Mets blew their chance to take back New York from Yankees

The Mets had their opportunity to turn New York back into Metstown, but the same old issues, primarily injuries, have derailed their return to glory.

The Mets won their weekend series vs. the Nationals, but they've already lost the battle for New York.

The Mets took the first two games of their set in Washington before being shellacked in the final game Sunday 23-5. Despite it being just one loss, the Nats broke the Mets' backs early. They scored five runs in the bottom of the first off now-injured New York ace Noah Syndergaard.

Now the Mets sit alongside the Braves in last place in the NL East, behind even the Phillies and the Marlins.

The Mets' season isn't over. It's still early. They did just bring the fight to division-favorite Washington for two games on the road. They're 10-14, not 3-21.

But . . . how 'bout those Yankees?

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The Mets went to the World Series in 2015 on the strength of a run that not many saw coming. For one postseason in New York, it wasn't about the high-priced Yankees vs. the Mets. It was only about the boys from Flushing.

The Mets' fan base split after that World Series run. The opinions differed like the baseball equivalent of crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter, "Diamond" Dave vs. Sammy Hagar, Marvel Comics or DC Comics. Some fans weren't satisfied with just getting to the dance and wanted to win then. Others just enjoyed the team being in the Series for the first time in 15 years. It was the franchise's time to shine.

Both viewpoints were valid, but something more was at stake for the Mets than just winning a championship: bragging rights. Fans walking onto a subway on Monday morning and smacking off every Yankee cap they saw. Shaking up the can of soda and watching it spray big brother in the face when he opened it.

The Series run in 2015 was just the beginning; 2016 would provide them their chance to take back the city, like the other mob bosses in New York scrambling for power after Don Corleone bit the dust.

The Yankees didn't have a poor record for most of last season, but they were a poor team to watch. There was no life or excitement until rookie catcher Gary Sanchez came up last August and raked. The Bombers finished 84-78 and missed the playoffs.

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The Mets, meanwhile, had an opportunity to return to the World Series last year and really capture the city's heart. Those damned, cursed Mets were about to break through. It was a blue-collar team for a blue-collar city. No more A-Rod and his love interests, no more talk of the $200 million-plus payroll on sports radio, no more obnoxious fans commenting "27!" on online articles. Just a team of lunchpail guys scrapping and clawing and swagging their way to the top in Gotham.

Instead, the Mets lost the NL wild-card game vs. the Giants and went spiraling into another offseason of uncertainty. The front office answered some of the questions. The no-brainer re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes seemed more of a "Hey, look, we're trying!" move than a legitimate roster upgrade that would keep the fans happy. Remember, it wasn't until the Nats pursued Cespedes that discussions with the Mets really started to pick up steam.

Fast-forward to now: With the tied-for-first Yankees (15-8) outperforming almost all expectations to this point, the Mets have completely blown their chance to take New York. There isn't much of a debate at this point. Even with Sanchez on the disabled list and Greg Bird scuffling mightily. Even with the Yankees falling to the Orioles in extra innings Sunday. There's too much optimism with the new-look Bronx Bombers for anything to derail them now.

They have one of the top offenses in baseball. The oft-criticized Jacoby Ellsbury is seemingly reinvigorated. Masahiro Tanaka has pitched like an ace. Luis Severino is pitching like the top-of-the-rotation starter he was projected to be.

Meanwhile, the injuries and question marks continue to mount for the Mets: Cespedes, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo have all spent time on the shelf this season. Syndergaard likely will join them soon.

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It's been the same song and dance the past few seasons for the Mets: Their highly talented pitchers can't stay on the mound; manager Terry Collins tries to rally the troops; everyone says, "Don't panic until it's time to panic." Mets fans are probably sick of the cycle. Just. Win.

Yeah, it's still early. Things could go belly-up for the Yankees in a hurry, and the Mets could win 15 straight and challenge Washington in the NL East. That's baseball, Suzyn.

But the city was there for the taking last year, and the Mets failed to capitalize.

Now the Yankees are back, taking another bite out of the Big Apple.

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