The New York Yankees don’t have too many concrete rivals other than the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps the only other full-time rival the Yankees really have is their crosstown adversaries, the New York Mets. The competitive history between these two teams only dates back 21 years to 1997, when inter-league play was first invented.
The Yankees have gone 72-48 against the Mets in 120 all-time meetings, including the postseason. However, both teams have gotten some good shots in over the years, and there has never been a shortage of entertainment. Even now, with the Mets in last place, the games feature a bevy of big-name players. The Amazin’s, for instance, will send Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to the mound against the Bombers.
Before first pitch, let’s take a look at some of the best moments between the Yankees and Mets in their fight for New York domination.
The Mets Strike First
It may have just been the first game of many, but the Mets had always been seen as the Yankees’ little brothers. Thus, it was satisfying for the Mets faithful to see journeyman Dave Mlicki outduel Andy Pettitte in a 6-0 complete game shutout. The Yankees would win the season series, but the Mets emerged victorious in the very first game, something that can never be taken away.
Roger Clemens vs. Mike Piazza
Duking it out for the right to reign New York naturally brings out the fiery side of any competitor, but Roger Clemens may have taken it too far against the Mets. Mike Piazza was Queens’ big star, and he also had Clemens’ number. So when Clemens beaned Piazza in 2000 one month after a big grand slam, there was reason to believe there was some intent behind it.
The duo would meet again on the grandest stage of all, the World Series, in that same year. In Game Two, Clemens got Piazza to break his bat on a foul ball that found the seats. Clemens though, picked up a shard of the bat and threw it towards Piazza, claiming he thought it was the ball. It was an ugly look for Clemens, even though he threw eight shutout innings in the win.
Two years later, Mets pitcher Shawn Estes threw behind Clemens while he was at-bat, and later homered off of Clemens. He also threw seven scoreless innings in an 8-0 Mets victory. Was it justice? Well, the Yankees won the most important games in the World Series, but the Mets certainly got under Clemens’ skin.
The 2000 World Series
With the Yankees looking to finish off a three-peat of championships, it was only fitting they’d have to beat their Queens-based nemesis to cap it off. The Yankees took the first and only Yankees-Mets Fall Classic in five games, but all of the games were tight. Derek Jeter had a series for the ages, one that would earn him the World Series MVP.
Jeter started by throwing out Timo Perez in Game One, a contest that would end after almost five hours with a Yankees win. Clemens shut down the Mets in Game Two, but the Mets made it interesting by winning game three with two consecutive home games coming up.
Jeter changed all of that, though, by leading off Game Four with a home run off of Bobby Jones, giving the Yankees the edge they’d need to bounce back. They won Game Four and Game Five, clinching their 26th World Series championship.
Regular Season Craziness
The mid-2000s also saw some zany regular season contests between the rival teams. In 2005, light-hitting Mets reliever Dae-Sung Koo laced a double versus Randy Johnson against all odds, and later scored on an equally unlikely, aggressive, and skillful show of baserunning. One year later, David Wright completed a comeback win with a walk-off single off of Mariano Rivera in perhaps his greatest individual moment in the rivalry.
But nothing could top Luis Castillo’s infamous dropped pop-up in 2009. With Alex Rodriguez up and the tying and winning runs on base, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez got the Yankee third baseman to pop up a ball in the infield, seemingly ending the game. Unfortunately for the Mets, Castillo inexplicably dropped the ball, allowing Jeter and Mark Teixeira to score, as the Yankees walked off the Mets in a victory that will never be forgotten.
While the rivalry has cooled down a bit in recent years, there were still some great moments all the same. Mariano Rivera notched his 500th career save and first RBI in the same game versus the Mets in 2009, and received a memorable All-Star Game sendoff in Queens in 2013. Although 2012 Mets’ closer Frank Francisco was nowhere near the pitcher Rivera was, that didn’t stop him from calling the Yankees “chickens.” While Francisco did get the save in the game, it just added fuel to the Yankees-Mets fire.
After the Mets made it to the World Series in 2015 and the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2016, there was talk that New York had become a Mets town. The Yankees set the record straight in 2017, sweeping the Mets. And hey, if it wasn’t for Citi Field hosting the Tampa Bay Rays against the Yankees during Hurricane Irma, we wouldn’t have been blessed with “Thumbs-Down Guy,” a diehard Mets fan who gave the 2017 Yankees their rally cry.
So many great players have played for both New York teams, including Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Orlando Hernandez and Carlos Beltran. Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra and Willie Randolph were all coaches or managers for both teams as well. New York has always been a great baseball city, and the Big Apple will surely be watching intently as the Yankees and Mets meet again in 2018 to battle for Subway-Series supremacy.