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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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His Remarkable Milestone, My Relative Indifference

I don't know how many fans have been fortunate enough to witness a pitcher win his 299th game. I've done it twice. I was at Fenway Park to watch Tom Seaver of the White Sox pick up No. 299 in 1985 and I was at Shea Stadium last week to watch Tom Glavine do the same.

It was a way bigger thrill the first time.

Never mind that this was my first trip to Fenway, my first trip to any big-league ballpark other than Shea. This was Tom Seaver, my childhood and all-time baseball idol, age 40, bulling his way through a professional rebirth. When he wound up on the White Sox by way of something called the free agent compensation pool, Seaver had come off his only two losing seasons, an injury-riddled 5-13 with the dreadful 1982 Reds and 9-14 with the rebuilding (to put it kindly) 1983 Mets. 9-14 actually wasn't so bad on a 68-94 club (ERA: 3.55), but Tom was not going out as he had come in.

His shift to the junior circuit gave him new life. After adjusting to the hitters' league, Seaver emerged as the White Sox' ace in '84, going 15-11, with 10 complete games and 4 shutouts in 34 starts. At 39 years old, he was putting up numbers a 24-year-old would die for in any era, especially the present one (see anybody throwing 10 complete games, even with benefit of a DH, anymore?). 1984's rebound left Tom a dozen wins shy of 300.

Determination to experience a different stadium and then sheer luck of the draw put Joel Lugo, his buddy the future golf wiz Rich Neugebauer and myself at Fenway on July 30, 1985 when Seaver was aiming for eleventh win of the season, the 299th of his career. Tom did not disappoint. Facing a lineup topped by Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and Bill Buckner (and opposing Oil Can Boyd), Seaver gutted out nine strong innings, leaving matters tied 4-4. The White Sox, to the cheers of a couple of thousand New England Mets fans, scored three runs for him in the tenth. Juan Agosto held the fort and Seaver left Boston with a 7-5 win, career victory No. 299.

It was a very special night.

Tom Glavine's 299th? It was all right, I suppose. This Tom faced a lousy Pirates club, whose biggest threat to him was mounted in the first: three one-out walks. A nicely turned double play, Reyes to Easley to Delgado, quelled that uprising. Three Mets scored in the bottom of the first, three more in the bottom of the third. Glavine didn't look terribly sharp the rest of the way (Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay smoked him for a double and a homer, respectively, in the fifth) but he hung on for 112 pitches and six innings. The Mets never scored the additional runs that seemed available to them, causing Mike Steffanos and I unnecessary anxiety, but Heilman and Wagner were perfect and the Mets won 6-3.

As did Glavine. Good for him.

When Tom Seaver won his 300th, it was a milestone of milestones. Yankee Stadium was jammed with Mets fans. Phil Rizzuto Day took a back seat. Doc Gooden, going for and breaking Tom's Mets' consecutive win streak record in Chicago the same afternoon, took a back seat. Rod Carew attaining his 3,000th hit on the West Coast took a back seat. The Players Association's planned job action for later in the week took a back seat. If there was a visit from Mars, it went unnoticed. Tom Seaver took the mound on August 4, 1985 and didn't let go of it until he had converted No. 300. He came at Don Baylor with two out in the ninth and Baylor flied out to Reid Nichols in left. With that, Carlton Fisk and every other White Sock embraced Seaver almost exactly where he deserved to be embraced: on a pitcher's mound in New York. It was the most useful deployment of Yankee Stadium until Dave Mlicki gave it a much-needed shot of vitality in 1997.

If Tom Glavine matches the feat of Tom Seaver and 21 others tonight in Milwaukee, it almost assuredly will not end where it should. Tom Glavine will be in the clubhouse or perhaps the dugout when the ninth rolls around. Almost nobody pitches nine innings anymore, certainly not at age 41. The last two guys to get to 300, Clemens and Maddux, watched others secure their milestones. Sign of the times. Sign of age. Whichever. The likelihood is that Tom Glavine will not be on the field when he “earns” his 300th win, that he will not have been on the field for maybe an hour, that it will be in the hands of men named Feliciano, Mota, Heilman and Wagner to get it for him if he's in a position to get it at all.

Seaver needed Juan Agosto to preserve his 299th. That was one inning of relief that followed a regulation nine, nine frames that gave his White Sox every chance to succeed. Seaver alone secured his 300th. Glavine, if recent precedent holds, will have been removed from the lineup by the sixth or seventh at latest. On any other night, it wouldn't be worth remarking on. A pitcher's W is a footnote. A team's W is the goal. But it will take a little of the edge off a historic achievement to watch Tom Glavine, in a warmup jacket, his glove put away, come out to congratulate somebody else for nailing down his milestone.

