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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.

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Stuck in Park

Oh, how this evening seemed idyllic when it was abstract. Mets at home, last day of April, Emily and me with a chance to take in a game without putting an ice-cream-crazed child in a headlock or checking in with a babysitter. What could go wrong?

How about Jose Valentin turning out to have something partially torn in his knee? How about El Duque turning out to have some new kind of old-person ailment, and then turning into Chan Ho Park? (And now Moises is having an MRI! Goddamn it!) That stealthy sound I heard around mid-afternoon was idyllic slipping out the door and taking to its heels. Oh well. At least it was a beautiful summer day. Or at least it was until the sun went down, the temperature began to drop, and the wind began to really blow.

And until Chan Ho took his cue from the wind.

Let the record show Park started out like a ball of fire, then got unlucky on Miguel Cabrera's liner off the top of Easley's glove and two balls that were ticketed for the Bermuda triangle when they left the bat. “You're booing physics,” I advised one particularly enthusiastic and lunkheaded youth. And then I started booing Cabrera, who should have scored. Two outs, a ball that clearly could land between the infielders and the outfielders, and you can't go first to home? Miguel Cabrera is down there with Andruw Jones in the ranks of terrible great baseball players. His laziness and disrespect for the game are beyond shameful, and it's a pity that there's no one on the Marlins with enough seniority to call him out. I wish Reyes's bad-hop double had busted him in the nose as a love tap from Abner Doubleday.

Anyway, Park was unlucky in the third, but that wasn't bad luck in the fourth. That was nearly 900 feet of bad pitches redirected so quickly and violently by Amezaga and Ramirez that everyone in our part of the mezzanine knew where they were headed before they cleared the infield. I didn't even bother watching Ramirez's ball land. OK, perspective: Apparently Omar made a promise to Park, Philip Humber probably isn't ready, and I'm more inclined to believe in the lousy Jorge Sosa of Port St. Lucie than the apparently superb Jorge Sosa of New Orleans. Fine. But let's please differentiate between a chance for Park and a job for Park, unless things change in a hurry. Because it was Lima Time out there tonight, and I sure didn't feel like dancing. (Judging from his post-game comments, neither did Willie — when a manager talks about a veteran pitcher losing his concentration, safe to say he isn't pleased.)

The rest? Well, the Mets fought back bravely enough, Beltran looks locked in, Delgado got an excuse-me hit and had a nice at-bat in the ninth off old friend Henry Owens, and Reyes was Reyes. Beyond the crappy pitching and the bad luck, the grim part of the night was Wright getting it from the crowd after a miserable night at the plate. That wasn't fun to hear, but to me the boos felt perfunctory, more We Don't Really Mean This But We're Willing To Hear How It Sounds boos than Hey That's Bobby Bonilla And He Just Knocked That Little Girl Down And Ate Her Hot Dog boos. I heard more fans in our section objecting to the razzing of Wright than joining in. (Speaking of Bobby Bo, we did get to do some eating: We drank beer and ate hot dogs and cracker jacks and I had ice cream in the eighth inning, which was witless, but provided a momentary illusion of warmth when I was no longer eating it.)

As for Shea, it was its usual ragged, clueless self, for better and for worse and for the two being so mixed up that you couldn't tell one from the other. Small example among many: I think they showed highlights from every baseball game except Braves-Phils, which was the only game most of us cared about. Shea being Shea, I would have been shocked if they'd done anything differently. Emily noticed the apple was dusty from all the construction at looming Citi Field, and that almost made me sentimental for the Big DMV — until it occured to me that Shea being Shea, it's entirely possible no one's bothered to clean the thing since last fall.

Aw, heck. You know what? First trip to Shea for Emily and me this year. We spent a spring night together watching reasonably exciting baseball in reasonably good company in the great outdoors. Idyllic? No, not exactly. But I've had many a worse night.

