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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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All the Marbles

Wow.

It’s possible I’ve never been so tired.

The email came this morning: Two tickets for tonight’s game. $150 each. By the time it got to me it was a decent-length chain of emails, no guarantee the tickets were even still around. And then there was that shocking price tag.

But still.

Emily said she thought I should go. (I love my wife.) So I emailed Greg. I’ll go if you go, I waffled pathetically. Then I emailed my pal Bryan in Chicago, whose counsel is always wise. “If they lose,” he advised, “it’s only money. If they win, and you’re not there to see it, you’ll regret it for a long, long time.”

Only a lot of money, but I found myself nodding as I read that. If they win, I want to be there to see it. If they lose, well, it’ll hurt like hell. But the terror of losing already hurts pretty bad. And between this year and this crazy blog, don’t I want to see this all the way through? Shouldn’t I see them out, if that’s what the baseball gods have decreed?

So Greg and I bullied each other into going without admitting that was what we were doing, and a midtown meeting and three Ben Franklins later, there we were around 7:45 at Gate E. Same familiar place of umpteen games over the years, except everything was different, from the arty tickets to the extra security to the hordes of baying fans to the fear and hope and bravado and defiance flying around the stadium.

I don’t think I’ve had better neighbors at a big game. Everybody knew the lineups up and down, knew what to cheer for and paid attention throughout. Our seatmates were intense, funny and ready to high-five everyone in sight whenever called for. Which, happily, was a lot. John Maine pitched the game of his young life, with a huge crowd carrying him along whenever it looked like he might falter. Reyes’ opening shot over the wall got the fans going, and they stayed high-decibel all the way to Lo Duca’s two badly needed insurance runs. Which were just enough to survive Wagner’s rather terrifying high-wire act. (Goddamn, Billy.)

The terror was never gone until Eckstein’s grounder wound up safely in Delgado’s glove. Between Wagner and the random assassins up and down the Cardinals’ order and the sheer fickleness of postseason baseball, 1-0 and 2-0 and 4-0 felt like the decimal point needed to be slid over to the left. And when I wasn’t chattering nervously at Greg, I found myself doing something rather strange for me: I joined in each and every silly Shea entertainment and scoreboard exhortation. I clap, clap, clapped my hands when ordered to do so. I changed to the scoreboard’s “Jose Jose Jose” cadence even though we were doing just fine singing by ourselves. I went to the window, opened it, stuck my head out and yelled “LET’S GO METS!” I cheered for the Kiss Cam. I sang the anthem and “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Meet the Mets” and “Sweet Caroline” and “Enter Sandman.” I even offered the Pepsi Party Patrol a golf clap. If they’d had the pizza-delivery race, I would have cheered for the red truck. (OK, I ignored “Lazy Mary.” Even I have my limits.) I usually pay no attention to whatever Diamondvision is doing between innings, but if this were the last night of baseball at Shea in 2006, I was going to soak up every fun, terrifying, triumphant, goofy bit of it.

But of course it wouldn’t be the last night of baseball at Shea in 2006. Because half of the hard business has been done. Now, it’s Oliver Perez and a cast of everybody else, against Jeff Suppan, for all the marbles. Game 7. Winner goes to Detroit. Loser goes home.

None of us knows what will happen, except all of us know this: It’s another night of October baseball. Another day of tension, of worrying and waiting and wondering, followed by three or four hours of emotion blasting out of a fire hose, followed by being staggeringly exhausted but too keyed up to sleep. To be repeated as long as you’re allowed to do so.

For two weeks I’ve stumbled through my job, through mornings getting the kid to school, doing everything on autopilot until 8:19 comes within view. My eyeballs hurt, I’m grinding my teeth, my ears are ringing, and my voice is completely shredded, reduced to something between a croak and a bark. And the second you catch yourself wondering if you can do it anymore is the same second you find yourself desperately hoping, pleading and beseeching to be allowed another day of it.

Well, we got the day. And now the thing we want most is to be given another week of stumbling and staggering and worrying and waiting.

Sleep? Being able to talk? Being a decent employee? Dude. C’mon. That’s what November’s for.

21 comments to All the Marbles

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Tremendous. And that stuff about work… damn straight.
    What.

  • Anonymous

    here's the drill. i've adopted cliff floyd's favorite interview phrase as my own for this postseason: No Doubt. waking up yesterday morning, i had plenty. but by the time i caught the 7 train, i was in full faith mode. no doubt that maine would pitch well, no doubt that the lads would get to carpenter, no doubt that this game six was ours. again.
    and so it came to pass. heaven forbid that fran healy was finally right about something: shea was rocking. really. the upper deck was a little scary, especially after lo duca deposited that insurance check for 2 runs.
    weather was closer to late august than mid-october — t-shirt-friendly. (i flew the fafif colors, and lemme tell ya boys, these colors don't run.) the crowd was louder and more intense than i can ever recall hearing: more than game 2 against the dodgers in the first round, or against the yankees in interleague or even, yes, game five in 69, though my memory may have softened over the years.
    glided home easily enough, in the dwindling company of strangers who caught first the 7 to grand central, then the 12:25 new haven line. as i got out at mamaroneck, a fellow commuter asked: did you go? yes. how was it? maine gave up 2 hits in 5 and a third, and jose had a leadoff homerun. how do you think it went?
    when i arise, someone please tell explain the thinking behind perez on short rest. aside from the fact that everyone will be poised on standby, why not actually start darren oliver?
    that's a discussion for later today. right now, all i know is that in a season of tasty delights, this game bore the sweetest fruit yet. and pleasant dreams.

  • Anonymous

    I stayed up late listening to Steve Somers, who branded last night's victory one for “Olé” (José Reyes) and “Oy Vey” (Shawn Green).
    So, I'm wondering when the “Oy Vey” chant is going to catch on….
    The man's batting a team leading .350, time to give Shawnee some love!

  • Anonymous

    On our deathbed, none of us will look back wistfully and wish we'd spent more time at the office. I'll look back and say, “I wish I'd spent more time at Shea.”
    Win or lose, you two invested your hard-earned pay wisely. Congrats on getting the winners' dividends.
    Now how about an encore?

  • Anonymous

    Gentlemen: Cards' fan coming in peace (knowing that if one were to go to Shea at this moment, they'd be in pieces).
    If the Mets win, I will be tremendously happy for them. I've mentioned to friends that this is in some ways a no lose sitch for me–my two favorite teams, slugging it out. I want the Cardinals to win. If they don't, tomorrow my mom will still love me, my rent will still be paid, and I'll still have to get up and go to work (bleary-eyed though I may be).
    And at this point, who the hell knows what's going to happen tonight? I mean, you'd think that there's no way that OPerez can have even the moderate level of success that he had in Gm. 4, right? Well, not so fast, I think. Who'd of thought that Jeff Weaver would throw two marvelous games? That the Mets would still be here with little or no contribution from David Wright? (Oh, he'll get many more chances).
    I love baseball. This series is a great example of why. Watching teh game tonight with two very good friends, both Mets fans. Good luck to you all…

  • Anonymous

    Word, man. Whoever wins this earns this. I'm trying to figure out where our “prohibitive favorite” tag came from, 14 extra wins notwithstanding. These seem like two evenly matched squads, right down to the inclusion of Braden Looper in each bullpen.
    As for the impending starting pitching matchup, if Chris Carpenter was going to stand in as Orel Hershiser ('88 NLCSspeak), then Suppan strikes me as the potential second coming of Tim Belcher. We'll see.
    Your civility is welcomed most sincerely and I thank you for stopping by with such kind sentiments. I'm not rooting against the Cardinals at this point anyway. I'm rooting for the Mets.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post. Really.
    I can totally relate, as I'm dropping Visine in my eyes right now so I don't look totally insane at work today.

  • Anonymous

    Who knew one could be so scared of Jeff Suppan, Giant-Slayer.
    I think the appropriate question here is, $300 for Game 6. How much for Game 7. Come on. You know you wanna.

  • Anonymous

    A guy in my section last night actually proposed the Oy Vey chant, and we obliged happily. Everyone who is going tonight should take part!

  • Anonymous

    Glennr,
    Though I'd have to default to become a Tigers rooter should the Mets lose tonight (unthinkable!), I too appreciate the civility of your post, and wish all diehard red-blooded Cards fans nothing but the best.
    Just not tonight.

  • Anonymous

    THe company I am working for has been slowly going out of business. I have been looking for a new job for some time now, and got my offer last Friday. My new boss is very anxious for me to join them. Frankly, there's not that much left for me to do here. One week notice would have been sufficient.
    I'm starting on the 30th, and that was carefully calculated: “OH, i really want to make sure I”m not leaving them stranded.” Hah. I really want to make sure I'm not coming into a new job every morning half-dead because I've been at Shea until midnight every night.

