The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

You Can Like Hate

The weirdest part about the inevitable recollections a baseball game played between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium on September 11 summons is the obligatory reference to how remarkable it was that when these teams squared off just shy of six years ago in our city's first large “normal” gathering of any kind, their fierce rivalry was put aside.

Think about it. The horrifying circumstances enveloping the city; the tension and uncertainty; the precautions and the prayers; the dimness in our hearts…and the fact that the Mets and Braves didn't hate each other for a night is considered as historically groundbreaking in context as any of it.

It's a different September now and it was a different Tuesday in New York yesterday, no matter the coincidence of the date and the day of the week. The Eastern Division equation has been shaken like a snow globe time and again over the past six years, never mind what's occurred in the world at large. The Mets have tumbled and they have risen. The Braves rode high until they succumbed to a middle path. The statistical reality is the two teams haven't actually finished adjacent to each other since 2000. Yet these are longstanding rivals still. Maybe someday through another round of realignment or another shake of the snow globe, they won't be quite in each other's heads and faces the way they have been for the last decade.

It would be too bad. Sport thrives on rivalry. These two have earned theirs. I used to think it was a little overstated because it was a lot lopsided. The Mets' ascension has altered that aspect of this rivalry for the better. The Braves' refusal to completely go to seed has been good for it as well. We like a good nose-looking-down where they're concerned — and we'd probably be pretty happy if they were about ten back of the Marlins — but in the abstract as well as in this particular September, the arrangement works. Neither combatant should be a hollowed-out version of itself. You have to hate somebody in sport, and your bile has to be worth your while.

Let's not be shy about how we feel about the Atlanta Braves. Hate is not too strong a world given the sordid interaction between these two teams since approximately the conversion of an Olympic stadium created Turner Field. Yet on September 21, 2001, I couldn't imagine hating a baseball team for the crime of trying to beat another baseball team, even my baseball team. Those were just people down there on the field. They were embracing. How could I hate anyone ever again who wasn't literally out to destroy me? Those feelings came back again with the stories that trickled out of the booth Tuesday night, particularly when it was pointed out there's still that cluster of Braves who were there then and are around now.

Everybody points to Piazza's home run and its healing power from the Friday night game. Yeah, I guess. I have to confess I've never quite bought into it, and I was there, standing and applauding like everyone with a pulse. I was happy the Mets had won a baseball game and I was encouraged that they extended their participation in the pennant race a little longer and I was thrilled if anyone who was in need of a serious lift received it from one swing of the bat…but I personally couldn't get past its marginal meaning in the larger scheme of things.

For that, I needed to hate the Braves. I couldn't hate them Friday night. No, it took Sunday afternoon — Brian Jordan and all he wrought (two-run homer in the ninth, game-winner in the eleventh) — to make baseball real again. To make it OK to hate a baseball team for trying to beat another baseball team. For succeeding at beating a baseball team. For ruining the playoff chances of a baseball team. For doing in my baseball team.

Logically, it didn't click any more than Mike launching his shot Friday night did. Not one more person lived instead of died because of a baseball game. But emotion usually has about a six-game lead on logic in our sport, and my prevailing emotion Sunday was hatred for the Atlanta Braves.

Hate. Baseball hate. It was back. It felt so right.

14 comments to You Can Like Hate

  • Anonymous

    braves elimination number is 10. it's nearly as magical as our division clinching number.

  • Anonymous

    In a roundabout way, I owe a lot to that Piazza September 21st home run.
    Terry Cashman (of Talkin' Baseball fame) wrote a song about that home run. A friend of mine heard the song, told me about it, and encouraged me to try to interview Cashman about it. With my friends fingers on my back I contacted Cashman, and wrote this article for a website for which I was writing at the time – http://www.kcmets.com/Feature032502.html
    But wait, there's more. Same said friend encouraged me to submit my article for consideration to New York Mets Inside Pitch magazine. I did, and the article was published. Not long after that, I was offered a monthly column for the magazine (a gig which lasted for two baseball seasons).
    So that home run set a series of events in motion that ultimately changed my life substantially.

  • Anonymous

    Don LaGrecca had Mike Piazza on as a phone-in guest on 1050 ESPN Radio yesterday. All the emotion came back to me as I listened…
    Can't we try out a MikeyP/Castro platoon behind the dish next year if Lo Duca walks?

  • Anonymous

    I'm sure Seaver would come back to pitch to them too.

  • Anonymous

    “Not one more person lived instead of died because of a baseball game”
    Hi Greg,
    Actually, a woman was murdered by her husband back in 1969 because he wanted to watch the Met game on TV and she tried to stop him. You could look it up.
    On his pre-game show, Phil Foster said that was his type of guy! (yes, Foster had one too.)

  • Anonymous

    July 8, 1969.
    Cubs at Mets — day game.
    A fella named Frank Graddock beat his wife after she kept changing the channel from the Met game to watch Dark Shadows. She died from her injuries later that night.

  • Anonymous

    All right guys, but hasn't anyone lived because of baseball game too? Certainly they've lived for them…

  • Anonymous

    It was reported that an inordinate number of Red Sox fans of an advanced age hung on in October 2004 for the chance to see the Curse broken and that there was a surfeit of passings of those in their 80s and 90s shortly thereafter.

  • Anonymous

    And what about those risking their lives during White Sox – Royal games in Chicago?
    Remember that a man came out of the stands and grabbed umpire Laz Diaz around the legs during a game between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals back in 2003? Or September 19, 2002 when a father and son burst onto the field and slammed Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa to the ground, punching and kicking him?
    Just shows how whimpish the Met – Brave rivelry is compared to the dangerous one between the White Sox and Royals!

  • Anonymous

    And what about those risking their lives during White Sox – Royal games in Chicago?
    Remember that a man came out of the stands and grabbed umpire Laz Diaz around the legs during a game between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals back in 2003? Or September 19, 2002 when a father and son burst onto the field and slammed Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa to the ground, punching and kicking him?
    Just shows how whimpish the Met – Brave rivelry is compared to the dangerous one between the White Sox and Royals!

  • Anonymous

    I'm reminded of Jon Stewart's story in one of the first Daily Show broadcasts after 9/11.
    It went something like this. A taxi driver cuts off another taxi in midtown Manhattan.
    The guy he cut off flips off the first driver with a middle-finger salute.
    Stewart: “It was then that I knew…we were gonna be okay.”

  • Anonymous

    Honest to Todd Zeile, something like that happened before my eyes. It was September 18, my first day back at work (I had been stranded by the flight shutdown in Vegas for several days) in the city and I was walking around a very quiet Fifth Avenue a little below 14th St., absorbed in thought when a woman on a bicycle cut off a woman trying to cross the street. The pedestrian lady shouted, “WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU, YOU CUNT?”
    It was then that I knew…we were gonna be okay.

  • Anonymous

    Makes me wonder how many nonogenarians live in Chicago; I suppose some of them “got theirs” when the White Sox won a few years ago, but there must be a few elderly Cubs fans still hanging on there in Chi.
    (FWIW, Steve Goodman wrote his classic “A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request,” when he himself was in the throes of passing at the mere age of 36 after battling leukemia for 15 years. Linky.)