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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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I'm OK, and That's Not OK

When it was over, when the disaster was complete, Joshua began to cry. That's the thing about being four — up until the third strike on Castillo, he really believed the Mets were going to win. It didn't matter that the Nationals were down 6-1 with two out in the ninth. He believed in them, too. When both of those beliefs were revealed as fantasies, he was genuinely astonished and grief-stricken.

I scooped him up and patted the back of his WRIGHT 5 shirt and said fatherly things. I told him that there were little kids and Moms and Dads who are Phillie fans who are really happy right now. (There are. It's true. I even know some of them.) I told him that in order to have miracles, you have to accept the possibility of disasters. I told him that this was the worst thing that had ever happened to a team in September, which meant he'll probably go his entire lifetime without another death spiral like this one. I tried to tell him that there was still baseball to watch, that it might be fun to root the Phillies or the Cubs or the Indians on to a championship.

It occurred to me, halfway through, that I might really be trying to comfort myself. But that wasn't it. Because I was OK.

No, I'm serious. I really was.

And coming from someone as fanatical as me, that should stand as one of the ultimate indictments of the 2007 New York Mets.

This isn't to say I was happy. By 12:15 I was losing track of conversations and spacing out, aware that game time was near and I had to get myself home. As Glavine neared fatal impact, I was unmanned by rage and unleashed a torrent of words not acceptable in our household. (Joshua: “Daddy, please don't say bad words.” Followed, moments later, by “this is the worstest game ever!”) When Ramon Castro lowered his hand, triumph derailed, I let out a scream of torment.

But after that, I was calm. Unhappy, but calm. The Mets lost. I watched the fans stare at the field and listened to Gary and Ron and Keith prattle on about the crew until word came that the Nationals had lost. And then I got on with my day.

I never liked this team. Early on, when they were ahead of last year's pace, I was vaguely embarrassed by this. Like a lot of us, I found myself groping for explanations, and worrying about why they left me cold. Was this the ugly side of raised expectations? Of the first stages of hegemony? Was this how being a Yankee fan began? What wasn't to like?

But I struggled to warm to them during the spring, and when they stumbled through the summer I stopped fighting it. I let a bit of hard-earned cynicism take over, dissecting fandom like social scientists examine human attachment. I told myself that when they made the playoffs, I'd find myself liking them just fine. But then the second half of September came, with the second horrible body blow administered by the Phillies, the inept handling of the pitching staff, the idiotic displays of temper, and the repeated assheaded baseball. And finally, those horrifying quotes by Delgado and Glavine and Pedro, the astonishing admissions that yeah, the team was bored and complacent. That right there was the end of the pretending that I would change my mind.

And that, oddly, made the rest easier. I will always love the 1985, 1999 and 2006 teams, despite the fact that they never won titles. I was never going to like this one, even if it wound up rolling down the Canyon of Heroes. (Maybe that's a massive rationalization. I wouldn't know — until now, I hadn't had any experience analyzing my feelings after the worst collapse in major-league history.) The 2007 Mets were the smug, self-satisfied hare to the tortoises of Philadelphia and San Diego and Colorado. Badly constructed and badly led, in the end they got exactly what they deserved.

After it was over, Emily and I watched in bewilderment as a few stubborn fans remained behind the dugout. What could they possibly be waiting for? I actually hoped they wanted stuff to sell on eBay, because the alternative was so pathetic: At the conclusion of this self-inflicted disaster, who would want to lay eyes on a single member of this band of choking loafers or their bloodless, self-deluding leadership?

There were fans crying after that third out. I cried last year, but why would I shed a tear for this team? For whom, exactly? For Tom Glavine, now undressed and revealed as the Frank Viola of his Met generation? For Willie Randolph, who never stopped issuing pronouncements about winners from the mountaintop while his team died in the valley? For Jose Reyes, regressing before our eyes as a ballplayer? For Billy Wagner, running his mouth and then trying to weasel out of his own words? For Lastings Milledge, jogging after balls with the season hanging by a thread? Those crying fans had never been complacent or bored. They hadn't decided they were such good fans that they could start caring when they needed to. In the end, they cared far more than those to whom they'd entrusted their hopes.

There are 2007 Mets I never want to see again. There are others I'll forgive and find myself cheering for with all the wild hope of fandom. But I didn't want to see any of them after that final out. I didn't even want to think about them. I know that will change, but I can't tell you when it will be. And yet those fans waited behind the dugout, the stadium emptying around them, the season dead. Why would they possibly want these Mets to return?

