MLB Rivalries: New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies

In this, the final edition of our series of articles focusing on the team rivalries in MLB, we’re looking at a rivalry that we here in the UK will get to see first-hand during this year’s London Series games. 

This week, we’re looking at the rivalry between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Mets in the UK contributor Andrew Beasley, along with Phillies fan and managing editor of DAZN News Liam Happe, will break down a long-standing rivalry that most certainly does not have any brotherly love at its heart. 

New York Mets 

It sometimes feels like every ball club is a rival of the Mets, with fans of other franchises united by their enjoyment of the Amazin’s failures. “Oh look, it’s Bobby Bonilla day, lol.” Bore off. 

That feeling has only intensified since Steve Cohen took over. The Mets are no longer cheap and bad but rich and bad. Top content for supporters of the 29 other teams. Less enthralling if you happen to be a fan of the old Orange and Blue though. 

Like all rivalries, the animosity between the Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies means different things to different fans. When I chose to root for the former, I made the mistake of assuming the New York Yankees were their main rivals. And don’t get me wrong, they sicken me – how could they not, with their gloating and caps everywhere you turn and weird rules regarding facial hair – but then you assume as a newbie that they would play each other on a regular basis. 

In baseball, familiarity breeds contempt. As someone who became a fan in 2019, it’s been all too easy to be worn down by the rest of the National League (NL) East. Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve experienced four full seasons and, in three of them, a divisional rival of the Mets has reached the World Series, two of them winning. Even the Miami Marlins, the exception to this rule, have reached the postseason more times than the Mets during my full baseball consciousness. 

My true bête noire is the Braves. As a football fan, they’re like Manchester City or Bayern Munich, winning the division, year after year. They’ve even got Luis Guillorme now, which feels deeply wrong. But there is plenty to dislike about the Phillies too. It’s why a certain win against them is my favourite Mets memory; 

2022 (the only consistently-enjoyable Mets season on my watch). Citizens Bank Park. Top of the ninth. Phillies lead 7-1. Three quick outs and we can all go home, right? 

Haha, as if. Starling Marte hit a soft ground ball and beat the throw, before Francisco Lindor smashed one way over the back wall. Three of the next five Mets got hits, plating another run, but Dom Smith – another Guillorme-esque cult hero to me – struck out. No more lives. 

Didn’t matter. J.D Davis doubled, Brandon Nimmo singled and that man Marte doubled to make it 8-7. Gary Cohen nearly exploded. As the madness unfolded, the television coverage showed fans from both sides and it was glorious. There was a guy in a Mets top clapping and dancing with his kids, a bearded Phillies fan with a sadder, more hangdog expression than Droopy. 

I haven’t watched the highlights for at least a year, but these images are burned into my brain. Because this is what it means to do this sort of thing against a fierce rival. A couple of weeks earlier, the Mets were 2-0 down with two outs in the ninth in St Louis and rallied to beat the Cardinals 5-2, but even if the deficit had been greater, it wouldn’t resonate like the Phillies win did. 

Memories are great but it’s time to make some new ones. The teams lock horns for four games in mid-May, and then it’s London, baby. While the Phils are fancied to have a better year than our boys, the Mets are up 29-22 in the head-to-head across the last three years. 

The Battle of the Broads will probably be close once again in 2024. A London sweep would be perfect though. 

Let’s go, Mets. 

Andrew Beasley is part of Mets in the UK, and can be found on Twitter @BaseTunedToMet. 

Philadelphia Phillies

I must start this guest spot with a confession: I, Liam Happe, a Philadelphia Phillies fan (and backer of every Philly sports franchise across the board), do not actually hate any of the Phils’ NL East rivals. 

In fact, I’ve a very small soft spot for each of them, in very different ways. I came back from Orlando in the 2000s with a bunch of Marlins gear from International Drive as part of my efforts to get more into the sport I was casually besotted with for close to a decade by that point. Soon after, I was firmly a Phillie – but the mild connection was there. 

