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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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My Confession

The schedule was for Joshua's grandfather to bring him back on the late side tonight — somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00. So this afternoon Emily and I started batting dinner ideas back and forth. About halfway through, she stopped and said, “Unless you want to watch the game….”

“Nah,” I said. “That's OK.”

As it turned out, I listened to or watched the first four innings or so, brought my portable radio to dinner (it stayed off at the restaurant, since I'm not a complete barbarian), heard Wright and Beltran start the rally on our walk back to our house, saw Alou deliver the decisive runs on TV, and watched Wagner put it in the books after a groggy Joshua was unfolded from his car seat and put into his own bed. This wasn't a WW in honor of the departed Phil Rizzuto.

But something's very wrong. Fanatics who talk other fanatics into starting crazy Met blogs don't shrug off that night's game. Particularly not when the current collection of Mets is in first place. I know that. I've spent no small number of hours worrying about it. But I can't escape it, just as I can't escape the awful truth.

I don't like this team.

I don't know what it is. The personnel aren't that different. The biggest change is the absence of Cliff Floyd, whom I loved unconditionally as one of the coolest guys to ever play the game — yet I was always realistic about Cliff's inability to stay on the field. It's no secret that the clubhouse misses Pedro Martinez and his spit-in-the-devil's-eye charisma. I undoubtedly miss him too. But Pedro was MIA for most of the second half last year, and I didn't love the 2006 Mets any less for it.

Is it the absences of year-ago sparkplugs such as Endy Chavez and Duaner Sanchez? The disappearance of Jose Valentin? Bouts of surliness from the likes of Paul Lo Duca, Julio Franco (from wise old sage to annoying codger in one season — ouch!) and Beltran? My head tells me those guys, however much I cheered for them, never had the keys to my heart. Those were always held by Wright and Reyes, and they're not so different. But my heart won't be reasoned with — it watches last year's heroes try and fail and succeed, and somehow remains cold.

I always suspected that deep down, the day-to-day intensity of our fandom was more a reflection of a team's record than most of us would ever want to admit. 66-52 and first place ought to equate to finding the 25 guys who've forged that record plucky and valiant and loyal and likeable. But at least so far, it doesn't. Yes, there are Mets on this year's roster I have no use for — master out-maker Shawn Green and master run-allower Guillermo Mota come to mind. But last year I actively loathed Steve Trachsel and Michael Tucker and desperately wanted the pathetic Victor Zambrano and Kaz Matsui to just freaking go away already — and I still find myself daydreaming about the 2006 Mets. I get the feeling the 2007 Mets will never be more than an “oh yeah, them” in my memory.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the depressing frequency with which this team gets blown out, or looks inept against lousy teams. Or its inability to get out of its own way against the resurrected Braves. Maybe it was that horrid stretch in June and July. Or the inability to keep the same eight on the field so I can really get to know them as a unit. Maybe it's the conservatism that's retained Green and imported Luis Castillo at the expense of potentially deserving, exciting young players such as Milledge and Gotay. Or the endless, paranoia-driving parade of injuries. Maybe it's as simple as the fact that now anything less than the playoffs — and dominance en route — is disappointing. Maybe 2006 was just the prettiest girl in the room, and now I'm stupidly overlooking 2007's many admirable qualities.

I can't tell you, because I don't know. All I know is from the way I feel, it could practically be the 2003 Mets out there. And that's crazy.

I desperately want this to change. And maybe it will. Pedro's on his way back, Beltran has returned, Lo Duca and Castro shouldn't be long and Endy's out there somewhere. Milledge got to play tonight, Sosa's been a bright spot in relief, and Omar can read Mota's stat line as well as I can. A mettle-testing, character-breeding crucible of games against the Phillies and Braves awaits. And Tom Glavine's candor about our having to warm up to him and his having to warm up to us has led me to finally give him my full allegiance. If that can happen, nothing's impossible.

September's coming, with the possibility of an October that matters. But August ought to matter a lot more than it does. I wish I knew why it doesn't.

