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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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A Friendly PSA for Our Opponents' Fans

Opponents' fans, as New York Mets bloggers we would like to remind you to come to the game early. Like you, we like nothing better than to bask in all the joys a few hours at the ballpark can bring: The sights and sounds of batting practice, that first bite of a hot dog, warbling the Star-Spangled Banner, having your buddy hand you a cold beer, watching your kids lick stray cotton-candy fibers off their fingers, appreciating the arcs and lines of the ball going around the infield while the pitcher warms up, and of course just relaxing in the sight of all that green grass. We love all these things too, and we want to ensure that you and your guests get to enjoy them. So please — make sure you have enough time to savor your surroundings. Because by the second or third time through the New York Mets' batting order, your time at the park will no longer be so enjoyable. By then it may hurt quite a bit.
Between St. Louis and now Atlanta, we've wrecked two bitter rivals' home openers and probably driven 75,000 Braves and Cardinals fans out of their seats and home early. (Kudos to former President Carter and Rosalynn for not being among them.) Tonight, before the napkins and plastic bags had stopped flying from first base to third base and the baseballs had stopped flying from Met bats to all points, Turner Field was a gallery of portraits of misery. Some of those were our own: John Maine in his knit cap, with nothing whatsoever to do but try to stay near the heater; Damion Easley huddled on the bench, now the lone Opening Day Met not to take the field; and Carlos Delgado standing at first with his arms folded over his chest, looking like he'd almost rather be somewhere else, if not for the hits and the runs and the winning. Fortunately there were more-wretched expressions on the other side: Roger McDowell, looking increasingly grim each time we see him (sorry, Roger); poor Brayan Pena chasing a week's worth of errant balls in a miserable inning-plus of catching Macay McBride; the entire Braves' defense during that endless 8th; and of course Bobby Cox. But then Bobby Cox always looks that way. Joe Torre may have perfected looking imperturbable until the final out of the World Series, but Bobby Cox always looks like a guy who accidentally sat in a puddle and now doesn't see how moving would improve things.
Rick Peterson, on the other hand, looked about as happy as a man spending several hours outside in a biting wind could look. As he should. For proof of the Jacket's value, look no further than the inaugural 2007 starts of John Maine and Oliver Perez. Not the results, though those were wonderful, but the approach that led to those results. Maine blitzed the Cardinals with an arsenal that looked totally different than anything he had last year, when you admired his guts but worried about his vulnerability to the long ball and what would happen once the league saw him a few times. Maine has worked to remake himself as a pitcher, and while it's just one start, that one start should be viewed as the hard-earned sequel to a spring training spent wisely. Perez, to my eyes, wasn't as good tonight as his numbers might indicate — in the middle innings his release point wobbled around and his focus seemed to wander, and he benefited from a Braves team that didn't seem inclined to let a pitch go by. But that said, his game plan, too, looked different. His release point was mostly consistent. His focus was mostly on Lo Duca, home plate and the batter. And he seemed able to rein himself in when he needed to. (And hell, aggressive Braves or not, he didn't walk anybody.) Those are big steps in remaking him not into what he once briefly was, but into an entirely new pitcher who should have a longer lease on life.
On the offensive side, it's easy to admire Jose Reyes triples and Carlos Beltran doubles. (And I do, believe me.) But the two at-bats I found most cheering were from Shawn Green and Jose Valentin in the eighth, when it was all over but the shouting. Up 10 runs on a cold night, Green worked a walk. Up 10 runs on a cold night, Valentin hit a little ground ball and raced toward first like a dog after a dropped Quarter Pounder — and almost beat out a hit. Neither at-bat led to a run tonight, and they were all but lost amid the blue-and-orange Blitzkrieg. But as with the continuing maturation of Maine and the rebuilding of Perez, those at-bats were signs of success in what might be the hardest part of baseball for these incredibly gifted athletes: How to bear down mentally time after time after time, whatever the score and the situation. The at-bats that get you wins in the dogfights and in the dog days of August don't happen in a vacuum — they date back to doing the right thing in games that are already won on cold nights in April.

18 comments to A Friendly PSA for Our Opponents' Fans

  • Anonymous

    I'm both stunned and relieved at what I'm seeing on the mound. I'll be shocked if it lasts past next week, but right now I'm loving it.
    I wish Jeff Francoeur would just go away. Like to the AL West. Or Japan. He's like Pat Burrell's evil twin, and I hate his guts.
    Oh, and the Braves suck. We rule.

