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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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You Have Six Months to Bone Up

Ya gotta hand it to the Mets. They invested wisely and now they’re taking one for the team, so to speak.

I don’t remember anymore how much they’re paying Johan Santana. It is so not important. Contracts and salaries are the stuff of winter, and winter, whatever stubborn grimness continues to transpire outside our windows, ended ages ago.

If Johan Santana’s Opening Day doesn’t light up your face, then you’re immune to spring fever. And if what the Mets are doing regarding their final game ever at Shea Stadium doesn’t make you see their management in a different light, then you’re as impenetrable as his changeup.

I’ve been reticent to mention it because nothing was official (of course I didn’t believe Johan was coming here, not really, until he threw strike one past Hanley Ramirez), but since it’s happening, I guess it’s all right to let you in on it. Hell, we’re 1-0 — everything’s all right.

First of all, I didn’t think the Mets were aware of us or any blogger save for Matt Cerrone. Turns out they are. They read a lot of these blogs, including this one. A note was dropped my way by somebody there regarding the Shea Stadium countdown and one conversation about Shea led to another and a proposal was made and negotiations ensued and this is what’s going to happen:

If you don’t have a ticket to the Shea finale, you still have a chance. That’s the good news. If you do have a ticket, you’re not necessarily in. That’s the bad news, I suppose…though you’re certainly not on the outs for good.

My three years of haranguing about Shea and how the Mets have neglected to pay it and its (and their) history proper homage finally got to somebody up the food chain, so they agreed with a plan that will ensure that the only people who get in on the final day are the people who deserve to be there. In other words, they’re refunding everybody’s money in the coming weeks.

Have they gone crazy? Crazy with altruism? Not exactly. They’ll still sell the tickets, but they are being very careful about who gets them and they won’t demand an arm and a leg for them, so kiss “platinum” goodbye come 9/28. My higher-up in the Mets’ front office (forgive the secrecy, but I promised not to reveal any names) said the idea that the secondary market for tickets was going to drive prices way up “bothered some people”. It was decided that with Santana on board, the Mets could afford to be confident, that they are going to sell close to 4 million tickets no matter what this year, that they could be choosy about who gets in on September 28.

That’s where I come in — among others. We’re the ones who get to be choosy.

See, there’ll be no advance ticket sales, which is why the refunds are going out. That applies to the seven-packs and the Sunday plans and even the season tickets. If you bought any on StubHub, those are also invalidated. Instead, admission will have to be earned.

Mets fans who want to attend the final Shea game will have to show one week before and submit to a seven-day battery of tests and interviews, conducted by me and Jason and a whole slew of bloggers. The Mets admitted that while they think they’re pretty good at running a baseball team and building a stadium, they have no clue about their fans. So they left it to the people who represent the fans and care about the fans and the team and all its history — the bloggers — to run the show for this one day.

For example, Dave Murray, who’s a uniform expert, is being flown in from Michigan to inspect wardrobes. If you want in, your closet better have plenty of Mets stuff. Mark at Mets Walkoffs is being enlisted for to administer a 410-question trivia quiz…walkoffs, comebacks, the whole gamut…and you better know why there are 410 questions or you’re immediately disqualified. Mike Steffanos of Mike’s Mets is working up a logic/mental agility examination to avoid the infiltration of total idiots. John of Metstradamus and Dan the Lonestar Met will lead a panel that gauges whether your behavior will be a boon or a burden to your row. Just about every blogger who’s also a longtime fan — Steve Keane at Eddie Kranepool Society, Coop at My Summer Family, Toasty Joe just to name three — is going to have a hand in determining admissions.

Faith and Fear’s role is multifold. Jason, having done such a splendid job of cultivating the youth of America vis-à-vis the allegiance of his son Joshua, is going to interview kids to decide if they’re really going to remember this day years down the road and if they’re going to blossom into full-bore Mets fans for the rest of their lives. He’ll also be going through baseball card collections. I’ll be assigning a series of essay questions, one per hour (10,000-word minimum), pertaining to love and passion for the Mets, though I’ll leave the grading of the papers to Dana Brand. Otherwise, I’ll be primarily assessing applicants’ hearts, minds and intentions, sort of like the airport marshals in Israel who look into passengers’ eyes to get a good read on them before they can board. I’m also going to need to see some ticket stubs from previous decades, prorated for age and income — but I will want proof that Shea has been a part of your life for a long time. Extensive anecdotes will be accepted in lieu of actual paper, though paper helps.

