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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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Rock and Roll

It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled,

It’s been a long time since I did the stroll.

Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back, let me get it back,

Baby where I come from.

It’s been a long time, been a long time,

Been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely time.

I didn’t think I’d been nervous until I started realizing just how many things I’d forgotten.

Like where was my hat? Normally if there’s a game to be played I’ve got my beloved, faded, battered Cyclones hat on my head. Or, failing that, my gray Mets hat with the NY in stars and stripes. (I don’t know why, I just like that one.) Or, should neither of those seem lucky, the blue and orange NEW YORK one, or the blue and red BROOKLYN one. Or those old standbys, the black NY hat or the hat that was a Met hat when it never occurred to marketers that there could be more than one. Not today. I came back from my office bathroom having changed into my black away uni, rummaged through my bag and realized I didn’t have my hat. How could I leave the house today of all days without it?

(As an incompetence bookend: I brought the digital camera, pulled it out of my bag in a happy Shea Stadium, turned it on and saw a beautiful image of the field and the happy baseball team below. Atop it, strange words: NO MEMORY CARD. Oops.)

The champagne didn’t make it either, though I did remember it. I’d loaded my bag up Greg-style for camoflague — work shirt, t-shirt, book, printed manuscript pages, umbrella (no rain in forecast), the memory-card-free camera, and miscellaneous crap grabbed from my office to put the largest number of barriers between the eyes/hands of a security guard and the moderate-sized bottle of Verve Veuve Clicquot I’d found in a cabinet during a hasty search on Friday night. By the time I was done it was like carrying a cinderblock.

I knew I wouldn’t make it, though: The security guard dug through that bag like he was fricking Heinrich Schliemann while I waited for the inevitable. Finally he held up the champagne and simply shook his head, pleasant but implacable. I mumbled something lame about a dinner and BYOB, surrendered my bottle, and trudged into Shea with my enormous load of now utterly useless crap making me list to port. (Happy ending: Faith and Fear friend Laurie came through with mini-bottles smuggled in one of those umbrella carriers some bags have on the bottom. She’s a crafty one, that Laurie. Oh, and her camera had a memory card in it.)

Everything else went just fine, of course. The Cubs put up crookeder and crookeder numbers, the Mets played crisply, and the crowd was going full throttle, ready to push the team across any finish line it came near. Up in the mezzanine, Greg and I fretted and then stop fretting and started wondering if Steve Trachsel, who often pitches the way continents meander across oceans, could possibly beat the news from Philadelphia. He could and he did — pitched wonderfully, in fact, and in near-record time. For all the attention Pedro’s abortive return got on Friday night, Trachsel’s storyline had to be just as compelling. He’s never going to be loved at Shea, not with his water-torture pace and his head-down trudge to and from the dugout (the 5+ ERA doesn’t help either), and he stands slightly apart on this team, a holdover from previous administrations who can’t plead that he merely arrived early. But did he ever do his job when it needed to be done. It was disappointing that Trachsel couldn’t tip his cap or wave his hand to the crowd that gave him a standing ovation — what was there to visualize at that point, Steve? — but what the heck, he probably didn’t know what to do when confronted by a Shea standing ovation. Here’s hoping he gets to ignore some more standing Os.

The rest? Signs premature (NL EAST DIVISION CHAMPS before we were), to the point (CLINCH) and irritatingly off-point (BRING ON THE YANKEES). Public-address messages that would have seemed like jinxes in other years — we were entreated not to go on the field (“illegal and dangerous”) before the top of the ninth. Yankee fans got booed — my favorite target was a teenage girl in a camoflague Yanks hat whose walk around the mezzanine was paced, metronome-style, by a section-by-section YANKEES SUCK! chant. Various Mets were treated to unofficial MVP lobbying; “Around the Majors” showed highlights from the completely meaningless Reds-Astros game, a dose of habitual Shea incompetence that was somehow comforting; and Reyes and Valentin were serenaded with their shared first name. (“Jose Jose Jose Jose! Other Jose, Other Jose!” Greg and I improvised cleverly.)

And, of course, there was a final line drive and a lot of yelling and drinking of warm, properly smuggled champagne and a long, happy subway ride home with the exhilirated faithful. After a game I like watching the Met share of my fellow riders slowly decrease as the distance from Shea increases and people peel off for the near-infinite number of familiar routes taking them from Shea to their homes, until I’m down to knots of Met fans and then scattered sightings and finally the one or two fans who happen to live where I live and happened to have left the stadium at the same time I did, a coincidence that usually allows for a brief exchange of happiness or reassurance or commiseration before we go back to our non-baseball lives.

