Phillies respond to New Jersey governor

Social media account addresses Christie's comments

Phillies respond to New Jersey governor

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- This is out of control, isn't it?

MLB.com tweeted a few photos on Tuesday of the Phillies' upgraded décor at Spectrum Field, their Spring Training venue. In one image, on a wall leading into Philadelphia's clubhouse, are photos of Ryan Howard holding up the 2008 World Series championship trophy and Tug McGraw, who recorded the final out of the 1980 Fall Classic, raising his arms in the air.

In between is McGraw's famous quote, "Ya Gotta Believe."

Mets fans freaked. The Mets got irked, too, tweeting a response. This is their phrase, they howled.

National outlets picked up on the fake-news controversy, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie -- a lifelong Mets fan -- took some shots at the Phillies and their fans on a New York sports television show on Wednesday.

"The Phillies [stink]. Let's just start with that," said Christie, who has attended Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park in the past, presumably without incident. "They're from Philadelphia. They're an awful team. They're an angry, bitter fan base and it's not safe for civilized people to go to Citizens Bank Park if you want to root for the other team. Ya gotta believe what? Ya gotta believe we're awful people. That's what ya gotta believe."

The Phillies responded on Thursday, most certainly referring to Christie's Fort Lee bridge scandal.

McGraw's "Ya gotta believe!" became the rallying cry for the 1973 Mets, who improbably reached the World Series. The Mets and their fans continue to have a strong affinity for the phrase, although the Tug McGraw Foundation copyrighted it.

The Mets traded McGraw to the Phillies in 1974, ending his nine-year career in New York. McGraw played the next 10 seasons in Philadelphia, continuing to say "Ya Gotta Believe!" along the way.

McGraw loved Philly. In fact, during the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship parade, he memorably (and good-naturedly) said, "All through baseball history, Philadelphia has taken a back seat to New York City. Well, New York City can take this world championship and stick it!"

McGraw retired in 1985 and remained in Philadelphia, where he worked in local TV. He also served as a guest instructor for a few years during Phillies Spring Training before he died of brain cancer in 2004. His memoir, published after his death, is titled "Ya Gotta Believe!"

The Phillies memorialized McGraw's contributions to the organization by placing a plaque of him with "Ya Gotta Believe!" in the Phillies' bullpen at Citizens Bank Park.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.