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NEW YORK, NEW YORK

The season is one-fourth over and _ news flash here _ neither of the New York teams has wrapped up its division. Heck, going into the weekend, neither was in first place. New York transit officials might want to hold off on those Subway Series promotions.

By no means is all lost for the Yankees, who went through a bad week the same time the Red Sox got hot. But this year's team doesn't seem to have that same dominating look or feel as the previous editions. Whether older, more complacent, not as deep, or just not as good, this year's team apparently is going to have to advance to the post-season the old-fashioned way: It's going to have to earn it. Still, players don't sound worried. "I don't think any of us pay attention to what other teams are doing," Scott Brosius said. "Until it gets to September it doesn't really matter too much."

In Queens, the Mets have some serious problems. They are short on starting pitching, their bullpen has been overworked, their infield no longer is considered the game's finest and their outfield is a mess even with the needed subtraction of Rickey Henderson, whose departure also left them without a leadoff hitter. Forget, at least for now, catching the Braves. Fending off the Marlins and staying above .500 are more immediate concerns. "It's kinda hard to believe," reliever John Franco said.

Here is a look at what's been going on in the Big Apple (+ through Friday):

YANKEES METS

Record 24-15 23-20

Season projection 101-61 86-76

Average age 31.2 31.1

Payroll $93-million $80-million

Runs per game/

league rank 4.89/11 4.79/13

ERA/league rank 3.97/2 4.75/6

Biggest problem .335 on-base MLB-worst .179 avg.

percentage, 23rd with runners in scoring

among 30 teams position and two outs

Owners words "I'm not going to "I think we have to try

of wisdom let this continue. to overtake the Braves.

We're fortunate that They have gotten out of

despite our play we're the gate very well but

still right in the middle they're a good team.

of it. It's a long season. We're a good team. We

It's only May." should play better than

they've played."

_ George Steinbrenner _ Fred Wilpon

_ Compiled by Marc Topkin.

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