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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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Tell Barry It's All About The Benjamin

The doorbell rang at Barry Zito’s Southern California beach house. He padded over to let in the visitors he was expecting.

“Dude,” he said. “Are you Omar?”

It wasn’t Omar.

“Mister Zito?”

“That’s my name, bro. Don’t wear it out.”

Barry Zito peeked out the door.

“Dude, where’s Omar?”

“There’s no Omar here, Barry.”

“Dude, you’re wearing it out! And where is everybody?”

Barry Zito, the most coveted pitcher on the free agent market had been told by his agent, the ravenous and skilled Scott Boras, that he would be called on by the general manager of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya as well as their chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, vice president Tony Bernazard and assistant GM John Ricco. All Barry remembered was “Omar,” because he considered it an unusual name.

“There’s nobody else here, Barry. Just me. But I do represent others just like me.”

“Dude. You look weird.”

By contemporary standards, it is fair to say the visitor did stand out, for he was not dressed in the style of a man of the 21st, 20th or 19th century. One would have to return to the late 1700s to see his kind of garb and not think it unusual.

“Barry, I’m Benjamin Franklin.”

“Who?”

“Benjamin Franklin…one of the founding fathers of this country!”

“Don’t know, man.”

“Inventor of the stove!”

“Uh…”

“Diplomat nonpareil!”

“Dude, I can’t be smoking that. They got drug testing!”

“Barry, my face is on the hundred-dollar bill.”

With that, Barry Zito perked up.

“All right! A hundred-million-dollar bill! My agent came through. Gimme!”

“Barry, there is no hundred-million-dol…remove your hands from my person at once or I shall throttle you unmercifully with my cane!”

“Sorry dude. I thought you were my payday.”

Benjamin Franklin was dismayed.

“See here, Barry. You will have my likeness, as many as a million of them in short order. A penny saved is a penny earned.

“Dude! I’m totally there!”

“But Barry, you need to act in your best interest.”

“The agent’s doing that, man. I’m gonna get interest and everything. You sure you’re not a hundred-million-dollar bill? I’ve been waiting since like October to get one.”

“No, Barry, I’m not. I’m something more valuable. If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.

“A zillion-dollar bill? ‘Cause, dude, that would be awesome!”

“Barry, I’m here to help you grasp the wisdom you need to advance your career. He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

“Huh?”

“I’m here to help you get the best deal.”

“Cool! Hey, I don’t have to pay you a commission, too, do I?”

“Barry, my advice is invaluable. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

“Huh?”

“It’s free.”

Awesome! Where’s my money?”

Benjamin Franklin hadn’t felt so dismayed since the Continental Congress hesitated in declaring independency.

“Barry, this is about more than money. He does not possess wealth; it possesses him.

“Man, you’re sure not an agent. My agent says we’re gonna get paid and I mean paid!”

“Is that what this is all about, Barry? You’re a free agent. You have an opportunity few men will ever have to chart your destiny for better or for worse and your sole concern is monetary? Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.

“Dude, where’s my money?”

“Barry, there’s plenty of money in Texas.”

“Texas?”

“Yes, Barry. Tom Hicks, the owner of the Rangers, will give you a king’s ransom to play in Texas. He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

“Sweet! Where do I sign?”

“Oh, right here. I brought a contract, notarized and everything. Six years, $96 million. Just as Mister Hicks offered you earlier this month.”

“Tubular! Got a pen?”

“Only a quill. May I avail myself of your inkwell?”

“Dude?”

“My goodness. It appears we can’t sign you up for the Texas Rangers just yet until we find a proper signature implement. At least that gives us a chance to chat a little longer.”

“Dude, I want my money!”

“Anything else?”

“Huh?”

“I asked you a question, Barry. A simple one. Is there anything besides money that would make you happy? Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.

“Dude, I don’t understand. The agent said…”

“Barry, you need to forget about your agent for a moment.”

“I can do that?”

“Barry, all your agent wants is for you to sign the most lucrative contract you are offered. There’s more to life, more to even baseball than that. Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.

“There is?”

“Barry, what do you like about baseball?”

“I dunno.”

“Think.”

“Well…I like to win.”

“Barry, do you think you’d win in Texas?”

“I dunno.”

“Put another way, Barry, you’ve been in the American League for several years now. Do you ever remember Texas winning anything? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

“Uh…no?”

“No is correct.”

“Yeah, but dude, I could help them win! I’m Barry Zito. I’m like really good.”

“Your abilities are not in question, Barry. But do you remember who else has tried to help the Texas Rangers win? If a man could have half of his wishes, he would double his troubles.

“Uh…no?”

“Do you remember a gentleman by the name of Alex Rodriguez?”

“Who?”

“A-Rod.”

“A-Rod, yeah! That dude used to be good. Whatever happened to him?”

“That’s not important, Barry. What matters is that the same Tom Hicks who wants to throw money at you once threw money at A-Rod and it didn’t work. He throws money at everybody and it never works. Texas is a terrible place for baseball. It’s too hot and not enough people care. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

“Really dude?”

