The St. Louis Cardinals' World Series celebration lasted until the game started. Then it was the Mets' turn.
Tom Glavine got his 291st win and Carlos Delgado put the Mets ahead with an early two-run double off Chris Carpenter, leading New York to a 6-1 victory Sunday night in the major league season opener.
Paul Lo Duca added three RBIs and made a nifty tag at the plate for the Mets, who lost to St. Louis in Game 7 of last year's NL Championship Series, which ended when Carlos Beltran took a called third strike from Adam Wainwright with the bases loaded in a 3-1 loss. The Cardinals went on to beat Detroit in five games for their first Series title since 1982.
Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock were on hand for the festivities, which included the traditional appearance of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Cardinals players entered in a motorcade that passed the World Series trophy, located near home plate. Manager Tony La Russa, arrested during spring training on a drunken driving charge -- was greeted warmly by the crowd of 45,429 at Busch Stadium, where every game has been a sellout since the ballpark opened last year.
The Cardinals unveiled flags atop a scoreboard commemorating all 10 World Series titles, along with a huge sign, "World Champions." A large pennant celebrating the 2006 championship was raised just below the American flag above the left-center field stands.
During the nearly hour-long pregame presentation, many Mets players paid more attention to stretching, outfield sprints and conversations with each other than the festivities on the field.
Mets manager Willie Randolph planned to watch the entire presentation, if only because it showed respect for the Cardinals' accomplishment.
"Why not? It's nice," he said. "That would be assuming again, that I'm somewhat upset that they're world champions. They deserve to be where they are. I'll watch it. There's going to be some of those Cardinal greats out there."
David Wright agreed, saying that the six months since losing the NLCS helped ease any pain.
"Hopefully, we have that in the back of our minds and that gives us that extra motivation," Wright said.
One of the former Cardinals introduced was Keith Hernandez, a member of the 1982 Cardinals who helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series. Hernandez is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch April 9 at the Mets' home opener.
"He's a Met, he's not a Cardinal," Randolph said. "That's not right; we've got to do something about that."
The 41-year-old Glavine, counted on to lead the Mets' rotation while Pedro Martinez recovers from shoulder surgery, allowed one run and six hits in six innings before Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner finished up.
Carpenter topped the major leagues with a 1.81 ERA at home last year, retired his first five batters, then allowed the Mets to go 9-for-15 with a sacrifice and a walk against him the next 2 1/3 innings.
Delgado's opposite-field, two-run double high off the left-field wall put the Mets ahead in the third, and the Mets made it 5-0 in the fourth on Lo Duca's two-out single and an RBI single by Beltran. Lo Duca added an RBI single in the ninth off Brad Thompson.
After David Eckstein hit an RBI double in the sixth, Beltran threw out Eckstein at the plate on Preston Wilson's sharp single to center. Yadier Molina ended the inning by breaking his bat on an infield popup with the bases loaded.
Glavine also benefited from Moises Alou's diving catch in shallow left field on Adam Kennedy's flare to start the sixth. Glavine induced two of the Cardinals' four double-play balls.