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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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Faulty Measuring Stick

There are two topics with which I try not to overly concern myself in the course of a baseball season: many damn things written about the Mets by what we’ll call the non-fan media and every damn thing I hear about the Yankees whether I want to or not.

But it is Spring Training, the time of the season when we’re more at the mercy of those factors than at any other point on the baseball calendar. Once there are Mets games and such, we’ll have those to revolve around. Right now, it’s hard to ignore the noise and occasional stupidity that spring can bring.

Sunday was one of those days. Sunday is always one of those days. It’s the Sunday papers, my deepest-rooted source for trusted baseball perspective (well them and Metstradamus). The Sunday papers in February validate our imaginations. The Mets suddenly no longer exist only online or in the past. There’s stuff going on in Florida. There must be. Somebody’s paying somebody to cover it in a way we logistically can’t.

Sadly, some writers are just e-mailing it in. Take Mark Herrmann of Newsday, a columnist without a Sunshine State dateline on Sunday but obviously with space to fill. He had a half-baked idea for a piece that he stuck in the oven for maybe a quarter of the necessary baking time before grabbing his mitts and pulling it out. It wasn’t even warm on arrival.

It was one of those columns in which the writer’s initial concept comes up against facts that don’t support it, so he kind of bobs and weaves through his inconsistencies until he’s got 800 words in the bank. At least that’s what it reads like (which is all that matters in the end).

Herrmann’s topic was something about the Mets having a chance for a big followup year to 2006, specifically an opportunity to take a big step in New York. They’ve come so far. But they’re not the Yankees. But they are good. Or not good enough. And they’ve done the right things. But not enough of them. Except they didn’t do dumb things either. Something like that. Plus an inane and cheap shot at Moises Alou’s uncles. See for yourself.

When I read it Sunday, I was instinctively offended by the stale anti-Met conventional wisdom Herrmann was selling and the strange evidence with which he was supporting it. For example, the Mets don’t own New York because various Yankees apparently got heartier rounds of applause at the winter baseball writers’ dinner. I have no idea who all goes to the baseball writers’ dinner, an event that requires a pretty penny for admission. Not to resort to the hoary chestnut that the Mets are the team of the people and the Yankees appeal to the swells, but let’s assume that the baseball writers dinner demographic has a pinstriped tilt. For this particular function, more Yankees fans bought tickets than Mets fans.

We concede the black-tie vote and pledge to start saving now for next January.

More mystifying was Herrmann’s claim that when Carlos Beltran went down on called strike three last October 19, if we’re honest, we’ll admit we “said it was hard to imagine Derek Jeter letting that happen.”

We didn’t. Honest.

Technically, I can only rightly speak for myself, but I sure as hell didn’t. I’d bet whatever stray Mets Money I have floating around the house that not a single Mets fan of any value did. I’ll go out on a limb and add that any Yankees fans looking in, whether they were being the atypical good New Yorkers for a week, relishing our demise or simply licking their Tiger-inflicted wounds, didn’t either.

Who the hell thinks like that? This isn’t a gratuitous bash of Captain Fantastic and his mythic ability to hit five-run homers with the bases empty. Jeter does what Jeter does, but when you or I or anybody is watching the Mets play the Cardinals, nobody’s staring at his wrist and wondering What Would Jeter Do?

Except Mark Herrmann, apparently. Herrmann insists the Mets still have to use the Yankees as a “measuring stick” even though the Mets went further in last year’s playoffs and are defending division champions and have returned reasonably intact the cast that brought them to this level.

After years of not altogether unreasonable media-harping that every Met person needs to stop worrying about the Yankees…after achieving practical parity in the marketplace and putting a more recently successful product on the field…here was a credentialed baseball writer of significant New York tenure instructing Fred Wilpon and all us orange-and-blue schnooks that we still haven’t made it anywhere because we haven’t, by his measuring stick, made it here.

His proof? Beltran didn’t dive into the stands and tag Jeremy Giambi when he faced Adam Wainwright; somebody clapped loudly for Joe Torre in a tux; and we signed Jesus Alou’s nephew.

Like I said, my Met antennae were up and detecting an attack. So that — along with the generally dim quality of the logic — pissed me off. But given an extra day to dwell on it, I don’t feel that way anymore.

I’m pissed off because it’s an insult to be compared to the Yankees. An insult to the Mets. An insult to good taste.

Alex Rodriguez reported to Spring Training and turned his first media session into Mean Girls II. Except Lindsay Lohan comes off as more dignified in the tabloids.

Derek and I don’t have sleepovers anymore!

Derek and I don’t eat together like we used to!

Derek and I don’t talk anymore!

For the first time since he came to the big leagues, I actually felt bad for Derek Jeter. He’s gotta work with this guy? A guy who can’t just say, “we’re professionals and everything else stays in the clubhouse.” Or, better yet, “I gotta work the count more with two strikes.” Sooner or later the BS questions about who’s sleeping on whose couch will fade if you do your job. I have no idea who’s sleeping on David Wright’s couch and I’m cool with that.

Alex Rodriguez has Derek Jeter abandonment issues? I don’t want to know about any of this stuff, yet it leaks through all the Met barriers I erect. Why is this still happening? Don’t give me the Bronx Zoo theory. 1977 was a long time ago. This isn’t the Bronx Zoo anymore. That was at least novel for its time and those were relatively admirable characters who fed off each other and won. Now A-Rod’s worrying about who’s the straw that stirs the Cosmo? Geez.

