For some bizarre reason, the New York Mets have used the Yankees as the measuring stick for their own success. Never mind the Yankees, the most successful sports franchise in history have over 50 years, hundreds of victories, almost a billion dollars in financial assets and nearly two dozens Hall of Famers on them.
The Mets are obsessed with topping the Yankees in any competition, one-upping them when they can. Who isn't wondering how the Mets will honor Derek Jeter in this Citi Field farewell Thursday? Considering Jeter's numbers against the Mets, perhaps some ownership is in order.
But, let’s not put too much stock into Monday night’s interleague victory over the Yankees at The Stadium. Beating the Yankees is always a noteworthy, if not special event for the Mets and a circle-this-in-red date on their calendar, but not their most important date. Not by a long shot.
It will never be that way for the Mets or Yankees entering the season, or any team for that matter. It will never be the case for a gimmick.
Interleague play has been and will always be a gimmick, devised by commissioner Bud Selig, who longed for his Brewers to play host to the Chicago Cubs, but more importantly, wanted to devise a way for his fellow owners to recoup some of their losses from the 1994-95 work stoppage and killing of the 1994 World Series. The was, of course, instigated by Selig's refusal to bargain in good faith with the Players Association, which the courts subsequently determined.
So, interleague was born.
Initially it was an experiment, However, this is Major League Baseball, which is in its 40th some odd year of the designated hitter experiment.
Interleague play, Selig declared, increased attendance by roughly ten percent at the time it was played, which not surprisingly was after school, when the whether was better and kids were free to go to the games. Talk about a built-in edge; of course attendance would spike.
While this creates an attendance delusion, there remains a performance illusion Selig can't avoid regardless of how he tries to spin matters, which is the integrity or the baseball season, which was 154 game, then 162.
They used to say a baseball season was a marathon, not a sprint. What is it now?
During a marathon, all the runners navigate the same 26-mile course. But that's not the case these days. The Mets once competed with the Braves and Phillies for the NL East title, with each team playing everybody else the same number of times, both home and away. No longer.
How fair is it for the Marlins to play extra games with the Red Sox, including more at Fenway than their own stadium than the Mets do?
It's not fair and therein lies the issue of a lack of integrity of the schedule. There's a further lack of integrity considering the widespread presence of interleague play and with it the unfair implementation of the unbalanced schedule and the designated rule.
***John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball and Professional Sports for over 20 years, including ten years on the Mets and Yankees beats. He currently owns the blog newyorkmetseport.com. He has worked on several book projects and is a Hall of Fame voter.
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