(Long Island, NY) The inevitable happened this past week. Both the Mets and Yankees clinched their respective divisions, assuring themselves home field advantage in the Divisional Series. The Mets did it by recording the 27th out in a win against the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium. The Yankees celebrated following a loss to the Blue Jays huddled around a television set in the bowels of a stadium north of the border.
At the end of the season, it all boils down to the same. But who do you think had more fun? It takes some of the sting out of pouring champagne on one another’s head when you couldn’t take of business on your own. The inept Boston Red Sox taking it on the chin from the Minnesota Twins popped the cork for the 26-time World Champion Yankees.
A good question would have been if the Yankees were at home under the same circumstances, would the crowd at the Stadium hung around for the result of the BoSox game? And if they did, would Jorge Posada had sprayed the box seat patrons with the groundskeeper’s hose, a-la Paul Lo Duca?
I’m sure it was elation to win the division any way, even by backing in. Perhaps I am being too critical of the Bronx Bombers. Nine consecutive division titles is a major accomplishment. They are an incredibly talented team who is getting some bodies back before the playoffs. They were my pre-season pick to win it all, and there does not appear to be any reason to change now.
Losing two key players such as Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield for much of the regular season could have been the excuse for a down year. But the Yankees kept pace with the Red Sox all summer long with youngster Melky Cabrera and old friend Bernie Williams picking up the pieces. Mid-season pick-up Aaron Guile did a nice job filling in, as well. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman made two important moves at the July 31st trading deadline, acquiring right fielder Bobby Abreau and starting pitcher Corey Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies and outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Recently, both Matsui and Sheffield have returned from the Disabled List, the latter playing some first base. The Bombers are loaded offensively heading into October. Their biggest question mark is on the starting pitching.
Who’s number one? Chien Ming Wang has been the most consistent starter all season long. Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are grizzled veterans that have done it before. Can they do it again?
And Lidle should get a post-season start, bringing experience with him.
If the Yankees pop the cork in the clubhouse following the World Series, no one will remember how they got in the playoffs. But for now, the Mets had a better celebration.