New York Baseball: The Top 10 Mets and Yankees Stories of 2012

Josh HousmanCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2012

New York Baseball: The Top 10 Mets and Yankees Stories of 2012

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    New York City is the sports media capital of the world. Therefore, it is only fitting that as the baseball season draws to a close, we look back at what the media had to say about the baseball season in New York.

    The Yankees and Mets are drastically different teams that had drastically different seasons in 2012. No matter their records, both always seem to make headlines with controversies, breaking news and other stories. 

    Here's a list of the top 10 stories to come out of the Big Apple during the 2012 baseball season. 

10. The Long Ball

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    The Yankees always seem to hit an incredible number of home runs, but 2012 was otherworldly.

    With one game remaining, the Yankees, led by Curtis Granderson with 41, have hit 241 home runs, just three shy of their single-season team record of 244 in 2009. They have 10 players with double-digit home runs, and if Ichiro Suzuki hits one Wednesday night against the Red Sox, they will have 11. Most other teams don't have more than six. 

    Although reliance on the long ball is perceived by many to be their weakness, the Yankees will have to rely on it to be successful in the playoffs. Which raises the question: How will the Yankees' power and plate discipline hold up in high pressure situations against the league's best pitching?

9. The Fall of Jason Bay

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    In 2009, Jason Bay had a career year with the Boston Red Sox. He hit 36 home runs, drove in 119 runs  and was selected to his third All-Star Game. 

    The following offseason, the Mets offered him the market rate for a left fielder of his stature, a four-year, $66 million contract. Not only has he not lived up to that deal, he has been downright terrible in his three seasons as a Met. 

    In the first two years with the Mets, Bay hit 18 home runs, half of what he hit in 2009 with Boston. Although his first two years were subpar, to say the least, Bay's third year has been another level of bad.

    Although he has been limited by injuries (he has only played in 40 games), Bay has hit a measly .165 this season. GM Sandy Alderson seems to have lost faith in his $66 million man, suggesting in August that he would be platooned for the remainder of the season.

    The Bay signing in the 2009-2010 offseason will surely go down as one of the worst Mets signings in recent memory and possibly of all time. 

8. The Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda Trade

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    While Bay was an awful signing for the Mets, this was arguably the worst personnel move that the Yankees have made in recent memory. Before the season began, GM Brian Cashman jumped at the opportunity to deal the Yankees' top prospect Jesus Montero. In return for Montero and middle reliever Hector Noesi, Cashman received the 22-year-old All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda and promising pitching prospect Jose Campos. 

    Montero was a September call-up in 2011 and had great success with the Yankees, hitting .328 in 61 at- bats. Pineda's 2011 season was stellar as well. He struck out 173 in 171 innings and compiled a 1.10 WHIP.

    But despite having ace potential, Pineda's demeanor guaranteed that this trade would backfire for the Yankees. 

    Montero had a good 2012 campaign and will only continue to improve as he matures as a catcher and at the plate. Pineda, however, came into spring training out of shape and lacked the elite velocity he displayed in 2011. He proceeded to try to make up for this by overthrowing and tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder.

    And if you thought Pineda couldn't do any more damage while recovering from shoulder surgery, you thought wrong. In late August, he showed his immaturity off the field by receiving a DUI.

    Both of these players are young, and Pineda may well be the better player a year from now. But after one season, the Mariners clearly edged the Yankees on this one. 

7. Andy Pettitte's Comeback

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    In January, the Yankees dealt for Michael Pineda and signed Hiroki Kuroda on the same day, bolstering their starting pitching significantly. At the time, who would've thought that we'd see Andy Pettitte in pinstripes this season but not Pineda? 

    Well, that's exactly how it turned out. In March, Pettitte decided to return to the Yankees. At 40 years old, he is not what he used to be. However, he has still played a valuable role this season.

    He has made only 12 starts (because of a freak injury), but has compiled a 2.87 ERA and has won a few big games down the stretch in a tight AL East race. Pettitte's fire and competitive nature are what made him a great pitcher, and that hasn't waned one bit with age. 

    Nick Swisher had this to say about his teammate: 

    Guy takes a full year off. Comes back. Breaks his foot on a crazy play. Has been itching to get back in the lineup for a long time. And once he does, he delivers every single time. Every time he takes that mound, he's locked in out there.

    He summed up Pettitte's career with one word. When asked how he would describe Pettitte, his answer was "fierce.''

6. Matt Harvey's Stellar Debut

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    One of the Mets' major struggles over the past decade has been developing young starting pitching.

    Mike Pelfrey is a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, never having lived up to his front-of-the-rotation promise. Jon Niese is more of a back-of-the-rotation soft-tosser. Jenrry Mejia returned late this season, but was inconsistent and erratic before getting injured. 

