By Peter Sorkin
On Monday, the New York Mets did their job with a 7-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium in Flushing.
On Tuesday, the New York Yankees did their job with a 9-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the Bronx.
That made the epidemic official: Subway series fever was sweeping Queens. For the first time since the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, the World Series will be an all New York affair. And this time the Bronx Bombers will face Queens' own Amazin's.
Jubilant Met fans, still buzzing from pitcher Mike Hampton's three-hit gem in the National League Championship game, say the magic is back in town. As shouts of “Let's Go Mets” echoed through the SheaStadium parking lot and across Queens Monday night, many said their chances of dethroning their cross-town rivals were great. And the borough may never be the same.
“It was mayhem,” said Laura Altimari, the director of sales for the Marriott Courtyard at LaGuardia Airport opposite Shea Stadium. “I've never seen the hotel buzzing so much. We're decorating the hotel to the hilt.”
Altimari added that the hotel was already sold out for Saturday night, when the series begins at Yankee Stadium.
Alan Bomser of Kew Gardens, who grew up in the Bronx rooting for the Yankees, said he will not be able to sleep in his own bed or eat at the kitchen table if the Yankees beat the Mets. He and his wife Michelle attended the deciding game Monday night with their two sons, Brian and Max. But in 1986, Alan said, he was unable to attend game six of the World Series at Shea Stadium because Michelle had gone into labor with Max.
“Believe me, I'm a baseball fan and I root for the Mets, just not when they're playing the Yankees,” he said.
The rest of his family, however, think destiny is on the Mets' side.
But according to Little Neck resident Bobby Pawlow, who watched the Yankees clinch the American League Championship from the First Edition bar on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, the Yankees will take the series in six games.
“It's the biggest game of their life,” he said. “The Yankees in six, you heard it here first.”
New York baseball fans, however, may not be the only ones to experience the thrill of a subway series. An analysis based on a July 2000 report from the baseball commissioner's office showed a rapid increase in revenues through 1999 for both teams. A subway series could bring the city as much as $246 million, generating nearly $15 million in tax revenues, according to estimates from the City Comptroller's office.
The city has already gained $31 million from both New York teams' participation in the first round of the playoffs, and rough estimates for a dual league championship title could be worth as much as $77 million, benefiting businesses and retail establishments.
At a luncheon at Terrace on the Park just a day after the Mets won the pennant, Joseph Farber, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the city would greatly benefit.
“That will certainly translate into more business for Queens,” he said. “I don't think anything really gets the residents of the city as involved as something like this.”
“I think it's fabulous,” said state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose). “It's going to mean a lot for the economy of the city.”
The World Series will begin Saturday in the Bronx, but some Yankee fans say the Mets do not even need to show up.
Danielle Marchiano of Middle Village said Tuesday night the Mets need to forget it.
“The Yankees in four,” she predicted.
Met fans, as usual, disagreed. Barely an hour after the game Monday night, their loyal fans were still celebrating in the parking lot, relishing their victory.
Woodhaven residents Mike Kelly, Tony Slippers, Scott Nieto and Sal Forcina continued partying into the night.
“It takes only one more step,” said Forcina, who runs an Italian restaurant in Glendale. “We're going to take it all the way.”
Nieto said he expects to pay upwards of $500 or more for tickets to any of the three World Series games at Shea. But Tuesday morning, Mets management in a bid to curb scalping announced tickets would only be available by phone.
“We believe the telephone method of sale to be the most fair, as well as safe and convenient for our fans,” said Bill Ianniciello, vice president of ticket sales and services. Each fan, he said would be able to purchase a maximum of four tickets for one game only.
Some like Whitestone resident Joseph Gravangna said the Mets handled the situation very poorly, but he believes the Mets' chances for a World Series victory are far better than the aging Yankees.
Borough President Claire Shulman could not agree more. She plans on making a bet with Mayor Giuliani but does not expect to lose.
“The New York Mets have done us proud,” she said. “Bring on the Yankees!”
Michelle Han and Adam Kramer contributed to the story.