Saturday, December 4, 2021

Subway series reaches beyond the Big Apple

October 26, 2000

Like the leaves on the trees, the Spartan football squad took a turn for the worse before hitting the ground and getting stepped on - losing four games in a row.

Luckily Spartan sports fans have been able to take refuge in the World Series.

But in this year’s Fall Classic, the actual baseball game is an underlying plot.

This is largely due to this fact: The only form of transportation separating the top two teams in the National League and the American League is the No. 4 train and the No. 7 train.

For the next few days at least, the already inflated egos of New Yorkers will be magnified as the Big Apple acts as a microcosm of the entire baseball world. New Yorkers not only live, work and play in the center of the cultural and business world - but now they can add the center of the baseball world to that list.

And they know it.

This year’s series, the first “Subway Series” since the Yankees battled the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, is definitely historic. And exciting - even if you live outside of New York, even if you don’t pay more for a permit parking spot than you do for your car and even if you don’t go nuts every time someone snags “your” taxi.

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said he would like to see the Mets and Yankees take the subway to the game at least once during the series. This wouldn’t be as monumental as big mouth Atlanta Braves hurler John Rocker’s threat to hop aboard the No. 7 train to Shea Stadium, the home of the Mets.

But it would still be really cool.

Another reason the “Subway Series” is neat is that it has pitted the seemingly flawless Yankees against the underdog Mets, who are looking to pull a miracle similar to their triumph 31 years ago when they shocked the world by beating St. Louis.

This year’s Fall Classic has torn a city, divided families and neighborhoods and spurred buddies hanging out on the stoop to engage in a “friendly” debate over whose team is better.

There’s little doubt that the New York rivalry has added an element to this year’s World Series that even MLB bigwig marketing executives couldn’t conjure up.

But that element shouldn’t take away from what players do on the field, even if it does reacquaint people with their baseball roots. A championship ring worn by a player from a big market team - like the Yankees, who have won three of the last four World Series - holds the same value as a player from a small market team - like the Twins, who triumphed often in the early 1990s.

Even though baseball has an “All-American” ring to it, today our national pastime is made up of more Latino, Japanese and other ethnic players than ever. The New York Times reported Tuesday that 25 percent of MLB players are Latino, with the Yankees and Mets employing a good chunk of that percentage.

MLB may only be played in two nations, but the league’s teams are made up of players from across the globe - truly making its best -of-seven championship series a World Series.

Yet somehow, this year, it’s different. Many are considering this Fall Classic only a New York affair.

The eyes of the world are on the Bronx, where the Yankees hail, and Queens, where the Mets reign. This has not only put the spotlight on the Big Apple, but it has alienated the rest of the country - and the world - from the World Series.

According to Nielsen Media Research, television ratings in New York after the first three games were 42 percent, but around the rest of the nation, ratings were down 18 percent from last year’s World Series at 12.1 percent.

This year’s World Series has turned baseball’s championship into the talk of New York City while diminishing it to mere water cooler conversation throughout the rest of the nation.

New Yorkers may have the best street-corner hot dog and falafel stands, “Seinfeld” and Broadway plays, but baseball is something they can’t boast about.

The experience of the ballpark is one that is not exclusive to New Yorkers.

Justin Rice, State News soccer reporter, hails from West Bloomfield, Mich., the New York of the Midwest, and can be reached at ricejust@msu.edu.

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