43 comments to My Confession

  • Anonymous

    jace,
    you're in a funk.
    let it go.
    p.s. franco's been assigned to single-a ball in rome, ga. i'd like to think the mets would have had more class than to do that to him.

  • Anonymous

    Funny, Dan and I were having pretty much this conversation after the game Sunday, a game we won by six runs. If you can't at least fake enthusiasm for 25 individuals who just brought you a 10-4 triumph, something's a little off with either you or them.

  • Anonymous

    I sure hope it's me. Because that would be easier to fix and/or matter a whole lot less in the grand scheme of things.

  • Anonymous

    2006 Mets were hot all season and fizzled out in the playoffs.
    2007 Mets are trying to take a different approach. Stay cool, calm and in first place all season, then explode in the postseason.
    It's all about the team that's hot in October, isn't it?

  • Anonymous

    It does seem to be a theme this year.
    Among fans, on the talk shows, in the newpaper columns, the refrain goes “There's something missing with the Mets this year, but I'm damned if I know what it is. A spark, a look in the eye, something I can't put my finger on…”
    Or variations thereof.
    Chris Carlin was saying that very thing this morning and I found myself arguing with the radio — knee-jerk fashion: “oh he's just another 'FAN Met-hater” — until I realized I agreed with him.

  • Anonymous

    This team has been THAT team for a solid year now. They went into a funk last September and still haven't pulled themselves out of it.
    I think it's quite possible we'll look back the Omar-Randolph Era and agree it reached its apogee on July 30, 2006.

  • Anonymous

    I would feel better if that really is the plan, but it doesn't seem that way to the eye. It seems more like, as many have noted, that the spark just isn't there, they're snakebit and, all too often, just aren't busting it out there.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of Mets I disliked, this is fairly amazing. Can we retroactively expunge someone from our roster?

  • Anonymous

    And of course you know who the Ducks' owner/GM/face is, right?
    Somebody who knows a thing or two about on-field brawls…

  • Anonymous

    OK, now this is weird. I was trying to figure out last night what the heck is wrong with me… it's like I've stopped caring. I'd rather watch something else. It's nothing to do with how they're playing or anything like that. I just couldn't put my finger on it… why do I suddenly not care?

  • Anonymous

    This S.O.B. hit MATT BEECH?? OK, that's one very good way to make an instant enemy of me. >:-(

  • Anonymous

    I think this season is remarkably like so many others in that you can't put it into any kind of perspective until several years after. Some years are obviously miserable from the get-go (2003 springs to mind) but most others are much more complex. I view 1997 a lot differently now because of Greg's musings on the subject. While 1999 seems to grow in stature, 2000 and 2001 remain, for me anyway, elusive in terms of what it all meant.
    Because of my profession, the bulk of the season coincides with my busy season so I manage during stretches to follow the team as best I can through this medium, SNY, etc. So maybe I can relate to being in and out of touch with the Mets more than most nuts can.
    All that being said, I don't think any of us can properly yet grasp 2006, let alone 2007. Your emotional ennui and Greg's new found “let it be” attitude touch on a greater reality for Mets fans this year.
    It's all just part of the fabric of the season, unique in its way like so many others.
    If it should all end gloriously, we'll remember it as such a wonderfully complex time to be a Mets fan.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, you are absolutely right. The “swagger” or as I call it – the “sabor” is gone. Stings Milledge is bringing some of it back with his attitude…Pedro exemplified it. I find myself getting so p'd off and frustrated – I watched probably every game on TV last year and even bought the rest of the season out (even got full season tickets this year, sell most of them though) and those I didn't watch on TV I attended. But I get so p'd about it, I feel like – yes, slow and steady wins the race – and they may be taking the Cards approach to the postseason. But a.) there's no guarantee they make the postseason without some sort of cushion between them and the rest of the division and b.) come on, this is the METS we are talking about here, it just feels like – the whole year was a euphoric ride in 2006. Something we hadn't experienced in a while, the most fun I know I've had as a Mets fan in a loooong time…but I feel like, even if we make the playoffs and still have this funk with NOTHING turned on for the postseason…it won't be as sweet as it was last year. Gosh, I *do* sound like a Mets fan LOL

