At 11:57 PM on Saturday night, a fly ball landed in the glove of Mets rightfielder Shawn Green that very well may have signalled something that I have been looking for for a long time. We may have seen a "sea change" or a "changing of the guard" in New York City baseball.
This may very well be where the Mets take back New York in the hearts and minds of New York baseball fans, especially if this is the beginning of a ride to a world championship for the Mets.
October 7, 2006 was simply a phenomenal day for me. In the latter months of baseball's regular season, I said over and over to anyone who would listen that "pitching wins championships" and "whoever pitches better in any postseason series will win."
I was proven right in Detroit on Saturday.
It's now six years and counting for the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers simply outpitched the Yankees the last three games and deservedly won their ALDS series. Over the last few weeks I was getting bloody sick and tired of hearing about the Yankees and their "Murderers Row" lineup and how they were going to beat into oblivion all of their opponents.
Well, The Tigers sure weren't afraid of the Big Bad Yankees, and got simply outstanding performances from Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and the entire Tiger bullpen. They shut the New York offense down completely, while the Yankee pitching, especially from Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright, was downright terrible. When the Yankees swung the Bobby Abreu deal, it simply didn't scare me, as Cory Lidle (also picked up in that deal) is a mediocre pitcher, and just adding another big bat was no guarantee of winning in the postseason. (Wasn't it interesting that Joe Torre was forced to bench both Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield on separate days because of the "vaunted" lineup?)
And of course, everyone's favorite whipping boy, Alex "Slappy" Rodriguez, didn't show up for a second straight postseason, going 1-for-14 in the series. He's now 2-for-29 the last two postseasons, and has not driven in a run in his last 11 postseason games. When I started hearing about rumors the Yankees might move him this winter, I thought it was just a lot of nonsense. Now, I'm beginning to believe that getting out of New York might be best for him. He'll never win here, and I wouldn't be surprised if he went to management and asked to be moved. The press will be absolutely merciless on him the next few days. And he won't be the only one to get the wrath of the New York media.
To further the nightmare for Yankee fans, the Mets swept the Dodgers out of the NLDS with a 9-5 win. The Mets offense is clicking on all cylinders, even if their starting pitching wasn't terrific. They were picked up by a very good job by their bullpen all three games. The Mets now get three days off before meeting their NLCS opponent on Wednesday at Shea.
The Yankees now get relegated to the dustbin, while the Mets get the back pages and go for their third world championship. And for Red Sox fans, today was a day of sheer joy. We went through hell watching the Red Sox fall apart in August and September, while watching their fans and the media pile it on with the usual palaver you'd expect for these muttonheads.
It was a bad 2006 for the Red Sox, but today brought us some joy back. I wore my oldtime Red Sox jacket tonight, with a sense of pride. Thank you to the Detroit Tigers for making that possible, and giving all of us a gift. Red Sox Nation salutes you and your victory.
By the way, do you think those "got postseason" shirts the Yankees and MLB were hawking this week came down in price tonight?