cue "annual" thread sound
By Dave Buscema
Subway still electric
OK, the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees might have lost some luster since the debut of interleague play in 1997. But while the novelty of the matchup is gone, there is still plenty at stake and plenty of reasons to get the adrenaline flowing this weekend when the teams meet for a three-game series. Staff writer Dave Buscema breaks down why fans should be glued to their TV sets or at Shea proudly waving their foam finger for their favorite team.
5 reasons for Yanks fans to watch
1 There's only so much of Yankees Classics you can cling to - We all know you miss the good old days when your team not only tore through the regular season but gave you an October filled with frenzied moments that finished with clutch hits and the ultimate prize. Maybe these guys can get that back, but in the meantime, you'd do well to enjoy the regular season as much as you can. That's what these Yankees are built for, and they need to show they can keep the Mets at bay yet again before continuing their slow crawl back to mortality. People are actually starting to talk about the Mets possibly being better, which can only make Yankees fans ... "THE MUTTS?" Bleacher Creature Donald Simpson Jr. said. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" Well, you get the idea ...
2 Yet another chance to see A-Rod "become a Yankee" - Yes, I as well as many of my colleagues are part of the problem here. I realize we've alternately dubbed and deleted this title for A-Rod several times since he arrived in New York and either had a big hit or failed to come up with one. The truth is, as much as we've tried to crown him early in the season in the past we've since come to realize he needs that huge hit in one of the last games of the season, so even this kind of stage doesn't mean anything. Of course, it will still be fascinating fun to watch us all play amateur psychologist should Rodriguez do something big or small this weekend.
3 Who knows what Johnny Damon will do? - Damon will have ALL of the New York media at his disposal, which means he will probably be talking for approximately 15 hours or so this weekend. And as we saw when so much attention was focused on him in Boston, he's capable of coming up with such an outlandish, wild idea - such as him tipping his helmet to booing fans - we have to be ready for anything. Damon's actually flown relatively low on the Yankees' radar screen this season, so maybe this is a good spot for him to break out.
4 Moose-Pedro, dude - For all the other aces the Yankees have brought in, Mussina has quietly been the most consistent and dependable. And nothing illustrates that more than all his classic duos with Pedro when Martinez was trying to drill the Bambino in the backside with Boston. Add the fact that Mussina is back on the top of his game with a 6-1 record and 2.56 ERA and you should have one heck of a Saturday set up for you.
5 Enter Someone - Regardless of who's on the mound in the ninth inning, you've got a shot to taunt and sneer at your Mets-fan friends. If Mariano Rivera comes in to shut the door, you can claim "Enter Sandman" as your own again. If Billy Wagner comes sprinting in to the song instead, you can cackle about how undeserving he is, then hope to see him give up a big homer to Giambi or Jeter and preserve Rivera's "ownership" of a song he's so possessive of that the Yankees' closer says ... he doesn't even know the words. He listens to Christian music. But, really, that's not your concern, so go out there and defend your turf.
5 reasons for Mets fans to watch
1 To yell and boo the Mets into submission so they don't blow the pennant in May - OK, you over there, the guy nodding his head in agreement with these words so forcefully you drooled on your Pedro jersey ... this was a trick. Sorry, but it's for your own good. You need to calm down, and this is the perfect time to learn that. The Yankees are at Shea, the Mets' cushion from their fast start has slipped away and the Phillies are coming in next. This would be the perfect time for a coronary, but let's try something else for a change - confidence. Yes, that's right. Confidence. The Mets are a much better team than in years past. Yes, they have pitching problems, but it's early and there are possible solutions we don't even know about that could eventually pop up. Relax. Your team is as competitive as it's been with the Yankees since the 2000 World Series. Root like heck and trust them.
2 David Wright is playing - Yes, he struck out in a big spot earlier this week, but as he told reporters later, more often than not he's going to come through. Believe him because he's the biggest reason of all to believe in the Mets, and you have the chance to watch him start making a dent in the Yankees, reach up like the little brother and finally yank away the toy his big brother is taunting him with by holding it over his head. This could be the beginning of the Mets' rise along with the Yankees' fall, even if it's still in its infancy stages and you'd like to be there for the start. If Wright comes through with a big hit - as he did against Atlanta in the 14-inning game - rather than makes the kind of errors he did last year, it's one more sign the Mets are truly growing.
3 Jose Lima isn't pitching - OK, we love, love, LOVE Lima to death. We would love to see him suddenly become as valuable as a pitcher as he is in the clubhouse or on a comedy stage - which we think he should one day command. We just wish we weren't thinking that day should be coming very soon.
4 Pedro Martinez is pitching - You know, you should be out there for every one of Pedro's starts if you can, much less against the Yankees. The Mets are finally giving you a more exciting product and there's no one on the roster more entertaining than Pedro, who has Lima's free-spirited attitude along with a whole lot better stuff on the mound. He's undefeated and going against Mike Mussina tomorrow, so we're talking about yet another fantastic pitchers' duel. Yet another opportunity for Pedro to show that he can overcome the Yankees at Shea even if he couldn't do it at Fenway. And for those forever fatalistic Mets fans, go ahead and tell yourself to catch him now before his toe gives out ...
5 Yet another chance to shut up your arrogant Yankee fan neighbor - Usually it's a whole bunch of hope and hype with little realistic shot. This season, even with the pitching problems, there's no reason the Mets can't take two out of three. Game 1 may feature Jeremi Gonzalez, but he's going up against Randy Johnson, so, really, not much of an edge for the Yanks there. (Cheap shot? Sure, but not all that far from the truth). Then you have Pedro tomorrow and Tom Glavine - pitching as well as ever - going Sunday. Can you say sweep? OK, maybe not yet, but you can start thinking about some wins at least. That's a pretty good start.