The Subway Series Once Again Has Significance

Joe Girardi and Terry Collins

For the time in Subway Series history, both the Yankees and Mets enter the series with at least a share of first place in their respective division. It’s crazy to think this is the first time that has happened considering how competitive both teams were in the early- and mid-2000s, but apparently it’s true and as a result we have the most hyped Subway Series in years.

With the, I did an email exchange with Eric Simon of Amazin’ Avenue to talk about if the Subway Series still has meaning, the result of the Lucas Duda-Ike Davis Debate and the Mets taking the best record in baseball into the Bronx.

Keefe: I have always been a fan of interleague play and the Subway Series. In years when both teams were good it was fun because, well, both teams were good. And in years when the Mets weren’t good, it was fun because it meant some easy wins for the Yankees. A lot of people have complained about the series losing its luster in recent years, but I have always enjoyed it. In a 162-game season, you need games like this to break up the monotony of playing the same divisional opponents every series.

This year, we’re back to the mid-2000s when both teams were competitive, and when both fan bases cared about the series and got up for the series. This Subway Series has the first feeling of a big series since probably 2009. While I don’t enjoy the Mets being good or riding an 11-game winning streak entering the series, I’m happy their relevance has brought the Subway Series back to life.

Are you a fan of the Subway Series?

Simon: I’m pretty ambivalent about the Subway Series at this point. I’m not generally a fan of interleague play to begin with and would favor a return to the balanced intra-league schedule of years past. That, of course, can’t happen now that each league has an uneven number of teams, so we’re stuck with interleague play for better or worse.

Mets-Yankees games do still have a little more excitement than your average games. I can’t say I loathe the Yankees the way I once did, but something about reading the local scribes celebrating a Yankees victory over the Mets probably does get under my skin a little bit.

Keefe: Mets fans are the most optimistic they have been in years with the hot start to the season. It seems like every Mets fan I know has taken to social media in some regard to hint at a future World Series parade this coming fall. I wish the Mets were doing as well as they are, but it’s a welcome sight to have both New York teams playing well at the same time again to increase the hype for the weekend. However, there are some still-pessimistic Mets fans waiting for the other shoe to drop and trying not to get ahead of themselves with April success.

Which type of Mets fan are you?

Simon: I’m pretty realistic about the Mets. This means I don’t dash for the nearest bridge when things are going badly, but I also tend not to overstate the Mets’ case when things are going well.

So I guess I’m neither of the Mets fans you describe.

Keefe: The Mets’ rotation is one of the best in the league and the Yankees will see Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in the first two games of the series and then they get Jon Niese in the finale, which isn’t exactly a picnic since the Yankees aren’t the best against lefties.

Bartolo Colon has been called the leader of the rotation, and this season he has certainly pitched like it. There was a lot of talk about the Mets using him as a trade chip last season, but they ended up keeping him and he his having another impressive year at age 42. His return to the majors and to prominence came in 2011 with the Yankees when he turned back the clock for most of that summer and looked like the 2005 Cy Young Award winner. After initially being disgusted that he had made the team as a reliever and then being annoyed that he would join the rotation, watching him pitch every five days became one of the best parts of that season.

What has Colon meant to the young rotation?

Simon: Ballplayers will tell you how this or that veteran is a great leader or clubhouse presence or guiding hand or whatever. I suspect Colon is all of those things, but I’m not particularly interested in the details.

Colon has been great for the Mets this season and utterly entertaining nearly every time he starts. That’s good enough for me.

Keefe: I remember when Ike Davis made his debut and it was an event for the Mets and Mets fan. But over time, he fell out of favor, got injured and also sick and then was eventually traded to Pittsburgh. The Mets picked Lucas Duda over Davis in the great Davis-Duda Debate and it worked out for them last year when Duda hit 30 home runs with 92 RBIs.

It always seemed like they were very close to same player and that’s what made the debate even harder because no one really had a real grasp on which of the two would end up having better career. Now this season, both are off to hot and almost identical starts with Davis now in Oakland and it makes the comparison between them even crazier.

Were you on the Davis or Duda side of the debate? Were you upset that Davis didn’t become the next icon for the Mets?

Simon: I was a big Ike Davis supporter when he came up and looked like Keith Hernandez with power, and I soured on him like everybody else did when he stopped hitting altogether and his defense deteriorated. Lucas Duda might be my favorite Met at the moment, and I’m thrilled that he’s been playing so well since the Mets traded Davis.

Especially now that he’s in the American League, I’m happy to root for Davis and I hope he has his career back on track in Oakland.

Keefe: A lot of people thought the Mets would be competitive this year and if everything broke right they could be in the mix for a wild-card spot and somewhere around 90 wins. Through the first 15 games of the season, they have exceeded expectations with a perfect 10-0 start at home, incredible starting pitching and timely hitting. Basically everything that has gone wrong for the Mets in recent years since the 2007 collapse has gone right for them in the first two-plus weeks of the season.

What were you expectations for the Mets before the season started and have they changed at all after the 13-3 start?

Simon: I thought the Mets would be a little better than .500 and that if a few things went their way they’d be competing for one of the two wild cards in the National League. They’re not going to win 80 percent of their games all year, but they’ve been a lot of fun to watch through these first 16 games and certainly my expectations for them have changed a good deal—perhaps more than they should—after their hot start.

I’d say they’re now more likely than not to make the playoffs in one way or another, but I wouldn’t quite pencil them in as NL East champs at this point.