As many of you read this, the fourth game of the World Series looms. Deadlines being what they are, we write this knowing the outcome of only the first two games. It could be that the Yankees now hold a three-games-to-none lead over the Mets and are on the verge of clinching their third straight title with their 16th World Series-game victory in a row. Or maybe the upstart Mets have rallied to win Game 3 with an eye toward extending the series or perhaps winning their first crown since 1986.
For readers in the hinterlands (that is, everyone beyond the New York tri-state area), it may be difficult to appreciate what all the fuss is about. Indeed, from a TV ratings standpoint, a Cardinals-Yankees showdown would have been preferable to what we have before us. The Yankees, being practically perennial champs, are the team America loves to hate; the National League runner-up Cardinals were once the westernmost team in the majors and thus the team of choice for a good part of the country west and south of St. Louis. Mets-Yankees, to put it mildly, simply doesn’t play in Peoria.
So what. This week, New Yorkers will hardly spare a thought for the rest of the country. We’ve got out subway series, the first since the Dodgers and Yankees played in 1956. Forty-four years is a long time. We’ve earned it. The airwaves, radio and TV, are saturated with World Series news. The usually sleepy team clubhouse shops, which sell jerseys, caps and the like, are bursting with patrons. On the subways, in restaurants, at work, New Yorkers are wearing their allegiance proudly.
The 2000 series has already produced some drama for the baseball annals, what with Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens throwing a piece of broken bat in the general direction of the Mets’ Mike Piazza. But for this series to be a truly memorable one, it will have to go seven games. That, of course, would be excruciating for the serious fans. Everyone prefers fast, precise and painless victories by their team. But what if it did go seven? Wouldn’t it make for some great conversation around the hot stove as we wait for pitchers and catchers to report in February?