Maybe the jealously started in Philadelphia when the New York Mets, after just seven years in baseball, won a World Series. Meanwhile, we were down here sitting on almost 90 years of membership in the majors without a World Series win.
Maybe the resentment in That Town Up North started when Tug McGraw had no problem bringing his “Ya Gotta Believe” mantra of the 1973 Mets with him when he switched teams and applied it to the 1980 Phillies, whose fans conveniently forgot where they heard it seven years earlier.
Wherever it was, somewhere along the way, Mets fans and Phillies fans decided they just couldn’t get along. And while that disdain had normally been reserved to the stands where opposing fans would jaw back-and-forth for all nine innings of every game, there are those instances where it boiled over onto the field. And while Monday’s buzzing of Asdrubel Cabrera’s tower by Edubray Ramos could have gone down as something that fueled the Phillies-Mets fire that always seems to be simmering, it probably won’t have any effect at all.
Back up. Let’s try and figure where this all started.
For me, I was 11 years old and a Met-fan classmate had a “Mets Wrecking Crew” T-shirt or something stupidly generic like that after the 1986 season. It was a picture of a tank with “METS” written on it plowing over the uniforms of every team in the National League. Let’s give the 1986 Mets credit – for that entire year, they were a wrecking crew.
Except for one minor little detail. I knew that there was only one team in the National League they didn’t have a winning record against.
The Phillies beat the world champs that year in the season series, 10-8, including winning seven of the last nine. The Mets had a winning record against every other National League team (including 17-1 vs. the Pirates).
It pissed me off every time he wore it. Every. Time. I made it an issue every time he did wear it in the hopes he would stop wearing it. He didn’t. He had that gosh dang thing until, like, senior year, I swear. But I doubt that’s why Phillies fans and Mets fans war.
There were dust-ups that happened every now and then in their history, like when Pat Burrell took shots at Billy Wagner for switching teams. But the Phillies and Mets were in a unique position that despite playing in the same division since 1962, neither of them were ever good at the same time until the mid-2000s. So with a simmering fire ready to burn, all it needed was a spark.
After that, it was game on. For a couple years at least, before the Mets dropped off and the Phillies dominated. Then the Phillies dropped off and the Mets either made the playoffs or were playoff contenders while the Phillies sat it out. Some fans are so desperate for the rivalry to heat up, they’ll even blame a former Phillie like, oh I don’t know, say someone like Chase Utley, for ending their player’s year in the midst of a playoff run. It was probably easier to blame the Phillies than Utley’s new team.
The rivalry is what it is … not that much. Well, not that much on the field, at least. In the stands, when Mets fans come into Philly and Phillies fans travel to Citi Field, the chirping, eye-rolling and, yes, drunken fights will continue because it’s more than than just Phillies and Mets, it’s Philadelphia against New York, two cities that just can’t seem to get along.
And a pitch that sails five feet above a journeyman infielder’s head thrown by a pitcher who isn’t really known by either fan base isn’t going to do much to change that one way or another.