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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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Hey! Bo! Welcome to Cooperstown!

Since there's no law against him driving there, or buying a ticket afterwards, I imagine that's what some overly friendly local might say this summer, seeing a certain former New York Mets slugger waddling through the parking lot of baseball's Hall of Fame.

At least that's the only way Bobby Bonilla is going to Cooperstown. No, he was not elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday, meaning I'm not entering Day Two of my killing spree. (Or, more likely, just Day Two of ranting and raving a lot.) You probably guessed as much yesterday, when New York City didn't see the rising of a sackcloth moon, the eruption of active volcanoes, or suffer visions of devils skating around in Hell. (The real one, not Met Hell — the Seventh Circle of which is forever occupied by Bobby Bonilla and his slightly older, fatter self.)

But you might have noticed a whiff of brimstone yesterday, and assumed it was just a continuation of whatever the heck was going on the day before, with the talk of natural gas and the mercaptan and what-not.

It wasn't. I have it on good authority that the brief Tuesday stink was a smidgen of sulphur released from Hades to acknowledge the fact that Bobby Bonilla, that surly, despicable, card-playing embodiment of Met horrors past, somehow got two Hall of Fame votes. Two!

Just stare at this next sentence and turn it over in your mind for a moment.

Two sportswriters voted to enshrine Bobby Bonilla in the Hall of Fame.

Bobby Bonilla. Who swore New York could never wipe the smile off his face, and then proceeded to wipe the smile off Met fans' faces. Oh, how I hated him then. Oh, how I hate him now. Oh, how I shall hate him with some portion of my final breath.

I was in the stands along with my old pal Chris, aka the Human Fight, when that suety gasbag returned to Shea as a Marlin. There were maybe 20,000 there. Half were the diehards who'd come to Shea in a blizzard; the other half were there to boo Bobby Bo. When the moment finally came, the noise was astonishing — not for its volume (John Rocker, among others, heard far greater) but for the per capita effort. As well as for the utter chaos of it — each person had his or her own idea of what Bobby Bo deserved, and had decided in advance whether to jeer or boo or hiss or howl or scream obscenities, and so all of the above erupted from all points of the stadium at once. It was impressive, but that level of venom isn't sustainable, and when it died down, Bonilla was still there, at the plate, more or less unperturbed.

He hit a long foul ball down the line, where nobody was sitting, and a fan ran several sections to pick it up — then hurled it onto the field. That was good. But better was what happened after the booing and hissing and insults died away. The crowd lapsed into a surly silence for a bit, found that unsatisfying, and finally got together on a hooting chant.

you SUCK you SUCK you SUCK you SUCK you SUCK you SUCK

It wasn't particularly loud. In fact, it was a bit resigned as all involved accepted that Bonilla would not be driven from the stadium by malice alone. But it kept going for an impressively long time, until Bonilla's at-bat finally ended, and the Human Fight turned to me, shook his head, and said, “That was the purest expression of hatred I've ever seen.”

Two votes. Amazing. Two more than I expected, or than he deserved. The only way I'd ever vote for Bobby Bonilla for anything would be if we were on the same plane (a horrifying enough thought), it crashed in the mountains, and we had to decide which of the survivors to eat first.

35 comments to Hey! Bo! Welcome to Cooperstown!

  • Anonymous

    Just stare at this next sentence and turn it over in your mind for a moment.
    Two sportswriters voted to enshrine Bobby Bonilla in the Hall of Fame.

    I have a theory.
    It's sort of the converse of those who vote “no” for Tom Seaver based on the “no one gets 100% of the vote because Babe Ruth didn't” philosophy.
    Two sportswriters voted to enshrine Bobby Bonilla in the Hall of Fame knowing full well he had no shot in hell (Mets or otherwise) of getting close to induction.
    So either they are:
    a) wise asses;
    b) closet FAFIF readers who correctly anticipated the two very pithy posts that their votes spawned, or;
    c) both of the above.
    Either way, it works for me.

  • Anonymous

    I think it's a waste of time to get upset about (1) the few who didn't vote for guys who were overwhelmingly elected, or (2) the few who did vote for guys who were overwhelmingly rejected. Outlying votes are inconsequential, and the system is designed to keep them that way.
    Fight the consquential majority, not the fools on the fringes

  • Anonymous

    The bad news is Bobby Bonilla got two votes.
    The good news is there's no evidence of either of them.
    'Cause he ate 'em.

  • Anonymous

    The votes or the voters?

  • Anonymous

    Bobby Bo was my daughter's favorite player when she was little.
    Perhaps this is why she hates baseball today.

  • Anonymous

    Think Bob Klapisch was one of 'em?

  • Anonymous

    Were you there the day Armando (ugh, I spoke its name) returned as a Fish? I–yes I, Pollyanna Party Pooper herself–booed lustily and mightily, along with everyone else. All the booing I never did outwardly during his hideous, soul-destroying tenure; all the booing that was bubbling under for years as a grimy, noxious stew of pure hate inside me for all those years, came spewing out like raw sewage.
    And of course, like with all things in life that feel THAT FREAKING GOOD, I felt horribly guilty afterwards.
    I know, I'm hopeless.

  • Anonymous

    Bonilla and Benitez both made positive contributions to the bottom line during their respective stints as Mets, Bonilla primarily in his first go-round and Benitez far more deeply.
    That said, I had to have lung replacement surgery after greeting each of them the first respective chances I had.
    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    There was a time when learning Bobby Bonilla would get two Hall of Fame votes would have made me think “that's not right,” but in a totally different context. That kind of thinking would have taken place around this time 15 years ago, when he was still never going to be desmiled and had yet to play a single game as a Met.
    I generally like the idea of everybody on the ballot getting at least one vote on the theory that if they made it this far, there was something Cooperstownish about their career, if only for a couple of seasons.
    Bobby Bonilla is the exception that proves the rule.
    Bleah.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that Bobby Bonilla gets correct change is an injustice. Or any change. The fact that birds don't swoop down from the sky to peck at him, that fish don't leap out of rivers to try and bite him, that he isn't constantly covered with mosquitos, that rabid dogs and carpets of vermin don't shadow his steps…all injustices.
    My God I hate him.
    But not quite as much as I hate Roberto Alomar.

  • Anonymous

    The best part about the whole episode was that the crowd woudn't even condescend to call Bonilla by name.
    Not “Bobby sucks.”
    “YOU suck.”
    That, friends, is hatred.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, good brother, you might want to do like I do when I see Pete Rose's face on TV: get a paper bag, breathe in and out slowly, and focus on nothing but a certain slow roller up the 1st base line…
    As for Bonilla's 2 votes, put it in the context of leaving 2 cents at the table when the service was crappy. Message received and understood.
    How 'bout those pictures from mini-camp, huh? Let's play ball!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, while we're bringing the hate: Fuck John Thomson.
    I mean, what on earth?

  • Anonymous

    “rabid dogs and carpets of vermin”
    HAHAHAHAHA!!! THAT'S A BIGGIE!!!
    FAFIF: Nothing but biggies.

  • Anonymous

    I always hated that dude anyway. Seriously, I did.
    John Thomson doesn't want to pitch for us… suddenly I'm dead inside. Yeah, whatever, dude.

  • Anonymous

    He didn't want to pitch for us because he still feels guilt about how he stunk up the joint in his first go round.
    Fuck him!

  • Anonymous

    Wait till he finds out that urban Canadiens aren't really into that spitting-on-the-sidewalk thing. Somebody ought to have him watch the South Park episode where the guys went to fetch back Kyle's brother Ike. Might help him avoid some social foibles and stuff.
    John Thomson and John Rocker — they wouldn't be cousins or something, would they?

