Legends On Deck

Braves vs Mets is the Best Current Rivalry in Baseball

When you think about the best rivalries in baseball, you probably think of the Yankees vs Red Sox, Dodgers vs Giants or Cardinals vs Cubs.  There are a few things that make these rivalries great.  History and geographical proximity play a major part.

New York City and Boston are only about four hours apart.  They share a common history includes the Babe Ruth trade and the “curse” that followed it.  The Dodgers and Giants once shared a home in New York City (Brooklyn and Manhattan) and would be the first two franchises to relocate out west (back in 1958).  Chicago and St. Louis are just 300 miles apart, directly through the state of Illinois.

Like these other rivalries, the Braves and Mets play in the same division (NL East). But unlike the others, they are separated by over 800 miles.  The Braves franchise dates back to the earliest days of professional baseball in Boston.  The franchise relocated to Milwaukee in 1953, before settling in Atlanta in 1966.  They would become the first MLB franchise located in the southeast.  After the departure of the Giants and Dodgers from New York, the city would be granted an expansion franchise in 1962 with the Mets.

Braves Country

Braves fans would not enjoy a whole lot of success in their first couple decades in Atlanta.  They did reach the NLCS in 1982, losing the series to the Cardinals.  The Braves would gain a large following thanks to their partnership with TBS, broadcasting their games nationwide on cable television.  The Braves would then enjoy an incredible amount of success in the 1990s, including five NL Pennants (91, 92, 95, 96 and 99) and one World Series Championship (1995).  These teams, of course, were loaded with Hall of Fame talent like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones.  They won eleven consecutive NL East titles from 1995-2005.  They’d return to the postseason seven times between 2010-2021, finally capturing another World Series Championship in 2021.

The Braves unique geographical advantage makes them the only team located across the Deep South, with a fan base that spans throughout Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Carolinas.  Prior to 1993, with MLB expansion to Miami (Marlins), the state of Florida did not have an MLB team.  The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t come along until 1998.  The Braves also held Spring Training in Orlando from 1997-2019.  All these factors contribute to a strong fan base for the Braves in Florida as well.

Meet the Mets

The first decade of Mets baseball was the story of “worst to first.”  In their inaugural season, they went 40-120, which still stands as the record for most losses in a single season.  By 1969, the “Amazin’ Mets” were World Series Champs.  If Mets history has any pattern, it seems to be that they make a serious run every decade and a half.  The Mets would return to glory in 1986, with a memorable World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Right on cue, the Mets would return to the Fall Classic in 2000, but dropped the Subway Series to the Yankees in five games.  Once again, in 2015 the Mets would find their way back to the World Series, losing in five games to the Kansas City Royals.  According to the math, the Mets should find their way back on top by 2030.  However, this year’s team seems to have what it takes to make a run.

In a town where they’re over-shadowed by the Yankees, the Mets seem to enjoy a sizable and fiercely loyal fan base.  They have long been the beneficiaries of the void left by the departing Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.  They have famous comedic fans like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Kevin James.  And, like the Braves, they maintain a sizable fan base in the state of Florida, largely due to their longtime Spring Training home in Port St. Lucie and the high number of relocated New Yorkers.  As a Floridian, I’d argue that a firm half the number of relocated New Yorkers I meet are loyal to the Mets fans.  Among their most devout supporters is Legends on Deck Co-Founder, David Conde, of Southwest Florida.

The NL East Race of 2022

This season, the Braves and Mets stack up as two of the most talented teams in all of MLB.  The Braves are defending World Champions had have large portions of their team in tact.  Star first-baseman Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers, was quickly replaced by Atlanta area native, Matt Olson. The return of Ronald Acuna Jr. and the rise to prominence of rookies like Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider and Vaughn Grissom have given the team new energy.  The Braves also have the only 20 game winner in MLB with Kyle Wright.  Not to mention, the work of their stars on the left side of the infield, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson.

On the other hand, it’s been the Mets who have led the NL East for the overwhelming majority of the season.  They’ve also done this with a balanced and talented roster.  Stars like Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor have powered the offense, along with strong seasons from Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar.   Their starting rotation is one of the best, with a healthy Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco.  And who can ignore the best entrance in baseball, closer Edwin Diaz, along with Timmy Trumpet.

This weekend, it’s all on the line for the National League East!  Currently, the Mets have a 1.0 lead in the division.

We’ll see some stellar pitching matchups in this series.

  • Friday:  Max Fried vs Jacob deGrom
  • Saturday:  Kyle Wright vs Max Scherzer
  • Sunday: Charlie Morton vs Chris Bassitt

The Legends on Deck Series

The Legends on Deck family circle has a particular interest in this rivalry.  I made mention of LOD’s Co-Founder David Conde and his lifelong Mets fandom.  If you’ve listened to our podcast, you’ll know that David began his baseball writing career covering the Mets and their farm system.  If you follow him on Twitter, you’ll know that David weighs in on the Mets on a daily basis.  He’s also been tracking this division race all season.  In recent days, his hometown in SW Florida was hit hard by Hurricane Ian.  His neighbors and community have a long rebuilding process ahead, but thankfully his family is safe.  On the very evening the storm ripped through, David was able to distract himself a little with a Mets victory.

A week prior, my son George celebrated his 7th birthday with his favorite team, the Atlanta Braves.  George has been interested in the Braves since his Little League team in 2021 bore the Braves name.  He follow their World Series win last season and has been hooked ever since.  All summer, he bugged me to flip on the Braves rather than the Tigers (or Rays) who I would normally watch.  George ended up controlling our MLB TV and the Braves have been on every day for months.  My birthday tweet to the Braves resulted in a number of birthday greetings including from the Rome Braves, Mississippi Braves and the Atlanta franchise itself.

As David and George cheer on their teams this weekend, the rest of us will just get to enjoy the competition for the NL East crown.  It all begins tonight at 7:20 pm at Truist Park in Cobb County, Georgia!

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