Phillies' response to Beltran: 'Let's get it on'
"I think we are the team to beat -- finally."
-- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins
Jan. 23, 2007
-- Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran
Feb. 16, 2008
We acknowledge that the Dodgers-Giants and Cubs-Cardinals rivalries have more history. So hold those e-mails. But this is about 2008, not 1951. And in 2008, we challenge you to find two teams in the NL that are more closely matched -- and more obsessed with each other -- than these two.Oh, the Mets have long been on the Phillies' radar screens. That's nothing new. But now it's the year after Rollins' stunning team-to-beat prediction came true. The year after an epic Mets September collapse and a rousing Phillies charge to the finish line. So when a guy like Beltran -- who normally doesn't raise his voice much above a murmur -- is sending carefully calculated messages to the Phillies through the media, that's a sign we're now in a different realm. We're now in a realm where the Phillies have actually infiltrated the Mets' radar screen, too. And that tells us we're in for a fun summer in the old NL East. "It's amazing how fast this has become such a great rivalry," said Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino on Sunday. "First, Jimmy makes his statement. Now Carlos is making his statement. It's becoming like, `Who's going to say something next?'"
It's gonna be fun. Put it that way. It's going to be an interesting season. New York Mets 1, Philadelphia Phillies 1. Let's get it on.
"I think he said it because he believed it," Myers said. "We all believed it in our minds, but we're not the outspoken types to come out and say it in the media. He's the type of guy who can do that."It's fun that somebody finally said it to where it got out. And it was good for us, because we needed it. We needed it for us, to show we weren't just going to fall back and let everybody run over top of us. It woke everybody up a little bit." Yep. Sure did. And now we have a new wake-up call -- for both teams -- courtesy of Carlos Beltran. We don't know quite where it's all leading yet. How could we? It's the third week of February. But we do know that rivalries are the greatest thing in sports. And any time a spectacular new addition to the rivalry annals busts out, that's something to be thankful for -- even if you're not someone who's wandering around spring training, trying to capture the magic of pitchers and catchers in a way that, hopefully, justifies the size of your expense account. "It's gonna be fun," said Victorino. "Put it that way. It's going to be an interesting season. New York Mets 1, Philadelphia Phillies 1. Let's get it on." Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.