By Joseph Rini
As the Yankees playoff drive traveled to Citi Field this week for three games against the “hometeam” Tampa Bay Rays, and filled the stadium with Aaron Judge jerseys, I pictured Mr. Met stepping out of his office, and like any good host, welcoming them to Citi Field. Being the graciously good host that Mr. Met is, I’m sure as he departed their clubhouse, he would have said, “Thank you for loaning us the city for two years. You can have it back now.”
What a marvelous two years it was Mr. Met and company. The team made the postseason in consecutive seasons for only second time in franchise history. They made the World Series for the first time in 15 years in 2015 and taken together, 2015 and 2016 were among the franchise’s best pair of consecutive seasons.
Think about the optimism Mets fans were able to enjoy for two years. Finally they had a pitching staff worthy of comparisons to Seaver/Koosman/Matlack or Gooden/Darling/Ojeda.
Of course, who could forget the generosity of the Bronx Bombers to loan New York City to their neighbors in Queens for two WHOLE years. In contrast, back in 2000, they loaned the city to the Mets for about two innings – as in the time the Mets led Game 1 by a score of 3-2 – before the Yankees prevailed in extra innings.
They were a little more generous in 2006 when the Mets owned the city for about 10 days after the Yankees were bounced from the ALDS amidst a lot of Joe Torre dropping A-Rod to eighth in the lineup drama while the Mets fought their way to Game 7 of the NLCS before Adam Wainwright froze Carlos Beltran with a called strike 3.
It is striking though to think how quickly these two years passed. To compare September 14 statuses, the 2017 Mets would’ve trailed the 2015 version by 21 games (83-61 vs. 63-83) in addition to the fact that the 2015 team was 9.5 games up in the standings while the 2017 team is 26 games back of first place. Pitchers who were supposed to dominate for years can’t quite seem to stay healthy for one year. Two years after the Mets clinched the NLCS in four games at Wrigley Field, the Cubs swept a three game series in the Windy City by a combined score of 39-14.
Ironically, the Yankee record is about the same this year at 79-66 as it was two years ago at 79-64. However, the trajectory of the 2015 team was down as the team was aging and the trajectory for the 2017 seems to match the trajectory of an Aaron Judge Home Run Derby moonshot. They’ve managed to rebuild without plummeting.
On the other hand, the trajectory of the Mets seems to have matched the trajectory of a pop up to the catcher – straight up and straight down.
But let’s be gracious like Mr. Met. Thank you, Yankees. It was a fun two years.