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Keidel: Mets Playoff Berth Would Be More Impressive Than Yankees' Run

Jason Keidel
August 14, 2019 - 2:59 pm
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Before the Yanks and Mets became two of the hottest teams in baseball, evening the scales of excitement among the natives, they were two baseball ships zipping past each other.

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The Yankees have clubbed their way to the top of the AL East with neck-bending homers, endless reserves, and a granite bullpen. They have done it with at least a dozen players on the Injured List all season long. The Mets, meanwhile, whiffed on their offseason trades then whiffed at the plate, with a glass-jaw bullpen that set records for futility. 

The Yankees have cruised up a playoff arc since the start of the season (even if it feels like they've played the Orioles 54 times). Meanwhile, the Mets were given their last rites in June, when they were 11 games under .500. As always, the Big Apple baseball motif was about losers from Flushing and the luminaries from the Bronx. 

But now that the Mets have been reborn as a real baseball team - despite their two-game speed bump - they can even think about the playoffs, surging within a few fly balls of the wild card spot. 

While both clubs are interesting, it makes you wonder which feat would be more impressive? A playoff run for the injury-addled Bombers or an impossible revival, and subsequent playoff berth, by the Mets.

The Yankees fan is spoiled worse than a trust-fund baby. The resounding sense of entitlement. Those "Got Rings" t-shirts. And those faux jerseys with the last names stitched over the numbers. All of it feeds a kind of sports narcissism and front running that's reserved for only a few teams in American sports. And no team has the glittering history of the team with the richest past from our pastime. It was once said that rooting for the Yanks was like rooting for U.S. Steel. Change the nomenclature to Google or Apple, if you like, but it's the same sentiment. 

The Mets are the kid brother, sans the sexy stride, the high cheekbones, or clear skin. If the Yanks are Spider-Man or Captain America, the Mets are Peter Parker before the insect bite or Steve Rogers before he joined the Army. So the perception of both clubs shapes our sense of their seasons. 

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The Yankees belong here, if not by the sheer force of their past then the confidence that comes with it. The Mets are downtrodden and fatigued and dismissed. After losing their last two games, there's the doomsday cloud growing again over the club including the shivering fear over Jeff McNeil tweaking his hamstring. When the Yanks lose a player, two more studs hop off the conveyer belt. When the Mets lose McNeil in the ninth inning, game over. 

The Yankees are a high-grade baseball factory. Brian Cashman has summoned a small army of selfless subs, attacking the enemy in endless waves. The Mets are a muscle fiber from disaster. 

So while the Yankees are a most impressive machine, the prospect of the Mets making the playoffs has to be more impressive. Maybe it's unfair to the Yankees, whose deeds are eclipsed by their reputation. But we just accept their ascent more readily than any idea that these stumbling Mets could actually sneak into October. 

While it's been a decade since the Yankees won (or even played in) a World Series, their mail is forwarded to the postseason. A list of the Mets' seasons reads like an EKG. We expect them to blow big leads as they did in 2007 and '08, while the Yanks are renowned for steamrolling the sport, but also the miracle comeback in 1978. 

The Mets need to win a game soon, just to keep the wolves at bay. The only way to change the perception is with performance. They don't have the history to keep their fans confident in their future, which is what would make a Mets playoff appearance the story of the MLB season. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel