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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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First-Name Basis

Spring training as a rule is indeed too long. But are we really ready for what lies beyond?

I'm not endorsing a pushback of Opening Day or anything heretical like that, but the real thing (known as the Zeile thing in 2000, 2001 and 2004 and we looked forward to it anyway) is but a scant 11 days away.

Eleven days! How can that be?

It's still mostly freezing outside. My TV screen has been mostly blank where it counts (Cablevision Channel 60, however, makes with the Snigh tonight, so hallebleepinglujah!) and, most importantly, like Team USA, I don't know that I've had enough time to prepare. The Mexican, the Canadians and the South Koreans are going to hand me my head if I don't get cracking.

Namely, I've gotta work on names.

This is no small task. In the course of a season, we feel the need to act intiMet with our guys. We need to pretend to know them well enough to call them out by first name or, should one make itself apparent, nickname.

With too much WBC and not nearly enough SNY, I don't know if I'm ready. I have a lot of old habits to break before I can start developing their useful replacements.

First of all, is the matter of Mikes.

In 2005, the Mets featured Mike Piazza, Mike Cameron, Mike Jacobs, Mike DeJean, Mike DeFelice and Mike Matthews (featured may be too strong a word for the last few). For good measure, there was also Miguel Cairo. That's six or seven varieties, hard on the heels of — since 2000 — Mike Stanton, Mike Glavine, Mike Bacsik, Mike Hampton, Mike Bordick and Mike Kinkade.

Barring a late surge on the part of Mike Venafro — who I tend to think is Matt Perisho — there won't be a Met Mike (even if there's a Mike's Mets) for the first time since 1997.

A moment to reflect on the Mikes with whom we've been recently inundated and those who paved the way…

Mike, Mike, twenty-nine Mike

Have played for the Mets

Not counting an Ike

Plus a Mickey and a Mickey

And a Mackey and a Mac

A Mookie and a Moock

And Miggy isn't back

There've been Mikes

Who have raised a Fyhrie

Mikes who Rem-lingered

And then pitched weary

Mikes by design

Who coulda been Drapers

Mikes so obscure

They couldn't make the papers

Like Bruhert and Bishop

And Birkbeck and Vail

He was gonna make it

But that Mike did fail

Mike, Mike, twenty-nine Mike

Have played for the Mets

Not counting an Ike

Plus a Mickey and a Mickey

And a Mackey and a Mac

A Mookie and a Moock

And Miggy isn't back

Maddux was a Mike

Too bad he wasn't Greg

Scott was a Mike

Who later scuffed the egg

Cubbage was a Mike

Whose timing wasn't lucky

Torrez was a Mike

Not the same after Bucky

Mike, Mike, twenty-nine Mike

Have played for the Mets

Not counting an Ike

Plus a Mickey and a Mickey

And a Mackey and a Mac

A Mookie and a Moock

And Miggy isn't back

If you're gonna have Mike Marshall

You oughta have two

If you're gonna dig Mike Phillips

There's sympathy for you

Howard never cowered

Fitzgerald didn't fit

Jorgensen was traded

But Jorgy never quit

Mike, Mike, twenty-nine Mike

Have played for the Mets

Not counting an Ike

Plus a Mickey and a Mickey

And a Mackey and a Mac

A Mookie and a Moock

And Miggy isn't back

Not a Mike to be found in Two Thousand Six

Not unless Mike Venafro is the southpaw who sticks

For Cammy and for Jakey and for ol' Thirty-One

For the love of Mikes whose Mets days are done

We'll remember your name, we'll remember you fine

Tho' we may not remember all twenty-nine

As you can see, we've had plenty of practice at rooting for Mikes. When the next one comes along, we can draw on vast experience. The new crop? I'm not so sure. For example…

“C'MON TIKE!”

No precedent, albeit a Prentice. But, hey, Tike rhymes with Mike.

“C'MON ENDY!”

Endy The World As We Know It

Sorry. Practicing my headlines for when he makes the last out of a tight game.

“C'MON PAUL!”

Lo Duca does not have a rich heritage behind him. Four Pauls in Mets history, two of whom — Wilson and Byrd — are active and thereby potential enemy combatants and two of whom are Paul Gibson and Paul Siebert.

Appalling.

“C'MON BILLY!”