If this is the byproduct of winning all those Mark Herrmann Popularity & Prestige Awards, then I don’t want it. I’ll take our very good chances for the coming year, our share of back pages for winning games, our network, our rising stadium, our falling stadium, our 3.5 million gate, our Alou, our Beltran, our team, our Spring Training that proceeds on a quiet baseball path. For decorum’s sake, certain Yankees and columnists might be wise to look to St. Lucie for their measuring stick.

18 comments to Faulty Measuring Stick

  • Anonymous

    I love your Mean Girls comparison. I was going with the Paris Hilton/Britney Spears myself, with A-Rod whining how they aren't BFFs anymore.
    I actually don't mind the MFYs having the back pages if this kind of thing is the reason why.

  • Anonymous

    And now Derek's fighting back with his side of the story…
    Honestly, I wish these two would just get some form of couples' therapy and be done with it. I'm so tired of hearing about their relationship problems. Either get help or learn to say the words “NO COMMENT.” None of this is our business.
    At least the Mets keep their mouths shut when the press comes buzzing around their personal issues. The Yankees aren't happy unless their dirty laundry is strewn about like so much dysfunctional confetti. How much attention do they NEED??

  • Anonymous

    On the news last night, the sportscaster on Channel 11 commented that A-Rod still doesn't regret signing the big contract.
    I LMAO for several minutes over that one. Yeah, nobody is going to be quick to hand back $250 million.

  • Anonymous

    Greg, you could've saved yourself a lot of words and some blood pressure points, to boot.
    “We're OK, and you're not.” I'll be damned if Transactional Analysis doesn't still work after all these years…
    Sports writers can be the most vicious, boring and emotionally exploiting of their breed. Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury, I refer you to Keith O. of PMSNBC, Exhibit A. Don't just illuminate the sport and those who play. Go find stupid shit to say about anything, anytime or anywhere, so long as it makes you look cool. Argh.
    Thank God for blogs.

  • Anonymous

    A-Rod could afford to hire himself a shortstop to be his new BFF. I have a hunch Rey Ordoñez won't be doing anything come April.

  • Anonymous

    And with that, I'm off to watch Countdown ;) …

  • Anonymous

    WTF is A-Rod's problem? He couldn't order a slice of pizza without somehow pissing off the pizzeria owner, everyone else in line, Italians, vegans, meat eaters, the delivery-truck drivers, and cows. And then he'd hang around, talking and talking and talking in an attempt to fix things, until everybody went home in disgust.
    If I were Boras, I'd advise A-Rod to pretend he'd developed some strange disease that left him tragically mute. Maybe if all he could do were grunt and point, he might just once be able to get out of his own way.

  • Anonymous

    Jason said that Alex told him that he didn't want Derek to sit at his table at lunch but Michael said that Alex didn't say that and that Jason was being mean so Derek asked Johnny to ask Alex if he still likes him and Alex said yes so they are going to sit together at lunch today.

  • Anonymous

    “Herrmann's topic was something about the Mets having a chance for a big followup year to 2006, specifically an opportunity to take a big step in New York. They've come so far. But they're not the Yankees.”
    Hi Greg,
    While both teams went down in the playoffs, Mr. Herrmann should ask himself which team was praised for giving it's all and which one was criticized playing undisciplined baseball and players laughing in the dugout while facing elimination?
    On further thought, we shouldn't be offended by his Sunday column. Saying we're not the Yankees is a compliment, not an insult.

  • Anonymous

    I was listening to Michael Kay on the way home from work yesterday, (Yes, I know…I know…but Arrogant & Asshole were in a commercial, I couldn't find a good song on FM and didn't feel like popping on Headquarters by the Monkees again…) and he was trying to get a dig in on the Met fans by saying basically “It's very quiet over in Port St. Lucie. Is it because the Mets are boring or does Willie have more control over his team than Torre has over his? There just isn't a story over there: the Yankees are the headline…”
    To which I said out loud to nobody in particular, “THANK GOD!”

  • Anonymous

    Was in the car at the same time, was (pathetically) listening to that show at the same time, heard the comment at the same time and had virtually the same reaction at the same time. Mine was to shout “YEAH!”
    What I don't have Headquarters by the Monkees.

  • Anonymous

    Our headlines are about baseball, and theirs are about silly personal spats, AS USUAL.
    Works for me.

  • Anonymous

    Their best album, IMHO…
    But then again, that smacks of the Richie Ashurn Award (best of a bum lot…)

  • Anonymous

    “Headquarters” was really a great album.
    It's the first (and only) one in which all instruments were played exclusively by Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and Jones (if you count a tamborine). While it took them months to complete (due to the TV show) it showed how well the fabricated four could be as a quartet even though none of the songs had such a beat as to challenge Mickey Dolenz, who up to the time had only played drums for one year.

  • Anonymous

    And believe it or not, Rhino brought out a three-CD “Headquarters Sessions” with all kinds of things from the studio tapes — alternate takes, songs they didn't finish, horseplay and instrumental noodling. For the serious collector only, I should think.
    In any event, “Headquarters” was the No. 1 album on the Billboard charts right before “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Kind of like being Don Cardwell, who started for the Mets on opening day in 1967 — two days before Tom Seaver's debut.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot the obligatory um's, like's and so's, Bro.

  • Anonymous

    “”Headquarters” was the No. 1 album on the Billboard charts right before “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Kind of like being Don Cardwell, who started for the Mets on opening day in 1967 — two days before Tom Seaver's debut.”
    More like the Cubs' Bob Hendley carrying a no-hitter into the seventh against the Dodgers in 1965 but being outpitched by Sandy Koufax who was on his way to a perfecto.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like he wrote that in a taxi on the way home from the airport.