Monday, February 18, 2008

Boston-New York? That's so last year

"This year, tell Jimmy Rollins WE'RE the team to beat."
- Carlos Beltran
This week marked that magical time when the popping of catcher's mitts and the cracking of wood bats echoes across Arizona and Florida, namely, pitchers and catchers have reported. The point of this post isn't to detail all the Hot Stove reports of the past winter (not even the Phillies signing Anna Benson's husband to a minor league deal); Spring Training makes all of that obsolete. Every team has dreams of running away with the division or stealing the Wild Card "if the breaks go right and the pitching holds up" (see: Rockies, 2007 and Oakland A's, 2000-present). Other teams enter Spring Training as bona fide favorites, expected to win the division and disappointed in anything less than a trip to the Fall Classic.

Which brings us to the I-95 Rivalry. Like nearly every other major city (Boston, Chicago, LA), Philadelphia has a New York complex. Since robbed of its rightful place as our nation's capital in the 18th Century (roughly the last time Broad Street witnessed a ticker-tape parade - heck, they almost gave Barbaro won), Philadelphia has stood in the shadow of Gotham in nearly every way. This familiarity breeds a huuuge inferiority complex and, yes, even contempt. (If you need evidence, witness the House resolution praising the Giants Super Bowl win which passed 412-1. The lone dissenting vote? Bucks County Rep. Patrick Murphy, who "couldn't in good conscience, vote for the New York Giants."

But isn't this a baseball post? Oh yes, Carlos Beltran has reminded us all of that by declaring the Mets the team to beat, as soon as they unwrap their hands from around their necks. At the very least, the quote has united Philadelphians behind the Fightins' in their hatred for all things New York. The Phillies themselves have been more restrained. My favorite reaction, from the man who has a legitimate chance to be the 3rd different Phillie to win the MVP in a row:
"The one thing I can promise you is it's going to be fun."
- Chase Utley

Play Ball!

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