The Mets and Phillies have had a fake rivalry, and it has been rare when both teams were good at the same time. That’s when the competitive edge of the rivalry comes into play. They are division rivals and geographic rivals, but there’s little tenseness.
An element of hate was removed when Jose Reyes left in the offseason. The Phillies despised him and his style of play and gloated whenever they could. Reyes is gone and took that spice with him.
This year the Mets are playing well and chasing Washington for the NL East. Meanwhile, the Phillies are down and have made it known they will listen to offers for Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. Both would look nice in Mets pinstripes, but forget it.
The Phillies have been in the playoffs since 2007. This year they’ve been beset with injuries and sluggish play. This is the time for the Mets to put them away, to put three games worth of distance between them before the All-Star break.
If the Mets are as good as they claim to be, they need to continue their momentum from the Dodgers series – including overcoming the disappointment of not getting a sweep – and laying the wood on a wounded opponent.
In that sense, there’s an element to the rivalry that has been missing.
National League fans have known for years how exciting a player David Wright can be. This weekend, Toronto gets to see the National League’s best third baseman, and arguably the best in the majors.
WRIGHT: On fire. (AP)
At least this year he has been. Another day, another key hit by Wright, who is in one of the hottest stretches of his career. His average is over .400 and his on-base percentage is over .500. Terry Collins wasn’t just blowing smoke when he compared Wright to Barry Bonds.
While Wright hasn’t hit with Bonds’ power, he is displaying the a similar plate presence and patience. Wright is laying off the down and outside pitch; he’s going the opposite way when he needs to; and he’s yanking the inside pitch down the line. And, when the pitch isn’t to his liking, he’s taking the walk.
Today, he had three of them in reaching base five times.
I watched a SNY special last night on the 50 greatest Mets. Wright was in the top ten, ahead of Jose Reyes. Before his career is over, and I’m betting he’ll finish it in Flushing, he could be second or third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.
I’ve advocated David Wright as Mets captain several times on this blog, first at the end of the 2006 season. There’s nobody else remotely close to consider, but like the others this would be an awkward time.
WRIGHT: Captain material.
Before, there was the fear of how much weight he would carry in a room that featured veterans Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Jose Reyes, you might recall gravitated toward Delgado for advice despite his well publicized friendship with Reyes.
Then, when Beltran was injured and everybody knew he was leaving, there was the risk of alienating the temperamental Reyes.
Reyes is gone now, but the Mets still aren’t moving, and won’t do so until Wright’s contract is resolved. How embarrassing would it be for the Mets to name Wright captain and have him leave as a free agent? That could only happen to the Mets.
Last year, Mets owner Fred Wilpon called David Wright: ”A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”
That was when Wright was struggling and before it was learned he played a month with a small fracture in his back.
Now healthy and stroking line drives at a near .400 clip, Wilpon said this morning Wright was “playing like a superstar.”
Wilpon made his comments this morning at City Hall with the announcement the Mets would host the 2013 All-Star Game.
It is becoming more and more likely that if Wright plays in the game, he will do so representing the Mets.
The organization still faces a mountain of debt, but stung over the criticism of not making an offer to Jose Reyes – they should have just for show – losing Wright would be a serious public relations flop.
The Mets will play the 8,000th game in their history tonight, starting Johan Santana against Miami.
SANTANA: One of the best.
I know there will be focus on Jose Reyes, but I’m bored with that topic. He’s gone, let’s move on, and move on to a better things, Santana for example.
Santana has been handled with kid gloves following a delicate shoulder surgery few have recovered from. It has taken a lot of hard, and painful, work for him to return, and he’s come back as a force.
Santana doesn’t yet have the outstanding command that made him an elite pitcher, but he’s heading in that direction as his arm gets stronger. Currently, his velocity is good enough to win with because his pitches have movement.
The Mets have spent a lot of money on Santana and will spend a lot more. He’s been a positive influence to others in the rotation, although Oliver Perez grasped the concept.
He’s been a pleasure to deal with and I hope he continues his come back strong.