Mets–Phillies rivalry: Wikis


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New York Mets – Philadelphia Phillies
The letters "N" and "Y", colored orange, overlapping and interlocked vertically on a blue background  The letter "P", in white and in a script typeface, centered on a red background
First meeting April 27, 1962
Last meeting September 13, 2009
Next meeting April 30, 2010
Number of meetings 820
Regular season series 438–381–1 PHI (.535)[1]
Largest victory 19 runs (June 11, 1985;
PHI wins 26–7)[2]
Current streak PHI 1
Longest NYM win streak 10
Longest PHI win streak 10
2009 season series PHI 11–6

The rivalry between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball is said to be among the best rivalries in the National League (NL),[3] along with the Cardinals–Cubs rivalry and the Dodgers–Giants rivalry.[4] The two National League East divisional rivals have met each other frequently in playoff, division, and Wild Card races.

A notable moment in the early history of the rivalry was Jim Bunning's perfect game on Father's Day of 1964, which remains the only perfect game in Phillies history to this date.[5] Aside from several brawls in the 1980s, the rivalry remained relatively low-key before the 2006 season,[6] as the teams had seldom been equally good at the same time. The Phillies were near the bottom of the NL East when the Mets won the 1969 World Series and the National League pennant in 1973, while the Mets did not enjoy success in the late 1970s when the Phillies won three straight division championships. Although both teams each won a World Series in the 1980s, the Mets were not serious contenders in the Phillies' playoff years (1980, 1981, and 1983), nor did the Phillies seriously contend in the Mets' playoff years (1986 and 1988). The Mets were the Majors' worst team when the Phillies won the NL pennant in 1993,[7] and the Phillies could not post a winning record in either of the Mets' wild-card-winning seasons of 1999 or 2000, when the Mets faced the New York Yankees in the 2000 World Series.

As the rivalry has intensified in recent years, the teams have battled more often for playoff position. The Mets won the division in 2006, while the Phillies won three consecutive division titles from 2007 to 2009. The Phillies' 2007 championship was won on the last day of the season as the Mets lost a seven-game lead with seventeen games remaining. The Phillies broke the curse of Billy Penn to win the 2008 World Series, while the Mets' last title came in the 1986 World Series.


Early history

A young man in his mid-twenties smiling and looking to the right of the image; he is wearing a dark baseball cap on his head with an Old English "D" on the front
Jim Bunning threw the only perfect game in Phillies franchise history—one of nine no-hitters—while Mets pitchers have never had a no-hitter.

Bunning's perfect game

The 1964 season was memorable for the Phillies and forgettable for the Mets. Pitcher Jim Bunning, in his first season with the Phillies, entered play on June 21 with a 6–2 record on the season.[8] He was opposed on the mound by Tracy Stallard for the Mets in the first game of a doubleheader. Through the first four innings, Bunning totaled four strikeouts through twelve batters.[9] In the fifth inning, Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor preserved the perfect game with his strong defensive play. A diving catch and a throw from the knees kept Mets catcher Jesse Gonder off of the bases.[10] Bunning also made plays at the plate, hitting a double and driving in two runs in the sixth inning.[9] By the end of the game, Bunning had only reached a three-ball count on two batters, retiring shortstop Charley Smith on a pop-out, and pinch-hitters George Altman and John Stephenson on strikeouts, to complete the perfect game.[9] Bunning, who at the time had seven children, said that his game, pitched on Father's Day, could not have come at a more appropriate time. He remarked that his slider was his best pitch, "'just like the no-hitter I pitched for Detroit six years ago'".[10] Bunning became the first pitcher to throw a winning no-hitter in both leagues,[10] and posted the first regular-season perfect game since Charlie Robertson in 1922 (Don Larsen's prior perfect game was in the 1956 World Series).[11] The Phillies also won the second game of the doubleheader, 8–2, behind Rick Wise.[12]

The Phillies performed strongly for most of the season, but surrendered a 612 game lead during the last weeks of the season that year, losing 10 games in a row with 12 games remaining and losing the pennant by one game to the St. Louis Cardinals. "The Phold"[13] of 1964 is among the most notable collapses in sports history.[14] The Mets, meanwhile, finished the year in last place, with a 53–109 record—the worst in Major League Baseball.[15]

Tug McGraw

A balding man wearing dark sunglasses and a left-handed baseball glove; he is exposing his stomach by lifting his white T-shirt
Tug McGraw pitched for two teams in his 17-year career: the Mets and the Phillies.

