The Mets don't exactly appear to be burning into Philadelphia like a house afire for this weekend's series. That's not to say that the Phillies have looked great either, but given the way last year turned out for them, they can be excused, just a little bit. It's the Mets who are really looking bad.
With a fan base that's disillusioned and ready to abandon the team, a pitching staff that can't keep its head on straight, a star 3rd Baseman whos swing is so cocked-up it's affecting his entire game and a bunch of players who immediately go into convulsions when a runner gets to 3rd base, the Mets aren't exactly striking fear into anyone's hearts.
Certainly not, you would think, into the hearts of the defending World Series Champions.
I really don't know how this weekend will turn out. Nobody's going to get swept, I'm pretty sure of that, but as a Mets fan, you can't feel especially confident. If the unthinkable happens, there's going to be some heads rolling when the team gets to Atlanta on Monday.
These Mets/Phillies series have taken on a life of their own the last couple of seasons. This year should prove to be no different. The Mets beat the Phillies 11 out of 18 last year, and at times really looked like they owned the Phillies. That 11 could have been 13 or 14 if their bullpen wasn't so bad. But when it came down to it, the Mets didn't play the Phillies all the time, and what they were able to get up for against them, they couldn't against other teams. The Phillies rose to the occasion when they absolutely had to, and rode that particular momentum to a World Championship. This will stick in my throat forever. The Mets clearly lacked the character and resiliency the Phillies had in them. But, the Phillies had one glaring problem: They couldn't beat the Mets. Not only that, the Mets really owned their best pitcher, Cole Hamels, knocking him around real good on two occasions.
Clearly, the Mets are in the Phillies heads. Any normal World Champion would be focusing on themselves, not kicking their nearest rival when they were already down. I heard Howie Rose on WFAN last night with Steve Somers, and he mentioned something about the Cole Hamels "Choker" comments. Whether or not it was something that Hamels was goaded into saying, he still took the bait and said it. Rose says that there are two things that a professional athlete can never stand being called. One of them is "Quitter." The other is "Choker."
Lately, the Mets have been accused of both.
Whether or not these things can really fire up a team is debateable. Over the first 21 games this season, the Mets haven't responded to Hamels' comments like a team that's playing angry. They don't look particularly fearsome right now. But now, they're going to be face to face with this team that keeps poking and jibing them, as if to try to get some sort of reaction out of them. This, in front of you tonight, is the team that went to the place you were supposed to go, got there, and stood and pointed and laughed at you. But this team is internally fragile. Even in winning, they're too quick to point out your faults. They have to rely on a voice from the past to psych themselves up. They, themselves, aren't off to such a hot start.
But there they are, right in front of you now. I don't think you need any more motivation.