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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Born Too Late

Does it seem to you that every “innovation” baseball has come up with over the past decade or so has done us very little good? They realigned divisions in time to give us the endless Braves (who would've made for better company pre-1991 than the Cubs, Cards or Bucs did at precisely the wrong moments); they instituted a Wild Card that we were, granted, able to benefit from twice, but think how many we could've used in the '80s; and they concocted Interleague play right after the other New York team won its first World Series in a generation, making the other New York team seem like far more than it really was.

Not that 1986 needed any enhancement, but in retrospect, it would have been sweet to have seen this particular circus covered back then as it is covered now except with the tables turned. The local tapeheads could have gone to Yankee Stadium and pestered Mike Pagliarulo and Dennis Rasmussen about the pressure of going up against the mighty Mets. Dan Pasqua could've talked dreamily about what a dream come true it was to go to an exciting place like Shea where the fans are world-renowned and every pitch is an event. The Mattingly crowd could have sputtered on about how their man would finally get some recognition now that he'd be able, at long last, to share the big stage for a few days with the larger-than-life likes of Carter, Hernandez and Strawberry.

Meanwhile, Davey Johnson could have scoffed at the whole thing, reminding reporters that our big rival is St. Louis, this thing is a nuisance. Doc Gooden would go on regular rest against the Expos because the Yankees wouldn't present reason enough to mess with our rotation (hell, use Rick Anderson — it's only the Yankees). Mex would've said one game is like the next. And Wally Backman would've added something insulting and dismissive and then backed it up. When it would be over and the Mets had taken their usual four or five of six, the storyline would be “same old, same old, the Yankees are forever trying to measure up to the Mets but they never quite manage to do so.” And Steinbrenner would fire Piniella and dig up Alvin Dark.

But no, we didn't get that. Instead, we know what we've gotten since 1997. We know the tone. We know the condescension and patronization directed toward our little major market ballclub. We know that every year, at least one newbie on our end will cop to being impressed-to-awed with the opposition or at least the opposing ballpark and its (genuflect) monuments. We know that it will be treated by everybody official on this side of the ledger as a milestone in the schedule just as we know that the participants in the other dugout will do no more than yawn for public consumption. And we know that no matter what we do in the actual series of games — even if we win most of them as we did last year — it will be belittled and diminished in hindsight because, well, we're the Mets and they're the Yankees.

Nevertheless, I'll be up for this when it starts. I can't help it. I watch lots of baseball, but the only things that I can depend on to rev my motor every single time are the chances that the Mets will win and that the Yankees will lose. To have a dual opportunity for both present itself in the course of a single game that counts is too good to dismiss.

It's been this way since Andy Pettitte faced Lance Johnson to start the very first of these games. I was on my way home from work, listening on my Walkman and jumping out of my skin with every pitch. The Mets were playing the Yankees…for real! That we beat them rather easily that night (All Hail Mlicki) codified that it wasn't such a bad idea.

And by the way, this had nothing, not a damn thing to do with the “little brother” myth that's been perpetrated by the brain-dead baseball media in this town over the past ten years. Little brother, my ass. When I came along, there was only one baseball team that mattered in New York and it was the Mets. That's how it looked to me in 1969 and anything that's happened more recently is something I see as a brief aberration from the way things are supposed to be and, deep down, truly are. In any case, we don't have a big brother in the Bronx, just a drunken, boorish lout of a distant relative twice removed.

Since June 16-18, 1997, each series and each game has at the very least grabbed my attention and usually kept it. Maybe I should be cooler about it. Maybe I should be cynical by now. Maybe I should be downtrodden. Going into tonight, after all, it's 16-26. But there have been too many good moments that have followed Mlicki — M. Franco vs. Rivera; J. Franco vs. Posada; M. Piazza going deep vs. Rat Bastard Clemens, Ramiro Mendoza and some poor sap named Carlos Almanzar to name three; Shane Spencer going short vs. Tanyon Sturtze; Mo Vaughn practically redeeming his sorry tenure by shredding David Wells; Al's cutters frustrating the whole lot of them; Roger Cedeño stealing home; even Estes' home run despite his lousy aim at an ample, vile target — to write off the Subway Series as a gimmick or to find it irredeemably futile. As bad as the 26 losses were, the 16 wins were that much better.

Sure, Interleague still feels a little unnatural on rhythms attuned to a National League schedule, but no matter how others may frame it, it boils down to the team we love the most versus the team we hate the most. If you can't get up for that, then geez, what's the point of loving and hating in baseball?

14 comments to Born Too Late

  • Anonymous

    I don't know. I hate the “Subway Series.” It's not losing to those assholes as much as it is their revolting fans braying in my park. We've attended them of course — one of the supposed big attractions of the 6-pack — and it was always miserable. And even from the safety of our couch, there's the need to eventually wander out into the world. I'm much happier when Yankee fans aren't thinking about the Mets or my fandom at all.

