Work in Sports
Built to win
Deep and talented Mets punch World Series ticket
Updated: Tuesday October 17, 2000 7:58 AM
By Mark Morgan, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- The men dousing each other with champagne Monday night were all brought to New York with precisely such a celebration in mind.
The construction of a championship-caliber team began in earnest on May 22, 1998 when Mike Piazza arrived. It continued through the dozens of comings and goings, and included a pre-Christmas present in Mike Hampton, who would win two NLCS games against the Cardinals and the series MVP award as well.
"That's exactly why [general manager] Steve [Phillips] got us all here," said pitcher Rich Reed.
By the time Timo Perez emerged down the season's stretch run, the Mets were sufficiently fortified for a run at their first World Series appearance in 14 years.
"This team's so much like a family, we've got nothing but great guys in here," said Todd Pratt.
"It's weird, but in spring training, we talked about this team winning the World Series," said Darryl Hamilton, while John Franco -- the longest-tenured Met -- lifted his cap and emptied a bottle over his head.
Pratt, Franco and Hamilton were three of only 14 players on New York's NLCS roster who were around when Kenny Rogers walked home the run that sent the Atlanta Braves to the 1999 World Series instead of the Mets.
But with all the new faces -- Todd Zeile at first, Mike Bordick at shortstop, a blossoming young outfield of Perez, Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton -- and all the expectations, the Mets made a statement against the Cardinals: The construction project was complete.
"This team evolved this year, and it's so nice to be a part of it," said Robin Ventura.