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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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 Where I Used to Stand

My back to the wall, a victim of laughing chance

This is for me the essence of true romance

Sharing the things we know and love with those of my kind

Libations, sensations that stagger the mind

—Steely Dan

I've crossed that fine line from theoretical home stretch to the beginning of the end of the line. This is no longer a drill. This is no longer me thinking about what it will be like at the end of Shea Stadium. This one's for real, I already bought the dream. I can stop having little fits of emotion late at night and during the day and on the train listening to the wrong song on my iPod. I can quit wondering whether I am going to miss Shea as much as I say I will or if I'm just saying that because I think I should miss Shea that much.

It's too late for all that. It's hitting me hourly. And in the middle of it all, these Mets and their games. They're still playing. They're still alive. Oh, they're alive all right.

And there I am in the middle of it like I've never been before, an ornament, I'd like to think, to the pennant race, certainly a face in the crowd…every crowd, every night.

Even in the wind. Even in the rain. Even after Wednesday. Even down 6-3 in the seventh one pitch after Pedro Martinez has theatrically saluted us for saluting him, one uncomfortable beat after Ricardo Rincon has been nailed to a cross constructed of forMicah.

When Thursday night's game ended in absolute, overwhelming Met triumph. Laurie and I feverishly exchanged high-fives with the two guys directly behind us. Big deal, you're thinking, everybody does that when their team wins. Yes, but two innings earlier, I suspected there was going to be genuine violence between at least two of us four: Laurie and the guy who placed a little too much ignorant emphasis on Ricardo Rincon's Mexican heritage as he expressed frustration over Micah Hoffpauir's seemingly spine-crushing three-run homer. A little tense back-and-forth ensued, the guy saying he's entitled to express his opinion over his team any way he wants (while addressing Laurie as “ma'am”) and Laurie respectfully suggesting if he really hates his team as his steady and loud running diatribe implied, he ought to be doing something else. Despite the guy's friend insisting “we're all in this together,” it was truly bordering on the unpleasant when I threw in my two cents that let's calm down, this stadium's only got four more days, relax and enjoy it.

“Hey,” one of them said. “It's got more than four days!”

“That's the spirit,” I said, rather half-heartedly and a little sarcastically. It was 6-3, Pedro Martinez's Mets career was over, it was windy, it was raining, it wasn't 24 hours removed from the night before and it didn't seem the time for false hustle. But I was for anything that would keep the peace.

Who knew that sometimes the idiots sitting behind you know what they're talking about?

It was my last night in Mezzanine and my last game with Laurie, a cult figure among longstanding FAFIF readers for the way she leads with her heart and throws emotional elbows. I assure you it's not intentional on her part. She just doesn't understand how a person can support a team by telling its components how worthless they are. Nothing gets Laurie down like the fans who seem to come to Shea to boo the Mets. From the wrong angle, it sounds like she's harping. When you've shared as many Shea armrests over as many Shea seasons as I have with Laurie, you know it's her own strain of unconditional Met love. Some people who know her only from her comments here ask me “what's Laurie like?” I can truthfully respond, à la Choo Choo Coleman, Laurie likes the Mets, bub.

Likes them a lot, like I do. But neither of us is so blinded by our passion that we thought we were looking at anything but a drenching and a beating Thursday.

We determined early in the evening that the Mets were screwed, that every time Wright or Church did anything positive at bat we'd be driven to think “where was that last night?” We decided “last night” — Wednesday when Daniel Murphy was glued to third by three insidiously sticky unproductive outs — would become That Night in Metspeak, that in 2010 or 2015 or whenever a leadoff runner stood in serious scoring position and the heart of the lineup failed to lift as much as a sac fly, we'd instinctively say “it's just like That Night against the Cubs.” That Night would join the pantheon of pitiful patois: Pendleton, bases-loaded walk, devastated. That Night would require no explanation for anyone who lived through it.

That Night is now maybe nothing more than the night before whatever we wind up calling this one. Maybe it's when this night combines with That Night and they became Those Nights against the Cubs in late September 2008, the nights when first we were dead but then we weren't.

Then again, something else could take hold.

The Comeback Game?

The Best Rain Game Since Ventura?

The Last Pedro Game?

The Dreaded Micah Hoffpauir Game?

The Ryan Church Slide Game?

The Robinson Cancel/Ramon Martinez Game?

The Beltran Walkoff Single Game?

The game that set the stage for Shea Stadium to continue its life beyond what it was originally allotted or what seemed remotely possible?

For me right now, it goes down as the night we were all in this together; another night when I was right in the middle of it; the top of the stretch run of the month when I couldn't resist the temptation to inhabit a world of my own and make it my home sweet home; a night when I couldn't have received a better ending not just to a crucial contest in the standings but to the Shea segment of one of my foundation Met relationships. Or it could be that it's simply the night the winning hit spurred me to lift my diminutive friend Laurie several feet in the air for the last time at Shea Stadium — the first time I'd acted on such uninhibited instinct since Benny Agbayani let the dogs out against Aaron Fultz.

I only do things like that on extraordinarily special occasions.

