Yankees, Mets set for Subway Series

For the first time since 1956, the baseball world will focus all its attention on New York City as the Yankees and Mets compete for the 2000 World Series that begins Saturday night from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The highly intriguing match-up became a reality Tuesday night when the Yankees won their third consecutive American League Championship Series with a thrilling 9-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners. The Mets reached the Fall Classic Monday with a 7-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

These teams are no strangers to each other, having played six times this season, with the Yankees taking four games – two of three in both Yankee and Shea Stadiums. Of the six games played, four games were decided by two runs or less, with the Yankees’ dominant postseason closer Mariano Rivera recording three saves. The Mets’ Armando Benitez saved the team’s final regular season game, a 2-0 shutout win at Shea in early July.

The Mets have not been to the World Series since 1986 and will need to get ahead of the Yankees early in order to win. The Mets scored runs in the first innings of every NLCS game and they never trailed in the four games they won. While John Franco and Turk Wendell lead a reliable middle-relief corps, Benitez is not a safe bet in the postseason. It was Benitez who gave up a game-tying three-run homer to San Francisco’s J.T. Snow in the ninth inning in game two of the National League Divisional Series.

Whereas the Mets have shown an ability to strike early, it is the two-time defending champion Yankees who go for the kill late in the game. The Yankees were six outs away from going down 2-0 to Seattle when the Yankees exploded for seven runs in the eighth inning of game two. The Yankees scored four in the ninth to break open game three, and the most recent dramatic moment came Tuesday when David Justice belted an upper-deck home run in New York’s six-run seventh-inning comeback.

The Mets will have a slight advantage when the Yankees come to Shea for at least games three and four because there is no designated hitter in National League ballparks. That means Yankees manager Joe Torre will have to decide when to pinch hit for his pitchers and also whether or not to play mystery second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. One interesting storyline could have Roger Clemens pitching in Shea Stadium in a possible game five, when he would have to step into the batter’s box with Mike Piazza catching for the Mets. Clemens was accused of throwing at Piazza intentionally when he hit the catcher during a regular-season game in July.There will be no lack of intensity in this World Series, and if any team deserves a shot to dethrone the Yankees and take back the city, it’s the Mets.

PREDICTION: Yankees in five.

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