The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Grim Tidings

Wha? Grim? What is there to possibly be grim about after El Duque took a gleeful, terrible revenge on the team that just got done trading him? Why, the old man carved that lineup up like they were a bunch of El Rooques. Carlos Beltran smacked his 15th homer, putting him one behind last year's total, though he probably should have got credit for an extra homer, considering his shot was hit so hard that fans out in right probably saw it arrive before they heard it struck. Heck, young Mr. Milledge can even juggle.

I enjoyed it. I really did. But it was like enjoying the sunshine as dark clouds gather and the TV keeps beeping with a hurricane warning. I apologize in advance for this, but I'm gonna go over some news of the last day or two — not because I think it'll be new to most of us, but because it's going to be the background for a lot that's to come in the next weeks or months. We'll be familiar with it soon enough; may as well start now.

Back in April Jason Grimsley, a journeyman middle reliever with the very Diamondbacks we just beat, was told by his wife that some men were at the door to see him. The men were federal agents. They told Grimsley they knew he'd just received two kits of human growth hormone in the mail, and asked him to fetch them and come with them for a talk. He did, and they talked for hours. Hours in which Grimsley said he'd taken steroids, HGH and amphetamines. He said he'd stopped taking steroids when baseball instituted a new testing regimen, but kept going with HGH, perfectly aware that no urine test could detect it, that blood tests for it weren't totally reliable, and that the collective bargaining agreement didn't allow for blood tests anyway. He talked of the drug culture in the game, saying Latino players and players from the California teams were sources of amphetamines, saying that sleazy doctors at wellness clinics were sources of HGH, and naming names. Here's the affidavit — take a look at all the stuff that's blacked out.

Those names won't stay blacked out for long — and they don't just include players, but the ubiquitous “conditioning coaches” whose role seems to increasingly triangulate between trainer, hanger-on and middleman for dirty business. Deadspin is already working its sources to fill in some of the names, and while its guesswork is still just that, it's informed guesswork. And it already points — on Day Two — to a possible connection that, if true, would be a crushing blow to the game.

And there will be more. Much more. For in Grimsley the feds found a perfect tour guide for the Steroids Era — he came up in '89, with the hideousness of this era just beginning to bloom, and he's played for the Phillies, Indians, Yankees, Royals, Angels, Orioles and D'Backs, not to mention minor-league stints with the Brewers, Astros and Tigers. That's a third of MLB organizations right there.

And you know what? It's more frightening that Jason Grimsley is the face of HGH than it is that Barry Bonds is the face of steroids. Because Jason Grimsley is anonymous. He's the interchangeable middle reliever, the guy you run through a dozen of during the season in a grouchy quest to find one or two who don't totally suck. If those guys are on the juice, how far does it go? Look at this list: Rafael Palmeiro is the exception, not the rule. This list is minor-leaguers and guys on the end of the bench. Wanna say that the stars are clean, that they don't need to juice, and it's the guys scrambling for jobs who yield to the temptation to go dirty? Good luck with that.

Grimsley was never a Met, but we're not immune. Five guys in The Holy Books — Grant Roberts, Jorge Toca, Wilson Delgado, Felix Heredia and Matt Lawton — have already been nailed, as have four Met minor-leaguers. How many Mets would claim places in The Dirty Books, if all were somehow revealed?

Try not to think about it. If you can. Don't start thinking of Mets since '90 or so and wondering. If you can.

I'm not going to put my suspicions in print, because there's too much of that stuff in Blogland already, but there are Mets from the last 15 years whom I cheered for and whom I'd now bet any amount of money were dirty. And there are more and more Mets from that period whom I don't openly suspect, but whom I wouldn't be shocked to find occupying the pages of TDB. And there are more and more Mets about whom I no longer feel safe assuming anything at all. Which points to the worst part of all this: The internal debate is moving, almost too quickly for us to keep up, from “I wonder if So-and-So was dirty” to “I'm pretty sure that at least So-and-So is clean.”

It's vile, corrosive stuff, this doubting, and in the midst of El Duque's superb performance I found myself looking around the field, wondering. Wondering at chiseled physiques, at rebounds from injury, at performances defying age. Wondering about things and players I'd never wondered about before. Until finally I was just wondering.

ESPN has a poll up about the issue now, and two numbers on it stand out: 93% of fans believe Grimsley's statement that “boatloads” of players are using HGH, and 58% said if their favorite player turned out to be dirty, they'd feel deceived. (Hell, if my favorite player turns out to be dirty, I might never believe anything again.) Put those two numbers together and you have a train wreck, and not a far-off one, either. It's right around this next bend. Don't think for a minute we're going to walk away unscathed.

11 comments to Grim Tidings

  • Anonymous

    The last time before this that the Mets were good, they'd play “Rock & Roll (Part 2)” so loud when a Met hit a dramatic home run at Shea that it would resonate in my ears for hours, sometimes days, sometimes years.
    So, sorry if I haven't heard a word you just said. When the subject of Mets of the semi-distant past slugging in unforeseen and impressive manner comes up, all I can hear is, “duh-da-duh-da-da-DAH-duh-da-duh-da,” punctuated by the occasional HEY!
    That's all I wanna hear anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I'm missing the good old days when all we speculated on was which players were gay.

