Move aside Tom and Jerry, we're in a new era.
It's hard to turn a blind eye to all the rivalries around us in today's day and age. Leaving aside the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup talk, and Grandma and Grandpa bickering together in the living room, we know that baseball features some of the greatest modern day head-to-head competition.
A rivalry and more particularly, a sports rivalry, is intense competition between athletic teams or athletes. This pressure of competition is felt by players, coaches, and management, but it is perhaps felt strongest by the fans.
So what better place to discuss the greatest modern day rivalry than on a die-hard baseball fan's blogilicious website?
Now to be fair, I won't declare one rivalry the greatest of the bunch; since that job is YOURS to keep. I will just put them out there and you, the voting public, will decide on a winner.
Let's get down to business...
The Mets-Phillies Rivalry:
As Keith Hernandez put it tonight, "this rivalry is really starting to heat up" except for the fact that it's been "heated" ever since it started.
In 2006, the rivalry heated up as, for the first time, both franchises fielded contenders until deep into the season. The Mets steadily led the NL East (finally supplanting the decade-long division champions, the Atlanta Braves), while the Phillies maintained pace as a wild card contender until the very end of the season. The Mets won the head-to-head season matchup, beating the Phillies 11 out of 18 times.
On January 23, 2007, Phillies star shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a statement that may have set the rivalry in a dead heat: "I think we are the team to beat in the NL East… but that's only on paper." Many Mets fans and players laughed at the prediction, especially once the Phillies stumbled out of the gate in April, starting the season at 1–6 and posting an 11–14 record for the month. The Mets, meanwhile, sat firmly in the NL East lead for almost all of the season.
As the season wore on, Philadelphia developed momentum as a wild-card contender. The Phillies dominated the Mets in head-to-head play, posting three separate series sweeps, including a pivotal sweep of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park in late August which included two walk-off hits by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and comeback victories for the Phillies in 3 of the 4 games. By the time Philadelphia swept the Mets at Shea Stadium in mid-September, the Phillies were threatening to move from wild-card contender to division leader. With 17 games left to play, the Mets led the Phillies by 7 games; during that final stretch, the Mets won only five games and lost twelve, while the Phillies went 13–4. On the final day of the season, the Phillies won the division, backing up Rollins' quote. Mets' starter Tom Glavine gave up seven runs in the first inning to the Florida Marlins, while the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals behind Philadelphian Jamie Moyer to win the division. Rollins capped his prediction by adding his first career Most Valuable Player award. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Mets' collapse over the end of the season ranked statistically as the second-worst in baseball history.
On February 16, 2008, Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran made a statement regarding the upcoming season. He stated that "[without] Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we're going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We've got what it takes. To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat." Inasmuch as Beltran had imitated Rollins' 2007 preseason prediction, he arrived in camp for Spring Training and responded:
"There isn’t a team in the National League that’s better than us. The pressure’s back on them if you ask me. They were on paper the best team in the division last year and they were supposed to win, and they didn’t. One, there are four other teams in our division who are going to make sure that doesn't happen, and two, has anyone ever heard of plagiarism? That was pretty good, especially coming from him. He's a quiet guy, so it was probably shocking when he said it. Not shocking in a bad way, like 'Wow, I can't believe he said that.' More like, 'Wow, he finally said something because he's a leader on that team and you definitely need to be a vocal leader."
Unfortunately for the Mets, they not only missed out on the post season but they Phillies went the entire way.
During the team's post-parade celebration on October 31 at Citizens Bank Park, Jimmy Rollins took verbal shots at the Mets organization. "A lot of things were made in the offseason," Rollins said. "We can talk about the New York Mets. They brought in that great pitcher, Johan Santana, but they forgot that it takes more than one player to bring home a championship."
Nearing the end of 2008 and the thick of the offseason, World Series MVP Cole Hamels was asked by WFAN radio hosts whether he considered the Mets "choke artists". Hamels replied, "For the past two years they've been choke artists." He explained that he considered Mets shortstop José Reyes a showboater for his post-home run displays and that the Phillies had mocked their center fielder Shane Victorino for similar antics during the National League Division Series.
On December 13, newly signed Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez added his sentiments to the fray. "Of course we're going to be the frontrunner. Of course we're going to be the team to beat," Rodriguez told reporters. "I don't want there to be a controversy. I don't want the other team to take it personally, or take it in a bad way. But I'm a really competitive guy. I like to win. If they ask me, 'Oh, which ballclub is going to win the National League East?' It's going to be the Mets. Easy question.
The Mets have won some big games. The Phillies have won some big games. Shane Victorino continues to be a nuisance you love having and hate playing against, Mike Pelfrey and Chase Utley don't seem to be getting along and each team's fans are the equivelant of bad foot blisters to it's neighboring fan base.
Where this season will end up is anyone's guess.
Now that we've gone through the Mets-Phillies rivalry, let's take a look at another two teams who, to say the least, have a pretty rocky relationship.
The Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry:
On second thought, who cares? Go here if you appreciate boredom.
Two other rivalries come to mind, albeit they're not to do with sports, they're just as tough competitors.
The Mac-PC Rivalry:
With much surprise to the common sports fanatic, the PC is known to be a wild Phillies' fan, while the Mac grew up in Queens and is an avid Mets' supporter. In this photo above, the PC is mocking the Mets' injuries in the 2009 season. Shame on you, PC.
Verizon FIOS Vs. The Cable Guy
In another new but yet fiery rivalry, we have the smooth-talking Verizon FIOS fellow against the Out-of-Fridge-Eating Cable Guy. We all know that the FIOS man is a religious Met fan being that his face is a 3 way combination between Nick Evans, John Maine and Kevin Burkhardt. Convince yourself long enough and you'll see it.