Don’t even think about saying the Mets have been cured completely of their June swoon just yet. And don’t even think about saying the Cubs have been broken back to the land of the mere mortals just yet. But it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that a weekend sweep of the Cubs gave the Mets their first serious medicinal break of the year. And we use the term “medicinal” advisedly.
Time alone will determine whether the Mets and the Cubs develop a history between them comparable to that between the Yankees and the Red Sox for so many decades. Neither team wants to think about things like that right now.
The Mets want to think about preparing for and even winning the World Series. The Cubs want to think about how they’ve still got a brighter immediate future now than their own arduous history or their dispatch from this postseason suggest. Neither thought is entirely untenable.
When the Oakland Athletics dealt for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, there were those ready to hand the World Series rings to them on a platinum platter. And there were those others, myself included, who cautioned not to do it just yet. Not that it stopped them, especially after the A’s landed Jon Lester out of Boston.
Eons ago, an anonymous Brooklyn Dodgers executive crowed when the club dealt for Chicago Cubs outfielder Andy Pafko, in June 1951, “Gentlemen, we have just traded for the pennant.” Pafko would provide the Dodgers some much-needed additional pop with 35 runs batted in and eighteen home runs in 84 games, in a season in which he was 3.2 wins above a replacement-level player overall.
With righthander Jason Hammel getting the ball for the Baltimore Orioles in Game Five, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi—somehow managing to continue shepherding his men despite the loss of his father last weekend—has had to make a second from-the-gut ruling regarding Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod won’t be in the starting lineup Friday afternoon.
“It is difficult,” Girardi told reporters Friday, after informing Rodriguez he’d sit against Hammel while Eric Chavez would play third and Game Three bombardier Raul Ibanez would be the designated hitter. “He has meant a lot to the organization, the game of baseball over the years. And he has been a very productive hitter. But he struggled against right-handers in the series, and Chavy has been good against right-handers all year long.”