Has Subway Series lost its luster?
Overexposure of Subway Series may have caused fans to lose interest altogether.
The rainy conditions in New York postponed the 119th game of the Subway Series from Monday night into a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday.
Yet, no one would have noticed if the city series took place. Lack of buzz about it permeated through Twitter, local sports channels, sports radio and around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Yankees and Mets seemed indifferent about it.
It could just be that the Subway Series lost its luster for a long time now. It doesn’t seem like it’s the main event anymore unlike when it first started in 1997. Even the local tabloids didn’t put much emphasis on it in Monday’s edition, and it relies on the Yankees and Mets playing each other to sell.
Sure, both teams mention their respective stadiums fill up when the Subway Series starts. Sure, they try to be patronizing about fans having so much pride that the series will not wear off. That could be true, but that means nothing. The Knicks sell out Madison Square Garden despite them stinking, and that’s because tourists fill the arena. It could just be corporates fill the stadium rather than true baseball fans when the Yankees and Mets play each other. Plus, there are people who want to be seen and heard in what to them could be a casual night out in the town.
The Yankees and Mets couldn’t care less about it. To them, it’s a waste of time. They look at the Subway Series as exhibition games where it won’t have an impact on their season. They prefer to play more Western and Central teams from their respective leagues than waste time playing each other.
No one can blame the Yankees for being bored after posting a 69-49 record against the Mets. No one can blame the Mets since there’s really nothing to gain or lose by playing the Yankees. To even say both teams are crosstown rivals is an insult to the word rivalry.
Players such as Dominic Smith, Clint Frazier and Pete Alonso expressed excitement about the Subway Series. It’s their first taste of it, so they want to make their mark of this series.
For newbies such as DJ LeMahieu, Edwin Diaz and others, this is a chance for them to know why the Subway Series was once a big deal.
Other than that, it’s hard to sell anyone about the Subway Series. The players look at these games as nothing more than exhibition games that comes with the 162-game schedule.
The Subway Series proponents mention this is for the fans more than anything. Here’s the problem with that thinking: The fans couldn’t care less anymore. Yankees fans don’t take the Mets seriously enough to get worked up, and Mets fans get tired of watching their team lose to the Yankees year in and year out.
The games define nothing when the Yankees are much better than the Mets when comparing talent from both teams. There’s a reason the Yankees come out on top. The only time the series meant something was in the first four years when both teams were good and when it was a novelty act, and even then, it felt like a mismatch because the Mets had the misfortune of running against those great Yankees teams in the 90s.
The Subway Series reached its peak in 2000 when the Mets played the Yankees in the World Series. Since then, it wore off. Too much overexposure of six games per year killed the whole thing. It does not seem like an event when it takes place every year. Now, it’s just another game on the schedule.
There’s no reason to have the Subway Series every year. This should take place once every four years. Maybe then the uniqueness of the crosstown rivalry come back again. Maybe the players actually can get excited of playing in it. Maybe then the fans will actually care again after losing something good.
The Yankees and Mets can survive without it. The teams won’t lose money if the Subway Series happens once every four years. The fans will be more than fine.
It’s something Major League Baseball must consider.
If it was not for the 1994 strike, the Subway Series in the regular season would not exist. It only happen because baseball struggled to gain audience or getting the fans back, so then-interim MLB commissioner Bud Selig to be invented interleague play to get people to watch the sport. This means teams from the American League would play the National League, and fans would see other players in a different league that they normally wouldn’t see. The teams that play in the same area (i.e. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles-Anaheim, San Francisco-Oakland) was a drawing point to create interleague play.
It was great in the beginning. No one will forget Dave Mlicki leading the Mets to a 6-0 victory by pitching a complete game shutout against the Yankees in the first ever regular season Subway Series game. Matt Franco’s claim to fame was hitting a two-run single of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to give the Mets a 9-8 victory over the Mets. The image of Roger Clemens hitting Mike Piazza in the head stands out the most in the Subway Series. The inexplicable came when then-Mets manager Bobby Valentine somehow decided to use Mel Rojas to face Paul O’Neill with two men on base, and not surprisingly, O’Neill homered to give the Yankees the lead and eventually win.
But all of this was a long time ago.
Things change after awhile. Everything becomes ancient. Fans evolve to want something else.
It just could be the Subway Series outlived its usefulness.