Jeter could do without inter-league play
As successful as he has been in his career against the Mets, Derek Jeter might be expected to prefer playing them more than less. What is even weirder is that Jeter would rather not play them during the regular season at all. The World Series? Well, that’s all well and good to the Captain, but he made it clear Friday night before the 16th version of the Subway Series that he is not a fan of inter-league play.
“I’d rather not play the National League teams during the season,” Jeter said. “When I came up, you didn’t play the other league until you got to the World Series. I understand that [inter-league play] is great for the fans, but I kind of like it the other way.”
If not for inter-league play, however, DJ wouldn’t have such gaudy numbers against the Mets or the rest of the NL for that matter. After all, Jeter entered Friday night’s game with the most hits (328) and runs (185) of any player in inter-league competition.
Against the Mets specifically, Jeter is a .381 hitter in 320 at-bats, the highest average by a player with a minimum of 150 at-bats against them (second at .380 in 300 at-bats is Rico Carty). And that does not include what Jeter did against the Mets in their only real Subway Series, the 2000 World Series when the shortstop hit .409 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, two RBI and six runs and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Series.
Jeter took a 25-game home hitting streak against the Mets into the game, dating to June 28, 2003 with 26 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 15 RBI and six walks while batting .481 in 106 at-bats. DJ was also a career .455 hitter in 33 at-bats against Johan “No-Hit” Santana.
Attendance figures this weekend at the Stadium and two weeks from now at Citi Field will likely confirm that the Subway Series is popular with New York’s baseball fans. However, the glow has disappeared for many of the participants. When inter-league play began in 1997, the Yankees and Mets played three games at Yankee Stadium. In 1998, they had a three-game series at Shea Stadium. Since 1999, they have played six games against each other, three in the Bronx and three in Flushing. A feeling within both clubhouses is that two series a year is one too many.
There have been discussions already about the schedule in 2013 when the Astros will move from the NL Central to the American League West that will make it more balanced. The geographical rivalries will remain but to become more balanced one series rather than two would better serve that purpose.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has talked a lot recently about a more balanced schedule. It bothers him that teams fighting for the same prize may not have the same opponents for a significant number of games. For example, this year the Yankees’ inter-league opponents – Reds, Mets, Braves, Nationals – features two current division leaders (Cincinnati and Washington) and have a combined winning percentage of .562 (127-99), the highest for any AL team. The Yanks’ inter-league schedule is so bizarre this season that they play two NL East teams, the Mets and the Braves, in two series but do not play the Phillies or Marlins at all.
Girardi and his Mets counterpart, Terry Collins, both said they would prefer the annual Subway Series be a three-game rather than a six-game series.
“That way there would be a sure winner of the series every year,” Girardi said.
“You know the Yankees are going to have a strong lineup every year,” Collins said, “so three instead of six games is fine with me.”
But all that is at least a year away, indeed if there is a change. For now, the Subway Series is a home-and-away affair.
“I know the fans love it,” Jeter said. “You can feel their intensity. There’s a lot of energy in the stadium. It’s similar to when we play Boston.”