Another Subway Series is upon us, which means we'll need some type of preview. In just about any kind of matchup we attempt, the New York Yankees will come out on top, as the Bombers just have (and have had) more talent than the New York Mets. We can go the historical route, and we'll find that the Yankees are leading the Mets in all-time regular-season interleague play, with a 45-33 record, including a 2-1 mark this season. The Bombers, of course, won the only World Series matchup between the two teams, in 2000. And the Yanks even won the old Mayor's Trophy series, with a 10-8-1 record from 1963 to 1983.
There's not much of a point in doing one of those head-to-head position-player matchups, so we'll cut right to the chase: The Mets will come out on top in only two of those, at shortstop with Jose Reyes and right field with Carlos Beltran (well, maybe three, at catcher, as well). Baseball games aren't won by positional matchups anyway, but do we need to go into detail why Mark Teixeira is better than Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda at first base? Fielding-wise, the Yankees easily lead the way at the corner infield spots. When Ruben Tejada is manning second base for the Mets, they have the edge at second and short. The weakest link of the six starting outfielders is Nick Swisher (though he's having a not-so-bad year out there), but the two teams are pretty even, strong in center and average to above-average in the corners. And catching is probably close to even, as well, with neither team quite featuring Johnny Bench behind the plate.
Bullpens? Mariano Rivera and David Robertson are more of a sure thing than Francisco Rodriguez and Jason Isringhausen in the late innings, and the middle relievers for both teams don't inspire a lot of confidence. With no CC Sabathia in the upcoming series, starting pitching is where the Mets may have a slight edge or are at least even with their big brother. On Friday, the matchup is Ivan Nova against Jon Niese. Niese's 3.67 ERA and 1.35 WHIP trump Nova's 4.26/1.45, so advantage goes to the Mets. Saturday pits Bartolo Colon (probably) vs. Dillon Gee. Gee's 3.32 ERA and 1.18 WHIP are slightly above Colon's 3.10/1.07, but with the aging Yankee coming off the DL without a rehab start, who knows how he'll fare? And Sunday has Freddy Garcia (3.28/1.31) facing R.A. Dickey (3.77/1.36). This one may be a wash, but should certainly be fun watching the two wily pitchers battle it out. And lastly, what about the managers? While neither Joe Girardi nor Terry Collins have the in-game acumen of a Bobby Valentine, Collins has his team overachieving and is putting his stamp on the Mets, while Girardi's team is just doing what they're supposed to do, nothing more or nothing less, so Collins is the winner.
But all of those comparisons are on paper. When the two teams take the field against each other anything can happen. And anything usually does happen. Dave Mlicki can pitch a complete-game shutout. The Mets can get walkoff wins against Mariano Rivera, with a sub (Matt Franco) or a star (David Wright) being the hero. Rivera himself can drive in a run with a bases-loaded walk. Carlos Delgado can rack up nine RBIs in one game. The Yankees can win a game on a dropped pop-up. And something we've never seen before will probably take place this weekend. Whatever the records of the two teams coming into a series (and both of them are coming into this one red hot -- 52 runs in four games for the Mets? Who saw that coming? Though the Mets ran into a brick wall named Justin Verlander on Thursday), the games seem to exist in a vacuum -- slumps are broken, good players make bad plays and bad players have games of a lifetime. We'll borrow a quote former Astros, Cardinals and A's pitcher Joaquin Andujar because it could have been said about any Subway Series that has taken place the past decade-plus, "There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.'"