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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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My Night as a Phillies Fan

No doubt I'm rooting for the Rays in the World Series for every obvious reason. They're not the Phillies. They've got Steve Henderson. They've got Cliff Floyd. They're the closest thing we'll ever see again to the '69 Mets. The '69 Mets are into them. They play up the road from Al Lang. I went to college in Tampa.

They're not the Phillies.

But a word on behalf of the Phillies. No, not these Phillies. Not the Phillies of ancient dubious history (Ben Chapman, et al), but of my flirtation with the Phillies for one season and my heartbreak in empathy for the Phillies on one October night, in Florida.

This was 1993, the year the Mets sucked as I had never seen them suck before and I adopted as my second team the first-place Phillies. Not against the Mets, mind you, but we were in seventh (the only year the National League East had a seventh) and they were roguishly charming. They had Lenny Dykstra and a bunch of fellows who seemed Dykstraish. We didn't play them 'til June that year and by then we were literally 20 games out. It didn't seem a conflict of interest to pull for the Phillies in a non-Mets vacuum. It didn't even seem bizarre to have bought at Shea, when you could buy this sort of thing there, a Phillies cap.

Sounds a lot worse now than it felt then (though it wasn't the worst cap I ever tried on for size). It made perfect sense to me in '93. I needed an outlet for my competitive rooting. The Mets I rooted on institutionally. The Phillies I hoped would go all the way. One night in August when the Mets were rained out, I tuned in the Phillies station and listened surprisingly intently. Man, I thought, if the Mets ever ceased to exist, is this what I'd be doing on summer nights?

I was excited when they held off a late charge by the Expos to win the East. I was thrilled when they upset the Braves in the NLCS (back when I also thought well of the Western Division Braves…how fucking bad was 1993 anyway?). I was psyched for them to take on the Blue Jays. They were down three games to two in a slam-bang Series when I found myself in Fort Lauderdale on business. An old friend from college was living in Miami, so I gave him a call after having fallen out of touch with him for a while. He was never much of a baseball fan but in the mid-'80s when we were close he was highly supportive of me and the Mets. It felt like kismet that the Phillies were in the World Series that week and I was in the area because he was originally from Philadelphia. When we goofed around playing Wiffle Ball back in the day, I wore my mesh Mets cap from Cap Night 1981 and he wore an old-school Phillies cap, the pre-Schmidt model on which the new retro Phillies caps were based. If he could get behind the Mets for my sake in '85 and '86, it was the right thing to do in '93 to return the favor.

We hooked up on the Saturday afternoon before Game Six was to be played at SkyDome. We went mini-golfing and to a batting cage like we used to in Tampa. After a nice meal at an Italian joint I knew from when my parents had a place in Hallandale, we headed back up to Lauderdale to my hotel to join the game in progress. We had trouble finding it on the radio because the station that had been airing the World Series bumped it in favor of the Miami-Syracuse football game (reminding me how glad I was to be living in New York where priorities weren't askew).

We turned on the TV in the seventh. Dykstra was up with the Jays leading by four. He was traded to the Phillies from the Mets the day after my buddy got married. I had flown down to Miami for the wedding on short notice to be the best man and got word when I arrived in New York that night: Dykstra and McDowell for Juan Samuel. (Samuel…he's pretty good, I instantly decided.) Four years later, two on, nobody out, Dave Stewart pitching. Lenny swings and makes it 5-4. It’s his fourth homer of the Series. By the end of the inning, Al Leiter is pitching for Toronto and gives up the sac fly to make it 6-5 Phillies. My friend and I are high-fiving and yelling and looking forward to a seventh game. I’ll be flying home in the morning, but this will be great. I’ll call him tomorrow night after the Phillies beat the Blue Jays, having been down three games to one. There's going to be a seventh game. Lenny and the Phillies still have a chance!

In the bottom of the ninth, Joe Carter goes Bill Mazeroski on Mitch Williams. Wild Thing, he made our hearts sink. My old friend and I sat on opposite sides of the bed, saying nothing for the longest time as the Blue Jays celebrated. He was from Philadelphia but not the biggest Phillies fan by any means. I was from New York and every other year of their existence except that one hated the Phillies. But for a few minutes in Florida we were both crushed by this turn of events.

