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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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Softly As A's Leave Us

Interleague play rocks!

Well it does this weekend as the Oakland Athletics, like our mopes and gripes, have been swept from Shea not a moment too soon and, for those of you who grip a good grudge, 34 years too late.

No sense dumping on some team we are not likely to see again in these parts for several years (anything is possible come October, but there are too many hurdles to consider before worrying about posting inflammatory quotes on karma's bulletin board). We've got Cardinal ghosts to strangle and Phillies whose pulse it would be most delightful to kick the living spit out of. If only saying it made it so.

But before our guests from the west depart our consciousness, a few thoughts on Oakland, the American League and the circuit-crossing we are compelled to indulge in every June.

The Athletics: Is there another team in big-time sports whose name is the plural of an adjective? Say Connie, ya got some real athletic types on your roster there. What ya thinkin' of callin' 'em? Maybe Mack forgot to give them a real moniker. I vote retroactively for the Hey Mack!s. FYI: The actual answer as to why they're the Athletics is they were formed from an Athletic Club in Philadelphia. Kind of disappointing, eh?

The A's: I liked it better when the single letter was on their uniforms. The A's have been one of the most interesting franchises in baseball for the last 40 years, easily identifiable for stretches at a time without becoming long-term stereotypes of themselves. The Swingin' A's. The dynastic A's. The Finley-filleted to within an inch of their competitive lives A's. The nearly moved to Denver A's. The Stanley Burrell A's (when nobody would touch them). The Shooty Babbit, Billyball, complete games 'til their arms fell off A's. The Bash Brother, La Russa, Eckersley, isn't our elephant cute, best team in the game A's. The disappointing postseason A's. The Moneyball A's. Except for a week in 1973 and a couple of days in 2005 (and from Friday night 'til this afternoon), I've rather liked the A's. On the other hand, there were the goddamn Jeremy Giambi wouldn't slide in 2001 A's. The Eric Chavez should have kept his mouth shut before firing up the Yankees in 2000 A's. The pawned Art Howe off on us A's. The found a use for Marco Scutaro A's. The holding Mike Piazza hostage (a compensated, willing hostage, I grant you) so our retirement of his number will have to be interminably delayed A's. Suddenly I don't find the A's amusing anymore.

Interleague Residue: Now that their green and gold jet has presumably lifted off from La Guardia, I don't care about the A's anymore. Or the Twins. Or the Tigers. Or the whole bunch of 'em. Well, beat the Yankees, bunch, and otherwise do what you have to do to each other. I have a favorite American League team, the Angels. And I don't care what happens to them either all that much.

Interleague Scheduling: How did the Dodgers and Blue Jays wind up playing a home-and-home? Radical yet rational revision to the whole mess: Take the Phillies and Pirates (intrastate rivals), Tigers and Blue Jays (neighbors) and Diamondbacks and Rockies (same obscure time zone, give or take daylight savings) out of the Interleague equation. Give each pair the six games you give the Mets and Yankees, Dodgers and Angels and the other “natural” rivals or at least the ones that make a modicum of sense. Philly and Pittsburgh should play each other more. Ditto Toronto and Detroit. Pittsburgh plays Houston more than Philadelphia (nice 1994 realignment ya got there, Bud). I'm sure Colorado and Arizona play each other enough, but they, too, could be stoked into a representative regional rivalry if both teams ever got good. And then drop everything else. 156 league games, 6 rivalry games for all 30 teams. There, there's your schedule after 2008. Why after 2008? The White Sox and Rangers have yet to make their maiden voyage to Flushing for National League baseball and I want them here for completism's sake (we've visited every A.L. park already). Then finish the cycle, stop the madness, X out all A's, O's, M's and Sox from our dance card. May Citi Field never host an out-of-town American League franchise prior to October…and one from anywhere else every October.

The American League: Kill the DH. Not literally (I have nothing lethal against Jack Cust after today). But enough with the “ninth spot” in the batting order. Watching a bit of the Yankees and Giants earlier, there was all this flagellating Mussina over his not pitching around whoever was batting eighth with a runner on second (he gave up a run-scoring hit in the process) and how, you know, in the National League they actually let the pitcher bat. Yes, they do. You know why? Because it's baseball. I could go round and round with arguments you've all heard and probably made for decades. Let's let “because it's baseball” suffice.

The Mets: So maybe they're not as bad as they looked when they were dreadful. Are they as good as they looked when they were kicking A? Oakland's an above-average A.L. outfit, beset by key injuries at the moment (who isn't?) and got one great start and two mediocre outings from its moundsmen. But I think it's reasonable to assess that Reyes is burning up the charts, Gomez is growing into his big league pants, Beltran's awake, Wright's alive, Valentin and Easley suddenly aren't creaky and Green is blessedly versatile. Lo Duca's mental but he's also solid. We need Delgado, but when haven't we? Glavine, Hernandez and Maine gave up three runs among them this weekend and when they were called on, the late-inning men were spot on. First place was ours when we sucked, it's even more ours now that we've stopped sucking. Conclusion for the moment: no panic, no picnic…and no more American League.

20 comments to Softly As A's Leave Us

  • Anonymous

    Now, i don't feel strongly about interleague either way. I don't feel any need to have each team play the exact same 162 game schedule. I think having just a subway series type thing is silly. Granted no one plays hard in exhibition anymore, but I'd rather an exhibition style series against the Yankees, for bragging rights over that being the only interleague stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Greg you sound like a man who just witnessed an accident on the LIE..

