At the carnival that is New York baseball, the Yankees are the ferris wheel. The Mets are the roller coaster.
What a ride all fans enjoyed these past three days, as Weekend I of the Subway Series concluded last night with Francisco Rodriguez striking out Alex Rodriguez for a 6-4 Mets victory. The Mets took the series two games to one, and Jerry Manuel apparently will live to manage for another series. The National League East-leading Phillies arrive Tuesday night.
The Yankees operate, rightly, as though a bad week can be accepted and understood. The Mets live life more on the edge; a good week generates sheer joy and a bad week enough anxiety to keep Manhattan's psychologists thriving. There's no doubt which club leads the healthier lifestyle.
Constancy, the Yankees preach, now that George Steinbrenner is largely out of the picture. CC Sabathia will have a bad start every now and then, Mark Teixeira will slump and A-Rod will eventually lose a great battle. Yet the players' track records strongly suggest better times shortly ahead.
Thrills and spills! the Mets scream. Jason Bay, not long ago a huge bust, tripled his season home run output by going deep twice off Sabathia. Jose Reyes appears to be waking up. David Wright contributed more positive than negative.
Fittingly for this wacky weekend, we wake up this morning with the Mets (22-23) five games behind the Phillies (26-17) and the Yankees (26-18) six games behind the Rays (32-12).
Back around early February, before spring training began, a Mets official said to me (on condition of anonymity): "This looks like an iffy season for us. 'If we stay healthy, if we get the pitching . . .' "
They've been about as healthy as they could have hoped. Besides Carlos Beltran, the Mets have lost only Ryota Igarashi, John Maine and Jon Niese to the disabled list, and you really can't count Maine as a surprise.
Nevertheless, as Manuel said, "We've got a few guys swinging the bats." The Mets should have something coming from their lineup, so they should be able to win a few high-scoring games.
Manuel didn't get too excited about momentum, as he revived the true cliche about momentum being the next day's starting pitcher.
Mets wins feel all the more satisfying for their fans because of the depths to which they routinely plunge. Yet they should yearn for the day when they don't regard a potential bad week as Armageddon in Flushing.