The details are still coming together, but we’ve got a great crew working on this. Loge 13 has agreed to chart seating assignments, Mets Geek will calculate a fair pricing structure, Ray of Metphistopheles is in charge of retrofitting Shea Stadium for the occasion (green fences, Gulden’s for the franks, lots of banners). And as a check against a bias toward fogeyism, Cerrone and Anthony from Hotfoot will do current event checks just to make sure you’re every bit the Mets fan now that you’ve ever been.

It will be a pretty Herculean effort and it doesn’t come with seats for any of us, our families or our friends. Actually, we’ll all be working out of the press box, providing the only sanctioned on-site coverage of the game as the Mets are pulling the credentials of every jaded, blasé reporter and columnist who has trashed Shea as unworthy of a proper farewell. Hence, if you’re looking for Wally Matthews that Sunday (and I don’t know why you would), don’t bother. MLB has already secured a restraining order that bars him from entering the borough of Queens until midnight.

Many of you who read Faith and Fear clearly deserve special consideration for admission to the final game at Shea, and Jason and I would love to offer it, but we can’t. That’s part of the deal I made with the Mets. No favors, just as nobody gets in because they have connections or the means to spend. For that matter, you don’t have to feel compelled to be extra nice to us, because it’s not going to matter. The whole thing I sold the Mets on is that on a day like September 28, 2008, all 56,438 seats should be filled by real Mets fans, 56,438 people to whom nothing could mean more than being in that ballpark on that occasion. Don’t worry, though. If you’re the kind of Mets fan I think you are, you’ll ace all the tests and land at least in the mezzanine. (Ducats will be distributed that Sunday morning; we’re honest brokers, not ticket brokers.)

It’s a big project, so I thought it would be a good idea to announce it today and give everybody a chance to prepare, bone up, whatever. Look at it this way: the Mets’ ace pitcher is Johan Santana, their record is perfect and no collapse is in evidence — plus it’s only April 1. On a day like today, it feels like anything is possible.

33 comments to You Have Six Months to Bone Up

  • Anonymous

    And then Sidd Finch gets to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The last first pitch. That's the ticket. The last that's the ticket!

  • Anonymous

    I know my son can ace any test you throw at him. And that he can't show up at Shea without a chaperon, right? ;)

  • Anonymous

    “Many of you who read Faith and Fear clearly deserve special consideration for admission to the final game at Shea, and Jason and I would love to offer it, but we can't. That's part of the deal I made with the Mets. No favors, just as nobody gets in because they have connections or the means to spend. ”
    HI Greg,
    Doesn't being one of the few FAFIF original new breeders who was there at the beginnning count for something? I'm also the only bidder on eBay for a photo of Shea that first day in 1964 signed by Jack Fisher. Wouldn't that count for something as well? Don't make me get desperate and feign terminal illness to get your sympathy (and don't say dying for the Mets is not enough!).

  • Anonymous

    April1, schmapril 1…This is a fargin' brilliant idea!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you guys for adding me to the Commitee I am proud to serve but I'll tell everyone up front I'm a hard grader

  • Anonymous

    A note was dropped my way by somebody there regarding the Shea Stadium countdown
    Speaking of which, have you seen that the Twins are counting down 162 games for the Metrodome's farewell in 2009?!
    Where's our ownership's love Shea, god dammit?!

  • Anonymous

    I see it as Minnesota being extra excited about getting rid of their bandbox with baggies on the outfield wall.

  • Anonymous

    I will want proof that Shea has been a part of your life for a long time
    Oh, if only… *sigh* The bandwagon stops here.
    Only–ahem–Jace won't be able to get in. There's too much evidence of his Shea Hate floating around in the blogosphere. Shea knows, my friend. Shea knows.

  • Anonymous

    And you'd be correct.

  • Anonymous

    This date and Mets history rub a sore spot on me. “Yeah, right, Dwight Gooden's been suspended for drugs. It's April FOOL's Day, you idiot!”
    Excellent proposal, though. No more foolish that anything they could come up with in the real, non-Greg's-overactive-imagination world.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post, Greg. IF ONLY …….!!!!!! But you know, seriously, those Banner Days they used to have that were so wonderful were actually called “Fan Appreciation Day.” The Mets could and should have something like that before the end of this season. If they don't rise to the occasion and show some sense of appreciation of the people who have filled the stands for their first 47 years, I'm going to get angry. Just as I will get angry if SNY doesn't start showing some intelligent awareness of the kind of fan culture all of us represent.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and is there extra credit for also having seen the Jets play at Shea? And super-duper extra credit for having seen the Beatles? That's some serious Shea seniority right there. I only qualify for the first one, alas. And I'm thankfully not old enough for the second (yes, it takes something that far in the past to make me feel young… but I was, admittedly, alive at the time).

