Subway Series Storylines, Part II

Another meaningful Subway Series! Is this really the second meaningful one in two weeks after not having one for a few years? Are we sure about this? Quick, someone check the standings and make sure the Mets are relevant.

Three more games to go in the 2012 Subway Series and three good pitching matchups to go with it. We’ll see a repeat from the Sunday game in the Bronx with the Lefty Battle of Young vs. Old between Andy Pettitte and Jonathon Niese on Friday night, Ivan Nova and Chris Young on Saturday night (sorry no unique connections in that one) and the marquee matchup between CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey on Sunday Night Baseball.

With only two weeks and nine games separating the two teams since they last met the storylines haven’t really changed. But even though it’s only been 12 days since the Yankees came back against the Mets’ bullpen and finished the sweep with a Russell Martin home run off Jon Rauch, it would feel weird if we didn’t look at interesting storylines for the second half of the Subway Series.

Initials This Weekend
For Part I of the storylines, we had the “No Initials This Weekend” storyline, but this weekend we get the initials with CC vs. R.A. Every once in a while when the time is right and the stars align and Jason Bay lands on the disabled list again, everything falls into place and you get a perfect Sunday Night Baseball matchup, and we have that this weekend.

It feels like CC Sabathia hasn’t been himself this year and he’s 9-3 with a 3.55 ERA. But there’s a reason he hasn’t felt like CC and that’s because before his complete game against the Braves on Wednesday, he gave up four earned runs against the Braves on June 12, lost to the Rays on June 7 (he allowed five runs, but just two earned) and gave up three earned runs to the Tigers on June 1. You know you have an ace when he allows nine earned runs in 21 innings (3.86 ERA) over three starts and you feel like he’s sucked. Sabathia has pitched at least six innings and thrown at least 104 pitches in all 14 of his starts. So I guess I’m a little off on thinking he CC hasn’t been CC, but I’m telling you that he hasn’t looked like himself and I think other Yankees fans would tell you the same thing.

R.A. Dickey is currently the best pitcher on the planet. He’s 11-1 (matching his career high for wins in a season in 14 starts) with a 2.00 ERA. He leads the league in wins, win percentage (.917), ERA, complete games (3), shutouts (2) and WHIP (0.889). He’s allowed just 67 hits in 99 innings with 103 strikeouts. He’s averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings, which is his highest since 2003 when he pitched in 38 games (13 starts) for the Rangers and averaged 7.3 (his career average is 6.0). At 37, Dickey has gone from reinventing himself in 2010 and 2011 with the Mets to Cy Young frontrunner in 2012. Two weekends ago I said, “Part of me wanted to see what Dickey could do against the Yankees in what is turning out to be his best season.” I must have been drunk when I wrote that because I don’t want any part of Dickey right now.

(Once again, I forgot to start both Sabathia and Dickey in fantasy on Monday night costing me this line: 2-0, 18 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 23 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.611 WHIP. There’s nothing worse than someone talking about or complaining about their fantasy team, but I had to be that guy for a moment for this unique situation.)

Terry Francona is going to spend a lot of time on Sunday night comparing the knuckleballs of R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield, and I mean a lot of time, but it’s acceptable. I would rather have a color guy talking about something relevant to the game than to have Tim McCarver talk about the abilities of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout for an entire inning of a Yankees-Mets game.

You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours
Since these two teams played each other two weekends ago the Yankees have gone 7-2 and the Mets have gone 6-3. While the Yankees were helping out the Mets by beating up on the Braves and Nationals, the Mets were returning the favor by sweeping the Rays and Orioles.

I love interleague play because it breaks up the schedule and gives fans the opportunity to see different teams and new players. However, I understand the mindset of those who would rather see more division games because there’s nothing like seeing Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Sean Rodriguez and Brian Matusz a few more times.

This weekend marks the final weekend of interleague play for 2012, and as a Yankees fan, I’m going to be sad to see it go since the Yankees have gone 11-4 against the Reds, Mets, Braves and Nationals. With the All-Star Game becoming less and less serious even though the stakes are high, interleague play is a necessity to compare the AL to the NL and gauge the differences in the leagues. But I’m not going to lie, I enjoy interleague play because it’s usually the point of the season where the Yankees use the schedule to create separation in the division and they’re doing it again.

Citi Field Complaints
If you don’t know a Mets fan that complained about Yankee Stadium being a bandbox after the three games in the Bronx then you either don’t have a lot of friends or you don’t get out much. Mets fans will find anything to complain about, especially when it comes to the Yankees, and they were out in full force two weekends ago to share their opinions on the “cheap home runs” at the Stadium.

I don’t know what games I watched two weeks ago because it looked to me like the dimensions of the walls were the same for both teams’ at-bats. I guess there is a chance that they could have moved the fences in for the Yankees when they were up and then moved them back when the Mets, and I just wasn’t paying attention, but I feel like I would have noticed something like that.

This weekend if the Yankees hit some balls that would have been out of the Stadium that are kept in, are Yankees fans going to complain the way that Mets fans did about the reverse happening? OK, I’ll answer that one: No.

Subway Series Finale
There’s a very good chance this is the last time we see two Subway Series in the same season with three games on each side of the city. With the Astros moving to the American League and scheduling changes in the works, it looks like we are headed for a Subway Series modification.

No one likes change. Well, let me rephrase that. No one likes poor change. But Major League Baseball is all about making poor changes like the All-Star Game deciding home-field advantage and two wild cards in each league and still letting pitchers hit in the National League. So I fully expect them to take away the six games between the Yankees and Mets that we have grown accustomed to, and that some people have grown sick of. Those same people will eventually long for the days of six Subway Series games.

If this is goodbye to the Subway Series format we have known for so long, I’m going to miss it.