Subway Series Diary, Part I

Meet the Mets, Meets the Mets, Step right up and greet the Mets! Bring your kiddies, bring your wife; Guaranteed to have the time of your life! Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball; knocking those home runs over the … OK, I’ll stop.

What a weekend that was. A Subway Series sweep (the first for the Yankees since 2009 and the first in the Bronx since 2003), as the Yankees keep pace with the Rays while the Mets season is following the blueprint of Mets seasons since 2007.

I feel weird calling this a diary since I have never had a diary before. I remember in elementary school when we were forced to have a “journal” in one of those black-and-white Mead notebooks (FYI: Brian Monzo still uses one of those notebooks to keep contact information for guests for WFAN and NHL Live. Hey Monzo, it’s 2012. There are electronic devices to keep this information on.) The word diary makes me feel like a junior high school girl writing in a pink book with a pink pen that has a feather attached to the top of it, but luckily I can’t store this under my pillow or mattress. I couldn’t use “Retro Recap” like I do for other things since this isn’t a play-by-play blow of what happened at the Stadium. It’s more of, well, a diary.

FRIDAY
I was in the Stadium for this one and I actually thought Hiroki Kuroda was going to pitch a no-hitter. I might need to rethink my “Coin Flip Kuroda” nickname for Hiroki since he hasn’t been much of a coin flip lately. In his last three starts, he’s allowed 12 hits and two earned runs in 22 innings. He has caught fire along with Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, and if CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte can just do what’s expected of them, the wins are going to start mounting even more than they have over the last 16 games.

I have seen my fair share of one-hitters, but I have never seen a no-hitter in person, and the Mets’ swings against Kuroda were that bad that it looked like we might be watching something special happen in the second start in a row for Johan Santana, except for the good guys.

I’m not sure how many games I have been at for back-to-back-to-back home runs, but I remember the Sheffield-Rodriguez-Matsui back-to-back-to-back home runs in that 13-run eighth inning in the epic comeback against Tampa Bay on June 21, 2005. I was in Fenway Park for Chase Wright to allow back-to-back-to-back-to-back bombs to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek on April 22, 2007. And even though it wasn’t back-to-back-to-back or back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs, the three grand slams against the A’s at the Stadium on Aug. 25 last year were even better. My only wish on Friday night was that Raul Ibanez would have followed Andruw Jones’ blast for four straight to put a dent in the awful memory of Chase Wright’s night.

SATURDAY
Phil Hughes has to figure out this home run problem because it’s a problem. Hughes has now allowed at least one home run in all 12 of his starts this year (15 total), which projects out to 40 home runs if he makes 32 starts this season. Now the home runs he allowed on Saturday night were both solo shots and the Yankees were able to overcome them, but this can’t continue.

Do you remember the season when Jason Bay hit 36 home runs and 119 RBIs for the Red Sox and led the AL MVP conversation for a large part of the year? I’m not making it up. It really happened. I swear! How many times does a day does Bay think about what could have been had he accepted the Red Sox’ $60 million rather than the Mets’ $66 million? I’m going to set the over/under at 5.5 times per day. And while that $6 million does represent 10 percent more money, I don’t think what he has endured with the Mets has been worth it, and I think he would tell you the same thing. (Unless he likes his name being linked to the term “designated for assignment” and he likes sucking and losing, then maybe he will tell you it was worth the $6 million.)

Bay was a force in Boston. He hit 45 home runs and drove in 156 runs in 200 games with the Red Sox, he hit in the clutch and he produced instantly after being asked to fill the void left by Manny Ramirez. Bay peppered the Green Monster and killed the Yankees. I was sitting behind home plate at Fenway on April 24, 2009 when Bay hit a game-tying, two-run home run to dead center off Mariano Rivera. I feel like Bay in a Red Sox uniform on Saturday night, as the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning would have hit that first-pitch fastball from Rafael Soriano out. But in a Mets uniform, Bay just isn’t the same player. I’m glad 2009 Jason Bay no longer exists.

It’s hard to find people who enjoy the way Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call a game. I’m actually still searching to find one person. I don’t really enjoy their broadcasts, but Joe Buck’s voice does give any game a big-game feel to it whether or not you agree with the things he says or his lack of enthusiasm for major moments. Whenever you hear Buck’s voice it gives the game a playoff atmosphere and some extra juice. Tim McCarver, on the other hand, has become the Jason Bay of color commentating. McCarver calls people by the wrong names, and gives incorrect stats and facts all the time, which never surprises me. But even I couldn’t believe it when in the late innings on Saturday he said that he “thinks David Wright is a bigger threat than Andres Torres.” Really, Tim? Really? Well, in that case, I think high-definition TV is better than standard-definition TV.

SUNDAY
It was a big deal to me when the Yankees traded A.J. Burnett to the Pirates because I hated Burnett on the Yankees more than anyone. But I didn’t realize how much bigger of a deal it was going to be to not have him on the team than I do now. There wasn’t going to be enough room in my life for both Burnett and Nick Swisher to be on the Yankees, and there wasn’t going to be enough space for my anger (or tweets and the Internet has infinite space) had they both been on the team this season.