  • Anonymous

    Dude, He never committed murder. He just didn't play well for the Mets…but to suggest eating him after a plane crash…that's some issues.

  • Anonymous

    Well, wouldn't YOU pick the… largest person, in that situation?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the laugh…

  • Anonymous

    The words, “to suggest eating him after a plane crash”. You just made Jason's joke about ten times funnier, as if that were even possible.

  • Anonymous

    Who's John Thomson?
    This prick has a lot of nerve. Bashes PLD. Then Uncle Cliffy. Two things, Uncle Cliffy ain't a Met anymore John. Second, he would go through a wall to make a catch.
    You on the other hand are a POS who has won nothing and will win nothing.
    I wonder how he will react to John Gibbons. You know, the manager who hits his players when they suck.

  • Anonymous

    Benitz deserves none of this.
    Exhibited none of the phoniness, threatened no reporters, and helped his team to the post-season two years running.
    Carried the team into the playoffs in 1999.

  • Anonymous

    And if you thought that was excessive, just wait till Alomar's turn.
    And he'll actually get voted in.
    [blogger begins convulsing in rage]

  • Anonymous

    I'm not at all certain Alomar gets in. If he does I doubt very much that it's on the first ballot.
    Oh, and how about after the plane crash, we vote to eat Booby Bonilla but first feed him Roberto Alomar to fatten him up some more.

  • Anonymous

    Good idea, but if I'm ever on a plane with Bonilla and Alomar, you're on your own. I'm pulling a D.B. Cooper.

  • Anonymous

    Those stats looks suspiciously like he had a good year for us…
    Why don't I remember Benitzen doing anything but blowing saves and looking sweaty?
    Also, “carried?” Come on. We had a great club in '99. Anyway, I'm not sure a closer can carry a team no matter how good he is.

  • Anonymous

    That's a fair point. Teams win and teams lose. But that's never an argument that carries the day in defense of the modern closer, only in dismissing his success. And its a big problem with people's perception of the modern closer. He can only blow games. His successes are expected, taken for granted, and too quickly forgotten. They're always in preservation of an expected win already earned by other folks. He can never be the hero, only the goat.
    We made it by zero games that year. No margin for error. His heroic work down the stretch after taking over the closer job mid-season — when any less perfect would cost the Mets the post-season — almost deserves to be consigned to legend. If this were Middle Earth, he's the one lone warrior holding the bridge as challenger after challenger attacks.
    Instead it's forgotten and it's remembered that he sweated, as if that's somehow a character flaw. Mike Piazza sweats and it heals infants.
    I'm not asking for love here, just let up on the misguided and baseless hate and begrudge the guy his due.

  • Anonymous

    Well, hang on a second. Looking back on his stats, it's totally fair to say that I forgot a lot of Benitez's successes. And it's probably true that I and maybe baseball fans in general have unfair expectations of closers. But that's the way that memory works: the everyday fades and the iconic remains, and this guy had a real flair for the spectacular meltdown.
    So I dismissed some strong regular seasons… I shouldn't, because those games count too, but that's what happens when my memory is clogged up with blown playoff saves against Arizona and Atlanta and San Francisco, and in Game 1 of the freaking World Series to the goddamned YANKEES. And taking up even more psychic space are those two complete implosions against Atlanta that ruined our miraculous run at the end of the 2001 season. Let's face it — the guy had a tendency to collapse when we needed him the most.
    It's unfortunate that closers will inevitably be remembered for failures more than for successes. But Armando Benitez was not just any closer. Like an ex-girlfriend with whom a good year is forgotten in favor of an endless, vindictive break up, the man will always have a special place in some salty, poisonous corner of my heart. That may not be entirely his fault, but I sure as heck didn't do it alone.
    I mean, it's gotta suck to be Bill Buckner too, but, you know… that was a really bad time to make a terrible play.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think it's unfortunate. It's a choice.
    Teams win games. Nobody carries them, sure. But teams lose games, including Game 1 of the freaking World Series to the goddamned YANKEES.
    Turk Wendell took the loss in that game. Robin Ventura went 0-5. Nobody looks down and spits on the ground every time their names are mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    Y'know, I think you guys have stumbled onto a heretofore undiscovered concept: Few players are all wonderful or all horrible. Benitez is an extreme case of when he was good, he was very good and underappreciated for it probably because when he was bad, he was spectacularly so. It is indeed an occupational hazard of the closer that when you make a mistake, it comes off as colossal. Same can be said for Franco, Looper and Wagner.
    Did Armando deposit enough big saves and goodwill in the bank to forgive his supposed debts for his role in dropping some big games as opposed to carrying them? It's an open-ended question.

