Not long ago, as far as baseball is concerned, the only chance of seeing a Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets would’ve been in the World Series. Remember, interleague play has only been a part of Major League Baseball since 1997 and we’ve only had the current format since 2002. Since interleague play began, these two teams have played 102 times in the regular season. Add in the five-game 2000 World Series and you’ve got some great moments in baseball.
This series is different for several reasons. The main reason is that there has never been a Yankees/Mets game this late in the season during the regular season. In the past, the Yanks and the Mets are all done with each other by the middle of July, at the latest.
This game also has major postseason implications for both teams, but mostly for the Yankees. The Mets currently have an 8.0 game lead over the Nationals in the NL East, while the Yanks are trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by 3.5 games in the AL East. The Bombers do have a 4.0 game cushion in the AL Wild Card, but they’d much rather win the division and at least have a chance at home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs than be the wild card.
Let’s take a look at the Yankees first and what this Subway Series means to them. On August 1, the Yankees were atop the AL East and had a 6.0 game lead on the Blue Jays–who sat in third. Over the course of the next week, the Blue Jays took over the first wild card spot and closed in on the Bombers.
The Jays were helped by going 11-0 from August 3-13 — including a four-game sweep of the Yankees — while posting a 21-6 record in August. The Yanks briefly regained control of the top spot in the AL East, but since August 25, the Blue Jays have been in control of the AL East, with the Yanks hot on their heels. While this isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Yankees to be in, it certainly isn’t the norm.
When it comes to the run up to the postseason, the Yankees are used to being the one’s that are being chased, not the one’s doing the chasing. Now, I’m not saying that the Yankees are the team that always wins the division and never used the wild card to get to the postseason. In fact, the Yankees were the first team to get to the playoffs because of the wild card spot.
The wild card spot isn’t the easiest place to be when it comes to the postseason. The Yankees know this, as they’ve won the wild card four times, after all. The only team that has won the wild card more times than the Yankees is their rivals, the Red Sox (7). You never have home-field advantage, even if you have a better record, which is often the case with the wild card.
The Yankees have played from the position before, and have had success, but it doesn’t mean that they want to be there. The odds are better when playing a best-of-seven series, and to play four of those at your home park, and Yankee Stadium is one intimidating place to have to walk into during the postseason–even for professionals.
The Mets are in a different position all together. Their lead in the NL East is such that it would take an almost statically impossible implosion for them to lose the East. The Nationals are 9.0 games away from being eliminated from the postseason and, even if the Mets slip up some, there’s still enough baseball that they can retain their lead if — and that’s a big if — they happened to lose it.
The Mets are trying to make sure that they finish with a better record than the Dodgers so they don’t have to face them in the NLDS. I don’t know about you, but if I were the Mets I’d want to face a team who has a losing road record. But it’s the home record that you have to worry about too, so I get it.
This Subway Series is about more than the last meeting between these two denizens of the same city or bragging rights for the fans. Winning this series can give the Yankees much-needed momentum going into their final series with the Blue Jays. It can also possibly help them gain some ground on the Jays before the series starts Monday.
This is when the Yankees need to show the rest of the world what it means to pull those pinstripes on everyday of the season. You don’t stop, you don’t quit and you certainly don’t get scared by some 24-year old rookie from Long Island. He’s got no clue what he’s in for tonight! It’s time for the final Subway Series of the regular season–unless they both make it to the World Series — then it’s on!