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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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Detroit Muscle

Being a baseball fan is hard work. At least the players can do things. Our primary occupation is to squirm, fret and get lost in our own anxieties.

Death Month '07 began in earnest with the Alternate Reality World Series, known in this universe as the World Series of Bitterness, or the Except for the Fact That the Cardinals Beat Us World Series. And it didn't seem like an invitation one would accept happily. In one corner, the suddenly struggling Mets, with their offense punchless and pressing, outfielders expiring on an hourly basis (David Newhan got eaten by paperwork, to be spat out in New Orleans), and the bullpen gone from sterling to suspect. In the other corner, the American League champs, engaged in a dogfight for the top spot in what might be baseball's best division.

Detroit has always been terra incognita on my baseball map. (Here be Tigers!) This is about all I know or have ever known about them:

* They've got one of baseball's greatest uniforms, one that's not just simple and classic but legitimately looks old. And bonus points for the subtle but effective orange D on the road.

* Rusty Staub was traded there in return for Mickey Lolich, who retired because he was too fat and then unretired once he didn't pitch for us. I still hate Mickey Lolich.

* They beat the tar out of us 10 years ago in a series we seemed ill-prepared for, a humiliation that turned me against interleague play and left me afraid for years to come that the Mets would acquire Bobby Higginson, who wasn't actually any good. That series left such a scar that I was startled to read we'd returned the favor by sweeping them in 2004. We did? Really?

* Cobb, Kaline, Trammell and Whitaker, Jack Morris, Mark Fidrych and … ummmm ….

* They've got Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez, both of whom talk too damn much but hit the ball all over creation, and a bunch of guys I've never really heard of but who are really good, except when the Cardinals hit balls to them in October.

Not a lot to go on, but I grasped that facing the Tigers didn't seem like the best possible treatment for being undone by some very un-Phillie-like play from the Phillies. (Points to Ron Darling for his smug note of the Royals' early outburst tonight and his dismissive, “They'll go back to being the Phillies.”) And despite the outcome, you can't exactly say the patient's been cured. Two solo home runs, a sac fly that came within a whisper of being overturned on appeal and the fewest pitches seen since the second keg of a company softball game aren't exactly an offensive explosion, and the middle relievers couldn't spit the bit because they were never saddled. Jorge Sosa was masterful, and we should all give thanks for his hard work and the Jacket's wise counsel, but all the starters have been good to excellent of late.

Still, one thing my co-blogger's finally rammed through my extra-reinforced skull is in the end, you don't dwell on style points. Mets win, Braves lose, Phillies lose. What more do you want out of a night of baseball? It wasn't even dark in Detroit by the time things looked a lot brighter for us.

10 comments to Detroit Muscle

  • Anonymous

    Don't forget Ralph Kiner's main man Hank Greenberg, one of the greatest Tigers of 'em all. Walter Matthau joined a country club just so he could play tennis with the greatest Jewish home run hitter in recorded history, at least until Shawn Green comes off the DL and pounds nine more.
    Dear collaborator, we were at the first Tigers @ Mets game in 2004. Piazza was honored for stubbornly maintaining his position until he hit all the home runs he wanted. And Mike Cameron walked us all off with a home run. You know…the big gay Chevy game? We won on a walkoff the next night, too (more noteworthy for young Jose's return one of his early ghastly injuries and the bizarre running stride he was forced to adopt). And we swept on Sunday, Father's Day, one of the worst days of my life…but I digress. But if I didn't, I wouldn't be nearly as interesting, would I?
    As long as you've invested in HDTV, treat yourself to Extra Innings (whether it's in HD or not). On a night like tonight, when the Mets put the opposition aways in two shakes of a Tiger's tail, Extra I's provided TONS of entertainment and intrigue. Leads were blown all over baseball. The Marlins came back from 2-8 to beat the Devil Rays 14-8 as the Rays called on an infielder to pitch (who said the Sunshine State Series has no juice?); the Cardinals gave up a 4-0 advantage and were stomped by the Angels (anything that involves the Cardinals losing to somebody we don't need to be beaten is lovely); you know from Soriano's three home runs in a good cause and the Royals making a mockery of the “but the Phillies get to play Kansas City while we have to play the Colts, the Heat and Martin Scorsese” whining, but did you know all three West Coast games went into extra frames and that the Blue Jays-Dodgers tilt (Jays tie it in the ninth, go ahead in the tenth, give it back in the bottom of the tenth) wasn't even the best of the trio? Because the Giants suffered injuries to both of their catchers, Pedro Feliz donned the tools of ignorance in the tenth, with Randy Winn taking over third and Noah Lowry in right. Somehow they lost anyway, attributable mostly to second baseman Ray Durham being out of position at second base on a Jason Kendall ground ball. And I got to watch it all after a nice post-Mets win nap.
    Ricky Ledee must have been called up specially for this series once Willie remembered a position player could bat ninth. Of course Ricky Ledee should never bat any higher than 14th.

