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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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In Defense of a Pronoun

We’re a little too into sports in this country, I think we gotta throttle back. Know what I mean? People come home from these games, “We won! We won!” No, they won — you watched. — Jerry Seinfeld

It’s one of the rules of being an adult: You realize that you’re not, in fact, a member of your favorite team. You will never throw a perfect inning, line a double off the wall or even stand in the batter’s box quivering while three barely glimpsed fastballs roar across the plate. You watch the team, you root for the team, you analyze the team’s strengths and weaknesses, but you know you are a fan, not a player. And so, above all else, you do not say “we.” You say “they.” Or you invite ridicule.

Well, you know what?

Fuck that.

There are two kinds of people who don’t say “we” — people who are passionate fans of a given team and people who aren’t. There are billions of people in the latter group. Many of them are decent, intelligent folk. I’ve got dozens of friends who fit into that category. I love some of them dearly. But I don’t give a good goddamn what they think about this issue, or anything else related to sports.

That leaves the first group — passionate fans who nonetheless turn up their nose at “we.” And they’re the ones I don’t understand.

I wonder, fantasize, exult and worry about the fortunes of the New York Mets 365 days a year — 366 every four years. And for six months of the year they are the focus of, at minimum, approximately a quarter of the hours I’m awake. My co-blogger is no different. (In fact, double those numbers for him.) Nor are many of the folks who comment here.

While I’m the same me year after year, shifts in hair and waistline notwithstanding, the New York Mets barely hold still. They come and go in a blur: So far, there have been 799 of them to 1 of me. They come up young and leave old, are revealed as heroes and heels, succeed and fail and do OK, get drafted and signed and called up and hurt and benched and traded and released and reacquired, the names above the numbers changing as the seasons tick by faster and faster. The team has been and will be managed by different men, coached by different men, put together by different men (and even a few women), even owned by different men and women. The only true constant? It’s us. People who look up from some chore in the middle of the winter and realize they’ve spent the last hour fuming about why Timo wasn’t running, or why Yogi didn’t start George Stone, or what in hell Kenny Rogers was doing. Who ride the subway to work fantasizing about the World Series ending on a David Wright walk-off, or an above-the-fence grab by Carlos Gomez, or a no-hitter for Philip Humber. Who find themselves walking down the street grinning like a fool at the memory of the Grand Slam single, or Pratt hitting it over the fence, or Ray Knight grabbing his helmet in disbelief as home plate looms.

We go to the games. We spend the money. We wear the gear. We read the articles, the books and even a crazy, wordy blog or two. We cheer and boo and do mock Tomahawk chops and call the FAN and sing “Jose Jose Jose Jose.” We don’t play or make out the starting lineup or acquire players, that’s true. But so what? We do everything else. We are the custodians of tradition and the tellers of tales, the ones whose job it is to explain to children and new arrivals and casual fans and interested bystanders what the Mets are like and what Met fans are like. We’ll never be in the Baseball Encyclopedia. But who’s meant more to the New York Mets? One of us — or, say, Dave Liddell? (We are the ones who remember Dave Liddell.)

And above all else, we give a big chunk of our hearts to a ever-shifting assemblage of rich young men to do with as they will. The cruel irony of sports is that we let our happiness and perhaps even our sanity depend on the outcome of an activity that we are, realistically, powerless to affect. Perhaps that’s why some fans insist on this symbolic display of standing apart — perhaps that’s their refuge from letting their days and nights be wrecked by something as ultimately small as a “tough loss,” or as cosmically inconsequential as calf pain for a Cuban man of undetermined age.

But if you’ve come this far, stop kidding yourself. It’s a big thing, giving a piece of yourself over to something larger than yourself. It’s an even bigger thing to give that loyalty to something that’s out of your control, that you can only be witness to. But if you’re reading this and aren’t a casual passer-by, you’ve already done that, right? In the eyes of casual fans and non-fans, you’re already a lunatic. It’s too late to change now, even if you could.

On this blog we use that forbidden pronoun. And we use it proudly. Tomorrow, “we” will describe thousands upon thousands baying in the stands and watching in terror and joy on their couches and standing with the radio pressed to an ear and muttering about calves and rotator cuffs and MRIs — and it will also describe the 25 guys in orange and blue at the center of all that attention. “They”? That doesn’t describe David Wright and Jose Reyes and John Maine. It describes everybody else.

I’m sure glad we’re not them.

16 comments to In Defense of a Pronoun

  • Anonymous

    I'm just looking for my place to leave a post. The first day is upon us.
    How about this?… Let's go bitches.

  • Anonymous

    WE are FUCKT!!!
    Damn you and your deadspin writing! The sky has fallen!
    Deep breaths….
    deep breaths…
    we're gonna be okay.

  • Anonymous

    I came home tonight and Emily and Joshua were playing baseball in the hall. (No ball in the house, you say? Dude, whatever.)
    “I'm David Wright!” Joshua yelled. “And I'm pitching!”
    “David Wright is pitching?” Emily asked.
    “It could come to that,” I muttered.
    So yeah, we're probably fucked. Oh well. Let's play 'em anyway.

