Finally out of the cave, ready to talk some Mets, or Buffalo Bisons, baseball. Maybe about Beltran’s return, or Maine’s short outing tonight (3 IP, 1 Earned Run in essentially a spring training start), or Reyes’s emotional response to critics questioning his desire to come back this season.
I want to come back, but i keep seeing 3 numbers in my head. Numbers 2,721, 4 and the number 2.
It’s been covered all over Nationally and especially locally over the past week leading up to and following Jeter’s breaking Lou Gehrig’s mark. And I couldn’t stand it.
Now, just for background purposes, you should be aware I am not a Yankee-hating type of Met fan. Unless the Mets face them in Interleague, or they face an NL East opponent, or fight for the same free agent/trade target, I am indifferent to their existence.
I don’t like the obnoxious Yankee fan who seems to get more joy out of the Mets losing than the Yanks winning, but the regular Yankee fans are fine. I have more friends who are Yankee fans than Met fans, and often I find them to have insights on the Mets that I don’t since they do not have the emotional connection.
Yet the Jeter record still bothered me. Looking around the internet at various chats and boards about the Mets, I was not the only one.
The question of “Why?” remains. He took over a Yankee record. Not an MLB record. He has a long way to go before he gets to Pete Rose, and I doubt his body will hold out enough for him to make it.
After a while it hit me. After such a long, arduous, and literally painful Met year, this was another reminder of what we want the Mets to be.
No matter how much they differ, people will always compare the two teams. It does not matter the Yankees history, the fact that they are a worldwide brand while the Mets are a national brand, or the differences in wealth between the perspective owners. It doesn’t matter the borough each team plays in, or where the fans primarily come from.
As long as both teams have an NY on their caps, they will always be compared. As well as the players.
The Mets do not have a Lou Gehrig, and chances are they never will. Gehrig is arguably one of the best players in history. Had he not contracted ALS, later known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it is possible he may have broken some of Babe Ruth’s power records as well.
The crux though is Jeter. Any fan who is now in their late to mid 20’s does not remember 1986. Does not remember when the Mets were on top of the world. What they do remember is a young rookie in 1996 helping the Yankees win the championship. They remember that kid turning into an All-Star, being an important cog in a dynasty in the Bronx.
The Met fan doesn’t see him fail. We do not follow him like we do our own team, so the reputation and the hardware is what we care about.
In 2003 the Mets called up their own home grown shortstop prodigy in Jose Reyes. A year later, they called up David Wright. As they grew many Met fans made comparisons to the Yankees star. Jose Reyes, for his position, defense and unique skills. David Wright, for his poise, personality, and similar style with more power. Some went about saying they were better, especially in 2006, citing age and other factors.
Then the Mets lost a heartbreaking Game 7 to the eventual World Champions St Louis Cardinals. Then came the Collapse of 2007, and the sequel in 2008. Finally, the Lost Season of the Mets in 2009 to open the new park.
While the Mets young stars faded during the year, the Yankees star opened their new stadium to what appears to be another AL east title. Jeter has not done it alone, like the Mets didn’t lose because of Reyes or Wright alone.
Yet seeing Derek Jeter reach new heights again, his team on top again, and now seeing his name in connection to an all-time great, it is yet another reminder on how LOW things are with the Mets. How far away they are from having this type of Legacy.
This is not to say they may not win it all next year. In the few games just having Beltran back you can see how much different the lineup and defense is without him. A little health, a few smart moves for pitching, shore up the defense, you never know. Don’t expect any consistency from the organization like the Yankees though in the next few years. That is something that can only be learned in time, and the Mets nor their fan base have the patience for it.
It is unfair to compare the Yankees and Mets. It is unfair to compare Wright to Jeter. As long as there is an NY on the cap though, it comes with the territory. The Mets and their homegrown duo have to find a way to get past it. I don’t think they can, but baseball is all about hope.
Congratulations Derek Jeter on breaking the Yankees hit record and cementing your name with one of Baseball’s best.
David Wright and Jose Reyes: get better, get healthy for 2010. Ignore the comparisons if you can. At least you two don’t have a Lou Gehrig to try to measure up to.
Posted by Robert Z