Months ago, Cole Hamels went on New York radio and agreed with the host’s assertion that the Mets were “choke artists.” Of course, this got Mets fans whining and crying, much like they did when Jimmy Rollins said “finally, we’re the team to beat” before the 2007 season. Well, after Cole Hamels was shown the back cover of the day’s national edition of the New York Post which read “Cole War,” he tried to calm things down a bit.
“I think it kind of gets out of hand,” he said of all the Phillies-Mets rivalry chatter. “But you know what? If it spurs enough (interest) to where we get a lot more attention when we face each other, that’s fine.”
Hamels did say that he has a lot of respect for the Mets players.
“I don’t want it to be bad blood against their players and us because we respect each other,” he said. “But if it really gets the fans involved, that’s OK.
“I know that I have the Phillies fans on my side and I know I’m never going to have the Mets fans on my side. So it’s not like they’re going to cheer me when I go out there. I guess if it gets more exciting when we play, I think that’s good for baseball. I think that’s what baseball needs. It needs some good rivalries to forget about the other stuff off the field that’s been happening.”
Does he wish he never said anything at all?
“I’ll live with it, and I’ll never regret anything I say because I learn from it,” Hamels said. “It’s a situation where I can try to apologize to players because I don’t want them to be offended by it. I have a lot of respect for all the players on their team. I guess it’s just something to stir the pot. Hopefully it’ll get things going for when we compete during the season.”
He was asked if he’ll talk to the Mets players about all this when he sees them.
“Yeah, most likely,” he said. “And I think they’ll understand. They know. They know the game. We try to play it as best we can. We like to be competitive. But we’re not trying to kill each other out on the field because further down the line we might be playing with these guys. It’s not like it used to be back in the day when players could go at each other because they knew they were never going to see them because they never had the free agency or trades that they do now. I have a lot of respect for them. They’re major leaguers and they play for a big-time franchise and city.”
Who else can’t wait for May 1, when the Phils meet the Mets for the first time this season? I have my popcorn ready.