  • Anonymous

    You guys dont understand that this is a good thing what is going on with our pitching!! When have the Mets ever done ANYTHING easy in their history? Everything with us has to have drama in it. The 69' team came out of no where to win it all, shocking the world. The 73' team was dead in the water and came back. The 86' team was twice pushed to the brink of elimination. The 2000 team somehow makes it to The Series with guys like Agbayani, Zeile, and Benitez blowing every game that matters.
    This year everything has been going too easy for us. Our players are all of a sudden media darlings, our executives are actually getting praised. That isnt the Met way. The Met way is making it to the World Series missing our best pitcher. It's making it with our team hobbled. It's making it by first vanquishing the team we always have had to live in the shadow of (Dodgers), beating the team of the biggest representive of our recent futility (Piazza), and finally going up against our hated enemy (You know who).
    So on this day of days, chin up Met fans. If we didnt have to win where everything was stacked against us, it wouldnt be our team.

  • Anonymous

    Amen Brother!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    “We are the custodians of tradition and the tellers of tales . . .”
    Now that is just beautiful. It reminded me of Willy Wonka's quote “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams” (which I just learned, while verifying it from Google, was actually written by some British poet instead; no matter).

  • Anonymous

    I defer to no one in my loyalty to (and, truth to tell, identification with and daydreaming about) a team I have rooted for since L. Johnson was Lyndon, not Lance.
    But while I might say “our guys” or “our team,” when you come down to a pronoun, it's “they,” not “we.”
    I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan, too, but I don't say “we” played the Garden last night. I'm a fan of Patrick O'Brian, but I don't say “we” really outdid ourselves with “The Wine-Dark Sea.” I'm a fan of Freihofers' chocolate chip cookies but I don't say “we” baked 'em.
    You're absolutely right about the tribe in the bleachers and glued to the tube, the great sovereign nation that is Metsdom. Fans are we. The franchise can even be we, for the reasons you explain.
    But the guys on the field, our avatars, our heroes and bums, our phenoms and vets, our horses and goats and dogs — they are ours, but they are not we.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps it is time for us, them, the Mets to give Aaron Heilman his way, and let him start.

  • Anonymous

    I completely disagree. Unless you receive paychecks from the New York Mets National League Baseball Club Inc., you are not a part of the Mets and cannot refer to the team as “we”.
    I have used the same concert analogy as one of the above commenters as the reason why it sounds silly to say “we” when referring to a team you root for.

  • Anonymous

    That almost sounds like the only guys who aren't part of the franchise are the actual Mets. I don't mean that as a wiseass remark — I find it really intriguing, as it captures the unhappy tug of war between mercenary players passing through and fans staying for good or ill in a way that's very hard to do.
    Ours but not we is a very good way of saying it. But I dunno — emotionally speaking (a state that erodes the bright lines of logic, I'll admit), doesn't the notion of team, spectator sports, etc. have to address something less predictable, and thus far more deeply felt, than the relationship between performer/product and even the most-passionate listener/consumer? An O'Brian book isn't read before hordes who boo or cheer. You don't brood about that one bad Freihofers' cookie days or months later. Springsteen can't “lose” a concert and have Nickelback take over the rest of the tour dates. With sports, you're invested in a way that's much deeper, which leads (for better or worse, mature or im-) to at least the possibility of “we.”
    Interesting stuff.
    BTW, I'm a big Springsteen and Aubrey/Maturin fan too. That suggests I ought to get me some Freihofers' cookies….

  • Anonymous

    I've been with this team a heck of a lot longer than anyone currently wearing the laundry. They've been a part of my life and I've been paying their salaries since I was like 9, and I'm going on 43. So yes, I reserve the right to say “we,” for reasons of the heart and for simplicity's sake, and if you choose not to, then don't.
    Many, many people receive paychecks from the New York Mets National League Baseball Club Inc. who honestly couldn't give a flying monkey's a** about the Mets, or even baseball. It's kind of curmudgeonly to insist that they have a right to say “we,” but I don't. I volunteer for political campaigns and provide months upon months of support, without receiving a paycheck. Does that mean I can't say “we did it!” when our candidate wins, because no one voted for me and I was never paid for my efforts?
    On a technicality, sure, I guess you're correct. But matters of the heart rarely rest on technicalities. You can root for “them.” I am rooting for “us.”

  • Anonymous

    Well said. But in these times of exploding calves, fear, doubt and the rest, let's remember that whether we style it “them” or “us,” we're all rooting for the same guys and the same thing.
    I will now lead us in a rousing rendition of “Kumbaya.” Or perhaps “Let's Go Mets!”

  • Anonymous

    “Let's” is a contraction of “Let Us,” so I'm not sure if that's allowed… heh.
    GO METS!!!!
    (Although “Let Us Go, Mets” might also be appropriate.)

  • Anonymous

    I don't like “we” either. When I was in college playing ball, “we” always became “they” when “we” lost. However, it is a difficult habit to break, and I often say “we” especially when referring to my college's athletic teams. It is an awkward transition, however I'm making it. There's nothing curmudgeonly about it. I try not to say “we” anymore because I am “they” now.

  • Anonymous

    We did it before and we can do it again. We can do it again. We can do it again.
    To all of you who are coolly and cleverly detached, I don't get it. I simply don't. Yeah, I didn't strike out anybody or hit a 470-foot home run this afternoon, but we won. I'm sure we did.
    Untighten those sphincters, people. We're in the playoffs.

  • Anonymous

    For those who still object to the use of “we” to refer to the team by the fans, I draw your attention to Wagner's column in the Post today:
    “I was excited coming in from the bullpen. My heart was thumping, and so was the crowd. Just when I thought we couldn't get any louder at Shea, we did. ”
    It goes both ways. WE're all in this together. And, as was once sung about a wise woman, “we're gonna make it after all.” Doo da doo doo.