Mets and Yankees wrap up nightmare New York seasons and head into uncertain winter

New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge walks back to the dugout after being called out on strikes to end the fifth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

New York Mets' DJ Stewart tosses his bat and helmet after striking out during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Miami Marlins on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK — For the first time in nine years, baseball’s postseason won’t include a New York team.

Neither one even came close, really.


Back in March, such a monumental flop by the Mets and Yankees would’ve been difficult to envision. After combining for 200 regular-season wins in 2022, both clubs were coming off playoff appearances and both added big-name talent in the offseason.

With stars like Aaron Judge and Justin Verlander on each side of town — not to mention the two largest payrolls in the majors — the highly anticipated 2023 campaign shaped up as one of the most exciting in the city’s history.

Maybe another Subway Series. Certainly some October thrills.

But by August, all anyone in the Big Apple was talking about was football, as both tattered, top-heavy teams played out the string in front of empty seats. Following parallel nightmare seasons, they headed home early for the winter to watch the playoffs on television.

What in the name of Nelson Rockefeller happened here?

The $275 million Bronx Bombers batted .227 — only lowly Oakland was worse — and ranked 25th in runs despite replacing hitting coach Dillon Lawson with Sean Casey at the All-Star break. They finished fourth in the AL East at 82-80, narrowly avoiding the franchise’s first losing season since 1992.

“It’s better than the alternative, but we expect to be playing baseball this month,” manager Aaron Boone said Sunday.

Pete Alonso and the Mets, with a $355 million roster on opening day that was by far the most expensive in big league history, came in fourth in the NL East, nearly 30 games behind division champion Atlanta. After winning 101 games last year, second-most in team annals, they fell to 74-87 by losing their 2023 finale — the largest drop-off in the majors this year. Manager Buck Showalter was fired Sunday, clearing the way for new president of baseball operations David Stearns to pick the next Mets skipper. Stearns was formally introduced Monday at a Citi Field news conference.

“When things aren’t going well in New York, things happen and they happen quickly,” center fielder Brandon Nimmo said. “It’s just our job as players to try and not let these things happen.”

Injuries played a damaging role, no doubt.

Mets closer Edwin Díaz missed the entire season after blowing out his knee while celebrating a victory with Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. That exposed an otherwise thin bullpen, while the back of a remade rotation collapsed under a pile of walks as Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill were unable to pick up the slack when Verlander, Max Scherzer and José Quintana were sidelined at various times early in the year.

All-Star right fielder Starling Marte, meanwhile, was a shell of himself following double groin surgery last offseason and played only 86 unproductive games.

Up in the Bronx, $162 million newcomer Carlos Rodón didn’t make his Yankees debut until July 7 because of forearm and back issues. Once he did, he never found his form on the mound and went a miserable 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts.

A slew of other veterans also drastically underperformed during injury-interrupted seasons, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, center fielder Harrison Bader, third baseman Josh Donaldson, catcher Jose Trevino and pitchers Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes.

Domingo Germán threw a perfect game in late June, then entered inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse in early August.

Of course, the most glaring injury was to Judge, who tore a ligament in his right big toe when he crashed into the outfield fence while making a terrific catch June 3 at Dodger Stadium.

The following day, the Yankees moved a season-high 11 games over .500. They were 54-48 and still smack in the middle of the wild-card chase when the reigning AL MVP returned to the lineup July 28, only to go 8-20 in their next 28 games while essentially falling out of the race.

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