  • Anonymous

    You know, dude, you had me going until the “seven day battery of interviews” part. Not bad, I didn't even check the calendar until the 11th paragraph.

  • Anonymous

    Nope,
    “Fan Appreciation” and “Banner” days were always two separate ocassions. Please trust me on this one.

  • Anonymous

    Those were two different promotions. Fan Appreciation Day was always the last home date of the season, while Banner Day was a weekend doubleheader (!) in the middle of the summer. Banner-carrying fans would leave their seats during the stretch in the first game and gather out in the parking lot behind the big scoreboard, then parade in across the field from center to home plate between games.
    I know this because my brother and I brought a banner to a Banner Day in the early 70's, and the first game lasted 18 innings. We were stuck out in the parking lot, boiling in the sun with no food, no drinks, no access to bathrooms and no view of either the field or the scoreboard for more than two hours, waiting for the first game to end. Plus our banner was lousy. But we were shown live on Channel 9 for half a second!

  • Anonymous

    Will Clemens start for us that day?
    You're a mean one, Mr. Prince.
    You pull this crap on Rusty Staub's birthday?
    For shame!

  • Anonymous

    Then Mike will sign a one-day contract for the occasion… and proceed to beat the crap out of Clemens with a shattered bat. Where that bat eventually ends up should be obvious… and it ain't Cooperstown.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, of course you're right. I misspoke. The reason I conflated the two is that the very first Banner parade, on September 15, 1963 was the last weekend home game of the season, the last game in the Polo Grounds, and the first game I ever went to. It was in fact “Fan Appreciation Day.” But my research shows me that the Banner parade became so popular that they made it a separate day unto itself, different from Fan Appreciation Day. The Mets, in any event, ought to have both a Banner Day and a Fan Appreciation Day and one day in which the Diamond Vision is shut off and Jane Jarvis just plays the organ, if she is still up for it.

  • Anonymous

    Update – I won it!

  • Anonymous

    I rather like that idea. I wonder if Pedro has any April antics up his sleeve for tonight…

  • Anonymous

    Someone needs to forward this post and the comments to the Skill Sets, Uncle Saul or even Dave the Lawyer to let them get a clue on what WE Mets fans want to see in the final days of Shea. There HAS to be a Banner Day, They HAVE to wear 1964 uniforms on Sunday home games, They HAVE to have a day where the canned music gets turned off and either have Jane Jarvis play in person or play tapes of Lady Jane playing the World Famous Thomas Organ. Bring back those Blue and Orange horns they used to sell at the souvenier shack at the ramp of the subway station. Bring back the popcorn in the Mr. Mets mega phone and last but not least we need to take a trip to M. Donald Grant' grave just to pee on it

  • Anonymous

    So that was YOU we saw on TV!?

  • Anonymous

    Hi,
    Always great to read from another, original “new breeder”.
    That Sunday doubleheader they lost to the Colt 45s was on September 15th but not the final game of the home season. The Polo Grounds farewell came a few days later, Wednesday, September 18th against the Phillies.
    My last game at the Polo Grounds was on Tuesday afternoon, September 3rd against Cincy.

  • Anonymous

    Tell it, Stevie, Baby!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, hell yes. I am dripping with power right now. Can I give applicants the thumbs up/thumbs down like in the the Roman Coliseum?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it was the last weekend home game at the Polo Grounds. I'll never forget the impression of all of these grown men crying at the end of that game. And from what I understand, there were hardly any people in the stadium on the very last game in the Polo Grounds on the next Tuesday.

  • Anonymous

    Toasty, me too – although I already told Kranepool Society that even *I* would flunk his entrance exam. Guess I'm not worthy. Hee hee

  • Anonymous

    i think the best ever banner I saw at a Banner Day was in 1986 – it simply said “Shea's Bathrooms are Worse than Chernobyl.”
    I was only 10 at the time, but I thought – wow, the bathrooms smell like a nuclear meltdown. Still does. LOL

  • Anonymous

    *shudder* “skill sets”

  • Anonymous

    Gulden's for the franks
    LOL, I just caught that!! Ugh, remember the Dijonnaise fiasco? What on earth were they thinking? This Gold's stuff isn't nearly as bad, but still inedible. WE WANT OUR GULDEN'S BACK!!!

  • Anonymous

    bet you wish you could have this line back!

  • Anonymous

    I'm not worried. They haven't invented the concert that TBF and I couldn't get into. Same goes for closing day, dammit. and at least he could pass the trivia. i think we've got a fighting chance.
    signed,
    the new breed