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it's because with all the injuries and constant upheaval, we feel like we haven't been able to get comfortable with the team. Seems like every game it's a different team out there. There's no feeling of continuity, so we're not as “one” with the team as we'd normally be.
    Does that make any sense?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the spark comes with Endy? Then Pedro?
    Last season was nailed as a keeper for me during and after The Road Trip.
    We've yet to have a moment like that this year. There is still a chance for it. I've got to still hope for it, or else turn in my fan card…

  • Anonymous

    Yes. A lot of sense, in fact. Which gives me hope for the chapters yet to be written.

  • Anonymous

    I've got an idea.
    A. It's not that the Mets don't have that spark, it's that they can't find it, but that's not to say it's not there. You know how you feel about them? I think that's how they feel about themselves.
    B. Last year is over, That team didn't win, this team still can.
    C. A lot of Mets fans seem to be bracing for the disappointment already. Mentally steeling themselves for that collapse down the stretch or the division series lose. It's almost like they want to be able to say “yeah, I really didn't think this team was that good.” Rather then ride the wave and hope for the best. Then they can go back and blame Omar or Willie for the way things turned out.

  • Anonymous

    I was flipping around Monday night and came across Fran Healy's The Game 365 on MSG where he was doing a show on the Ducks, specifically how many ex-Major Leaguers are on this team and how they love it there but want to get back to the bigs. He spent a lot of time with Jose Offerman who seemed calm and mature, more appealing than he ever did as a Met.
    Why did Offerman lose his composure, to put it mildly? Probably from talking to Fran Healy.

  • Anonymous

    That's got to fill any defense attorney with KAHN-fidence.
    I don't think there's a jury in the world that will convict him now.

  • Anonymous

    That would explain why Offerman ran off to a King Kullen in the middle of the brawl. He wanted to hit Beech with a can of corn.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I knew why sometimes my name comes up in hyperlink and other times it doesn't. It's like the internet doesn't want anyone to read my Optimistic blog, because the internet is a pessimistic Mets fan also..hah.

  • Anonymous

    Because they don't?
    I mean, of course they care, they're professional baseball players, and they only have one goal. So, they “care”.
    And I believe it, when D. Wright flings his helmet in the dugout, there's doing it for show and then there's Jose Reyes, sitting with his head hanging down in the dugout last night after yet another unproductive at-bat. That wasn't for camera.
    As for the rest of 'em… when I worked at Microsoft, there were people who had been there for years, who were bored with what they did, weren't very good at it any more, had been out of it so long that they didn't have the energy to go learn a new coding language. They would have the occasional flash of contribution or insight and then they'd go back to mundanity. We called those people “rest 'n' vest”. They were waiting for their stock to be worth enough that they could quit.
    I see the same thing in some of the elder statesmen on the Mets. They've done everything they can. They're going to “play hard.” Well, this is New York, we don't applaud the effort, dammit.
    Add to this mixture Willie changing things around on his 'gut'. Sometimes, my friend, your intuition can fail you. Or fool you that it's intuition but it's really something else.
    And what we want, as fans, is HONESTY. We want Willie to get up there and say, “Yeah, we stunk up the joint tonight. I don't know WTF is wrong with those people. Yeah, Beltran is being a bit of a crybaby, but there's some ego there and I don't want to push it if he really is that hurt. Hey, Lo Duca, STFU. No, really, STFU already. Yeah, Schoeneweis sucks EGGS, but did you have a better idea? That's what Omar gave me because he wouldn't pay for Bradford.”
    Or even a muted version of that. We're not going to get that. We're going to get the approved MLB soundbytes from the approved MLB soundbytes script. And that rings hollow because they're soundbytes.
    And so we see no personality because the fear of failure hides behind a facade, and like Your Other Half just posted, what is there to love? We love Lo Duca because he will fuck up sometimes and the frailty reminds us that even the rich and famous have it tough sometimes. But who else do we see this from?
    And when the media and the fans went after Schoeneweis with bared fangs, the next week was the special stories about how he beat testicular cancer. No, seriously, that is EXACTLY how it happened. We're supposed to Feel Bad. And I'm sure he's a nice guy and he's got great taste in music, but OMG YOU SUXXORX
    sorry.
    I can't get up watching them win, or lose, against the Pirates and the Nationals, because if they don't take 4 out of 6 that means we're doomed. And the thing is that I bet that even if they don't, somehow they'll hang onto first place, and get us to the playoffs. And that's where the wheels will come off the clown car.

