I wasn’t going to talk about the Phillies winning the World Series on here, because frankly, it’s not something that brings me a lot of joy. I don’t like the Phillies. It’s hard to like a group of people who have kicked you in the mouth for two straight seasons. Whether they may be a good team, it’s hard for me to appreciate them, because what they do directly affects the Mets in a negative light. I can appreciate other good teams; I have appreciated the good Red Sox teams, for instance, and the Tampa Bay Rays were often a delight to watch in 2008. It’s not that I can’t appreciate good baseball, it’s that I can’t appreciate good baseball when it hurts the Mets. So there…those are my biases. I admit them.
At the same time…I have heard a lot about the Mets this postseason than I would have expected for a team that once again failed to make the playoffs. It seems that Phillies fans have taken as much delight in the Mets’ failures as they have in their own triumphs, and I just find that to be particularly sad. This is the first championship for the city of Philadelphia in 25 years, and I would think with winning, most of these fans could get over petty rivalries. I guess that simply isn’t the case.
Let’s start with the Dodgers series. Game 2, Shane Victorino hits a home run that helps the Phillies win the game. Hey, congratulations, you should be thrilled. While running the bases, Victorino held one finger in the air, reminiscent of Jose Reyes during a key Phillies game back in August. Teammates later taped a picture of Victorino running the bases with the caption “J. Reyes” to the locker. And hey…it’s kind of funny, I’ll admit, although referring back to a game that happened two months ago to a team that they ultimately overcame comes off a bit obsessed, and for an event that pretty clearly got under the skin of the Phillies for allegedly showing them up, it sure was hypocritical of them to do the same thing to the Dodgers. I’d like to think that they had by now gotten over the Mets since they had beaten them for the second season in a row, but it’s clear that the Mets are still lingering in the Phillies’ minds.
After that strange incident, there was then talk from Phillies’ GM Pat Gillick about how the rest of the NL East ”hating” the Mets is the reason the Phillies have won the past two years, particularly mentioning taunting by other players. This struck me as particularly odd. First, it’s not the Mets themselves that have a tendency to be particularly celebratory; it’s Jose Reyes, who plays the game with his heart on his sleeve, for better or worse. Everybody else on the team seems pretty subdued to me, even a guy like Pedro Martinez (who, frankly, hasn’t had much to celebrate in 2008 anyway). So again…it really feels like Gillick is singling out Jose Reyes and his “antics” as the reason the Phillies have won the division the last few years, because teams are playing them tougher as a result.
Is that really true, though? It sure seemed like the Braves played the Phillies tough the last week of the season; they took 2 of 3 in Philadelphia, and there were some bench-fights in that series, too. In fact, for all of Jose Reyes’ taunting, quite frankly, Shane Victorino has come off as at least as much of an asshole as Reyes, particularly with that little league helmet of his. The Mets played the Braves, Marlins, Phillies, and Nationals a total of 72 times, without incident; in fact, the Mets failed to get into a single fight all season. Sure, the Marlins don’t seem to have a whole lot of love for Jose Reyes (or Mike Pelfrey, for that matter), but frankly, the Marlins’ pitching had been good all season; their pitching had at least a fighting shot at beating the Mets in the last series because they sent three pretty good pitchers to the mound. Hatred for the Mets did not determine this season, and hatred for Jose Reyes sure didn’t determine this season; fact is, the Mets just didn’t play well enough to make the postseason. Gillick sells his own players short when he says things like this.
And then, there’s the World Series championship itself. Congrats, Phillies fans, your team finally ended 25 years of futility for the city. You would think talk would be about how great this team was, and how they perservered through a tough 2005 and 2006 when the core just missed out on making the playoffs two straight years, and how they made some big breakthroughs to bring the championship home. Surely, the story would be about the Phillies and their great players that helped get the job done. Players like Chase Utley, who has emerged as one of the best overall players in the big leagues, or Ryan Howard, one of the premier sluggers in the game, or Cole Hamels, who should be one of the top 5-10 pitchers in baseball over the next 10 years. This is the story, right?
Well, sure seems like Harry Kalas is more obsessed with an event that took place one month ago, or that Mitch Williams is still talking about a guy who has been sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV. What’s the point, to piss off Mets fans? Isn’t that a bit petty? We aren’t the story here, folks. We haven’t been the story since September 29th-ish, after the Mets were eliminated. We aren’t that important at this point, and frankly, we haven’t been in some time. While I’m sure you guys are pretty happy that the NL team with the best record against the Phillies didn’t make the playoffs, shouldn’t you guys be over us by now? We stink. We’ve been done for months. Get over us.
Look, I know the city of Philadelphia doesn’t know how to win. I understand that, because they haven’t won anything in 25 years, this is a new concept for them. But part of winning should mean getting over past slights, which…to be honest, I can’t think of any major slights the Phillies have endured against the Mets. The two seasons that have ever seen a Mets/Phillies pennant race in the history of baseball went in favor of the Phillies. The Mets are the ones who should have a complex here (and trust me, we do have a complex about this). We’re the ones who just suffered back to back heartbreaking losses at the end of the season at the hands of the Phillies (and Brewers). We’re the ones undergoing questions by stupid talk radio hosts saying that we need to break up the core (even though without the core, we finish 10-15 games back instead of 1). The fact that Phillies fans, players, and announcers have this weird complex about the Mets, a team that hasn’t finished in the playoffs in two straight years, at the expense of the Phillies, just strikes me as sad.