By Kristian Dyer
» More Columns
Three games into the new season and New York City is spring baseball personified, a town of April’s fools.
On one side is the perennial title contender from the Bronx, who are wringing their hands as an 0-3 start was the furthest thing imaginable from a team that is the most expensive in baseball. Point to the fact that 159 games remain with plenty of time to right the ship and Yankees fans are going to hyperbolic lengths. The playoffs is the furthest thing from their minds, such is the angst over their sluggish start. The “Bombers” aren’t supposed to lose three straight ever, especially not at the season’s start where their veterans should be fresh and ready.
The other side of the town is where a franchise that has known more heartache and failure than wins always seems in the shadows. After an opening series sweep of the Braves, the Mets now sit 3-0 and atop the NL East. Ask a Mets fan this time last week his expectations for the season and the answer was a resounding “Just play hard.” Three games in and modesty is forgotten; already the fans of the “Amazins” have dreams of winning the division.
Such is baseball in April, where fans read into every game and each series as a harbinger of postseason dreams, of October baseball. The limited sample size, just a handful of games, makes this a necessary knee-jerk reaction, but it is far from an exact science. The fact remains that the Yankees still have legitimate aspirations of making the playoffs and the Mets, well, quite frankly don’t.
Despite the fact that one team is riding a boon and another going through a swoon, the 162 game regular season is unforgiving for any team. Flaws are exposed as the days get longer and the temperature soars; contenders become pretenders and then non-issues as July turns to August and eventually September. More than any other sport, in baseball it is the team that is built for the long run that survives to play in the postseason.
And that team in New York is more the Yankees than the Mets.
The numbers don’t lie on the rich and powerful team in white and blue pinstripes. The Yankees are built for the here and now and while they have problems, they have fewer issues than the rest of the division and certainly their counterparts in Queens. The lineup is stronger, the pitching staff built for the stretch run and the Yankees have shown a willingness to use their farm system to make adjustments before the trade deadline.
The Mets, given their Madoff addled salary structure and their youth movement can’t afford that kind of fiscal flexibility. Everything must be perfect this year for the Mets and unlike the Yankees, they don’t have the talent or experience to ride a dip in form.
At some point, the Yankees will begin becoming who they are: A power hitting club who can count on the top of their rotation to get them wins. This is a team whose last losing season was in 1992 and has missed the playoffs just once since 1995. There’s no reason to believe that with a roster of familiar names and proven faces that the Yankees can’t be in the thick of things come mid-summer, if not sooner.
At Citi Field, it might be tougher to maintain this unpredictably hot start given a young team with precious few known commodities. The upstart Mets, despite the promise of early April, are almost surely destined for a downturn at some point. They can’t maintain a level that keeps them atop the deepest division in baseball with what is still an inferior product.
But that won’t stop one team’s fans from worrying, another group from dreaming for at least a few more days.
It is the beauty of baseball as the trees blossom, the false hope that comes with each win, the dread that comes with each loss. It makes a fool out of all of us each April.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.