New York As if the Big Apple needed anything else to brag about.
Now it's got the Subway Series, baby!
Don't like the Yankees or Mets? Fuhgeddaboudit.
"It will give New York an opportunity to be even more arrogant," Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said early Wednesday. "We'll be able to go around and say we have the two best teams in baseball."
And the whole thing played out on the biggest platform of all the World Series. Game 1 is Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, with Andy Pettitte probably pitching against Mets ace Mike Hampton.
"I hope that people behave themselves, because it's going to split a few families up, I think," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I have a feeling the city is not going to be the same for this next 10 days and maybe for some time after that."
Even The New York Times, the old gray lady herself, is giddy. For the first time in memory, the newspaper ran a banner over its masthead, above news of the presidential debate and the Mideast crisis.
In red ink, no less.
"It's a Subway Series! Yankees Join Mets," the paper proclaimed.
Forgive fans in other parts of the country for being less enthusiastic.
"It's a horror, is what it is," said Chris Gerstell, 24, who works at Boston Beer Works, next to Fenway Park. His Red Sox, haunted by the Yankees for most of the 20th century, lost the 1986 World Series to the Mets.
In Des Moines, Iowa, 48-year-old Stephanie Netolicky rolled her eyes when asked about the Subway Series.
"I thought you were talking about a sandwich shop," she said.
No matter. New Yorkers will be able to supply all the juice necessary
for this matchup. It will be the 14th Subway Series overall, and the first since the Yankees played the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.
"There were only three channels then," recalled comedian Billy Crystal, celebrating in the clubhouse after the Yankees beat Seattle 9-7 late Tuesday night to clinch the AL championship series. "Now, the whole world will be watching."
A day earlier, the Mets finished off St. Louis in the NL championship series. They had their star power, too actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon poured champagne in the winning locker room.
And while the next few days will feature neat matchups on the field Tino vs. Timo, Bernie vs. Benny there also might be a lot to watch in the stands.
Mets catcher Mike Piazza dates the Playboy Playmate of the Millennium. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has been linked to Miss Universe.
The Yankees got a day off Wednesday to rest. A few Mets pitchers threw at Shea Stadium, though rain washed out a full workout.
The wet weather did nothing to dampen the players' spirits.
"This is our chance to get a place on the map," Mets outfielder Jay Payton said. "Whoever wins can walk around with their chins high and have bragging rights for a long time."
"There're more Yankee fans than Mets fans in the city. That's just a result of winning. People like teams that win. The Yankees are definitely the team of the city."
The Yankees are trying to become the first team to win three straight World Series championships since Oakland in 1972-74. The Mets' last title came in 1986, when the team starred Dwight Gooden, now pitching for the Yankees.
The teams met six times in interleague play this year, with the Yankees winning four times. The rivalry already tense from the days when Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would put extra emphasis on beating the Mets in spring-training games was heightened after Roger Clemens beaned Piazza.
City transit officials, meanwhile, planned to add extra No. 4 trains to the Lexington Avenue line that will carry fans to Yankee Stadium and additional No. 7 trains on the Flushing line to Shea Stadium. The routes meet at Grand Central Terminal.
Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch has been known to ride the rails up to the Bronx. Don't look for Piazza, though.
"There's no subway near my house," the New Jersey resident said.