And finally I thought of something.

“Maybe,” I said to Emily, “they've filled their pockets with rocks.”

52 comments to I'm OK, and That's Not OK

  • Anonymous

    Damn it. Now you made me cry all over again.
    My Wright jersey is flying at half mast this morning.

  • Anonymous

    the 1965 Phillies and the 1979 BoSox both finished 11.5 games out . . . there is a looooong hangover awaiting this franchise

  • Anonymous

    Agreed – this team wasn't worth crying over.
    Unlike the 1999 team (thanks Jason for recently providing the link for this classic Lisa Olson column). That was a team that one could truly love.

  • Anonymous

    “Within the ballpark, time moves differently, marked by no clock except the events of the game – Since Baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”
    I think we all got a year older this year. Here's to hoping for better days, to knowing we did everything WE could, and to the New York Mets, the best damn baseball club you could ever follow.

  • Anonymous

    yeah, that was a great article. i remember it.
    note the reference to franco taking cortisone shots and staying in there
    that's my point about delgado and wagner (back spasms…). cortisone. ice. advil. guts. just get out there. we not NOTHING from jeff conine at 1B.

  • Anonymous

    I think the fans that remained were just in disbelief that it was over. I know that's how I felt sitting there at home. It's over? truly? The Phillies are representing the east? something's not right here..
    They played hot potato with the division for much of the last couple of weeks, but the buzzer went off while in Philadelphia.
    Oh Well. I made it through my first season as a blogger, now let's see what's next. Let's go Cubs I guess. Maybe Floyd will come through with that hit, a year too late.

  • Anonymous

    I'm OK, too. At 2:45 yesterday, after talking with my brother who was sitting in the upper deck (and who reported the fans even booed Glavine when he appeared in the public service announcement “not to use foul language” between the top and bottom of the first), I DVR'd the Jets game and went to the movies. The girliest movie I could find: “The Jane Austen Book Club.” I had a great time.
    Nothing ever felt right, this year. Last year, if we were down, I knew we could come back in a game. This year, I never had that confidence (even in April, when we were winning, because David looked so wrong. At least he's fixed). It was like watching a season's worth of that old footage of WWII planes crash landing on aircraft carriers. Remember June and July? I was talking with my father and we agreed those two last games were a perfect microcosm of the season: near brilliance one day, where the talent and the teamwork and all that money made sense, and absolute mockery of baseball the next day.
    I'm probably alone in feeling sorry for Glavine — if this is his last start as a major leaguer, he's going out on the lowest of possible lows. Though he's never really been a Met, he's a proud guy and he will probably dream about that start a few times during the winter. At least I hope he will.

  • Anonymous

    “'m probably alone in feeling sorry for Glavine — if this is his last start as a major leaguer, he's going out on the lowest of possible lows.”
    First off, this is NOT Glavine's last game. It's his last game as a Met, yes, but not his last game. Common sense says he'll now sign up for his victory lap as a Brave.
    Second, I've found myself wanting to make disclaimers for some of the Mets who clearly didn't give up down the stretch. Pedro, Wright, and Alou come to mind. I wonder if this is what Yankee fans mean when they refer to “real” Yankees.

  • Anonymous

    Put Beltran in that mix too.

  • Anonymous

    oohhhhh, i would have a hard time calling Alou a “real Met'. In fairness, he had (by his own admission) half a tank of gas BECAUSE HE WAS OUT FOR HALF THE SEASON! everyone else was running on empty.

  • Anonymous

    during conine's last AB, I yelled, “TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM, IT'LL BE THE MOST YOU'VE DONE ALL YEAR”

  • Anonymous

    I can attest – she definitely did do that!

  • Anonymous

    That is very true. Although Pedro came back when the team was up by…wait, I forget how many games. I can't believe I can't remember how many games we were up a MONTH ago, it seems like a year ago. Glavine will be a Brave next year for sure and we can definitely exact our revenge on him them.

  • Anonymous

    I think that's the general feeling I get from most Mets fans Jason, myself included for sure. I thought for sure I would be crying no matter what the outcome was. When I was left, I was more p'd off than anything else. Then this morning I was still a little sad but more for the expectations and the time I spent on a team that really could give a crap about me. I had a l ot of fun this year, but it was mostly the fans that made the experience enjoyable and certainly not the team.

  • Anonymous

    It seems a helluva long time since LBI, doesn't it, Jace?

