Friday starts Interleague play in MLB. Scott Engel focuses on the state of the Yankees and Mets going into the Subway Series.
In New York, and all across the country, it is trendy to make fun of the New York Mets. They are a high profile franchise with high profile issues. The New York Yankees, however, still are regarded as royalty because of their history. This is especially true locally as well. Ride the subway, and you see legions of Yankees caps and gear. The Yankees are emblematic of what many people regard as the qualities that make the city stand out: Rich tradition, lavish and proud.
Yet the Mets are simply serving as a deflector shield for what the reality is in the Bronx. If the Mets were not in town, all eyes would be on what could be perceived as a crumbling empire on the other side of town. As the Mets come to Yankee Stadium this week for another version of the Subway Series, Yankee fans should celebrate and honor them instead of dumping on their crosstown rivals like they usually do. Besides, it’s time they stopped calling the Mets their “little brothers.” The Mets are not related to the Yankees. They are descendants of the Giants and Dodgers. But I do not want to get too far off track here.
The truth is, the Yankees are a franchise that is starting to move in new directions from an era that is going to be hard for their fans to let go of. It’s going to be tougher than dropping Jorge Posada to the end of the lineup. Yet the last championship may truly have signaled the true finish to the glory days of the past decade-plus.
If you take a real hard look at the Yankees, this is not the same organization anymore, even though the logo and uniforms remain standard issue. George Steinbrenner has passed. The real Yankee Stadium is gone, and with it, a good chunk of the true tradition that the franchise has held onto has been lost. The new Yankee Stadium is grandiose and marvelous, but it is just not the House that Ruth Built.
Also, it’s way too pricey. So now, when you visit the park known as Yankee Stadium, you feel a lot less of a historic vibe, and you see a lot of empty seats, even against the Red Sox. Broadcaster Michael Kay was blasted in the New York papers last weekend for saying the Stadium was “bursting at the seams” when there was clearly a much less than full crowd.
An average night at Yankee Stadium nowadays is a visit to a somewhat hollow replica of once was in many ways. Lots of unfilled seats and a team that is struggling to hold onto any links of what was. Posada is an obvious albatross, and Derek Jeter still walks with a swagger that disappears as soon as he steps into the batter’s box. Mariano Rivera is still throwing darts (although he did blow his third game of the season Wednesday night), but he is the last true vestige of what was an unforgettable period in New York baseball.
The Yankees may still be the class of the town, but that is not a hard title to earn right now. It is apparent, though, they are no longer the kings of their own division. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have emerged from their befuddling slow starts, and it is clear the much less expensive Tampa Bay team could be poised to rule the AL East for some time. Boston made a major statement by sweeping the Yankees in New York last weekend.
Yet many observers give the Yankees less harsh criticism because they are not the Mets, and figureheads such as Jeter still take the field, even if he is not what he used to be. Face the truth, Yankee followers. The latest golden era is coming to a close, and don’t assume success is in the cards come October anymore. George is not around anymore to demand it.
Scott Engel joined RotoExperts.com in 2008 after four years at ESPN.com, where he was an Associate Editor and Fantasy Writer. He began his career as a Fantasy professional in 1996 at CBS Sportsline, where he served as Managing Editor of Fantasy Sports and Senior Writer during his tenure. In 2006, Scott was named Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in his first year of eligibility. Since joining RotoExperts, Scott's work has also appeared regularly on NFL.com and Yahoo Sports. Scott hosts the RotoExperts morning drive program on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. In 2011, Scott was inducted into the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class. You may email Scott @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @scotteRotoEx