PHILADELPHIA - A year ago, the Mets flirted with the idea of their very own Wolf Pack for the inaugural season of Citi Field.
Considering that many of the fans wore paper bags on their heads by late September, a few dozen loonies in hairy wolf masks and bushy paws would have been a welcome diversion from the dog of a team on the diamond.
Looking back, however, Randy Wolf - the Met killer - is very happy to have landed in Los Angeles. Especially now that Wolf will be starting today's Game 4 of the NLCS against the Phillies, his former team, at Citizens Bank Park.
Wolf began his major-league career with the Phillies in 1999, which is when his howling fan club - think rejects from a Teen Wolf movie audition - sprouted in the cheap seats at Veterans Stadium. Incredibly, Wolf said Sunday that he has stayed in contact with his eccentric pals, though he doubted they would suit up for Game 4.
"I know they'll be here, but I don't think they'll be in costume," Wolf said. "They're born and raised Philadelphians and they're Phillies first and foremost. I think for the sake of their own lives, they'll keep that under wraps."
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Just as Mets GM Omar Minaya and the other members of his braintrust would prefer to forget they chose to spend $36 million on Oliver Perez rather than a low-cost, more effective option like Wolf, who took a one-year, $5-million deal from the Dodgers.
At this point, there's not much sense comparing the two, and that's before you even get to the salaries. Perez made a total of 14 starts and finished 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA before season ending surgery to fix - presumably - the tendinitis in his right knee. As for Wolf, he went 11-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 34 starts for the AL West champions.
Maybe the offseason cries of Wolf were nothing more than part of the Mets' negotiating stance with Perez. If so, it didn't help much, as Perez was still grossly overpaid in what was supposed to be a lean winter for free agents not named CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira.
It was a tiny bit of consolation for the Mets that Wolf at least wound up on the West Coast, where his number of starts against them would be minimized. Wolf is 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 30 career starts against the Mets, so he had been one of Philly's best weapons against its division rival. Listening to Wolf talk about his Phillies' roots, he still has great affection for the organization, and it was emotional seeing them win the World Series last year.
"I was extremely happy for those guys," Wolf said. "Playing here you kind of understand the heartbeat of this city and what they've gone through for over 20 years, and for them to get that championship was really big for them.
"But I'd be lying if I said there was a part of me that wasn't jealous. I was with that organization for a long time and I obviously missed that boat. Even after they win a championship, they haven't stopped trying to make their team stronger. It says a lot for the fact that they don't want to settle on just one championship and that's pretty admirable."
Those are haunting words for the Mets, who are home watching this NLCS, and could once again be thinking about signing Wolf to bolster their rotation. It's probably too late. Perhaps the only thing the Mets could offer Wolf is the chance to pitch in chilly temperatures, which he was looking forward to Monday.
"If you haven't noticed, I'm not the tannest person in the world," said Wolf, who grew up in Southern California. "And I think there's somewhere in my ancestry where they were used to cold weather because the sun and I usually aren't friends."