  • Anonymous

    I'm thinking over this plural adjective as team name business. Nationals…there are such things as nationals, as in “he's a Cuban national.” Reds…short for Redlegs…pardonable if you don't mind Redlegs in the first place (though some minded “Reds” when “Cuban nationals” took on sinister entendre in the '50s). Yankees…techically plural noun, though the common usage of “this Yankee bleep was sitting behind me and kept saying stupid bleeping bleep all night” invites it into such a conversation.
    No, Athletics is uniquely dopey.

  • Anonymous

    Ceetar, yes and no. Yes, we could live without it. But no, the Subway Series is never going away, it's too big a cash cow. Likewise the other intracity rivalries, the good ones. Together they're big enough to pull the Padres-Mariners, Devil Rays-Marlins, Brewers-Twins and other tenuous versions of “natural rivalries” along with them. Mets and Yankees will never revert to exhibition games because nobody would ever care about them again after having tasted eleven years of for-keeps play. Granted, the 2000 World Series may have taken the edge of the May and June meetings, but it never dented attendance. And as I mentioned last week, it's provided us with good, sometimes great tense baseball for more than a decade. Stressful, but the payoff, when we earn it, is immensely rewarding.
    Either way, we're stuck with it. No compelling need to play the other 15 American League teams though.

  • Anonymous

    Uniquely dopey among baseball names but absolutely profound compared to the Jazz.
    The Utah Jazz no less.
    Nothing screams jazz like a night in Provo.

  • Anonymous

    Athlethics is a great and noble name in baseball..When I hear A's I think Charley Finley, that was his doing.

  • Anonymous

    Plural of an adjective? There's always the Celtics… unless of course you take “Celtic” to mean “a group of Indo-European languages usually subdivided into Brythonic and Goidelic and now largely confined to Brittany, Wales, Ireland, and the Scottish Highlands.” Oh yeah.

  • Anonymous

    I for one am glad that interleague is over. Unfortunately, it comes back next year. I am actually surprised that the players keep voting yes on this. The novelty (at least for me) has worn off and I would rather see us beat up on the Braves, Phillies amd Fish.
    P.S. This has nothing to do with the fact that we played all the division winners. We'll see one of them again in October…..

  • Anonymous

    I guess I just view it as all or nothing. If we're going to embrace this novelty as a regular season occurrence, then we might as well see the other teams too. In non-New York towns, it's probably more interesting to get a view of a team that you normally don't see. Maybe cut it down to the subway series two series, and one more home and one more away series? It'd also be interesting if just for the sake of novelty, they played DH rules at national league ball parks occasionally. Part of the 'point' is exposing fans to the other league, so why not the other rules as well?
    Other 13 American league teams actually.

  • Anonymous

    Interleague will never go away because of the money it makes. And it probably makes moribund franchises like the Pirates a fortune every six years or so when the Yankees come to town. My real beef with interleague play is the six games we get against the Yankees every year while our NL competition fatten up on the Royals and such. But since Intra-city rivalry is most likely here to stay, I guess I can live with the novelty of visits from random clubs like Minnesota. Unless if, in doing away with it we could get another compelling visit from former rivals like the Cubs and Cardinals.
    Oddly, I've long had an affinity for Oakland, despite their defeating us right around the time I was fully on board. The cool unis, the mustaches… I liked them even before two of my three favorite all-time Mets finished up with them.
    Speaking of favorite Mets, would it have killed the A's to have Mike run out the lineup card again, or bring the ump some balls, warm up a pitcher… or hell, wave at us? This game was the reason I selected this particular seven-pack. And not a peek of the big lug!

  • Anonymous

    I agree. There are only 13 other American League teams.

  • Anonymous

    Runner-up: The Orlando Magic. Presumable Disney reference notwithstanding, I've been through Orlando. It ain't magic.

  • Anonymous

    Had to have a sitdown with the wife yesterday and explain why I was so giddy about this weekend's sweep. Not just the slump-busting nature, but the partial exorcism of the pain that was inflicted on an 8 year old, 34 years ago.
    -sjg$

  • Anonymous

    And to top it all off, Braves baseball is now an antidote for diarrhea.
    The runs just dry up when you watch 'em.
    Yeah, we can laugh NOW….

  • Anonymous

    I LOVED it this year.
    1) I could see my Twins without spending three consecutive nightmarish days/nights in the Bronx…an annual trek I dread.
    2) My Twins swept the Braves, when we needed it the most.
    3) Everyone got to see why my Twins are my Twins. No one at Shea will soon forget which one is Mauer and which one is Morneau! Contract this.
    So yeah, I'm down with interleague this year. Next year I'll no doubt be back to being down on it.

  • Anonymous

    That was what I said on Friday. Gee, they could bring Piazza out on Friday, when I was actually there? Mike wouldn't have minded.

  • Anonymous

    I like interleague because I get to see the teams my friends root for. without interleague, I will never get the joyful experience of sitting in Safeco Field with some of my best friends in the world as we each will root for our team, or being able to bring them and their kids to Shea with us. I relish being able to heckle them and them being able to heckle me. (Yeah, I shoulda gone to Seattle three years ago but there was no money at the time.)
    Btw. Love the new site logo. love it.

  • Anonymous

    Like the new logo as well, but am I the only one for whom the new, bold logo (and site description) makes the content frame thinner? I am for logo, against thinner page. Oh, and for winning streaks, against losing streaks.

  • Anonymous

    I'd sort of like to see a slight addition to the new logo. A purple one.

  • Anonymous

    New logo is great! Very Mossimo Vignelli