The Phillies reverted to anathema to me the next spring. I eventually discarded their cap. I haven't heard from my friend since 1996. He lives in Tampa now. I wonder if he even knows who's in the World Series this year.

17 comments to My Night as a Phillies Fan

  • Anonymous

    I was in South Africa for that World Series, and aghast that I'd be missing it. And in those pre-Internet days, you were truly missing it — I had to wait for a 15-second shot of Joe Carter on some early international version of CNN.
    Come to think of it, the Phillies are back in the World Series and I'll be in Amsterdam and Milan after Game 2. Hmm.
    Phillies Fever — Put an Ocean Between You and It!

  • Anonymous

    I hear you. I was rooting for the Phils too, basically out of National League pride, and also because I don't like it when one team is consistently on top (well, one team from a pool of 29, anyway). Though when they lost, I didn't really care. Honestly I was kind of impressed to see a home run winning the World Series. For me, I was still at the age (12) where you acted such a scenario out every summer afternoon.
    Now I look back on the day and laugh. HA HA! YOU SUCK, PHILLIES!
    Here's hoping for a repeat performance in 2008, starring Brad Lidge as Mitch Williams, and Cliff Floyd as Joe Carter.

  • Anonymous

    LET'S GO RAYS!

  • Anonymous

    Another note: the reason we have 6 divisions and a Wild Card has a lot to do with this World Series. I'm pulling some stuff from memory of Costas' book here, but it was something like this:
    MLB was riding high. Attendance was better than it has ever been, and ratings were way up… except in the 92 and 93 World Series. In fact, the World Series ratings were some of the worst they've ever been. Meanwhile, the NBA had Jordan-mania and the legendary Bulls sweeping the nation. The ratings for the NBA finals were the NBA's best ever, and they matched the World Series numbers.
    MLB panicked, fearing they were losing the interest of the country to basketball. Selig wanted to do something drastic, so he created our current playoff system to shake things up.
    What is so ridiculous about that situation is this: MLB was scared because the best ratings ever for the NBA finals matched the worst ratings the World Series had seen in some time. It's odd that they happened simultaneously, but use a smidgeon of logic and you'll realize this is not a reason to panic. AND TO TOP IT OFF, the Neilsen ratings and what not only survey American Households! Half the audience of the 92 and 93 World Series was watching up north, and it wasn't being counted! These “horrible” ratings for the World Series only accounted for maybe 65% of the audience!
    So remember, if you are a fan of the Wild Card, you can thank the short-sightedness of MLB. And I will always recommend Fair Ball by Bob Costas. It was outdated too quickly, but still a great read for baseball dreamers.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn't the realignment concept already in place before that international World Series? In the summer of '92, it was tentatively set up to put Atlanta and Cincinnati in the East, Chicago and St. Louis in the West (to which David Cone said “not good news for Mets fans”).
    I really have no problem with the Wild Card. Over 162 games, four of 16 teams competing in a postseason tournament does not seem unreasonable. Also, though I used to admire him, I can't stand Bob Costas.

  • Anonymous

    I was living in the Philly area 15 years ago and was charmed by the '93 Phillies right from the start: They had an exciting team that didn't have overwhelming talent but an attitude that said it could win any night. I'm certain today they were all hopped up on greenies and roids, but at the time they were just a lot of fun to watch.
    I was at the Vet to see them come back from 4-0 to beat Anthony Young and the Mets 5-4 on a hit by Kim Batiste. And I was at the decisive Game 6 of the NLCS when (Harry Kalas voice) Mick-ey Mor-an-di-ni (/Harry Kalas voice) lined one off Maddux's knee to help knock out the Braves. The crowd got so loud when Williams came on in the 9th it was scary.
    I feel like I'm the only Met fan alive without a huge grudge against theis year's version. They didn't do anything to us other than win more games than we did, and play well in September. They have a roster full of homegrown guys, and a folksy old manager. I don't see why we can't admire that, and there'd be no shame in my eyes to have taken the season series from the World Series champs.
    So while I am rooting for a 7-game series above all I wouldn't be upset at all if the Phils took it.

  • Anonymous

    I loathed Costas until I read the book. Now I find him less annoying. Upon reading, it's clear how much of a heart he has for baseball and how badly he wants to see the sport succeed beyond anyone's wildest dreams. You won't agree on all his ideas, but they're not as outlandish as some others (in Whitey Herzog's book, “You're Missin a Great Game,” he suggests a ballpark be built in Tennessee to be used only for the World Series each year. Yes, all these years later, he's still bitter about the ridiculous Home Field Advantage the Twins had in '87. Other than that, his book was actually a pretty fun read).
    Like I said, it dated itself frighteningly fast (“how can some of these teams compete with the Yankees $98 million dollar payroll?” etc), so some of his complaints won't ring true like they did upon it's publishing in 2000; but it's a cheap book, relatively available, and a very fast read. Perfect for a long plane ride.
    As for your question of realignment plans already being put into place, you could be right–or you could be thinking of the MASSIVE realignment that was toyed with: All Western teams become American League, All Eastern teams become National League.

  • Anonymous

    I remember the let's get rid of the National League plan, circa '97. Brrr…

  • Anonymous

    I hate the wild card, no matter what benefits we've reaped from it. Period. End of story.
    / aloof purist

  • Anonymous

    I don't dislike the '08 Phils, other than the whole being-in-our-way thing, which was their job.
    But there's the small matter of being in Vegas in January, where I put $20 on the Rays to win it all at 175-to-1 odds. Let's just say my bandwagon loyalties have been clear since the regular season ended.
    Stupidly, I also put $50 on some 8-to-1 team in the NL East.

  • Anonymous

    “But there's the small matter of being in Vegas in January, where I put $20 on the Rays to win it all at 175-to-1 odds.”
    GREAT move Jason! Along with my dislike for the Phils, that's another good reason to root for Tampa. Rays in 5!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I couldn't hear you shouting, “This is an affront to purity!” when Pratt hit that homer on October 9, 1999. Also had a hard time making out your protests when Benny hit his on October 7, 2000. It may have been a problem with my ears. Yes, that must have been it.

  • Anonymous

    Hi! I am a baseball fan. I generally wander through baseball reference.com and just go. So I happened here, and thank you! As a baseball fan I love reading personal stories of people that collide with thier favorite teams. The Rays beat my Sox…yeah I'm from Boston. Hey, they played one heck of a ALCS…I mean, how can you not respect that??? Game 5…The Comeback…OMG one of the best games EVER! So anyhow…according to our Prez candidates…GO EVERYONE! Yeah…something like that. Thanks again!

  • Anonymous

    It was very loud at those moments. No surprise you missed such shouts.

  • Anonymous

    I've hated the Phillies since the mid-'70s when every time I went to Shea the final score was seemingly: Phillies 7, Mets 2, and Mike Schmidt had more talent than the whole Mets roster put together (minor leagues included). I always liked the Blue Jays of the same time period with their cool new logo, stealth maple leaf, and Mets-like blue. Plus, they were actually worse than the Mets. By a mile! (Though they had an excuse.)
    So I was aghast in '93 when every Phillies hit in the World Series made my heart jump and I actually liked Curt Schilling (he didn't talk so much then). I was relieved when Carter hit that blast during a packed party at the house my friends and I rented. A room crowded full of people making all kinds of noise for a baseball game between teams from hundreds of miles away. That's gone. Just like Carter's shot.

  • Anonymous

    The only member of the Phils I have a MAJOR problem with is Victorino. It's the fans I want to see suffer.
    Case in point: last night, after the final out, the cameras cut to Phillies fans in the crowd. Were they staring at the field, cheering on their victorious team? Of course not. They had turned around to wave at Rays fans who were filing out. These fans deserve nothing.
    Rays lost Game 1 of the ALCS. Mets lost Game 1 of the 69 Series. I'm probably only kidding myself here, but this ain't over. GO RAYS!!!

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