On the cusp of the first Mets-Yankees series this year, I almost wish today was an off day.

No, really. When you get a game like yesterday’s, with the Mets staging the kind of dramatic, thrilling ninth-inning comeback that you get about as often as you get talking cats, when they score five runs in the bottom of the ninth and beat the Cubs 6-5, don’t you want to savor it? Who needs the Yankees coming in and ruining everything, like they always do?

I always said the thing that drove me insane about the NFL is that if your team loses, you have a whole week to stew about it until they play again. But in MLB, the downside is that a true delicacy of a win like yesterday’s can evaporate as soon as the team takes the field again the next night. As long as that win hangs in the air, I feel like nobody can get me. I am no longer some unprepossessing nobody nothing, a mere member of the mouse-clicking secretary-spread hoi polloi. I am sparkly with orange glitter from hat to ankles, I am weightless, I am Carlos Delgado redeeming an afternoon’s worth of boos with a game-winning hit that just sneaks past a diving Ryan Theriot. He makes the kind of money he does to “be” me, to put wings on all our battered sneakers. Even if he only does it once in a while, the sneaker mileage is immeasurable. It lasts and lasts and lasts.

Meanwhile, over in Yankeeland, where they are now 9.5 games out and slouching towards season-defining series not just with the Mets but with the Red Sox too, you have Tino Martinez, of all people, going on ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay Show just this past Tuesday and slamming the Yankees for not having the “desire” that his Yankee teams used to have. According to Tino, only his ex-teammates Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada “really care” that the team is getting buried in the standings day by day. The rest of them just don’t have “that really burning desire to win.”

Really? The Yankees are losing because they “don’t care”? Not because they’re old and busted? Haven’t we been here all too recently in Metville, when Robbie Alomar and Mo Vaughn were gimping around on the last of their bony cartilage just a few years ago? I never bought for a minute that those guys “didn’t want to win” or “didn’t care.” Roberto Alomar, a guy who during his entire career actually played winter ball in Puerto Rico long after he attained superstardom and hardly needed the money or the exposure, didn’t care about the game? Mo Vaughn, who wanted to play so badly he hired some flaming numbnuts of a trainer to make him push a weighted wheelbarrow around to “strengthen” his degenerative-arthritic knees, didn’t care about the game?

To paraphrase the immortal George Clinton, think, folks — it ain’t illegal yet. If you actually applied a sprinkling of intellectual curiosity to the whole situation, which seems beyond the ken of most of the Paid Media and their nonthinking lap-pets, wouldn’t it have seemed more likely that they stopped caring because they lost their ability to play, and not the other way around? The Yankees are probably no different. Just as swagger follows winning and not vice versa, losing too is self-regenerative. If anyone really knew what, besides sheer dumb luck — and making sure the guys you sign up still have some cartilage, eyesight and functional ligaments left — made some teams take off and others not, they could purchase the lifetime services of all gods, fairies, elves, angels and sprites in every known cosmos. And that would cost more money than even Steinbrenner has.

But the Yankees, being the Yankees and having perenially Very Fortunate Laundry, could still ruin everything for Mets fans this weekend and even beyond. They could barrel their way into Shea and sweep, then come home to the Bronx and turn the Red Sox into Alpo, like they’ve done so many times before when they’ve been up against the wall and the “Joe Torre could lose his job” stories in the papers start multiplying. And then the Mets will be forgotten by all but the diehard once again.

Desire, my lower left buttock — I’m sure the Washington Nationals have “desire” out the wazoo. The Yankees, on the other hand, have been proven with time to be A Thing That Doesn’t Die, twenty-five cockroaches glue-gunned together and coated with bulletproof flannel, which no shoe however large or spiky could ever batter into full submission. They are not something you want in your house, no matter how tempting a target they might appear if you’ve got yourself some brand-new custom-made size 28 Chuck Taylors or an uncle who can get you all the free boric acid you think you’ll ever need. Okay, so these days even Yankees fans don’t want the Yankees in their houses. But that doesn’t make me pant to bring them on.