    But Matt Harvey came up for 10 starts at the end of the season and didn't fail to impress. He began by breaking the Mets record for strikeouts in a major league debut. For the season, he struck out 70 in 59.1 innings while compiling a 2.73 ERA.

    Mets fans should be encouraged by what they saw from Harvey and hope that he and fellow prospect Zack Wheeler can lead a strong rotation for years to come. 

5. Mariano Rivera's Torn ACL

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    Most baseball teams don't have a player like Mariano Rivera, who makes his difficult job look easy.

    Most scouts would rule out a pitcher who doesn't throw at least two above-average pitches, Rivera throws only a cut fastball. Most pitchers become ineffective in their mid-30s. But Rivera was as good as ever at the age of 42.

    Many relievers struggle with command of their pitches. But Rivera hasn't walked more than 12 batters in a season since 2006. 

    The best closer of all time has spoiled the Yankees over the past 16 seasons. But on a fateful day in Nay Kansas City, the unthinkable happened. Rivera tore his ACL taking fly balls during warmups before a game against the Royals and would miss the rest of the season.

    The Yankees' immortal closer showed a little too much humanity. 

    This should have been a devastating loss for the Yankees, but current closer Rafael Soriano has filled in seamlessly, saving 42 games. 

    Although they have found new bullpen depth, the Yankees are relieved that Rivera has announced that this injury would not end his career. He will be returning next season to reclaim his role as closer and to close out his Hall of Fame career on a high note. 

4. Yankees Get Ichiro

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    In one of the more surprising moves at the trade deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman traded for Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro was not coming to the Yankees to hit lead-off or start every day, but he said he was okay with that

    While Ichiro is not the player he used to be, he's been effective as a replacement for the injured Brett Gardner. He wasn't expected to win a batting title, but he is still a solid hitter who plays stellar outfield defense and runs well.

    Since coming to the Bronx, Ichiro has actually been much better than expected. He is hitting .327 and has stolen 13 bases in 65 games. 

    Aside from the baseball aspect of the deal, trading for Ichiro gave the Yankees one of the biggest global names in the game. That deal has probably repaired any ties they severed with the Japanese community when they parted ways with Hideki Matsui. 

3. Jeter's Rebirth

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    At the end of 2010, many insisted that Yankee shortstop and captain Derek Jeter was on a steep decline and could never again be an elite player. Jeter, who never seemed to agree with that analysis, has proven his critics wrong this season with his bat. 

    In 2010 and before his 3,000th hit in 2011, Jeter looked old, slow and could no longer get his bat around on even average fastballs. After his five-hit day in which he recorded that 3,000th hit, Jeter started putting it together and finished the season strong.

    However, having a good finish is one thing. Maintaining that success over 162 games is another. But Jeter has done just that in 2012, hitting .316 while leading the league in hits with 213. This is his first 200- hit season since 2009, when he finished third in the MVP voting. 

    Like Mariano Rivera, age hasn't eroded Jeter's skills. It seems as if he will continue to redefine what a 38-year-old shortstop can accomplish as he finishes his incredible career.

2. Santana's No-No

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    Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters, none during his time with the Mets. All-time Mets great Tom Seaver threw a no-hitter in his first season away from the Mets. David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Phil Humber, Mike Scott, and Hideo Nomo also threw no-hitters after their time with the Mets. 

    The Mets had become famous for their no-hitter futility, but Johan Santana changed that with 134 pitches on June 2nd, throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals

    Mets fans had been waiting a long time to see this accomplished, and Santana came through. However, it should be noted that despite a stellar start to the year, Santana, who was coming off major shoulder surgery, was a far inferior pitcher for the rest of the season after throwing so many pitches. 

1. R.A. Dickey

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    This might be the best story in all of baseball. Before this season, R.A. Dickey had been injured prospect-turned-knuckleballer who had struggled to find success at the major league level. At the age of 37, it seemed as Dickey's major league career would end with the Mets as it had started with the Texas Rangers, in irrelevance. 

    Nobody could have predicted that 2012 would bring 20 wins, 222 strikeouts, a 2.69 ERA, an All-Star Game appearance and serious Cy Young candidacy. He went on an incredible run in May and June, going 44.2 innings without allowing an earned run. He threw two consecutive one-hitters in June, throwing 18 innings, allowing two hits, no runs and striking out 25 over that span. 

    Dickey has been arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball, winning 20 games for one of the league's most unsuccessful teams. Even more amazing: he accomplished all of this while playing the whole season with an abdominal tear.

    Is there any kind of adversity that this guy can't overcome? He is a deserving No. 1 on the list of top stories in New York baseball in 2012.