  • Anonymous

    It is; and that's why we have the offseason. To decide on Armando Benitez's exact legacy. And that's sort of why the offseason sucks, but it's sure as hell better than not talking about the Mets. :)
    Again, Edgy, your point is well taken. But it's not fair to make it sound like I have bad memories of the man exclusively because I don't understand the role of the modern closer. In so many of the moments of legendary Met folly from those good millenium teams, Benitez was a major character. How many playoff games did he blow for us in those two years? I can't find the stats, but my memory says four, and my stomach says five. If either of those organs are rights, well, that's, um… A LOT OF BLOWN PLAYOFF GAMES. Like you said, teams win and lose games. But, with your mention of Wendell and Ventura, you make it sound as though I'm saying, “Look at this one game he blew, how could he do that?” I'm not… I'm talking about a LOT of failures to come through in the clutch. A-Rod plays well most of the time too, but let's talk to some Yankee fans about him.
    I should also mention that none of this is personal… Benitez seems like a good guy, and he withstood the nightmarish torrents of abuse that he didn't deserve (and to which I didn't contribute) without complaint. Our collective memory of the man isn't accurate, and we shouldn't forget the good. I'm with you. But we shouldn't fix that innaccuracy by forgetting the bad either. In other words… you referred to my “misguided and baseless hatred” of Benitez, and while it may be somewhat misguided, it is absolutely not baseless. Remember the end of '01? That meltdown was something special. Yeah, teams win and lose games, but who deserves more responsibility than Benitez for the end of that run?
    '99, '00, '01… I have strong memories and feelings about these years, because they were mostly good years to be a Met fan. So, yeah, I'm up for repairing the places where my memories are innaccurate. But replacing my complicated loathing of Benitez with a big billboard reading “He was Very Good” would be just as innaccurate.
    How about you, Edgy? The end of '01 didn't leave a bitter Benitez flavor in your mouth? I don't want to crucify the guy… it's absolutely right that we should remember when he was good. But let's also remember that when he was bad, he was REALLY BAD.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus. What the hell? John Thompson? He's still alive? And we're supposed to care what he says? What's going on here?
    Johnny, pal, let me tell you something. Paul Lo Duca, Cliff Floyd… these people are ballplayers. These people are men. They're out there every day, putting their bodies and hearts on the line for their team. You, buddy, are neither ballplayer nor man. You're a cheap fill-in for teams that can't afford to play to win. You're a midseason replacement, an understudy for actual major league pitchers. John, you're a used band-aid. You're nobody. You don't count.
    You're “not into” how Lo Duca “acts” behind the plate? OK, I have no idea what that means, but I'm not into how you act during interviews. These guys aren't good enough for you, huh John? You country hick, you're just a little too fine to play around clumsy ruffians like Cliff and Paulie?
    Um, have you ever noticed that YOU SUCK?
    Before you only sucked at being a pitcher. Now it turns out that you also suck at being a human being. And I hope you enjoy the savory flavor of Vernon Wells when you're sucking at something else, too.

  • Anonymous

    This Thomson: The Schmuck Heard Round The World.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously… I feel like an idiot even talking about him. He's not worthy of our time.