After these individuals won a special place in our hearts forever, they all wound up playing for that other team, wearing those stupid pin stripes. Doc pitched a no-hitter in 96, a decade after he won a World Series ring with us. In 1999, David Cone pitched only the 14th Perfecto in history–and yes, while pitching for the Yankees.
Through our five decades, the role of our arch rival has changed. Over the last several years, it’s been the Phillies. We spent the 1990’s hating the Braves and Chipper Jones. In the 80’s it was the Cardinals. In the 70’s, it was the Pirates.
The longest standing rivalry, however, is the one we have with the Yankees. It’s not just due to the somewhat recent advent of inter-league play or the endless competition for the back page of the newspaper. It goes back to 1961, when the New York Mets were only a concept. And the Yankees sought legal action to prevent NY baseball retuning to the NL.
All in all, there’ve been 111 players who’ve played for both teams. And yes, it sometimes hurts. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who nearly threw up the first time I saw Darryl in that stupid Yankee uniform.
The Yankees have always been adept at replacing one legend with another. Bill Dickey retired in 1946 and was replaced behind the plate by Yogi Berra. One year after Babe Ruth was gone, his cleats were filled by the great Joe DiMaggio. And as DiMaggio’s career wound down, he gave way to some kid named Mantle. Even recently, as the Yankees saw an aging Reggie Jackson produce less, they brought in another future Hall of Famer in Dave Winfield to lessen the blow of losing Reggie.
The Yankees, once again, are facing the end of another legend. In just over one month, Derek Jeter will be 37. That’s tough for any ballplayer, but especially for the every day rigors of playing shortstop. It’s safe to say that Jeter’s best days are behind him. Yes, he’ll flash some brilliance now and then and he does show signs of life. But #2 has quickly become a very old 36.
Enter the Mets. We’re a team that is struggling, a team that is on the brink of rebuilding. A team that, somehow, has no money. We all know that Reyes and Beltran are on borrowed time, as well as possibly David Wright. Or even Santana, if he was healthy.
The prospect of Jose ultimately playing SS in The Bronx is downright disgusting. No, the Mets wont trade him directly to the Yankees. But if, in fact, Reyes is sent packing at the deadline and then can not come to terms with his new team, he would enter the Free Agent market. And you know the Yankees would be waiting with open arms…and an open check book.
Assuming Jeter would agree to move to another position (and knowing his team loyalty, he most likely would), replacing a Yankee legend such as he with a Jose Reyes would again lessen the blow to Yankee fans. Unlike Chuck Knoblauch, Reyes is fully capable of handling the NY media.
And, in all honesty, wouldn’t the Yankees brass just love shoving that in our face? As of now, Jose is leading the team in BA, hits, doubles and triples. He is the Mets all-time leader in Runs, triples, SB’s, 4th in hits and 5th in doubles.
We are 37-54 against them in inter-league play. In the last 15 years, we have won one wildcard, one division and one pennant. Over that same time frame, the Yankees have won 3 wildcards, 11 divisions, 7 pennants and 5 World Championships. Hell, they even like their new stadium while we complain and blame Citi Field for our woes.
The Yankees have taken this city. And relegated us to second class citizens. They seemingly dominate the media, dominate October. While they battle the Red Sox and Rays, we struggle with the Nats to stay out of last.
Could the Yankees manage without Reyes? Absolutely. But knowing them, wouldn’t they secretly just like to throw that in our face, just twisting the knife into our gut a little deeper?