Conflicted Wilson pulling for Mets, Preston

NEW YORK – Chalk Mookie Wilson up as perhaps the most conflicted Mets fan in Flushing.

Under other circumstances, the Mets icon could have had a no-brainer of a decision, pulling for his former club in the National League Championship Series; truly an orange-and-blue aficionado, Wilson even went on a ballpark tour of the Midwest this summer, cheering on the Mets as they played the road.

But the Mets' opponent in this NLCS happens to be the St. Louis Cardinals, the only team in baseball that can make Wilson question his allegiances. The Cardinals' left fielder and No. 2 batter Thursday is Preston Wilson, Mookie's step-son.

"I'm pulling for the Mets and I'm also pulling for him," Wilson said. "We'll see how that works out. There's no question: if there was ever a case of conflicted interests, you're looking at it right now. I understand what's at stake."

So Wilson will be sitting in the stands at Shea Stadium, surely greeted once mote by a chorus of those familiar "Mooooo-kies" that sounded through the building during the 1986 tribute evening back in August. And he'll smile, and wave, and secretly hope that he's not causing too much of a distraction for the other paying customers.

But Wilson is no longer employed by the Mets, having been relieved of his duties as the manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones last year.

So forgive the fact if, should Preston Wilson greet Tom Glavine with a first-inning hit, his stepfather stands and applauds. After all, it's been a nice rebound year for Preston, who was jettisoned by the Houston Astros in midseason and latched on with St. Louis, batting .243 with eight home runs and 17 RBI in 33 games.

"He's been able to be a little more versatile," Wilson said. "He's done well. I don't know if it's any indication of what will happen in the future, but I think he's shown that he's definitely a very useful player."

But aside from family, Mookie Wilson has very little connection to the Cardinals. Asked what he remembered from the Mets' famed 1980s 'pond scum' run-ins with the Redbirds, Wilson smirked.

"Headaches, man," Wilson said. "Their team is totally different now. Their team (in the 1980s) was speed oriented. I think they've changed a little bit from that now, but there's always been a little rivalry there between the Mets and the Cardinals."

A rivalry that will only grow, especially if the Mets can repeat their feat from 2000 and knock off St. Louis for a second time in the NLCS. That would spell the Mets' first trip to the World Series since that Wild Card season, and the organization's first World Series trip as an NL East winner since – you got it – 1986.

The beginning of a dynasty? Wilson said that, had he been asked that question in Oct. 1986, he would have thought the exact same thing about those Mets of the Eighties.

It didn't happen, of course, for a variety of reasons, but Wilson senses things could be different around a core of young players that includes Jose Reyes and David Wright, two of the former outfielder's personal favorites.

"This team has centerpieces that are very young," Wilson said. "I think that as long as they build around those very young ballplayers, they're going to be competitive for years to come. There's no reason why they shouldn't."

PRESTON REMEMBERS: During Tuesday's workout day, Preston Wilson shared a few of his remembrances from the magical 1986 Mets season, roaming the clubhouse as a 12-year-old.

Wilson was in the loge behind home plate when Bill Buckner bungled his pop's ground ball in Game 6, but has only seen the play on television – the standing, roaring, high-fiving Shea customers blocked Wilson's view of the live action.

"I think being 12 years old, my favorite guys were the guys that played around with me," Wilson said. "There would be days with a rain delay, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, most of the pitchers, they had a lot of free time, and we would play stickball.

"Those are the things I remember, sitting down, talking to (Darryl) Strawberry, all of the guys, Gary Carter, seeing him go out, doing his thing. I really got an appreciation for professional athletes, but I also realized that they were just men with families, also."

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