You may find yourself attending a baseball game being played by two under achieving teams. In the summer of 2013, I attended a ball game at Citizens Bank Park, home of the
Philadelphia Phillies. The Philadelphia Organization, indebted in multiple bad player contracts, was underachieving. They were playing their long time National League, division rivals, The New York Mets. New York had also put out an all around poor team in 2013. New York’s Baseball club was not even acceptable on, where as the Phillies could at least lie to themselves about the roster, and sell it on player’s past career stats. This was all fine, because even when teams aren’t postseason contenders, rivalries fuel everyone to play harder, and lead to quality baseball games.
Citizens Bank Park is one of the newer baseball parks in Major League Baseball. Built in 2004, Citizens Bank is a hitter’s ballpark, righties and lefties, are both capable of hitting the ball over the outfield’s short fences. This makes sitting in any outfield seat exciting because a ball hit by a majority of players in the league can reach you. When you get into warm summer weather, the air thins, baseballs carry farther, when you can’t pitch, balls don’t stay in the park. The Phillies and Mets hitters, staring down a long season of nothing to look forward to, played into their rivalry, and provided heavy offense out of spite.
The Phillies roster of diminishing stars came to hit that day. Former Most Valuable Player Award Winner, Ryan Howard, hit multiple home runs, one going opposite field, and landing right near us in left field. Michael Young, a long time veteran infielder for the Texas Rangers, in his final year in the league, hit his fourth home run as a member of the Phillies, also very close to us. Philadelphia took an early 7-1 lead over the Mets because of their older veterans hammering the long ball and driving in runs. Even if it was a rare glimpse, you can find veterans taking leadership, and playing harder against division rivals.
The Mets were fielding a team of bench players and minor leaguers. Their most notable players on the field was David Wright at third base and second baseman, Daniel Murphy. Down 7-1, you saw this team tear into Philadelphia’s bullpen. A lot of players with zero expectations, were stringing together doubles, a home run in the mix, but more importantly providing consistent hitting. Daniel Murphy shot an opposite field single to drive in David Wright to tie the game. A borderline minor league team had come down 7-1, to tie the game, and make a competitive afternoon matchup. All of a sudden we have the two rivals going into a tie game into the bottom of the 9th.
The Phillies would win with a walk off home run by Kevin Fransden. Another booming shot to left field to set a once 7-1, but now 8-7 baseball game. Two offensively lacking teams came out to play that day. Philly and the Mets hate each other, with a long season of under performing, months of frustration, no one wants to lose to their rival. These are the underlying factors to look for when attending a game. Rivalries are the variable that ramp up the intensity between two teams and provide a quality baseball game.