Tonight my 7 car was filled with booming Mets chants all the way to 42nd Street, despite various Met rooters being disgorged for the LIRR, the 4/5/6 and the B/D/F. They were still chanting on the 2/3 platform at 42nd, and I could hear them all the way down to 14th. (LET’S! GO! METS!) and then Chambers (LET’S! GO! METS!), the chants and sightings gradually dwindling until finally I got off at Clark Street and there was just me.

Just me, but I wasn’t exactly alone. There was my uniform shirt and the astonishingly heavy bag and the flush of yelling and booze and victory and the season of blissful memories so far and the now-official glee and hope and anxiety for the future — that marvelous collection of things that come with being, at long last, NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CHAMPS.

11 comments to Rock and Roll

  • Anonymous

    LET'S GO METS!!!
    Trachsel is a piece of work. He really needed to tip his cap. Maybe he was afraid it would be like a farewell and that he'd be jinxing his potential playoff spot. Or maybe he's such a damn creature of habit that, when faced with something other than lukewarmness and scattered boos as he left the mound, he was completely incapable of reacting and just tried to play it off as bizarre stoicism.
    Piece of work.

  • Anonymous

    It's all a blur.
    Upper Reserved, Section 10, Row D.
    Cheering from the first pitch and never letting up until I was safely in my car three hours later, and even then honking my horn in wonderful sets of beep-beep-beep. 3rd-inning curtain calls. Hoping beyond all hope we'd win before the Phillies lost. Chanting. More chanting. Tomahawk chopping. Realizing what we were about to see. Snapping away as dozens of Mets became one between the mound and short. And of course, the tunnels. God, the yelling we did in the tunnels. And by the gates. Using all the energy I have as a 24-year old to lead young and old alike in LET'S GO METS! chants and jumping around like idiots. The horns in the lot. What a night.
    There's only one thing I'd take back.
    My champagne, confiscated by security as I entered Gate D.

  • Anonymous

    My lord, how much champagne must those guys have on hand right now? Not a one of them should have to pay a thin dime for bubbly at weddings, graduations, boat-christenings or what-have-you until at least 2008.
    I say “at least” because it's fine with me if they confiscate mine every year.

  • Anonymous

    Damn. Champagne is one fine beverage.

  • Anonymous

    Kudos to the people who run MLB Extra Innings for showing the postgame stuff to those of us out of town (Cincinnati). Usually, it's along the lines of Gary throwing it down to Chris Cotter with the guy who go the game winning hit and then all of a sudden “GOOD NIGHT” flashes on your screen with a bad '80s Casio drum machine mix in the background.

  • Anonymous

    As if I would have let you guys down. I told you there would be champagne, in champagne bottles, with corks to pop.
    WE ARE THE (division) CHAMPIONS!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    The best poster at the game (on Field Level):
    Last Mets Game With Dad Before Iraq: Priceless
    I teared up a bit.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the Mets and Zeppelin. My two favorite things.
    My my my I'm so happy…

  • Anonymous

    Veuve Cliquot?
    Dude, if there's a better than average chance you're going to get busted, at least pack some cheap domestic crap.
    You may elect to console yourself in the knowledge that your faux pas likely helped some Mets security person get, um, you know, “fortunate” last night.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I know. Shades of Ron Swoboda yelling “those idiots — they've sprayed the imported, now we have to drink the domestic.”
    It was the only thing small enough to try smuggling.

  • Anonymous

    SCATTERED boos when he leaves the mound? I was there for his two previous starts, and not only was he booed off the mound by tens of thousands of people both times, but the walk to the mound to take him out was also loudly cheered. Yeah, just like you'd treat a Yankee.
    Ask Carlos Beltran how much one feels like tipping one's cap or giving a curtain call to people who mere days ago were heaping hatred and abuse on you because you committed the heinous crime of not being at your best. Carlos went up miles in my estimation when he refused to play that game.
    If there's one thing I could change around here, it would be the fair-weatherness of the fans. Love should never turn to hate like that, especially when this season we really haven't had a whole lot to complain about. If you hate them enough to boo, stay home. This way the standing ovation wouldn't look so much like hypocrisy to Steve Trachsel, and he would want to tip his cap because the fans have always been so supportive, win or lose.
    I can dream, can't I?