Friday, April 13, 2012

There Was a Time...

The Mets/Phillies matchup doesn't really carry quite the same panache it did a few years ago. There's the obvious reason; that the Mets just aren't very good now. Yes, they have the proverbial "young and hungry" team that could prove precocious, but without their anchor, David Wright, in the lineup, they look mostly punchless. Or at least they did against Washington earlier in the week.

On the other side, the Phillies have continued on these past few years, as they always have, as apparently the class of the division, perhaps the class of a mostly weak National League. I tend to not pay them much mind anymore, lest I get myself too worked up over their general annoyingness and douchebaggery (we Mets fans have enough of this much closer to home). Those guys (Rollins, Utley, Hamels, Victorino) are still there, and with Halladay and Lee, they're still tough to beat.

But as the last few year have proven it's difficult to maintain a budding dynasty, no matter how many times you're picked to finish first, or you make the playoffs. The Phillies success has certainly been enviable, but when we see the endgame, it's been the Phillies left holding the bag while someone else has celebrated on their field, leaving their annoying, mustachioed fans hanging their heads. Success tends to be fleeting, and after a while, you start to see the window start to close on it.

When we last saw the Phillies, their big slugger was crumpled in a heap on the first base line while the no-less-loathsome Cardinals partied in their faces. When I last saw the Phillies, Cole Hamels was staring blankly at the Great Wall of Flushing after allowing a Home Run to a guy who hadn't hit a Home Run in 8 years.

Point is, a galaxy of stars doesn't always guarantee success. The Mets saw it happen to themselves in '07 and '08, and maybe that worm has turned, and the Phillies are about to experience similar frustration. They're still the team to beat, that's not up for debate. And they will probably win, since there's no really viable competition to knock them off. But Howard and Utley remain hurt. Halladay and Lee, and even Victorino and Rollins are getting older. I wouldn't say they're done and I wouldn't say the Meta are about to roll into Philly and stick it in their ears. But maybe, just maybe, the gap isn't as wide as it was a couple of years ago.

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