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Yankees embrace Subway Series, especially those experiencing it for the first time

Yankees manager Aaron Boone is a fan of

Yankees manager Aaron Boone is a fan of the Subway Series.  Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

CLEVELAND – From the time he was hired to manage the Yankees before the 2018 season, Aaron Boone’s place in the rivalry against the Red Sox has never been far from the discussion because of a certain home run that both fan bases remember well.

His place in the Yankees’ other rivalry?

Boone, who never faced the Mets as a Yankees player, experienced that for the first time last season. He's excited to do so again starting Monday when the first Subway Series of the season begins at the Stadium. 

“I like it,” Boone said before Sunday afternoon’s 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Indians. “In a 162-game season, it’s something different that in a way can get your juices flowing a little bit, knowing that you’re playing the other team you share the city with. Obviously, it interests a lot of people.”

The Yankees, 69-49 against the Mets and 32-20 since 2009, went 3-3 against them last season.

Masahiro Tanaka, 1-2 but with a 3.08 ERA in four Subway Series starts, will start Monday night against Jason Vargas. James Paxton will start Tuesday night against Zack Wheeler.

“It’s going to be brand-new for me. It’ll be a fun game,” said Paxton, who will be making his Subway Series debut after being acquired from the Mariners in the offseason. “It’s New York vs. New York, so I’m sure there’s definitely some fan rivalry there. I’m looking forward to it.”

Luke Voit, brought over from the Cardinals last season,  also will be playing in the Subway Series for the first time but is familiar with it, having watched some of those nationally televised games as a kid.

“It kind of reminds me of when Piazza and Posada and Jeter and all of those guys were playing in those games,” Voit said. “It’ll be fun. Definitely a rivalry game for us.”

Voit said he’s interested in watching his counterpart at first base. “That Pete Alonso guy’s kind of killing it,” Voit said. “[Interested] to see what he’s like. I played against him a little bit last year in Triple-A [when Voit was in the Cardinals' organization].”

There has been a gradual change in attitude with the Yankees, especially in the clubhouse and manager’s chair, in the last decade-plus regarding the Subway Series. Joe Girardi embraced the series in a way predecessor Joe Torre and many of his players did not. Most of that, of course, had to do with George Steinbrenner’s obsession with beating the Mets, which dated to the old Mayor’s Trophy Game, an annual in-season exhibition contest that was discontinued after the 1983 season.

Longtime club employees still reflexively cringe when considering what the fallout from The Boss would have been had the Yankees lost the 2000 World Series (they won in five games).

Those days, however, are long gone.

“You can tell in those games and you can feel in those games that it does matter to a lot of people,” Boone said. “And those are fun things to be a part of.”

Added Paxton: “I imagine it being kind of the same or close to what a Boston series is like. I’m sure everyone loves to see us beat the other New York team, just like they love to see us beat Boston. And we love it too. So it’ll be exciting baseball. I’m sure there will be a lot of energy in the Stadium. People will be fired up. And so will we.” 

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