2007-04-13 / Sports

'Amazins' Could Turn New York Into A Mets Kind Of Town

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

FLUSHING, NY - It may have been the daytime start. Or it just may have been the construction of Citi Field going on in the parking lot, but on Opening Day, the area surrounding Shea Stadium looked more crowed than in past seasons.

Unlike their Bronx counterparts last week, the mounds of cars that filled the area surrounding the Mets home made the Flushing ballpark look like the 'in' place to be.

The times may be a changing. This year, the Mets are poised to take over the city for themselves. With a potent lineup and strong pitching, it wouldn't be surprising to see the team dominate the National League once again and possibly go to the World Series.

On Opening Day at Shea, the Mets proved that they could be that team. A come from behind 11-5 win over the Phillies saw the Amazins' take advantage of Philadelphia mistakes. It's that opportunism that makes champions, which puts them on the right track to success.

"Early in the season," said Shawn Green, "teams tend to take on an identity that sometimes sticks - 'we come from behind' or 'we don't hit with runners in scoring position' or 'we can't score runs.' We already have a sense that we can come back."

That type of excitement in Queens was surely absent in the Bronx for most of the week. But on Saturday, much-maligned third baseman Alex Rodriguez turned those boos to cheers with a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to beat the O's.

Even with that comeback, the Yankees, who have a potent offense, have serious pitching concerns. Yes, they played better in Minnesota, but smart money says there will be more Jekyll and Hyde performances from the staff this year.

And that will move New York's eye towards Queens. If the Mets continue their strong play, casual fans will start backing the Amazins' over the Bombers.

The Mets, also, boast more likable and approachable players like Jose Reyes and David Wright, both of whom are home grown and already have a strong fan following. In fact, Wright's jersey outsold Derek Jeter's last season, another sign of the tide turning. Add to that friendly faces like Hall of Famer Tom Glavine and Paul Lo Duca, and you can see why fans are lining up at Shea.

It may not happen overnight, and with so many tickets sold already for the Yankees, the Bombers will still pack them in at Yankee Stadium. But the Mets are poised to take the town back for the first time in a very long while.

So don't expect the parking situation to get any better.

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