Tug McGraw pitched for the Mets from 1965 to 1967, and again from 1969 to 1974 after spending all of the 1968 season in the minor leagues. In those nine seasons, he amassed 86 saves and appeared in 361 games. He appeared in the postseason for the 1969 Miracle Mets, pitching three innings against the Atlanta Braves. In 1970, with the Mets in the midst of a pennant race with the Pittsburgh Pirates, McGraw entered a game against Philadelphia in the seventh inning, pitched 2+23 innings, and struck out five of the last six batters he faced; this preserved a win for the Mets as first baseman Donn Clendenon hit a home run in the eighth to take the lead. Clendenon offered praise for McGraw's performance, saying that Tug deserved "more credit for the Met victory" than he.[16] He was selected to the 1972 All-Star team, and appeared in the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting in 1972 and 1973.[17] During the 1973 pennant-winning season, he coined the Mets' rally cry, "Ya gotta believe!"[18] In the 1974 season, McGraw experienced issues with his arm and shoulder.[19] Thus, the Mets traded McGraw, along with outfielders Don Hahn and Dave Schneck, to the Phillies in December 1974 for pitcher Mac Scarce, catcher John Stearns, and outfielder Del Unser.[17]

McGraw became a staple of the back end of the Phillies' bullpen, saving 94 games between 1975 and 1982, and earning a place on the 1975 All-Star team.[17] Under manager Danny Ozark, the Phillies won three consecutive division championships from 1976 to 1978 with McGraw as the closer, while the Mets finished third in 1976 and last in 1977 and 1978.[20][21][22] In 1980, McGraw was on the mound against the Kansas City Royals when the Phillies won their first World Series championship, earning his fourth save of that postseason. He struck out Willie Wilson with the bases loaded to preserve the win for Steve Carlton and the Phillies,[23] leaping from the mound to embrace catcher Bob Boone on the field at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.[24] Sportswriter Allen Barra wrote that the biggest roar he ever heard from Philadelphia fans was when McGraw, in the victory parade after the World Series, told New York fans they could "take this championship and shove it."[25]


A man in his late fifties wearing a white baseball cap and a light-blue polo shirt looks to the right of the image, following a golf ball he just hit.
Mike Schmidt won the 1986 Most Valuable Player Award over two Mets.


The Mets won the National League East by 2112 games in 1986, but the Phillies were the only team in the league to post a winning record against the eventual World Series champions, posting a 10–8 record with a 7–2 mark at Veterans Stadium. On September 12, up by 22 games, the Mets needed to win one game to clinch the division and came to Philadelphia for a weekend series. The Mets brought champagne with them to Philadelphia and before the series, Mets manager Davey Johnson told reporters, "It will be nice to clinch in Philadelphia. It gives us a chance to beat the only team in our way... I have a nice warm feeling about this."[26] Instead, Mike Schmidt hit a three-run homer in the opening game of the series and Phillies rookie Bruce Ruffin outpitched Mets ace Dwight Gooden as the Phillies won, 6–3.[27] When the Phillies won the second game of the series, 6–5,[28] Mets fans at the park became unruly and damaged seats in the upper deck. One Mets fan was arrested after striking a Philadelphia police officer.[29] The Phillies completed the series by beating the Mets, 6–0, behind a shutout from Kevin Gross, who also plated two runs with a fourth-inning triple.[30] Despite the Mets' successful season, it was Schmidt who was named the National League MVP Award, ahead of the Mets' Gary Carter, who finished third, and Keith Hernandez, who finished fourth. It was Schmidt's third career MVP.[31]


The Phillies continued to play spoiler in 1987. The Mets went 13–5 against the Phillies in 1987 and outscored Philadelphia 94–56. However, the Phillies won two of three from the Mets in June, including breaking up a Mets no-hitter, and then took two of three in September to hurt the Mets' chances of winning the division significantly.[32]

