Archive for Monday, October 9, 2006

Mets the talk of town

October 9, 2006

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— When he walked out of the clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, Jeff Wilpon checked his Treo and saw dozens of congratulations.

"I got 48 e-mails in the half-hour between when the game ended and the time I left the locker room from the celebration," he said Sunday.

The other New York baseball team is playing into late October this year. While there's turmoil in the Bronx following the Yankees' first-round elimination, the Mets will be playing St. Louis in the NL championship series starting Wednesday.

"We have our own focus and we're worried about ourselves. We're not worried about them," said Wilpon, the team's chief operating officer and the son of owner Fred Wilpon.

Then he added: "If the Mets' fans feel it's good, then I guess it's good."

For the first time since 1988, the Mets will be ending their season after the Yankees, who have dominated the New York baseball scene for the past decade. In 2000, when they met in a Subway Series, the Yankees won in five games.

After fighting for attention for so long, the Mets were a little giddy following their first-round sweep of Los Angeles, which they finished off with a 9-5 win Saturday night.

"I'm concerned about my team. We're the New York Mets, and we're New Yorkers, also," Mets manager Willie Randolph said during his team's second clubhouse celebration in three weeks.

Randolph won two World Series titles with the Yankees as a player and four as a coach. For nearly all his players, October celebrations are novel.

"This is why I came to New York," said Steve Trachsel, who joined the team after the 2000 season and is their longest-tenured player. "I expected to be here two or three times by now. It's been a long time coming. I've been waiting for a long time. It's everything I imagined."

GM Omar Minaya and Randolph inherited a team that went 71-91 in 2004, remade the front office and the roster, building a nucleus by adding Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to young players such as David Wright and Jose Reyes.

They did lots of little things right against the Dodgers, getting timely hits and key outs. Statistically, New York and Los Angeles were pretty even. The Mets had only a slightly higher batting average than the Dodgers, .294 to .291, yet outscored them 19-11.

New York already matched 1969's Miracle Mets in one department: by winning a best-of-five series while getting only 132â3 innings out of its starting pitchers.

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