The Mets head down to D.C. this weekend (The 7 Line Army will make their presence felt on Saturday) to take on the Nationals for the final time this season. This was a series that everyone had circled as potentially being the biggest of the season, with both teams entering 2018 with playoff expectations. Instead, we got a disappointing season from the Mets and a disaster of a season from the Nationals.
This series feels like more than the final meeting between these two teams, it feels like the end of what should’ve been a great rivalry.
Since 2012, the Nationals have been the beast of the east, winning four division titles over that span versus the Mets one. Should this even be remembered as a rivalry? 2015 was magical, and I’ll never forget those amazin’ wins against the Nats when they were needed the most, but outside of that summer, there was never really much buzz when these teams met.
From the moment Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper stormed onto the scene you knew the Nationals would be a force for years to come. At the same time, neither ever developed into that super villain you need to truly cement a rivalry. Chipper Jones, John Rocker, Bobby Cox, Leo “rocking” Mazzone, The Big 3, Kenny Rogers, the TBS broadcast crew and co. still give me nightmares about the 90s Braves. I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about what Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth and really anyone wearing a Phillies jersey (fans included) did during the mid-to-late 2000s.
When it comes to the Nationals, I feel nothing. It’s not like I enjoy watching Bryce Harper in the batter’s box, but I don’t get that same feeling in my gut when he steps up as I did for Chipper and Utley. Even Strasburg and Scherzer don’t strike the same fear into me that Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine and Hamels once did. Neither player has brought that “it” factor with them to inject more life into the rivalry.
This “rivalry” ultimately never reached its full potential due to both teams underachieving over the years. The Mets’ “five aces” never came to fruition and the Nationals couldn’t get over the hump despite continuously having the best roster in the National League. Washington unloaded a lot of their talent at the deadline and Harper is already one foot out the door with free agency looming. With a new GM coming, next season should bring a new look for the Mets, too.
It feels odd to say given the lopsided four-to-one division title total, but I consider the Mets as the winner of this rivalry. Winning the NL East is great, winning the National League is better. What the Mets accomplished in 2015 alone surpasses anything the Nats did over their reign. I’ll take an unforgettable summer and memorable fall over four one-and-done Octobers in D.C.
It’s a shame we didn’t get these two teams battling it out on a more regular basis. Baseball is more fun when you have a sparring partner to exchange blows with. The Nationals jabbed the Mets to death for years and the Mets happened to catch a giant uppercut one season to supply the only real excitement in this rivalry.
Check out the standings. The Braves and Phillies have suddenly risen back to the top of the division. The end of an era is here for Mets vs. Nats, who’s next for the Mets?
P.S. People forget the Nationals have never won a playoff series.