Hamels: Mets have been 'choke artists'

As World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies have earned the right to flaunt their status. Pitcher Cole Hamels might have gone a little overboard, and at the expense of the team's bitter rival, no less.

In an interview on New York sports talk station WFAN on Thursday, Hamels, the World Series MVP, responded in the affirmative when asked if he thought the Mets were "choke artists."

"Last year and this year I think we did believe that [they were choke artists]," Hamels told the station, alluding to the Phillies winning the NL East in 2008 and '07, in part, with the help of back-to-back September collapses by New York. "Three years ago we didn't because they smoked everybody, and I think we all thought they were going to win it all. Unfortunately that didn't happen."

The Mets won 97 games and the NL East title in 2006 but lost to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series in seven games.

"But, yeah, that's kind of what we believed and I think we're always going to believe that until they prove us wrong," Hamels said. "For the past two years they've been choke artists."

The trash talk between the two teams started before the 2007 season when Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins pronounced Philadelphia the team to beat in the NL East even though New York ran away with the division crown in '06. New York squandered a seven-game cushion with 17 to play in 2007 as the Phillies took the division and Rollins went on to win the NL MVP award.

The New York Daily News sought responses from the Mets. In an e-mail, third baseman David Wright said:
"It doesn't matter. I'm not going to get in the middle of talking back and forth."

And pitcher Mike Pelfrey's retort, also in an e-mail to the Daily News: "I couldn't care less what he [Hamels] or anybody else says."

Early in spring training this year, after the Mets acquired ace left-hander Johan Santana, normally quiet outfielder Carlos Beltran had a message for Rollins, saying the Mets were the team to beat in 2008. New York finished second in the East to Philadelphia and the Phillies went on to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.