The Mets' Ron Darling took a no-hitter and 4–0 lead into the eighth inning against the Phillies on June 28 at the Vet before 52,206 fans. Philadelphia's Greg Gross pinch-hit and tripled to lead off the eighth inning, breaking up the no-hitter. Juan Samuel then singled to break up the shutout, and the Phillies came back with nine hits against Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell, scoring five runs to win 5–4. It would have been the first no-hitter in Mets history.[33] Compounding the loss for the Mets, the Phillies were in last place at the time, and the loss dropped the Mets 612 games behind the first-place Cardinals who they would play the next day. Of the win and the Mets, Mike Schmidt said, "The Mets don't like to give credit when they lose, but they have to do it today."[34]

On September 28, the Mets came into Philadelphia for a three-game series against the Phillies. The Mets were 212 games out of first with six games left: three against the Phillies and the last three against the first-place Cardinals. They had an opportunity to win the division and were playing the Phillies, against whom they had a season record of 12–3. The Mets won the opener, 1–0, to move within two games back with five remaining to play. However, the Phillies effectively ended their season on September 29. As the Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Montréal Expos, the Phillies' Don Carman pitched a complete-game one-hitter, facing only 28 batters to shut out the Mets. After the game, Mets manager Davey Johnson said, "How does it feel now? Empty? Not yet. But we need to get help. When you play 162 games and you're eliminated, then you feel empty. And sick." He promised reporters, "We're going to win tomorrow night."[35]. The following night, Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden struck out 10, and left after pitching nine innings with the score tied at three runs each, but the Phillies' Luis Aguayo won the game with a 10th-inning pinch-hit home run off of Orosco, clinching at least a tie for first place in the division for the Cardinals.[36]

The 1988 Mets returned to the playoffs, but the Phillies, who finished in sixth place in the division with a 65–96 record,[37] beat the Mets 8 times in 18 games, the third-best record against them of any team in the league.[38] In the postseason, the Mets lost to the Dodgers in the 1988 National League Championship Series.[39]


A dark-skinned man in his mid-forties wearing a gray baseball uniform stands with arms akimbo. His uniform reads "Orioles" in orange script lettering across the chest, with a block "11" below it in orange, and is accompanied by a black batting helmet.
The Phillies traded Juan Samuel (pictured) to the Mets during a game between the teams for Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra.

On June 18, 1989, during a Mets–Phillies game, the Phillies traded Samuel to the Mets for McDowell and Lenny Dykstra.[40] Dykstra was a career .278 hitter with the Mets and had not equaled his 1986 season when he hit .295.[41] Dykstra flourished in Philadelphia and went on to be named to three All-Star teams in six full seasons with the Phillies, finish in the top ten in National League Most Valuable Player voting twice, and help lead the Phillies to the 1993 National League pennant. [41] McDowell saved 45 games for the Phillies in parts of three seasons[42] and became a fan favorite. The trade was a bust for the Mets as Samuel hit only .228 for the Mets in 1989 and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1989 season.[43] It signaled an ascent of the Phillies which culminated in their 1993 National League pennant and the demise of the Mets in the early 1990s. Sports Illustrated writer and Mets fan David Vecsey counts the Dykstra trade as one of the five worst in Mets history, writing, "Never mind that Dykstra was better than Samuel, this trade was devastating to Mets fans on a purely personal level. With one phone call, GM Joe McIlvaine gutted the team of its heart."[44] The trade also ushered in a period of bad blood between the two teams.

On September 27, 1989, the Phillies faced the Mets in their home finale at Shea Stadium in New York after a disappointing Mets season. The Mets had won the East in 1988 but were in third place on September 26 behind the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. McDowell was closing out a 5–3 win for the Phillies when, with two outs in the ninth, he coaxed former teammate Gregg Jeffries to ground out to second to end the game.[45] As Jeffries was running out the play, McDowell said something to him prompting Jeffries to charge the mound and wrestle McDowell to the ground. The benches cleared and punches were exchanged before the umpires could separate the teams.[46] Jeffries later claimed that McDowell had thrown at him during a 2–1 Phillies victory on September 25.[47]

