Last year Jimmy Rollins mouthed off in Spring Training with a declaration that his Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East.
Met fans and the NY Media rode him hard all year, until his prophecy was fulfilled by divine intervention and a colossal Met collapse.
Rollins was vindicated further when he captured the NL MVP award, officially anointing him as the division's best shortstop—a distinction thought to be held by Mets All-Star Jose Reyes.
This year, Rollins has said nothing. His 2007 performance stands as proof of his and the Phillies' current status as the reigning NL East champs.
Carlos Beltran, the Mets' All-Star center fielder, seeing how well Rollins' boast lifted his team to the playoffs last season, has broken his notorious ban on public speaking and pulled a page out of Rollins' book.
"To Jimmy Rollins," Beltran announced to a group of reporters in Port St. Lucie on Saturday, "we are the team to beat."
The astounded press corps, who have come to expect very little copy from the reserved Beltran, scrambled to get their pens, notebooks, and recording devices out of their bags.
"Let me tell you this," Beltran said. "Without Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we're going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We've got what it takes."
Does this mean that the Beltran that we have come to know and love for being devoid of passion, enthusiasm, and leadership is going to pull an Eli Manning?
Perhaps it was becoming a father for the first time this off season that sparked this sudden attitude adjustment in Beltran.
We can only hope.
When told that the Philadelphia fans would take umbrage to his remarks, Beltran simply shrugged it off—like most leaders do.
"I don't care," Beltran said. "They boo me in Houston. One more city won't make a difference."
All right! We have found our Luca Brasi.