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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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Then Fall Became the Summer

Game Eleven went to the Mets, just as did Games Eight, Nine and Ten. Where 2006 is concerned, those are four wins that do us a fat lot of good. But where 2007 matters, the sweep of the Cardinals to start the season certainly pushed us toward a better future and last night’s Shawnoff shot added another welcome pinch of distance between us and the Phillies, us and the Braves.

“Fat lot of good” has such a negative connotation. Roget might say beating St. Louis this year has done us a zaftig quantity of excellence. I wouldn’t argue.

2007 is all that matters right now. 2006 is in the books. I will forever love most of it, a bit of it will nag at me into the next life, but its conclusion is no more changeable than 1962’s. Thus, beating the Cardinals in drumlike fashion in April and on Monday night is a great thing for the present and meaningless to the past.

Not that the past doesn’t inform the present. I mean, boy, when Shawn Green touched down on home plate to end either a searing eleven-inning pitchers’ duel or an interminable offensive lameout, and I realized what team had just succumbed to this current spark of Met magic, well, tee-fucking-hee, y’know?

I did make a point of securing tickets for this game expressly to boo the defending world champions. And I did what I came to do. But to feel as if my bile was being directed properly, I would have been better off staying home, logging on to the Injuries page at stlcardinals.com and booing it. I don’t ever want to see Yadier Molina again, but it would have been nice if he had given me the satisfaction of allowing me to communicate his suckage to him without a television screen getting in the way of him hearing me. I longed to remind Jim Edmonds of what a horrendous human being he is, but he was hiding on the Disabled List. Braden Looper didn’t step up at Shea when I needed him either (but what else is new?).

There were enough Dreadbirds worth expressing contempt to, however. Just not enough contempt to go around. I was a little disappointed in my 40,074 neighbors, save as ever for Laurie, who hatched a scheme to melt down all 2006 World Series rings into bullets and aim them at…well, I really shouldn’t say anymore lest the authorities be alerted. Pujols was jeered in that insipid “I know him, he’s the star on the other team” way. But that was it. So Taguchi, the dagger-plunger of Game Two, was oh so ignored. Scott Spiezio, another early NLCS villain, went scot-free. All sorts of flying pests with unfortunate October pedigrees — Miles, Duncan, Encarnacion — were permitted to parade anonymously on the same field where they dashed millions of dreams.

Honestly, majority of Monday night crowd, what was your stupor about? You’ll boo your first baseman. You’ll boo your setup man. You’ll boo whoever’s handy as a home team scapegoat. But the Cardinals? The Cardinals you’ve already paid to see? The Cardinals who wrecked your autumnal plans? You can’t express individual displeasure with each of those preening, ringbearing bastards right in front of you every time each of their names is announced? Sorry, this is a Mets fan sin comparable to that committed by the in-the-moment lunkheads who failed to stand and applaud John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo on their 2003 returns…and everybody over the age of 12 who does the wave in the midst of a 1-1 death match.

Maybe it was just acoustics and my section. Because on the way out, after Wagner buried (for a night) the ghost of Taguchi, after Heilman found St. Louisians he could steamroll and after Mr. Green put a decisive dent in both the score and scoreboard, there was an extra edge to the walkoff happiness around me. (Having attended the last five walkoffs, I think I’ve developed a discerning eye on these occasions.) This had obviously been a very different Mets-Cardinals game from the last one I attended in October. Back then, everything that was emblematic of 2006 wasn’t instant nostalgia — it was what was goin’ on. Last night? Exponential Jose! and Sweet Albeit Co-opted Caroline and Metallica’s heralding of the rock-steady Sandman all felt old, out of place, past-living.

But 2006 anthem “Takin’ Care of Business”? A hardy perennial for 2007 and hopefully beyond. Bachman-Turner Overdrive (and the lefty slugger who cued it up) served to unleash some eight-months-removed furies in the concourses and particularly on the exit ramps. The grinning group with whom Laurie and I trotted out timed its turns so it would face a flock of Cardinals fans dragging their dejected tails down the facing ramp. Every time they saw the outlanders, they gave them a humongous chorus of “LET’S GO METS!” When one of the enemy countered with something about who was awarded jewelry as a result of 2006, he was reminded that that was last year.

And “LET’S GO METS!”

Green’s homer, by the way, came off Russ Springer, the least reviled villain in Mets history. While we can all fall out of bed in the middle of the night in the dead of winter and recite Kenny Rogers’ dossier of disaster chapter and verse, I have yet to meet any Mets fan who cringes at the name Russ Springer, winning pitcher, on merit (Oly, Shawon, Robin…out, out, out in the top of the eleventh), in the Kenny Rogers game. Russ Springer was the Adam Wainwright of his heartbreaking postseason. If Russ Springer is in the same ballpark as me, I boo him heartily. But y’know what? It wasn’t until I was on the 7 to Woodside that I remembered who threw the home run ball to Greenie and what it was about him that distinguished him from a thousand other middle and long relievers. While we were at the game, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

We’ve won four in a row. And I’m calming down from a crushing loss in the last century. There’s hope for us all.

An attaboy! to loyal commenter Jacobs27 for being the guy I saw coming off the train before the game in his sparkling 37 14 41 42 FAFIF t-shirt. Nice to meet you, Jakey — keep up the great fashion sense!

Also, if you’re not keeping up with Metphistopheles, you’re just not taking advantage of some of the best the Met blogging experience has to offer. Read his side of the triangular story from Saturday night’s happy ending.

5 comments to Then Fall Became the Summer

  • Anonymous

    I probably won't be at any of the Cardinal games this week, just because I've been to so many ,and I have to cut back somewhere. Especially considering the expense of an all-day adventure in Philly on Friday.
    but 40k? that's despicable! Show up to the damn game! it's attendance figures like this that make the Mets feel justified in cutting off the upper deck(or rather, not building it) in Citi Field. And if they were truly that tame, it's pathetic. Even if you weren't at the play off games, you should still want to scream and yell at these guys. So Taguchi was a very key part of the Cardinals winning. bleh. I'm not a very vocal guy regardless, but even I would've been booing there.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, Greg. Rarely have I loved you more than I do at this moment. An absolute friggin' masterpiece. Every single word.
    Any Met fan who can happily boo his/her own players, yet allow 25 trophy-stealing, soul-destroying mortal enemies to remain unscathed (indeed unacknowledged), should be banned from Shea AND the future Dodgerville Field forevermore. Or at least until they get their priorities straight.

  • Anonymous

    I was a little surprised by the booing only at Pujols and not Taguchi and Spezio et al. But I think the pitiful, limping position of the Cardinals with all those villains on the DL contributed to the lack of venom at Shea. They suck, and the Mets inability to hit took the wind out of our sails a little. But yeah, I agree, people seem to have energy for other boos when they're uncalled for…
    Ditto about the wave–I'm really beginning to resent its existence.

  • Anonymous

    I went to this game for the same reason that you did – to boo the people that destroyed my fall. I was shocked to find that I was basically the only one in my section that gave a damn. I also tried to tell anyone who would listen that doing the wave in eighth inning of a tie game proves how little you care about the game of baseball.

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