For you New York baseball fans who are pinching yourselves and dreaming of October glory, consider this: At one point on Friday night, June 17, the Mets and the Yankees both held 10-1 leads on their opponents. The mathematical implausibility of that coincidence deepened a few minutes later when the home teams both held leads of 10-3.
This season, it seems, anything is possible for the Yankees and the Mets.
Oh yes, even a – dare I say it – Subway Series.
The Yankees have crushed the opposition. Through their first 76 games, the Yankees went 56-20, marking Major League Baseball’s third-best record in 92 seasons. The Mets were also in first place, with a record of 44-23 (.657) by the end of play on June 18.
OK, so it’s way too early to start taking about magic numbers for the two teams to clinch playoff berths – and foolish to daydream about the first Yankees-Mets World Series matchup in 22 seasons (the Yankees defeated the Mets by four games to one in 2000).
But what the hey. New York area sports fans have nothing else to celebrate. The Rangers played gallantly but failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. The Nets were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs – while the Knicks didn’t come close to making the postseason tournament this season. The pathetic Giants and the pitiful Jets – or is it the other way around? Please!
Dreaming of October Glory Days
The prospect of a Mets-Yankees World Series is so juicy that even out-of-town baseball fans could get excited. The media would be ecstatic, knowing that the World Series would be played in the nation’s greatest publicity market.
Think about the various matchups!
We’d have two of the game’s great sluggers, Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Pete Alonso of the Mets. We’d see pitching aces everywhere, such as Gerrit Cole of the Yankees and the Mets’ twin towers of Jacob deGrom, who has been injured all season, and Max Scherzer.
And the two rabid fan bases in full-throated cheering.
So, which of the two teams has actually been more dynamic and impressive?
The Yankees boast the sport’s best record. They win close games. They bludgeon the opposition. They win pitchers’ duels and slugfests with equal aplomb. They win in the Bronx. They win on the road. This season, they’d win on Neptune.
But looking beyond the won-lost record, you have to admire the Mets. DeGrom, baseball’s best pitcher in 2021, has missed all of the Mets games, as of June 18. Scherzer, one of baseball’s best clutch pitchers, was brought to Flushing to propel the Mets to the playoffs and then dominate in October. But Max has also battled injuries.
The Mets had been counting on throwing out Scherzer and deGrom on successive nights. And they may yet do so. The notion that the team’s lesser starting pitchers could imitate their famous teammates is remarkable. The Mets have not suffered a serious slump so far this season, another sizable accomplishment.
How powerful have the Mets been? The defending World Series champs, the Atlanta Braves, reeled off 14 consecutive victories in June – and yet they only got within 5-1/2 games of the first-place Mets before falling further back after the Braves lost two straight games to the woeful Cubs. It’s been THAT KIND of season in Queens.
Likewise, the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees traditional arch-rival, put together a splendid streak – but failed to make a dent in the Yankees’ division lead. The Red Sox reminded me of Charlie Brown and the football. Remember how every time Charlie Brown hopefully approached the football, Lucy yanked it away. Well, every time it seemed like the Red Sox could make the Yankees fret a little, it never happened.
Who’d win a Subway Series?
The Yankees would likely be favored. But that doesn’t mean anything. Baseball games are not played in Las Vegas (yet) or Atlantic City.
I’m a Yankee fan – but I’d give the edge to the Mets. Assuming Jake and Max are healthy and in their usual formidable form, that’s a lot to overcome, even for the stomping Yankees.
But what do I know?
Whether your allegiance rests with the Yankees or the Mets, hey, let’s just enjoy the ride!