NEW YORK — You don’t bother asking Omar Minaya if the New York Mets are still his team, because you know they always have been. You don’t need to ask if he feels good about the World Series coming back to Queens this weekend, because you know he does.

“No doubt about it,” Minaya said this week. “For the neighborhood, it’s great.”

He grew up here, Minaya did, just a few blocks from what was then Shea Stadium and is now the parking lot for Citi Field. Need a restaurant recommendation in Elmhurst or Jackson Heights, Corona or Flushing, Minaya’s your man.

And, oh yes, he’s also the guy who brought Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores and Jeurys Familia to the Mets.

You may have heard that by now, because the Mets’ success has fired up a sometimes silly and sometimes petty discussion about who should get the credit. It’s silly enough that some are still trying to maintain that Minaya left Sandy Alderson a “mess” when the Mets changed general managers five years ago, and it’s petty enough that others seem to want to discount the work Alderson has had to do in the five years since.

It’s funny enough that when Minaya’s son, Justin, a promising high school basketball player, said he would visit St. John’s, writer Howard Megdal tweeted:

The truth is pretty simple. Minaya and his staff left the Mets in much better shape than plenty of us thought or said at the time, and Alderson and his staff have done a fine job taking those players and more and turning them into a team that could win a championship.

Minaya says he’s gotten over the slights, and over the firing.

“I’m beyond that,” he said. “I know everyone in the front office there, and they’re nice people. My relationship with the organization from top to bottom is great.”

Besides, he’s been in baseball long enough to know this is how it works. Most general managers succeed at least in part with players they inherited from their fired predecessors. J.P. Ricciardi traded for Jose Bautista. Allard Baird drafted Alex Gordon and Zack Greinke, whom the Kansas City Royals used to get Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar (and, in a way, Wade Davis).

The difference with the Mets is the volume of players who come from Minaya’s time as general manager. You can even give him credit for signing R.A. Dickey off the scrap heap, because Alderson was able to turn Dickey into Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud.

But none of that means Minaya would have built the Mets into what they are now if he had been allowed to stay. We’ll never know what a Minaya Mets team would have looked like in 2015.

We do know that his relationship with these players has remained strong, even as he went to work for the San Diego Padres, even as he moved on to his current job helping Tony Clark with the Major League Baseball Players Association. He’ll be at Citi Field in that capacity this weekend, and he’s supposed to be neutral.

No one will blame him if he’s not.

“A lot of these kids, I’ve known since they were 16,” Minaya said. “Familia, Flores, [Juan] Lagares, Ruben Tejada.”

He’s known the Mets since he was 16, and really for quite a few years before that. His family moved to Elmhurst from the Dominican Republic when he was young. He went to Newtown High School, where he’s joined in the school’s Hall of Fame by Estee Lauder, Don Rickles and Carroll O’Connor.

He lives in New Jersey now, but he’s still a kid from Queens. He’s still a Met. This really is his team, and it would be even if he hadn’t signed any of the players.

He signed a whole bunch of them, though, and it should take nothing away from Sandy Alderson to say Omar Minaya played a big part in getting the Mets to this World Series.

No doubt about it.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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