At this point in the season the Phillies and Mets are poised to both make the playoffs. Yet, the two teams remain beating up on each other in the media—Bleacher Report is certainly a good example of that.
I, for one, welcome the rivalry and would like to see it get more mainstream attention.
The era of the Atlanta Braves dominance is over.
The division now belongs to two teams with MVP candidates all over their respective infields: The Philadelphia Phillies, led by SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Chase Utley, and 1B Ryan Howard; and the Mets, led by 1B Carlos Delgado, SS Jose Reyes, and 3B David Wright.
These two teams have trashed talked and battled for the top spot in the NL East for the past three years, also marking the Braves decline. But this year at least, why must we fight so much?
The Phils and Mets will no longer be playing each other this year. They're poised to take both the Wild-card and the NL East division spot in the playoffs. This means, being from the same division, they cannot meet again until the NLCS.
This is a dream come true for fans of this rivalry.
Everyone can appreciate the Sox and Yanks rivalry, but their time has passed. Both fan-bases are now unbearable, and the only legacy they have is of Curt Schilling's crave of attention (although, forever burned in my mind is Pedro throwing down Don Zimmer—priceless).
The time has come for a new national sports rivalry and my top candidate is the Mets and Phillies.
The stage is set: in the past two years the teams have played each other tough, each team taking one NL East title.
In addition to this, there are great sound bites like Jimmy Rollins' "We are the team to beat in the NL East." This coming after finishing 12 game back in the division in 2006, this preseaon prediction came true.
This year Carlos Beltran had his share, after the signing of ace pitcher Johan Santana: "To Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat." Awesome stuff.
Now this is clearly all fantasy and speculation so far. If both teams are to remain in playoff spots, they would also need to beat the Cubs and the Dodgers, which, given the Cubs record and Manny Ramirez's clutch hitting, will be no easy feat. However, let's just pretend they get through to each other.
New York Mets Vs Philadelphia Phillies 2008 NLCS.
Johan Santana vs Cole Hamels. Santana goes the distance, to alleviate the Mets of their bullpen. Howard homers in Utley, but Delgado matches and Reyes manufactures the winning run. Mets win 3-2.
Mike Pelfrey vs Brett Myers. Another pitcher's duel but Myers gets the best. The Mets bullpen allows a homer to Greg Dobbs. Phils win 4-2.
Oliver Perez vs Joe Blanton. Bats come alive in this one. Howard homers twice along with Rollins. Beltran, Church, and Delgado each homer. Mets win it in a slug fest 11-8.
Pedro Martinez vs Jamie Moyer. What starts in a battle of veteran pitching ends in a benches clearing brawl. Pedro, Beltran, and Rollins get tossed. Phils get the best of Aaron Heilman and take the win 5-1.
Another duel with Santana and Hamels. This time Hamels goes the distance and gets the 2-0 win.
Pelfrey and Myers again. Pelf goes seven strong, and Joe Smith strikes out four in two innings. Homers from Wright and Delgado power Mets 4-2.
Perez and Blanton again. Endy Chavez gets the start in left, makes two web gems. To counter this, Shane Victorino makes a routine double an in the park homerun. Endy drags a bunt suicide squeeze to tie the game in the 8th 4-4. Then Reyes on second, two outs and Beltran facing Brad Lidge in the bottom of the 9th. With two strikes Lidge gives Beltran a fastball (not a ridiculous 12-6 curveball) and, this time, Beltran swings....
I'm leaving this open ended, cause this is purely a fantasy I made up, but you see my point.
This has the potential to be an awesome series. Its always awesome when these teams face. Granted I can't promise you Pedro will throw down Charlie Manuel, or that Endy Chavez gets in ESPN's top 10 three separate times in his first playoff start, but this would be a guaranteed great series that would be good for sports and good for baseball.
At the very least it might shut Curt Schilling up.