Even if you are a diehard Mets fan, if you live in the New York Tri-state area, it’s difficult to avoid knowing at least a little bit about the Yankees. The Yanks, after all, are the media’s primary focus when it comes to baseball — regardless of how well the Mets are doing. And that’s fine with us — it takes the pressure off, and allows the Mets to worry about what they’re doing on the field, as opposed to off (for the most part, anyway).
With the “Subway Series” about to commence, you have the rare oppoturnity to get inside the mind of a Yankee fan. Alex Belth of Bronx Banter and SI.com was kind enough to share his thoughts on a few subjects pertaining to the “other” team in New York.
1. First of all, what is going on with the Yanks? We thought the problem would be pitching, and though you’ve gotten some really bad luck with injuries in the rotation, it doesn’t seem like pitching is the problem.
Well, when they are hitting they haven’t been pitching, now that they are pitching they aren’t hitting. You figure if that’s the case, things should even out in the long run. That said, Damon has been playing hurt all year and hasn’t given them much at all. Giambi has been hurt and his production has fallen off. Abreu is experiencing the worst slump of his career and Robbie Cano is having his sophomore slump in his junior year.
On the Michael Kay Show a few days ago, Tino Martinez remarked that “only two or three guys are playing hard” on any given night. Are you seeing what he’s seeing? Do you think lackluster effort is part of the reason for the Yankees’ slow start, or a result of it?
I can’t really speak to that because I’m not in the clubhouse. But they definitely are not sharp and they don’t have a group of Type-A red ass personalities that they had back in Tino’s days.
4. How important is this Mets-Yankees series to George Steinbrenner? Considering the fact the Yanks are eight games behind the Red Sox, would losing two out of three to the Mets be viewed as the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, and might we see some knee-jerk reaction from the top?
Well, the Mets are always a big deal to George but I think it’s important to remember we aren’t dealing with The Boss we once knew (and loathed) for years. He’s severely diminished, and if he was going to have a knee-jerk reaction, well, he would have fired Torre years ago. Which isn’t to say that something won’t still happen, but you can’t set your watch by George’s explosions anymore because that George isn’t here anymore.
5. How do you think Joe Torre will manage the Yankee bench with the NL rules applying? (i.e., who will be the main pinch-hitters, how long will starters stay in, etc.)
Giambi won’t start because his foot makes him a liability in the field–not that he wasn’t already a mess. Which means that he’ll be regulated to pinch-hitting, late in the game and likely for a pitcher. Torre does not have much of a bench to work with. It’s not like he’s going to send up Will Neives any time soon.
6. Finally, what’s your take on interleague play? Has it lost its luster? Do you think it’s helped settle any Yankee fan vs. Met fan arguments?
I never cared for Interleague baseball, so it never had much luster for me. But I think objectively speaking the bloom is off the rose. I understand why they have interleague play–the Mets and Yanks sell out virtually every game–but it takes away anything that could be special about a true subway series. If they insist on it, I’d rather the Mets and Yanks play three games each season, one year in Queens the other in the Bronx, to keep a little suspense to it. As it is, the Yanks see the Mets as often as the usually see the Indians or the Royals. Kills it for me. And I’m not sure what six regular season games settle in terms of arguments. Playoff apperances and World Championships settle arguments. Otherwise, we’re just talking about fleeting bragging rights.
7. Anything else to add in regard to the series?
As you can tell, I’m not much for the subway series. It’s more for the fans, and I’m just not the kind of fan who likes getting hyped up for the sake of it. The Red Sox are different. Those are division games. I think the Mets-Yanks rivalry is a fugazy, fake, trumped-up. The Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers had a rivalry because they used to play in the WS often during the 40s and 50s. The Giants and Dodgers rivalry was real, Yanks and Sox are real. Yanks and Mets? I suppose it means something for a lot of fans. I just don’t happen to be one of them.
Thanks for your input, Alex.
Mets fans, be sure to check out Bronx Banter for opinions and analysis on the daily soap opera that is the New York Yankees, and also read more of Alex Belth’s articles at SI.com (Sports Illustrated).