The sun is fighting through the clouds. The smoke is rising. The air seems dense and surreal.
Yes, the Mets are in town.
It’s the first meeting of the year between the Phillies and Mets; in years past this would be cause for high sugar intake, the pounding of Red Bulls and full-scale regalia sporting. This year? Just another series.
Don’t get me wrong: I dislike the Mets as much as Jimmy from Parkwood. I work with a few Mets fans – one of my employees is a devoted Mets fan. He can’t stand the Phillies, and not just because they’re from Philadelphia, but because “they’re good. Really good.”
Suddenly we’re good in the eyes of Mets fans. Look back at last season’s triumph of the National League East and subsequent playoff run. Mets fans applauded the Phillies for sticking to their game. They knew the Phillies had good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. They knew that was the formula for success. And sadly, the Queens nine didn’t have that formula. Their pitching – bad. Their defense – shoddy. Their hitting – anything but timely. They knew it: The Phillies were just a really, really good team.
After the Phils took the brass ring, I mulled over the Phillies concerns in 2009. Was the NL East still a problem? Sure. But not in the way we looked at the division in the past – now the Phils were undoubtedly kings of the mountain. No matter what the national media could say, the East had to go through Philadelphia. And suddenly the Mets didn’t seem like such a concern anymore. Suddenly they became any other team.
Again, I don’t like the Mets. Never have, never will. And they are the Phils top rival – geographically, competitively, financially. All the trappings exist. But now the Phillies are concerned with greater things: Repeating as world champions. The longview isn’t skewed toward “winning the East,” which is still top among Mets concerns. Their 9-12 start has fans lining up on the Triborough Bridge. If the Phils started 9-12? We’d be a little concerned, but it is a long year.
I explained that to Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog yesterday: He wondered if Phillies fans were mocking Mets fans for acting so outrageously concerned. Point is: Mets fans are fearing the worst. Phillies fans are fearing nothing.
That’s the difference this year. And while the fans will come out in droves, and the Vault will be rocking rain or shine, and the vernacular will fly like no other time, the fear will no longer be there. Not even a drop. Because really, this is just another series.