NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches to Vinny Rottino #33 of the New York Mets during their game on June10, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
In the previous 15 years of Subway Series history, the New York Mets have won the season series twice. In those other 13 years, the New York Yankees won seven times and there have been six ties. But every year, the Mets and their fans hope for a different outcome, hope that things will finally break their way, as they uncharacteristically did in 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately, it's like wishing that nightfall will never come or hoping that the earth will stop revolving around the sun or that the laws of nature will somehow change. But, of course, the sun always sets and the laws of nature remain intact, and like those inevitable facts, the Yankees usually prevail over the Mets.
Maybe it happens as it did in Friday's opener, with a flat-out 9-1 shellacking. The Mets came into the game looking like this may be their year, and they had the biggest story of the New York season on the mound, with Johan Santana coming off his exhilarating no-hitter. But his New Yankee Stadium woes continued, as he coughed up four home runs (two by Robinson Cano), while his counterpart, Hiroki Kuroda, was the one with no-hit stuff, only allowing an Omar Quintanilla double before leaving the game after getting nailed in the foot by a Daniel Murphy line drive (which, of course, popped into the air and fell into Alex Rodriguez's glove). Terry Collins commented on both pitchers: "I've seen Mr. Kuroda for a while -- I've seen him in Japan and I've seen him here -- and this is the best I've ever seen him pitch. This was the best command of his stuff I've ever seen, so he pitched pretty good against us." And on his own starter: "I was responsible for the way he pitched tonight. He was rusty. That's my fault."
Or maybe it happens as it did in Saturday's 4-2 loss, with Dillon Gee fighting through a first-inning bases-loaded jam by getting Raul Ibanez to hit into a double play, the Mets taking the lead on David Wright and Quintanilla solo home runs and appearing as if they would have a low-scoring, hard-fought win. But a hanging curveball to Mark Teixeira disappeared over the wall for a two-run homer and the lead went with it.
Or maybe it happens as it did in Sunday's 5-4 finale, with the Mets jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning (but leaving the bases loaded), only to lose the lead on a combination of bad fielding, bad relief pitching and the Little League-like dimensions of Yankee Stadium, then coming back in gritty, never-give-up 2012 Met style in the top of the ninth on a slumping Ike Davis double, only to lose the game on more bad relief pitching with one more hanger being hit over the fence, this time (and for the second time in the game) by the previously slumping Russell Martin.
It can happen a plethora of ways, but the Yankees usually defeat the Mets, as they've done 52 times in 87 games. And they did it again this past weekend. But the Mets and their fans will be there, hoping once again that the natural order of things will actually change, when the two teams meet again next weekend. And there's nothing wrong with a little hope -- but a better performance from the bullpen would help, too (and they got a head start down in St. Petersburg).
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Just a Little Short: When it was all said and done, the New Jersey Devils were just a footnote in the Los Angeles Kings' Cinderella run to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory. The Devils made things interesting but Los Angeles was the team with the magic, as they became the first eighth seed to ever win a title. In Game 5's 2-1 win, New Jersey was outplayed by the Kings but the Devils outscored them, but in Game 6, the Kings out-everythinged the Devils, winning 6-1. Steve Bernier's reckless hit was the game-changing play, and once they were down 3-0, the Devils unraveled and became unglued; their much-vaunted discipline disappeared, as they took a string of misconducts, and Martin Brodeur ran out of steam, letting in five goals. But New Jersey lasted longer than anyone expected, making an exciting, unexpected run for the Cup -- only, their feel-good story was two pages shorter than the Kings' Hollywood-penned fairy tale. Now what, though? What happens to Brodeur? Where does Zach Parise wind up? Will the team's ownership issues be solved? As long as they have Lou Lamoriello running things, though, the Devils will always be in good hands.
They're No. 1: Once they took care of the Mets, the Yankees kept on rolling with three more wins, this time over the Atlanta Braves (and the two New York teams helped each other out with interleague series sweeps). Their starting pitching was solid to great (CC Sabathia lasted seven innings giving up four runs, Kuroda went six innings allowing two runs and Ivan Nova threw seven shutout innings), their bullpen was flawless (Rafael Soriano recorded his 100th career save) and their offense can't help but hit home runs, with Raul Ibanez blasting one on Monday, Alex Rodriguez hitting a game-tying grand slam (which tied Lou Gehrig for first place on the all-time list, with 23) and Nick Swisher following with a two-run dinger for the winning runs on Tuesday and Curtis Granderson belting a two-run homer to win Wednesday's game. The Yankees lead the majors in home runs, with 96, and after winning nine of their last 10 games, they have the best record in the American League.
