Work in Sports
Ya gotta believe
No situation too desperate for Mets fans
Updated: Wednesday October 25, 2000 8:45 AM
By Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- A few hours before the start of Game 3 of the Subway Series, two Yankee fans were hobnobbing outside a midtown office building when a Mets fan walked by. "Two more games, baby!" one Yankees fan said to the other.
"Yes," the Mets fan said in passing, "Two more games 'til a tie series."
No sane fan likes to be down 2-0 in a series, but Mets fans have always had something of the irrational dream in them. They have slogans with words like "magic" and "believe" in them and you get the feeling that they're happiest when things aren't going quite their way, when having a whole lot of faith is in order.
Mets fans are the Don Quixotes of this series. And, they'd likely tell you, their windmill can kick your windmill's ass.
Belief more than anything is what defines Mets fans. It defined them in '73 and in '86 and it defines them now. Last year, the Mets were down 3-0 to the Braves in the NLCS, and down a run late in Game 4. But Shea never quieted, not as the Mets rallied in that game and not the next night as the Mets scored two runs in a steady rain in the bottom of the 15th inning to send that seemingly dead series back to Atlanta.
In the one game the Mets lost in this year's NLCS, they trailed the Cardinals by 8-2 in the ninth. Yet when they got a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, the crowd was up and screaming as if six runs were nothing at all. The Mets won the next two at home.
In Game 3, Shea Stadium rocked the way Yankee Stadium hasn't in this series.
Rick Reed went 0-2 on the leadoff hitter Jose Vizcaino and the mass of believers was up and cheering, Then they broke into chants of "Ti-mo, Ti-mo" when right fielder Timo Perez caught Vizcaino's routine fly ball for the game's first out.
Reed had five strikeouts in the first two innings and the Shea crowd rose each time he got to two strikes. Yankee fans simply don't get like this. Too much winning has made them blasé.
Yankee Stadium is a much more beautiful, far more historic place than Shea, of course. But Shea has an intimacy that never comes to the Stadium no matter how often Joe Torre weeps.
It's 1:10 a.m. as I'm writing this in the mezzanine at Shea. Armando Benitez threw the last pitch 45 minutes ago. You can hear a swarm of Mets fans screaming "Let's Go Mets" outside. They're a long way off, subway bound, and you can hear them clear as the boiler rumbling in your basement.
The evening's first sustained cries of "Let's Go Mets" began some five hours ago, at 8:11, 26 minutes before the game's first pitch. In the ensuing time, fans talked about all the good that they were sure was to come in Game 3.
Someone mentioned the Jets' phenomenal fourth-quarter comeback against the Miami Dolphins the night before. "It's a good omen," he said. Mets fans believe in omens.
Even earlier, during batting practice a row of fervent faithful had gathered behind the Mets' dugout. One man held a baby in his arms. How's this for an omen for that kid's life: The swaddling clothes, even the pacifier, were orange-and-blue.
The man jostled his babe gently in his arms and joined in with a cheer of "Mets in Six! Mets in Six!" And you got the feeling that those crazy Mets fans believed that right then, trailing two games to none in the Subway Series, they had the Yankees right where they wanted them.