  • Anonymous

    in a patchy week, the lads have made me unreasonably happy. (that includes bloggers and commenters: jason, great line about cox. lasses too: laurie, you've been mightily pumped.)
    has anyone gotten the dvd of the 2006 season? i was on my way out of virgin megastore and spotted it on the new release rack. i'll definitely have to pick it up — such a storied year, and the way it ended, well, i'll just go with Joey “The Lips” Fagan from “the commitments.”
    “The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry.”
    meanwhile, this season is going to be so great.

  • Anonymous

    Laurie,
    So your teams are a combined 7-0, and the only two undefeated ones in the bigs, huh? Almost makes me want to be a Twins fan, too.
    Almost.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the spirit of this certainly, but the 'Stache and Greeny (is he allowed to be Greeny, or do we not about him enough yet?) are long time vets that know the wisdom of approaching every at-bat the same way. Plus they are the two guys/position we'd look to upgrade first. Anything less than a-effort could prove fatal for them. On the other hand Ollie throwing a 0-walk effort against a very solid Braves lineup. I think that was the biggest cause for celebration. He's our biggest enigma, and has the most upside, and walks are his boogey-man … so he's the big winner last night.

  • Anonymous

    Newsday has its two game stories on facing pages this morning, and the big type reads:
    Mets: “Monsters of NL”
    Yanks: “Can't Pitch, Can't Hit”
    Sweeter than that it does not get in April.

  • Anonymous

    THAT is a thing of beauty!!!

  • Anonymous

    Did you hear that sound in the 8th and 9th inning?
    >silence<
    A rare treat in Atlanta, late innings without the tomahawk chop.
    Priceless.

  • Anonymous

    Surely you are not a bandwagon-jumper, my good man! Surely a winning record alone would not make you want to be a fan of a team?
    NO! Join me in Twins Land because it's a beautiful, magical place to be! I'll greet you on the other side, where there's happy players who always make themselves available to their happy, boo-free fans, $250 season tickets, daily/nightly promotions that are NOT just for kids, and the incomparable Bert Blyleven circling you and yours.
    Almost makes me want to move to Minnesota. Almost.

  • Anonymous

    DMG, opening week this year has been a veritable hatefest for me. Start me off with the freaking CARDINALS, then move on to the Braves… followed by the Phillies and ExpoGnats? You bet I'm pumped. That's 100 of the world's carcasses that I'd most love to flail right off a cliff. (OK, so that's not accurate usage, but I wanted to preserve Greg's phrase after changing it slightly to better fit with an Echo and the Bunnymen song…)

  • Anonymous

    Hating Burrell and Francoeur is kind of like hating the Stump Merrill Yankees. I mean, yeah, I guess I do / did.
    But I sort of appreciate that they suck, too.

  • Anonymous

    However, Burrell and Francoeur make our lives miserable every time they show their faces. Stump Merrill's Yankees sucked from afar. Therein lies the difference

  • Anonymous

    Francoeur showed his face last night.
    Life's pretty far from miserable, I think.

  • Anonymous

    But he still did what he does, and spoiled an otherwise perfect night.
    Just because we're all cocky this week after four games, that doesn't automatically erase everything that came before. Certain people are still thorns in our side, whether we win or not. I can't get too carried away with all the “all our enemies are now permanently neutralized because we're 4-0″ bravado just yet. Certain people you just can't take your eye off of for a second, because the next thing you know, they've just launched another three-run shot into the bullpen.

  • Anonymous

    Well then, instead of getting “too carried away with all the “all our enemies are now permanently neutralized because we're 4-0″ bravado,” how about you just lighten up?
    You know, a little bit.

  • Anonymous

    laurie,
    then just make sure you take public transit to the happy confines of shea when you go. driving there is always an inducement to road rage; this year, it'll be an invitation to play bumper cars.
    add all that to your natural amping and you're a police blotter item waiting to happen. and i wouldn't want to see you in cuffs.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, I love everything you write, but you are apparently at your best when describing the temperament of managers. The line about Cox is as priceless as the one about Frank Robinson. Something about how you get very very very angry, maybe once a month, or twice a year, or whatever. And Frank Robinson appears to be like that…all the time. I'm no good at retelling things, but you get the picture.
    I'd like to see you do one for every notable manager, ever. It would be one of the great publications of all time. Something to think about for next offseason, perhaps.

  • Anonymous

    Plus that business about the Quarter-Pounder made me hungry.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I love the line about Cox too. But Robinson as a manager (at least of the Expognationals) always reminded me of Danny Glover in the LETHAL WEAPON movies; his dour mug just seemed to tell the world, “I'm too old for this shit.”