The last time October baseball in New York belonged to the Mets, they faced the Dodgers too…
For the next week or so anyway, the Mets will own the baseball spotlight in New York.
The Yankees quietly lost the American League Wild Card game on Tuesday night at Yankees Stadium 3-0, as Dallas Keuchel and the Astros shutdown the Yankees to advance to the American League Division Series.
New York will have to wait for another postseason subway series.
Considering the Wild Card game counts as a postseason game, it’s hard to disqualify the Yankees from a postseason berth necessarily, although once upon a time and not too long ago, a Wild Card game, formerly known as a tiebreaker, counted towards the regular season.
But when the playoffs are put into perspective, it really is rather remarkable to consider the Mets haven’t been in the postseason without the Yankees since 1988.
That year, the Mets, considered heavy favorites over the Dodgers thanks to their 10-1 regular season record over Los Angeles, faced off in a seven game National League Championship Series which started at Dodger Stadium. Despite winning games started by Cy Young Award winner and former Met Orel Hershiser twice in that playoff series, the Mets fell to the Dodgers four games to three, thanks in part to a dramatic turn of events in game four at Shea Stadium when the Dodgers tied it with two runs in the ninth inning thanks to a two-run home run by now Angels manager Mike Sciascia and a home run in the 12th inning by Kirk Gibson to beat the Mets.
It’s not really clear who the true favorite is in what is the third playoff meeting between the Mets and Dodgers in their histories.
Once again, Los Angeles has at least one Cy Young Award candidate at the front of their rotation, if not two in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
The Mets, meanwhile, have their own set of studs at the top of their rotation in Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey, all equally capable of shutting down the Dodgers as Kershaw and Greinke are in shutting down the Mets.
The Mets have the deeper rotation, the better bullpen, and a better and more balanced lineup when firing on all cylinders (although they haven’t been doing so for the better part of three weeks).
The Mets will be challenged with having to deal with Kershaw and Greinke in potentially four of the five games in this series. The Dodgers will have to face Syndergaard twice, and potentially deGrom twice depending on how Steven Matz’s situation plays out in Port St. Lucie on Thursday.
And Matz is no slouch either, let alone Harvey and his ability to shine under the spotlight.
But the Dodgers have experience, although not successful experience in the postseason. They’ve won their third straight National League Western Division championship. The Mets won their first division title in nine years, and only the sixth ever in their history.
And one of these days, Kershaw is bound to pitch better than his 5.12 career ERA in the playoffs.
In the end, the parts of the whole can be broken down a million different ways. The playoffs are a total crapshoot regardless of records, home field advantages, histories, and so on.
That’s the beauty of the postseason.
Just ask the Dodgers in 1988.