I spent several years in the 2010s always picking the Nationals for my MLB The Show single player escapades (with several of those players since heading to Citizens Bank Park). And, as a diehard pro wrestling fan who always enjoyed ‘the alternative’, I have a bit of an affinity for Ted Turner’s old haunts in Atlanta thanks to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) being right up there with Philadelphia’s own Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) on my viewing diet. (Both of which went out of business in 2001 – ed.) 

The New York Mets, meanwhile, carry a similar level of pop culture significance to me. Shea Stadium was an old-school rasslin’ mecca for the big shows. Bruno Sammartino teaching Larry Zbyszko a lesson he’d never forget? Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant long before WrestleMania III changed the game forever? Yes, please. And then there’s The Odd Couple: one of my all-time favourite films, one that is rewatched annually at a minimum and one that is festooned with Mets references and connections (ditto the underrated 2010s sitcom version – RIP Matthew Perry). 

Heading into the London Series this coming June between those Mets and my Phillies, there’s hardly any animosity coming from me at all. Well… I did say ‘hardly any’, so yeah. Maybe there’s a little. And it all dates back to my first visit to Citi Field. It was April of 2022. I was in the Big Apple for work, covering Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden. The day before the history-making headline fight, I headed to Queens for an ‘away trip’: the Phillies were playing at the home of the Mets, and I attended alongside my ex-boss who has since moved from London to NYC and adopted the guys in blue and orange as his team; 

I was very impressed by the stadium and the fans, to be honest. Those around us quickly cottoned on to the fact that we were a) British baseball fans, and b) one was a Phillie and one was a Met, and were friendly and polite to us nonetheless. It’s just a shame about the result. 

Losing sucks, but it would have been nice if I weren’t hoping that London 2024 will provide the first Phillies hit against the Mets that I’ve ever seen in person. A lot has changed in the two years since, of course. The Mets looked set to dominate baseball around the time of the combined no-no, while that loss plus another soon after against New York that saw Alec Bohm infamously mutter “I f**king hate this place” represented a rock-bottom of sorts for a Phillies side that expected to be contending by then. 

And yet, it isn’t the Mets who featured in a World Series since, nor was it the Mets breaking a host of postseason records while coming agonisingly-close to back-to-back World Series appearances. 

The Phillies are the hot favourites in June for both games, and while I expect the Mets to get a few hits, hopefully that’s as good as it gets for them. And hopefully Bohm is still around to send one into the Stratford stands. 

Liam Happe is the managing editor of DAZN News EN, and can be found on Twitter @liamhappe. 

Conclusion 

Since last August, this article series has looked at numerous rivalries between MLB teams, highlighting the players, series and incidents that have helped to build each rivalry up in the minds of fans, players and organisations alike. 

Throughout this series, we’ve featured both photos and videos of tensions boiling over on the field, as well as the grievances, at times petty, of our various contributors. This is exactly what rivalries are about; the in-game incidents, the perceived slights (if you can ever describe Roger Clemens throwing a ball at Mike Piazza’s head and then following it up by throwing Piazza’s own broken bat at him as a ‘slight’, that is!) and, ultimately, getting one over on that team that has caused you so much pain as a fan in the past. 

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the fans who have contributed to this series. Some of them you already know as regular Bat Flips and Nerds contributors, and some have been first-time contributors we’ve drafted in especially for this series. Each and every one of them has enriched this series with their contributions, and have made this series what I hoped it would be; an exhibition of the passion baseball fans have for their respective teams, as well as a fine example of the rich tapestry of baseball fans we have here in the UK. 

And that passion and rich tapestry will no doubt be on full display at the London Stadium in June, when UK fans of all 30 MLB teams will mingle together as the Mets take on the Phillies in the London Series games. 

Be sure to check back in the coming days as a range of Bat Flips and Nerds contributors preview their teams ahead of Opening Day next Thursday! 

Brett is the Oakland Athletics team contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.

Featured image – Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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