So -- cue the Keith Moon drumroll please -- Who's Next?
Ladies and gentlemen, here they are, your 2007 World Series champions ...
The New York Mets.
Led by 2007 National League MVP Jose Reyes, Comeback Player of the Year Pedro Martinez and Manager of the Year Willie Randolph, they take that final stride and wash away the bitter disappointment of '06.
Let's make that eight new champs in a dizzying, dazzling, Amazin' roll.
And why the heck not?
If you believe in truth, justice and the American way, baseball style, you have to acknowledge the Mets' many assets -- and their appealing prospects of conquering the World Series.
Those are Minnesota's Twins, with all that dashing young talent and superlative pitching, we see across the field soberly observing the Mets' final October celebration after Game 7 at Shea Stadium, New York having claimed home-field advantage courtesy of Trevor Hoffman's save for the National League in the 2007 All-Star Game at San Francisco.
Yes, the Mets. It's simply their time.
This is a team that had everything but a closing act in '06, waking up those 20-year-old echoes of the '86 marauders with a fantastic season that had everyone remembering young Doc and Darryl, The Kid and Mex, Davey and Nails.
Sure, it ended with the great Carlos Beltran, of all people, taking a third strike from the latest Chosen One, Adam Wainwright, leaving Shea Stadium numb and dumbfounded. But right up until their untimely demise, the Amazin's truly were amazin', start to finish.
Consider: Beltran, Reyes, Carlos Delgado and David Wright gave leather-lunged New Yawk fans as many legitimate MVP candidates to cheer as the rest of the league combined. They'll all be back, smarter, stronger, even tougher. That taste, getting so close, will drive them through the long, hot summer.
Consider: The Mets hit 200 home runs, stole 146 bases, had the league's best bullpen and came within a timely hit or two of winning the pennant with John Maine and Oliver Perez -- no Pedro, no El Duque -- pitching Games 6 and 7 of a great National League Championship Series against Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan.
And, finally consider: Randolph is an emerging players' manager in the image of Joe Torre, a leader who will help aggressive GM Omar Minaya draw free-agent pieces necessary to improve on 97 regular-season wins and six more in the postseason for 103. That's a number matched only by the Cards' Motor City victims, nine more than the champions manufactured.
There will be shrieks and howls of protests from precincts across the land when this decidedly unpopular and singular vote for the Mets is posted, but that's to be expected -- and embraced.
Bring it on! We live for engagement.
We hear you in The Bronx, jeering our audacity in putting the Mets ahead of the imperial Yanks. Sure, the Bombers will be a force; they're always a force. But the force of nature in '07 will be found in that neighboring borough of Queens.
We hear you in New England, reminding us that the Sox will be back, curse-free, driven by Big Papi to show that 2004 was for real.
We hear you in the South, where Atlanta still stands proud and brave -- OK, maybe not as proud and brave as before -- and Florida has a habit of rising unexpectedly from the ashes.
Oh, sure, we hear you in Ryan Howard country out in Philly, where you're getting pumped to boo Santa, and north of the border in Toronto, where you're civil but firmly remindful of glories past.
We hear you in Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland and on the South Side of Chicago, ranting about how the AL Central still gets no respect. On the contrary, that division of divisions gets immense respect -- just not another World Series crown just yet. (The Tigers will be back, real soon, and the Twins are also here to stay).
We hear you in St. Louis -- go ahead, let us have it. We know it's unwise to discount any team with David Eckstein, a modern-day Scooter, at shortstop in all his fiery glory. Hey, no offense, Redbird lovers, but recent history is compelling in its argument against repeats and in the sustaining power of the brand of magic that produces a championship without thunder from Albert Pujols.
And, finally, we hear you out West, where Oakland, both Los Angeleses -- including the one in Anaheim -- and San Diego are potentially loaded. The pitching-rich Padres would be especially hard to ignore if they hired Dusty Baker, so perfect for the job, to replace Bruce Bochy. But that, alas, doesn't appear likely.
So, yes, by all means, shout it from the rooftops. Your team, even those we foolishly neglected here, has a legitimate shot to be lucky No. 8 in to shine in the new century.
Just make a few home improvements, add a shot of Wainwright-like magic, mix in some Eckstein heart and soul, and -- voila -- you're right there.
In the meantime, go ahead and vent. We still like the Mets to take it the distance in '07.