Over the course of the past two baseball seasons, the rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets has reached a level it never had.
For the first time in the history of the two franchises, each team had a legitimate shot at winning the NL East division.
The Mets' story has been well documented. Big division leads in September vanished in a New York minute and the Phillies went on to the playoffs. While the Mets were sitting at home, the Phillies were developing into a World Series champion.
So the Mets went out and rebuilt their bullpen and entered the 2009 season as a popular pick in the media to come through finally and win the division, overcoming the faults of the past couple of seasons.
This weekend, the Mets and Phillies play for the first time this season.
While neither team is in first place at the moment, you just get the feeling that they will both be in the mix in September. Each team has problem areas, but the Phillies seem to be coming into this series on the upside at the moment.
This weekend will feature neither team's big name pitcher (Cole Hamels for the Phillies and Johann Santana for the Mets) and on paper, it looks like it could be a high-octane weekend for the offenses.
For the Mets, they need to win this series to build some momentum in their clubhouse. For the Phillies, they need to win this series to prove themselves to be the class of the division once again.
I know it is not necessary given the crowds at these games anyway, but Phillies fans I am calling on you to do your part and make some noise this weekend.
As mentioned the other day, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is using pitcher Oliver Perez in what seems to be his final opportunity to prove himself worthy of a starting job on Saturday.
This is where the fans can really be a difference maker. Make this guy nervous! Make him wonder if he is worthy! Make him wish he was in the dugout! Be loud and be proud.
We all know the Mets fans will be abundant and boisterous, and hopefully the Phillies do their part to silence them. You also have probably seen a commercial running in New York about this series...
The Phillies made a statement in last weekend's series against the Marlins, but this is the series baseball experts have been waiting for. The time to make a statement is now.