SAY THIS: Cole Hamels knew it.

After ripping Jose Reyes and labeling the Mets "choke artists" and taking the bait on every leading question thrown his way - and they were all leading - the Phillies' ace lefthander laughed into the mouthpiece of his phone and uttered something obvious.

"You guys are going to kill me," Hamels said to a pair of hosts on New York's WFAN radio station yesterday. "I know."

Two years after Jimmy Rollins labeled the Phillies the team to beat and a year after Carlos Beltran instructed the media to tell Rollins otherwise, Hamels dipped his toe into the already well-populated waters of Phillies-Mets lore, using a 10-minute appearance to both promote DVDs and take umbrage with Reyes' home-run pimpage.

The headline-maker was an exchange Hamels had with hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts in which one asks Hamels if he thinks the Mets are choke artists.

This is the exchange:

Question: "Do you think the Mets are choke artists? A lot of Mets fans think they are. Do you look at it from afar and say, honestly, we know they are going to find a way to lose this thing?"

Hamels: "Last year and this year, I think we did believe that. Three years ago, we didn't, because they smoked everybody. I really thought that was the year they were going to the World Series. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. That's kind of what we believe and I think we will always believe it until they prove us wrong."

Q: "Wow. It's worth repeating. You say the Mets are choke artists?"

Hamels: "Yeah, for the past 2 years they've been choke artists."

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the interview, conducted ostensibly so Hamels could hawk a set of DVDs commemorating the Phillies' World Series run, came earlier, when Hamels told a story about Shane Victorino's grand slam off CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Throughout the season, the Phillies fancied themselves a team of ballplayers who played the game the "right way." Never was this more evident than after a late-July game in which Reyes hit a three-run home run that eventually proved to be the difference in a 6-3 Mets win. After the game, several Phillies were steamed about the way Reyes conducted himself, rounding the bases, holding one finger in the air.

So when Victorino raised his finger in the air while circling the bases after his slam off Sabathia, a few enterprising teammates hung a sign in his locker that said something to the effect of "J-Reyes?"

"When Jose Reyes hits home runs, he puts his finger up like he won the game, and he might have only hit it in the first inning or the third inning," Hamels said in the interview. "When Shane did it, he did the same, exact thing. So we said, 'Shane, this doesn't win the game, we still have a lot of game to play. Why are you trying to be like Jose Reyes?' That was kind of where it came from. Even though you hit the big home run, you don't need to pimp it. You just need to run around the bases and kind of get the game started. That's kind of where it came from."

The man who gave up that home run to Reyes, Ryan Madson, happened to be making a public appearance last night at the Phillies-hosted premiere of "The Perfect Season," a DVD edited and produced by team videographer Dan Stephenson.

Madson shrugged off Hamels' remarks.

"All that stuff, that happens all the time," Madson said. "Jimmy did it a few years ago. It's good. It's good for the game. It's good for us two teams. It makes it interesting."

Contract hopes

Ryan Madson said the allure of closing will always be present. But the veteran righthander, who is eligible for arbitration this year and will be a free agent after next season, said he is hoping to sign a multiyear contract that would keep him in Philadelphia as Brad Lidge's setup man.

"I like it here," he said. "I love it. I've always said that. That's never going to change."

Madson indicated there has been some dialogue between agent Scott Boras and the Phillies, although a deal is not imminent.

Madson, who earned $1.4 million this season while posting a 3.05 ERA in 82 2/3 innings, is one of 10 Phillies eligible for arbitration.

Moyer competition

The Phillies could have some competition for veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer. A report in the

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

has the Brewers seriously considering Moyer after ace lefthander CC Sabathia agreed to a deal with the Yankees. The Brewers are also considering former Phillie Randy Wolf.

"We have ongoing discussions with all those guys," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Journal-Sentinel.

The Phillies had hoped to re-sign Moyer early in the offseason, but the sides remain divided on a contract. *

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