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New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies Rivalry Will Heat Up in 2014

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New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies Rivalry Will Heat Up in 2014
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For the most part, the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies have not been good at the same time. But as division competitors that seeing each other so often during a season, a rivalry has developed over the years.

There have been back-and-forth arguments. There have even been brawls. No matter how good or bad either team is, they still convince themselves that they are better than the other.

The Mets are a relatively young team compared to the Phillies. While the Mets began in 1962, the Phillies started out in 1883. Since 1962, the Phillies have held the upper hand. They lead the series with the Mets by 475-417, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Comparing Places When One Team Wins the National League East

  Mets Phillies
1969 1st 5th
1973 1st 6th
1976 3rd 1st
1977 6th 1st
1978 6th 1st
1980 5th 1st
1983 6th 1st
1986 1st 2nd
1988 1st  6th
1993 7th 1st
2006 1st 2nd
2007 2nd 1st
2008 2nd 1st
2009 4th 1st
2010 4th 1st
2011 4th 1st

The Phillies have also secured more first-place rankings in the National East Division, as shown in the table above. The first time there was any real competition between the two teams was in 1986, when the Mets took first place and the Phillies took second. Besides 1986, 2006, 2007 and 2008, neither team came close in competition to the other.

And as with all rivalries, the Mets and the Phillies have had several brawls. For example, in 1989 Mets rookie Gregg Jefferies and Met-turned-Philly Roger McDowell started a brawl right as the game (a 5-3 Phillies victory) ended.

Then there was 1990, when pitchers Doc Gooden and Pat Combs started a 20-minute brawl after a series of hit batsmen. The Mets won that game, 5-2. Mets catcher Mackey Sasser told Michael Bamberger of The Inquirer, "We needed that. We needed something to spark us."

Over the years, the Mets and the Phillies have turned brawls into a war of words. Every current Mets and Phillies fan can remember Jimmy Rollins saying to the Associated Press, "I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally."

After Rollins got the ball rolling, a few Mets and Phillies joined in the banter. Carlos Beltran and David Wright stuck up for their team while Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins continued arguing that it was the Phillies' year. And it was: The Phillies won first place in the NL East. Rollins even got his first "Most Valuable Player" award of his career.

Since 2011, things have been dormant on the front lines of this rivalry. Rollins himself has cooled off significantly. In 2007, he had a decent wins above replacement (WAR) of 6.1, according to Baseball-Reference.com. But that WAR had dramatically decreased to just 0.2 in 2013.

The Mets, in the meanwhile, were trying to rebuild a lost team.

But things should start to heat up. For the Mets, that is.

The Phillies seem to be one of those teams who always find themselves in the hunt, especially since 2007. But they've got a lot of issues now. Rollins isn't the only declining player. Howard has missed plenty of time over the past couple of seasons, and he is getting worse and worse when facing left-handed pitching.

Chase Utley has also had issues staying healthy, and he's no longer the powerful home run hitter he was once. While he hit between 28 and 34 home runs between 2005 to 2009, he has failed to hit 20 homers since then. That becomes a lot less threatening to the Mets.

The Mets have become more intimidating, on the other hand. With new signings such as Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon, the Mets have already upped their hitting and pitching game. They are a much better team now than they were last year, and even then they managed to get to third place.

Sure, the competition with last year's division winners, the Atlanta Braves, will be tough. And since each team gets pumped up when they play one another, the Phillies will no doubt be a bump on the road for New York. But if the Mets are more consistent throughout the year, they have as good as a chance to win first place as any.

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