  • Anonymous

    I feel like we're in Bizarro World. In the past 3 days, Pedro and Glavine give up a combined total of 12 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings at perhaps the most pitcher-friendly park west of 114th Street, then El Duque returns to the launching pad where he struggled earlier this year to deliver a complete game three-hitter? After that turn of events, I'd probably believe you if you told me that baseball players were using robotic limbs to get an edge over the competition.
    This Grimsley news is really ugly stuff, and by the time it all plays out it'll probably make the Game of Shadows look like child's play. I don't want to think that some of the baseball heroes of my childhood, Met or otherwise, were playing dirty, but the sad thing is it's really hard not to suspect it at this point.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post, crystallizing the nagging thoughts at the back of many a fan's mind. Too many journeymen suddenly having “career years,” too many “late bloomers,” too many sudden eruptions of power from former wimps — it's enough to turn any fan cycnical, sad to say.

  • Anonymous

    The big question is, where does the fan go from here?
    We're so busy looking at what this scandalous level of cheating did for the individual records and the contracts that it's easy to forget that the cheating has affected *all* our memories. Not just the big home runs…not just the fast recoveries from injury. But the results of all the games are apparently tainted. Think back to the worst losses you can remember in the last 20 years. Think back to the guy that got the winning base hit…or pitched the complete game…or came back for the third day in a row to nail down that save… Then imagine that that man was cheating.
    Suddenly that journeyman's hit that beat you in Game 5 loses some of that rotten luster. Then there was that Game 2 starter who seemed a little bit on edge…
    You shake your head and roll your eyes. It's a knowing realization. An “of course” moment. But that satisfaction turns on itself…into anger. “We got *beat* by a *cheater*…?”
    This is all quickly followed by an emptiness inside. All that emotion…all the palpitations you invested in the game as a fan…all those days of pining over how your favorite game was such a fair and just game. How your favorite player was “great”. And yet there were cheaters everywhere. These hallowed memories of your childhood…if your childhood was the 80's or 90's…you're left only to believe they weren't real. There was that amazing pitcher's duel in Game 7…the greatest game you ever saw. You end up asking yourself silly unnecessary things, like, “Where did those guys get the strength…?” It's not that anyone who could do that would have to be cheating. It's just that now, they might have been.
    Then there's the matter of considering how hard you jumped up and down when your *own* guy hit that moonshot to center on that very special unforgettable day……? Was he…? Is it even worth going over in your mind? Or do we just shut it all away and try to make new memories some other way. How invested in it all can we remain?
    Maybe Barkley had it right in that commercial, when he told you he wasn't a role model. Maybe he and the makers of that stupid-ass commercial knew something we all didn't.
    In all this, I can only say that one thing is for certain- the notion of the “baseball purist” is now officially dead. There can be no such thing, for there is not enough purity to be found in any corner of its highest league. We can all *act* like we didn't know. But we knew in 1994. We knew exactly what and who we were rooting for when they cancelled the World Series. Who knew exactly what and who we would be rooting for if and when they ever came back.
    The shame, therefore, is not on the cheaters…those trying to get an edge. The shame is not on the media who failed to report it because of where it might leave them. The shame is not on the bosses who looked the other way while it all went down. It's not even the bosses who helped make the nasty connections, while their pitiful league was momentarily “rescued” from the flames of bare reality. No. The shame is on us for being fooled when we'd already been forced once to look at the bare truth.
    Maybe all those feelings of resentment we had for the league, its participants and its owners in August and September of 1994 through 1995 were spot on. Maybe we all abandon this game and all these selfish jerks and move on with our lives. Maybe we don't.
    But I don't hate the game. I hate the players. I hate all the ones who played us for fools…the ones who rely on our dollar to keep them in business. The ones that “won us all back” on the back of a wonderful beautiful game. The ones that would continue to have us think that the games we see before our eyes nightly are real. The ones that would continue to have us think they wouldn't cancel the World Series again in a heartbeat if it was an economically viable decision.
    The bottom line is, it's only as real as we want it to be. In the cold light of day, I can say what I want. But at 9:40 tonight, the TV goes on.
    Just after the blinders.

  • Anonymous

    If everybody's dirty, is anybody dirty?

  • Anonymous

    and of course glitter has no negative connotations either.
    “June 15 has been set as the date for the British glam rocker Gary Glitter, left, to appeal his three-year sentence in Vietnam for committing obscene acts with 10- and 11-year-old girls, Reuters reported. Gary Glitter, 62, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, will be moved from a detention center in Vung Tau, a resort town, for a same-day hearing at the Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City, his lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh, said. The appeal was previously scheduled for May 19.”

  • Anonymous

    Great song though.

  • Anonymous

    The best part of the Grimsley fiasco is that he was a Yankee in 1999 and 2000. If some of those blacked-out names turn out to be Yankees, it's going to be a day we can all celebrate!

  • Anonymous

    Well, it would start there. Alas, it wouldn't end there.

  • Anonymous

    I was with Dave on this one until I was forced to think about it. Grimsley was a Royal the same time as a certain centefielder of ours. THAT'S NOT A RUMOR. That's not anything. It's just what it is, the possibility that anything is, sadly, possible.
    You can't erase history, but maybe the 2000 World Series title can be, you know, stripped.