In a previous post, I compared the fortunes of the Mets and the Yankees as the month of June began. The Mets were 27-27 and the Yankees were 28-27.
A lot has happened since then. At the time, I was looking forward to Joba Chamberlain’s finally starting for the Yankees and to Pedro Martinez’s finally returning to the Mets after nearly two months on the disabled list. As June began, the Yankees seemed to stumble: after Joba’s first start, which last only 2.1 innings, the team’s record was 28-30. Meanwhile, Pedro looked good in his first outing. Joba would eventually find his way, pitching better with each outing. Pedro, on the other hand, would lose his way, looking simply awful in his fourth game back, a 9-0 loss to the Yankees. He found his form again last Saturday against the Rockies, but left after 4+ innings with a slight groin strain. Ominous.
The Yankees started June in 4th place, one game above .500 and 5.5 games out of first in their division. At the All-Star break, they’ve improved to 5 games above .500 at 50-45, but they’re 6 games out of first.
The Mets started June at .500 and 4 games out of first. Their sloppy play led to the firing of manager Willie Randolph and coaches Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto in the middle of the night after the first game of a Western swing. They continued their .500-calibre play for the beginning of Jerry Manuel’s tenure as coach.
And then something happened to the Mets: the players loosened up off the field and tightened their play on the field, and the team reeled off nine wins in a row before the All-Star game. Carlos Delgado found his stroke, Mike Pelfrey found his control, and the reserves and part-time players (subbing for injured starters Ryan Church and Moises Alou) started providing timely hits and big defensive plays. At the break, the Mets are 51-44, 7 games above .500 and only half a game behind the Phillies. General Manager Omar Minaya’s looking like a genius these days.
Despite the ugly 9-0 loss in the fifth game, the Mets ended up winning this year’s Subway Series 4-2.
Meanwhile, Boston has finally overtaken Tampa Bay in the A.L. East., while the two Chicago teams remain atop their respective divisions.
What will the second half hold? Here’s hoping that the baseball races remain close and scintillating — and that the presidential race turns out to be anti-climactic, with Obama opening up a big lead.