Friday, February 22, 2008


Opening Day is more than a month away, but things are already starting to get interesting.

Jimmy Rollins arrived in Phillies camp this week and wasted no time in firing back at Carlos Beltran and the Mets, and the war of words that has begun to erupt between these two teams.

Beltran's comment about the Mets being the team to beat obviously didn't sit well with the defending MVP, who accused Beltran of plagiarism, before proclaiming that not only would the Phillies repeat as NL East Champions, but they would win 100 games in the process.

I've made my feelings about Steroid Field #2 (AKA Citizen's Bank Park) be known. The Phillies might score like a 100-win team, but will they pitch like one? I'm inclined to think not, unless Freddy Garcia somehow morphs into, well, Johan Santana. Don't think that's happening.

But this sort of brashness out of Rollins? No, never.

It stands to be 19 very, very interesting games between these two teams that don't seem to like each other very much.

19 interesting games between two teams whose fans seem to like each other even less than the teams do.

While the war of words begun between players, a turf war of sorts has broken out between the rival factions, and it's starting to get pretty ugly pretty fast.

On Wednesday, Metsblog beseeched Mets fans to buy up tickets at SF2 before the Phillies fans could get them, thereby flooding the joint with Mets fans. This is nothing new. Even at The Vet, Mets fans would raid the stadium in droves, driving down the Jersey Turnpike to catch the Mets on the road. When one, or both teams were horrible, not a rare occurrence, it was routine to hear "Lets Go Mets!" chants in Philly.

In fact, there's a campaign going already to flood SF2 with Mets fans for the nationally televised April 19th Game, among other dates the Mets will be in Philly.

Well, the Philly fans caught wind of this, and they're firing back themselves. In between taking pot shots at Beltran, the New York Times, and Shea Stadium itself, the folks at the 700 Level are planning a Shea Takeover of their own, on September 6th, another nationally televised affair. They've even got a Facebook page set up, with over 500 Philly fans raring to take over Shea and show us that they're tired of us invading their turf. How dare we show such support for our team in great numbers, while nobody in Philly bothers to come up here and mess with us.

Mets fans fire back by stating that the Phillies will just be battling Atlanta for 2nd place by then. Philly fans retort by saying look at what happened last year.

I've never been one to travel around to exotic places to see the Mets. Outside of a few games in the Bronx, I've never been to a Mets game outside of Shea. And I don't anticipate sojourning down to Philadelphia to see the Mets, where I'd likely be spat on, cursed at, dowsed with beer and be told 77 different ways about how the guys in the row behind me did my mother last night. At least they won't tell me to take my hat off during the National Anthem. Besides, my irrational anger would likely get the better of me, and I would run the risk of doing something stupid and getting myself thrown out of SF2. I'll stay in New York, where I have much more back, and what's besides the point, my schedule at the current time only allows me to get to see Philly during their first trip into New York (assuming I procure my seats for Opening Day, and my 7-pack seats for April 10).

But I digress. I'll take my chances watching the games in Philly either from the comfort of my own home, or from Ballclub HQ, East Village Bureau with a few Guinnesses (my days of dancing with Gin Martinis are over following an ill-advised incident at the end of last season). At least this way, should things turn bad, I can just order another beer to numb things out, yell at a cab driver and pass out.

To break up the tension, however, I can always count on the good people at the Tao of Stieb. Although the Blue Jays have put together an admirable squad, they're hopelessly stuck behind the Arms Race from Hell in the AL East, so rather than griping about it, they're praising the physiques of the talented Alex Rios and the lovely Jenny Lewis, and being challenged to eat raw bacon, all the while bashing their own idiotic PR staff for hawking tickets to Tigers and Red Sox fans. As if they didn't have enough problems already. Sorry, guys.

Yeah, this is getting pretty damn ugly. It should be a lot of fun.

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