No boasts from Rollins this year

February 18, 2009 9:22:09 PM PST
Jimmy Rollins is done making predictions. The Philadelphia Phillies are World Series champions. That says it all. While Jose Reyes was firing spring training shots from across the state Wednesday, the Phillies refused to engage in more trash-talking with the New York Mets. They'll let those shiny new rings they're getting talk for them.

"I don't have anything. I retired from that business," Rollins said.

Cole Hamels stoked the rivalry during the offseason, calling the Mets "choke artists" in an interview on the team's flagship radio station. He didn't want to add fuel to those comments on Wednesday.

"I didn't know what I said when it happened," Hamels said. "I really didn't. I have to stick by what I said and it's something where truly I like to do most of my talking out on the field. I'm not the type of guy that needs to look for attention in the offseason."

The soft-spoken Hamels typically is not one to make outrageous comments, and had no intention of ripping the Mets when he agreed to do the interview to promote the World Series DVD. When asked by one of the hosts on WFAN if the Mets were choke artists, the ace left-hander agreed.

The Mets have collapsed two straight Septembers. They blew a seven-game lead in the NL East with 17 games to play in 2007. They lost a 3½-game lead with 17 remaining last year. The New York tabloids, talk-show hosts and fans called them choke artists long before Hamels.

Still, Mets players were upset by Hamels' comment.

"The only thing that I know is that he will be watched every time he faces us and hopefully we kill him," center fielder Carlos Beltran said Tuesday, then smiled. "Then he has to deal with the situation."

Reyes, the Mets' fiery shortstop, had even more to say Wednesday.

"I don't know why they always focus on us," Reyes told New York reporters. "They are the ones to win the World Series. We don't say nothing about them. We just say, 'Congratulations to the Phillies.' They always say something about us and we don't even focus on them. We focus on them when we play against them."

Reyes wasn't happy to hear the Phillies placed a photo of him in Shane Victorino's locker during the NLCS last October. Victorino did his best Reyes impersonation, putting his finger in the air as he circled first base after hitting a key homer against Los Angeles. Reyes is known for his excessive celebrations, and Victorino's teammates wanted to remind him to tone it down.

"I don't know why they said that because I'm not the only when I hit a home run that I 'pimp' it," Reyes said. "A lot of people do that. A lot of people from Philadelphia, too. They stand there for a couple seconds and nobody say nothing."

The back-and-forth between the Phillies and Mets started in January 2007 when Rollins boldly proclaimed Philadelphia was the team to beat in the division. Rollins backed that up by leading the Phillies to their first NL East title since 1993 and won the NL MVP award.

After the Mets acquired Johan Santana last year, Beltran sent an in-your-face message back to Rollins, claiming New York was the team to beat.

Already this spring, new Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez called New York the "team to beat."

Rollins finds it amusing.

"It has been pretty funny just to hear it going on and on and on," Rollins said. "I sit there and I laugh and say, 'This is still going on. They're still rolling with that?'

"Every time a team is going to be good and is going to face another team that is going to be good, someone is going to have something to prove."

So what happens the first time the Phillies play the Mets? The teams don't meet until May 1 in Philadelphia.

"It's going to be a fun game any time we play them," Rollins said. "But I guess when Cole is pitching, they are going to step it up and, of course, we are going to stand up for Cole, so that is going to force us to step it up. But that just brings out the best in both teams. We're going to win, but it definitely will bring out the best in both teams."

Notes: Rollins and Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt agreed that the 2008 Phillies would beat the 1980 squad that won the only other World Series title in franchise history. The '80 team had two Hall of Fame players - Schmidt and pitcher Steve Carlton - and another who would be in Cooperstown if he wasn't banned from baseball - Pete Rose. "Probably these guys. Bigger, stronger, faster. Yeah, no doubt in my mind," Schmidt said. "It would go seven games. It would probably turn on a Schmidt error. (Shortstop Larry) Bowa picks it up, throws to first, and Bruce Froemming calls him safe. And the '08 team wins in a controversial play that's talked about for years."

The Phillies lost the 1977 NLCS against the Dodgers after that exact play unfolded.

"It would probably go all seven games, but with the technology today and us being better athletes than that team was, I'd say 4-3 the '08 team," Rollins said.

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