Not that he isn't worthy of a 300th win. Not that we aren't reasonably delighted for him, Brave roots and all. But we can count. We know it's Glavine the Enemy (or, at best, Glavine the Stranger) with 242 wins, Glavine the Met with 57 going on 58. He's a Met now and every Tom Glavine triumph is an asset for us, regardless of what he was doing and who he was doing it for from 1987 through 2002. But there's familiarity and then there's family.

Even though he's sporting the right laundry on the brink of his momentous occasion, Glavine going for 300 as a Met doesn't begin to match the big deal it was for me (and I'm guessing many of you) when Tom Seaver reached the same milestone in sartorially challenged horizontal stripes. Tom Seaver was with the Chicago White Sox, but on July 30 and August 4, 1985, that was a technicality. Since March 31, 2003, Tom Glavine has been with the New York Mets. This is his fifth season here. It took me two-and-a-half of those seasons to stop secretly rooting for the ex-Brave to lose, maybe half-a-season more to figure out his winning equaled our winning, the next season to finally appreciate we were privileged to be on board a future Hall of Famer's ride toward history, wherever his journey started. In my mind, Tom Glavine's Met-by-technicality status didn't fade until 2005. That's more my problem than his, I readily admit.

I'm fine with Tom Glavine on the Mets. I'm more than fine when he's on his game. I was way more than fine when he shut down the Dodgers in Game Two last fall and did the same to the Cardinals in Game One of the next series. He's a pro's pro and then some. Watching even twilight Glavine reveals a generous glimpse of the skills and the talent that made him one of the best of his time. His ability to transform from Mr. Outside to Mr. Inside when quesTec called his strike zone bluff was probably the greatest late-career adjustment I'd seen since Seaver morphed from power pitcher to crafty righthander. Though I still believe management's starry-eyed pursuit of him in 2002 was misguided for a team on the downslide, and that he would have U-turned for Atlanta in a sec last winter had the opportunity and money been right, it hasn't been a bad deal having Tom Glavine in a Mets uniform. His 300th win, hopefully this evening, deserves our respect and our applause.

It feels OK. It just doesn't feel a whole lot more than that.

27 comments to His Remarkable Milestone, My Relative Indifference

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Know the feeling a little bit. When today's Tom wins his 300th it will be nice to see it in a Met uniform, however, I was at Shea when yesterday's Tom won his 20th in 1969 – the first Met pitcher ever to do so – and it was a magical moment. When Tom recorded the final out, he was mobbed by his team mates, the crowd roared with frenzy and Nancy Seaver walked from her box into the dugout to join him.
    One thing that irked me that night was when the fans pleaded for a curtain call (yelling “we want Tom, we want Tom”) he did not come out to acknowledge the crowd. Even this young college freshman at that time found it to be rude.

  • Anonymous

    Predictably, I think I'll pass on this particular milestone. It gives me only marginally more pleasure (and that is derived only from the tick in the W column) than 755 and/or 756. Which is to say… none.
    I hope he goes into the Hall with an “A” on his cap.

  • Anonymous

    A bunch of us — a mix of Yankee & Met fans — went to Yankee Satandium on Friday, August 2, 1985, having bought tickets for what we thought would be Tom's 300th.
    What we saw instead was Carlton Fisk tagging out Bobby Meacham & Dale Berra with the same ball…

  • Anonymous

    All this attention to round-number counting stats (not to mention crooked-number mosts) the scourge of baseball.

  • Anonymous

    On any other night, it wouldn't be worth remarking on. A pitcher's W is a footnote. A team's W is the goal.
    Just to take it a step further, the W, as ascribed to any pitcher, is a 19th century vestige and quite possibly the stupidest stat in all of baseball.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps a system of rating the quality of the start and then a stat for “leads surrendered” (either as a percentage or in pure numerical form like saves) would be more accurate and valid. It would certainly mitigate the “playing for a bad team” factor in pitchers' W-L records.

  • Anonymous

    So you secretly rooted against Glavine for 2 1/2 years..I am a little surprised at you ..But you know well that his legacy is in another city. As a Mets fan I basically hated this man for a good many years. I have gained a certain respect for him..BUT. I need a Pennant. If the team in his stay does at least that much, I will regard him higher as an 'all-time list' guy!

  • Anonymous

    But there isn't a lack of stats that measure the quality of a pitcher's outing or his entire career; there's no need to invent a new one. W-L records are probably the 8th or 9th best criteria for judging a pitcher and it has this completely out sized grip on the baseball fan's conciousness, even someone as knowledgeable as Greg.
    No one waxes nostalgiac about where they were when The Franchise got his career WHIP under 1.2.

