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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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There's Something About Larry

Turns out somebody who'll be working at Shea tonight has a healthy respect for the place. Too bad it's Chipper Jones.

Ray Glier has a terrific article in the Times this morning catching up with our old pal Larry Wayne. As you know, Mr. Jones and we have an enduring and somewhat sordid history together. Chipper sheds some light on the root cause of an unfriendliness that transcends boxscores.

You might remember the tipping point for why Larry became the most public of Shea enemies. It was at the end of a searing series between us and the Braves, a bitter eleven-inning loss that appeared to have knocked us out of the playoff picture for 1999. At the finale's conclusion, legend has it, Jones was being harassed by a field box fan that come World Series time, New York's other team was going to do in Atlanta and how. Chipper's infamous response was, “Now all the Mets can go home and put their Yankees stuff on.”

The nerve! We already didn't like him for his Braveness and his success. But that tore it. John Rocker would be a passing fancy. Hating Chipper Jones would be forever.

But The Chip adds a wrinkle I either missed or he's making up. I can't quite believe I would have missed it because I was pretty well on top of that 1999 limp to glory, but maybe I did. Or maybe Chipper's burnishing the legend to make himself a little less loathsome in a deathbed bid to get Shea on his side before there's no more Shea to take sides. Jones tells Glier that the field box fan who heckled him was wearing “a split jersey, half Yankees, half Mets, and a split hat, half Yankees, half Mets”.

He was? There are such garments? In New York? People wear them? And they are allowed into Shea Stadium?

That in itself is more detestable than anything Chipper has said or done at Shea, and he's committed plenty of war crimes against Met pitching since 1995. One cringes to imagine that such a prime spectating spot would be taken up by a human being dismal enough to sport a New York-New York jersey divided against itself.

Even still.

Let's assume Chipper's baseball hermaphrodite existed. Let's assume this Big Foot of the box seats really roamed the orange aisles of Shea and there truly was such a creature who uttered those ugly sentiments of surrender to Mr. Jones while we were only two out of the Wild Card with three to play. Even with the heat of battle still rising from his neck, what the fudge was Chipper thinking to lump all New Yorkers together like that? He'd been around long enough to know Mets fans were Mets fans and the other thing was the other thing. He'd been in a World Series over there and had just played for his life over here. Come on!

Today's Larry Jones is contrite, almost, sort of, just a little. “I was like, ‘Come on bro, pick a side,'” he explains to Glier in 2008. “I was a punk kid, I didn’t know better. That’s when I said it.”

Well sir, we are a sensitive people and we took it to heart. In 1999, it was no simple task to be a Mets fan in New York. Thus, if you wanted to fire up the base, you did it. We didn't like lots of Braves then or in the years that followed, but we really hated you. You killed us with your bat, but it was your mouth that made you transcendent. Why do you think nobody ever got worked up when Brian Jordan showed his face — and that guy destroyed our postseason dreams in September 2001.

But y'know what? There's something about Larry. Maybe it's just his longevity; or it's the sentimentality whirling in the air with only 22 home games left; or it's that Chipper Jones really does seem to have a thing for the ballpark for which his son is named beyond his lifetime .310 batting average there. Jones, now able to tell New Yorkers apart (at least by cap design), swears he received good wishes during the All-Star Break from all stripe of Gothamite on his abbreviated quest for .400. The feeling, after fourteen seasons, is suddenly mutual.

Sure, he tells Glier, he likes Shea Stadium because he sees the ball and hits the ball so well, but “having to deal with the Mets year in and year out, all those games that were so important, the history of the love-hate relationship, the passion of their fans, it makes it special to go there.”

Obviously nobody is left on the Mets from those Mets who battled those Braves so fiercely when we were learning Chipper's real first name. Nobody's left, that is, but us, his Greek chorus. The only '99 Braves who remain in that uniform this week (accounting for injuries to Smoltz and whathisname) are Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones. Cox is simply a bore. Jones…I dunno. There comes a time when you almost, sort of, just a little begin to feel something that isn't total, complete and burning animus for a player you've always loved to hate.

I won't feel this way for Pat Burrell when he grows grizzled, believe you me. I'd tell you what I dream of for Yadier Molina down the road except it would incriminate me in a court of law. But Chipper Jones, father of Shea Jones, constant tourist aware enough of his surroundings at his surroundings' end to admit that he wants a piece of his veritable home away from home, that he and his kid will be taking pictures together on his final trip in next month? Him I can respect.

While booing the crap out of him tonight per usual.

21 comments to There's Something About Larry

  • Anonymous

    Great piece, Greg, and you're man enough to say the unsayable. I'll boo Chipper when I go to the game tomorrow night and I'll do the Larry, but over the years, I've developed an affection for him. Part of it is that he's going to be a Hall of Famer and players of that caliber are given a pass by me. I mean, nobody talks about it now, but Mays, Aaron, and Koufax were really rough on the earliy Mets. And then there's the fact that he's articulate and appears to be a decent guy (unlike say Clemens or Rocker). The Yankee jersey quote was infuriating, but it was kind of fun-infuriating. He was playing our “villain” and taunting us and everybody was enjoying the great Mets-Brave rivalry. I'm sure the jersey or individual he describes is imaginary, but Georgians are suckers for bogus Bigfoot sightings. I guess it's part of their culture. The only jersey I've ever seen with both insignias is the Subway Series jersey and that hadn't happened yet. And we all know that anyone who would wear such a thing is a Yankees fan.

