It’s not about taking back New York anymore…
New York, New York.
It’s the city that never sleeps. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere as the classic Sinatra tune claims. This city is one collective, living, breathing thing. When it comes to baseball, however, this city is divided. Especially this weekend.
But as the Mets and Yankees face off in a pivotal three-game series at Citi Field on this late September weekend, it’s not about taking back the city anymore… It’s far more important than that.
For the first time in the regular season history of this cross-borough rivalry, this is no longer about bragging rights. This is the latest both teams has ever faced each other in the regular season in the 18-year history of this series, and both have playoff hopes in sight.
For the Mets, they have a chance to cement themselves into the postseason for the first time in nine years, as they currently lead the National League East by eight games with 16 to play. Right now, their magic number sits at nine to clinch the division. They’re going to the playoffs. However after losing back-to-back games at home to the Marlins to drop a series, this team needs to get back on track, play good baseball and win some games.
As the Nationals fade into the distance in their rear-view window, this weekend not only gives them a chance to put them completely out of sight, but also to ease the psyche of this fan base. Even with a 7.5-game lead with 16 to play, there was a contingent–and likely not the majority–of Mets fans already beginning to worry as the ghosts of 2007 and 2008 still resonate. I’ve been saying all along that this team and this situation is different, and that they’re going to win the division, but for some they just won’t believe it until they see it.
For the Yankees, they’re in an even tighter spot. They’re currently fighting tooth-and-nail to win the American League East as they trail the souped-up Toronto Blue Jays by 3.5 games. While they have the Wild Card to likely fall back on, as they’re six games ahead of the Twins in the loss column for a playoff spot, it’s not as savory as it once was.
Winning the Wild Card used to be just as good as winning the division. Yes, the banner may not have looked as cool, but you were one of the four playoff teams in your league, with just as many chances to win it all as anyone else. With the new postseason format, though, this no longer rings true. The Yankees are probably better than any other team they’d face in the Wild Card Game, but it’s one game. Anything can happen. Would any Yankee fan be comfortable going against Dallas Keuchel in a single-game elimination scenario? I didn’t think so.
Never before has a Subway Series–non-World Series version, of course–carried as much meaning as this one does. There are real implications here. No longer is New York becoming a “Mets town” or staying a “Yankees town” the conversation that’s being had. It’s all irrelevant.
This is about playoff baseball in New York, and both teams fighting their way to reach that pinnacle.
That’s all that matters now.