was on the mound for a start against the Phillies, and tempers flared. The right-handed strikeout artist plunked both Dickie Thon and Tommy Herr.
Gooden came to bat in the next inning to square off with the Phillies' rookie starter Pat Combs. Combs pitched more like a veteran on this day, defending his teammates and plunking the Mets' star with a pitch.
Then all hell broke loose.
Gooden charged the mound and tackled Combs. Daulton followed Gooden out and landed several punches on the Mets' starter. Darryl Strawberry attempted to come to the aid of his pitcher, but he was blindsided by Von Hayes.
This was one of the worst brawls that either of these two teams had ever encountered, and probably the worst they ever will.
3. Mets Sign Wagner
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Of all of these teams' transactions, either between one another or in an attempt to beef up the rivalry, this one stung the worst for the Phillies.
They had acquired Billy Wagner to be their closer two seasons prior, and in just two short seasons, he had become one of the greatest relievers they ever had.
But he wasn't the guy for the club long-term, and that much was clear. He was unhappy with the direction of the club and wanted out of Philly. So when he was eligible for free agency, he booked it.
The Mets were ready to make a splash and stole Wagner away from the Phillies. The left-handed reliever bashed his former club through the media on his way out of time.
He was instantly one of the most hated men in the Philadelphia sports scene.
2. "The Team to Beat"
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The Phillies were ready to break down the door in 2007. Over the couple of seasons prior, they were waiting outside. They had a solid club but weren't World Series contenders.
Now, they had a shot. They were done knocking. They were coming in.
They had plenty of swagger, and no player knew how to pull all of the right strings better than shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
The Mets had just won the division crown in 2006, but coming into spring training, Rollins made an infamous prediction (via ESPN) that was a harbinger of change: "I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally. But, that's only on paper."
1. The Mets' 2007 Collapse
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It started with a prediction by Jimmy Rollins but ended in fact, and no moment in this rivalry meant more to either side than the final day of the 2007 regular season.
The Phillies and Mets had been neck and neck towards the end of September, but throughout the rest of the regular season, it wasn't particularly close. With 17 games left to play, the Mets' lead over the Phillies in the division was seven games.
The Mets would go on to lose five of their next 12. The Phillies won 13 of their last 17.
It all came down to the final day of the regular season: a shot at the postseason; the division crown; bragging rights. The Mets sent Tom Glavine to the mound against the Florida Marlins. The Phillies countered with Jamie Moyer against the Washington Nationals.
The rest is history.
The Mets lost. The Phillies won.
The city of Philadelphia went absolutely bonkers as Brett Myers recorded the final out and gave the Phillies their first postseason appearance since 1993.