Sunday, September 27, 2015

What's Worth Celebrating In New York Baseball, What's Not

Tonight, I will have a post detailing the Yankees' now-concluded 4-game home series with the Chicago White Sox. This needs to be said first.

According to Greg Prince, author of the book Faith and Fear in Flushing, and co-author with Jason Fry of the blog of the same name, the National League Eastern Division title that the Mets clinched last night was the 17th "champagne moment" in team history.

Here they are:

1. 1969 National League Eastern Division title
2. 1969 NL Pennant
3. 1969 World Series
4. 1973 Division
5. 1973 Pennant
6. 1986 Division
7. 1986 Pennant
8. 1986 WS
9. 1988 Division
10. 1999 NL Wild Card
11. 1999 NL Division Series
12. 2000 Wild Card
13. 2000 NLDS
14. 2000 Pennant
15. 2006 Division
16. 2006 NLDS
17. 2015 Division

Interestingly enough, most of these were at home. Only #'s 4 (Chicago), 7 (Houston), 10 (Cincinnati), 16 (Los Angeles) and 17 (Cincinnati) were won on the road. Oddly, after just 3 of the 1st 15 where clinched on the road, the last 2 have been.

By the same measure, here are the Yankees' last 17 "champagne moments":

17. 2012 American League Division Series
16. 2012 American League Eastern Division title
15. 2011 Division
14. 2010 ALDS
13. 2010 AL Wild Card
12. 2009 World Series
11. 2009 AL Pennant
10. 2009 ALDS
9. 2009 Division
8. 2007 Wild Card
7. 2006 Division
6. 2005 Division
5. 2004 ALDS
4. 2004 Division
3. 2003 Pennant
2. 2003 ALDS
1. 2003 Division

So the Mets have had 17 "champagne moments" in their entire 54-season history. The Yankees have had 17 of them in the last 12 completed seasons, not counting any they may yet have in this season.

How many "champagne moments" have the Yankees had since the Mets had their 1st in 1969? There were 2 in 1976, 3 in 1977, 3 in 1978, 1 in 1980, 2 in 1981 (not 3, since their Division clinch was as a result of the split-season format set up by the strike), 1 in 1995, 4 in 1996, 1 in 1997, 4 in 1998, 4 in 1999, 4 in 2000 (including the big one against the Mets, as seen in photo above), 3 in 2001, 1 in 2002, and then the 17 I mentioned above.

Yankees since 2003: 17
Mets since 1969: 17

Yankees since 2006: 10
Mets since 2006: 1 (none until last night)

Mets since 1969, including 1969 (really, since 1962): 17
Yankees since 1969 50

You want to go all-time? Counting those won by the New York Giants baseball team and the Brooklyn Dodgers, to which Met fans believe they're entitled as the inheritors of those legacies? Be my guest:

Dodgers: 13 Pennants, 1 World Series win: 14
Giants: 17 Pennants, 6 World Series wins (counting the postseason series of 1889): 23

National League teams from New York: 54
Yankees: 99

Yes, when the Yankees clinch a berth in the AL Wild Card play-in game, it will be, by the FAFIF definition, their 100th "champagne moment."

No other club can touch that. The next-best is the St. Louis Cardinals, with 61.

(Yes, I am aware that some of these "champagne moments" happened during Prohibition. I suspect there was some boozing it up in the clubhouses on those occasions anyway. Or, at least, at the hotel, where less prying eyes would be.)

The Mets are right to act as though clinching a 1st-place finish is a big deal. After all, they haven't done it in 9 years, and have only done it 6 times in 54 years: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2006 and 2015. (Remember: When they won the Pennant in 2000, they got there through the Wild Card. Something the Yankees have never done -- although, this time, they'll have to.)

By the same token, if you're pardon a little "Subway Series" reference (actually, tokens came into use in 1953, and MetroCards had begun to take over by 2000, so tokens were really only used in a Subway Series in 1953, '55 and '56), if the Yankees clinch a berth in the AL Wild Card play-in game, they should not celebrate especially hard. Even if they win it, and clinch a berth in the ALDS, they shouldn't celebrate much more than if it were, say, a walkoff win in an ordinary game.

Given the Yankees' history, even when they win the Division, it shouldn't be celebrated as if you've won anything for the 1st time. Unless the team you beat out is the Boston Red Sox.

The Toronto Blue Jays are, as I've put it, pesky. They play in ridiculous uniforms on ugly artificial turf in a stupid football stadium. And their fans are annoying.

But only the Red Sox are The Scum. Other teams have had classless moments against the Yankees (the recent Tampa Bay Rays, and the late 1970s-early 1980s Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, for example), but only the Red Sox are The Scum. Capital T, capital S.

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