The Best Pitching Matchup of the Year

The Subway Series will end with a pair of aces

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Jun 22, 2012  |  Updated 4:50 PM EDT
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The Best Pitching Matchup of the Year

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R.A. Dickey is ready for prime time.

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If R.A. Dickey allows the Yankees two runs and five hits while striking out nine on his way to a 4-2 win on Sunday night, it will represent his worst start since May 17.

Everyone is talking about how amazing Dickey has been for the last month, rightly so, but looking at it like that drives the point home in pretty stark terms. A great start by anyone's measure would be a mild disappointment for Dickey based on the standard that he's set on this nearly incomprehensible run.

If Dickey tops that hypothetical start above, incompehensible will become a modifier for the amount of coverage that he'll be receiving from the local and national media. And if the Yankees should knock him off his pedestal, it will be waved as a badge of honor from the Bronx all season.

That reminds us of the lasting appeal of the Subway Series.

Everything gets magnified when the Mets and Yankees meet up. Even with both managers downplaying the games and much of the early magic worn off by the familiarity of something that once felt a little bit wrong, you can't avoid the increased spotlight put on these games.

The fact that CC Sabathia will be pitching for the Yankees only amps things up more for this particular episode. Sabathia hasn't been as good as Dickey this year -- you could replace Sabathia with any name and the point remains true -- but he's the Yankees ace and a Cy Young winner whose presence makes any game feel a little bit bigger.

In the larger scheme of things, there will be nothing more special about Sunday night's game than when the Mets and Yankees move back to their respective leagues for a series this week. When it's good, the Subway Series isn't concerned with the larger scheme of things.

It's concerned with bragging rights at school or the office and prime time spectacle and all of the things that just aren't part of a game against the Royals, Pirates or Diamondbacks. Nothing fits that profile better than the best pitcher in baseball trying to keep as hot a streak as there's ever been alive against the outsized ace of the big dog in his own backyard. 

There will be plenty of great pitching matchups the rest of the way. Short of a Game Seven in October, it's hard to imagine any of them having the urgency of this one.

That's why it is the best pitching matchup of the year.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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