  • Anonymous

    You are most welcome. I echo–in reverse–your last sentiment exactly: I hope that one team actually beats the other, as opposed to someone “goofing.” Or worse, an umpire deciding the affair.
    I am sure Shea is going to be unbelievably rockin' tonight…

  • Anonymous

    I hate to ask such a mundane question after such a poetic post, but can anyone give me advice on driving tonight? After I ceremoniously printed out the game 7 tix my brother won in the lottery after the last pitch, one of the future foursome called and offered to drive (from Manhattan). My feeling is this is absolutely insane, but I thought I'd float the idea to those who might have gone that route this post season. Just how bad is the traffic?

  • Anonymous

    belladewood,
    Unless time is of absolutely NO consequence to you, to quote another blog's title, “Take the 7 Train”.
    If parking is not a problem, getting in and out of Shea has always been a bit hairy, even WITHOUT them starting work on a new field right next door. Besides, won't it be fun to ride that funky silver beast into and out of Flushing with John Rocker's favorite group of people?
    But what do I know? I've been living in Orlando, Florida for the past ten years. Down here, a traffic jam means the light on 436 turned red. Dang.

  • Anonymous

    Traffic and parking are both nightmarish. The No. 7 train can be squalid too. The smart way to go is the LIRR from Penn Station.
    It's comfortable, civiized and fast — less than 20 minutes from midtown to the ballpark — and doesn't cost very much more than the subway. You'll be paying peak fare to the ball game and off-peak coming back — a total of $10 round trip, and cheaper for kids and seniors. The trains are frequent — no more than 30 minutes apart, and often less — and the ride is delightful.
    Three caveats:
    — Buy your tickets before you board, to avoid a hefty surcharge.
    — On the way to the stadium it'll be rush hour. Be careful not to get on an express, which will bypass the stadium. The crews are pretty good about saying “No Shea Stadium stop on this train” in the announcements, but you should check to be sure.
    — Hold on to your tickets, you'll need them when you get off the train to pass the turnstile. Nobody knows why.

  • Anonymous

    I had a shot at that, for $350 a seat. I'm on babysitting duty tonight, so I had to say no even before my wallet screamed no.
    Needless to say I'm now regretting it intensely. Because yeah, I wanna.

  • Anonymous

    I'm a recent LIRR convert, and I concur — two stops from Penn Station, which is pretty awesome. If in Penn Station, follow signs to Corridor C, where the ticket machines are much less-populated. As for the right train, just follow the hordes of Met shirts.
    Other than it being slow, I have no problem with the 7. But I do recommend getting off at 111th instead of Shea. It's an easy walk to the stadium from there, and will keep you out of the crush.
    One nice combination: LIRR out, 7 train in. Last night people were doing the wave in our car. It was cute. (The wave has no place in an actual stadium, of course.)
    Between the playoffs and the construction, I wouldn't drive.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks to all for the advice. Faith, no Fear in Flushing this evening, I swear.

  • Anonymous

    OK, allow me to be the contrarian. If (and this is a big if) you leave early enough, drive. I mean, like, if you're on your way to your car right now. The traffic has not been as bad as threatened. Take the LIE to 108th St, left and go up 108th to Roosevelt. If you get there before, say, 6:30, you should be able to get a spot in the auxiliary lot. And now you've got your car, a spot to tailgate and eat sandwiches and drink pop for an hour and a half. And now you don't have to walk that dehumanizing cattle run onto the 7, you can sit back in your car and smoke victoy cigars and listen to the Happy Recap while the lot thins out. That's what I'm doing.
    As for last night – bedlam! Gosh, that was great. Except for one small complaint – Carpenter's foul in the second (?) was right to me. Hit me in my left hand. As I closed my hand I was buried alive. A guy three seats away dove over his kid and my wife and floored all of us. The guy next to me smacked his head into mine lunging for it. It was in my hand, my first ball in thirty years of hundreds of games! And the impact jarred it loose. Never even saw it land. Fucking animals. Leapin' Jagoff was all apologetic as his kid and my wife rubbed their bruises all night. Great, thanks.
    Whatever, it was still awesome. As will be tonight. LETS GO METS!!!!

  • Anonymous

    drink pop for an hour and a half.
    Pop? Not soda?
    You sure this game isn't at Busch?

  • Anonymous

    That's long been a joke among my friends and family, partially because it sounds so silly, partially given my distaste for the product. Not to mention the notion of a bunch of guys tailgating 'round some Grape Nehi.