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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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Abolish Sunday Night Baseball

Bill Parcells (or maybe it's John Madden) likes to glorify football players who so come to play that you can toss the coin in the parking lot and they'll line up at midnight and knock the other guy on his ass. Wherever, whenever…they're ready.

I can dig that. I can dig the Mets winning wherever, whenever. As one who has meticulously inscribed the result of every single Mets game he has ever attended and as one who cherishes every single Mets win for which he has had the pleasure of inking a big ol' W, I'll take 'em where I can find 'em, wherever they put 'em, whenever I have to come and get 'em.

That said, even with the 201st win of my Log career easily secured and safely ensconced between 8:07 PM and 11:02 PM last night, even having benefited from whatever charge Johan Santana got out of an additional six hours and fifty-seven minutes' rest, I hereby introduce a measure to abolish Sunday Night Baseball.

Get it out of our lives. We don't like it, we don't need it, we don't want it.

We don't want to be on Sunday Night Baseball. We don't want to sit and stew for seven perfectly good hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We don't derive any bonus from the exposure on Sunday Night Baseball. My apologies to any Mets fans outside the immediate New York area who are grateful for a few dozen innings a year they wouldn't otherwise see, but it's not helping the greater good at all.

Find me the Mets fan who is relieved that Gary Cohen won't be doing play-by-play, who is enriched by Jon Miller. Find me the Mets fan who is so sick of Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling that he welcomes the insights of Joe Morgan. Find me the Mets fan who enjoys eschewing familiarity with his team for obnoxious relatives who barge in three or four times a year to get your story completely wrong, the kind of people who make you swear you will never, ever invite these people over for Thanksgiving again. Are you out there, mythical Mets fan who actually appreciates SNY getting Sunday off in favor of ESPN interpreting your team as some kind of poor relation? As some kind of auxiliary club activity for bored Gothamites?

I used to think being on national television was some kind of reward or recognition for a team, that it meant you'd made it, that you had earned extra attention, that everybody getting a look at you confirmed your progress or your status. Instead, it's punishment for us, the hardcore fans. We get nothing from it, not a damn thing. We're not privy to fantastic announcing we'd otherwise miss. We're not receiving a brilliant perspective from fresh eyes that will help us understand the big picture. We get Jon Miller's tired blowhard act and Joe Morgan's pompous nonsense.

And we get 8 o'clock starts. On a Sunday. On a Sunday! Who on earth wants to wait around until 8 o'clock to watch a baseball game that could easily be played at 1 o'clock? And who on earth wants to wait around until 8 o'clock to attend a baseball game that not only could easily be played at 1 o'clock, but was supposed to be played at 1 o'clock, that was scheduled to be played at 1 o'clock?

Some weeks ago, my friend Joe asked if I wanted to go to one of the Dodgers games. Sure, I said, how about Sunday? Fine, he said, I'll get tickets. And he did. And very quietly, the damn thing was rescheduled. It's not a particular hardship for me as I keep pretty malleable hours. But Joe, like most adults, has to get up very early Monday morning. Joe would rather shred his scorebook than leave a game before it's over. Rubbing his eyes red, we stayed.

We were not in the majority. It's unfortunate enough when the Mets go in the tank as they have so often this season and the seats empty well ahead of the ninth. But on a pleasant night with a lovely win in progress, thousands and thousands headed to the exits ahead of the conclusion, especially families. By the ninth, it was mostly drunken 17-year-olds holding sway in the mezzanine.

Why the abandonment of ship by so many? It's not because they don't like baseball, it's not because they don't like the Mets winning, it's not because they choose to flaunt their prosperity by not watching all the game they paid for. It's because it's frigging late for people. It's a school night, for goodness sake. If you live in Flushing or Corona, it's convenient. If you live anywhere else, it's not.

Now if the ticket said “8:05 PM,” then caveat emptor and so forth. But it didn't. ESPN makes this call. ESPN could have made this call months ago. ESPN could have figured out media market 1 was playing media market 2, that by the first of June neither team's marquee value or competitive prospects would be spent, that its phoney-baloney Joe Torre story line would be in effect and it could have issued an edict unto the Mets that Uncle ESPN Wants You. Instead, tens of thousands of seats were sold to an afternoon game — a Sunday afternoon game whose conclusion generally averts bedtimes of all ages — and thousands of seats no doubt went wasted because, hey, people have lives, even baseball fans. Many of those who didn't waste their tickets had to issue themselves a curfew.

Seven hours later than planned for. An hour later than a normal night game. Font for confusion among uninformed ticketholders. Fodder for Phil Mushnick. Three excruciating hours of Miller and Morgan. An excuse to cancel the Mr. Met Dash.

I'm not asking ESPN to get out of the baseball business. They do several things well. They produce wonderful research. They have that handheld camera that records homers going official when the batter steps on the plate. They have on their side many able minds, even if none of them belong to Steve Phillips. They can do a doubleheader some other night of the week. I'll complain far less if they can start on Sunday nights at 7:00, which is prime time for the rest of television. If they wanted to show only West Coast games on Sunday nights, when at least those would be 4:00 local games there, that would seem mildly fair to somebody. Instead, it's the same thing year in, year out. They take our Sunday afternoons and rob them from us. They stick our team on Sunday night and they shove their atrocious announcers down our throats. They keep us out past midnight or they chase us from our seats by ten. They get me griping after a 6-1 win, for gosh sakes.

I like the Mets winning. I like Johan finding his groove. I like Carlos Beltran blasting a “390-foot home run” to the base of the scoreboard (somebody get Shea a tape measure). I like Ryan Church standing and remaining in one piece and hitting, too. I like going to a Mets game wherever they put it, whenever they put it. But Sunday Night Baseball's unique charms are completely lost on me.

17 comments to Abolish Sunday Night Baseball

  • Anonymous

    Let's not forget the best part of this genius invention. ESPN in all its infinite self-importance tangos with the MTA and its infinite inflexibility and you get… no 7 express trains after the rescheduled game! Yay, great job, all! Also, at freakin' midnight other trains start running with the regularity which good baseball came from the Mets for much of this year, i.e. with none at all. So, Sunday Night Baseball, that grand “tradition” can go lay down on the subway tracks as far as I'm concerned. After about half an hour an F train will run it over and all will be as it should.

  • Anonymous

    I distinctly heard one of those MTA employees with a megaphone declare “no express trains to Manhattan will run UNTIL AFTER THE GAME IS OVER.” I guess we were supposed to infer that meant until a week or two after the game was over.
    I liked that as a growing horde gathered on the local platform, a confused 7 alighted on the express tracks, opened its doors and just sat.

  • Anonymous

    i dunno. i think it was totally worth it for no other reason than to boo joe morgan out of the building.

  • Anonymous

    I think it was telling that the boos for Willie removing Santana were far exceeded by those for the visiting national analyst and for the announcement there'd be no Mr. Met Dash.
    Once Johan departed, the biggest cheers in the adjacent section were for the girl (escorted by Yankees fans, natch) who apparently complied — within 'R' standards — with a vocal request to show them what she had, so to speak. The ninth inning was given over to “SHOW US MORE!” She did not, but she did whip out a camera and take pictures of her fan club.
    They were all drunk. Security stood by and looked at its watch. And the Jets weren't even playing.

  • Anonymous

    so i don't get it. sounds like you had a great time!

  • Anonymous

    Eyes on the field, mister.

  • Anonymous

    I dunno. Hearing fans complaining about Joe Morgan has for me officially surpassed any injury that listening to Joe Morgan causes me. It's more predictable than Joe Morgan. It's more boring than Joe Morgan. And I like Jon Miller.
    Now that there's no new episodes of The Sopranos to interrupt, Sunday Night baseball is OK with me.

