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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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I've Become So Numb

At the end of the 1998 season, a moment in time that I seem to be referencing quite a bit lately, I came to a decision:

I would no longer be a baseball fan.

I started by not watching or listening to, other than to get a score, the Giants-Cubs playoff game that determined the winner of the Wild Card, the prize that we held at the beginning of the final week of the season and one that we squandered across a five-game, curtain-closing losing streak.

Didn’t watch that game. Only nibbled at the post-season. Gave up on the World Series in the middle of Game Two. I just didn’t have it in me anymore. I pictured myself becoming one of those codgers you run into, the ones who tell you they haven’t watched a game since O’Malley left Brooklyn. No interest whatsoever in following the Mets again.

Ya see how that took.

I had that feeling coming on down the stretch in ’99 when it when it appeared to be déjà blew all over again, but the Mets put an end to that by turning everything around and in fact immersing me more deeply in baseball in a way than I ever was or probably could be again. In 2001, after 9/11, I didn’t think a silly game could ever hold any meaning for me, but as I’ve mentioned before, a pennant race can do wonders for one’s concept of what’s important.

I’m back to not giving a damn.

OK, I give a damn to the extent that it bothers me that I don’t give a damn, but all at once, after losing the second straight to Atlanta and eight of the last ten at the absolute worst juncture to do something like that, I’m strangely numb tonight. Once the game was over and I knew we were four out (and after I confirmed that the Devil Rays had done their part for humanity), I couldn’t watch any other baseball, not live games, not highlights. I didn’t want to know that there were fourteen clubs besides the Braves that were happy tonight. I didn’t want to know that baseball was being played to the satisfaction of anybody.

It would be bad enough to lose eight out of ten — it was bad enough to lose six out of eight — but why the Braves? Why always the Braves? They’re good, I grant you, but they’re not that good. Nobody’s rightly 53-20 good over somebody else for nine years in one place. It’s beyond being fodder for darkly cynical amusement. It’s insulting and dispiriting and horrible. Not New Orleans horrible, but pretty awful for something that’s supposed to serve as a diversion.

When I’m watching a game from my couch and something goes dramatically wrong for the Mets, I tend to make a fist with my right hand and punch the middle cushion. The cushion has lost a great deal of its firmness since August 27. Just hearing the name “Marcus Giles” during the post-game incited gratuitous violence against innocent furniture.

Alas, that couch hasn’t absorbed the last of me. Despite my swelling discord and hardening dismay regarding our team, I expect to be sitting on my ass at 7 o’clock Wednesday night watching baseball being played in Atlanta. Let’s hope the Mets aren’t doing the exact same thing.

2 comments to I've Become So Numb

  • Anonymous

    Line drive off Chipper's glove goes into outfield. Me: “If the Mets have a guy on second or third there, that ball gets caught. Every time. Every time in Atlanta we line drives at infielders in the late innings at critical junctures.” And what happens the next inning…? Don't answer it. I already know.
    I found myself, after that ball was caught, just exceedingly detached to the proceedings the rest of the way. It didn't matter what happened, who threatened, or how. And there, while David Wright was at the plate with a man on, it was like I was watching a videotape of an old Mets-Braves game. One I couldn't bear to watch again, but out of habit decided to stick on and plonk myself on the couch in front of.
    “Hey…in the dugout…there's Bobby Valentine”, I mused. “This must have been the game where he wore that disguise. It was a funny one, too. Wait…Matt Franco's up. That old saying about VHS taking away 20 pounds is true…”
    I can't explain it. I suppose it's like the difference between hearing a favorite song on the radio, and playing it on CD. There's a freshness when it's on the radio…a vibrant crispness…no matter how many times you've heard it before, you just don't want to miss your song. On a CD, you love it…it's crystal clear…enjoyable because it's your song…but it's not “special”. There's something missing.
    There was a time when I would line all my fibers up for Mets-Braves, and it represented that “something missing” from all the other games. I would think about it all day long, in some kind of ridiculous giddy stupor. I knew I wanted to beat them. They were bastards. They had a leg up on us. They were better, but they weren't that much better. Plus, they were all drunks and wifebeaters and all manner of other assorted arrogant lowlifes. The scum of the earth. We could take 'em, this time. We would take 'em in the name of all that is pure and just in the world.
    Gotta believe and all that.
    I would wait two months into a season for our first games against them, because of dumb scheduling, and I would be so psyched. Then the power would go out at Turner and there would be no game, and I would be thoroughly devastated. There was a time where “no game at Turner” was the only thing that meant inevitable devastation, anyway.
    This game last night…it wasn't on the radio. It was on an old CD I dug up and decided to slap in and pump up the volume for a familiar tune. Every beat, every lick, every pluck and every strum, I knew. Every note floating in front of my face before it ever played. It's a tune I could dance to, right here and now, and convince you I was a seasoned ballroomer. Track 1 – Mets vs. Braves 180 minutes. Track 2 – Postgame show .0000064 seconds.
    They beat us…they lick us…they pluck our fucking hearts out…and they do it with the repetitive strum of an OCD lifer who would sooner stare at his antidepressants than swallow them.
    And on that note…

  • Anonymous

    Watched game with friends, sitting at odd angle, flicking back and forth between it and US Open. Was peripherally aware of missed opportunities, plays not made, bad luck. Kind of like those guys in orange and blue. Numb's a good word for it.
    Came to life just once: when the MSG cameras showed, in rapid order, Graves, Shingo, Bell, Ishii and Victor warming up. It was like flash cards designed to drive me insane.