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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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The Knothole Gang

I had the uncommon pleasure of watching today's game from an orange seat a mere eight rows from the field and behind a net. Practically on top of home plate I was. I've only sat in seats whose number begins with an “X” a handful of times previously and not in a long while, so this was, result aside, quite a treat.

When everybody playing ball is so close to you, it doesn't feel Major League. It's more like wandering down to the schoolyard, leaning up against the chain link fence and peering out as the neighborhood kids put together a game.

There was the forlorn, tall kid who couldn't pitch and looked like he'd be happier taking violin lessons.

There was the virtually unknown kid who just moved here, playing second, barely managing to catch a lazy fly and then not knowing how to throw it home.

There was the big, goofy kid at first who forgot how many runners were on base.

There were the big kids on the other team, some of whose fathers obviously used their influence with the league office to get them in the game (if indeed this was organized ball, which it barely seemed to be).

There was the quiet kid with the weird haircut who never gets to play getting a chance and finally hitting the ball real far, but because his team lost, it didn't matter so nobody will remember by the time school starts on Monday.

Actually there were a lot of kids with weird haircuts.

And there were me and my friends. We were either filling the roles of overbearing Little League parents shouting instructions to our kids or found ourselves reborn as wide-eyed youngsters from the neighborhood quite surprised that they let us get so close to the diamond. Either way, we could yell all we wanted, but nobody was going to pay any attention to us.

Bottom line, of course, was the big kids from Milwaukee made our boys — save for David Newhan — appear very unskilled and all of us rather sad. Mr. Fielder's son and Mr. Gwynn's son and Mr. Hardy's son (whatever it is J.J. Sr. does for a living) bullied the Mets from the first to the ninth. Ruben Gotay and Carlos Delgado played like their minds were on their Xbox (two runs on a pop fly that was caught in short right?) and Mike Pelfrey may have punched his ticket for the City of New Orleans. The Brewers played like baseball's best team and the Mets showed no evidence that they are even close, even if they are. If ever there were cause for an “oh well,” this was it.

Oh well, the Mets got stomped. But I got to sit eight rows from the field and behind a net, which doesn't happen every day. In fact, it hasn't happened since 1999 and, given the inexorable Armitron ticking down on the life of the ballpark, it may be the last time I ever do. I'm keenly aware that everything I see or do may be The Last Time I Ever See/Do it at Shea, so I particularly appreciated this up-close-and-personal view, everything from the pronounced crack of the bat (except maybe Hardy's), to the break of the ball (which wasn't working for Pelf) to the generosity of the first baseman (less Delgado's decision to give Milwaukee an extra run in the fourth than the way he tossed three balls into the stands while standing on deck).

For this rare pleasure, I thank FAFIF commenter extraordinaire KingmanFan for a) being in a job that gained him access to this shining spot on the seating chart; b) having a wife and daughter who chose to get their hair done this glorious Saturday; c) thinking of this blog when looking to fill his suddenly empty chairs. I also tip my blolleague cap to the one and only Metstradamus, whose original invite to today's game was the only reason I was within 500 feet (SkyKing distance) of the field level offer. KF was gracious to absorb MD's generosity and treat us both to the primo perspective. I, on the other hand, technically sponged off the both of them. Great guys, great fans, great seats, great time.

Lousy game, but you can't have everything.

7 comments to The Knothole Gang

  • Anonymous

    The pleasure was mine. Was happy for the company – if I had to go to two games in a row by myself I'd start to develop a complex or somethin'.
    Too bad the Mets couldn't cooperate and give us a game to match the quality of the company..

  • Anonymous

    I was in the back of the loge above third base today with my ten-year-old son — his first-ever Mets game. We, too, had a great time despite the loss, and despite the ridiculous sums of money handed over for a sausage sandwich, bottled water and CrackerJack.
    The young'un especially liked Shawn Green's triple, not least because he became the surprise hero of a schoolyard kickball game recently by legging out a game-winning triple of his own.
    Before we left the stadium, we stopped down on the field level to pick up a souvenir and see what the orange seats were like — the padding is a very nice feature, we decided.
    As we were walking back to the LIRR after the game, I asked my son if he'd like to go again sometime. He said he'd love to, but next time, could it be a night game? “'Cause then it'll be after the Mets have had their dinner, and they'll be full of energy.”
    P.S., Pelfrey is way over his head and needs some more AAA time to figure out how to get his first pitch over the plate, which he failed to do with depressing regularity in this afternoon's game, and also to put the movement back in his fastball, where just about none was in evidence today.

  • Anonymous

    Pelfrey is pitching just well enough to keep losing and losing and losing. His confidence is on the line, and so is the confidence and concentration of the seven guys behind him in the field — how much is their play affected by the sneaking suspicion that Pelfrey is snakebit, permanently unlucky, a Jonah who just keeps getting the short end from the baseball gods no matter what? Oh and five now, and no sign of anything different about to happen, even if Lo Duca does say he sees improvement from start to start. I have a sneaking suspicion that everybody else on the team is rolling his eyes.
    Dare I invoke the name Anthony Young? He improved from start to start too, and showed heart and poise and grit and pluck even when the defense behind him sprung leaks and the run support dried up. . He lost 18 straight decisions.
    Break the whammy asap — send Pelfrey down to AAA to regain his form as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
    Where is the worldbeater we saw in the spring? At this stage, I think there's more chance of him reappearing in New Orleans than in Willets Point.

  • Anonymous

    There will never be another Anthony Young. There can't be. That would be like getting eaten by the same shark twice.

  • Anonymous

    The worst defensive play we've seen since the Art Howe Era, and it was a Fielder Sac Fly and a Fielder's Choice. I thought that was interesting.

  • Anonymous

    I am reminded that the parents of J.J. Hardy were athletes, too: mom and LPGA golfer, dad a pro tennis player. Cross those bloodlines with those of Cecil Fielder and Tony Gwynn and Milwaukee may finally have cracked the genetic code.

  • Anonymous

    I was not sorry I ended up missing this game…