The brawling continued in 1990. During an August 10 game at Shea, Gooden hit Phillies hitters Dickie Thon and Tommy Herr. When Gooden came to bat in the fifth inning, Phillies pitcher Pat Combs hit Gooden in the knee with a fastball. Phillies outfielder Von Hayes defended Combs after the game, "Gooden better expect retaliation if he keeps hitting guys with 95 mph (153 km/h) fastballs. We've got to protect our players."[48]Gooden charged the mound and tackled Combs. Phillies catcher Darren Daulton followed Gooden and landed a series of punches on the back of Gooden's head. Darryl Strawberry had been in the Mets clubhouse and rushed the field after Daulton but was himself blindsided by Hayes. Of Daulton, Gooden later said, "Daulton was the guy we wanted most. He's a cheap-shot artist. We learned that about him last year", referring to the September 1989 fight.[48] Six players and Phillies coach Mike Ryan were ejected from the game. Eight players were later fined, including the Mets' Tim Teufel, who said, "It was money well spent. Sometimes you just have to defend yourself and your teammates."[49]


A man in a white baseball jersey and blue jeans stands on home plate with his arms upraised.
John Franco threatened to "kick [Lenny Dykstra's] butt" if he crossed the picket line during the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.

The tone of baseball rivalries changed in the early 1990s; fraternization between players who had moved to different teams or knew each other from various ventures kept baseball rivalries to a "friendly" level.[50] However, Major League Baseball's 1994 divisional re-alignment solidified the rivalry between the Phillies and Mets. The Pittsburgh Pirates, former members of the National League East and in-state rivals of the Phillies, moved into the newly created National League Central Division, and the Atlanta Braves, former members of the National League West, entered the division.[51] Prior to the switch, the East Division contained seven teams, spread out over a wider geographical area, including the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, as well as the expansion Florida Marlins.[51][52] Members of all 30 teams, including the Phillies and Mets, drew together during the 1994 labor stoppage, but players from both teams were on opposite sides of the argument even then. Dykstra claimed that he was losing $30,000 ($42,821 in current dollars) per day for every day he did not work during the strike.[53] While other players chastised Dykstra for his comments, Mets pitcher and player representative John Franco intimated that if someone crossed the picket line, as Dykstra suggested, "'once we get back in I'll be the first to kick his [butt] [sic]'".[53]


The division-rival Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 World Series; on the way to doing so, they left the rest of the division behind them. The Mets and Phillies finished in second and third places in the division, respectively, with identical 69–75 records; the Braves were the only National League East team to finish above .500.[54] The Mets and Phillies staged a close battle for second place, with New York coming out ahead, taking 7 victories from the 13-game season series.[55] Both the Mets and Phillies finished near the bottom of the division in 1996: the Mets ended the season in fourth place, with a 71–91 record, while the Phillies finished last (67–95).[56] The Mets took a second consecutive close season series from the Phillies, with an identical 7–6 record to the prior year.[57] The 1997 Mets improved to 88–74 in 1997, but that record was only good for third place in the division, as the Braves finished with 101 wins and the Marlins, with a record of 92–70, took the National League wild card and won the 1997 World Series.[58] The Phillies, meanwhile, languished in last place behind the Expos, with a 68–94 record, and only managed to take 5 of 12 games from the Mets that season.[59]

The 1998 Mets finished in second place, with the Phillies right behind them in third. The Braves finished with the best record in the National League (106 wins), but were unable to make it to the World Series. The Mets finished over .500 for the second straight year, aided by their 8–4 record against the Phillies.[60] The standings were identical the next season, as the Mets faced the Braves in the 1999 National League Championship Series; they were defeated, and the Braves lost to the New York Yankees in the ensuing World Series. The Phillies and Mets split the season series, six games each; the Phillies finished under .500 for the sixth consecutive season with a 77–85 record.[61] The Mets won the wild card again in 2000, finishing one game behind the Braves in the division and defeating the Cardinals in the League Championship Series to face the Yankees in the 2000 World Series. Though the Phillies finished in last place in the division with a 65–97 record, they defeated the Mets in the season series, 7–6.[62]

