Ah, the Subway Series. I have to say I look forward to these games all year. It’s the intra-city rivalry, the “natural rivals” as the league has dubbed them. A minor weekend skirmish of Queens (plus Long Island, Staten Island, and parts of Jersey) and the Bronx (plus Manhattan, Connecticut, and a smattering of the general population of the U.S.). It’s the one time in baseball where New York roots against New York (like Giants vs. Jets or Knicks vs. Nets or Rangers vs. Islanders or… you get my drift).
And for those of you who haven’t been to New York (or have and were stereotypically terrified of the mass transit system), the average New Yorker can take a series of subway trains to get to most professional stadiums in the area (which in an area that relies on its public transportation is a very good thing). In baseball, you take the B or D or 6 trains up to Yankee Stadium, or the 7 train out to Citi Field.
Even some of the players take the trains to the local games, as I do when I go to the game (Go, 6-train! — an inside joke for anyone who’s been to Yankee Stadium). Basically, there is a reason why the subway is one of the iconic things about New York, complete with its panhandlers, buskers, rats, garbage, rush hours, garbled PA announcements, cramped cars, strange advertisements, smell, and all.
The Yankees got things started in the 1st inning with Gardner’s lead-off walk. Gardner moved to 3rd on Beltran’s 1-out single and then scored on Chris Young’s sacrifice fly. And then… nothing. For a very long time.
In the meantime, Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the Yankees in the series opener and was actually cruising along pretty well for most of his outing — just 82 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 batters. A 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning quickly tied up the game, but Tanaka kept things fairly close for most of his time on the mound tonight. But it was a 2-out solo home run that pushed the Mets ahead tonight in the 6th inning. After getting out of the inning, with his at-bat coming up, Tanaka’s night was over, now on target for the loss (as that’s how these stats work).
Though, if truth be told, it wasn’t really Tanaka’s pitching that sunk the Yankees tonight. No, that responsibility lies with the bullpen that couldn’t seem to keep the Mets from adding to their winning score. Not in an outright ridiculous way, but rather in the hard-fought way that made Yankee Universe realize why the Mets are one of the top teams in the league (in addition to being the NL East division leader).
Reliever Chasen Shreve took over for Tanaka, and after 2 solid outs, Shreve gave up a single and a pinch-hit 2-run home run to push the Mets further up the scoreboard. Branden Pinder didn’t enjoy his night either, coming on in the 8th for an out, a triple, and a walk. Then James Pazos’ wild pitch scored the runner from 3rd before he turned the ball over to Andrew Bailey who got a strikeout for the final out of the 8th.
The Yankees attempted a late rally in the 9th inning. Pinch-hitter Ackley led-off with a double, pinch-hitter Rodriguez got a 1-out walk, and Ellsbury (a previous inning’s pinch-hitter) singled to load the bases. And then they just sat there as the Yankees got a fly out and a strikeout to end any hopes at a rally. Deflated is the best word to use right here, if you’re wondering.
Final score: 5-1 Mets. (The Yankees are now 4.5 games behind Toronto in the AL East, by the way. I’ve never cheered more for teams like Boston or Detroit to beat the Blue Jays in this last month; my friends and family are starting to question my loyalty. Overall objective here, people.)
A little opinion tonight: okay, so I get that some people chatted about the missing regular starters in the line up tonight. But it was really ridiculous. First, there is no designated hitter at National League parks, like Citi Field, and the Yankees’ regular DH isn’t really up to the same level as a position player as he has been in past seasons or where other roster players are currently. Second, the Yankees just played 3 games on turf and are getting ready to play another series on the other turf surface in the league next week; thus a day off to rest the legs of a professional athlete isn’t a slam but rather a precaution so as not to exhaust said athlete.
And finally, I’m so over the “message board managers” (or “armchair coaches” or whatever you want to call them); so unless you’re getting paid to come up with the game strategy, completely understanding the human dynamics of players and contracts and general team morale, back off the angry harassment masquerading as “critique”. The best and worst part about the internet is the capability to express our own opinion about anything (as I do almost daily). But such freedom of speech often comes with strongly worded comments that are often based on partial information or pre-set biases. Which I get. Fine. That’s your right. But allowing for such freedom also comes with the responsibility to respect those who have the extreme opposite opinions, as well as have the grace and compassion to concede when proven wrong and also to combine humility when proven right.
Do I agree with everything the Yankees do? Of course not. Does that stop me from being a fan or expressing my opinions or doing my job? Of course not. It’s a long game, a long season, full of intricate strategies, involving more people than the average fan will ever know, so much bigger than 140 characters, so much more complicated than a meme or gif. And that’s what makes it worth even a terrible losing season — because it’s a game played for the pleasure of both its players and its fan base that a million different things and people have to coincide and coordinate to make possible for but a moment in time.