  • Anonymous

    It wasn't all that big a secret, actually. I just couldn't stand to look at him in a Mets uniform, and particularly in '03 (with a couple of exceptions), it didn't seem to matter all that much whether the Mets won any given game. I also rooted like hell for Art Howe to be sent packing.
    Glavine has earned his way into Mets lore these last few years and not in the Vince Coleman sense.

  • Anonymous

    you hope? i'd be shocked if he didn't.

  • Anonymous

    The “19th century” observation was one of the most insightful I've seen in ages.
    The WHIP reference deserves a gift certificate to Uncle Jack's Steakhouse.

  • Anonymous

    I hope. I assume nothing in this game anymore. I mean El Disgusto (er, sorry… The Rocket) spent more than twice as long in Boston as the Bronx, but who can really predict which cap he'll go in with? Common sense tells us it should bear a “B,” but he's made such a big f'ing melodrama out of being identified with his relative cup of coffee with the Skanks that who knows?

  • Anonymous

    I'm a big WHIP gal, myself (heh).
    And W-L record is stupid. Far too many factors out of the pitcher's control affect that stat to take it seriously. You can throw a pitch or two and get the win if the cards fall that way. Not to mention enter the game at the wrong time and be tagged with the loss, even though you weren't on the mound more than a few minutes.

  • Anonymous

    The Hall of Fame has, wisely, taken the cap on the plaque decision away from the players. Thus the Satanic Fat Ass will likely, and properly, be enshrined with his likeness wearing a Boston cap.

  • Anonymous

    Or a dollar sign.

  • Anonymous

    You'll be enshrined with a TMI on your cap.

  • Anonymous

    Won-Lost is based on so much more than the pitcher's skill.
    Three words – Steve Trachsel, 2006.

  • Anonymous

    I know they've taken away the decision from the players. But I'm not sure they're totally immune to outside influences/propaganda, either. We shall see.
    (A dollar sign. heh)

  • Anonymous

    And darn proud of it, too.

  • Anonymous

    I was at the Bedpan for Seaver's 300th. Me and several thousand other Mets fans. When I bought my tickets, the guy at Ticketron asked me if I was going for Phil Rizzuto Day. I laughed maniacally and said no.
    A great time was had by all er, the Mets fans.
    I am not ambivalent about Glavine's achievement. I was about the Fat Fraud's, I am about Barroid's, but not about Glavine's. Yes, he'll always be a Brave, but he's a class act and deserves the praise he's getting. And he's still wearing our laundry. I really don't understand the ambivalence. Tom Glavine deserves better.

  • Anonymous

    I understand your point, but I still think the save is the stupidest stat in baseball. They're way too easy to get and tell us very little about how good the pitcher is. Coming in to start an inning with a 3-run lead and ending the game with a 1-run lead and the bases loaded means you've been ineffective and should not be rewarded for it.

  • Anonymous

    We all have our own reasons for how we feel about this (and mine are different from Greg's), and not all of them necessarily have to do with the same thing… more what we believe (or don't believe) to be “class.” You might not understand the ambivalence of others, but that doesn't make it senseless or wrong, just unclear to you. You can only judge by what you know… which isn't necessarily everything there is to know.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  • Anonymous

    AND, if you blow a save, and your offense bails you out, you should NOT get credit for a Vulture Victory…

  • Anonymous

    Without wins there are no saves, so the statistical stupidity of each stands arm in arm at the gates of logic.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Greg– I was at Gooden's big game in '85 at Wrigley w/ a few buddies. It was a great trip , but looking back , I kinda wish I was at Yankee Stadium for Seaver's 300th , instead…………………..

  • Anonymous

    This talk about 'ambivalence,' etc. just reminds me of Yankee fans and their crowing about 'true Yankees.' And don't we make fun of them for that? I know I do. If a guy wears the Mets laundry and doesn't act like it's giving him hives, he's a Met.

  • Anonymous

    But there is no gradation, right now, between qualities of starts; it's either a quality start or it isn't. A win, a loss, or a ND. And only the W-L stat tells you about a collection of individual games at glance.
    You can look at a pitchers' ERA, WHIP, Opponents Batting Avg. whatever you want, but might not predict accurately how well you the pitcher actually pitched in many of his starts. You can ruin all those avg.-based stats by getting rocked repeatedly, and it makes all your starts look bad, but your W's and L's are unchanging.
    Wins and Losses are unwieldy and imprecise, but there should still be something there that says, on a start to start basis, how well you pitched, how many times you pitched well, and whether or not you could hold the lead your team gave you. If there is such a stat, I'd like to look at it.