Monday, May 21, 2007

It's Good to be King

I hesitate to add anything to this picture. First, of course, because it says so much on its own... But also because I am so terrible at trash talking. Not to mention the fact that I dearly love most of the Yankee fans who might actually read this post, and would not want to intentionally make them feel worse about the state of their team.

Those of you who don't even know what I'm talking about, the Mets and Yankees played the first of two sets of baseball games against one another this weekend past. During the series, the Empire State Building was lit up in both teams colors. Navy and White on the East and West sides, and Orange and Blue on the North and South sides. The winner of the series got their colors shown solo tonight, which is what you see above.

It was an OK series for the Mets in general, who played just well enough to win Friday and Saturday, and didn't bother showing up on Sunday. David Wright had a great series and seems to be finally free of his early season slump, and his 10 month power slump, but apart from his performance, and that of Uber-Roleplayer Endy Chavez (3 games: 5 for 11, 1HR, 3 RBI .455) there weren't a lot of super bright spots in the series, and the team continues to make rookie pitchers look like Cy Young. Not to take anything away from Tyler Clippard, who was nothing if not brilliant in his ML debut. I knew the Mets were in trouble when the rookie struck out Mr. Spark Plug, Jose Reyes, on three outstanding pitches to start the game, the third of which would have made Barry Bonds look foolish. I was very impressed by the kid who barely looks old enough to buy baseball cards with his own money, let alone be a ML pitcher for the New York Yankees. But the Mets are fine. They won the series and get to play Kings of New York for the weekend. Unfortunately, reality sets in tomorrow after todays off-day, and they go to Atlanta to try and find a way to win a series against the Braves; something they have failed to do thus far this season. They have a 2.5 game lead in the division, and it would be lovely to see that lead expand by a game or three by the end of the week.

And yes, there is a silver lining for the Yankees too. After winning the last game of the series against the Mets, the Red Sox came to town and got spanked in game one. It seems the sleeping Yankee bats got just what they needed from the Mets series to get them going for the games that actually mean something.

My problem, however, is not that the Mets got the Yankees going, or that they did not sweep this weekend, or that they looked flat Sunday night. Like I said, the Mets are fine. They have the best record in the NL, one of, if not the best ERA and BA in both leagues. They are playing well and are just a great team, and I love it. What has gotten under my skin today, is how this series has been covered by the media.

At first I thought it was great. It seemed like the Mets were finally getting their due in a town where they have been the slighted little brother for a very long time. It seemed as though almost every article being written had something to do with the Mets finally coming into this series as the favorite, finally eclipsing their cross-town rivals. Beat writers were openly speaking the forbidden words of a possible Yankee demise, and that this series would be the make or break moment in their season. I thought, as always, that it was a bit over the top, but the fact that the Mets seemed to be getting top billing and some positive attention in their own town pleased me.

However, I realized today, after the dust of the Subway Series had settled, that the Mets were never the story. It was never about how good the Mets had become. It was never about Jose Reyes being the most exciting player in the game. It was never about David Wright slowly taking Derek Jeter's place as the face of baseball in New York and around the country. It was never about the team who has continued to prove the doubters wrong about their pitching and the power of a man named Rick Peterson. It was never about team chemistry, the great veterans, the core of young players and the man who makes it all go, the now Dr. Will-o Randolph.

No. The talk about Mets being the favorite was all a smoke screen.

The story has always been about the Yankees.

I realized today, that no matter how the Mets faired in this series against the media darling Yankees, or in any series for that matter, even the World Series; that the headlines, the back pages, the radio voices would all be talking about and focused on the state of the Yankees. It was all about who will or won't keep their job, who will or won't have their contract voided, and how many games against the Red Sox the Yankees must win in order for any of the above questions to continue to go unanswered. Yes, the sad state of things is that win or lose, the Yankees will always be the story...

On second thought... that's just fine with me. That's just dandy, because the story on the Yankees continues to be the end of a saga... the last, deep and sometimes gusting breaths of a dying giant.

But the story across town is just beginning. It's a story of Kings in Queens. It's fast paced with a strong plot that just keeps getting better and better. And if early indications prove true, it's about to become an Epic.

Let's go Mets.

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