I’ve seen the Yankees play the Mets before, but it didn’t count. The Mayor’s Trophy game was an exhibition game where the results had no play in the standings and a home run was not counted toward a player’s total. Sometimes players didn’t put out because of fear of injuries that would affect the “real” season. With only 14 games left in the season Sunday’s game meant something. The Yankees needed to win to catch up with Toronto and the Mets wanted to win to reduce their magic number to 7.
I wondered how I would react emotionally. Traditionally I am a Mets fan. I earned it working for WOR, the Mets station, at the Shea Stadium in the 65 through 67 seasons. But when I managed KUDO we were Alaska’s Yankee station and I’ve become sort of a Yankee fan as well.
Walking from the Willits Point train station to the ball field Mets fans changed “Let’s Go Mets,” the traditional cry from the early ‘60s when they were the worst team in baseball. Yankee fans responded with the sing song “Let’s go Yankees” followed by 5 hand claps. This is a new chant for Yankee fans. Last year the same cadence cried “Derek Jeeter.” Jeeter is gone but there were many pin striped jerseys with the number “2” on them. The fans were competitive but good natured and this carried over into the ballpark. Sitting around us there were several mixed marriages, the husband in Yankee pinstripes, the wife in Met blue and orange, an older brother wearing a Yankee cap being harassed by younger siblings rooting for the Mets. The park was alive.
For the first 5 innings the Mets Matt Harvey was pitching a one hitter and the Mets were leading by a run. When Yankee fans tried to get a rally going, “Let’s go Yankees” the rest of the crowd roared back “Yankees Suck!” Call and response. “Let’s go Yankees…Yankees suck!” The younger siblings behind us cried this with particular glee. “Let’s Go Mets” was followed by a short and sharp “Boo” “Let’s go Mets — boo, Let’s Go Mets — boo.” Until the 6th inning the Mets fans were the louder and more active. Matt Harvey was pitching a wonderful game.
But this is Harvey’s first season back after “Tommy John” surgery on his pitching arm. He is limited by his doctor to the number of pitches he can throw. During the fifth inning the Yankees kept fouling the ball, forcing Harvey to throw more. By the end of the fifth inning Harvey had thrown 77 pitches and his limit is around 80. His arm had reached his limit. A reliever came in the sixth inning and the Yankees struck big with the type of ball I like, stolen bases, a double, taking advantage of errors. The Yanks scored 5 runs in the sixth. They scored another in the 7th.
After the 7th inning stretch many of the Mets fans remained standing and filed out. We stayed hoping the Mets would strike, they didn’t. In the 8th inning C.C. Sabathia was going out and we were waiting to see Alex Rodrigues pinch hit. When A-Rod stepped to the plate there were an equal numbers of cheers and boos. Many of the Yankee fans were booing while several remaining Met’s fans cheered. He got on with a walk and promptly stole 2nd. He scored as part of a Yankee 5 run 8th. We gave up but as we were leaving for the train the Mets scored one in the bottom of the 8th. The Yanks took it 11-2. The Yanks needed it more than the Mets, they have some catch-up to do to get into the playoffs. My loyalty? Mets all the way.