  • Anonymous

    There should be a special place in Hell reserved for all those involved in these switcheroos when a Mets Dash is canceled.
    Joshua would be over the moon about running the bases at Shea, but given this state of affairs, what do the Wilpons suggest we tell him? “Sure, son, you'll get to run the bases — unless a giant entertainment conglomerate decides it wants to show the game at night, and a giant sports league, rich club and wealthy players' union all acquiesce more or less cravenly. In which case you won't get to run the bases and, in fact, won't get to go at all. What do you mean you don't like baseball, son?”

  • Anonymous

    Well, that sucks. On the plus side, it was an awful nice day for those of us with kids and no tickets to go have family fun free of the mandatory baseball distraction.

  • Anonymous

    I look for day games on the schedule because I think baseball is best in the daytime, and I thought so even before I started working a 7:30 a.m. shift and had an 11-year-old son. I've been known to take a day off to get to a midweek day game, and even to do a Jimmy Olsen when I couldn't get an official day off — at Wrigley Field, no less.
    For fans like me, gametime is of the essence, and baiting and switching us on it is nothing short of consumer fraud.
    If ESPN has to have games on Sunday nights, let them pick the games before the season starts, the way the NFL does perfectly happily for Monday Night Football.
    Most years, in fact, baseball is much less of a crapshoot than football — while sleeper teams sometimes come out of nowhere and highly touted teams sometimes fizzle (cough September 2007 cough cough), you can tell in January with a 90 percent certainty which teams and which games will be the good draws. The teams confess as much in their tiered ticket pricing.
    In a just world (i.e. with a real commissioner), MLB would tell ESPN they have to choose before spring training or take pot luck.
    More realistically, some state attorneys general should start telling teams that if they don't want to face civil fraud charges, they'll have to grant ticketholders to a game that is rescheduled on short notice for TV's convenience the same refund-or-exchange rights as for a rainout. Then watch how fast the practice ends.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, you mean you don't get refund/exchange rights? I just assumed that was automatic. Wow, that is CRAP! Some industrious soul could very easily file a class-action suit and at the bare minimum get tickets to another game.

  • Anonymous

    Even us who watched at home have blurry eyes this morning…. and headaches having to listen to the Miller-Morgan tandem with their lack of accurate information. They probably freaked out Ramon Castro in the eighth inning when Raul Casanova pinch hit for Joe Smith and was noted as the only back-up catcher on the Met roster.

  • Anonymous

    I could not agree more. I was so pissed yesterday when I realized the Mets weren't on at 1pm. I was actually looking foward to sitting outside on a beautiful day with the Mets on the radio. There's really no need for this evening abomination anymore.
    Oh, and Miller and Morgan are BY FAR the worst announcers ever. Self-absorbed, laconic, droning saps who really have no clue about the current goings on of any of the teams the cover. Aaargh.
    Thanks for this post. It spoke directly to my hardball soul.

  • Anonymous

    Find me the Mets fan who is so sick of Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling that he welcomes the insights of Joe Morgan.
    Not to mention the Dodger fans who lose Vin Scully.

  • Anonymous

    I don't mind SNB. It's a game I don't have to watch on the computer, and it's only 6 o'clock here. Plus, half the time I have to listen to a non-Gary/Keith/Ron booth, and they are usually horrible. SNB is like baseball church. You have to go and listen to boring preachers repeat the same insipid (and sometimes wholly false) clichés over and over again. It's stuffy. It's uncomfortable. But it's a baseball fan's duty.

  • Anonymous

    not only did my son have to go to bed before the ballgame was over, but it was a reminder to me that those half-season ticket packages that the mets have just started offering — of nine sunday games — ought to come with a buyer-beware label: “your plans of a lovely summer's day outing may be shredded at the whim of cable executives.”

  • Anonymous

    I'm one of those who left early (I work for a living) but was there more than long enough to boo Joe Morgan. That was almost as fun as watching the Mets beat up on the Dodgers.