A group of belligerent New York fans peered through the steel screen doors at the new Yankee Stadium and shouted insults at the Philadelphia Phillies walking around inside.
Upon noticing this, Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez immediately darted over to his detractors and started high-fiving them through the metal bars.
One guy who looked like he just came out of a bar, or was headed for one, just wouldn’t quit.
“Hey Ryan Howard,” he roared while following the path of the Phillies first baseman. “We ain’t the Mets.”
The big slugger grinned at him.
Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Rays.
They all may as well be one in the same to the Phillies.
The Phillies are, after all, the defending champions who beat everyone else on their way to last year’s World Series title and a return trip to this one. And they aren’t going to be intimidated by a bunch of boasts from the opponent.
Even if that opponent is the mighty New York Yankees, who haven’t won a World Series since 2000 and haven’t even played in one since 2003.
They have big, fearsome pitcher CC Sabathia and his 3-0 record and 1.19 ERA this postseason, and he’s ready to throw bullets at the Phillies in tonight’s 7:57 p.m. World Series opener in New York.
And the Phillies didn’t even blink at the prospect of facing him.
“There’s nothing imposing about CC,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins shrugged. “I’ve known him personally. I give him respect for being great. Other than that, I’m trying to beat you.”
How about Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who’s practically unbeatable in the final innings of postseason games?
“Who doesn’t want to be the guy to go out there and ruin it for him?” Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino countered with confidence.
Self-certainty among the Phillies surely isn’t lacking.
And just in case New York wondered if it was, Rollins reaffirmed Tuesday what he told Playboy Magazine back in February.
“I said it would be the Phillies and Yankees in the World Series,” Rollins said. “And I said it would be the Phillies in five.”
In five games?
“It will be very tough to take them in four,” Rollins said. “They’ll get one game. I said that we would win it in Philadelphia. That means five games.”
That sounds a lot like when he walked into spring training in 2007 and said the Phillies were the team to beat in the National League East, irking the defending division champion New York Mets at the time.
Rollins was right, as it turned out, when the Phillies won the first of their three straight NL East titles that season. And he can count on being jeered by Yankee fans this week as heavily as he has been by Mets fans for the past three years.
“They love me here,” Rollins laughed. “They’re going to get on you anyway. So if you’re going to shy away from that (criticism), you’re at a disadvantage. I enjoy playing baseball on the road and silencing somebody.
“There’s no better feeling than that.”
Their greeting at Yankee Stadium showed the Phillies that Yankees fans aren’t going to stay silent. They’re convinced their Yankees are so much tougher than the Mets. As those fans found out Tuesday, so are the Phillies.