I can feel the excitement already. This weekend the New York Mets come to town to renew what has become a heated rivalry in the past few years with the Philadelphia Phillies. The rivalry may not have the storied past of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry yet, but in recent years you can find fans just as passionate about it.
It really got started a few years ago with Jimmy Rollins calling the Phillies “the team to beat.” Last season he predicted the Phillies would win 100 games (including the postseason, they won 103). This offseason, Cole Hamels was caught on radio referring to the Mets as “choke artists." I’m sure his comment will be brought up over and over again this year each time the two teams square off.
We all know the story of the past two years. It is an enjoyable little tale about a team choking away what seemed to be insurmountable leads the past two Septembers.
This offseason, the Mets went about rebuilding their bullpen. They added J.J. Putz as their setup man and signed K-Rod to be the new closer.
After remaking their bullpen, the Mets became the trendy pick in preseason to win the NL East. Many “experts” have even picked the Mets to win the World Series.
Although neither team is currently in first place, most expect both teams to be battling it out for the division title at the end of the year. Both teams has had their share of struggles throughout the early going.
Philly starters haven’t been at their best. Cole Hamels has been hurt three different times already this season. Brad Lidge blew a save. The offense struggled at the beginning of the year, but has since been more consistent.
The Mets' bats have struggled. They have blown a few games because of shoddy defense. Starters not named Johan Santana have a 6.64 ERA so far this year.
The weekend series will not feature the staff aces.
Friday night is Pelfrey versus Park.
Saturday will be Jamie Moyer taking the mound for the Phillies against Oliver Perez, who with his 9.31 ERA, may be on his final chance with the Major League squad.
Hopefully Philly fans will come loud and proud on Saturday. The series wraps up on Sunday with John Maine facing off against Joe Blanton.
Between the two, at this point in the season, the Phillies are looking more like a champion. They have had nine come-from-behind victories already this year, showing their grit once again. Last weekend, the Phillies went into Florida and swept the first-place Marlins with two comeback wins and a Sunday thumping.
I will be glued to the action all weekend. Hopefully the Phillies make a statement for the second weekend in a row and remind the Mets who the defending World Series Champions are. One thing is for sure: the Phillies and Mets rarely leave viewers disappointed.