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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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A New Orleans Tale

Before we skedaddle for Jersey, I'll leave you with a tale of baseball and New Orleans.

There aren't a ton of them — Rusty Staub is from there, but beyond that it hasn't been so long that the town even had a minor-league team. But I do have one, from the two summers when I lived down there. The second summer I fell in love with Emily. The first summer she wasn't around, and I fell in love with reporting and writing and storytelling and all the things that have somehow sustained me since then, thanks to some kind-hearted and tough (by proper turns) folks at the Times-Picayune who taught the world's greenest intern everything his little mind could hold.

Baseball took a back seat then — my summer-sublet shotgun at Esplanade and Chartres, on the edge of the Quarter, didn't have a TV, and in those days before the Internet, satellite radio and crazy bloggers New Orleans may as well have been Mars for Met-watching. The best I could do was scouring the long version of AP stories that moved over the wire at work. So my Met watching that summer was limited to Braves and Cubs games, on whatever TV I could find.

The most-reliable venue I could find was a bar in the Quarter ostensibly for Chicago expats. This wasn't really a tourist bar, though they'd take their money — its clientele was a little harder, and all knew each other in that borderline-unhealthy bar way. (New Orleans is singularly experimental and open-minded when it comes to bars of whatever theme.) But they'd always have the Cubs on, so for the two series we played against the Cubs in the summer of '89, I was there.

I was young and dumb back then, so my habit was to drink about a beer an inning, which means my memories of the early innings would be crystal-clear with the intensity of a fan getting the rare treat of seeing his team, and the later innings not so much. The regular bargoers accepted me or shrugged me off — until an odd incident that Retrosheet suggests must have come during the July 28-30 series at Wrigley.

At some point during the Mets-Cubs game one night, the bartender decided to switch on porn on another TV — and we're not talking sanitized hotel-room porn. (This was a bar that was always trying to attract more female customers. Never worked. Mystery to me.) So now I'm on about beer five. If I turn my head one way, the Mets are in a tense game with the hated Cubs on TV; if I turn my head the other way, hardcore porn.

Being a good fan, I of course keep watching the Mets.

Which seems fine until it's time for my next beer, at the inning. I look up at the bartender is staring at me from his station down at Porn Central. So are all the other customers. They're not particularly friendly stares. Uh-oh. What have I done now? Did I just get caught openly rooting for New York? Would anyone really care?

“We got a question,” says the bartender.

“OK,” I say, suddenly aware that I'm at least a couple of beers too late for an adroit navigation of bar-stool diplomacy.

“We noticed you keep looking at that –” and the bartender indicates the TV that's been showing the game — “and you don't seem interested in looking at this.” And he points to the heavy breathing and pneumatic goings-on. “And we're wondering why that is.”

Man, I think, I haven't been called gay for liking the Mets since about 1981. And I've never been the subject of a recreational beating because of it. That may be about to change. In fact, it likely is about to change if I say the wrong thing.

So I point to the set with the Mets game and say, “Well, I'm not sure what's going to happen here,” and then point to the porn TV and add, “but I've got a pretty good idea how this is going to turn out.”

Total silence. Then, broken — thank Christ — by all of the regulars laughing at once. They keep laughing. They buy me beer. From then on, I'm golden in that bar, even if I am a Met fan.

That was 16 years ago. It's numbing to think what's happening down there now. That bar probably isn't flooded — the Quarter's pretty much the highest ground in the city — but has it been looted? Has it burned? I hope not. I hope things are back to normal there and everywhere else down there as soon as possible. But “soon” doesn't seem to be in the cards. Maybe not even “possible”. Just heartbreaking.

Anyway, not to leave you a down note. Take care of our blue-and-orange lads. See you if the vagaries of vacation dial-up allow.

1 comment to A New Orleans Tale

  • Anonymous

    So, you realized that the mob you were faced with was bereft of Mets knowledge and thus unaware of your duplicity in stating that the outcome of a Mets game in Wrigley was less predictable than a porno?
    Quick thinking, lad.