21st century

2001–2003: Unbalanced schedule

Major League Baseball changed its scheduling format in 2001, further intensifying division matchups throughout the league. The new "unbalanced schedule" allowed for additional games each season between divisional rivals, replacing additional series with teams outside the division.[63] Due to the change, the Phillies and Mets now played each other 17 or more times each season (19 times in 2001).[64] Early on, the unbalanced schedule favored the Mets, who had a winning percentage of .540 (27–23) against the division in the 2000 season, while the Phillies managed a .451 mark (23–28);[63] the trend held true in 2001, when the Mets won the season series over the Phillies, 11–8.[65] The scheduling drew criticism both when it was enacted and after the fact, with some analysts even positing that the unbalanced schedule hurt intra-divisional play.[66] This, however, did not affect the Phillies and Mets, as they drew an average of 27,926 fans to their games in 2001.[64] Attendance for the rivalry games increased in 2002, to 29,403 fans per game, as the Phillies bested the Mets in the season series, 10–9,[67] and was strong in 2003, when they drew nearly 28,000 fans per game and the Phillies took their second consecutive season series, 12–7.[68]

2005–2006: The rivalry intensifies

A left-handed man in his mid-thirties wearing a black baseball jersey and cap and white baseball pants throws a baseball from a pitcher's mound.
Billy Wagner (pictured) and Pat Burrell exchanged verbal shots in the media during 2006 and 2007.

The signing of former Phillies closer Billy Wagner by the Mets between the 2005 and 2006 seasons was a factor in the intensification of the rivalry. Pat Burrell and Wagner became embroiled in heated media discussions after Wagner departed the Phillies.[69] For the first time in 2006, 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.[70] The Mets won the division, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 National League Championship Series.[71]

2007: Rollins calls out the Mets

A dark-skinned man in a red baseball jersey and red left-handed batting helmet walks on a baseball field; he appears to be in his mid-twenties. His jersey reads "Phillies" in white and red script, with two blue starts dotting the "i"s.
Jimmy Rollins stated the Phillies were the team to beat during the 2007 preseason.

On January 23, 2007, Phillies 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."[72] 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.[73] The Mets, meanwhile, sat firmly in the NL East lead for almost all of the season.[74]

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 Philadelphia during late August which included two walk-off hits by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and comeback victories for the Phillies in three of the four games. During the season, Burrell also hit two home runs off Wagner, resulting in two blown saves.[75] 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 seventeen games left to play, the Mets led the Phillies by seven 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,[76] while the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals behind Philadelphian Jamie Moyer to win the division.[77] Rollins capped his prediction by adding his first career Most Valuable Player award.[78] According to Baseball Prospectus, the Mets' collapse over the end of the season ranked statistically as the second-worst in baseball history.[79] After the 2007 season, Wagner also said that "[the] collapse didn't come because the Phillies beat us, the collapse came because we played bad".[80]

2008: Beltran fires back, Phillies win Series

A man in his early thirties wearing a blue warm-up jacket and blue baseball cap rides on a motorized cart. His jacket has black stripes on the arms and "NY" in black on the breast.
Carlos Beltrán responded to Jimmy Rollins' comment again during Spring Training in 2008.

On February 16, 2008, Mets center fielder Carlos Beltrán 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."[81] Inasmuch as Beltran had imitated Rollins' 2007 preseason prediction, Rollins 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."[82]

Throughout most of the season, the Phillies and Mets battled each other for the NL East lead, along with the Florida Marlins. Going into the final season series between the two teams, former Phillie and special hitting instructor Mike Schmidt fanned the flames of the rivalry with an e-mail to manager Charlie Manuel, later posted for the entire team in the clubhouse.[83]

"One pitch, one at bat, one play, one situation, think ‘small’ and ‘big’ things result, tough at-bats, lots of walks, stay up the middle with men on base, whatever it takes to ‘keep the line moving’ on offense, 27 outs on defense, the Mets know you’re better than they are… They remember last year. You guys are never out of a game. Welcome the challenge that confronts you this weekend. You are the stars. Good luck. #20."[83]

Mets players reacted quickly; David Wright replied, "To each his own. He's obviously biased in his e-mails or letters. I see a starting pitcher that goes out there and throws like Brett Myers – that works much better than a rally cry from a former player."[84] This response came a day after Myers defeated the Mets 3–0, throwing eight shutout innings and striking out ten. The Mets won the season series 11–7.[85]

