Like an All-Star Game or the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic can sometimes put the best players in the world on the same team — including some big-time rivals.
In 2009, the Mets‘ David Wright and the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Jimmy Rollins were not only on Team USA together, but they were just two lockers apart in the clubhouse… which could’ve been a recipe for disaster considering their history.
Here’s some context:
From 1995-2005, the Atlanta Braves ruled the NL East, winning a ridiculous 11 division titles in a row.
The Mets managed to end that streak in 2006, winning the division and making it to Game 7 of the NLCS before their season was finished. But the shift had already begun, with their NL East crown reigning over the rest of the division.
But the Phillies responded, winning the division in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008 (and for three more seasons after that), also winning the 2008 World Series.
During that three-year span, Wright and Rollins were among the players taking shots at each other through the media.
“I enjoyed it,” Rollins said on SNY’s latest episode of Like We Never Left. “…It wasn’t about being good, it was about how much trash can you talk and still go out and back it up.”
“I never got mad, I mean I love trash talk,” Wright added. “…I think it freed us up to express ourselves a little more in the media, and I think the fans took that to heart and it became just a very intense and great atmosphere to play baseball in.”
Enter “The Captain”
Rollins said coming in that he’d hoped whoever set up the Team USA locker room at the 2009 WBC understood the tension between the Mets and Phillies, and the tension between himself and Wright, but lo and behold, they were in the same corner just two lockers apart.
Luckily, the only player sitting in between them happened to be none other than the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
“Jeter at some point walks by, walks to his locker and you could feel the tension,” Rollins said. “And Jeter walks in and he looks at David, looks at me, and he backs up and says ‘Hell no, I’m not getting in between this,’ and just started laughing.
“That’s ‘The Captain,’ he just broke the ice. So it was like, ‘You know what, this is Team USA.’ So I think I turned around and said ‘What’s up David’ and he said ‘What’s up’ to me.”
“That sounds about right, that’s the exact way I remember it…although I’m pretty sure I was probably the bigger man and said hello to Jimmy before Jimmy said hello to me,” Wright jokingly added after.
Wright eventually became “Captain America” and Team USA went on to finish in fourth place at the 2009 WBC, but the bonding and camaraderie from that tournament helped the two fierce competitors see each other in a different light.
Source: Yahoo Sports