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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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What a Beautiful World it Will Be

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were Steely Dan. Still are, I suppose, but they broke up as a going concern in 1981. Then Donald Fagen went out and recorded The Nightfly a year later, creating what would become one of my two favorite albums ever.

Friday night, Stephanie and I went to see Donald Fagen at Westbury, fulfilling one of those mutual dreams you don't realize you both have because neither of you thinks somebody like that would actually bother to come play before people like you (or at a place like this). I went with a touch of trepidation, not because I thought we'd be disappointed in one of our musical idols, but because it meant I'd be missing most of the debut of Tom McCarthy as the new co-voice of the Mets.

On the night when we finally got to see live and in person the half of Steely Dan whose music has captivated me for half a lifetime, I was presented with indisputable evidence that our own Becker & Fagen — hell, our own Lennon & McCartney — would be no more.

Those days are gone forever…

Over a long time ago…

Howie Rose and Gary Cohen will keep on making music, just not as part of the same revered act. They're in different bands now. Maybe somehow they'll reunite for a project or two as Walter and Donald have. Until then, it's Howie and Tom, with Gary's tour schedule TBA on SNY.

I managed to catch a touch of Tom: some pregame chat over dark and ice-scarred Nassau County side roads, a few pitches while waiting for the curtain to come up (a cherished Westbury tradition). I'm not going to say one word for public consumption regarding what I thought because it wouldn't be fair to McCarthy. It was a small sample of the first exhibition before the first season of a new job taking over for a legend at the top of his game.

How would you like to be judged on that?

I will say this, though: It was strange hearing an unfamiliar voice exchange Mets pleasantries with a member of the extended family and realize he's moving in to stay for the summer…and, Wilpon willing, many summers beyond. There was a time when it was strange listening to Gary Cohen take Gary Thorne's place, just as it was odd taking in Gary Thorne from the same speakers that used to offer Steve Lamar. Your announcers are like any other offseason acquisitions — they're all new players in a whole new ballgame. Tom McCarthy can be the greatest thing since sliced Scully and he will take some getting used to.

But I can't wait to get used to him. The more McCarthy I hear, the more the Mets there will be. The rest is up to him.

Seeing an artist like Fagen, just as with listening to the radio craftsmen with whom we've been blessed over time, reminds you why you love what you love. Steely Dan was famous (or infamous) for not wanting to transfer their music from the studio to the masses, so you're not prepared — even though you've paid top dollar for the privilege — to actually witness the voice of the group working in your midst. It's the music, not the personality, that's meant so much to me, particularly since college, thus it never occurred to me what it would be like to absorb it and him in person. The Nightfly, in particular, has always been my nocturnal go-to. Who pictures keeping company in the middle of the night with a thousand other people?

But you're part of a crowd and out come seven musicians and two backup vocalists. Then out comes Donald Fagen. Just like that, he's right in front of you singing great new numbers from a promising CD alongside the songs you've adored for decades. He's bringing “I.G.Y.” and “New Frontier” and “Green Flower Street” and “The Goodbye Look” to life. In front of all these people, he's doing your song, “The Nightfly,” and you mouth the words silently so as to retain part ownership of the track that you claimed way back when, but only silently so as not to get in his way.

Sweet music…

Tonight the night is mine…

Late line…

Till the sun (till the sun)

Comes through…

The skylight…

The Nightfly is for 2, 3, 4 in the morning in Fontana Hall, flipping the cassette over and over again or, if the clouds are in alignment, coming up the Gulf Coast from The Wave 102-1/2 FM in Sarasota. It's not something you imagined the Donald Fagen, reticent celebrity and all, playing for you and singing to you from ten rows away. But it's happening and you are experiencing it, and it's not a forced analogy to tell you that it's every bit as sweet as those bottoms of the first when my Long Island Rail Road car would rumble homebound out of the East River tunnel and a voice I loved would tell me that Rusch surrendered a one-out double to Vidro but got out of it, and now Benny Agbayani will lead off for the Mets with Bell on deck and Fonzie to follow. I had been prompt enough to grab a window seat so I could hear it all clearly as the sun began to fall over my left shoulder, behind the Manhattan skyline.

Ball one to Benny. Tonight the night is mine.

The things we hear. The things that stay with us.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that somebody in the audience did eventually yell PLAY 'FREEBIRD'!, to which Donald Fagen replied, “You sing 'Whipping Post' and I'll play 'Freebird'.”

Howie Rose himself couldn't have been quicker on the draw.

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