  • Anonymous

    I'm with you, Em. I gave away my ticket for Sunday's game because I want no part of the ugliness that inevitably comes with this series. Maybe it's a girl thing, but all that drunken hostility makes me uncomfortable.
    I just hope our fans stay loyal through this series and don't boo our own guys in our own house no matter what. Yeah, that'll happen.

  • Anonymous

    I went to one. I never intended to go to one, but I went because my brother had gotten tickets for himself and someone else, but someone else bailed. Driving down is only the first part of the nightmare…sitting in our stadium with their brand of “fan” is the second part of the nightmare.
    And Lee Mazzilli whining long enough to create a bogus interference call is apparently the third. That game was just about over before it started. But then again, in the sixth inning when the Mets were rallying, and the Yanks had to bring in someone to face what I think was the tying run at the plate, the “Let's go Mets” chant started on the big board…and almost nobody (besides myself) followed. Aye…the fourth and final part of the nightmare. I think it was because Shea was a sea of Yankme fans…but I also think it was because I was in a sea of people who really could give a rat's ass about baseball. I don't know, Shea was louder in the mid-90's, when the mezzanine may as well have been closed, than it was in that inning of that game…packed to the corners of the upper deck in a year they ended up in the World Series. I was just sickened and saddened and really kinda jaded by the whole experience. I'll certainly never go to one again and I'd be perfectly satisfied if they reduced it to one three gamer per year, so we could just decide a clear winner and move on. That said, I'm looking forward to tonight, even though it's Zambrano.
    [oh yes…the fifth part of the nightmare…getting home just in time to watch your superstar knocked out cold by a bitch pitch from a bitcher pitcher. I prefer my duck glazed; the starting catcher, notsomuch.]

  • Anonymous

    I am no fan of interleague play, but take a look at this weekend's schedule… us vs. the Skanks and Atlanta vs. Boston. Imagine the possibilities…
    If everything goes as planned, this could be the most productive and satisfying spate of IL games ever.

  • Anonymous

    I will very quietly agree with you.

  • Anonymous

    The rampaging hordes are certainly a drawback. Staying loyal in the strictest sense of the word won't be a problem — I've never seen a Met fan convert to the dark side in any of the seven SS games (six here, one there) I've been to. In terms of booing our own, our guys seem to get a break in that the Mets crowd tends to defend every one of its guys against the visigoths unless they do something Mel Rojasish.

  • Anonymous

    I merely alluded… I did not specify. And I don't intend to. The baseball gods know what to do.
    Speaking of baseball gods, JM, I am watching the one, the only, the man, the myth, the legend Greg Maddux pitch against the White Sox: doubly important to a Maddux/Twins fans such as myself!!

  • Anonymous

    You know what? I enjoy SS games “there” a whole lot more. I've been to several of them “there” and for some reason it's more fun defending our honor when in the belly of the beast.

  • Anonymous

    That Mazzilli atrocity sprung to mind the other day when Valent was interfered with between third and home on a base hit and wasn't awarded home even though the throw home from left was wild. Randolph came out to argue but not a lot. For a second, I thought we hired the wrong ex-enemy to manage.
    I never thought I'd forgive Lee Mazzilli for that dreadful afternoon, but as long as he keeps the Orioles in first place, he's Mazz again.

  • Anonymous

    Not exactly vintage, today. I'm looking at the box score, and, uhhhh, he looks more like Glavine, actually.
    Let's hope you get a little more of what you'd like later on tonight, L. And I'll leave it at that.

  • Anonymous

    Not exactly vintage, today. I'm looking at the box score, and, uhhhh, he looks more like Glavine, actually.
    Oh, dear. That read a whoooole lot better with the word “{ducks}” next to “actually.”, but the word got erased because I had put it in HTML brackets.

  • Anonymous

    I turned it off long ago. The pain was too much to bear.
    PS: “Let's hope you get a little more of what you'd like later on tonight.” Hmm… is the entire Mets infield stopping by after the game? Whoo-hoo!!
    KID-DING. (You didn't REALLY think I could let that one go, did you?)

  • Anonymous

    (You didn't REALLY think I could let that one go, did you?)
    Ha ha ha…you'll never know…

  • Anonymous

    As expected… I don't think it's Yankee fans booing Kaz here in the 6th inning. I knew it wasn't my imagination. Met fans just don't understand the concept of loyalty, especially when it's absolutely necessary… LIKE WHEN THE YANKEES AND THEIR FANS ARE IN THE HOUSE. DUH. It's kind of like being married. Your spouse does something wrong, you might rip him/her a new one when you get home, but you defend him/her to the death in public. It's called LOYALTY.
    I'm so glad I'm not there. These people make me ill. Doesn't even occur to them that he's responsible for our only run. A**holes.