By Lenn Robbins
This is wonderful and cofounding baseball time in this town.
The Yankees have claimed the American League East Division crown for the first time since 2012. They’ve won 100 games. They are in a panic.
The Mets (80-73) are playing meaningful games in September but they remain three and one-half games out of the Wild Card. They are euphoric.
Only in New York.
The Yankees barely had time to enjoy their division title. Domingo German was suspended for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, under MLB’s domestic violence policy. German is the Yankees winningest pitcher this season, owning an 18-4 record and a 4.03 ERA.
The Yankees were planning to use the inexperienced German out of the pen in the playoffs. They can use a boost there after Dellin Betances, who after a grueling, season-long comeback from shoulder and lat injuries, returned only to suffer a partially torn Achilles tendon and is done for the year.
This 1-2 punch has left the Yankees scrambling to figure out their postseason rotation and bullpen use. This is cause for concern on any team. In Yankees Land it’s cause for hysteria.
Long before spring training opened the Yankees had a two-ton bat weight dropped in their dugout: Win the World Series or this season is a failure. The Red Sox won it last year. The Yankees went all-in and have to win it this year.
The Mets were hoping to have a winning season. By mid-July they were on life support. Then came the ridiculous win streak and here are the Mets hoping for a playoff season.
While the Yankees were fretting over their postseason pitching options, Mets manager Mickey Calloway was tinkering with his starting-rich pitching rotation by swapping Steven Matz for Marcus Stroman in Sunday’s final of the three-game series in Cincinnati.
It’s rich enough to wonder if there’s a conspiracy theory taking place. In a season that should be a Yankees celebration the Mets are hanging around like a meddlesome yellow jacket.
Surely the Yankees are the more successful team. But the Mets are the feel-good team. And they can feel even better courtesy of one man – Pete ‘Polar Bear’ Alonzo.
Alonzo blasted, and we mean blasted (437 feet), his 50th home run of the season Friday night in the Mets 8-1 win over the Reds. He became just the 30th player in history and the second rookie to smack 50 home runs.
The only other player to accomplishment that feat is Aaron Judge of the Yankees who set the rookie home run mark of 52 in 2017. Alonso has nine games remaining to break Judge’s record.
Wouldn’t that be the perfect itch in the Yankees’ jock? Alonso blasts his 53rd home run in the final game of the season. The Yankees are going to the playoffs. The Mets are not. But all radio talk show hosts and bar stool fans want to talk about is a guy with the nickname of Polar Bear.
Amazing, confounding – only in New York.