Like Eating Soup With a Fork: There was no carryover negativity from the Yankee series for the Mets -- Terry Collins (who was named to the coaching staff of the NL All-Star team) just won't let his team get down on themselves. And they have R.A. Dickey -- whose performance on Wednesday was the highlight of the series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The only person articulate enough to describe the other-worldly pitching of the knuckleballer is Dickey himself: "I always try to be consistent. That means a lot to me, to be consistent and trustworthy. And it makes me feel good that my team feels like they've got a chance to win every time out. The streaks and the special things that happen along the way are just the manifestation of that, of wanting to be consistent and wanting to be really good at my craft. I still have a passion for it. I'm still looking for things to do with the knuckleball." Dickey was two plays away from a perfect game in the 9-1 win, throwing his second one-hitter and the team's 36th. He struck out a career-high 12 batters (without a walk) and broke Jerry Koosman's franchise record, with 32.2 scoreless innings (in the midst of Koosman's streak in 1973, by the way, he threw a 10-inning complete-game shutout, outdueling Juan Marichal, who also went the distance, with the Mets beating the San Francisco Giants 1-0 on a Felix Millan single). Dickey was the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins, he has a 2.20 ERA, with a 0.94 WHIP, and has 90 strikeouts in 90 innings with only 19 walks. The Mets also won on Monday, 11-2, with Ike Davis blasting a three-run homer and is now 8-for-14 in his last five games, with five walks, a home run, two doubles and seven RBIs. On Thursday, Santana's no-hit hangover continued, but he was bailed out by Jon Rauch, who cleaned up a bases-loaded, no-out situation for the starter, along with the offense (who scored 29 runs in the three-game sweep), keyed by two Kirk Nieuwenhuis home runs, in the 9-6 win. Even Jason Bay, who's attempting to break out of his 239-game slump, homered.
Not Once, Not Twice, But Thrice: Last Friday the New York Giants visited the White House and presented the President with the requisite Big Blue jersey, and Tom Coughlin gave a memorable speech, including this stirring quote: "A few short years ago, I said I hoped this experience was not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Now I'm saying I hope, Mr. President, it's not a twice-in-a-lifetime experience." In other news, Jake Ballard was waived, seemingly nothing but a formality, but Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots surprisingly claimed the tight end -- was it petty revenge for their last two Super Bowl losses to the Giants? And David Diehl wins the Bonehead of the Week Award for his DUI on Sunday after watching a soccer game in an Astoria, Queens, bar. At least he was contrite in the aftermath and heartily apologized for his misdeed.
Mini-News From Mini-Camp: News out of the New York Jets mini-camp involved Darrelle Revis making waves about a new contract once again, as well as Dustin Keller hoping for a new deal now that he's in the final year of his rookie contract. Santonio Holmes was limited in practice with hamstring tightness. And Tim Tebow has bulked up and took a few non-wild cat snaps with the first team, which now qualifies as news.
I've Had Enough: I'll Have Another unexpectedly retired on Friday, claiming he wanted to spend more time with his family (ok, he had a tendon injury). His withdrawal from the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes threw a bucket of cold water on the Triple Crown possibilities. But 85,811 spectators still showed up -- a Belmont record for a non-Triple Crown race -- and witnessed an exciting race, as winner Union Rags made a late charge, squeezing through an opening on the rail and passed Paynter, who was leading from the start. Atigun finished third, and late favorite Dullahan came in seventh.
Another Cinderella Story: Stony Brook has qualified for the College World Series for the first time ever, as their rags-to-riches story goes all the way to Omaha. The Seawolves begin their path to possible glory on Friday, when they play UCLA. Can they be college baseball's version of the Los Angeles Kings? Or the next Fresno State, who was the first No. 4 seed to reach the World Series back in 2008, and went on to win it all?
June 15: Friday is June 15, and there are plenty of present and former Yankees and Mets celebrating a birthday: Andy Pettitte, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Mendoza, Wade Boggs, Tony Clark, Ken Henderson and Brett Butler. June 15 also happens to be baseball's old trade deadline, which means the Mets made one of the worst and one of the best trades in franchise history on this date: In 1977, the Mets sent Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Steve Henderson, Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman. But six years later, they swindled the St. Louis Cardinals out of Keith Hernandez, which changed the course of the franchise forever, on the field and now in the broadcast booth.
Happy Father's Day: And finally, as the great Ralph Kiner once said: "On Father's Day, we again wish you all happy birthday."
And that's the New York week that was.