Aaron Boone and the reigning MVP, who just happens to be the highest paid player and in baseball. An injury prone Mets roster coming off a 90 loss season cutting payroll.
This statement could be used to apply to either the 2018 Yankees, who just obtained Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, or it could be used to apply to 2004 when the Yankees obtained Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.
As many will recall, the Yankees pursuit of A-Rod was precipitated by a season ending injury to Boone as a result of him playing basketball. Much like the situation with Stanton, who had rejected a trade to the Cardinals and Giants, A-Rod was available to come to the Yankees because of a voided trade. With respect to A-Rod, MLB, at the urgence of the Player’s Association, did not approve a deal to the Boston Red Sox because the deal required A-Rod to forgo some of the guaranteed money due to him in his then historic contract.
Whether this was 2004 or 2017, the Mets looked on and never got involved in either player.
While the Mets stood idly by, the Yankees were winning division titles. They were doing it with real superstar caliber players like A-Rod and Derek Jeter. This brought their long standing rivalry with the Boston Red Sox, which came to a fever pitch in the Wild Card Era which permitted the arch rivals to face each other in the postseason.
In 2003, Grady Little went too long with Pedro Martinez in Game 7 while Mariano Rivera seemingly pitched two games worth of innings. The end result was Boone ending the series on an 11th innings walk off ALCS winning home run off Tim Wakefield.
In 2004, the Red Sox returned the favor and then some becoming the first team ever to rally back from an 0-3 series deficit to not only win the ALCS, but to also win their first World Series since 1918.
While all of baseball watched on as the Red Sox and Yankees continuously tried to best each other, the Mets become more and more irrelevant. During that time, the Red Sox arguably eclipsed the Mets as the most interesting team to follow. Certainly, the Red Sox were fighting with the Yankees on the field, for players, and for headlines.
Now? Well, with the Mets looking to cut payroll, and them having to yet decipher how to keep their players healthy, it appears 2018 will be every bit as dark as the days that were the height of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
While the baseball world watches on as Chris Sale faces Stanton and Aaron Judge, or Masahiro Tanaka stares down Mookie Betts, the Mets will be trying to piece together a roster on a shoe string budget. As we saw over a decade ago, this mean the Mets will fade not just from baseball relevancy, they’ll fade into obscurity in their own city.
That’s exactly what’s at stake this offseason for the Mets. If they don’t want to suffer the same fate they have multiple times in their history, they will need to act shrewdly this offseason. Time will tell if they have learned from this history, or if they will be doomed by their willingness to repeat it.