  • Anonymous

    See, if this were a genuinely horrific year, not just a “can't put my finger on it but we're in first, so there must be something wrong with us and our values system” year, I'd probably already be there in some modest way. But turning my attention from rooting for (the Mets) to rooting against (the Skanks) for more than just a minute here and a minute there is an admission that we are not of paramount importance and I've lived too long as a Mets fan to seek that out. It becomes 2004 when there are dopey articles in the paper that the Red Sox are more relevant to the New York baseball scene than the Mets are. I don't need that kind of distraction (even if I remain fond of the Angels from afar).
    I'll save the another-team diversion for a truly bad season. (And hold onto my Mets wastebasket until someone truly deserves a conking.)

  • Anonymous

    Reading this, I heard the sound effect of a giant mallet making contact with Fred Flintstone's noggin…

  • Anonymous

    Greg always refers to my “baseball promiscuity.” Hey, it works for me! My Twins provided me with major thrills today (Wed.). “My” Padres (they're “mine” every fifth day) made baseball infinitely enjoyable for me Tuesday night. I needed both.
    Whatever gets you thru the night. Or the season.

  • Anonymous

    If it makes you feel any better, Jason, I've lost as much interest in this team this season as I have in any Met team in recent memory. There's a daze surrounding this team that doesn't make you feel like you can't miss a thing they do. I'd call it a haze, but it's definitely more a daze.
    A haze suggests life behind the glassy eyes. A daze merely suggests a lot of dizziness behind the glassy eyes. So that's the best I can come up with. A daze.

  • Anonymous

    I think it's the whole “Mets going corporate” thing that's getting to me.
    David Wright and Jose Reyes are no longer scrappy players. They're “brands”. Ick.
    I hate, hate, HATE that the canned the Jose Jose chant over the loudspeaker at Shea now . The spontaneity was genuine last year, now you WILL OBEY WHEN WE PLAY THE JOSE CHANT.
    With the coming of YourBankNameHereField, I see an very polished, very commercial future for the Mets and it looks a little too much like the vertical swastika for my taste.

  • Anonymous

    you're looking too hard. Citi (and it's going to be taht for at least 20 years) is actually a bank that is also a word. It's not a bad sounding name at all.
    the Jose Jose chant's been on the loudspeaker for at least a year now, if not longer, and actually, the fans rabidly chanting it has toned down too.
    Of course they're brands, they like money too, and it sells. But just beacuse they're popular doesn't mean they're unlikeable. Doesn't mean they're going to be a constant commercial and never seem real. Vertical Swastika?

  • Anonymous

    I'm with Anon on most, if not all, of this. Vertical swastica=Yankees “NY.”

  • Anonymous

    I hate that the Mets are all corporate now.
    I wish they were owned by Mom & Pop and games cost a nickel just so they could cover their expenses. Players would play only for love of the game and a small per diem as they should.
    I also hate electricity, indoor plumbing and air travel.
    Don't even get me started on th evils of penicillan.

  • Anonymous

    Remember when all diseases were venereal? And Dave Schneck could bunt?

  • Anonymous

    Bad karma last Saturday night: In the middle of the rally that pulled the Mets from down 5-3 into a 5-5 tie, the DiamondVision ran a graphic with the words, appearing one at a time…
    let's
    get
    it
    done
    …followed by the Citi logo.
    Over and over. In the middle of a rally. Not Let's Go Mets. Not the Curly Shuffle. Not Howard Beale. But a financial institution slogan.
    No wonder Reyes was called out at the plate.

