Monday, June 21, 2010

Subway Series: Just as it was foreseen

The Mets took two of three from the Yankees at Citi Field, and the Yankees returned the favor at Yankee Stadium this weekend, a series split that gave the Mets a 7-2 road trip that vaulted the club into the Wild Card lead and within three games of first place in the NL East.

That gap was as close as a half game, but the Braves swept the Kansas City Royals while the Mets lost twice in the Bronx. Is there a catchy nickname for when the Braves and Royals face off? Didn't think so.

The Mets didn't manage a win with their top two starters on the mound, as Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana were out-dueled by Phil Hughes and C.C. Sabathia. But having won eight in a row, it's tough to get too down on them.

Pelfrey just didn't have his rhythm against the Yankees, which I imagine would be a problem for most National League pitchers, seeing as how the Yankees take a particularly leisurely approach to the plate. And it's not just the Yankees: American League baseball, with the DH and short fences, looks like slow-pitch softball sometimes compared to the National League, characterized by bigger fields and more of an emphasis on pitching, speed and defense.

Did you see the grand slam by Mark Texeira? A fly out at Citi Field. Sire, Jose Reyes took advantage for two home runs on Saturday, but as the home team the Yankees have many more opportunities to capitalize on the embarrassing dimensions of their ballpark. Jorge Posada recently hit two grand slams — at least one would have landed in an outfielder's glove in Flushing.

As for Santana, he didn't lose the game as much as Sabathia won, shutting down the Mets lineup. You had to feel for Santana, allowing a runner to load the bases on a fielding mishap covering a bunt, only to allow the cheapie slam to Texeira a batter later. Other than that, Santana was good, not great.

Maybe he was good enough to win on another day, but then again, Santana has been great enough to win a few times this season only to come away without the 'W.'

More amusing than the games themselves was the nonsense concerning Reyes and his celebrating, or the comments made by Keith Hernandez about Cervelli's futile attempts to deke runners on base by feigning passed balls.

It's apples and oranges. Reyes celebrates when he does something well, or when his team succeeds. Lots of players do to different degrees. Yankees fans who complain about Reyes should pay attention to themselves when Joba pumps his fist or when Nick Swisher styles.

Cervelli's antics are about deception and what is and is not acceptable. The hidden ball trick works rarely, and is tried rarely. Imagine if you saw that every game. It would become extremely tiresome. Aren't we all professionals here?

What Cervelli does is akin to the hidden ball trick, and perhaps that's what offended Hernandez's sensibilities as a former MLB player. Try it once, okay. Try it again, and again, and it's like, are you kidding me with that? Leave it at the schoolyard. This isn't Little League.

More interleague nonsense coming up this week as the Tigers and Twins visit Citi Field. Meanwhile, the Mets lead the Wild Card standings, when just a couple of weeks ago they were on the fringes of the group. That's progress.

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