David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
Opening night of the 2014 Subway Series was difficult to explain.
For the Yankees, it was painful. After the 9-7 loss to the Mets, a weary Brian Cashman made the long walk from the runway elevator to the manager's office like a man afraid of what awaited him.
Then again, how could the news be much worse? Sure, coming up short to the Mets stinks. If the Boss were still around, Cashman would have got an earful afterward. But the general manager had bigger problems, with a depleted pitching staff, CC Sabathia scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews Tuesday and even a few new injuries, to Carlos Beltran (elbow) and Ichiro Suzuki (back).
"We've just got to get through it," Cashman said. "Find out what's going on with those guys, make some adjustments and try to get through it."
As for the Mets, well, their performance was almost as baffling, but in a good way. Take your pick. A fifth straight victory over the $200-million Yankees Monday night. Four home runs, including the go-ahead blast by Chris Young in the eighth inning. Two brilliant double plays started by Lucas Duda.
A save by Kyle Farnsworth!
"This atmosphere creates intensity and it creates focus," Terry Collins said. "Guys are excited being here."
No kidding. Any Met with a bat would be thrilled to swap Citi Field for Yankee Stadium. For a second, it looked as if Curtis Granderson was back in pinstripes again when he ripped a 3-iron shot that nearly got to the Bleacher Creatures.
But the others? Travis d'Arnaud, Eric Young Jr.? Here in the Bronx, anything seemed possible for the Mets, who didn't fret when the Yankees pulled ahead on Brett Gardner's grand slam in the second inning. On most nights, that would have been the killshot, the 4-1 deficit insurmountable for the Mets.
Not in this ballpark, and not against a bruised Yankees bullpen that was without Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances. As much as this was bad timing for the Yankees, it was perfect for the Mets.
"It's not that our attitude was different," David Wright said, "but the reality is that a three-run lead is not safe here."
So would the Mets' four deep balls have cleared the fences at Citi?
"I have no idea," Wright said, smiling "No clue."
It didn't really matter. And the Mets still have one more night in the Bronx, a place where an $86-million bunch of hackers can outslug a $200-million goliath.
"One of the things we're tried to do is stay as positive as you can during the tough times," Collins said. "In the dugout, they were saying, let's just stay close. A fly ball can get outta here."
In the ninth inning, the Yankees got the winning run to the plate against Farnsworth, but Brian McCann -- whose $85-miilion contract nearly equals the Mets' 2014 payroll -- bounced into a 3-5-3 double play.
Girardi couldn't believe what he was seeing either. Not so much a Mets' win, but his own team's escalating body count.
"I don't really get down about it," Girardi said Monday afternoon. "I've been taught from a young age from my parents that you keep going. I witnessed my mother do that all the time because she was a cancer patient. There's no reason to worry about what's behind you. You've got to find a way to fix it and that's what we try to do."
Come to think of it, Girardi would make a great therapist for the Mets, who have spent the bulk of the past decade trying to move along and fix things on the fly. Maybe all they needed was a change of scenery.