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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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My Birthday Present

That was nice of the Mets to shave their heads in solidarity with a bald, newly 38-year-old fan of theirs — a couple of hours before tonight's game I was in the barber's chair getting my biweekly buzz, unaware that 20 Mets were doing the same. Wright got buzzed the night before. Sele begged off for the moment because he was taking family pictures. Glavine said he'd do it after tonight's game. Reyes and Heilman were supposedly holdouts, though after tonight's game Lo Duca was claiming (or perhaps threatening) they were getting buzzed as well.

If you can, spare a moment of pity for the wives and significant others of major league baseball players. You're already dealing with the man in your life's job turning your own life into a Swiss cheese of road trips and homestands, and then you turn on the TV when sensible people are getting ready for bed and see he's — oh good Christ, what has he done? And then, when you ask why he'll be coming home looking like a member of a chain gang, the answer is: Because everybody else on the team did it, honey. I'm guessing here, but I bet that explanation works about as well for ballplayers as it does for the rest of us. And they actually have teammates, instead of just bros and pals and what-not.

Lots of dopey baseball hairstyles — bleach jobs, chin pubes, soul patches, underjaw beards, dagger sideburns — are proof of the theory that putting a bunch of bored young men together in hotels and clubhouses for hours leads to preposterous grooming. At least the Mets opted for a group buzzing instead of a bleaching, which would have led to them getting out the Clairol and the plastic gloves and the little caps with the holes in them. (Against my better judgment I did that for my high-school roommate once. Not the manliest moment of my life. And he looked ridiculous.)

Though, to quote Todd Zeile, the opener against the Giants was the kind of game that sends you straight to the hair salon. Remember Mike Piazza's platinum locks? My favorite part of that bizarre adventure was the Wrigley Field crowd cheering madly when Piazza's helmet came off on a foul pop.

Oh yeah, the game. Well, it was nice too — nothing like a bunch of doubles early to chase the memory of the previous horror, and then a slow cruise to the finish, with Bonds' home run merely cosmetic.

My favorite moment, though, had nothing to do with Tom Glavine: It was Pedro Feliciano locking up Barry with a deadly curveball with two strikes and two out. That has to be one of my favorite baseball set pieces: The pitcher knows the curve will break over the plate. The catcher knows it too. They both see the batter was looking for the fastball, and isn't going to swing. So when the pitch hits the glove the pitcher's already trotting toward the dugout and the catcher is leaning that way, leaving the batter to straighten up and ponder the cruelty of the universe with nobody but the umpire for company.

10 comments to My Birthday Present

  • Anonymous

    It's group bonding like this take makes me feel like the Mets are just going to click one of these days and we're going to wake up to them confortably in first place again.
    I wonder if they'll get to Reyes, Gary was joking that it'd make him more aerodynamic. It almost doesn't surprise me that Heilman didn't cut his hair, I originally like Heilman, but somethings been putting me off about him.
    The doubles early were nice to see, i wish they'd get back to tacking on bit by bit rather then leave it at 4 runs. I'm sure Wagner appreciated the save though.
    10 more to go for Bonds. It's pushing it that he'd get most of those over the next two weeks, 17 games, and be close to setting the record at Shea at the end of the month. But even if he only gets 7, Shea's probably going to sell out for those three games, or at least come close. I'm thinking I'm going to be there for at least one of them.

  • Anonymous

    Heilman gave in after the game. Just as Glavine did. I believe that the only hold outs are Reyes and Sele (oh, The Jacket too).

  • Anonymous

    i def like the goofy vibe of the team do. it carries the risk of feeling forced — green was said to hesitate before submitting, no doubt doing the social calculus before realizing that heck, it'd be more trouble NOT to shed — but i think lands well short of joyless groupthink. indeed, it's all about the joy.
    i also note that it speaks well about the carryover from last year's team chemistry just as the other new york club adds a new “disease of me” chapter to sports history.
    (keith hernandez was admirably direct about the clemens deal last night. a player who could just leave road trips after his appearances, or generally just drops by for his starts? no way.)
    amateur night at mets.com. not only did they fail to update the standings after the victory — the mets are tied with the braves, at 20-12, not a half-game back at 19-12 — but the video caption says glavine just logged his 295th win. not yet, he hasn't.

  • Anonymous

    As Ceetar said, it's group bonding and I think it's terrific. Any concerns about the cohesiveness of this unit being dismantled after last year are all gone. What the Met players did that afternoon will be more helpful in the field and in the clubhouse than any 44 year old coming back as an office temp.
    They are still a TEAM!!!
    Oh, and happy birthday Jason. The rest of us should only be so young!

  • Anonymous

    That has to be one of my favorite baseball set pieces: The pitcher knows the curve will break over the plate. The catcher knows it too. They both see the batter was looking for the fastball, and isn't going to swing. So when the pitch hits the glove the pitcher's already trotting toward the dugout and the catcher is leaning that way, leaving the batter to straighten up and ponder the cruelty of the universe with nobody but the umpire for company.
    ———————————————-
    What are you trying to do to me?

  • Anonymous

    I think Heilman is on the verge of locking up this year's Steve Trachsel Award…
    Happy Birthday, Jason!

  • Anonymous

    Man, I keep thinking that there's no way I could loathe Bonds any more than I already do. Then they show his gigantic head and dismissive sneer. Gah.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jase, happy Birthday!

  • Anonymous

    I assume the Giants will all be growing their hair long to demonstrate their solidarity against smooth-pated Bonds.

  • Anonymous

    Keith on Clemens after Gary confirmed the come-and-go-as-you-please nature of his deal:
    “What a teammate.”