, With the Yankees and Mets squaring off this week, it’s difficult not to envision a Subway World Series, Charlotte Wilder writes.,
Major League Baseball
18 mins ago
By Charlotte WilderFOX Sports Columnist
QUEENS, N.Y. — The day after an oppressive heat wave broke, the intra-New York City rivalry that is the Subway Series took place on a languid summer night at Citi Field. The 76-degree air smelled like hot dogs, body spray and beer as Mets fans and Yankees fans strolled into the ballpark together.
Some people in pinstripes were even holding hands with fans in orange and blue.
In the middle of the first inning, which kicked off with home runs from Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, a Mets fan turned to his friend in the concourse. With what seemed like years of ingrained Mets cynicism, he said, “We’ll see how this goes. We’re already down two.”
A Yankees fan walking by laughed and pumped his fist.
Sorry to that Yankees fan, but things went extremely well for the Mets: They handily beat the boys from the Bronx 6-3.
The Mets got hot and stayed hot in the bottom of the first: Starling Marte homered, and then Pete Alonso hit a double to drive in Francisco Lindor. Eduardo Escobar hit a bomb into the stands, sending Alonso across the plate before him, and the Mets were up 4-2.
Marte hit a double later in the game; he has recorded multiple hits in three of the past four games. With closer Edwin Diaz’s masterclass in ending a game, the Mets sent the Yankees on a long train ride (it’s a metaphor, OK?) home.
If you’re one of those baseball fans who tunes out the first half of the season — and then pops up when you realize baseball is not, in fact, dead and does, in fact, still rule — the simplest piece of information I can give you about the 2022 season is that New York baseball is very good.
The city’s two teams came for each other on Tuesday, and soon, they’ll come for your favorite team. If they haven’t already.
This was the first time ever that the Mets and Yankees played each other in the Subway Series while in sole possession of the lead in their respective divisions. The Yankees came into Tuesday with a .680 win percentage. As of July 13, the team was on pace for a 119-win season, which would have broken the MLB record of 116 wins.
The Mets came into Tuesday leading the NL East with a .615 win percentage.
The only times the two teams have faced off in the regular season with a better combined winning percentage were 1998, when the Yankees won the World Series, and 2015, when the Mets … well, when the Mets managed to lose the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.
If you hate New York teams, there has been an enormous amount of Schadenfreude to be had the past decade. The franchise that has won 27 rings hasn’t been to the World Series since 2009, and the Mets haven’t won since 1986. This year, however, the Mets and Yankees are good in a way that strikes fear into the heart of me, a person who grew up conditioned to hate the Yankees by my Orioles-loving mom and Red Sox-obsessed fellow New Englanders.
The Yankees have been stacked with talent for years now but have not necessarily played like it. While the team hasn’t been on fire since the All-Star break the way it was before, and while it did lose Tuesday, this seems to be the season when things might finally be clicking (did I say that just to jinx it? Perhaps!).
This Subway Series was a far cry from last year’s, when the Yankees entered the contest hovering around .500. On Tuesday at Citi Field, Judge elicited MVP chants from Yankees fans in enemy territory, which checks out. If this man — New York’s large adult son — keeps hitting the way he’s hitting (38 homers in 95 games), he’ll notch around 60 dingers and contend for some Yankees and MLB records.
Judge’s large adult brother, Giancarlo Stanton, has 24 home runs so far — also not too shabby. (Then again, both New York teams have had issues with injuries, and Stanton is now on the injured list due to Achilles tendinitis.)
The point is: Like it or not, the Yankees are a real threat this season.
But — in a sentence that would have surprised Mets fans just a few years ago — so is the team in Queens. Which, with the win Tuesday, Mets players made abundantly clear.
This year, the frequent “lol Mets” comment of the past has been absent from conversations among baseball fans. Since bajillionaire hedge fund guy (that’s a technical term) Steve Cohen bought the team in 2020, he has been willing to spend. And manager Buck Showalter might have broken Orioles fans’ hearts in the 2016 wild-card game, but the veteran manager has thus far made decisions to help his team avoid playing in one of those this year.
With superstars such as Lindor and Alonso and pitching mad men such as Max Scherzer, Diaz and the hopefully-soon-to-be-back-in-the-rotation, two-time Cy Young-winning Jacob DeGrom, it seems like this Mets team won’t slow down anytime soon.
And so it was difficult to watch the game Tuesday and not start to wonder what a World Series matchup between these two powerhouses would look like. It has happened only once before, in 2000.
At this point (since the Red Sox are in last place, and I’m rooting for chaos), I’d like to see if the passion of the two fan bases in a city that hasn’t won a sports championship since 2011 would create a jagged fissure stretching up the bed of the East River.
I want to watch the ground quake in Queens and then in the Bronx. I want to see houses divided, stretched to the limits of their love because of baseball. It would be psychologically riveting to watch this city become a baseball version of the Sharks and the Jets.
Because one thing is clear: Baseball is thriving in New York, where the sold-out ballpark on Tuesday was as electric as the energy of its home city. As of now, friendships appear to still be intact — after the game, I watched a boy in an Alonso jersey and another in a Yankees Gerrit Cole jersey stroll out of the ballpark together.
They seemed to be on speaking terms.
Charlotte Wilder is a general columnist and cohost of “The People’s Sports Podcast” for FOX Sports. She’s honored to represent the constantly neglected Boston area in sports media, loves talking to sports fans about their feelings and is happiest eating a hotdog in a ballpark or nachos in a stadium. Follow her on Twitter @TheWilderThings.
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