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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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We're Still Standing

Quick, who is your all-time favorite San Diego Padre?

It's a trick question because you can't choose Mike Piazza. Mike Piazza isn't a San Diego Padre.

If he were, why would have I heard myself say quietly and routinely, “c'mon Mike,” as he worked the count against Steve Trachsel in the top of the second? It was the natural thing to do. I'm in the mezzanine, Mike's hitting cleanup, I want him to get a hit. It's an act he and I perfected from 1998 through 2005. At this point it's instinct.

I'm not talking about the long standing ovations that accompanied his every step from the bullpen to the third base dugout to behind the plate to the box at its left. That stuff was predictable. Thrilling, but predictable. It was within the context of the game — after a video detailed his myriad Met accomplishments, after the PA announcer uttered his name, after Jimi Hendrix strummed the first notes of “Voodoo Child” in an unprecedented playing of a visiting batter's theme song — that Mike Piazza surprised me. He got me to mindlessly root for him during a Mets game in 2006 merely by showing up at Shea even though he batted in the top and not the bottom of an inning.

Mike Piazza comes to Queens, I root for him. I don't even think about it. What's a road uniform between friends? Mike Piazza, it's been established here, there and everywhere, will always be a Met. I root for Mets.

But who the hell is Adrian Gonzalez?

That's the San Diego Padre first baseman, the San Diego Padre fifth-place batter, the San Diego Padre who followed Piazza in the San Diego Padre order. And when Trachsel retired him in the top of the second, I let out a little “damn.”

The guy batting fifth after Piazza, whether it was Brian McRae or Robin Ventura or Jason Phillips or Cliff Floyd or whoever, was always someone I wanted good things for and from. They were Piazza's teammates. Root for Piazza, root for his protection.

Wait just a New York minute now. Adrian Gonzalez is a San Diego Padre. I have no interest in this Friars club. So what the Tuck is he doing in the same lineup as Mike Piazza? Mets game…Shea…mezzanine…cleanup…Piazza…cheers…undying affection…endless applause…

Go figure.

I did.

It took me an instant but I quickly curbed my instinct and understood that Adrian Gonzalez wasn't a part of any of this. Him I could root against. Ditto Todd Walker and Geoff Blum and Josh Barfield. Having finally snapped to and paid attention to the entire tableau, I established a handy protocol for the Takin' Care of Business portion of the evening.

Mets in Mets uniforms: hope for something positive.

Padres in Padres uniforms: wish them nothing good.

Mets whose uniforms got mixed up in the laundry: cheers…undying affection…endless applause…

12 comments to We're Still Standing

  • Anonymous

    Howie Rose commented in the 8th (I believe) that Mets fans had been cheering for Piazza to hit a home run earlier, but maybe wouldn't be so happy if he did it in this spot, since the game was on the line. But, honestly, I would've been ecstatic. Eigth inning comeback home run? Isn't that what Mike does?
    Except for protecting Pedro's ERA, I wouldn't begrudge Big Mike a homer in every single at-bat in this series. (Which, if I'm not mistaken, would bring him to 400 home runs as a catcher.)
    Very few things are as exciting as watching Reyes commit base-path robbery. That said, I wouldn't mind a bit if Reyes pulled an Andruw Jones and stood on the first base bag. It doesn't really matter to me whether he's the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Let The Man have a breather behind the plate; he deserves it.
    First of all, we can afford to lose. But more importantly, I think we can still win without exploiting our returning hero. The Padres are like us last year–scrappy–but eminently beatable.

  • Anonymous

    I gotta admit a little ambivalence there in the 8th last night. I wasn't actually rooting against the Mets (short of Omar signing Roidger Clemens, that ain't ever happening), but nor was I rooting against Mike. So many thoughts and emotions… “Hit a HR, and then we'll come back”… I felt bad when he was trudging back to the dugout, but felt better showering him with one more ovation.
    What a night. I'm still emotionally spent.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, I mean this with the most sincerest conviction as possible to my fellow mets fans..
    are you INSANE for wanting Piazza to hit a home run?
    I was at the game last night, the first ovation was pretty sweet – it showed class amongst us fans and believe me when I say I was right there with em showing my love for Mikey.
    After the first at bat? Sorry guys, he's not on my team anymore.
    My first allegiance will be with the Mets, and not for some guy who plays on a team we just might face in the postseason. We may have a big lead in the East, but come on. We needed the win last night, just like we gotta take the series.
    Piazza was a celebration of the past – now we celebrate the present and very near future.

  • Anonymous

    It was surreal; so strange to not be rooting fervently for my team. I was even pissed with David when he stole that base on Mike. Much as I love Mike, I will be glad when the world is right side up again. Until then though, I will be rooting for a homer at Shae from a certain Padre.

  • Anonymous

    I agree 100%. I went last night. I stood. I applauded. I got teary-eyed at the tribute, overwhelmed at the thought of how many of those games I'd been to. But if my team is not winning, I don't want anyone wearing the other team's laundry to hit a home run. No exceptions. I loved Piazza the way most other Mets fans do, but he left at the right time and we really do have to move on. I love our team THIS YEAR, and THIS YEAR does not include Mike Piazza. The king is dead, long live the king.

  • Anonymous

    Well said, kingwise. At 8-1 either way in the eighth, a Piazza homer would be splendid theater (though Mike himself can tell you 8-1 leads aren't necessarily impenetrable when he goes deep). But at 3-2 in the eighth? My impulses had straightened themselves out by then. Go Mike, sure, but there has to be blackout territory where a Met win lies in the balance.

  • Anonymous

    You never have a game to give: Ask '64 Phillies fans or '78 Bosox rooters about that.
    You don't steal up eight runs or mind a sentimental round-tripper when there's no suspense left, but in a close game you go for the kill. You take bases, don't give out cookies, and beat the other guys without exception or apology.
    Last night was very nice, but I really hope tonight is just another game.

  • Anonymous

    I was glad we won last night. Don't get me wrong. I hope we win today, and every game after that. But the key thing is that I was. It's now today and it no longer brings me all that much joy. Maybe that's being spoiled by a good team anda big lead. But I will not remember last night particularly, other than it was Piazza's return. Trachsel's 11th win, Beltran's doubles, Wright's RBIs (and dubious ninth-inning play), Reyes stolen bases and everything else will be forgotten by the time Pedro tosses his first pitch tonight. That is, perhaps, the beauty of the present.
    On the other hand, if Piazza had hit a home run, and we hadn't managed to come back, it wouldn't have been irritating, sure. But memorable.
    Maybe there's some purity and integrity in never letting your killer instinct slip. I can certainly understand wanting to win every damn game, no ifs, ands, or buts. But this team, this present and future, is here to stay. They are marvelous and grow more so daily. Piazza is/does not. Given a choice between savoring what will soon be gone, enemy-uniformed as it is, or taking immediate pleasure in what (to me, in these heady days of youth and limitless potential) will last forever, I chose the former.
    Perhaps that is foolish.

  • Anonymous

    I love Piazza, but I love the Mets. End of story.

  • Anonymous

    I'm sorry for suggesting that Andruw Jones could possibly have anything in common with Reyes. I don't know what I was thinking.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it was very well-said. My hat's off.