Opening Day has come and gone — for the Yankees at least. The offense looked bleak to start the year, as the only runs were produced off of Gary Sánchez’s bat with his two-run bomb. Obviously, there’s no need to bat an eye after one game. The pitching looked solid, and they’ll take the field again tomorrow, as Corey Kluber makes his Yankees debut.
However, this article won’t be about how the Yanks looked on Opening Day, or how El Kraken owns a .667 batting average through one game. What we’re going to discuss is something that happened prior to Opening Day, and, well, needed to happen before Opening Day. That would be how Francisco Lindor’s massive extension with the New York Mets could help light a fire under the Subway Series “rivalry” between the two Big Apple-based teams.
Not so long ago, the Yankees and Mets had some fierce confrontations with each other. They were both good enough in 2000 to meet each other in the Fall Classic. We even really once witnessed Roger Clemens throw a broken bat at Mike Piazza in the first at-bat between the two since Clemens drilled him in the head earlier that season, which caused a concussion. The tension continued until Clemens left the Yankees in 2004.
Since then, not much drama has ensued between the two teams. Sure, there have been memorable moments here and there, but the teams haven’t always been playoff-caliber at the same time. Something that stands out to me is the little altercation between Mark Teixiera and Mets’ pitchers in 2016. He hit a home run off of Steven Matz and then Matz drilled him in his next plate appearance. Later that game, Hansel Robles accused Tex of stealing his signs — much to the first baseman’s amusement.
Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet this past decade.
However, with the Mets’ new billionaire owner Steve Cohen — in addition to their star shortstop Lindor and his 10-year, $341 million contract — both the Yankees and Mets are projected to win their divisions and possibly make deep postseason runs. The Yankees will always be New York’s team in their iconic nature, but the Mets are making a name for themselves with Cohen at the helm.
The Yanks and Mets come into 2021 with high expectations and that will only benefit their rivalry. From the broader sense, we can look at the two squads fighting for the New York spotlight, but we can even dig a little deeper and consider how certain individuals on these teams may react.
The face of the New York Yankees is unquestionably Aaron Judge. For the Mets, it’s looking like it’s already Lindor. If you ask around, I’m sure everyone would tell you that Judge and Lindor are two of the nicest people in the league. After all, Lindor’s nickname is “Mr. Smile.” It’s highly doubtful that the two of them go at each other, but whether they intend it or not, they will be competing against each other to be the face of New York baseball. It’s not necessarily a rivalry on the field, but the New York media will make it one, just how they did with Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom.
Players aside, I think we could also see competition between ownerships. The Steinbrenners are not only a famous name in the state of New York, but throughout baseball. Obviously, Cohen has already made his presence known within the league and has shown that he’s not afraid to spend his money. Is Hal Steinbrenner going to let a hedge fund manager and newbie bust the door down and run New York? Or will this cause the Yankees to flex their muscles even more when it comes to contracts in order to prolong their “big brother” status over the Mets? Imagine what it would look like if the two of them were in a bidding war for a free agent? Maybe it’s a pipe dream for Hal to spend even a tad irrationally, but hey, sign me up for that!
It would be amazin’ (see what I did there?) for the game of baseball to have this crosstown rivalry have its flame reignited. Two superb ballclubs from the greatest city in the world fighting for the spotlight is something to dream about. Think about all the other major New York sports. None of them stack up to the level of excellence that the Yankees and Mets could be in 2021. Both clubs have put their chips in for this season and it could revive the antipathy they have for each other, especially if they see each other in late October.