The New York Mets will, again, play the New York Yankees in yet another stale Subway Series lacking any true excitement.
In 1997, Major League Baseball introduced an exciting new concept: interleague play. I was thrilled with the idea back then. As a 10-year-old, it didn’t take much. Those were far simpler times. With interleague play, we got our first taste of the Subway Series featuring the New York Mets and New York Yankees. More than two decades later, the regular season action between these two Big Apple ball clubs continues and unfortunately, it’s a stale rivalry.
The Mets and Yankees are natural rivals because of the shared territory. Baseball doesn’t have too many major league teams sharing a state let alone the same city. The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox battle for fandom in the Windy City. Over in Los Angeles, the Dodgers and Angels do to a lesser extent with the latter playing in Anaheim, not Los Angeles.
Between 1997 and 2018, the Mets and Yankees have faced each other 118 times. As you may guess, the Yankees got the better of the Mets by a wide margin. They currently lead the series with a 69-49 record.
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Even if the Mets were rocking the Yankees for much of this intercity rivalry, I think we could all agree it has lost its luster. The Subway Series isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer a magical event anyone really looks forward to.
The height of this rivalry took place in the 2000 World Series when the pair faced each other. The last time two teams from New York battled in the World Series had taken place in 1956 when the Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers. For many years, it was commonplace for two New York baseball teams to reach the finals. In 2000, it happened for the first time after baseball expanded in 1962.
The early Subway Series days gave us some memorable moments. Dave Mlicki’s win in the first-ever meeting was a highlight for the Mets. A little more recently, Luis Castillo’s dropped popup was a lowlight.
Perhaps the most lasting image of all from the Subway Series took place in the 2000 World Series when Roger Clemens threw a broken Mike Piazza bat in the direction of the Mets’ catcher. Their feud began in the regular season when Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a pitch which caused a concussion. By defeating the Mets in the World Series, the Yankees made it clear they were still the better team.
In more recent years, the Subway Series has been tamer. Whether the Mets or Yankees are winning the games, excitement is not there.
Baseball has done a good job at rotating the teams that play each other in interleague play each year. However, they always pit regional rivals against one another. This means the Mets and Yankees play at least four games against each other every single season.
It’s not about how much the Yankees seem to always beat up on the Mets. As much as it hurts, the larger issue is how something like this needs to occur less often.
A Subway Series every three years would be more fun to see. The anticipation of Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso facing off in a battle of power bats is something we would all eagerly await. Instead, we see these battles take place on an annual basis for the driving force of all corporations: money.
The Subway Series is stale, but people still pack the ballparks to see it happen. Citi Field turns into Yankee Stadium for two or three nights every year. The Mets’ revenue goes up and MLB gets an appealing national game to put on television.
Mets, and I’m sure Yankees fans, know better. Whether these two teams are evenly matched or the series ends up one-sided, it’s no longer the same.
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Unfortunately, I don’t see the Subway Series going away anytime soon. It’s financially profitable. And with the league pitting the Yankees against the Boston Red Sox in London this summer, I imagine it’s an option to go internationally in the future.