Subway Series Is Most Celebrated Non-Rivalry in Sports

For one week every summer, the excitement level in the city of New York reaches a fever pitch during the annual Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees. The four-game series, split between the Bronx and Queens, brings great passion from fans both in support of their team and against the other team, believing that it’s the greatest rivalry in baseball.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The Mets and Yankees are not great rivals. They share a city and compete for space on the back pages of newspapers, but that doesn’t make them rivals. Yes, the Subway Series is a great spectacle that’s great for the fan bases of both teams. The four games they play every summer is a tradition that should continue for as long as possible. But to think that the Mets and Yankees have some great rivalry that transcends New York and is important through out all of baseball is utterly ridiculous.

“I loved the Subway Series, always enjoyed it because the fans in New York love it. Even if either team isn’t in the playoff hunt, it still makes for a great atmosphere. It’s always fun to play in those games.”

David Robertson

Other than fighting for the city’s attention, which is more about off-field matters than what happens between the lines, the Mets and Yankees have completely different objectives. They are in different divisions and different leagues. Short of both teams reaching the World Series in the same year, something that happened in 2000 but not since, the success of one has no effect on the success of the other.

The Mets having a poor season is in no way related to the Yankees being in the playoff chase, and when the Mets reached the World Series in 2015, they were unaffected by anything the Yankees did that year. The two teams, apart from the four games they play each summer, are mutually exclusive. That’s not exactly how rivalries are made.

There’s also little, if any animosity between the players on the field. In anticipation of this year’s Subway Series, most players spoke of eagerness and excitement to play in the other New York team, not about their disdain for their opponent. True rivalries need an element of bitterness or bad blood among the players. That doesn’t seem to be the case between the Mets and Yankees.

“They’re games we’ve got to go play, and obviously (the Yankees) are playing for something.”

Terry Collins

Yet, the fans insist on blowing the series out of proportion. Sure, New York bragging rights are up for grabs, but far too many fans act as if they matter more than what the games mean in the standings, which is a ridiculous notion. For the Yankees, who are still in contention, winning every game is important, whether it’s against the Mets or not. Winning Subway Series games is no more important than any other games. In fact, they may be less important than games against division rivals also competing for a playoff spot.

Blowing this so-called rivalry out of proportion has even extended to the front office. The two teams have long been hesitant to trade with one another, which is foolish for both teams. It’s understandable for teams in the same division not to want to help one another by collaborating on trades. But the Mets and Yankees are not in the same division and should have no such problem with making trades.

It’s time for the Mets and Yankees, and their fans, to stop acting like the two teams are such bitter rivals. It’s great that fans get so excited about the Subway Series, but it’s a spectacle, not a rivalry. The Mets and Yankees have a city in common, but not a division. Outside of four games every summer, the two teams don’t compete against one another, and the success of one is completely unrelated to the success of the other. Four games once a year, does not a rivalry make.