NEW YORK, NY – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness… As Cliff Clavin once said, as Frasier Crane read the crew from Cheers the opening of A Tale of Two Cities: “Boy, this Dickens guy really liked to keep his butt covered, didn’t he?” He wasn’t wrong, but sometimes this is how life is. There are peaks and valleys and drastic swings and ever-changing perspectives, and that has certainly been the case with baseball in New York City this summer.
New York Yankees. Baseball’s Bronx aristocrats got off to one of their usual clunky starts this spring, hovering around a pedestrian .500 the first couple of weeks. Then they went on an absolute tear, winning 21 of their next 24 games. They were virtually unbeatable and had baseball pundits drooling over their potential to set the single-season wins record. They had to cool off sometime but, as June began, they reeled off winning streaks of 7 games and 9 games, beating the holy hell out of the Angels, Tigers, Cubs, and even the fairly-decent Rays. As the All-Star Game rolled around, the Yanks found themselves 36 games over .500, running away with the AL East, and a legit World Series contender. Out of the break the Yanks lost two straight to Houston (George Steinbrenner would have fired Boone). Then they lost two to the Mets (Again, Boone would have been fired). Heading to the trading deadline they dropped two of three to Seattle in the Bronx, including losing to a pitcher Brian Cashman failed to get (Both Boone and Cashman would have been fired here). They got swept in St. Louis and lost a game to Jordan Montgomery, a guy Cashman traded for a one-legged tap dancer and a bag of magic beans. It’s at this point where George Steinbrenner would have dropped Brian Cashman into an active volcano covered in grenades and blown up his entire front office. But, not this Yankees team. It’s steady as she goes. They still have a big lead, though not as big as it was. And they are currently stinking it up on the West Coast like a fart-fueled forest fire. They should still easily make the playoffs and, who knows, maybe get hot again and win the whole thing… or not. Stay f**king tuned.
New York Mets. Meanwhile out in Queens, New York’s cross-eyed redheaded baseball stepchild, the Mets, have had a solid season under the steady guidance of Uncle Buck Showalter and and the freewheeling spending of Daddy Steve Cohenbucks. There has been the usual assortment of expected Mets dramedy along the way—including a lengthy IL stint for Max Scherzer and a much longer one for Jacob deGrom—but, somehow, it’s the last day of August and the Mets are in first place. But don’t loosen those hernia belts just yet. The Mets just flushed a Scherzer gem losing 1-0 to the lousy Rockies, the Dodgers are in town (L.A. won last night), and the Braves are lurking. Will Lindor keep his average closer to .270 than .230? Can deGrom stay healthy the rest of the way? Will Edwin Diaz keep his cool as the pressure mounts? And, speaking of pressure, will Daniel Vogelbach’s uniform withstand the stretch run? Lots of questions to be answered. But, if last weekend’s Old Timer’s Game showed us anything, it’s that Mets ownership “gets it” and the team is in its most capable hands in years (maybe ever). And the players, under Buck, are not just playing smart fundamental baseball, but seem to be playing it with something almost resembling joy. Winning will do that.
We’ll see how this tale of two cities plays out in September. Up to now, it’s been wildly entertaining.
Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who has great expectations for his Philadelphia Eagles.