  • Anonymous

    Can you imagine how Pedro feels right now? The guy frickin' killed himself with rehab to make it back in time… for this? Pedro is a Man, and despite his goofiness I hope he can impart some of that onto whomever is still a part of this in 2008. Pride, effort, dedication, balls – all in short supply this year.
    It may all be in vain, anyway. You don't recover from this in a couple of months, and we have some gaping holes, albatross contracts, some puzzling loyalties to players (and managers) who don't deserve them, and our prospects are mostly hype. Would anyone be shocked if we finish third next year? fourth?
    At least tickets will be easier to come by.

  • Anonymous

    After the last out, when Coldplay came on, and we all stood there, stunned, the scoreboard said THANKS FOR COMING or something like that. And I couldn't believe it, you know – thanks for coming? How about thanks for your support? Thank you for 2007? SOME acknowledgement of the fans?
    nothing.
    So I think that's what the people were waiting behind the dugout for. Because no one believed they were just going to walk away without even waving to the fans.

  • Anonymous

    There better be no home run dancing next year. . . this team needs a culture change, they need to learn how to pay proper respect to the game and to the opposition . . . if Reyes' childish antics continue next year, it will prove that he is some kind of idiot savant, bringing a mix of baseball brilliance with common sense dimwittedness, who, by definition, will be incapable of ever joining Wright as a leader, and the team should move him for the long term good of the future . . . and at the risk of being called a bigot , I think the team could benefit from a little more balanced ethnic diversity in the locker room . . . take a good look at the Phillies in that regard

  • Anonymous

    “more balanced ethnic diversity” = MORE WHITE GUYS JUST LIKE ME!!!
    Just to prove me wrong, please explain what is missing and how the Mets will “benefit”. Please.

  • Anonymous

    I agree the team needs more diversity — specifically, they need less stupidity and self-satisfaction. However, those fatal qualities were present in Mets of every conceivable background.

  • Anonymous

    How bout more African-American players like Jimmy Rollins . . . put Marlin Anderson's heart in Reyes and you'd have a ballplayer worthy of following into battle

  • Anonymous

    Does this put Milledge on the chopping block?

  • Anonymous

    Please, I hope so – another childish, self centered idiot who preened about Saturday, celebrating and all but publicly proclaiming it as his official coming out party

  • Anonymous

    Jason, I couldn't have said it better myself. I totally agree with you. I'm pretty fanatical too, but I have to admit that I didn't even watch the game (yeah, I know, some fan I am). I just knew they'd blow it, and even if they didn't blow it now, they'd find a way to do so at some point during the playoffs. I never felt that way last year. I stared at the TV in disbelief for about ten minutes after Wainwright's sickening curve froze Beltran at the plate and finished the '06 season. I never believed in this team. The 2007 Mets were definitely missing the mojo they had in 2006. And like you, I was OK when they lost (and not the least bit surprised). Which sucks. –curlygc

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only Mets fan out there that is feeling surprisingly unaffected by yesterday's loss. What it comes down to is the Mets have been so infuriatingly bad this past month that we had already realized the Mets weren't winning a World Series even if they did manage to stumble into the post season. This past week, I found myself just wishing the season would end earlier because watching this team cough up lead after lead was just too depressing. Yesterday just felt inevitable.

  • Anonymous

    I thought I was being cold and trying to brush things off, but this is exactly how i felt as well. I cried after last year. This year? Not at all.
    It sucks that it's our team that gets branded with the “worst collapse in major-league history”, but we're Mets fans – I've come to expect these things now…
    Sigh.
    How many days till spring training?

