At the same time, the Yankees, with their preferred rotation and disabled list resembling each other, needed to exploit a lesser opponent to get themselves righted. That need now is greater after the Mets' 9-7 victory on Monday.
Less filling ... tastes great
The paid attendance at Yankee Stadium, the since-razed one, was 56,188 the first time Yankees played the Mets in the regular season, June 16, 1997. And it seemed that 28,094 -- half the crowd -- were Yankees fans and the other half rooted for the Mets. Steve Jacobson of Newsday described the scene thusly that night: "The House Ruth Built was a house divided."
Chanting began well before the first pitch. Yankees partisans chanted "Let's Go Yankees," sounding like a college football crowd. Mets fans used the cadence they always have used for "Let's Go Mets." And the two sides politely accommodated each other, creating a rhythm.
It was good, there was energy. And seldom since that first Mets-Yankees Interleague game has the energy been so conspicuous in this interborough competition. It was on Monday night.
Nice to hear.
New York, New York
David Cone pitched for both New York teams, as did Al Leiter, Dwight Gooden, Ralph Terry and Dick Tidrow. Darryl Strawberry, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Marv Throneberry, Lee Mazzilli and John Olerud played for both.
And the most beloved of the 122 dual duty guys was at Yankee Stadium on Monday night to watch it all -- Mr. Berra. Lawrence Peter, who turned 89 Monday, was shown on the scoreboard in the third inning, and his birthday was hailed on the board in the fifth.
Folks who supported both sides found something to agree on. Yogi has that kind of influence. He makes everyone around him kinder, gentler and nicer.
Not running well at all
The Mets had scored twice in the seventh inning to move within one run. Daniel Murphy was on first base with two outs. Curtis Granderson, who at that moment had hit 64 home runs in his 898 most recent at-bats at Yankee Stadium, was the batter. And Murphy was caught stealing.
Is there still a website named "Oh, Murph!"?
Just a Jeter reminder
With three hits on Monday night, Derek Jeter increased his career hit total to 3,348, a figure greater than the hit totals of all but seven players in history. Two more hits, and Jeter will move past Carl Yastrzemski. None of that should be taken for granted.
"What would George say?"
George Steinbrenner steadfastly opposed tinkering with the Yankees' traditional uniforms. He laughed when he saw other teams adjust their on-field garb and enjoyed it when the Mets added black to their color scheme.
Former general manager Steve Phillips would smirk and offer no words of resistance when his team -- dressed in black, blue, orange and white in some combination -- opposed the Yankees and someone would ask, "Hey, Steve, which uniform do you think the Yankees are wearing tonight? ... Oh, that's right, they have only one."
"What would George Say?" II
Several former Yankees have noted the boxes piled against the walls of the corridor connecting the clubhouses and suggested the Boss would have never allowed such a collection of cardboard and refuse.
"No way the old man tolerates that," one former Yankee said. "No beards or long hair or cardboard ... or losing."
Lucas Duda initiated two handsome 3-6-3 double plays, including one that ended the ninth inning.
"Hernandez-esque," Ron Darling said afterward. And the Hernandez he referenced, broadcast partner Keith, said, "He was so quick [to second base] on the first one. That made it special. The second one was a tougher play to make, but once he made the stop, you knew the play was going to happen, because [batter Brian] McCann doesn't run well."