Did you know that Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes combined to miss just eight games this season? I was in awe when I saw that stat flash across my TV screen last Sunday. Although the Yankees’ inability to score runs (eighth in the American League) when it counted(10th in American League in batting average with runners in scoring position) drove fans nuts this season, this is partially due to the fact that Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter all missed long stretches of time due to injury. The Mets can’t blame injuries to their hitting core for missing the playoffs, and they have no one to blame but themselves for what was an anemic offense at times down the stretch. Did the Mets really get shutout by Odalis Perez and the 59-102 Nationals in mid-September? Odalis Perez!?!? Not only is that disappointing, but that’s nauseating. Mets’ fans should not only be more upset and distraught than Yankee fans after what transpired last month, but they should be sick to their stomach as well.
The Yankees missed the postseason for the first time since we were in elementary school, so the 2008 season must be deemed a major disappointment for the Bronx bombers. Their neighbors from Queens, meanwhile, managed to blow another division lead in September to barely miss the October madness. So who should be more disappointed? The Yankees, with the game’s highest payroll, undoubtedly expect to make the playoffs every season, so their sudden futility must be considered a bigger surprise than the Mets. Considering a third-place finish in their division and the fact that they were effectively out of the playoff race in mid-August, the Yankees are clearly the bigger disappointment. The Mets, on the other hand, were fortunate just to be in the race until the season’s end. Still feeling the effects from last season’s collapse, New York’s other team needed a managerial change and the rebirth of Carlos Delgado just to give themselves a chance. Yes, they lost an opportunity to make the playoffs on the season’s last day, but just being in that situation was more than any Mets fan could have hoped for after the start to the season. In the N.L. East, it was clear throughout the year that the Phillies were the better team, so if you lose to a superior opponent can it really be considered a major disappointment?
As both New York teams had hoped to close their stadiums with a spark in 2008, the Yankees and Mets fell short of their ultimate goal of making the playoffs. Although both teams have greatly disappointed their die-hard fan bases, Mets fans have suffered more this season. After conceding the division on the last day of the 2007 season when Tom Glavine was booed off the mound, the Mets blew another commanding division lead late in the 2008 season as well. Although the Mets last few games were more dramatic and meaningful than the Yankees final series against the Red Sox, the Mets loss yesterday was more painful than any Yankees loss this season.
The Mets fans have been deprived of a World Series since 2000 and haven’t won a World Series since 1986. The Yankees, on the other hand, had made it to the playoffs every year since 1995 and have appeared in six World Series, winning four of them since 1995. Although the seven years since the last Yankees title seems like a long time, Bill Buckner’s famous blunder in the ’86 World Series seems like ancient history.
Without a doubt, Met fans should be much more disappointed with the way their season ended than their crosstown rivals. The Yankees have been asking for this day to come ever since the Steinbrenners stopped paying attention to Brian Cashman, completely ignored their farm system and threw money at whomever they felt like. As unfair as it is, baseball can get by without a salary cap because out of the four major sports, baseball is the hardest for a single player to dominate. That means that even though A-Rod, Abreu, Jeter and Posada are all well above-average players, you can’t count on them to win you a game that Sidney Ponson is starting. The Yankees have been to the playoffs for so many years that their fans should now show some patience and allow their young guys to mature. If you’re a Mets fan on the other hand, pick a different team. As long as Omar Minaya runs out that team of chokers, you guys are going nowhere fast.