Keidel: 2018 Season Has Restored Baseball Order To Big Apple

Yankees Are Cruising, Mets Are Losing

Jason Keidel
July 30, 2018 - 1:28 pm
Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom (left) and the Yankees' Didi Gregorius and others (right)

USA TODAY Images

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With the weather as glorious as the men being honored, six players entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New  York on Sunday. The 53,000 fans who sat under the sun to watch the induction ceremony were more than those who attended either the Yankees or Mets games Sunday. And while no Met or Yankee had his bust bronzed, it wasn't hard to think of how each team fared when some of the newly minted legends were in their respective heydays. 

If you entered the portal of puberty in the 1980s, you remember when Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were two cogs in a Detroit Tigers machine that stormed out to a 35-5 start in 1984 and then rolled the rest of MLB on its way to the World Series title. It was one year during the only decade in which the Yankees didn't win a World Series since 1920. Some of us consider the '80s a medieval time for the Bronx Bombers, but they still won the most regular season games out of any MLB club during the decade. 

Then you had Chipper Jones, whose Hall of Fame induction was assumed the moment he retired as an Atlanta Brave and eternal tormentor of the New York Mets. Jones so famously loved playing in Flushing that he named his son Shea, after the Mets' former ballpark and house of horrors when they played the Braves during the 1990s. 

And while the Yankees are universally considered the team of record and respect during that decade -- winning three World Series titles -- it was the Braves who won the most regular season games during the '90s. (The Yankees finished second.) The Mets had a bipolar decade, awful the first half but resurgent in later years, finishing 16th in wins.

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What does it mean?

It means that even when the Yankees are down like they were in the '80s -- at least by their regal standards -- they rarely dwell far from the top rungs of the sport for that long. Everyone who lived through the '80s remembers that the Mets were far more gripping, owned the sports page and the core of the Big Apple, yet won just one World Series and fewer regular season games (816) than the Yankees (854). 

Fast forward to this past weekend. A blue tarp of a sky over Cooperstown and the Bronx, winning players beaming from the past and into the future. The Yankees are so absurdly loaded that they can trade a young yet proven big-league talent, Brandon Drury, for a 35-year-old starting pitcher, J.A. Happ, who serves as a plug in the back end of the rotation. Maybe the Yankees are 5 1/2 games behind Boston for first place in the AL East, but they are still 30 games over .500 and would be in first place in any other division. And they still have 11 games left against the Red Sox this season. 

The great news for the Mets? Zack Wheeler has won three straight starts for the first time in his career. And it was his bat that drove in the run that nudged the Mets past the Pirates, 1-0. Jacob deGrom, who would be a Cy Young shoo-in on almost any other club, could finish the season with the lowest ERA for any pitcher not to notch at least 10 wins. Noah Syndergaard, whose slowly losing grip on his mystical moniker, Thor, came off the disabled list to make two starts, then hopped back on the DL right after. 

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The Mets' offense is comically bad. They are 28th out of 30 MLB clubs in runs (407), 30th in batting average (.228) and easily last in hits (785). With a record of 44-59, they are in a virtual tie for last place in the NL East with the Miami Marlins, a team intentionally detonated by new team czar Derek Jeter, who jammed the reboot button and unloaded 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who, of course, became a Yankee. 

Every pro baseball team shrivels in the shadow of the Yankees. But it's hard to believe the Mets and Yankees inhabit two boroughs in the same city, with the same access to fans, roads and resources. Three years ago, the Mets seemed to flip history on its head, reaching the World Series, while the Yanks were suffering a rare identity crisis. Now the Bombers have restored baseball order to the Big Apple and have a blindingly good future, while the Mets are so depleted they have to consider trading deGrom just to get some prospects to moisten their dustbowl of a farm system.

We love sports for the zero-some finality of the final score, and the fact that sports, unlike life, is the purest meritocracy we know of. It's all about how you perform, as opposed to how you look or where you worship. That's still the case, but just don't look to New York City baseball as proof. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel