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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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Aw What the Hell, Let's Dance

Once upon a time the Mets changed the way Jose Reyes ran, afflicting him with a limping gait like a horse afraid of stepping in a hole. In theory it seemed like a good idea, a way to cure the chronic hamstring woes that threatened to derail an electric but raw career. In practice it just made Jose look uncertain and vaguely embarrassed. He quickly ended the experiment and returned to who he was — a lightning-fast player who'd make your heart race by bouncing around the bases like a superball liberated from a shopping-center gumball machine, and one who'd occasionally make your heart sink by grabbing at a hamstring on a cold night.

Once upon a somewhat more-recent time Jose Reyes changed the way Jose Reyes played, shelving the little twisty-foot dance moves and the octuple-degree-of-difficulty handshakes. In theory it seemed like a good idea, seeing how the dancing and the greeting occasionally made opposing teams want to take a bat to Jose's boombox. In practice, our most-exciting player seemed muted and weighed down both in the dugout and on the field. The joy had leaked out of his game.

Some small mean part of us didn't entirely mind this for a while — Jose had sulked and slumped and needlessly kicked the Marlins awake, and as a 2007 Met he had earned a cold shoulder for some to-be-determined portion of forever. But a couple of weeks into the new season, we've seen what baseball is like when you're angry at a team and looking for excuses to let them know it. And it's no fun.

Despite New York chest-beating, I don't believe booing a team has much effect on them — most of them are too focused and too good at what they do (and, in some cases, too rich and dumb) to give a rat's ass what the civilians in the seats think. But the effect on us is easier to see — that anger bounces off its targets and winds up back on us, eroding the joy of watching a beautiful game played on green grass under spring skies. I'm not opposed to booing the home team when they've earned it — I once booed Braden Looper so hard that something tore in my throat and I couldn't talk above a whisper for 36 hours — but Jesus Christ, too many of us booed Johan Santana after his first home start. If you'd like to see where this bad road leads, take I-95 south for a bit. On the whole, I'd rather not be a Philadelphia.

The alternative? It's to do the hardest thing of all: Let go.

That's what the Mets themselves seem determined to do. Yesterday afternoon, as Ben Shpigel reports in the Times, Carlos Beltran told Reyes it was time to “be the Reyes you’ve always been. Forget what people say, what they write about you, what people think. Just be you.” A couple of hours after that, Reyes had four hits and the Mets finally looked alive again. Tonight he rocketed a home run and greeted Beltran, returned to the dugout after his own decisive home run, with a Reyesian handshake. Beltran, meanwhile, continued to be the Beltran he's never been: “We’re happy he’s doing it again. We don’t care if other teams get offended.”

Whether this is wise or unwise is something we'll find out. But I know this much — it's better than playing lead-britches baseball while waiting for the booing to start again. And there's where we have our part to play. Given last September, the decision makers remain under scrutiny, as does the clubhouse. (About what, Mr. Delgado? Your apparent boredom in the face of failure, for openers.) But surely we don't have to referee these things on a pitch-by-pitch basis. If Jose can let go and offer Mister Fantastic handshakes, if Carlos can let go and let Nats and Marlins and Phils and Braves take offense, maybe we can let go and wait for something good to happen.

27 comments to Aw What the Hell, Let's Dance

  • Anonymous

    And in the opposing dugout today and twice next week, let's hope his former dance partner Lastings does no more than tap a foot in envy of Jose & Co.'s celebratory boogies.

  • Anonymous

    Well-done, Jace.
    It all looks like fun again.

  • Anonymous

    First time, long time. Great site.
    I am very happy Beltran had this talk with Reyes. It shows he is embracing a leadership role, which is something this team sorely needed.
    As for the dancing. I agree with Beltran. Who cares what other teams think? Just be yourself and play the game the way you play it. So Hanley Ramirez won't go out for pizza with you after the game? So what?

  • Anonymous

    I love it , and I love that it was Beltran that told him to be himself and not worry what others think, for a supposed quite guy Beltran speaks up.
    A lot of us worried here that Reyes would be changed when he gave up the dancing , I think he can do his dancing without pissing others off and be himself and be better for it.
    Lets dance.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jason,
    Great point that I completely overlooked.
    I know when restrictions were suddenly placed in an office I once worked for mucho years ago, it took all the fun out of the workplace and created an atmosphere of resentment not conducive to performing our best. Our professional integrity turned into just punching in from nine to five and eventually most of us left.
    Now I'm not comparing us just barely above the minimum-wage workers to these multi-millionares, however, most of them are still human beings. Many key players from the great '06 squad are still here and played their best when cutting loose with dance steps and girations in front of the dugout. So did we as fans – Shea was hopping with no need to blast canned music to get us going.
    As long as they come to the park ready to play (unlike last year) bring back the high fives, the dance steps and all the other little things that enrages the opponents. To hell what the other team thinks. Let them have fun again.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares what the other team thinks. Everybody hated the 86 Mets, with all the curtain calls and stuff. Didnt matter. What matters is winning, then you can do what you want. And if Jose hits like the last 2 games, there will be alot of winning.

  • Anonymous

    I posted this thought in a previous thread….similar to when the Mets asked Doc to change his delivery so he could hold guys on base. Let Jose be Jose. Who cares what the other teams think? We seem to play better when everyone hates us. I just read the Times article on line and emitted a loud “Yes” when I read what Beltran said to reyes.

  • Anonymous

    Out of the all the stupid things I heard about last September, the one about how 9/30 was ever so slightly because of what Jose and Lastings did Saturday instead of entirely about what T#m didn't do Sunday still bothers me in a special, different way.
    Maybe I'm crazy, but I really don't want all those other teams to like us much.

  • Anonymous

    I thought some part of that disaster was due to Jose and Lastings doing foolish things, and still do. But the first two weeks of '08 have convinced me that the cure's a lot worse than the disease. As long as the Mets play hard and play smart, they can dance all they want.

  • Anonymous

    I would like to nominate Van Halen – Dance The Night Away as the new eighth inning song……

  • Anonymous

    Dancing and shaking and expressing exuberance only looks bad if you're losing. Winning and exuberating (if you will) don't have to be mutually exclusive. It's the old “why is Congress voting on National Peach Day when the economy is in the crapper?” false choice argument, as if you can't think about two things in the course of the day. We all know there's a line where “showing up the other team” is concerned, but you can't let the other team dictate your own team's conduct. I didn't believe it last September, I don't believe it now.
    Exuberate, Jose. Exuberate. But keep hitting, if you don't mind.

  • Anonymous

    SECONDED!

  • Anonymous

    Nice choice, metirish, but I respectfully nominate David Bowie's “Let's Dance”.
    It's just a cool song.
    And I also ANTI-nominate, if that's a word, Leo Sayer's “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”.
    That one's definitely un-cool.

  • Anonymous

    Metirish has it covered well enough, but also appropriate to the vibe:
    Let's Dance” by Chris Montez;
    “Do Ya Wanna Dance” by Bobby Freeman or the Beach Boys (or others);
    and (not really singalongy, but then again neither is “I'm A Believer”) “Let's Face the Music and Dance” by Sinatra — that one kind of sums up the crossroads facing Reyes, the Mets and their potentially disintegrating self-doubt.
    Gonna show “too much” joy? Gonna piss off the other team? What're we gonna do?
    Let's face the music and dance.

  • Anonymous

    My copy of the Constitution doesn't guarantee anyone the right not to be offended.
    Dance on, Jose. Dance on.

  • Anonymous

    I nominate “Dance, Pt. 1″ by the Rolling Stones, possibly the greatest sloppy-ass song in their arsenal.
    Hey whah am ah doin standin here onna cornah of west 8th street an sixth avenue?
    An — ah skip it, nuthin….
    KEEF! whatchoo, whatchoo doin?

    (keith makes noises like a heroin-addicted muppet drowning in a puddle)
    Somehow those two make it all sound incredibly cool.

  • Anonymous

    Viva los Mets

  • Anonymous

    For us older guys, “Dancing In The Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas.

  • Anonymous

    Jose was pressing and Lastings was off getting himself suspended, but at least I felt like they cared, which is more than I can say for a lot of other Mets.
    Without drudging up the long, long, long list of reasons why last September was last September, I just don't think dancing and handshakes was on it.

  • Anonymous

    More like inertia and lack of reason for shaking hands.

  • Anonymous

    Good choices, all. Maybe Billy Wagner can warm up to “Nowhere to Run” by the aforementioned Martha and the Vandellas. At least he would no longer draw comparisons to that guy still wearing 42 across town.
    Just to add a few more to the mix, how about “Do You Love Me (Now that I Can Dance)?” by the Contours? Or, if you have reservations about the phenomenon, “Safety Dance,” by Men Without Hats?
    I think Neil Young wrote a song that's perfect. “When You Dance, You Can Really [Win]” or something like that…

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully this will help the team find its groove (pun-intended) at home this season. It's been more than a little disheartening how much better the Mets have played on the road than at Shea the last couple of years. Let's get some of that home cooking going!
    In '05, the team was actually pretty good at home and god-awful on the road. If they could play at home like they did in '05, and maintain even a slightly diminished version of their current road performance, I think it would go far not only to improving the team overall, but making them more fun to watch in person, dancing or otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    Shea's last season cries out for the “Curly Shuffle.”
    It's nostalgiac and unquestionably ours, decidedly unlike a certain paean to JFK's daughter.

  • Anonymous

    AAAAAAAAAAARGH!
    KINKS
    that should be…

  • Anonymous

    It's only natural.

  • Anonymous

    how about an even sloppier-ass stones song – “Dance Little Sister” – pure rock and roll.