January is traditionally a slow month for baseball news. So for the second year in a row, we will showcase other blogs with a series of pinch hitters.
Next up is Mike Silva from New York Baseball Digest.
NY Baseball Digest started out as a radio show and has morphed into a collection of writings by Mike Silva and his team. For his entry, he went with a friendly “what-if” scenario?
Earlier this year, my radio co-host Howard Megdal (author of The Baseball Talmud) and I replayed the 1969 Mets vs. the 1978 Yankees using the popular simulation Strat-O-Matic baseball. The Miracle Mets won that series in six games, thanks in large part to some questionable bullpen management by Bob Lemon. Although this series spurred great discussion, we noticed our contemporary fan base was disconnected from some of the names of the past. Instead of embracing Tommie Agee, Reggie Jackson, and Thurman Munson, they yearned for an ‘86 Mets vs. 90s Yankee dynasty matchup. In January, we will oblige by playing the 1986 Mets vs. 1996 Yankees.
The fun part about this matchup is the pre-game chatter. Hearing what the fans think about each team, who will win, and how the team stacks up historically is often more fun than rlaying the series. The ‘96 Yankees, in my opinion, were the weakest of all the recent New York World Series winners. That is why, just like their ‘69 counterparts, the ‘86 Mets should win in six.
It won’t be easy, mind you. Both teams are pretty balanced on offense, with gritty veterans (Paul O’Neill/Wade Boggs/Ray Knight/Mookie Wilson) and emerging stars (Darryl Strawberry/Derek Jeter/Bernie Williams/Tino Martinez). Both teams can score runs, but often short series come down to pitching and the Mets have that in abundance.
The starting pitching comparison is no contest. David Cone/Andy Pettitte/Jimmy Key is no match for an in-prime Dwight Gooden/Ron Darling/Bobby Ojeda. There is not one matchup that favors the Yankees during the series. The Mets could also utilize Sid Fernandez as a fourth starter/long man in the event any member of their trio gets in trouble.
Fans will probably argue that the Yankees’ deep bullpen will overcome the starting pitching deficit. They are wrong. Most games will see Mariano Rivera and company keeping games close, not holding leads. Remember, this Yankees team has John Wetteland closing games, not The Sandman.
You really can’t give any advantage when it comes to the skipper. Both managers were widely criticized, but underappreciated during their tenures. Davey Johnson knew how to connect with his wild veteran squad, while Joe Torre kept The Bronx from burning.
The computer will settle the debate during the week of January 11th, but the fun part begins now. Statistics will eventually rule, but the fun is discussing the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score. In the end, I believe the 19886 Mets will prevail, due to both starting pitching and mystique. The big question I have: What happens when Strawberry plays the field and is up at bat?
Thanks to Mike for his post. I think the 1996 Yankees will acquit themselves better than he thinks. Coming tomorrow: Mike from High and Tight.