The Phillies will host the Nationals tonight in the first of a three-game set, and the series is sure to be one of the more intense ones this year. This is because the Phillies and the Nationals have developed a new found rivalry this that has never been present before, because the Mets were the Phils biggest rival.
But ever since 2007, the Phillies-Mets rivalry has really cooled down, and with the Phils being so dominant in the division, the term “rival” didn’t really mean what it used to.
Fast forward to 2012. The Phillies have found themselves in last place in the NL East, looking up at the first place Braves, and for a little while were looking up at the first place Nationals. The Nats even took two of three from the Phils in the “Take Back Our Park” series earlier this month where the theme was to get Phillies fans away from Nationals Park.
In the third game of the series, Cole Hamels intentionally beaned rookie phenom Bryce Harper. The story made headlines, and Hamels even found himself sidelined for five games due to a suspension. Clearly, Hamels was just trying to intimidate Harper in their first ever meeting, but could Hamels have done more than that? Harper is the Nationals prized young hitter. Nationals manager Mike Rizzo lashed out at Hamels, calling him “fake tough” for hitting Harper, comments that would result in a fine.
Now think about the Mets. Think about all the intense games the Phillies and Mets have had this year, and all the suspensions and fines and exchanges of words between to two teams. Drawing a blank? Me too. A Phillies-Mets series this year is no different than a Phillies-Marlins series or maybe even a Phillies-Braves series, even though they hold first place right now.
There is just something–a spark–that exists between the Phillies and the Nationals this year, which is why I think that they are the Phillies biggest rival right now. The Mets have a longer history with the Phillies, the Braves have been more dominant than the Phillies for a longer period of time in the past, and the Marlins have never really fallen into the “rival” category with the Phils.
With that being said, who do you think is the Phillies biggest rival this year?