  • Anonymous

    And by the way, why is the Tigers' sweep of the Mets seemingly ingrained in every Mets fans' memory almost as much as Mlicki's shutout of the Yankees, but almost nothing else from 1997 seems to be? We improved by 17 games to finish 88-74, won from behind 47 times, stayed in legitimate contention for a playoff spot until the second-to-last weekend of the season, yet in the popular imagination, Bobby Valentine's club went 1-3 while cooling its heels waiting for Mike Piazza to be our savior (and lead us to another 88-74 near-miss in '98, for the record).
    Don't worry. I'll be back to glorifying '97 in excruciating detail first Friday in July, but in the meantime, I'm just wondering.

  • Anonymous

    I don't mean to harp on this but since I'm suddenly not sleepy anymore, we swept the Blue Jays in early September 1997, including laying into Roger Clemens the first time we faced him in 11 years. How come nobody ever says, “wow, I remember that we swept the Blue Jays!”? Why does this Tiger thing live on to the exclusion of almost everything else from that extraordinarily uplifting spring and summer? Hey, I was at the 14-0 game. The result sucked even if the ballpark was beautiful. But like Tony suggested to Patsy, I put my grief behind me and left all that morbid spit at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
    OK, now I'm sleepy.

  • Anonymous

    I have two things to say:
    1.) Them schoolboy pops pulled out all the stops on Friday night.
    2.) Leave Ricky alone. He is a charismatic player who changes the tone of the game just by stepping on the field. He was robbed three times last night — twice by fielders and once by an umpire — and could have easily been three-for-three. I understand that his brilliance can't always be discerned by the naked eye, but Ricky is one of the special ones. Just watch the next time he throws a ball back to the infield. It's magic, dammit. And no amount of coaching can create that.

  • Anonymous

    Great blog title. We're doing the Willets Point Shuffle.

  • Anonymous

    “This Tiger thing” will always live on. You were there, so you had other, infinitely more pleasant things at your disposal to distract your attention (my living room, unlike Tiger Stadium, was no revelation). For the rest of us, there was nothing but… Higginson, (*shudder*) and being tagged with 31 runs in 3 games by an awful team looking longingly upwards at .500… oh, the humanity! I was so over the charming novelty of interleague play after that. And not a little shellshocked.

  • Anonymous

    I always think of the Tigers as where HoJo came from.

  • Anonymous

    I'm now celebrating my 10th glorious season with Extra Innings. Last night's highlight was listening to Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer, as the Twins were being shellacked by the ExpoGnats, discuss–at length–what constitutes a “bunch.” Were the Twins being shellacked by a “bunch” of runs, or merely a “few”? I mean, we all know a “couple” is two, and a “few” we can safely say is three or maybe even four, but where does a “bunch” start? Bert says five or six, Dick insists eight (because the Twins are down 7-0)… when you buy a “bunch” of carrots, wouldn't you want at least eight? This went on for an entire half-inning and had me in stitches. Then on the last play, Dick says the dude is out by a few steps, and Bert asks if he was perhaps out by a bunch of steps.
    I love me some DicknBert.

  • Anonymous

    Look, anyone who was alive and old enough to read in 1976 hated the Staub deal, because we all loved Rusty. But I always thought Mickey Lolich retired because he was old and busted, not because he was fat. Pitchers in their mid-30s deciding to start sucking was not uncommon in the 1970s, and he was fat when he was good, too. (There's an anecdote from Ball Four in which the not-exactly-svelte-himself George Brunet taunts Lolich from the dugout by yelling things at him like, “One man to a pair of pants out there,” and that was in 1969.)

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, the Bobby Jones game!! We kicked Pedro's butt all over town!! But that was in May (I remember that for reasons I'd rather forget). I don't remember beating him twice, though. I remember that game being an event. Well, in the context of who he was and what we were…
    I have to say, though, I remember quite a bit from 1997. I had a blast that year.