“I’m Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the stove. Would I proffer anything but top-notch bromides?”

“Uh…no?”

“Barry, if it is your fondest desire to toil in the heat of Arlington in front of people whose interest in baseball wanes as Cowboy two-a-days approach and where the team is almost never seriously competitive, then you should sign with the Texas Rangers. Our necessities never equal our wants.

“Dude, that sounds so not awesome.”

“Hmmm…”

“Dude, what should I do?”

“There is another option, Barry. Another way. Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.

“Tell me oh great spirit!”

“I didn’t say anything about being a spirit. I’m Benjamin Franklin!”

“Uh, sorry man. It’s December and all…”

“Barry, the New York Mets want you.”

“Yeah, I heard about them. They’re like coming here with that Omar guy.”

“Barry, you don’t need a visit from Omar Minaya.”

“And I’m supposed to get a call from like Tom Glavine or something.”

“Barry, you need not be courted like a belle choosing among suitors for a colonial cotillion. A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

“Dude?”

“Barry, you’re an adult. I hear good things about you, things that indicate you’re far more than the greedy, one-dimensional surfer/stoner stereotype some Mets fans have come to think of you as during this free agent season.”

“Dude!”

“The point is, Barry, you control your own destiny. The riches that you will collect are so far beyond the dreams of anyone that after a fashion, you will not be able to tell the difference between a six-year contract for $96 million or a more reasonable version from the Mets. If you desire many things, many things will seem few.

“Dude, are the Mets gonna lowball me?”

“That is not a healthy outlook, Barry. Consider all you will reap by becoming a New York Met. Who is rich? He that rejoices in his portion.

“Like?”

“Like playing on a contender. Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

“Yeah, the Mets were in the playoffs last year, weren’t they?”

“They came very close to the World Series, Barry. He who waits upon fortune is never sure of dinner.

“Closer than we did.”

“You’ll be supported by several young superstars who are signed well into the next decade.”

“Yeah, I remember those guys! Um, right?”

“Yes, David Wright is one of them. And you’ll be playing in New York.”

“Dude, I do not like that place. Their ballpark is a toilet and their fans bum me out.”

“No, Barry, do not let what you’ve seen create a confusion. You’re thinking of the other stadium in New York. This is the Mets.”

“Oh yeah. They have a nice place?”

“They will. And their fans will love you.”

“Dude, that would be so sweet, because in Oakland most of the time we have like no fans.

“That won’t be a problem in Queens. If you would be loved, love and be lovable.

“Queens?”

“New York. The Mets.”

“Dude!”

“What’s more, Barry, New York is the virtual capital of the world. In fact, in my day, it was the capital of the newly formed United States!”

“Dude?”

“What I’m saying, Barry, is your opportunities as one whose interests extend across the arts…”

“Arts? You mean like Howe?”

“I mean music.”

“Oh. I’m into that, totally!”

“Everything is going on in New York, Barry. Outstanding National League baseball, outstanding entertainment industry, just…outstanding! The United States Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.

“But I gotta take less money?”

“Barry, are you worth $16 million a year? A good conscience is a continual Christmas.

“Dude, I’m worth whatever they pay me.”

“Did it occur to you that Mister Hicks wanted to pay you so much to make you forget you’d be stuck in Texas?Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other.

“Dude, that makes so much sense!”

“If the Mets offer you a little less, it’s only in the name of fiscal sanity and because pitching for them will pay off in so many other ways. If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.

“But I gotta…”

“Gotta what, Barry? Gotta play one team off against another? Gotta drive up the price? Gotta string this out well into the new year? Never confuse motion with action.

“Don’t I?”

“You don’t have to do anything of the sort. You’re Barry Zito. You can make the right move right away. You don’t need romancing and massaging. You need a Mets uniform shirt, a spot in their winter caravan and a plane ticket to Port St. Lucie. It is a grand mistake to think of being great without goodness and I pronounce it as certain that there was never a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.

“Who’s Lucy?”

“Spring training.”

“Dude, it’s December.”

“February is practically anon. One today is worth two tomorrows.

“Dude, that is so true!”

“How about it, Barry? Are you ready to do the wise thing? Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

“Dude, I am so stoked!”

Benjamin Franklin fished into his pockets.

“It appears I have discovered my inkwell and another contract, one from the Mets. We can take care of business right now if you like. I assure you this is a more than fair proposition. Time is money.

“Dude!”

Barry Zito grabbed the quill and dipped it in ink. He was about to sign when the doorbell rang again.

“Dude,” Barry Zito told Benjamin Franklin. “I gotta get that. It’s my agent. Don’t worry, though. Scott’s totally cool that I don’t just sign for the most money. I’ll just let him in and I’m like sure we can sign the Mets’ deal even if it’s for way less than Texas’s.”

“Sweet Jesus,” Benjamin Franklin said to himself as he stuffed the quill, the well and the Mets contract back into his pockets and prepared to return to the 18th century. “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and Scott Boras.”

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