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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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Invest Your Sbarro Money Elsewhere

As noted in passing Monday, the pizza at Shea is terrible and obscenely overpriced. You don’t go to a ballgame for the pizza, but how tough is it in New York to serve up something remotely appetizing for your money? As my partner put it characteristically accurately two years ago, Shea used to offer “dispiriting but edible DiGiorno” personal pies and then replaced those with “a lank, oddly colored slice of something”. That was Cascarino’s, which may or not have been a severe step down from DiGiorno (both of which, in my estimation, lagged behind previous rights holder Pizza Hut…which is Pizza Hut, for crissake), but at least it was local. When in doubt, Discover Queens.

Alas, Cascarino’s slices have apparently gone the way of Kahn’s Hot Dogs and Breyers Ice Cream’s chocolate-vanilla cups and the short-lived but lovingly recalled Rusty’s barbecue sandwich stand down the right field line. Unless things are different elsewhere from the way they are on the third base side of mezzanine (and I wouldn’t dismiss that possibility, Shea operating as it does across at least three psychic time zones), if you want pizza at the ballpark in 2007, you will pony up $5.25 for a square of Sbarro.

Sbarro. As in Sbarro from the mall food court. As in Sbarro where the Fat Boys dined in Krush Groove. As in Sbarro, Eric “E” Murphy’s previous employment prior to managing his movie star pal Vince’s career in Entourage.

As in Sbarro makes terrible pizza that is obscenely overpriced at Shea.

Five dollars and twenty-five cents! For a square…a small square shoved into a triangular box so when you open it you are dismally surprised by how little you’re getting for your 42 bits. (Aramark must have been up against it as a child when asked to hammer certain-shaped blocks into particular-shaped holes.)
Word to the wise: Take your Sbarro money and reinvest it. I won’t tell you what to eat or from where to bring it; you can figure that out for yourself. But I would like to advise you to squirrel away those Sbarrobucks so you can buy a couple of better things.

For the price of fewer than four Sbarro squares, you can buy the Mets 2007 Media Guide. Twenty bucks well spent. I found it in the 42nd Street clubhouse shop a couple of weeks ago and snapped it up. Though we decry the modern-day yearbook as a charmless marketing tool when compared to its home-baked ancestor, one must give props to the media guide which, despite the occasional nagging and inexcusable errors that somehow got into print, is way more infopacked than its predecessors. It’s 556 pages thick and just about every page contains some nugget that will fascinate you to Kingman come.
Examples?

• Jonathan Hurst, who pitched in seven undistinguished games a Met, and Dan Murray, who logged a single appearance in 1999, are both pitching coaches to our minor leaguers, imparting wisdom in Savannah and Kingsport, respectively.
• The Mets haven’t swept the Dodgers a doubleheader since 1971.
• Lastings Milledge tied for third among N.L. rookies in outfield assists last year.
• Billy Wagner reached or topped 100 miles per hour five times in 2006, more than any other National League pitcher (Jorge Julio did it twice).
• The Blue Jays haven’t traded with the Mets since swapping John Olerud for Robert Person in 1996.
• Vince Coleman is still one of the top ten all-time Mets base stealers — and Ed Kranepool still ranks ninth in team triples.

This is all public domain info and probably attainable via the Web, but if your procrastinatory gene isn’t kicking full-force, you probably won’t make the time to find this stuff. The media guide is a worthwhile alternative and an ideal trivia-spouting companion.

Don’t want 500-plus pages of Mets trivia at your fingertips (you weirdo)? Then for a little more than three squares of Shea Sbarro, you can buy The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets. DVD just released by Shout! Factory. We only get one of these when make the postseason and it’s a pretty nice reward (though I for one miss the highlight films that played up 99-loss campaigns as landmark learning experiences if not the 99-loss campaigns themselves).

Don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s say this disc glosses over certain unpleasant developments (what Called Strike Three?) and accentuates the positive, the positive, the positive. The likes of Cliff Floyd and Steve Trachsel and others among the departed appear only incidentally but there’s so much Reyes and Wright and Beltran (et al) that the show will be almost over before you notice the historical revisionism. All the great plays are in here. Want to watch Endy demonstrate the strength to be there again and again and again on your big-screen TV? That privilege alone is worth the price of admission.

It may be propaganda, but it’s our propaganda. Tim Robbins narrates with a seriousness usually reserved for play-by-play of The Rapture. Carlos Delgado is keeping kids in school. And that trip to Japan is far more significant than you would have dreamed. In other words, this is the DVD for us.

Want something cool and your awful pizza, too? (Don’t worry, the Sbarro is plenty cool by the time you open it.) There’s always your buddies at the blogs who don’t charge you nothin’ but your time. It’s my pleasure to note a new one from an old friend. Please check out Metsie! Metsie! by recent FAFIF regular Andee. It’s a uniquely left coast look at our favorite team from a heckuva southpaw writer. With Metsie! Metsie!, The Ballclub and Blastings Thrilledge up and at ‘em among many worthy newcomers, Joe Smith’s not the only promising rookie on the Met prowl this April.

Sbarro, on the other hand, should be left to the Sand Gnats.

6 comments to Invest Your Sbarro Money Elsewhere

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Greg! The Upper Left would love a little company from the Upper Right. (Or anywhere else!)
    About Sbarro: Strange stuff, that. When I lived in Bakersfield I actually used to seek out and eat the pizza in the Bakersfield mall on a regular basis. It wasn't bad at all. But I've eaten it elsewhere and experienced the same sense of revulsion you did at Shea. Sometimes the concept of Cooking Dough All the Way Through is what's lost on the kitchenstaff; other times they go the other way and just torch it like they're doing a coal-oven job, only without the charcoal charm. (Damn but I miss coal-oven pizza.)
    But meh, why eat ballpark fare at all if it's stuff you wouldn't feed a dog? Do they not let you take in food or drink from the outside at all? I know some places are that fascistic, but I can remember taking sandwiches and whatnot into Hsieh (always wanted to call it that) back in the Cretaceous Era and nobody said anything then.
    Me, I have a weakness for garlic fries, which must have the most ridiculous markup of any food ever, but that smell gets me every time. But if they dare serve 'em to me cold, back they go.

  • Anonymous

    You can still bring food to Shea but not beverages.
    Hard core anarchist types have been rumored to sneak in screw tops for plastic soda bottles.
    The bastards.

  • Anonymous

    Plastic bottles of water and soda are OK. Don't know if they'll try to slap a ban on such in the new park (it's been tried elsewhere, I believe, and revoked).

  • Anonymous

    During my year writing about indoor air quality (yes really) I worked across the street (which was the Maryland-D.C. line) from a kind of sad mall that had approximately two food options: Sbarro and (if memory serves) a really incompetent McDonald's. That year gave me my lifelong quota of Sbarro and then some. Gag.
    Tonight Oliver Perez was the Sbarro of pitchers.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, a DVD with Endy AND Tim Robbins?!
    I've just died and gone to my own special heaven.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in an Italian house. “Sbarro” is a curse word to me…