The teams that always get the most hate? The team designated as the one to beat. Past hated teams include the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals. Who is the new team? The New York Mets.
This is what rivalries are made from.
For the team with the top pitching rotation in the majors, it seems the National League will be gunning for them. It doesn’t matter if teams like the Atlanta Braves won’t compete in 2016. To beat the NL Champions is a notch on any team’s belt. Even if it is just to prevent them from making the playoffs.
Curtis Granderson is well aware of this and encouraged his teammates to calm down.
When you do have success like that, the target on your back gets bigger and more teams are looking to say, ‘Hey, we know our team is better than you and we are going to go out and show it and prove it once we get the chance to step on the diamond and do it’.
The Chicago Cubs will be looking to take the Mets down a slot or two after being swept in the NLCS last year. Vengeance will be their focus when the teams take on each other.
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are both in rebuilding mode. The Miami Marlins, well, they are just the Miami Marlins. Consider them the stepchild of the division. They are either overspending or fire selling.
General managers and managers up and down the NL East are making it known they are out for blood. Great rivalries start at the top. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said:
We’re trying to knock them off. They knocked us off the mountain. We were the champs two of the last four years, they’re the champs right now. We feel we match up with them very well. Since 2012 I think we are [49 and 26] against them, so we know we’ve done well against them.
Nah. He’s not bitter at all. Manager Dusty Baker added fuel to the fire mentioning the Mets:
…are going to have to decide who they are going to pay and not pay, that’s where the dilemma comes in…
Somebody should make Baker aware that at some point all teams have to decide whether or not they are going to pay their top players. Of course he meant it as a cheap shot. Literally!
What is rivalry talk without the crosstown rivals. In an interview with the New York Post, Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi acknowledges the Mets accomplishments last year. But on New York being a Mets town, the pitcher said with confidence:
No. I don’t think so.
I think just because all the World Series that the Yankees have accomplished.
Sounding like a true Yankee Eovaldi. I’m sure the Steinbrenners are very proud. Money well spent.
The Mets don’t just have to worry about rival teams. They should consider the vengeance former Mets players will undoubtedly go for. Take Jonathon Niese for example. He did not exactly have kind things to say about his former team.
I was pretty surprised, but kind of happy I came [to Pittsburgh] to a winning team.
Because the Mets are not a winning team, right? Maybe his bitterness stems from this quote:
I would have loved to have started a few games in the postseason, but it is what it is.
Whatever his reason, you can bet he is going to come out guns blazing on the team who thought he was only worth a second baseman.
I would bring up Daniel Murphy, but we already know where he stands.
There is little question about the Mets having the dominant pitching staff. The question lies with the offense. Yes, they were able to bring back Yoenis Cespedes. He was a top hitter for them during the second half of the regular season. Manager Terry Collins stressed the role Lucas Duda plays:
The NL East may only have two teams that are legitimate rivals for 2016, but with the Braves and Phillies rebuilding, you can expect a four team rivalry in the East that will make the division one of the toughest in baseball for years to come.
People love a challenge. Message from National League teams to the New York Mets: Challenge accepted.