The last Billy in these parts was Billy Taylor. The most famous Billy was Billy Beane, though that had nothing to do with his being a Met and more to do with him turning Billy Taylor into one. The last Bill was Pulsipher who came up with Isringhausen who was traded for Taylor at the behest of Beane. So this will take some doing.

Take Two:

“C'MON BILLY WAGS!”

I've heard myself say this once during a peek at Channel 11 and I was, again, appalled.

“C'MON BRIAN!”

Buchanan, Bohanon, Fonanon…wait, where were we? Daubach, Ostrosser, Rose…Brian McRae's the best of this bunch. Brian Bannister, when he makes it, redefines Brian. I have to watch out for Briiiiii….

“C'MON CHAD!”

Not since Palm Beach County in November 2000. I don't wanna talk about it.

“C'MON DUANER!”

Uh, is that common American pronunciation with an “r” thrown onto the end (or Endy) or is it more exotic than that? I can't go with “SANCHEZ!” for all the bad memoReys that summons.

“C'MON JORGE!”

Toca? Fabregas? Velandia? We already have a Julio, a.k.a. Gramps, so we'll have to familiarize ourselves with the first name and the idea that it's not amazingly superfluous.

Pray it doesn't become Armando.

“C'MON YUSAKU!”

Will probably go with “C'MON IRIKI!” which will probably morph into Rick which will either evolve into Aggie or Reeder. But he's probably not making the team right away.

“C'MON CARLOS!”

Overlap city. Will we be reduced to C-Bel and C-Del? I'd prefer “ALL RIGHT” after their at-bats to worrying about what to say beforehand.

Finally, the trickiest of all.

“C'MON XAVIER!”

An X name? That's totally new on us. (Not a lot of last-N's in Mets history either.) Nady's apparently being cute or X-cessively polite about the pronunciation. You say Zavier, he says Ex-avier, unless it's the other way around.

X-Man? Way too predictable, meaning that will be the scoreboard he-got-a-hit X-hortation of choice. And if he makes a great catch?

“X 'EM OUT!”

Victor Diaz might say let's call the whole thing off, but if I don't get the hang of somethingavier, my options will be reduced to cribbing Neil Simon from The Sunshine Boys:

“Nady he rhymes with baby, no wonder he's dead!”

These things have a way of working themselves out. Didn't think I'd ever be taking “TOM!” in vain, but come Opening Day, it looks like I'll be on the side of the Glavines and not blink twice or stutter once.

Fifteen Toms and what do you get?

Start with Tom Seaver, not any old Met

Add in Agee from the Tomm(ie) roll

Spring's still got eleven days to go…

There are lessons to be applied from a previous generation of new ballparks to the planning of Sheabbets Field. Find out what they are at Gotham Baseball.

7 comments to First-Name Basis

  • Anonymous

    The Dolans made it rain.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it really sucked to watch the Mets clinch the National League East instead of a MSTEG (Meaningless Spring Training Exhibition Game).
    Make it rain all you want, Dolans. You've got my money and I've got my Mets.

  • Anonymous

    Ah yes, that was nice. Still, that Chico Walker fella is quite something. Definitely gonna be a star. Sure wish we could get our hands on him.

  • Anonymous

    If only we could get him and Ced Landrum on the same team, then we'd be getting somewhere.

  • Anonymous

    That was Rafael Palmeiro's 1st ML HR?
    Who wants juice?

  • Anonymous

    Second, sayeth Steve and Rusty. Man, he was little back then, wasn't he?
    I was shocked by how young Keith and Gary were. Not young in terms of “they're ancient now” (Keith still looks pretty good, particularly for someone so unapologetic about liking the other side of midnight), but in terms of how young they were then. They were Mex and the Kid, the cagey, battle-scarred veterans, the ones who would keep the younguns headed in the right direction…and you look at them on TV and they're children.
    Or perhaps I've just become an old goat.

  • Anonymous

    The 1986 Mets had one Hall of Famer, Carter, yet the 1986 Cubs had two on the field that night, Eckersley and Sandberg, and a third, Palmiero, if you were to go by accomplishments rather than how the accomplishments were accomplished.
    Yet the Cubs finished a scant 37 games behind the Mets. Imagine how much greater the distance would have been if we had a couple more HOFers.