Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit Of First Place: Rag-Tag Mets vs. Lost Phils

Jason BurkeCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 10:  Fernando Tatis #17 of the New York Mets makes the out against Raul Ibanez #29 of the Philadelphia Phillies during their game on June 10, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Tomorrow will mark the 223rd anniversary of this country. At the time, the Continental Congress entrenched itself in heavy debate with concern to the hostilities which had developed between the Crown and its thirteen colonies.

The Congress decided the only recourse left was irrevocable separation from its mother country.

So independence was declared in Philadelphia but, more importantly, so was all out war.

Although to a much lesser degree, it is safe to assume war will be declared again in the City of Brotherly Love as the depleted New York Mets go to battle against the reeling Philadelphia Phillies.

First place is on the line for Philadelphia and the Mets, for one reason or another, seem to have the momentum on their side.

Although New York exited June posting a 9-18 record, Philadelphia nullified much of it with an 11-15 record of their own.

Not only that, but the Mets have won the first two games of July while the Phillies come home after losing six of nine on the road, including a devastating sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves—who magically find themselves back in the mix.

Other concerns loom for Philadelphia as home hasn't been so sweet at Citizen's Bank Ballpark. The Phillies are just 13-22 there and are further burdened with news that Raul Ibanez will not be available for this weekend's showdown.

It all starts tonight with Livan Hernandez (10-8, 3.36 ERA lifetime against Philadelphia) against Rodrigo Lopez, making his first start since 2007.

So despite coming off a week in which they endured a five game losing streak, fell two games under .500 for the first time, and dropped into third place, first place is within reach.

This "rag-tag, stick 'em together with paste" bunch, who have trouble getting opportune hits and catching lazy fly balls, will try to dethrone the coronated Phillies without their leadoff, third, or cleanup hitters and missing setup man. Not to mention, they will be without their third and fourth starters.

The odds seemed stacked against them—just as it was against the colonists all those years ago.