The Mets and Yankees Seek an Armed Revolution

How Joba Chamberlain and Johan Santana will make us forget last year's miserable baseball legacy

After the Mets closed their deal, a number of columnists, following the "fiscal responsibility" line that the Yankees had put out, concluded from reading blogs and listening to talk shows that, to quote a writer at Slate, "many Yankee fans don't want to buy the pennant. . . . They want to out-Moneyball small-market teams like Cleveland and Oakland to prove that they aren't simply buying success." One wonders what city these writers live in; no Yankee fan of my acquaintance ever cared how much money his team spent to win a pennant so long as they won, and hasn't envied anyone in Oakland since the Yankees took Reggie Jackson away from the A's. If the Mets win the NL pennant, the joy of no Mets fan I know will be tempered by guilt because his team "bought the pennant."

There's a matrix of possibilities surrounding the Mets and Yankees in 2008, and nearly all of them hinge on Johan and Joba. If Santana is as good as he's supposed to be, the Mets should win at least the NL East. Coming the season after the biggest letdown in New York baseball history, Omar Minaya will be a hero for pulling off the deal that turned things around—the deal the Yankees couldn't make. What's more certain is that if Santana doesn't come through, the Mets won't win, in which case Willie Randolph—and possibly even Omar the Deal Maker—may be gone.

If the Yankees win the American League pennant—and that's the measure for success they always pose for themselves—it will almost certainly be because Joba blossoms into a superstar. In this case, the Steinbrenners will have been justified in not anteing up to get Santana. If they fail to win the pennant for the fifth consecutive year, then a lot of disgruntled fans are going to be asking why the Mets could afford Johan Santana and their team—the richest in sports—couldn't. Somebody's head will roll, and it won't belong to a Steinbrenner. Brian Cashman looks like a likely candidate. And one thing is for sure: Every game Santana wins will reap double benefits to the Mets, as it will have everyone in the Yankees' front office wincing.

No time for a slow hand, Johan. Santana must be great, like, now.
Marc Levine/New York Mets
No time for a slow hand, Johan. Santana must be great, like, now.
How soon does Joba go from reliever to starter?
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
How soon does Joba go from reliever to starter?

The best-case scenario for everyone is that we have another Subway Series—the odds of which are roughly the same as the Mets and the Yankees turning out to have the two best pitchers in baseball.

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