Think of this unforgettable memory: Mike Piazza at the plate against Roger Clemens. Piazza’s bat shatters, and Clemens throws a fragment of the bat toward Piazza. All hell was ready to break loose. If Bartolo Colon shattered David Wright’s bat today, there would probably be no emotion let alone the possibility of a fight, and that’s the problem with this whole Subway Series thing: the fire is gone.
Why? Well, the old rivalry is about as dead as Old Marley in A Christmas Carol – dead as a door nail! What has happened to the emotional and confrontational times of old? Why doesn’t the Subway Series create the near hysteria it used to here in New York?
For one thing, the old guard is gone at the Mets and is severely depleted on the Yankees. Piazza, Franco, Leiter, and company are happily retired and watching games from home. The Yanks have some of the old guys – Jeter, Posada, and Rivera (with emphasis on old) – still on board, but it’s just not the same. No one can compare these players to their former selves; the caliber of their play has greatly diminished.
The second thing is that these games have lost any novelty that they once had. When the Mets and Yankees first met in these interleague games, there was an excitement generated by the prospect of the cross river rivals playing games that mattered (as opposed to the old Mayor’s Trophy Game that was merely an exhibition). Now, the fans on both sides of town are a bit removed from the whole thing. To put it in the words of my neighbor’s ten-year old son: “It just ain’t fun anymore.”
Finally, who is excited about a Subway Series these days? Apparently not ESPN. The network has rejected showing the Sunday game this weekend and the one the following month at Citi Field. I think that more than anything shows how far the star of the Subway Series has fallen from the firmament.
Here in New York City, instead of inspiring yelling in the stadium and the streets, the prospect of the games inspires mostly yawning. It is merely a distraction. The games count in the standings, but they are not as critical as say a game between Boston and the Yanks or Philadelphia and the Mets. These days those are the games that give fans the most bang for their buck.
Years ago, I was as excited as anyone about the Subway Series. I went to a few of the games at old Shea, and the place was packed and the crowd was shaking the rafters. I don’t know if that will happen this year. Most of the Mets main guys are on the disabled list: Wright, Santana, Davis, Pagan, and the list goes on and on. The Yankees have stars who have lost their luster. Posada is hitting a buck something, Jeter and A-Rod are struggling, and even the most sacred cow – Mariano Rivera – is starting to look all too human.
I’ll probably wear my Mets shirt and watch the games on TV, but I’m not saying I won’t be tempted to change the channel a few times. Years ago I would never have done that, but now I can because what used to be at stake – who has bragging rights – doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.
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