K-Rod said the Mets are the team to beat in their division. Carlos Beltran smiled and agreed, and the New York media fired that missile back to Pennsylvania. Jimmy Rollins laughed, saying he was “retiring” from that kind of talk. Cole Hamels called the Mets “choke artists” on WFAN, and Beltran said he can’t wait for the Mets to “kill” Hamels, conjuring up thoughts of fastballs whizzing past heads and benches emptying.
Tabloids love this kind of talk, and lately it’s the Phillies who have backed up all the talk. I don’t know about you fans, but for me, I don’t care what these guys are saying, and seeing this stuff in the news makes me roll my eyes almost as much as the talk of what A-Rod did in 2003, and Brett Favre telling us he’s retiring again. I’m glad Beltran and K-Rod are confident, because we wouldn’t want them not to be, but the bottom line is that talk means nothing. What matters are runs and wins and championships, and as of late the Phils have the most important one of those and we don’t.
There have been some notable moments in New York sports history where cocky players or coaches called their shot–Joe Namath comes to mind as the most famous of those before Super Bowl III. Jim Fassel told the New York media in 2002 that his Giants, who had slipped to 6-6 with four games left, would make the playoffs — and they did, winning their last four games before being upset by San Francisco in the playoffs.
I know there are others, but mostly the talk means nothing beyond firing up sports writers and fans. It might fire up the players too, but in the end what they have to do is focus and produce on the field What matters is what takes place between the lines, and in a 162-game season, a lot of things will take place to determine who wins and who goes home.