Mike Piazza used to make Mets fans believe. Now he's a believer himself.
"If anyone can do it, they can," Piazza said after throwing the first pitch for Game 3 of the World Series Friday night. "It's a challenge where they are right now . . . [But] I think they're a really talented bunch and they played so well [down] the stretch and then the postseason."
Of course, Piazza has been in these cleats before. His 2000 Mets team trailed the Yankees two games to none in the World Series before winning Game 3. With the Yankees leading three games to one, Piazza -- representing the tying run in the ninth inning of Game 5 -- hit a long fly to center that died in Bernie Williams' glove for the Series' final out.
Not that he particularly wants to relive that memory.
"It was a long time ago and I'm glad we're turning the page," he said. "Hopefully, this week we'll get going."
Piazza's pitch was perfectly serviceable. He came out to a dizzy crowd that he tried to dizzy up some more by pumping his fist while standing on the mound. Then, while rocking on the outer cusp of the hill, he warmed up his arm and delivered to Kevin Plawecki (just a bit outside).
Naturally, Piazza was his own biggest critic. "Doo doo," he said of his pitch. "Scar tissue."
He had no complaints about the atmosphere, though. He was even a bit prophetic, predicting a few extra runs for a team that scored twice in the first, twice in the third and once in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.
"It was great," he said of the crowd. "It was great to hear the fans and see the faces and the energy was really, really amazing, so hopefully it'll get us going, get us some runs."
Lest anyone think that Piazza -- eight years after his final season in the majors -- is immune to Mets-induced anxiety, rest assured, he's not.
"Tonight is a really big ballgame," he said. "I'm excited."
Skip a beat.
"I need a drink."