  • Anonymous

    Ugh. When Gary started talking about Port St. Lucie I felt a surge of nausea. The idea of watching Mets loaf around Florida in meaningless games, and from there having to crank all this intensity and emotion up again, only this time having to wonder (for the first time ever) if the players wearing our colors actually gave a shit? No, no, no. I couldn't do it. I was revolted at the very idea.
    I'm sure I will feel differently by New Year's. I sure as hell hope so.
    Great read by Tim Marchman along these lines this morning.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jason,
    Little did we know the Mets were in trouble back on April 7th, the fifth game of the 2007 season. They looked great, having already won its first four against St. Louis and Atlanta when, in the very first inning of gave five, Carlos Delgado nonchalently drops an easy toss to first which eventually led to the first loss of the season.
    That loss due to lack of concentration was symboblic of the team ever since. We saw signs of it throughout the first half. Reyes began not running out groundballs, neither did Wright. While in a big slump, Delgado would often jog to first, admiring what he thought was a home run (once costing us a game because he was thrown out at second). Reyes wears sunglasses on the top of his cap for a fashion statement and loses a pop-up in the sun (eventually costing us another game). After losing a June series in Atlanta, Willie said the Braves wanted to win more than the Mets.
    They bounced back in July and August and built up that seven game lead heading into mid-September. Then we imploded.
    Yes, Omar goofed getting rid of last year's middle relief corps and Willie did same by bringining in the likes of Mota, Schoenweiss and rookie Smith too often rather than allowing starters on top of their game to exceed a pre-determined pitch count. The bullpen became overworked and starters, not used to pitching late into the game, lost it in the middle innings. Even though Reyes went into a two-month slump the Mets still scored runs.
    Yes, although these circumstances led to the blowing of a seven game lead, the slide really began that first inning of the first Saturday in Atlanta. when Delgado dropped that easy toss from second. If they had not given away so many games due to a lack of concentration, we still would have won the division.
    And about Tom Glavine's reaction? Vin Scully said after the Bosox lost in 1986 in game seven that losing hurt more than winning felt good. One could feel devestated for a while, even though it is just a game. Glavine couldn't even feel that.

  • Anonymous

    I can't muster up any strong feelings about Glavine – his performance, or his reaction. The fact of the matter is that he had good location on his pitches. Florida was coached well enough to just serve them like tennis lobs. It was easy, because he's throwing an 82 mph “fastball”. He's not going to fool anybody with that, and the umpires haven't given him the outside strike since he showed up in NY. (Coincidence? I think not. Watch him get the Maddux treatment next year when he's back in Atlanta.) It's not that he didn't “want it” or wasn't passionate enough; he's just old, and not that good anymore. There's no shame, or nothing hateful about that.

  • Anonymous

    I choose to think of the 2003 / 2004 Red Sox as my model for following up a heartbreak

  • Anonymous

    Have to disagree. Nothing personal against Tom, of course, but it does seem one would have some remorse beyond disappointment after letting down his team with the division on the line. No throwing down the glove, staring into nowhere, body slumped or head between the shoulders after he left the mound – it just seemed the afternoon was just another day at the job. And in the clubhouse it appeared Glavine was more concerned with himself by saying the breaks went against him. Did those breaks include walking the lead-off batter, hitting the pitcher and surrending hard shots into the outfield? No personal responsibility for taking the team out of the game before they even had a chance.
    As far as effectiveness, while Keith Hernandez said his pitches had good location Ron Darling was quick to point out that location is meaningless if there is nothing on the ball.

  • Anonymous

    I don't give a damn about home run dancing and honestly I think it's a little pathetic that professional baseball players seem to take so much offense. They can't seem to decide whether baseball a “business” (in which there is no place for play) or “just a game,” in which everything is kind of a joke.
    If you think somebody's being too cocky, brush them back, or even better, strike 'em out. Everybody's ego is so god damn delicate; you're being grossly overpaid to hit freaking ball and run around. That's silly. That's fun. Have fun. Don't take things too personally. (Don't go on idiotic tantrum's against umpires, for instance).
    Do take losing personally. The only proper respect the game and the opposition deserve to is for you to play your fairest and hardest against them. And when you lose, you don't dance, you actually win next time. And you stop fucking complaining about culture and propriety and people knowing their place. You care about the game. And everything else will take of itself.

  • Anonymous

    I'd take Milledge's mal-expressed enthusiasm, Reyes' antics, Lo Duca's tantrums and Pedro's goofiness over Glavine's bloodless (“veteran?”) indifference any day.

  • Anonymous

    1999 was much worse. I'm OK, too.
    Part of the reason this team was so unappealing was the completely un-fan oriented moves by a selfish team whose only goal was to do well for its established players. So we see the declining, boring Shawn Green instead of the young, exciting Lastings Milledge. Valentin instead of Gotay. Etc.
    Last year everyone was united in the common goal of making the playoffs, but this year it was Veterans v. Young Players, Latinos v. Non-Latinos. And while we just wanted to see the team win, the team had separate concerns. While we just wanted Willie Randolph to say something interesting, he just repeated the same stupid platitudes while trying to get the crippled Jose Valentin his 400 plate appearances. This team didn't give a shit about anyone but themselves, and so we didn't give a shit about them.

  • Anonymous

    I mean '98. '99 was great!

