Mets and Yankees: If Neither One Wins It's a Shame

Peering into the dugouts of the hometown heroes

As the Mets dressed for their last regular-season road trip of the year, still unaware of the Pedro-related doom hanging over their heads and only beginning to seem worried about their recent slide, Anderson Hernandez struggled to tie his tie. Endy Chavez tried to help him, but he couldn't quite get it either. Several minutes of determined but ineffective fumbling got them nothing but wrinkles, until finally Carlos Delgado came over and, with a patient impromptu lesson in Spanish, did it for them.

There is no better way to make yourself look stupid than by trying to predict the playoffs. The absence of Pedro Martinez, arguably one of the greatest pitchers of all time in his prime, does not bode well for the Mets, who ended their season with a losing skid that snapped their fans out of their new NL East champions complacency in a hurry. I actually found this reassuring; New York isn't quite itself if Mets fans aren't solemnly debating the merits of jumping out their windows versus leaping off the nearest bridge. On the other hand, it will only take a few good starts from Steve Trachsel or John Maine to make everyone forget all about Pedro—and to get the Mets the kind of media attention that may prevent them from being, in the traditional sense of the word, the Mets.

As for the Yankees, on September 27, all their stars finally returned after the injuries that made the team an unlikely underdog—or, rather, as much of an underdog as it's possible for the Yankees to be— for much of the summer. They fielded a starting lineup that would have had a very decent shot at beating the National League's starting 2006 All-Star team. It did not feature Melky Cabrera, Aaron Guiel, Miguel Cairo, or any of the other bit players that helped the Yankees hold onto their division while the big guns were out, and while no one could possibly argue that any of those players can hit better than Gary Sheffield, it still struck me as a little sad; so much for dancing with the one you came with. This lineup featured batting-title contender Robinson Cano hitting ninth—"a lineup you dream about," said Johnny Damon, though I'd bet good money that Damon's dreams are more interesting than that—and massacred the beleaguered Orioles pitching staff en route to 16 runs. The next day, however, a little-known Orioles right-hander named Daniel Cabrera came within two outs of pitching a no-hitter.

It is a long-standing baseball truism, and for good reason, that anything can happen in a short series. I don't subscribe to the Steinbrenner view that every season is a total failure if it doesn't end with a championship; the Mets surged back to prominence this year and the Yankees refused to die, and even if that's all there is, it's been highly entertaining. Yes, yes, I know: the better to crush your soul with bitter disappointment later on. It was still fun while it lasted.

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