(Flushing’s 2nd place finishers, shown considering the irony of Newsday giving away Jose Reyes t-shirts in the Shea parking lot as a home delivery premium)

An interesting choice of topics on the part of Newsday’s Wallace Matthews this morning, ie. the questionable proposition (does Matthews not listen to WFAN?) “the failure of the Yankees is the best thing that could have happened to the Mets.”

Who says you can’t get a free pass in this town? Ever since the Yankees were eliminated from the ALDS Monday night, the Mets certainly have.

In the past three days, the Yankees have been characterized as bullies. They have been called cowards, gutless, unable to take a punch.

I would have to agree with every one of those sentiments. If you apply them to the Mets, that is.

All the uproar over what happened this week in the Bronx and what is likely to happen in the next few days in Tampa has obscured the fact that the Mets are even more of a mess than the Yankees.

They’ve got a manager who is a lonely man in his own clubhouse, being undermined by a front office suit who is way too close to many of the players and a son-of-an-owner who is way too involved in personnel decisions, both of whom are looking for the first available reason to fire him.

They’ve got a GM who has abandoned his eye for evaluating young talent in favor of the easy way out, rebuilding-by-checkbook.

Worst of all, they seem to have a roomful of players who not only don’t know how to win but don’t care to learn.

Remember the night Paul Lo Duca, a “team leader,” got himself ejected for beefing over a strike two, a move that led directly to a Mets defeat? Derek Jeter may not have hit much in the postseason, but at least he didn’t do anything as dumb as that, or as dumb as Jose Reyes – remember when you thought you would take him over Jeter? – risking suspension by getting into an argument with a backup catcher that eventually led into a fist fight.

Down the stretch, the Mets did everything to escape their first real fight but bite off an ear. Talk about bullies. Talk about cowards. But then you’d have to know something about bravery and guts to be able to recognize its flip side. Too many people in this town like to throw those words around despite not having the faintest understanding of what they really mean.

And you want to talk about money? At least the Yankees’ hired gun, Roger Clemens, gave them seven outs in his final appearance. Tom Glavine – a cut-rate mercenary compared to Clemens but a mercenary just the same – got what he wanted out of the Mets, his 300th win, but when it came time to give something back, he couldn’t get out of the first inning.

If nothing else, Jeff Wilpon might’ve found the right guy to narrate the Mets’ 2007 season highlights DVD. Assuming, y’know, Kevin James is busy.