(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Game 1 of the NLCS and not Game 1 of the ALCS in New York City, and that does sound unfamiliar. The last time the New York Mets were this far into October was 2006, and more recently 2009 for the Yankees up in the Bronx, so there are the partial fans in town who won’t tolerate one team watching from home.
Unfamiliar, of course because this has always been the time of year for Yankees fans and bragging rights. But times have changed and in the next week it is the Amazins’ who own the town with postseason baseball at Citi Field. All the Yankees and their fans have to do is sit and enjoy the pressures that come with October baseball.
It should matter for a Mets fan, the many who have patiently waited for this moment as the team went through the rebuilding process. And it should matter to the loyal fans of the Yankees, a team that could be seeing more of these dormant days in October as they start the rebuilding process.
In the end, though, it is baseball and rooting interest should not matter. But a New York baseball fan has a rooting interest, and bragging rights is more important here than what goes in on the north and south side of Chicago with the Cubs and White Sox. It has always been that way in New York with fans of the Yankees and Mets, and at one time it was more complicated with three teams seeking bragging rights.
There was always room for the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers. There was always a baseball game in town at the Polo Grounds,Yankee Stadium or Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for those beloved Dodgers. Now there are two, and no matter how many up and down years the Mets have encountered, there always was that predominant Yankees sentiment in the air.
Except this October there seems to be more fans that have jumped on the Mets bandwagon, and that is attributed to how the Mets got to October and how the team has caught the attention of baseball fans across America.
Perhaps it is the fascination of a young Mets’ pitching staff, or how Wilmer Flores caught the attention of America and became a folk hero as television cameras saw him crying on the infield at Citi Field in late July. Flores, indeed has become a success story for the Mets and how can one not appreciate that outcome?
The Mets have a manager Terry Collins, who always has the right answers. Even as his team seemed on the brink of disaster in late July, Collins said it would get better. The presence of a general taking his troops to war, and with humor that needs to be comprehended between the lines, made true of his promise that it would get better.
Bragging rights are no contest to his counterpart in the Bronx. Joe Girardi does not match the personality of Collins, and could not win with his significantly higher paid team on the field.
Who needs the Yankees and the exploits of Alex Rodriguez, the locked in and aging salaries of Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and a few more? The Mets have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz a part of this young and dynamite pitching core that delivered October baseball again to Flushing Queens.
Go back in time. The 1970’s and to a point in the 1980’s, more so to that 1986 Mets world championship team,and recall that the town was not talking about the Yankees. Shea Stadium was filled with glory and there was that silence on 161st Street at the old ballpark in the Bronx.
Yes, reflect and recall how it used to be in this town at a time in October. Now there is more blue and orange that is evident with caps, jerseys, shirts and jackets. The Yankees merchandise on racks at the stores are full to capacity and finding the gear with a Mets NY interlocking NY logo is hard to find.
Social media, and the media as a whole has jumped on this Mets bandwagon. It is no longer a pity to be a fan of the New York Mets, and those loyal fans who root for their team in the Bronx will still say, “27” for their number of championships.
But as game 1 approaches Saturday evening, in what promises to be a good best 4-of-7 series with the Mets and Cubs, there is that feeling more than one Yankee fan is jumping on that Mets bandwagon.
By the way, good pitching can put an end to that potent and young lineup the Cubs put on the field. And there is every reason to believe the Mets run in October will continue into November. Bragging rights?
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso