Mets or Royals? Nadel, Daniels of different mind
ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and broadcaster Eric Nadel are of different generations, but both have reason to be eagerly looking forward to the World Series.
Both grew up in New York City as rabid Mets fans, and they have vivid memories of previous World Series at Shea Stadium. So Daniels will be enjoying the Royals-Mets series with his son, Lincoln, while Nadel will be watching it at his Durango, Colo., vacation home.
That doesn't mean they will be rooting for the Mets. The Rangers have spent the past 14 seasons sharing a Spring Training facility with the Royals. Daniels and the Rangers' front office have a close relationship with Royals general manager Dayton Moore and his staff.
"A lot of the front-office guys from both teams stay in that Residence Inn close to the stadium during the spring," Daniels said. "We see each other every day. We have a very good relationship. They took a lot of heat and a lot of criticism, but they stayed with it, showed patience and they have had a lot of success. They have a very talented club that is a lot of fun to watch because of the way they play the game. I'm very happy for them."
Nadel, Brooklyn born and raised, has a few simple rules when deciding who to root for in the World Series.
"I love it when there are two teams that haven't won it in a long time, knowing that long-suffering fans will be rewarded," Nadel said. "I almost always root for the American League team. The only exceptions are when New York teams are involved. If the Yankees are in it, I root against them. When the Mets are in it, I root for them."
Nadel, at age 6, remembers going to four Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field in 1957. But the Dodgers left the next season for Los Angeles and the city had to wait five years for the Mets.
"The Mets were a savior to a lot of Brooklyn baseball fans whose hearts were broken when the Dodgers left," Nadel said. "We already hated the Yankees and didn't have anyone to root for until the Mets arrived in 1962.
"Of course, the Mets were awful until '69, but it was still fun to watch them lose, and they did so at first with a lot of former Dodgers ... Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roger Craig, Don Zimmer, etc."
The Mets finally broke through in 1969 when they overcame the Cubs in September to win the National League East, swept the Braves in the first ever NL Championship Series and beat the Orioles in five games to win the World Series.
"That year, 1969 was just magical," Nadel said. "The Orioles were such heavy favorites, just as the Baltimore Colts had been in the Super Bowl in January, only to be upset by the Jets. Ron Swoboda's game-saving catch in the ninth inning of Game 4 is probably my single favorite Mets World Series moment.
"People forget that it was actually a sacrifice fly that tied the game, but the Mets won in 10 innings and that catch prevented the Orioles from winning the game. Swoboda was not a great defensive outfielder, just as Al Weis, one of the Met's offensive heroes, was not much of a hitter. Mickey Mantle said after the game that Swoboda's catch was the best catch he had ever seen."
Daniels, who grew up in Queens, was there the last time the Mets were in the World Series in 2000. He went to three of the five games, including Game 1 at Yankee Stadium and Game 5 at Shea Stadium.
"I was there [in Game 1] when Todd Zeile hit a double off the wall and Derek Jeter made a tremendous relay to get Timo Perez out at the plate," Daniels said. "And I was there watching from the upper deck when the Yankees celebrated at Shea Stadium."