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Howe likes being back in the East, where he grew up. Nothing against the West Coast, but sports somehow feels different in the East. Howe may have to make some adjustments, like talking to reporters every day even in the offseason, but to someone who has known him for years, he sounded thrilled. He picked up a copy of Leonard Koppett's The New York Mets: The Whole Story and immersed himself in that.
"I grew up in the East, in Pittsburgh," he said, "and it's not a rap on the Bay Area or anything out that way, but it just seems like baseball is more contagious, or whatever you want to call it, back East. I remember growing up in Pittsburgh, and if you went into the barber shop, everyone was talking about baseball. That's how it is in New York."
To his critics, then, Howe in effect has this to say: Have your fun, and take your best shots, and let's get on to the baseball. If you want to crank up the pressure, that's just fine with him. No one knows just what to expect of the Mets' Howe era, including Howe himself. It won't be the strange disarray of last year, and it won't be the sweet abandon of those young A's teams, either. That's why Howe's grinning nowhe can't wait to find out how this all plays out.
Steve Kettmann covered the Oakland A's for theSan Francisco Chronicle from 1994 to 1998 and has also written on sports forThe New York Times,The New Republic, and Salon.com. He editedGame Time, an anthology of Roger Angell's baseball writing, which will be published this spring by Harcourt.