Meet the Mets

Fresh off their bus ride, rested and ready, here are the
Mets. They were flanked by a police escort from Queens to the Bronx,
and will have the same accommodations on the way back to Shea. It’s high
luxury, but for these two teams — in this city — it’s expected. So much for
those horror stories of traffic jams.

Mets interim manager Jerry Manuel knows all about rivalries
like these, having managed the White Sox for six full seasons. Those years
included quite a few trips to Wrigley Field, including one instance when he
walked in through an outfield gate to face the full wrath of Cubs fans. 

Manuel laughed on Friday, recalling the scene.

Yet those games were different — Chicago
is not New York,
after all — and Manuel knows that this time, he’s in for an entirely different
experience. He’s seen it in the past as a bench coach, and now he’s prepared to
see it as a manager. 

“The intensity is different to a degree,” Manuel said. “This
is probably a more visible stage. Chicago
was kind of like a backyard deal.”

Manuel said that perhaps the rivalry has softened between
the players themselves, with so many of them shuffling between clubs in this
era of free agency. But then again, among the current Yankees and Mets, only
Andy Phillips has spent time on the rosters of both teams. And even he has
never played a game for the Mets — he just signed Wednesday.

But the fans — now they care about this rivalry, even if
the players don’t. These New Yorkers grew up Yankees and Mets fans, and they’ll
remain so for the rest of their lives. All of which Manuel knows, causing him
to offer a pointed warning before Friday’s first game: 

“You have to perform in New York,” he said. “Period.”

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