The old saying goes that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But what if the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy?
That's the dicey position that Mets fans find themselves in on the eve of a World Series pitting their two biggest rivals against each other for baseball's biggest prize. In an all too perfect bit of icing on the manure cake of the Mets 2009 season, it comes down to the Phillies, Yankees and an agonizing decision for Mets fans.
Since we can assume no Mets fan wishes for a thermonuclear explosion that takes out the entire Eastern Seaboard (although after this season...), there must be a choice. How do you choose a rooting interest in a series between two teams that you've never wished anything but horrible pain and suffering?
The Case For The Phillies: Jason Fry of the excellent Mets blog Faith and Fear in Flushing lays out a strong argument in the manner of John F. Kennedy and ends it by telling his fellow Mets fans "Ich Bin Ein Phillie." The crux of his argument is that the Yankees have long overshadowed the Mets in New York's firmament and a 27th championship by the Bronx boys would only push the Mets further into the shadows.
There are other reasons to root for the Phillies -- National League pride, a lingering affection for Pedro Martinez, appreciation for the cheesesteak -- but none that have much traction unless the Yankees are on the other side.
The Case Against The Phillies: Think it's tough being overshadowed in your hometown? Try being totally irrelevant in the entire National League. A second straight Phillies championship turns your rivalry with the Phillies from something approaching Ohio State-Michigan to something closer to Alabama-Greater Birmingham College of Dentistry.
These are the same Phillies who said they were the team to beat before the 2007 season and then came back from a seven-game defecit with 17 games to play to make it true. The same Phillies who blew past them again at the end of 2008 and then gloated about it and called the Mets choke artists. The same Phillies whose fans have had a fine time using the Mets as the punchline of every joke they've told for the last three seasons. Do you really want to sign up for more of that as the discussion turns toward a possible Phillies dynasty?
The Case For The Yankees: We'll throw civic pride out the window since it's a well-established fact that one only has affinity for one team or the other. There's no denying it is tough to go to work or parties and listen to a bunch of Yankee fans crowing about how great their team is and how much better they are than the Mets. But when it comes down to brass tacks, the Yankees only matter to the Mets six days a year on the field unless both teams make it to the World Series.
The Phillies, on the other hand, matter 162 days a year and their success has a lot more bearing on the Mets' place in the actual baseball world. You could argue that a true Mets fan would put those concerns well above any razzing they may get around the Thanksgiving table.
The Case Against The Yankees: Anyone who chose to root for the Mets in New York City obviously had the choice to root for the Yankees and passed it up. The reasons vary from case to case, but they've been tested and questioned and tested through fire many times over the years. That faith was forged years before the Phillies became a rival, it existed when the Mets battled the Cubs, the Cardinals and the Braves and it existed when they battled to stay out of the cellar. You don't just throw away that kind of faith on a whim, no matter the opposition.
So let us know, Mets fans. Who is your lesser of two evils this season?