After the final season series, the Mets held onto first place until September 16, when a September surge moved the Phillies into first place.[86] On September 19, however, the Phillies lost to the Florida Marlins while the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves to put New York back into the division lead.[85] The results were reversed the following night, and the Phillies regained the top spot, where they would ultimately finish.[86] The Phillies won the National League East on September 27, while the Mets were eliminated from postseason contention the next day with a 4–2 loss to the Florida Marlins in the final game at Shea Stadium.[87] The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Chicago Cubs that day to clinch the National League wild card. This marked the second year in a row the Mets were eliminated from the playoffs on the last regular-season game. It also marked the first time in baseball history that a team had lost the last game of the season to miss the playoffs after holding a three-game lead in two consecutive seasons.[88] After victories over the Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason, the Phillies went on to win the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays.[89]

A left-handed man in his mid-twenties wearing a white baseball uniform and red baseball cap throws a baseball from a pitcher's mound.
Cole Hamels called the Mets "choke artists" after the Phillies' 2008 World Series victory.

2008–2009 offseason

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."[90]

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."[91] 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.[91]

On December 13, newly signed Mets closer Francisco Rodríguez 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."[92]


A right-handed man in his mid-twenties wearing a gray baseball uniform and black baseball cap with a blue brim follows through after throwing a baseball.
Francisco Rodríguez claimed during the 2008–2009 offseason that the Mets would win the NL East.

On May 1, the Phillies and Mets faced off for the first time in 2009 in a three-game series in Philadelphia; the Mets won the first game, 7–4, behind Daniel Murphy and Mike Pelfrey each driving in two runs.[93] The Phillies won game two of the series, 6–5, on back-to-back walks issued by Sean Green after Raúl Ibáñez tied the game with a home run in the sixth inning.[94] After a rain postponement at Philadelphia on May 3, the Phillies played their first game at the Mets' new home, Citi Field, on May 6; the Mets won both games of the two-game series.[95][96] The Phillies returned to Citi Field on June 9, winning two out of the three-game series.[97] In the series, two of the games were decided by only one run (closers Rodríguez and Ryan Madson earned saves in each game),[98][99] and two games went to extra innings, both of which the Phillies won, on home runs by Utley and Ibáñez, respectively.[99][100] On July 3, the Phillies and Mets opened another three-game series at Citizens Bank Park; the Phillies swept the series, winning all three games 7–2, 4–1, and 2–0. During the All-Star break, the Phillies added fuel to the fire by signing free agent starting pitcher and former Met Pedro Martínez, who finished a four-year contract with New York after the 2008 season.[101] During his Mets career, Martínez posted a 32–23 record and a 3.88 earned run average, but was hounded by injuries.[102]

A man in his late thirties wearing a gray baseball uniform and black baseball cap follows through after throwing a baseball with his right hand from a pitcher's mound.
The same man as above in a gray baseball uniform and red baseball cap throws a baseball with his right hand from a pitcher's mound.
Pedro Martínez, who pitched for the Mets from 2005 to 2008, signed with the Phillies in 2009.

Martínez faced off against the Mets on August 23 at Citi Field, when opposing starter Óliver Pérez allowed six runs in the first inning and was pulled in the middle of Martínez' first at-bat against his former club after falling behind, in the count 3–0. Ángel Pagán led off the Mets' first with an inside-the-park home run after the ball became lodged underneath the outfield wall. Martínez pitched six innings, allowing four runs, but the Mets continued to score in the late innings, bringing the score to 9–6 with a run off of Madson in the eighth. Closer Brad Lidge, who had struggled to this point in the season (0–5 with three blown saves), allowed another run to score and had runners on first and second, thanks in part to a booted base hit and an error by Eric Bruntlett. The Mets had no outs and Jeff Francoeur was at the plate representing the go-ahead run. Francoeur hit a line drive over the second base bag, where Bruntlett caught it, stepped on second base, and tagged Murphy coming from first to complete the 15th unassisted triple play in baseball's modern era and the second in Phillies history (Mickey Morandini).[103]

During this August series, Rollins was asked about the Mets' struggles during a season in which the Mets were expected to challenge the Phillies in the division. Rollins said, "I want them to be good. You love to play good teams. Probably because of where we’ve both been the last couple years, the rivalry is still there, smoldering just underneath. Even if we’re both bad, we want to at least be able to say we’re better than them. But you want them to be good.”[104] The Mets came to Philadelphia for their last series of the season on September 11. The Phillies won game one, 4–2, but the Mets came from behind in the second game of the series, scoring five runs in the final two innings to win 10–9. Making up a postponed game from earlier in the season, the Phillies won the first game of a day-night doubleheader behind Kyle Kendrick's first major league victory in 13 months. Eight shutout innings from Martínez in the nightcap gave the Phillies a 1–0 win, a 3–1 win in the 4-game set,[105] and a 12–6 win in the season series.[106] The win also eliminated the Mets from a chance at the playoffs.[107]

