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Mets' fast start a hot topic at Fans for the Cure dinner

NEW YORK -- Art Shamsky, a member of the 1969 World Series champion Mets, wrote in his book, "The Magnificent Seasons," that "Life is about ups and downs, hoping your dreams come true."

Right now, he says it is OK for Mets fans to dare to dream.

"It's always good to get off to a good start. Hopefully they can maintain it," Shamsky, 73, said Thursday night at correspondent Ed Randall's Fans for the Cure First Annual Celebrity Dinner, an event designed to help fight prostate cancer. "The game is about pitching and defense, and they have really good young pitchers.

1st Annual Fans for the Cure Celebrity Dinner photo gallery

"If they can just stay close. You know, the key to Major League Baseball now is to not be out of it during the summer months. If you can just stay close and just get into the playoffs, then if you get hot for playoff time, anything can happen. I think that's the nature of the game right now.

"I would say they're in not too strong a division. They're playing against some teams that aren't really strong, so if they can just beat up on those teams and play the kind of baseball they've been playing the first month or so of the season, they'll be fine."

As the baseball calendar heads into May, both New York teams continue to lead their respective divisions. The Yankees have a one-game lead over Boston in the American League East, and the Mets have a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League East, despite a three-game losing streak.

That topic was naturally on the minds of many people who attended the fundraiser at 101 Park in Manhattan. The Mets were expected to be improved, but the Nationals were widely favored in that division. The Yankees were expected to rebuild in a competitive division.

"It's cool for baseball. It's necessary," said former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who impressively conducted the live auction at the dinner. "I think the heads thought maybe it would be the Chicago teams both in first place, and that would energize the baseball world. But I think this being the baseball capital, it's a good thing that it is the Yankees and the Mets.

"Can they sustain it? That's why you play the season. It's a long season. It's not about what you did, it's what you're doing, what you're going to do, and how you stay together during the tough times. They'll both be tested. We'll figure it out."

The most important topic of discussion, though, was prostate cancer. About 250,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2015, and more than 30,000 men will succumb to the disease. Randall and his organization -- an official charity of Minor League Baseball -- spread the message far and wide to make sure men know to get PSA screening tests for early detection. This dinner was originally scheduled for March, but because of snow it had to be rescheduled.

"We need to form an army of men to understand that this is exclusively a man's disease," Randall said. "It affects one-third more men than breast cancer does women. They need to understand that they have a responsibility for their health. Men are like, 'Oh, I feel fine.' On the day that I was diagnosed, I felt fine. ... No man should die needlessly from prostate cancer."

"We're trying to cure this stuff sometime, and I hope it's before I leave this earth," Valentine added. "The more money we can raise, the better it is."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.
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