20 comments to There Where I Used to Stand

  • Anonymous

    I'll rise when the sun goes down
    Cover every game in town
    A world of my own
    I'll make it my home sweet home

  • Anonymous

    Mess with my Mets and you mess with me. End of story.
    Those dudes were driving me crazy, though. Seriously. Every other word started with an F, and everything that happened that wasn't perfect was met with an angry string of profanity, disproportionate, melodramatic and manufactured rage–as if he was desperately trying to prove his “passion”–and the crude exclamation “F**K ME!!” (Uh, is that an order?) And the racist comments were intolerable. Sorry. We all have a line, and he crossed mine with that crap.
    Sorry folks, but this ain't the time. If you can't offer up unconditional support for your team at this critical stage, stay home. They don't need your hostility. If we're all in this together, that must mean we all want to win, right? And your negativity is NOT going to help them win. Stay home and shout your hateful thoughts at the TV… fine. Don't do it at Shea. Not now.
    /climbs off soapbox, dodging rotten fruits and vegetables.

  • Anonymous

    relative of the people behind us, i think, minus the racism and the profanity. they were just upset about EVERYTHING.
    in their case i just think they were cranky. a lot of people just didn't go because they couldn't take it. but these folks couldn't stay away, with it being The Last Week, but they sure weren't happy to be there.

  • Anonymous

    i'm glad someone else resorted to the immature forMICAH heckle. i'm in good company.

  • Anonymous

    I feel for you, I too have almost gotten into fights w/ people at Shea. I can't stand it when people do that. And racism crosses the line, period. There's no place for that at Shea or any place. I don't care how much a ticket costs, it doesn't give anyone the right to spew garbage like that. It certainly doesn't give someone the right to ruin it for everyone around them. Besides, if you're a true fan, you should be there to cheer your team on, not abuse them.

  • Anonymous

    I feel you completely. I sat in the upper box, front row for the last time. Even though the meathead next to me was giving me no space, and my dad couldn't take it anymore after Rincon threw a pitch, and I suddenly found myself alone at Shea, back killing me, freezing cold, teeth chattering, and soaking wet despite my umbrella–I was smiling. I looked around and fought off some tears. We were losing. The fans were not happy. People had went home early. The stadium looked at about half capacity.
    This is the Shea I remember. This is the Shea I'm gonna miss. This is the Shea I am absolutely 100% head over heels in love with.
    The results of this game probably puts it in my top 10 of all time, somewhere above Benny's Game 3 walkoff, but below Pratt's series ender. All my emotions, compacted with sitting in my favorite seats for the last time, compacted with knowing it could be the last start of the great Pedro Martinez's career, compacted with the thoughts running through my head the final 3 innings: “forget last night, THIS could be the last great game at Shea Stadium,” made this night truly special. It could be it's last walkoff! If it was, I gave it its due by tearing my throat up and waving my umbrella uncontrollably.
    Before I left, I made sure to bend down and give the view-obstructing bars in front of me a big kiss. I thanked Shea for at least one more great memory, and scurried out.

  • Anonymous

    Great story. As I was watching on tv last night, seeing the rain pour down, I wanted to be there with the fans that stayed in the worst way. I got a bit choked up when Pedro walked off the mound in the 7th, thinking that this could be the last time that we see him with the Mets.

  • Anonymous

    I felt the same way watching Game 5 in 99. While last night was no Game 5, I'll settle for it.

  • Anonymous

    Joe Benigno said it best one time, something along the lines of, “Omar can sign guys from Mars–as long as they win, who cares?”

  • Anonymous

    It was kind of a slow build last night, from “they're utilizing a guy who's been pitching in the Mexican League” [loved the utilization of the word utilize] to “a guy who hasn't pitched in the major leagues for 20 years” [Rincon last pitched in the bigs in 2006] to “he's been pitching in the Mexican Leagues for 20 years” to “he's Mexican” with kind of an edge to it.
    David Wright didn't drive in runs in the ninth the last two nights. Damn Virginians.

  • Anonymous

    Those of you who were angry with Paul Lukas for his Piazza article a while back will probably like this one better. The Butch Metzger reference made me LOL. He's one of us.

  • Anonymous

    Good call, brother. This one about Shea as landmark to LaGuardia belongs in the scrapbook as well.

  • Anonymous

    I must add, in my defense, that those dudes were actively rooting AGAINST the Mets. When runs were scored against us, for instance, they would viciously yell “Good! GOOD!” and stuff like that, like they were glad about it. WTF?! That's why when he said to me “we're all in this together,” I replied “that's right… so root FOR the Mets, not AGAINST them!”
    And the Mexican stuff also included “go back to Mexico!” etc., which is what blew my gasket.

  • Anonymous

    It was sort of like Grand Slam Single night. The rain didn't even matter. I barely noticed it until I saw it on TV later on.
    I haven't heard the postgame celebrations that loud in years. What was really funny, though, was that everyone wore themselves out to the point that the subway was practically silent. No one had anything left. Good times.

  • Anonymous

    No need for defense. You were on God's Side (or at least Mr. Met's) in this one.

  • Anonymous

    El esta aqui.

  • Anonymous

    Best. Song. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    I know. I had my new video camera ready to film the triumphant walk out down the ramps, and it was anticlimactic.

  • Anonymous

    The ramp walk was friggin' awesome where we were. But everyone on the subway was comatose. LOL

  • Anonymous

    It's not Voodoo Chile, but it's pretty catchy, yes.