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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
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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If a Met Scores in the Forest…

I'll admit it: Didn't see a single pitch of Jae Seo's latest glorious outing. (Gerald Williams?! Really?!) We were claimed by the social ramble, which Satchel long ago warned ain't restful. And as I retype this multiple times with only one eye able to open (please excuse any and all typos), I assure you it ain't.

Besides the fact that it's always exceedingly strange to come up cold and see the simple recitation of a ballgame, stripped of all the anxiety and parallel universes and what-ifs, this reminds me of one of the oldest fan hypotheticals: If your team could win the World Series, but you weren't allowed to watch a single game of the season, would you take it?

If you say no, isn't that awfully self-centered? Presumably the team will live on after you've sloughed off this mortal coil, so are you saying you don't care if they go 0-for-the-rest-of-eternity? Are you really so important? Don't you wish them well whether your butt's on the couch or not?

But if you say yes, isn't that horribly bloodless? Aren't you just in love with numbers? What, exactly, celebrates you from the average Yankee fan?

One game doesn't make this argument — one game is like missing one of those small chapters in a 19th-century novel. Eliza visited the vicar, decided his advice was worthless, and returned home to find her youngest sister had become smitten with an officer. You'll probably find out all that again in the next chapter anyway, just as the prelude to Pedro's telecast will include Jae Seo persevering, Castro and Williams coming through and the Mets understandably shying from collisions.

But that said, the larger thought experiment stands, as you and I have argued before. As I recall (I trust your memory will be better), when confronted with this hypothetical you looked in rapid succession amused and wary and concerned, and then asked: “Could I watch the season-highlights video?” To which I replied no — you could never glean any more context than offered on random SportsCenter clips and from the written word. No highlight videos, no ESPN Classic, no cast of characters, no ebb and flow of the season.

My vote is no — it's not worth it. I've got to watch — not every game, witness tonight, but enough of them so the season can become a story, full of heroes and villains and plot twists and a conclusion in the first days of October or (God willing) weeks later. We fans may not be good enough to play or close enough to the clubhouse to understand the psychological work of keeping a team on the beam, but we're part of this family nonetheless, and without us it's a hollow affair. We're the ones cheering when things go right and booing when things go wrong and even (in the case of Shea) booing when we've decided someone's in for a licking, justified or un-. Fans can lift you up and bring you down, be smart and infuriatingly obtuse, but without us it's 50 rich guys playing in an empty park, and no title means anything.

That said, I'll do my best to be on-station tomorrow. A 3-3 road trip — and this whole crazy season, observed or not — remains within our grasp. What that means, I don't know. But it's part of this story, however it ends up being writ. So I'll be there. It's all I can do, but it's not nothing.

7 comments to If a Met Scores in the Forest…

  • Anonymous

    I was out of the country for the entire 1986 season. I had to rely on USA Today, the Sunday NY Times (five quid!), news reports and my mother sending over copies of the NY papers. (Cable and satellite had not yet hit England… satellite would, thankfully, come the next year.) I only got to see the playoffs and World Series live.
    But yeah, I took it. It's not like 1986 was my first year as a Met fan… I'd frozen my butt off through many hopeful Aprils to futile Septembers at Shea. Life just placed me elsewhere when we happened to win the World Series. If that makes me less deserving of celebrating it, I guess I'll just have to accept that. I've been called worse, Jace. No doubt by you on occasion!! ;-)

  • Anonymous

    No name-calling from me — I was going to school in Massachusetts in the pre-FAN days, and was out of the country that summer, so I doubt I saw/heard any more than you did. I don't remember what the paper was I'd see — Int'l Herald Tribune? — but they'd print the standings every few days and I was amazed at how the number of games back the Phillies were grew and grew and grew. We can't be that good, I kept thinking. But we were.

  • Anonymous

    Besides, it was a hypothetical….

  • Anonymous

    High-speed hookups being what they are, it seems unlikely that all but the most world-detached monk could miss an entire season these days if he didn't want to. A solidier in Iraq who's lucky enough to be awake and not being shot at can probably pick up a good deal of what's going on any given night.
    My only extended time away was college in another state. I read boxscores and bought day-old Posts and called Sportsphone and watched the occasional Game of the Week and listened to the infrequent radio broadcast involving the nearest Major League team and us. I survived those Aprils and Septembers (and one summer term when the Mets decided to become contenders without me) OK.
    But “not allowed”? Is this a Faustian bargain? Would I be depriving everybody else in Metsopotamia of a championship? Would it be guaranteed if I weren't watching? Would it be guaranteed not to happen if I were watching?
    I'm still not committing because I'm not sure I accept the hypothesis.

  • Anonymous

    It just occurred to me that as the season goes on, you might very well tell me, “Gerald Williams is worthless — he's done nothing all year!”
    And I'd say, “He had that great game against the Dodgers on August 13.”
    And you'd say, “What great game? I didn't see any great game.”
    And we'd both be right.

  • Anonymous

    When he hit that home run, I thought of both of you simultaneously and laughed.
    As for the guys in Iraq, they get regular games on AFN, plus they watch on MLB.TV. There was one Twins game this year that wasn't on TV in Minnesota (or here), but the soldiers in Iraq got to see it. What a world we live in, huh?

  • Anonymous

    I should add that the game I just mentioned wasn't on TV in either city (I think the Twins were playing the Devil Rays), so there wasn't even a US feed available on MLB.TV. They used the AFN one. It was weird to have to have a soldier in Iraq describe to Twins fans what was going on in the game.