The Downfall of New York Baseball

A season that started off with massive expectations for both New York baseball teams took a drastic turn in the end with heartbreaking playoff eliminations. The New York Yankees and the New York Mets entered the season as some of the favorites to win the World Series after making significant changes to their teams. Throughout the season, both teams showed flashes of dominance where it looked like they would go on a run and make it to the Fall Classic but fell short following the recent trend of New York’s success in the playoffs.

The start of the season was one for the record books for the Yankees, who at one point were on pace to break the 21-year-old record for wins in a single season with 116 by the Seattle Mariners in 2001. From April to June, the Yankees held the best record in the league by far with a record of 56-21 through the first 77 games played. Everything was going right for the Yankees, who were well on their way to breaking their 13-year titleless streak.

Once July came around, the entire season flipped upside down for the Yankees, who were plagued with injuries and a lack of production from key contributors. After a 22-6 stretch in the month of June, their record pace fell off with their 13-13 record in July. Things would get worse in August with their worst record of any month of the season by far, finishing with a record of 10-18.

Key injuries such as losing ace relief pitcher Michael King and late addition utilityman Matt Carpenter, were the start of the downfall for the team, causing the lack of depth and decreased production that caused the team to spiral.

The bullpen was a main piece of concern, with the sudden dropoff in production from closer Clay Holmes, who was one of, if not the best closer in Major League Baseball in the first half. His loss of command as well as other injuries and questionable front-office decisions (such as the decision to demote relief pitchers Ron Marinaccio and Clarke Schmidt), warranted backlash from fans and created speculation as to whether the team was doing everything they could to win on a daily basis.

Due to their dominance in the early stretch of the season, no team in the American League East was able to catch up with them, which gave the Yankees their first division title since 2019.

They entered the playoffs as the number two seed in the American League, giving them a bye past the Wild Card round. In the Divisional Series, they matched up with the Cleveland Guardians, a young, up-and-coming team who rolled through the Wild Card on the backs of their elite pitching staff. The Yankees beat them in a decisive game five, setting up their third matchup in six years with the Houston Astros in the Championship Series.

It was a miserable series for New York, who was swept in four games and were simply no match for the mighty Astros, whom they have never beaten in a playoff series. The offense seemingly disappeared against the Astros’ pitching staff, finishing the series with a batting average of .162 as a team.

Now heading into the offseason, the team will have some major questions, especially regarding their star outfielder Aaron Judge and whether they will be able to re-sign him fresh off his record-breaking season. The front office and team management will be faced with a great deal of pressure to put a winning team on the field in 2023 as their streak without a World Series appearance continues.

As for the other side of town, the Mets also faced great expectations, set by none other than team owner Steve Cohen. Cohen is one of the newest MLB team owners, who has quickly made a name for himself with his willingness to go out and spend money on free agents.

The Mets had quite the offseason, signing the likes of future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer and all-star Chris Bassitt to bolster the rotation, as well as all-star outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha to fill the team’s empty spots in the outfield. Expectations were sky-high for the Mets, who were one of the frontrunners to make it out of the National League and play in the World Series.

For almost all of the season, the team held a comfortable lead over the defending champion Atlanta Braves in the division, at one point stretching to as many as 10.5 games. New York held at least a share of first place for 157 of the 162 regular season games played, but Atlanta stayed with them all season and swept them in a matchup in the last week of the season to take sole possession of first place.

Injuries were a common theme for the Mets as well, losing Starling Marte in early September when he was hit by a pitch on his hand against Pittsburgh, resulting in a partial non-displaced fracture in his right middle finger. Losing Marte was huge for the team, and his presence was largely missed at the top of the lineup.

Following Marte’s injury, the Mets saw their division lead dwindling, and despite winning 101 games in the regular season, it was only good enough to set them up for a matchup in the Wild Card round at home against the San Diego Padres.

San Diego would take game one of the three-game series by a score of 7-1, carried by an early offensive explosion against Scherzer with four home runs. The Mets were unable to answer against ace Yu Darvish with their only run coming on an Eduardo Escobar home run.

With their backs against the wall, the Mets sent former Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom to send the series to a decisive game three. They would live another day and then end up losing game three, eliminating them from the playoffs. A season that was once filled with great promise came up short in the end, leaving all New York baseball fans in the same state that they’ve been in years past; wondering when their team will make that jump and become World Series champions again.

New York has not seen a World Series appearance since 2015 when the Mets were defeated in five games by the Kansas City Royals and have been held without a title since 2009 when the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Both teams will enter the 2023 season with the same expectations as the 2022 season, but both have some major decisions to make to put together a championship-level team.