Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’
My mother was pretty much the odd duck in our house when it came to sports. My dad, my brothers, and myself all followed the Yankees and Giants, while my mom liked the Mets and the Jets. Who knows how these things happen. Suffice it to say, the Yanks and G-Men have combined for nine championships as long as I’ve been around, and the Mets and Jets have one. It’s been tough for mom, but she’s stuck to her guns.
The Yankees and Mets play each other in interleague play, and they faced each other in the World Series in 2000, but there’s no rivalry here. And I don’t mean that in the condescending way that I would say, historically, there’s not a rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Socks. I just mean that the Yankees and the Mets play in the same city, and draw from the same population, but there’s no need for antagonism. Try telling that to my mother, though!
Anyway, the news hook here is that Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history tonight. The Mets have famously had a ridiculous number of one-hitters, and an equally ridiculous number of pitchers who have left the team and then thrown a no-hitter. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this is a pantheon night in Mets history. It’s just a big deal.
Johan Santana has always been an object of fascination and interest to me. After the 2007, there was a furious bidding war among several teams looking to trade for Santana, just one season removed from his second Cy Young award. The Red Socks were tossing out names like Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson. The Mets eventually won the sweepstakes by sending to the Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra. The Yankees famously went through an internal soul-search regarding their top prospects that saw them withhold Joba Chamberlain, but offer Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a few other players.
If you know baseball, you know that some of the names involved in the Santana sweepstakes went in one direction (Phil Humber threw his own perfect game this season; Jon Lester is Boston’s ace, and Ellsbury could be a perennial MVP candidate) while others went in another (who are any of the other guys in the Mets offer). My investment, of course, is with the Yankees prospects. It can’t be said that any of them panned out for the Bombers. Ian Kennedy, one bargaining chip, was traded away to Arizona, where he has prospered. Melky Cabrera was traded to the Braves for Javier Vazquez. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, once merely the leading guns in a seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of powerful Yankees pitching prospects, have struggled with injury and mediocrity.
In this writer’s myopic opinion, when your team is on the losing end of one of these top-prospects-for-a-proven-star trades, there are two rooting interests, and one follows from the other. The first, obviously, is for the youngsters your team kept to exceed everyone’s wildest expectations, proving that your team’s front office shows a prescience and a savvy that other teams only dream of. The performance of the vet you lost out on is of little consequence if your own players excel, although if his stinking it up makes your own guys look better, tremendous.
Now, if that’s not the case, if your team’s prospects fail to perform, I think your relationship to that original sought-after prize changes. The more I saw season-ending injuries and +4 ERAs from Hughes and Chamberlain, the more I wanted Santana to succeed. For selfish reasons, of course: the hope being that the more terribly a trade is botched, the more it becomes an object lesson to be drawn on the next time. Stars are stars, and prospects are prospects, for a reason. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
However, comma, when my buddy Jonny texted me tonight letting me know that Santana had thrown a no-no, I wasn’t thinking of the Yankees. And when I came home and flipped on SportsCenter to watch the highlights, it wasn’t Brian Cashman that caused a few tears to come to my eyes. I was thinking of Jonny, and my dear friend Joe, and Kaitie, who is off in Europe on her honeymoon and who knows if and how she heard the news about her beloved Mets. And I was thinking about my mother.
I’m a Yankees fan. But I grew up in north Jersey, so I couldn’t help but grow up with the Mets, too. Their fans are my friends and family, and tonight, they witnessed a level of excellence from their team that they’ve quite literally never seen before. It’s a good night. The Yankees lost out on the great Santana, but maybe it’s for the best.
Here is Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun’s official position on Joe Girardi removing Phil Hughes after an inning and a third:
A short news story, noteworthy only because it involved a spat between two New York sports teams, ignited my imagination today, because it united three of my passions: the Yankees, literature, and poking fun at the Mets for being a bushleague organization.
Here’s the story: PNC Field, the former Lackawanna County Stadium and home to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, is in need of renovations, so the SWB Yankees are in need of a temporary home for the 2012 season while their stadium gets repaired. A perfect location would be Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium, home of the Newark Bears. City and team officials were all about it; having the Yankees’ top minor league affiliate in town would attract many more fans than a season of Can-Am League baseball. And Newark is a part of the Yankees’ geographical base, so it would present an opportunity for fans priced out of the big league stadium to get a look at some still pretty good Yankees baseball.
Of course, Newark is also part of the Mets’ geographical base, so they were able to invoke territorial rights to veto the move. I suppose the Amazin’s weren’t interested in having two professional baseball teams in the tri-state that played better than them. Oh well. It would have been nice.
Should the AAA Yankees taken up residence on Broad Street, the Bears would have been forced to play all of their games on the road. I had a nagging feeling that I’d read the story of a displaced team of Newark ballplayers playing a season’s worth of road games before. And amazing but true, I had; in fact, I’d based the concluding chapter of my undergraduate thesis on it. The story is Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel. Here’s Wikipedia’s plot summary: “The Port Ruppert Mundys of New Jersey lease their stadium to the United States Department of War at the beginning of the 1943 season—to be used as a soldiers’ embarkation point—which forces the athletes to play as the league’s first permanent road team.” (There is, obviously, no such place as Port Ruppert. However, comma, remember that the original Newark Bears and the Negro League Newark Eagles played in Ruppert Stadium, named for the Bears’ owner, Jacob Ruppert.) Today’s Newark Bears could have become the real life Port Ruppert Mundys! I know you all probably didn’t write your theses about Philip Roth’s novels, but surely you can get excited about life almost imitating art!
Congratulations to Derek Jeter, America’s Greatest Hero, who just surpassed Lou Gehrig as the all-time Yankees hits leader. I’m a little amazed that for all the great hitters the Yankees have had on their team (I’ll spare you the litany), the franchise hits record stood for more than 70 years. Incredible!