There might not be overwhelming fan interest in the latest iteration of the Subway Series, but that doesn't mean that there isn't anything on the line when the Mets and Yankees hook up at Citi Field this weekend.
Both teams have had a rough go of it in recent weeks, although there are very different root causes for their struggles. The Yankees are limping into this weekend's games with a roster that's been left shorthanded by various injuries while the Mets have simply been playing down to everyone's lowest expectations for their 2010 season.
That no one expected all that much isn't creating any sympathy for the Amazins. Jerry Manuel's job is hanging by a very thin thread, a thread that could very well be cut by a poor showing against the crosstown team. If he survives the Yankees, beware Monday's off day, the Phillies could administer the death knell when they roll into town next week. The rotation is down to two original members after the John Maine affair of Thursday night, so Manuel should count his blessings that he's got Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana giving him a fighting chance on Saturday and Sunday.
Things aren't nearly as dire on the Yankee side of the ledger, but, like the Mets, they are out of free passes. The injuries and the excellence of the Rays made it easy to swallow the last couple of losses, but losing a series to the Mets will loosen the tongues of those holding back their worries about the Yankees being a .500 team over the last month. It will still be premature, but with the Yankees now closer to three (four, counting both teams tied for the Central lead) teams in the Wild Card category than the Rays it will at least be easier to justify.
The same wouldn't be true if this weekend's series were against the Rangers, Tigers or even the Orioles, but such is life in a two city town when the other team has spent the last year redefining the term "weaker sister." It works both ways, of course. Beating the Yankees two out of three fixes problems in Queens no more than taking a series from the Pirates but the perception matters a lot for a team licking its wounds.
Should be a fun weekend. And you couldn't ask for a better way to kick things off than a Friday night matchup of Hisanori Takahashi and Javier Vazquez, truly a duel that your grandchildren will be hearing about many years from now.