Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson responds to the Mets’ Keith Hernandez.
It has been a long time, but the rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets — which last peaked in the mid-to-late 2000s — appears to have returned.
And fans can probably thank Mets legend Keith Hernandez for that.
Tuesday evening, the 1986 World Series-winning first baseman — who is now in his 17th season as a Mets television analyst — said without remorse that he would miss the two teams’ upcoming series against each other. Hernandez explained that he hates calling Phillies games and that the Rob Thomson-led squad has always been “just not up to” playing with fundamentals and defense.
Phillies fans were not shy on social media to disagree with Hernandez — with many turning to statistics to prove his statement’s invalidity. After all, entering the night, the Phillies were tied for having the fourth-fewest team errors on the season (47). The Mets, meanwhile, had committed two more errors (49) — tied for sixth-fewest in Major League Baseball.
When asked by reporters before Wednesday’s game about his thoughts on Hernandez’s controversial comments regarding the Phillies defense, Thomson’s response was everything fans would expect and more — nothing but class:
"“He’s a good baseball man and I respect his opinion, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. Because I don’t.”"
As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber reports, Thomson continued by saying the Phillies committed only five errors in July. That figure doesn’t come close to representing the type of team Hernandez made the Phillies out to be.
In his first 58 games as interim manager, Thomson has quickly brought the Phillies from eight games under .500 to 13 games over. His 39-19 record is the best among at least the past few of the club’s managers. Joe Girardi started 28-30 in red pinstripes, preceded by Gabe Kapler’s 32-26 record, Pete Mackanin (26-32), Ryne Sandberg (27-31), and Charlie Manuel (30-28).
While it is unlikely that the Phils will catch the Mets in the National League East standings as they did in 2007, it is still fair to say that emotions will be intense when they play each other next. Barring another last-season collapse, the Phillies are still primed to become a Wild Card team for the first time in franchise history.
The Phils will head to Citi Field for a three-game set on August 12-14. Five days later, the Buck Showalter-led squad will travel south for a four-game series in South Philadelphia (including a doubleheader mixed in) from August 19-21.
The two teams will not face each other for the remainder of the regular season afterward, but a postseason meeting just might be in the cards if the Phils can keep their current momentum going.