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Coping with Mets and Yankees prosperity

The Mets, in Detroit, clobbered the Tigers, and at 40-39, they're over .500 for the first time since April 6, when they were 3-2. They sit five games behind Atlanta (46-35) in the National League wild-card race, with three other NL teams standing between them and the Braves.

The Yankees, in the Bronx, clobbered the Brewers, and at 46-31, they're a game and a half up on the Red Sox (45-33) in the American League East

It's a good time to be a New York baseball fan, Anthony Rieber wrote from the Stadium.

Keep in mind what a brutal winter it was for the New York baseball teams. At the outset of spring training, I wrote this column for Newsday, which included these passages:

Maybe Freddy Garcia can prove he has enough left to keep the Yankees in games, and maybe Manny Banuelos can make a case for why he could help the big-league club in the second half. Maybe Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be rejuvenated and determined to rebound from the worst seasons of their careers.

Maybe Reyes and Beltran, with the knowledge they're playing for new contracts, will keep it together physically. Maybe Chris Capuano and/or Chris Young will threaten to duplicate R.A. Dickey's shocking 2010, and Dickey himself will show that he's simply a maturing knuckleballer rather than a one-year wonder.

Maybe Collins, getting his first major-league managing gig since 1999, will display gained wisdom and insulate his players from the chaos occurring above them. Probably not, though.

Well, on the Yankees' side, put a check mark next to Garcia and A-Rod, and Banuelos has picked it up at Double-A Trenton after a slow start. It didn't even occur to me to mention Bartolo Colon, so ludicrous was the notion that he could seriously help.

On the Mets' side, put huge checks on the ledgers of Reyes, Beltran and Terry Collins. 

My sense of things, based on my Twitter interactions, is that Mets fans are simply reveling in the good times, while Yankees fans are still fretting over potential liabilities. And to an extent, that reflects the mindsets of the clubs themselves.

The Mets, under Sandy Alderson, regarded 2011 as somewhat of a freebie. A year of assessment. Yet they balanced that by hiring the intense Collins, and by establishing a culture in which incompetence and apathy simply wouldn't be tolerated. And of course, having a healthy, walk-year-ish Reyes and Beltran has been absolutely crucial.

According to Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds, the Mets now have a 2.6 percent chance at making the playoffs. Pretty slim, but double what their number has been for most of the last couple of months.

The interesting dynamic in play here is, if the Mets make it through July 31 still on the precipice of contention and decide to hold onto Beltran, Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez, it could feel like a victory to the Mets and their fans. Like a non-upgrade upgrade.

It's still difficult to believe that the Mets would actually take on payroll in a trade, given their current financial travails, but they could spend a few bucks, they'd obviously be in the hunt for a short-term first baseman to replace Ike Davis. The Cubs' Carlos Pena?

As for the Yankees, who have an 88.5 percent chance of October baseball according to BP,...yeah, they're still looking to improve themselves. As an official from another team put it to Joel Sherman in this column, you believe the Yankees will make a move, just because they're the Yankees and they can't help themselves. At this juncture, however, there's so little of interest available. If you know how Brian Cashman operates, you know that he's not going to be dramatically intrigued by the players about whom fans ask the most - the likes of Francisco Liriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Brett Myers.

Plenty of time to go before July 31 - there are 32 days until then, according to multiple sources - and moods and needs can change in a hurry. But as we stand here on June 29, we appreciate once more how the game consistently defies our expectations.

You see, you can't predict baseball.

--I'll check in later from the Stadium.

 

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