The New York Yankees come to Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie this afternoon for the first of two spring training games against the Mets. The second game is to be played at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
The Yankees have not played at the Mets’ spring training home since the spring of 1995. The teams last met for a spring game in Tampa on March 30, 1996 (the Mets won 5-2).
Today’s game starts at 2:00 PM, while tomorrow’s Grapefruit League finale gets started 12:00 PM.
Here are a couple of excerpts from two pretty good articles on the history of the Mets and Yankees rivalry and what those games meant to former team owner George Steinbrenner.
The results of the games have long since been forgotten, but the men who played in them still remember what they meant to George Steinbrenner.
To the late Yankees owner, spring training games against the Mets weren’t mere exhibitions. They were a proving ground, as Steinbrenner would remind players before the games—much to their amusement.
“We would listen and laugh,” former Yankees pitcher Goose Gossage said. “We weren’t going to play harder for that game than any other spring training game. That was just what went with it—the Mets better not win.” ~ Brian Costa, Wall Street Jornal
Of course, if George Steinbrenner were still around, the Yankees’ lineup might look a little more imposing. For Steinbrenner, beating the Mets was always a priority.
“The Boss wanted to win all 162 games and 30 in spring training,” said the former Yankees closer Rich Gossage.
“If you didn’t play well in those games he might send you to Triple-A,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, an assistant in those days. “It was kind of crazy. He wanted to win those games badly; everyone knew it.” ~ David Waldstein, New York Times
Mets center fielder Andres Torres is playing in his first Grapefruit League game today and batting leadoff for the Mets. “I feel great right now,” Torres said, “I feel 100 percent.” Torres also added that he needs to get more at-bats to work on his timing.
Terry Collins has expressed concern with the health of his closer Frank Francisco and said he has not yet considered who he might use in that role if the need arises. Yesterday, Francisco said he will get an MRI on his left knee, which has been sore since the start of camp and recently drained of fluid.
Mets executive VP Dave Howard tells Mike Puma in the Post that “several thousand” tickets remain available for Thursday’s opener at Citi Field.