The Mets are sending a message to the National League (and the Yankees, too) with MLB's highest record, according to Klapisch

The Mets are sending a message to the National League (and the Yankees, too) with MLB's highest reco ...

NEW YORK The day began with tens of thousands of fans wearing blue hats and jerseys looking closer for a glimpse of Tom Seaver's statue outside Citi Field. Police and firefighters were there, seniors and young adults, all under a stunning sun. Not on this perfect day to remember Tom Terrific.

This wasn't exactly Woodstock, but the atmosphere was unlike anything Flushing had ever experienced in decades. Put it this way: When was the last time a Mets owner was actually cheered by his own ticket-buyers?

The introduction to the pregame ceremony touched off an ovation that would have seemed impossible during the Wilpon period. But not on Friday morning, when decades of disappointment and cynicism were scrapped for a new beginning.

The Mets have the highest scores in the major leagues, they have a good manager in the league, and all of it is backed by Cohen's real money.

The Mets took the lead on a four-hour open-air pep rally to deliver the ending of the dark age, but it was so optimistic that Ron Darling was sent to say, "I haven't felt the fans' communal love of their team, their owner, and themselves in my 17 years as a broadcaster."

"I felt (Friday) afternoon, in every sense of the word."

In the same day, the Yankees, who are 4-4, are having the same issues with a lineup that can't hit in the clutch and cannot beat the god-awful Orioles, among others.

Is it possible to imagine that this city might become the Mets this season?

The only reassuring thing is that Seaver wasn't available to witness the rebirth. If the Mets are guilty of anything, it's their unimaginable delay in honoring the great right-hander. The statue, haunting in its power and splendour, should have been dedicated long before Seaver's.

Before his health started declining in 2012, the Franchise was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, which triggered Bell's Palsy and chronic memory loss.

Doctors said that by the end Seaver was suffering from Lewy Body dementia, the same disease that beset Robin Williams and might have caused his suicide. It's an especially cruel affliction for someone as intelligent and witty as Seaver. When Seaver's signature delivery was on display every five days at Shea, fans reflected the statue's pose.

Designer William Behrends caught Seaver's stride, with the right knee scraping the ground and the right knee sticking like a spring, and the ball waiting to explode out of his right hand. The wife of Seaver said, "Hello, Tom. It's so pleasure to see you here where you are."

As my first spring training began, I was too young to cover Seaver in his prime, but I caught him at the back end. The year was 1983, and my first spring training was. I just learned that first-year reporters are the easiest to spot.


They are the ones who will not answer questions (too worried the questions will sound stupid), the ones who miss deadlines (can't think of what to write) and the ones who get defeated on too many stories (no sources in the clubhouse).

So there I was sitting alone in the Mets' clubhouse in the old St. Petersburg complex, confused and clueless. Seaver exited the trainer's room, walked past me, and without uttering a word ripped the newspaper I'd ever read out of my hands.

Seaver walked across the room to his locker, where he sat and perused the sports pages.

I couldn't believe Seaver's audacity. I'd grown up admiring The Franchise, having no idea how aggressive he was toward younger reporters. At that moment, I had two options: Do nothing, let Seaver win, even if it meant giving him permission to tell his teammates he was harmed by the New York Post.

Maybe Seaver would tell no one, keeping the incident as our heinous little secret. I couldn't take that chance.

I used door No. 2, which was to take a deep breath, follow Seaver's path, and get rid of paper from his hands. I sat down next to him, not saying a word. I just kept reading the local hoops scores.

None of us uttered a word. A deep silence hung in the air.

Seaver said, "Well done," while finally getting up and walking away.

It's still the best journalism lesson I ever learned: Never give up.

I invoke this lesson because I'm learning from the Mets this year. It's early and they're currently hosting one of the National League's worst teams this weekend. But there's some of Seaver's take-that in Showalter, who, in turn, is clearing out the franchise's losing stench.

Even a shortstop who seemed to be unlucky last year, is optimistic. He hit two home runs on Friday and was treated to a standing ovation from the fans. Despite the fact that one year ago, these same loyalists were booing Lindor out of Flushing.

Among his supporters, he calls them "one of the greatest fan bases out there," adding, "this is what it takes to have a home-field advantage."

The Mets are doing a full 180, which goes to show the pendulum always swings the other way. That's just in time for next week's real test a four-game series with the Giants that starts on Monday. For the moment, the mood in Flushing is in utterly positive. If it's not Woodstock, it's almost close.

Various, somehow, The Franchise is kicking with a big cigar. He must be wowed about it.

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Bob Klapisch may be reached at.

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