Bruce Fretts
October 25, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Here’s fall’s best TV drama: the subway series

It was only appropriate that Fox’s pregame show before Tuesday night’s World Series game opened with the theme song from ”The Sopranos.” After all, Tony Soprano and his crew starred in last year’s hottest TV drama while the Mets and Yankees subway series is shaping up as THIS fall’s most sizzling action show.

First of all, it’s got a great villain: Roger Clemens. Like J.R. Ewing and Richard Hatch, he’s so good at what he does that you can’t help but love to hate him. But what was the Yankee pitcher thinking when he hurled that shard of Mike Piazza’s broken bat back at him on Sunday night? Even if you believe he didn’t intentionally bean Piazza earlier in the season, that would’ve been a bonehead move. Too bad the $50,000 fine imposed on him by Major League Baseball will hardly make a dent in his chewing tobacco budget.

Then you’ve got your hero: Piazza. The Mets catcher showed great restraint and class by not rearranging Clemens’ face. Informed that a fan had retrieved a part of the shattered bat, Piazza suggested that it be auctioned off for charity. What a guy. (By now you may have guessed that I’m a Mets fan, but I used to like the Yankees too — until Clemens went off his rocker. To quote George W. Bush, that guy’s a Major League asshole, and has been ever since he pitched for the Red Sox in 1986 and lost to the Mets the last time they were in the World Series.)

You want heartthrobs? We got heartthrobs. Start with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, arguably dreamier than any of those ‘N Sync pipsqueaks who crooned the national anthem Tuesday night. Not for nothing did Jeter reportedly date Mariah Carey (and that’s not the Subway Series’ only showbiz connection: Yankee David Justice was married to Halle Berry, Piazza has allegedly squired any number of starlets, and Met Matt Franco is Kurt Russell’s nephew!). I’m no judge of male beauty, but my wife tells me that Yankee Tino Martinez and Met Robin Ventura are also easy on the eyes.

You need human interest stories? These guys have more than all the U.S. Olympic athletes combined. How about Yankee pitcher Orlando ”El Duque” Hernandez, who came over as a refugee from Cuba only three years ago? Or Met rookie outfielder Timo Perez, who speaks so little English that he communicates with manager Bobby Valentine in… Japanese? Or Yankee manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, both of whom have battled prostate cancer in recent years?

With Tuesday night’s game, there are signs that this could be a long running series. After dropping the first two games at Yankee Stadium by one run margins, the Mets bounced back to win, 4-2. But here’s my worry: Once the subway series is over, where will we turn for exciting new TV drama? Uh, Craig T. Nelson’s got a new show.

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