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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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All Day and All of the Night

“I have to go home.”

“You are home.”

—William Miller and Penny Lane on tour with Stillwater in Almost Famous

You going to a game? You go to the game — then you go home. Not Sunday. Not the day-night doubleheader. The first rule of day-night doubleheader is it is not a doubleheader. A doubleheader is two for the price of one; Sunday was two for the price of two. Also, in a doubleheader, you stay in one place for one price. Not here. Here you took your sorry self down the ramps and vamoosed. Then you boomeranged.

It's like you were never there. And like you never left.

In a sense, this is an ideal arrangement. Somewhere deep into your adventure, it no longer feels bizarre to come and go and come again through Gate E. It feels normal. It feels like you've just stepped out to run an errand, grab a bite, get some air. Then you're in for the evening. You live at the ballpark!

It's not really home, but Shea Stadium is indeed the place where, when you have to go there twice in the same day, they have to take you in.

What an epochal episode in the late life of Shea, in the life of a Shea denizen who is spending almost as much time there this month as any three feral cats. It's not so much that it was two games in one day. That's precedented. It's not even that it was eighteen innings. During the last weekend of July, I followed up a 14-inning midnight marathon with nine innings the next afternoon, 23 innings spread over 21 hours. But then there was separation, a changing of the calendar, a bit of shuteye even.

Sunday, no sleep 'til nightcap. Between the last out of the afternoon game and the first pitch of the night game, I didn't have to go home but I couldn't stay there. That's the second rule of day-night doubleheader: You buy one ticket for one game, you remove yourself after that game. You have another ticket? It makes little logic to you that you have to make like a banana and — as you were aching for the Mets to do — split. But that's the rule.

The afternoon game was the afternoon game and the night game was the night game and never did the twain meet. They were different tickets. They were different seats. They were different uniforms. They were different promotions (afternoon: Clicky the Corporate Icon warned your children away from bloggers and other unsavory characters; night: a well-meaning Greek-American with a mandolin wrecked “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”). They were, with the exception of the differently prioritied types like myself, different crowds. It's just that it was the same day.

Was it really that weird?

Yes! Yes, it was! Weird but, having averted disaster, wonderful. You have no idea unless you've done it how strange it is to walk out on Shea knowing you're gonna go back, Jack, and do it again 120 minutes hence. It is downright bizarre to know you will reprise a portion of your inbound journey. It is puzzling to think someone's empowered to rummage through your belongings again. It is challenging to rev up your baseball energies a second time when your instinct is to put them away for the evening, especially after such a discouraging afternoon.

The weirdest part, however, wasn't in the coming back the second time. It was in the leaving the first time. The simple process of exiting Shea Stadium only to return to it two hours later was probably worth the price of admission(s). With a whole new guest list expected at 8:00, our hosts threw themselves into tasks they presumably perform when no one's around. Winding toward the right field ramp in the Upper Deck, I saw cleaning crews diligently readying row after row of section after section for the series finale. My first thought was Shea Stadium has cleaning crews? It never occurs to you anybody bothers to meaningfully spruce Shea Stadium, permanently disheveled as it is. But if you think about it, usually there is no detritus at your feet when you ascend to your seat. It just sort of mounts up when you're not paying attention…like Marlon Anderson's pinch-hitting appearances.

Job well done for everybody who punched in after five. Those were some sweet sounds comin' down on the night shift, primarily echoing off the bat of Carlos Delgado, but also among those taking in their second game of the day or — pikers — first. Befitting an overall pattern I've followed for the local 2008 season, I've gone from detesting to tolerating to embracing the Mets' participation in Sunday Night Baseball. It's still a dumb idea (especially when it's rescheduled), it's still superfluous programming (especially when it provides an outlet for Messrs. Morgan and Miller) and it's still a whopper of an inconvenience to most normal people (if not especially me), but if ever a matinee left the Mets and their minions in dire need of an immediate rewrite, Sunday's was it.

