The World Series has divided New York, pitting the proud Yankees against the underdog Mets.
It's arguably the most heated rivalry in sports, and stadium security and police presence on the #4 and #7 trains during the Subway Series have been heightened to beyond that of a United Nations summit. Coaches, sports writers and fans scour everything from stat columns and box scores to scouting reports and charts, looking for any shred of an angle to grab hold of.
Want more dirt to help fan the flames? Then turn to the classic, the quirky and the occasionally eclectic musical tastes of the players themselves.
The Mets' Picks
Take Mike Piazza, for example. The Mets catcher and MVP candidate's current playlist reads like compass etchings on a 1984 high school textbook: Mötley Crüe's "Too Young to Fall in Love," AC/DC's "Jailbreak," [RealVideo] Ozzy Osbourne's "Over the Mountain" and Led Zeppelin's "The Rover."
Mets left fielder Timo Perez and second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo prefer Latin music for the walk from the on-deck circle to the batter's box.
"They're always giving me these CDRs with merengue and salsa on them to play," Mets audio/video producer Vito Vitello said. "I have no idea who is on there; the Gipsy Kings, maybe. But the crowd really likes it."
First baseman Todd Zeile's at-bat selections have the Dazz Band's disco smash "Let It Whip" book-ended by hard-rock tracks from Creed and Metallica. Third baseman Robin Ventura, who brought a group of Mets to a Foo Fighters/Red Hot Chili Peppers show in Holmdel, New Jersey, this summer, prefers slightly mellower fare, with Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" among his picks. Game 1 starter Al Leiter is strictly a Boss fan, opting for Bruce Springsteen's "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" [RealAudio] during his warm-up routine at Shea Stadium.
Journeyman pitcher Bobby J. Jones, who capped a comeback from a demotion to the minor leagues by tossing a one-hit shutout to clinch the Divisional Series, loosens up, fittingly, to Hank Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive." And what bullpen would be complete without reliever Turk Wendell's pick of the Troggs' 1960s smash "Wild Thing," a song repopularized by Charlie Sheen's out-of-control closer in the 1989 film "Major League"?
Inside the Mets clubhouse, however, there is only one DJ -- veteran relief pitcher and Brooklyn native John Franco. "He definitely runs the show, but he keeps everybody happy and everybody loose," Vitello said of Franco's song selections.
"Thanks to Chef Disco," "Daily News" columnist Mark Kreigel wrote of Franco last week, "walking into the Mets clubhouse after a win is like going to the Fun House [discotheque], circa 1978."
But Franco himself makes his trot from the bullpen to the sounds of the Ad Libs' '60s single "The Boy From New York City."
What The Yanks Crank
As for the Bronx Bombers, Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez takes a cue from Piazza in his selections of early '80s hard rock, picking the AC/DC classics "You Shook Me All Night Long" [RealVideo] and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," [RealVideo] interspersed with Van Halen cuts, including "Dreams." [RealVideo] Outfielder David Justice is loyal to the 1982 Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 hit "The Message," [RealAudio] while third baseman Scott Brosius prefers "Take Me to Your Leader" by Christian rockers the Newsboys.
But heartthrob shortstop Derek Jeter is the most meticulous of all Yankees when it comes to choosing songs for his at-bats, according to Yankees audio producer Chris Morrissey.
"Jeter changes them every other game," Morrissey said. "He gets these samplers that record companies send him all the time."
The selection of Eminem's "The Way I Am" [RealVideo] by second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, relegated to designated hitting duty for his shaky defensive play, is perhaps the most telling choice of songs in the Yankees lineup.
The "Rocket" Roger Clemens takes the mound to Elton John's "Rocket Man." [RealVideo] Closer Mariano Rivera's entrance from the bullpen has always been synched with Metallica's "Enter Sandman," [RealVideo] but according to Morrissey, it was the Yankees' hierarchy that swayed the vote.
"[The management] wanted a big entrance in the ninth inning," Morrissey said, "and [Rivera] is a gentle guy, a Christian, so it might seem he's sending mixed messages."
Rating These Rock Clubs
Now the question becomes, which New York team rocks more?
Despite Piazza's fondness for Mötley Crüe, the band's bassist, Nikki Sixx, favors the Yanks.
"Mike Piazza always flirts with my wife," Sixx wrote in an email. "He thinks [playing our music] will keep me from c oming to New York and whooping some Mets ass, and maybe he's right."
Both franchises have had bona fide brushes with popular music. During their World Series Championship run in 1986, the Mets not only led a well-publicized rock and roll lifestyle, but they also produced a music video for "Let's Go Mets" that landed on MTV's top 10.
In its heyday, Shea Stadium hosted a number of notable rock concerts, including a famous Beatles performance in 1965. And during spring training in Florida earlier this season, the Mets gave country superstar Garth Brooks a monthlong tryout.
The House That Ruth Built is no stranger to rock stars, either. The Bronx-born, Long Island-raised Billy Joel played Yankee Stadium on back-to-back dates in 1990.
"Shea is clearly the more rock 'n' roll of the two stadiums," Frank Simms, a 29-year-old Mets fan from Queens, said. "The Beatles played there. Grand Funk [Railroad] played there. In the '80s they had the Who, the Clash and the Police."
For Simms, though, it all comes down to one simple truism: "America always loves an underdog. New York always loves an underdog. Rock and roll is music for the underdog. You can't get more underdog than the Mets."