NEW YORK -- The last time the New York Mets played a World Series game at home, it was at Shea Stadium. Their manager was Bobby Valentine. Their ace was Mike Hampton. Their star was Mike Piazza. It was 2000, and the New York Yankees were in the visitors dugout.
Valentine and those players are long gone from Queens. Shea, a beloved dump, was torn down to make way for the more modern and comfortable Citi Field, which opened in 2009. Still, the uniqueness of the area remains.
Off in the near distance is Arthur Ashe Stadium, which houses the US Open tennis championships. Flying overhead are planes from LaGuardia Airport. And there is the sea of auto repair shops across the street, which the Mets' owners, the Wilpons, desperately want to get rid of -- but, as of yet, have been unsuccessful in forcing out.
So as the Mets return to the World Series, there is the imperfect, familiar feel of their home. The place has been spruced up a bit over the past 15 years, but it remains one of a kind.