  • Anonymous

    Better the Citi logo than that of the YES network.
    Always a possibility with the Mets, as you've previously mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    Well, that would be worse. But it doesn't make
    let's
    get
    it
    done
    any less in-Citi-ous.
    Slap the name on the stadium. Put an ATM behind every seat. Charge interest on the Sbarro. But don't worm your way into the game like that. Ooh! The Citi slogan is so cuddly! Let's sign up for free checking right now!

  • Anonymous

    Sorry about that, I never meant to be anonymous…not sure how that happened.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.
    I do take some perverse comfort, in this era of the Mets being a well-run organization, in the fact that they haven't completely foresaken the tone deafness that has been as much a part of their history as the color orange.
    Mettle the Mule, Piazza's truck, “Our Team, Our Time.”
    Play Station has two different MLB themed games for 2007. One features David Wright on its cover, the other features Derek Jeter.
    Which one do you suppose the Mets use for their in-game home run hitting video contest?
    I don't think the answer is a surprise to anyone who's been paying over the years.

  • Anonymous

    I'm astonished the kid's prize isn't a boxed set of Yankeeographies.

  • Anonymous

    I boo the shit out of Jeter when they show the box on Diamondvision. Sometimes people around me think I'm booing the kid, but I don't really care. Because, come to think of it, I'd so totally boo the shit out of a kid holding up a videogame with Derek Jeter on it.

  • Anonymous

    OK, maybe “corporate” isn't the right word. Perhaps the word I'm looking for is “scripted”. It's more scripted now. You chant Jose when they want you to chant Jose. We're supposed to love Jose and David, not because they are achieving, but because their gosh darned purty mugs are on every billboard and advertisement in and around the ballpark.
    We were supposed to OBEY and vote Paul LoDuca onto the AllStar team. Sorry guys, but Mets fans are intelligent baseball fans and while we love Paulie, we weren't going to vote him in because we really do want to root for something more than a guy having an okay year wearing our brand of laundry.
    I understand branding and I understand that the baseball is better than it was during Grant's era, but the scripted fan reaction doesn't feel right. We are fans that have sat through a lot of thick and thin over the past 40 years. The Mets really don't have to script us. If we sat through Bob Apodaca, we'll manage John Maine's mini-meltdowns just fine thank you.
    This year, they are underachieving and I feel that they aren't deserving of the branding and the faux spontaneity. When they overachieve again, then I'll respond with the real thing, on my own.

  • Anonymous

    I mean, think about it.
    It's not as if the Mets were locked into a five year deal with Play Station and Wright ended up signing his deal with Nintendo. Or Wright was on the 2006 cover but Jeter was on the 2007. Or the choice was between Derek Jeter and say, Ryan Howard.
    Given the choice between showcasing their own ascendant matinee idol, arguably the best position player they themselves produced maybe ever and hyping the already overhyped face of their cross town rival, MVP of the World Series they clinched in Shea Stadium, which way did the Mets go?
    A box set of Yankeeographies isn't that absurd in comparison.

  • Anonymous

    During the last Rockies series, I flipped away from Snight during a commercial and found YES doing an 'ography on Casey. I saw great Stengel Mets footage I'd never seen before, not on Channel 9 and, surprise, not on SNY. (Though to be fair YES doesn't cover the northeastern boating scene nearly as well.)
    Of course since it gave John Pompous the opportunity to use the phrase “lovable losers” 50 times, it wasn't without a psychic cost.

  • Anonymous

    The first time they ran a “Make Some Noise” message on DiamondVision we lost a bit of our souls. Seriously, Murph used to scoff (in his gentle Muprh fashion) that the Astros would go so far as to tell its crowd went to cheer. New York fans, he said quite rightly, are the most knowledgeable in baseball.
    The marketing departments of the clubs they support nowadays, however…

  • Anonymous

    Damn it. Now, whenever Reyes is on base, I'll have an unexplained urge to secure an 10 year 8% APR mortgage.