K-Rod Fires Strike

Call it the Rollins Declaration.

In kindred spirit of the intensifying rivalry, it has become recent off-season tradition for the Phillies and Mets to fireball bold predictions of who's "the team to beat."

On Saturday newly acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez, known around baseball as K-Rod, delivered his first strike in a Mets' uniform.

All Phillies players; print out this quote. Tape it to your locker, mirror or refrigerator. Let it fuel you to your second straight World Series win.

"Of course, we're going to try to win the division. Of course, we're going to be the front-runner. Of course, we're going to be the team to beat," Rodriguez blurted to reporters.

The battle has officially begun. Well, technically this is the first move of the on going chess like war. It's the first "we're the team to beat" prediction at least.

On Thursday, Cole Hamels called the Mets "choke artists" on WFAN radio and with good reason.

After Jimmy Rollins first made the bold prediction that the Phillies would be the team to beat in 2007, Philadelphia has won the National League East two years running with both titles at the hands of September collapses by New York.

Phillies 2, Mets 0.

Makes you wonder what Mets fans are thinking right now, doesn't it?

It has been an arms race for New York so far this season acquiring Rodriguez for three years and $37 million while snatching up Seattle's former closer J.J. Putz as K-Rod's setup man.

The Mets were forced to make the moves after former Phillie loudmouth Billy Wagner announced he'd miss the 2009 season because of elbow surgery.

Can't hear ya now Billy.

The Phillies on the other hand, have one of baseballs most dominate bullpens. General Manager Ruben Amaro has also made it clear that pitching is a priority, although the team has yet to sign a game changer. Philadelphia remains optimistic about resigning Jamie Moyer while still looking to add another starter to the rotation.

In the mean time keep your ears open and your recorders rolling because it is only a matter of time until a verbal retaliation hits the headlines.

But until someone pulls the trigger, here it is first; the Phillies are the team to beat.

Post that somewhere Mets fans!

Until someone else hoists that trophy high in the air, that's not a prediction, that's a fact.


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