10 comments to Stuck in Park

  • Anonymous

    I turned it off when the booing started for–God forbid–a walk!! (“Baserunners!!?? That's not what we paid to see!!”), and settled in for a glorious evening marathon of “Degrassi: The Next Generation” instead. Not because the Mets were losing (honestly, would I have lasted this long?), but because all that tiresome hostility directed at my team in their own house offends me. “I know! Let's abuse him until he feels like the worst form of human crap! That'll help the Mets win!' Yeah, good logic, morons. God forbid these bitter, profane, drunken idiots who erroneously call themselves Met fans should ever get behind someone who's struggling. I'm so glad I wasn't there. My hundredeth viewing of the exploits of Canadian teenagers was infinitely preferable to that hostile, unfriendly, Bronx-like atmosphere.
    I warned you about the wind… it's been worse this year than any in recent memory. I'm thinking twice about my impending 8th trip of the season to Shea this evening… looks to be another night in the 40s, with wind and rain added in. Just like practically every other night so far.

  • Anonymous

    You're a good sport, Jace. I was feeling for you while I watched the game. Not the perfect way to start your Shea season.
    Wish me luck, I make my '07 Sheabut tomorrow.

  • Anonymous

    Why do you park on a driveway, yet Park's pitches land on the parkway…?

  • Anonymous

    I think they showed highlights from every baseball game except Braves-Phils, which was the only game most of us cared about.
    I've long wondered who picks the highlights. It's almost never Braves or Yankees (particularly Yankees getting hammered, to fire up the crowd). Seems to me it's always been heavy on the Brewers and Royals. And it's usually the most tepid of highlights, too – not a long HR or speedster's triple, but a lazy single by a utility infielder that scores a run. It's even funnier when the voiceover then says “And then the Brewers added 7 more runs on three homers, including a tape-measure grand slam by Prince Fielder”.

  • Anonymous

    I think the Mets marketing and promotions are specifically geared towards me…everything they do pisses me off. I MUST be their target audience.
    Last Saturday they gave away the Uncle Jacks Steakhouse gift certificate to a couple sitting a few rows in front of me. I could clearly see that the seat location of the winner is pre-selected (they have an inning-by-inning list of all promos).
    But the problem is that the guy was wearing a Mets cap and the girl was wearing a BRAVES VISOR. Rather than select different winners who fully support the Mets, they allowed the girl to remove the visor and wear her boyfriend/husband's Mets cap. WONDERFUL.

  • Anonymous

    Rather than select different winners who fully support the Mets,
    Yeah, good luck with that at Fair-Weather Fans Field. They might as well just give it to me… the vegetarian. Way easier than trying to find someone there who doesn't rabidly turn on every Mets player who isn't perfect for nine innings. That Braves fan is just as loyal to the Mets as the people who boo them. Zero percent.
    I think I'll save my sanity by staying home tonight. Hostility, disloyalty and vicious abuse of fellow humans (humans I happen to love, as I'm actually a Met fan) make me really uncomfortable, and that's all I am likely to encounter in that den of vipers.
    Peace, baby. All you need is love.

  • Anonymous

    You and I will never agree on this, so we'll just be talking past each other, but in my book that was an eminently booable performance. I didn't join in because I was cheerful about my first night at Shea and because Chan Ho had racked up a 7+ ERA in Triple-A, so suckiness wasn't exactly unexpected. But I thought he had it coming.
    The boos for Wright, on the other hand, were ridiculous.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, noticed the boos for the first time directed at David Wright.
    Last night's loss was a team effort – poor fielding, most of it behind an equally poor pitching performance and even though there was some clutch hitting, there were double plays hit into at the most unopportune time. If we came from behind to win, it would have been the most ugliest one in years (I would take it, nevertheless).
    It's almost like asking what could one expect to see with tickets going for just $5.00.

  • Anonymous

    Wright was really good then.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think we're in such dire straits that we need to endure much more of Chan Ho Park's ineffectiveness, but in his defense, he can be as good as he was through the first 8 batters. He seems to have decent stuff and a pretty sound approach, but definitely no consistency and runners rattle him.
    If push comes to shove, and Sosa is ineffective, and El Duque doesn't come back strong, I think Park still has the potential to be a decent back of the rotation pitcher. Maybe some of those magic Rick Peterson bullpen sessions or something.
    But again, I don't think we're anywhere near that point yet. And we still managed to do our share of winning, maneuvering around the even worse Lima Time last year, so I'm not too worried. Yet.