Nick Swisher can’t be serious, can he? Two on and no one out in the second inning, and he BUNTS against Jonathon Niese. Not only does he bunt, but he bunts into a force out at third base. Here are some questions I have about Swisher’s decision.

1. Why are you bunting in the second inning of a game you’re already trailing by three runs in?

2. The theory behind Swisher is that he doesn’t hit good/elite pitching, so why would he be giving himself up against Jonathon Niese who isn’t a front-end starter?

3. Nick Swisher isn’t good at playing fundamental baseball and he might have the lowest Baseball IQ in Major League Baseball. This isn’t the first time this has happened with Swisher. He once bunted, on his own, a runner from second over to third with one out already in the inning. So how has no one on the team told him to never bunt under any circumstance?

4. Andy Pettitte just gave up three runs. The Yankees follow that with a four-pitch walk from A-Rod and a single from Cano. Two on and no one out and Niese feeling the pressure of the Yankees’ lineup combined with trying to be the stopper of a losing streak and trying to prevent the sweep in front of a sold-out Yankee Stadium. Why would you let him off the hook and help him settle down and give away that first out? After Swisher’s bunt, Niese struck out Jones and Martin to end the inning. Why would you give away an out in that spot? Why?!?!

I have had it with Nick Swisher. Only a big hit in the postseason could change my feelings and opinion on him at this point, and we all know that’s not happening. And even though I like to have a good time with Michael Kay’s broadcasting techniques, I thoroughly enjoyed him taking subtle shots at Swisher about the bunt on Sunday.

Clay Rapada needs to stop pitching in high-leverage situations. Seriously, make it stop, Joe. Rapada is not good. It’s June 11 and he has made it over two months longer on this team than anyone originally thought. He has more walks (12) than (10) strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings, and I trust him less than I ever trusted Jose Veras. At what point do we decide that Rapada shouldn’t be pitching in high-leverage situations let alone be on the team? Or are we just waiting for him to implode and cost the Yankees in a big spot before we realize that he isn’t trustworthy? (How is there no better option than Rapada in the minors?) I know Sweeny Murti would tell me he is the 25th man on the roster (or 24th if you think Cody Eppley is the 25th), but the 25th man shouldn’t be trying to preserve a one-run lead in the late innings.

How awkward is the Joe Girardi-Terry Collins Dunkin’ Donuts commercial? I would feel more comfortable letting Rapada save a game against the Red Sox than I do watching that commercial. It makes the Joe Torre-Willie Randolph Subway commercial from a few years back seem normal. I hope Girardi enjoys that Dunkin Iced Caramel he’s sipping on.

I have gained a lot of confidence in Boone Logan. A year or two ago I wouldn’t have written that sentence if you had a gun to my head. Part of my confidence in Logan is because I don’t have a choice but to be confident in him. With Rivera and Robertson out, Logan (or Wade) has become the best reliever outside of Rafael Soriano. When you think about the Yankees’ RISP and bases-loaded issues coupled with the names that are running out of the bullpen in to hold leads, I would have thought they would be in the Red Sox’ position in the standings. (Let’s all take a second to laugh at the current state of the Red Sox.) But what is that line about not being able to predict something that some broadcasting duo always says?

What an amazing play by the fan in right field on Russell Martin’s two-run home run. Too many times do fans of the home crowd not give it their all to help their team, but the guy that made the catch from keeping the ball from going back on the field deserves some free tickets or some memorabilia or batting practice with the team on the next homestand. After seeing the replay, if that guy doesn’t make that catch they might only score one run, or worse, it could have been second and third with two outs.

There isn’t a Yankees fan that didn’t hear a Mets fan complain about Yankee Stadium being a “bandbox” and allowing “cheap home runs” over the weekend. Yankee Stadium was built for strikeout pitchers and power hitters and what do you know, the Yankees have created a team comprised of strikeout pitchers and power hitters? What an idea! What a concept! How come no one ever complains about the Green Monster or the Pesky Pole, or about Camden Yards, or about the height of the fences in the corners in Anaheim or the short fence in left field at Tropicana Field? I guess no one complains about those fields because at Yankee Stadium the hated dimensions are only present when the Yankees are hitting…

With all the talk over the weekend about how to “fix” the Subway Series (I don’t think it needs to be fixed), you’re certainly not going to get any Mets fans that want the Series to keep the same format. When you have to play six games against the Yankees every year, it’s probably not good for your postseason chances (if the Mets really do have postseason chances).  But on the flip side I enjoy the Series because it’s six games against the Mets, and that means wins, and I like wins, and wins get you to the postseason, so to me, the current format is perfect. I also like the Subway Series because I love what it’s about and I love creating more of a rivalry between the city’s two teams.

A sweep always feels good, but it feels even better when it comes against the Mets, and because of it I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee fan.

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Neil Keefe is the founder and editor-in-chief of Keefe To The City along with writing columns and hosting podcasts. He has written for WFAN.com and CBSNewYork.com since February 2010.

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