  • Anonymous

    There's something about his quiet little smirk every time we boo him that makes him an appealing villain as well. He kind of just soaks it all in. As much as I hate him, it won't be the same when he's eventually gone. Kind of like Shea, although I by no means hate the place.

  • Anonymous

    1 – I agree about Mr. Jones. Been a long time hater, but can't hate him with the same passion anymore. Frankly I think it has more to do with the death of the Braves franchise and hence the rivalry than anything personal. I'm sure if the Braves were still killing the Mets playoff chances I would still hate Larry as much as ever.
    2 – I have seen the hybrid Mets/Yanks dual jersey/hat combo. In fact I see it just about every year during the subway series, but remember seeing it the first time only during the 2000 WS, which is after said event… but every time I have seen it, it has been a home-grown variety – clearly sewn together by the owner.

  • Anonymous

    Quite off topic, but I can't tell if Can't Stop The Bleeding is slamming you (us?) or not…

  • Anonymous

    Eh, whether he is or isn't, Gerard asks a fair question.
    I won't speak for Greg, but I went to the event to meet Matt Cerrone, who's been good to us and whose work I admire, and to shake hands with some of the other Met bloggers. (Which basically didn't happen, as the game had already started and I could only stay for a few minutes.) We were invited by Matt — I actually didn't know it was the SNY suite until I walked into it.
    But if I'd known it was the SNY suite, I would have gone anyway — and once there, I gladly took the opportunity to be on Mets Weekly again and get Faith and Fear some screen time. We've worked with SNY a bit (through the production companies that work for them) and for the most part it's been a good experience. And heck, if I can do something to bring Faith and Fear more readers while keeping the blog what we want it to be, I'll do it. You always have to watch out for quid pro quos, but I saw neither explicit nor particularly worrisome implicit ones attached to dropping by the event.
    Sadly, the free hot dogs and beer were one of the only parts of that day worth a damn. Mets got pounded, Joshua didn't get to run the Dash. Oh well.

  • Anonymous

    Nicely done, partner.
    I've said for a couple of years now that when Larry steps in for his last AB against the Mets in New York, I will give him a standing O — not because I love him or even particularly like him, but because he's been an honorable enemy for a baseball generation. And I hope the rest of the stadium does the same.
    And then I hope he grounds out.

  • Anonymous

    What he said.

  • Anonymous

    Okee to the dokee, then…

  • Anonymous

    Great piece Greg. I don't think I have ever feared a hitter at the plate against the Mets as I have Larry Jones over the years , especially of course against the Bobby V Mets. I always chuckle when I remember Piazza saying at the height of the rivalry that he could just never bring himself to call a grown man Chipper.
    Any chance Jones gets a standing ovation in his last Shea game?

  • Anonymous

    I'm in if you're in. But if he homers, last one down the ramp is a rotten egg.

  • Anonymous

    I'll stand. It would be classy of us, and sometimes it's necessary to remind the world how classy Mets fans are.

  • Anonymous

    It would also show how sophisticated us New Yorkers are , of course if that knob showed up in his NY-NY ensemble to remind Chipper of the old times he would kill that oft said theory.
    Edit – I am not from NY but Ireland,

  • Anonymous

    During the parade coverage before this year’s All Star Game, a newscaster from FOX presented Mayor Bloomberg with a Mets / Yankees hybrid cap after a short interview. I’m not sure which team he roots for, but to his credit, he looked at it like it was a New England Giants Stanley Bowl XLII cap, and then quickly recovered and said something gracious.

  • Anonymous

    ok, i'll just go on record here to say i don't have any fondness for mr. jones, not even in the sense of a tough opponent who always saved his best for slamming the bejesus out of the mets. (actually, i wasn't aware there WAS such a category.)
    acknowledging he has outlasted all other mets killers of his generation, that still leaves him a mets killer.
    if i must, i'll give grudging notice that he has always been good at the job. but i don't have to admire that. and what kind of wacko names his kid after a stadium?

  • Anonymous

    I guess you haven't met young Petco Pujols.

  • Anonymous

    Or Hubert H. Humphrey “Metrodome” Rodriguez

  • Anonymous

    Hey –
    We are not dead. Just resting.
    Go Larry!

  • Anonymous

    When Lawrence came up in the 9th, Sarah said, “Oh look: it' your boyfriend.”

  • Anonymous

    >I won't feel this way for Pat Burrell when he grows grizzled, believe you >me. I'd tell you what I dream of for Yadier Molina down the road except >it would incriminate me in a court of law.
    If I had to guess, I'd say it is more because Larry is a future denizen of Cooperstown.
    Probably not thinking of him in the category of Schmidt, Brooks, Brett and company, but when all is said and done, he will join their ranks as one of the best to ever patrol the Hot Corner.
    The others you mention, well, they'll need a ticket to get into the Hall!
    It wasn't that he was a Met Killer, it's that he is one of the better players of his era, as well as a mega thorn in the Mets side all those years.
    Although, I wonder if all these warm and fuzzy sentiments would be here if it was Larry's Braves, and not either the Phillies and Marlins whom the Mets are in a dog fight with for the divisional crown.

  • Anonymous

    Larry has honored the game and fought us admirably. I stand for his last PA.
    He's no Roger Clemens, or Denis Potvin.

  • Anonymous

    As an Islander fan, I'll ignore that last remark, but I agree about Larry. I may have hated him because of the laundry he wears, but I have nothing but admiration for him as a ballplayer and as an opponent.