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Phils-Yanks: Enjoy, Mets Fans!

By: Conor Reilly

Mets fans thought about it before the playoffs even started. They feared it once the Championship Series started. With the World Series now upon us, they face it...

The hated Philadelphia Phillies will play the hated New York Yankees for baseball's championship. Some fans of the orange and blue have deemed it the 'baseball apocalypse.' Some fans may choose not to watch the series. Some may tune in and not enjoy it. Heck, some wackos may just root for injuries.

I disagree with all three of these strategies. The Phillies and Yankees may be two main rivals of the Mets, but there is a good guy in this series. There is a team for Met fans can (and should) support. There is a team that Mets fans may not be happy with them winning, but should be accepting of them winning.

The Philadelphia Phillies.

Yes, yes, I know. 2007. And 2008. Jimmy Rollins declaring them the team to beat. Cole Hamels labeling the Mets as chokers. Ryan Howard's body mass. Jayson Werth's alarming resemblance to WWE wrestler Edge. Shane Victorino's...well, everything about Shane Victorino.

I have hereby acknowledged all those things. But let's get real here. Those things came into play shortly before the '07 season...about 2 and a half years ago. Since then, the Phillies (and their fans) have often marched into Shea/Citi and walked all over the Mets and their fans. This rivalry, though still expanding, started just two and a half years ago. Before that, it was the Mets/Braves rivalry. Some day, it may be the Mets/Marlins rivalry. Not every division can have a Yankees/Red Sox slugfest. Things often change between the five teams.

One feud that never changes is Yankees/Mets. For every championship the Mets have won, the Yankees have celebrated 13. Any Mets fans born after November 1986 have never experienced a title. Yankees fans born before October 1996 have already seen 4 in their lifetime. Say what you wish about the Yankees' payroll or how many of their players were on the Mitchell Report, but these things truly are supplementary as to why the Yankees should never be rooted for.

It's their fans. Personally, I noticed this phenomenon in the late 1990's when interleague play began. I would be lucky enough to go with my family to one, maybe two, Subway Series games at Shea Stadium. By some divine anti-miracle, we would always find a way to be in the same sections as the 'Bleacher Creatures' that invaded the stadium. As a young teenager, it blew my mind how 40, perhaps 50 people could all get seats next to each other. There they were, cowbells, middle fingers, Mr. Met dolls literally hanging (by the throat) from the stadium ceiling above them.

It wasn't difficult to dislike these people. Sure, they were loud. They were dedicated. But it went beyond that. It was almost as if they weren't there to cheer for the Yankees, but were instead there to take the proverbial dump on Mets fans. The Mets would always have the inferior team, so it was mostly a glorious day at Shea for them. If the Mets would get a hit or, heaven forbid, take the lead in the game, they would simply point to their huge lead in the AL East that season or their boatload of championships.

And they are correct. There is no denying that being a Yankee fan is the easiest job in the sports world. They get whatever free agent they feel like purchasing. If they get criticized, they point to their dozens of championships. They are either the first or second favorite team nearly everywhere in the country. Everyone likes a winner.

But don't fall into this trap, Mets fans. Maybe you haven't had a profound experience with the Yankees/their fans. But it's real. Yes the Phillies have been a royal pain, but I think they are so hated because they are everything the Mets have wanted to be. Howard was our Delgado. Rollins is Reyes. Utley is Wright. Werth is Beltran. Ibanez is a free agent the Mets let get away. Yes, they talk. But the Mets don't have the tightest lips, either.

Here's one last argument. Lets say you're a kid on the school yard. Your entire life, a bigger, older (richer) bully has kicked you in the groin everyday for years. You try to fight it and deny it, but it's happened all your life. You can't help it. Now imagine the past few years, that bully has laid off a little bit, and a new punk has come and for the last few years, gives you a little slap in the face from time to time. If a time came when those two bullies got into a brouhaha and you had to pick a side, which way are you swaying? For me, those years of the bully' torment were a lot worse than the current annoyance of the other guy.

So don't be put off, Mets fans. A great series awaits between clearly, the two best teams. And you have a team to support. Please don't order Phillies hats and jerseys online or anything. But don't feel like Benedict Arnold if there's a glimmer of happiness inside when Howard takes Burnett deep or Lidge strikes out A-Rod in the ninth inning. In the end, fans of the Phillies and Yankees couldn't care less who we root for. In the 2010 season, they will still hate the Mets and their fans whether they win or lose.

But as Rick Reilly once said, "Rooting for the Yankees takes all the courage, imagination, conviction and baseball intelligence of Spam. It's like rooting for Brad Pitt to get the girl or for Bill Gates to hit Scratch 'n' Win."

I couldn't put it any better myself. Enjoy this World Series, and root, root, root for the Phighting Phils. And who knows? If the Mets win the NL East in 2010, it will feel that much better taking down the Champs.


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