If you’re a true Mets fan, then you know how much the Marlins have been a thorn in the team’s side since 2007. First, Tom Glavine was able to retire only one more batter than I did in the 2007 regular season finale, completing the Mets’ collapse. One year later, the Marlins wouldn’t get off the field after they once again eliminated the Mets (and Shea Stadium) in Game No. 162. Three years after that, they stuck it to the Mets again, this time by signing Jose Reyes to a six-year deal worth $106 million, or about $106 million more than Fred Wilpon has stored away in his souvenir Sandy Koufax piggy bank.
In fact, if you really want to get technical about it, the Marlins have been one-upping the Mets since 1997, when they replaced the Mets as the fastest expansion team to win a World Series. (The Marlins have since been knocked off that perch by the fourth-year Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.)
But other than the Mets celebrating their 2006 NL East title in front of their home fans while the Marlins watched in the road dugout, they haven’t really done anything that would be considered negative to the Marlins. Are they upset that the Mets took Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado from them? Did Fred Wilpon insult Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria’s mother because he found out Loria grew up as a Yankee fan during the era in which the Brooklyn Dodgers kept losing to them in the World Series?
The time has come for the Mets to stand up to the Marlins once and for all. And I know just how they can do it.
Recently, it was reported that Bud Selig expects two extra wild-card teams to be in place for this season, rather than the 2013 campaign. Therefore, with five teams now qualifying for the playoffs in the National League instead of the usual four, the Marlins have reasonable expectations that they will be one of those five teams.
More than likely, the Phillies will win the NL East for the sixth consecutive season. But the Atlanta Braves are coming off an epic late-season collapse. The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers both lost their top power hitters (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder) to free agency. With all those windows being opened in the National League, the Miami Marlins are poised to break through and crash the playoff party for the first time since Art Howe was supposedly managing the Mets.
Like many other teams competing for the wild card spots in recent years, the Marlins might not play a potential clinching game until the final series of the season. And who, pray tell, will the Marlins be playing on October 1, 2 and 3 in front of their dozens of fans at their brand spanking-new ballpark?
Wouldn’t it be something if the Marlins needed to win their final series of the season and the newly-signed (and former Met) Heath Bell blew a save or two to the Mets? Or how about if Jose Reyes, representing the tying run in the bottom of the ninth was caught stealing to end a game? What if the Marlins’ new ace, Mark Buehrle, only lasted a third of an inning in the regular season finale, as the Mets battered him for run after run in the opening frame? Would that be devastating to them?
It’s been too long since the Marlins have been a thorn in the Mets’ side. Ever since Steve Trachsel’s arm and Jose Valentin’s bat took them down in the 2006 division clincher, the artists formerly known as the Florida Marlins have been giving the Mets and their fans recurring nightmares.
Hey, we all know the Marlins are just one poor finish away from conducting their once-a-decade fire sale. Why not speed up the inevitable and give them a chance to do it this year? The Marlins have been sticking it to the Mets every chance they’ve gotten since 2007. It’s time for the Mets to stick it right back to them in 2012. Ya gotta believe.