Quartet of ex-Yankees experience first Subway Series from Mets' side
Perhaps the most excited - and most nervous - about the Series was Curtis Granderson, who spent four years in the Bronx before "defecting" across town to the Mets this past winter and hoped before the series began that he would be remembered as fondly as he remembers his time as a Yankee.
"I'm looking forward to it, and we'll find out in a few hours (how the fans react)," Granderson said prior to Monday's game. "I enjoyed my four years here, I got a chance to do some great things and (the Yankees fan base) was obviously very supportive with my foundation, so I'm looking forward to seeing them out there."
The "Grandy Man" got some boos (par for the course for any visiting player, naturally) but mostly cheers when he took his first at-bat, and later gave his signature dance when receiving one more roll call from the Bleacher Creatures. It was like he was home again, although as Eric Young Jr. noted earlier in the day, "he never actually left New York City."
All that aside, though, for Granderson, the 2014 Subway Series is the same as every other one he's been a part of, only this time he's in orange and blue instead of pinstripes.
"It's neat to get a chance to do it on both sides, not many people obviously get a chance to do that," he said. "I remember playing the four or six games against the Mets every year, because I got a chance to lock in on it no matter where the teams were in the standings, and get some bragging rights for those brief days."
It was slightly different for Bobby Abreu, who left the Yankees following the 2008 season and thus had never played a home game at the new Yankee Stadium.
The last three years have been particularly tough from Abreu, as he went from an everyday player with the Angels to a reserve with the Dodgers to out of the majors completely before the Mets brought him aboard in April, and he was just glad to be able to even be part of the Subway Series - and help bring the intensity he was always known for to some of the young Mets, who he said may not have much Series experience but still know these four games are a little more intense.
"I'm just happy to be back in the majors and happy to be with the Mets. We have a group of young guys and I'm just doing my best to try to help the team win and help the young guys wherever I can, help them to be better players," Abreu said. "But they know how it is, how the Subway Series is. They know how to handle it and know the importance of these games."
But of course, even though he never played a Subway Series game in this iteration of Yankee Stadium, Abreu knows the fans haven't changed, and he appreciates them as much as they always loved him.
"Oh yeah, the fans were great to me when I was here, they treated me well," Abreu said. "(When they chant your name) you wave back, and you appreciate the support and how they were always good to you."
Current Mets closer Kyle Farnsworth also never played a home game in the new Yankee Stadium, leaving the Yankees via trade late in the 2008 season. However, he knows that whether or not fans loved him while he was a Yankee from 2006-08, the fact that he's a Met now means he's guaranteed to get some vitriol.
"I hope they (Yankees fans) remember me positively, but I know they'll boo me because I'm on the opposite team," he said. "The fans will do what they do, but it's all good to put on any uniform and get to play the game."
To him, though, the atmosphere of the Subway Series is just a backdrop for what's really important: winning an important game.
"I approach it as any other game, it's no different," Farnsworth said. "No matter who you're pitching against, you still have to prepare yourself mentally and physically to do your best and get the other guys out, because every game counts the same in the standings."
As for the final Yankee-turned-Met, Bartolo Colon, the atmosphere is a little different. Colon spent just one season as a Yankee, and pitched in just one Subway Series game - which was in Queens.
So, when he started Monday's game, he was again the visitor in his second-ever Subway Series start, and didn't really expect any reaction other than the typical visitors' derision.
"The fans here were good to me when I was here, but I've played for many teams, so it's hard to think about how fans will respond when I come back somewhere," Colon said through an interpreter. "I'm the enemy today, so they'll probably not like me."
For the four ex-Yankees now in Queens, there were four different ways to approach the beginning of the 2014 Subway Series. There's still three more games to go, though, and no matter how they do go, Granderson for one knows the entire week will be electric.
"The fact that the games are all back-to-back, first here and then over in Queens, makes it pretty cool."