Can a blogger get a rivalry?


from espn.com

by Alex Young

The image above captures what I hope is the start of a beautiful enemy-ship. When Cole Hamels drilled Bryce Harper in the back in the first inning of Sunday’s game he wasn’t only welcoming the chosen one to the big leagues, he was kicking in the door to the next great NL East rivalry.

The Phillies have won five straight NL East titles. The first two were hard-fought battles with the Mets, during which a new hatred was found for New York’s step-child of a ball club. Mets games at the Bank were an event. You would kill to get tickets. When the Phillies won the division, it was really like we beat the bad guys. Fast forward to the present and getting tickets to a Mets’ game shouldn’t be that hard, even if they are sold out, because the Mets have been a joke for the last 3 years.

The Braves have tried to get back in the game the last two years but have fallen short either early in the postseason or have burst into flame in an unequaled September collapse. The Phillies were entering the 2012 season with no serious rival in their division. While cruising to divisions is nice, sports are so much more fun when there’s someone to hate. Think about it. What would the NFL be if there were no Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants? What about the NHL without Sidney Crosby? Sometimes despising another team is just as much a part of being a fan as loving your own.

The Nationals have given Philadelphia a rival, unlikely as it may have seemed even a few months ago.

The Nats’ front office sparked it, egging on Philly fans with their embargo of selling tickets to games in Washington to people outside of the DC metropolitan area. Did they expect to sell out the stadium to Nats fans? I don’t think are even enough people in Washington who know that the Nationals aren’t still the Montreal Expos to fill that stadium. They just wanted to start a controversy.

While the Phillies started their season slow, the Nats burst out of the gate and have led the division pretty much from the get go. Going into last weekend’s series the Phillies sat two games behind the Nats in the Division and were facing their top three pitchers in the three-game set.

Adding to the build-up of the series and the rivalry was the promotion of the 19-year-old Harper who has a reputation as a major-league clown and a once-in-a-generation, five-tool player. He is the kind of guy Philly fans will love to hate for a long time.

The Phillies really got their butts handed to them  in the first two games, losing, 4-3 and 7-1, on Friday and Saturday. Harper didn’t do much of note in the first two games, but game three was on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and Cole Hamels was going to make a statement.

Hamels plugged Harper with the first pitch of his first-inning at bat. Harper went on to steal home and give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Hamels went on to dominate for eight innings and the Phillies won 9-3.

Hamels got a five-game suspension for admitting that he intentionally hit Harper and is catching a lot of flak for it. I for one love it. Harper, much like the Nationals as an organization, is young, hungry and is incredibly talented. Hamels was doing more than plunking a 19-year-old mohawked punk, he was sending a message to the Nationals that if it’s a rivalry they wanted, they’ve got one.

The win asserted the Phillies’ intentions not to gift wrap the division for the Nats. Much like the Phillies teams of old, the Nats are going to have to earn it.

Comments
One Response to “Can a blogger get a rivalry?”
  1. ericabauwens says:

    Nationals stink.

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