I hail my fellow Mets fans even more than I salute the cleaning crew. The enthusiasm was unsurpassed, the surliness was limited, the spirits were, like my spot in Row Q, high. A surfeit of “LET'S GO METS!” (as if there could be too much). Love for Delgado. Love for Santana. Crazy love for a canned feature on Latino great Edgardo Alfonzo. Mad adoration for Endy Chavez's embarrassment-evading catch in the ninth. Plus the northern climes of Section 3 knew how to take care of the Phillie interlopers in our midst…not with booze, not with brawls, but with the best chant I've heard all this decade:

NO ONE

LIKES YOU!

clap clap

clap-clap-clap

NO ONE

LIKES YOU!

clap clap

clap-clap-clap

I also hail the eight-year-old behind me who was a nonstop fount of baseball questions for his pop:

Dad, why are those seats down the line by the orange seats different from all the other seats?

Dad, why does Johan Santana have four doubles?

Dad, can Carlos Delgado hit a home run into the Upper Deck?

Dad, can I say “Phillies suck”?

The answers were they're sponsored by some company; because he can hit; maybe; and “yes, because we're at Shea Stadium, but not at home and not at school.”

“Phillies suck”… this pennant race is so hot that for the only intraleague instance I can recall, Shea Stadium's mass-identification of suckage was assigned to a unit that was actually inside Shea Stadium. Isn't it ironic, don't ya think, that at last the fourth-place Yankees really do fit the general parameters of chant-eligibility, yet pointing it out is no longer top priority?

But we haven't gone soft, at least not one of us. Wrapping up the interregnum in Woodside, Laurie (my day shift partner only, but she was heading back for more baseball, too) and I were asked for the fourth time in an hour how the Mets did today. Lost, I said, but there's another game tonight. Our interlocutor commiserated as if we were all in this together. “The Yankees just lost in the ninth,” he grumbled. Before I could work up a passably polite sympathy-feign, Laurie was almost doubled over in laughter at the guy's team's misfortune.

“Hey!” he snapped. “I saw that!”

All I saw Sunday was the Mets — the Mets and Phillies and the path leading to them, from them and to them again. A long, long day. A long, long night. Perhaps it all got to me toward the end, in the eighteenth inning, in the eleventh hour, counting back to when I left for the very first train of my adventure. The first-place Mets were about to be neither swept nor tied. This September was about to be not last September. That, obviously, was awesome. But I was an out or two from having to get off the tour. Even when I was gone between 5ish and 7ish, even when I was in Woodside chowing down on fish cakes and a mountain of spaghetti, I was sure there was literally no place but Shea. I had no idea what was going on anywhere else. If I hadn't seen a crawl on a monitor, I wouldn't have known the Jets had won. If I hadn't overheard a men's room line conversation, I wouldn't have known Tom Brady was done.

The Mets, since Friday a mid-level band struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom, were about to beat the Phillies and extend their lead to two games. I was with a friend of mine on his last Shea visit, somebody I've known nearly two decades, somebody with whom I've spent far more face time inside Shea than out. As has occurred to me several times this season in similar circumstances, this was a confluence of events I never imagined. Emotions from an impending 6-3 win in September used to be simple. Sunday night, after Sunday afternoon, after 2007, after 36 seasons, they were more complex than a high-five and a yeah! could suitably express.

I'm surprised my Dippin' Dots, the alleged ice cream of the future, didn't warn me in advance.

18 comments to All Day and All of the Night

  • Anonymous

    I showed your Clicky link to my husband, who saw the afternoon game from the comforts of home. He said that the guys on the TV broadcast had no idea what that thing was. Great promotion (but nonetheless a better idea than having a mandolin-mix version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame).
    What I don't get is why the Phillies phans are carrying around 2007 banners. Considering the fact that Philly rolled over and died for Colorado in a quick sweep, that's hardly anything worth boasting about.

