The New York crosstown rivalry has been quite lackluster over the past few seasons. But when the Yankee introduced former Met Carlos Beltran as their newest member, it was the latest attack in a war of words between the two teams.
After his introductory press conference on December 20, Beltran spoke to members of the print media. He was asked about being back in New York City. Let's just say that it opened a can of worms.
“A lot of people have the misunderstanding I didn't enjoy New York,” Beltran said, per John Harper of New York Daily News. “They’re wrong. It’s just that when you don’t win, everything is a failure.”
Harper noted that Beltran then went even further. "The organization tried to paint me as a bad apple,” Beltran said. Such cases included when Beltran had knee surgery in 2011, which the Mets objected to, and when he missed an event to visit wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2010.
“But when somebody’s trying to hurt you in a personal way, trying to put things out there that are not me, then we have trouble," Beltran told Harper. "Now it’s personal."
Mets management, the group that signed him to a seven-year deal worth $119 million back in 2005, really hurt Beltran. But the Mets did not want to comment on it. Still, Beltran is the latest player to take shots against his former New York team.
When he was introduced as a New York Met on December 10, Curtis Granderson made a casual remark that upset the Yankees and their fans. "A lot of the people I've met in New York have always said true New Yorkers are Mets fans," Granderson claimed. "So I'm excited to get a chance to see them all out there." (The quote can be found at the 4:55 mark in the below video.)
According to David Brown of Yahoo! Sports, Granderson is a nice guy who doesn't say a lot of controversial things. Brown even found it funny that Granderson would be the one to start a "verbal flare."
Of course, the Yanks did not find it funny. General manager Brian Cashman responded to Granderson's statement while at Beltran's press conference.
Cashman started off cordial. "We've had a lot of success, as you all know. George Steinbrenner and his family have had the chance to take some players that have been premier players across town with the New York Mets," Cashman said at the 3:27 mark in the below video. "Later in their careers, they have come over here to continue their successful runs as major league players."
But then Cashman gave his own little nonchalant jab at Granderson and the Mets. Heard at the 3:50 mark, he said that Beltran would "join the baseball side of town here in the Bronx."
But what does all this mean? Well, interleague play just got a whole lot more interesting. Granderson and Beltran are both outfielders who hit exceptionally well. Look for New Yorkers to trash talk one another over the next season or two in terms of which player is better.
There is also the general bragging rights of the city. For example, it won't matter if one team or the other is six games below .500; when the Mets and Yankees play each other, there is a high degree of competitiveness as they fight for the city of New York.
If both teams start out their season miserably, the chances of a heated rivalry will decline substantially. Think of it as a fall 2013 showdown between the Knicks and Nets. So, fingers crossed that both teams play well enough to feature some drama next May. And I'm looking at you guys specifically, Granderson and Beltran.