By Jason Keidel
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Yankees fans are like a billionaire’s baby – we’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle, yet we’ve done little to earn it. Add to that a housefly’s patience and adolescent’s maturity and you’ve got the emblem of Evil Empires. And I’m often as guilty as my brethren, though I can recall the 18 years we went without a ring, so I’m not as noxious as the Jeter Generation, who wear those galling, “Got Rings?” shirts.
Working until the wee hours this morning, I listened to WFAN from about 2 a.m. until about 4 a.m., and I was surprised by invectives directed at the Bombers. Most of it was aimed at the slumbering lumber, starting with A-Rod – as it always does – and dripping down to Robinson Cano and Mark Texeira.
It seems at least seven of the nine high-priced Bombers’ bats need a refill on their vocational Viagra. The Yankees, no matter their May and June swoon at the plate, will get their customary 900 to 950 runs, to match their 90 to 95 wins.
A week or two ago I was eviscerated for declaring the Yankees would neither win nor reach the World Series. Again, I say this because they don’t have the arms in the rotation or bullpen. And the whole losing-the-greatest-reliever-in-history thing carries more weight than you’re willing to admit.
But I retract one item. I said the Yankees might not even make the playoffs. Andy Pettitte has made me look silly on that, like so many bewildered batters he’s sent limping back to the dugout. No one can explain Pettitte’s wondrous pitching so far. Cynics will assert that his newfound fountain of youth was concocted in a chemist’s domain, but I’d like to think Andy’s arm is just exceptional, like his career.
The Mets, on the other hand, are in a virtual tie with the Yankees after 58 games. Had I told either a Yankees or Mets fan this would happen I would have been sent for a urinalysis or shot on the spot.
But here we are, with the Bionic Man, Johan Santana, who pitched an unprecedented masterpiece last Friday. In case you were in a coma, the Mets now have a no-hitter in their sometimes glorious, often dubious, history. He’s been given a few extra days of rest because of behavior and advancing age. He will start tonight, which means the lefties in the lineup are in trouble.
If you were blessed to walk along the walls and halls of the old (and only) Yankee Stadium, you’ll recall a game they played on the big screen bulging over center field. Three animated, NYC subway cars raced toward Yankee Stadium. And all around you could hear the cackle of betting. “Five bucks on the D Train,” you’d hear. “Ten on the six,” would croak from another section.
If the Yankees and Metropolitans played that game this year, the Mets would have lapped the Yankees, both in guile, guts, and going galaxies beyond expectations. You can’t play the “AL is twice as tough as the NL” card, because the NL East is tighter than a ball of rubber bands, just like the AL East. Out of the ten teams in both divisions, nine have winning records. Ironically, only the Phillies are drowning under .500, despite being picked (at least by Las Vegas) to win well over 90 games this season.
The Mets have made smoke and mirrors their modus operandi. Despite the dearth of household names on the bump or in the batter’s box, they have made hay on timely hitting, particularly with two outs and men on base.
Based on attendance and attitudes around the five boroughs, interleague play has been a bona fide success. Even the most ardent activist of the old days and old ways of keeping each league separate until the Fall Classic must admit that there’s some serious juice in the Subway Series. But if you argue that six games between the two teams is redundant, if not overkill, I’m with you.
But even if the Yankees sweep the Mets, giving the Bombers more bombast than usual, it says here that the Mets have been the story of our city, if not our nation.