  • Anonymous

    Glavine's postgame was perfect. A couple of grounders got through, a couple of bloops fell in…not Tom's fault. It never is.
    I know starting pitchers are built to be self-absorbed and are analytical to the point that if you ask them what happened, they will tell you literally what happened through the prism of their “I wanted to throw a curve so I threw a curve” mindset, but as Stephanie noted immediately, Glavine was in denial.
    Long live the thrilling handshakes and such. Just parcel them out wisely. And find a cause to celebrate before actually celebrating.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and partner — unfair to compare Glavine to all-time Mets choke artist Frank Viola.
    Viola won 20 games that year.

  • Anonymous

    I think his stoicism, taken to extremes, looks like apathy. If he has any humanity at all, he's dying inside. He's not going to apologize to us, but I'd love to know what he said to his teamates.

  • Anonymous

    Compared them in the sense that they were briefly very important but now totally irrelevant to any discussion of Met history….

  • Anonymous

    Compared who?

  • Anonymous

    If we had won v the Phillies two weeks ago, we would have been in the playoffs.
    Still, this team was not going anywhere. That bullpen could not have been counted on to hold a lead in the playoffs, we were bound to get bounced early.

  • Anonymous

    Please stop feigning concern for the lack of African American players on the team. Like metsgirl said, you're just concerned about the lack of WHITE players on the team.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I don't see what the big deal is about the dancing. They've been doing that over a year now, but suddenly people have a problem with it.

  • Anonymous

    Glavine and Viola.

  • Anonymous

    Compare Glavine's to Al Leiter's first-inning meltdown from '99. I didn't hear Leiter (albeit silver tongue since tarnished) making lame excuses and claiming not to care. And after his 142nd pitch the World Series I don't think he was just “disappointed” and talking about how he can't control where his ground balls (or infernal 42-hoppers up the middle) go.
    If nothing else, Leiter cared. Probably more about each individual pitch than the Mets did about their entire miserable performance at the end.

  • Anonymous

    This is the first time I've commented here, or on any Mets blog. I'm doing so now, at the end of the season, to thank Greg, Jason and many many others for such excellent, passionate writing.
    I agree with the chorus of voices who said it simply never felt right. The 2007 Mets made me uneasy, like they were a band of very clever impostors designed to suck the allegiance straight out of me without actually giving a damn of their own. I've felt that way since early May. Maybe it started when Reyes made several lackadaisical plays and didn't seem to care. It's been maddening: all the parts but none of the gas. I can't remember feeling this way any other year since I became a fan (that happened in 1984, my freshman year of high school, on daily bus trips from Queens to the Bronx).
    Sometime around July this year, I started blogsurfing, looking for thoughts about what the hell was going on with this team. I'm following them at a distance, from Boston, where my limited budget makes road trips to Shea (or anything more than Gameday Audio) prohibitively expensive. I thought maybe those who saw the players from a closer vantage point, or who felt the pulse of the city, would have a better grasp on the matter. I never had a “eureka!” moment, but at least I knew I wasn't alone out there, and the reflections I found proved pretty enlightening. (And okay, I'm not really alone here, either… my girlfriend felt as jacked around by these mutts as I did.)
    So now here I am at the end of the season. Misery Accomplished. Up here in Boston, the townies and the bandwagon-jumpers are gearing up to cheer on a reasonably exciting Sox team in the playoffs, and I'll be halfheartedly pulling for them too, along with the Cubs. If I could stand it, I'd root for the Phillies. Major props to them, they've played just how I'd want my team to play. I still hope they get swept, but with dignity.
    Anyway, thanks again. I'll keep on reading.
    -derek
    ps — Tim Brown's Mets Obituary in Yahoo Sports is pretty good.

  • Anonymous

    To be let down after the emotions that I invested into this season not to mention the money on tickets,food and plenty of wholemilks(budweiser) ,I really dont know when I will recover. The only positive out of this season was sitting in my sec 18 up in the Mezz with Kowalski ,the Long Island crew and the rest of the Sunday regulars. If anyone out there sat in our section on sundays you know what I'm talking about. I'll tell you what no matter how I feel now, I will be back next year and the year after that rocking the Mezz…..hope to see you in 08'

  • Anonymous

    I was shocked to notice I felt the same way. Unlike last year, when it was like a Tony Soprano bullet to the head “We never saw it coming”..Beltran did what? This year was like getting sliced and diced, taking a fatal injection that took two weeks to kill you..horrible, horrible. But I emailed a bunch of buddies (whose sons are met fans) and all the boys wore their Met garb proudly back to school, cause that's what fans do.

  • Anonymous

    Whole Milk, if you come back again, I have photos of you and your gang during the 9th inning on my blog, and in my flickr feed. Click on my name to go to the site.