For over 10 years now, the Mets and Yankees have been playing two series against each other during regular-season play. While interleague play has become a great opportunity for teams who rarely get to play against each other to meet head to head, it has deviated from that original plan considerably, most notably in New York.
Concentrating on the Mets, they are obviously a top-market team, along with the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs etc. These large markets have become problematic, as these teams are forced to play more high-profile teams every year. For instance, the Mets last year played every playoff team from the American League in their interleague series. This also included playing their cross-town rivals, the Yankees, not once, but twice.
The competition and excitement between the Mets and Yankees during these two series are nonetheless unbelievable every year, although most fans of both teams would probably like to see this idea be scrapped. It has become more of a burden on each of the teams, especially for the perennial underdog Mets.
Fighting for the back page of the local papers is one thing, but it has come to the point where the fans are hoping their team doesn’t lose, rather than treating these games as necessary wins essential to their respective playoff races.
While the Mets and Yankees face off this weekend, the Phillies have the incredibly daunting task of playing the Blue Jays. The Red Sox are playing the Brewers, and the first-place Marlins are playing the Royals.
It compounds in the fact that the schedule makers probably assumed the Marlins would not contend this year. So they obviously felt it was OK for two bad teams to play each other. The good teams are then left over to play each other. Being that the Marlins have gotten off to such a great start, there is an obvious advantage for them. The Mets can’t get out of their own way, and yet they are now faced with additional, unnecessary pressure.
Although the Yankees are struggling, just as the Mets are, this series becomes more difficult than it should be. The Mets should be focusing on catching up to the Phillies, who will undoubtedly take off with this division if they are given the chance.
The fact is that the Mets have been forced to play much more challenging games over the past couple of years, especially when compared to their fellow division rivals. It’s safe to say the Mets will never have a year where they play the Blue Jay, Orioles, Rangers, and Royals. That schedule is reserved for the Marlins, or maybe the Phillies.
The other teams in the division do not have rivals in the American League East. There is no legitimate reason that they should. It just seems unfair that the Mets are forced to play rivalry games for the sake of selling more five-dollar hot dogs and having increased and unnecessary media coverage.
It’s time the schedule makers start thinking about these factors. Good ideas on paper sometimes don’t have the greatest effects in the season.
Overall, there is too much pressure on both the Mets and Yankees to win this weekend. However, it’s for all the wrong reasons. Both teams are struggling, and they really should not have to deal with all the intangibles of a subway series.
The Braves and Phillies don’t have to worry about that this weekend, or next month for that matter, when we do it all over again. If the Mets have to do this twice a year, then the other teams in the NL East should have to play the the Red Sox and Yankees, too.