Who is the best shortstop in New York? Who’s the best center fielder? The best closer? Who cares. Here’s the real tale of the tape when comparing the two New York baseball teams. (Warning: This is not a statistical analysis of performance but a subjective breakdown on crazy things that pop into my head.)
Pretty Boys – Derek Jeter vs. David Wright: Jeter has his own cologne. He’s dated every actress from Jessica Biel to Betty White. And he was metrosexual before metrosexual was cool (ok, so it was never cool). Women at Shea hold up signs of proposal for Wright. He has Justin Timberlake, Kirk Cameron, David Cassidy–like good looks (choose one, depending on your age). And he doesn’t even have to shave yet. Verdict: Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter, so Derek Jeter wins.
Rock Stars – Joba Chamberlain vs. Pedro Martinez: They only need one name. Crowds go crazy for them. They have star power to spare. They’re dynamic. They’re electric. Joba is pure power. Pedro is guile and smarts. Verdict: Joba has more fist pumps and twirls than innings pitched. Pedro will sit Joba down under a mango tree, call him ‘Grasshopper’ and tell him stories he could never imagine (“…and then an enraged Don Zimmer came at me like a charging rhinoceros…”). Pedro wins.
Insufferable Buttheads – Mike Mussina vs. Billy Wagner: Mussina is a Stanford-educated, humorless, pompous snob. If you mixed James Spader, William F. Buckley Jr., Doug Niedermeyer and Thurston Howell III together, you’d get the Yankees pitcher. Ok, we get it, you’re smarter than we are. And when you pitch poorly it’s not your fault. Wagner’s a good old boy who’ll throw his teammates under a bus. He was once questioned by his third-grade teacher at lunchtime why he was dripping jelly all over his shirt, and he responded, “My grandmother didn’t give 100% when she made my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Shocker.” Verdict: Mussina wins, and he’ll show us why with the slide rule he keeps in his locker.
Over-the-Hill, Horrible-Fielding First Basemen – Jason Giambi vs. Carlos Delgado: How did New York get so lucky as to have these two winners on our teams? The pop-eyed Giambi is having a mini-resurgence powered by his Village People–like mustache and yellow thong, but hasn’t come close to living up to his contract. Out in Queens, has there ever been more of an indifferent fielder than Delgado? Carlos, if the ball is not hit right to you, you’re still allowed to field it. Just wanted to let you know. Verdict: Giambi is outperforming Delgado this year, but as far as we know the Mets first baseman has never cheated and lied about taking steroids, so the winner is Delgado by default.
Indifferent Second Basemen – Robinson Cano vs. Luis Castillo: Castillo happy-asses around the bases like he’s on island time―he’ll get there when he gets there, so what if it costs the team a run. And covering second base seems to be optional. Cano has been assigned a drill sergeant (Larry Bowa/Bobby Meacham) the last few years to keep him focused and from drifting into laziness. He’s been lobbying to see if he can take a nap between innings to keep his mind sharp. For a combined $55 million, you figure these guys could at least pay attention and show some effort. Verdict: Castillo will be lucky if he makes it through the season. Cano wins hands down.
Knuckleheads – Kyle Farnsworth vs. Oliver Perez: They have million-dollar arms and 10-cent brains. Perez is lost in space. Farnsworth is just plain angry. Maybe pitching’s too easy for them and they’re challenging themselves without actually using their heads. If Perez pitched a game with his eyes closed, could we tell the difference? If Farnsworth’s glasses were steamed up the whole time he was on the mound and couldn’t see, would anybody know? Verdict: Farnsworth wins. He pitches fewer innings so we don’t have to see him as much.
DL’d 24/7 – Carl Pavano vs. Orlando Hernandez: Disability Insurance is now officially called Carl Pavano Insurance. He broke his wrist peeling an orange. He cracked three ribs laughing at a “Family Matters” rerun. El Duque is 98 years old. There’s a rumor he’s really Satchel Paige. Do we need to go on with this? Verdict: El Duque wins. He’s actually pitched in this century.
Former Idiot Outfielders – Johnny Damon vs. Trot Nixon: Damon was a hairy, smelly folk hero in Boston. One of the original Geico cavemen, he’s now a slicked-up, salon’d-up eyebrow-waxed dummy. Was he just wearing a costume before? No matter how he looks, he still can’t get the ball back to the infield on a fly. Nixon’s still dirty, still plays hard, still a great teammate. But, umm, he’s batting .148. Verdict: We don’t even know if that’s the real Johnny Damon. Nixon’s the one.
Mascots – John Sterling vs. Mr. Met: They both have big, round heads that are filled with hot air. Neither has a bad word to say about his team. But Mr. Met knows when to stay quiet, and is just so much more lovable than the Yankees mascot. Verdict: Kids all over New York vote for Mr. Met.
There you have it. The final tally: Mets 5, Yankees 4. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing.
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