In October, the Phillies faced off against the Mets' cross-town rivals, the New York Yankees, in the 2009 World Series. Bill Price of the New York Daily News called the teams "our two worst enemies",[108] while Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger called the matchup "the worst World Series ever" for a Mets fan.[109]


On February 11, newly acquired starting pitcher Roy Halladay named Johan Santana of the Mets as "fun to watch" when asked who he thought was the best pitcher in the NL East, also praising teammate Cole Hamels and the pitchers for the Florida Marlins,[110] adding that he "[steers] clear of that" (the "war of words").[111] When asked the same question, Santana named himself as the division's best,[112] but Jimmy Rollins disagreed, saying "Overall Roy is better, as far as pitching is concerned".[113]


Racism and the Brooklyn Dodgers

Before the Mets ever played in Philadelphia, some of the Phillies' personnel were notorious for their poor treatment of African-American players, particularly Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers—one of the Mets' two New York predecessors in the National League. When Robinson broke the baseball color line in 1947, manager Ben Chapman instructed his players to spike Robinson and pitch at his head.[114] This contributed to feelings of bad blood and additional "tense moments" between the teams from the two cities.[115] The Phillies continued to exhibit similar behavior until they integrated, the last team in the National League to do so. Owner Bob Carpenter passed by African-American players; his Whiz Kids had won the pennant while fielding an all-white team, and he, as other owners, tended to pass over any non-white players who did not have superstar-level talent.[116] Star outfielder Richie Ashburn opined: "We were the last to get any black ball players. We were still pretty good, but they were just getting better."[116]

William Shea

After the Dodgers and Giants moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season, the Phillies became the closest National League club to New York City. The Phillies responded by contracting to broadcast 58 home games into the New York metropolitan television market as well as a number of road games to fill the void in National League games on TV in New York.[117] In 1959, Phillies owner Bob Carpenter was eager to leave Connie Mack Stadium and explored moving the team to Delaware Township, New Jersey.[118] This led those seeking to return a National League team to New York to consider the Phillies as a potential target to relocate to a new New York ballpark.

A man in a red shirt looks left at an unseen man who is reaching toward his head while people wearing orange and blue look on in the background.
A Phillies fan fights with Mets security at Shea Stadium.

New York attorney William Shea tried without success to bring a National League team back to New York. He contacted the six remaining teams in the league—aside from the Dodgers and New York Giants, both of whom had just departed for the West Coast—to try and persuade them to uproot and come to Brooklyn. All of the teams involved, including Philadelphia, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs, and the Milwaukee Braves (later of Atlanta), spurned Shea's advances, prompting him to involve himself with the owners proposing the formation of the Continental League. Fearing that their rosters would be raided, the National League owners voted to expand, and Shea succeeded in winning a new National League franchise for New York: one that would become the Mets.[119][120]

Regional proximity

The rivalry can also be attributed to the proximity between the cities of New York City and Philadelphia, which are approximately two hours apart by car.[121] The Mets' fanbase comes from the New York metropolitan area, which includes southern Connecticut, and northern and central New Jersey as well as parts of upstate New York.[122] Conversely, the Phillies' fanbase generally draws from the Delaware Valley (the Philadelphia metropolitan area), which includes Southeastern Pennsylvania, central New Jersey south of Princeton, southern New Jersey, northern Delaware and extreme parts of northeast Maryland.[123] In addition to numerous regular-season meetings between the Phillies and the two New York clubs (the Dodgers and Giants) before the arrival of the Mets, the rivalry between Philadelphia and New York was spurred by post-season meetings between the two cities in 1905 (Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics), 1911 (Athletics–Giants), 1913 (Athletics–Giants), and 1950 (Phillies–Yankees).[124] The New York – Philadelphia rivalry is evident in other sports (for example, the rivalries between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League and the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in the National Hockey League).[72]

See also


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