Schmidty comes through in the clutch

Eventually, even the Hatfields and the McCoys ended their bitter inter-family war spurred by land, geography, unrequited love and moonshine.

But unlike with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin brokering a peace accord between Egypt and Israel, the Hatfield Family and the McCoy clan did not hole up at Camp David for a week in order to iron out their differences. Not even close.

Instead, the famous warring families called up Richard Dawson and played “The Feud.” Yep, in 1979 the Hatfield and McCoy families went at it once and for all on the hit TV game show, “The Family Feud.” The winners took home a prized pig, which was kept on the set during the show.

I didn’t see the episode, but if I were a betting man I’d wager Dawson gave that pig a big smooch and then afterwards played it off in sexual suggestive, yet charming, British manner.

There’s nothing charming about the feud between the Phillies and the Mets, though. The fact is the battle for supremacy in the NL East is just plain ol’ nasty. These guys just don’t like each other. In fact, the hatred the Phillies have for the Mets actually inspires them.

“The other team gives you some inspiration, let’s put it that way,” shortstop Jimmy Rollins said last week. “You’re able to take that and keep yourself motivated.”

That’s kind of vague. How about some elaboration, Jimmy?

“No, just watch ‘em. If you were a player and you’re looking over in that other dugout, you’ll feel a certain type of way. Rewind the game. Just watch the game.”

Just watch the game. It’s that simple. Better yet, it seems as if those Mets and their antics inspired an old Phillie watching the games on TV in Jupiter, Fla. to sit down in front of a computer and type out an e-mail to his old team. But more than just an “attaguy” missive congratulating the club for another fine season, this one was more of a call to arms.

Think Winston Churchill delivering his “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” address before the House of Commons on May 13, 1940.

Or maybe it was more like Franklin Roosevelt’s first inauguration address in 1933 when he told Americans that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Maybe it was like The Dude telling the Big Lebowski that, “This aggression will not stand… man.”

So if the Phillies go on to surge past the Mets for a second straight September and into the playoffs, perhaps Mike Schmidt’s e-mail will be the watershed moment. In its historical context we’ll call it the “Better Than They Are” note or maybe, “Win One for the Schmidter.”

No matter what, Schmidt words inspired his beloved Phillies in Friday night’s taut, 3-0 classic in which Brett Myers may have turned in his finest performance ever.

Schmidt wrote:

One pitch, one at-bat, one play, one situation, think “small” and “big” things result. Tough at-bats, stay up the middle with men on base, whatever it takes to keep the line moving. Hot offense. 27 outs on defense. The Mets know you’re better than they are. They remember last year. You guys are never out of the game. Welcome the challenge that confronts you this weekend. You guys are the best.

Good luck,
Mike Schmidt.

Just like Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” Schmidt’s letter was short, sweet and direct. Also like Lincoln’s famous speech, Schmidt’s words will be remembered forever. Schmidt came through for the team during that last series in Montreal in 1980 and he came through against Kansas City in the World Series later that month. This time, without a bat or glove Schmidt came through again – but with a laptop, an e-mail account and nine simple sentences.

If the Phillies go on to win this thing, it could go down as Schmidt’s finest moment as a Phillie.

When told that Schmidt wrote, “The Mets know you’re better than they are,” Rollins, in his understated way, added to the potential legend with a throwing down of the proverbial gauntlet of his own:

“Well, that part’s true,” Rollins said.

The Phillies will have two games on Sunday – and just 19 more after that – to prove it again.

Come on down and let’s play The Feud!