Grab your flak jakets and slip on those brass knuckles, folks. The Mets and Phillies play this afternoon in the first of their 18 games this season and there's some talk that things might get a little heated. Yes, these two teams apparently like each other about as much as John Calipari likes taking timeouts to curb late runs by Kansas.
Actually, if it weren't for that other rivalry that's been blasted and droned into our minds, you could certainly make a case for the Mets-Phillies as the best battle in baseball. All the ingredients are there for a little contention: Last year's Mets collapse/Phillies comeback, springtime guarantees that have become annual and dueling video game covers between Ryan Howard and Jose Reyes. Also, don't forget fan brawls like this one, as seen to the right and in this video.
But before I go christening the Phillies-Mets as the second-best anything, I think it's only fair to present a few additional rivalries for your consideration. (Because how can you crown two squads when they're still trailing the Marlins in the NL East?)
See the selections and cast your vote after the jump.
Mets-Phillies: See above
Dodgers-Padres: You're right. California used to be all about Frisco vs. the City of Angels and ensuing wars in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. But with the Giants floundering in a post-Barry malaise and a Dodger fan website introducing photos of Jake Peavy's durrty hand to the national discourse, the rivalries in Cali, they are a changin'.
Brewers-Cubs: Cardinals fans might disagree, but the big NL Central showdown doesn't involve a team with a primary color of red. If it weren't for the crippling construction on the Edens Expressway, the Brewers and the Cubs would be less than a two-hour drive apart. Plus, their season-opening series featured a total of seven HBPs. With Carlos Zambrano on one side and Ned Yost on another, fireworks are almost guaranteed.
Indians-Tigers: Yeah, Detroit looks about as good as Dave Dombrowski's sports jacket collection right now. The Indians haven't exactly burst out of the gate, either. Still, if things fall the way they're supposed to, the curling three-hour drive around Lake Erie and through Toledo could become baseball's best voyage this summer.
Which one of these (if any) is the best? Why?