  • Anonymous

    Dippin' Dots…
    Now celebrating their 20th year as the “Ice Cream of the Future”

  • Anonymous

    love the “almost famous” cites. that's where the mets are right now, on the verge of being memorable.
    i was at shea's last true doubleheader, the father's day two-spot with the texas rangers that also packed in a saturday rainout, a start from pedro (incredibly, his first of the season at shea) and a split.
    it had none of the pleasing tension of Games That Matter — it was willie randolph's last (home)stand, as it turned out, and doesn't THAT seem much, much more than 11 weeks ago — but at least we got to sprawl out for the second game, and enjoy the day and much of the night.
    (honestly, i wouldn't know what to do for two hours outside shea: tour the chop shops? look, honey, that's where nic cage beat michael rappaport to death in “kiss of death.”)
    still, if you had told me then that the mets would be a game and a half up with 19 to play, i would have laughed at the insane look in your eyes, asked what your dose and dosage were — and signed for it immediately.
    pennant race on. let 'em play.

  • Anonymous

    Good running into you at the end of the game, Greg. That's always my favorite part of Shea: running into friends after a great victory.
    I'm gonna miss that place. Ah, but Phillies games–on the other hand–I won't miss a lick. Good riddance. Go sit in traffic for 7 hours, Phillie fans. My hunched-over aching back and my ulcer can't stand the sight of you anymore.

  • Anonymous

    “Clicky the Corporate Icon warned your children away from bloggers and other unsavory characters; ”
    Greg.
    Certainly Clicky didn't mean you and Jason??
    And unless row Q was in the upper deck, how much of either scoreboard could you and Laurie see? In fact, were you even able to follow Delgado's blast over the bullpen? We once had mezzanine seats behind home plate not knowing how narrow the view was and cut off and therefore could not enjoy the game (didn't help that Gooden was bombed and the Mets clobbered). Another example of how Shea was poorly planned (but it's still home sweet home for us, anyway!).

  • Anonymous

    We had the best day on Sunday as well……We were at both games….but between games we went to Uncle Jack's in Bayside with a $100 coupon we had won at Shea two weeks ago!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Well, I guess they were prescient. It's 20 years later, and Dippin' Dots are still around. Plus, knowing Shea, it's probably from the same batch.

  • Anonymous

    I'm going to assume you won it in a positive manner, not the weasely “oh we're sorry, Tom Seaver, not Johan Santana, had his number retired by the Mets, but you still get a $100 gift certificate…” way.
    Of course you won it honorably. You read Faith and Fear.

  • Anonymous

    If I'm not mistaken, aren't they now called “Molli-Cools?” I guess that's to mix it up a little. I think it sounds mildly perverse.

  • Anonymous

    Won it for being”couple of the game”…….is that weasely?….nah….

  • Anonymous

    I believe Molli Coolz or whatever are actually a different brand. Copy cats, much the way Oreos are copy cats of Hydrox.

  • Anonymous

    Dad, why are those seats down the line by the orange seats different from all the other seats?
    Is that one of the four questions asked at the Mets Passover? (The Shea-der dinner, if you will.)

  • Anonymous

    Nah, just lucky.

  • Anonymous

    greg, you were in my sunday section…i was a few rows ahead of you wearing a favre jersey. we do a decent job for the big games, but really, what section doesn't?

  • Anonymous

    Sunday night was unusual – a playoff atmosphere, but with far more fans of the opposition than any playoff game. The fans on both sides in UD section 29 were out of control: Phillie fans doing their best Yankee fan “Look at Me” strut and making nuisances of themeselves, Met fans screaming endlessly at all red/maroon-clad comers. It got tiresome fast.
    Howver, any negatives were outweighed by the single funniest thing I have ever sen at Shea: Mr. Met joining in with the Greek dancers atop the dugout.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking that Phillies fans were doing their best (albeit weakest) Yankees fan impression. Is the role of villain really that one-size-fits-all? During the first game I was actually thinking Phillies fans were the worst interlopers we'd had, even worse than…
    Then I got ahold of myself.
    Loved one Mets fan's response late Sunday afternoon. He kept screaming THIS IS OUR HOUSE! THIS IS OUR HOUSE! Except with the din of the crowd rising, I swore he was going on about Art Howe..

  • Anonymous

    He kept screaming THIS IS OUR HOUSE! THIS IS OUR HOUSE! Except with the din of the crowd rising, I swore he was going on about Art Howe..
    I can only assume the guy lit up the section.

  • Anonymous

    Yet the Mets didn't battle.