'From the Pressbox'
By Ernie Palladino
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The term "Subway Series" used to mean something once upon a time.
It signified an intra-city World Series battle. Yankees-Giants, Yankees-Dodgers. Something real. Something to truly get the blood flowing and the bar room tempers flaring.
There was something pure about those games. The teams had never seen each other in the regular season. They met fresh, and winning the World Series was an exercise in execution and adjustment.
Those days are long gone. Thanks to the infinite wisdom of those who run baseball, interleague play has become part of the fabric of every season. There is a good chance every year that the champions of the American and National League will have met for six regular-season games, which means any form of mystery that existed in the old days has vanished, along with the charm of it all.
COUTINHO: Still plenty of juice in Subway Series
No less than Joe Torre, then manager of the Yankees, went on record as saying he hated interleague play. Oh, he recognized the box office value of pitting two local teams against each other. For evidence of that, just watch the Mets put up capacity numbers when the Yanks take their turn at Citi Field June 22-24.
Torre was right. For the most part, the games are met with a big yawn -- does anyone really want to pay to see the Yanks play the Reds?
But then there are the little local rivalries; the White Sox vs. Cubs, Angels-Dodgers, Rangers-Astros. Those are the handful of games that fill the stadiums.
All of which brings us to today, the start of this artificial rivalry between the Mets and Yankees. Expect that Yankee Stadium will be filled with breathless rooters of the pinstripes who think 2012 won't be a success unless the best power-hitting team in the majors waxes a plucky, though deeply flawed Mets team.
The airwaves are filled with contrasting voices, some claiming the upcoming series will mean more to the Yanks, who vaulted into second place by beating the Rays Wednesday night. Others claim it's more important to the Mets, who would love to put another win or two in front of R.A. Dickey's masterful 3-1 win in Washington yesterday that snapped a three-game losing streak.
The truth is that it means little for either team. See, baseball would have been better off scheduling a bunch more divisional games than these interleague things, even if it mean doing away with the local rivalry games.
But we all know another four Yankees-Orioles series wouldn't pull like the Mets. It's the fans who will pay top dollar for games that have minimal effect on a season who make it possible.
So what we're left with today is the beginning of a six-game set divided over the next two weeks that really won't affect the respective participants' season one way or another. Interleague games don't define a season. League and division games do.
But by all means, enjoy the Johan Santana-Hiroki Kuroda matchup tonight, to be followed by Dillon Gee-Phil Hughes tomorrow and Jon Niese-Andy Pettitte Sunday if interleague play is your thing.
This guy would rather wait for the World Series and hope the pennant winners managed to avoid each other before then.
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