Two teams going in the exact opposite direction,by Rich Coutinho, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
As we head into the last week of July. we have two New York baseball teams heading in VERY opposite directions as illustrated by the events that took place in CitiField and Fenway Park on Sunday.
And as we head to the trading deadline at week’s end, it is crystal clear that the New York Mets own this town because their roster is balanced while that other team has a roster complete with holes which is exacerbated by a lack of balance on that roster. In the off-season Sandy Alderson and his baseball team filled out their roster with bench players that could fit in immediately while the Yankees simply did not. But more than that the Mets have continued that path during the season with the latest addition Rich Hill taking the mound at Citi on Sunday.
Quite honestly it was a less than spectacular debut but here is where that roster depth comes in. After Seth Lugo gave up the lead the Mets got strong work from Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, Aaron Loup and Edwin Diaz to seal the win. Offensively, the Mets showed that balance well getting a great lead off at bat from Michael Conforto who drew a leadoff walk and then Pete Alonso launched a 2 run homer to tie it and then Jeff McNeil stroked a pinch hit 2 run double to put the game away.
We also found out after the game that Carlos Carrasco had a great rehab start and could possibly start his next game on the major league level. But this whole day pointed to the Met depth and the baseball team at Citi illustrating a relentless drive to both add to the roster and keep the minor leaguers who could get a call up ready to fill in at a moment’s notice.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, all you hear is excuses like we are in a tough division and we are missing so many players. At one point this year, the Mets had 17 players on the injured list and I never once heard any Met official lament their poor luck. What I did hear was Luis Rojas turning the page and living day to day as a manager giving his players EVERY shot at succeeding. The Mets have not had Jacob deGrom on the hill since July 7 and that injury has NEVER been used as an excuse. In fact the Mets have lengthened their NL East lead since that date.
This team has also been through so many weather cancellations that doubleheader have come fast and furious but again no complaints–just focusing on preparing for the next game. Sunday in Fenway we saw an awful game (add it to the list) with the Red Sox being no-hit after seven but somehow the Red Sox plated 5 runs to send the Bronx Bombers home with their tail between their legs. Yet in the media all I heard this weekend is how the Yanks and Mets had the same amount of wins. What those reporters failed to mention was that the Mets have played 2 less games and by the way, have a 30-15 record at home and have a mark of 22-19 vs teams over 500 while the Yankees are 3 under vs teams above 500 including losing 2 of 3 at home to these Mets.
But the biggest difference between these 2 teams is the culture as the Mets have a survive and advance mentality while I can see in the Yankee player’s eyes a “Not another game like this” look once things start going off center. So as the trading deadline approaches the Mets will look to add and the question is will the Yankees look to sell? Conceptually the Yanks should look to sell but unless they try to peddle Aaron Judge there really are no movable players. Perhaps Gleyber Torres or Gary Sanchez have a market but that value is so low the Yankees will be shortchanged on that deal.
The contracts of Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton continue to be an albatross and Gerrit Cole despite the fact he is a good pitcher, has a nine year pact which as years go by will become less and less helpful. And the issue will always be in the eyes of most fans Cole’s dominance will never approach deGrom’s stature and that will always leave Yankee fans wanting more.
I said it 2 years ago and you all laughed at me but Brodie Van Wagenen beat the Yankees to the punch for Marcus Stroman and I often wonder how that has affected both teams. The Mets got an ace like pitcher and the Yankees are still searching a solid #2. I also firmly believe Edwin Diaz will have a very solid report card for the 2021 Mets. Sure he has had missteps but nowhere near the calamities of Aroldis Chapman and the bridge pitchers the Mets have in their pen are far better alternatives than the Yanks possess in those roles.
As a 60 year old man I have lived through stretches in NY baseball history where the Mets became the front and center baseball team in the city and Yankee fans must feel like they are reliving the late 60’s and mid 80’s in a Ground Hog-like scenario where the Mets are the team in this town who has captivated the hearts and souls of New Yorkers.
And the events of today at CitiField and Fenway Park merely illustrated that for the whole city to see.