Here’s what it has always meant to be a Mets fan: On the November morning news breaks that the Mets won the bidding war for this winter’s premier free-agent reliever, Billy Wagner—also the day the Mets hold a press conference introducing the product of a terrific trade, slugging first-baseman Carlos Delgado—I open a file-cabinet drawer. The first thing I see? A book called The Worst Team Money Could Buy. It’s the grimly comic tale of the 1992 Mets, a team that raised expectations with an expensive free-agent signing (Bobby Bonilla) and a splashy trade (Bret Saberhagen), only to set records for highest payroll and grotesquest embarrassment.
I didn’t remember I owned this book. I certainly wasn’t looking for it. But it seemed the perfect, awful omen. In the past year, the Mets have landed the incomparable Pedro Martinez and the much-better-than-he-played-last-season Carlos Beltran; they’ve seen third-baseman David Wright and shortstop Jose Reyes blossom into the two best young ballplayers in New York (okay, Robinson Cano ain’t bad either); they hired a manager, Willie Randolph, who has turned out to be an actual smart guy on top of being a feel-good Brooklyn-boy-makes-good story; and they even lucked into a new stadium to replace dumpy old Shea.
All this good karma can’t possibly last. These are the Mets. Then I remembered: These Mets have Omar. Certainly Omar Minaya, the Queens kid who became general manager in September, 2004, isn’t doing it alone (co-owner Jeff Wilpon, among others, deserves substantial credit). But Minaya has instilled a positivism in the Mets. Never before has the franchise operated with such sunny, savvy confidence. With the Yankees old and imperious, suddenly Mets management has seized on the best of the pinstripe formula: an urgency about winning, an understanding of New York as a grand sports stage, and a willingness to spend big. Now if the Mets can avoid the joyless, championship-or-nothing paranoia that pervades the Yankees organization and become real pennant contenders, they’ll have changed the city’s baseball paradigm. A New York World Series win without Steinbrenner—it’s a beautiful dream. No. 57
Because of the sound of the Amtrak train in Harlem at around midnight. You just hear a whoo right before you go to sleep, and it’s beautiful.
Because you look up at the buildings packed with people and it just zaps you. The energy just attacks you.
Because I like being never alone.
Because of takeout. I love takeout. And because it’s the most overcaffeinated city in the world, and we come here to relax. Also the sound of the subway finally arriving. The local C. Here it comes, finally. I love hearing it.
—Jeff DanielsNext: Because Heath Ledger…