1. The fortunes of our New York Mets have waxed and waned over the years and their popularity has commensurately ebbed and flowed.
2. But I never changed where they were concerned.
3. And neither did you.
4. We were Mets fans.
5. We are Mets fans.
6. It is as common a bond between you and me as it is an intensely personal act for each and every one of us.
7. It is for you and me — for us — that I am proud to formally announce the forthcoming release of a book I have written, called Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets.
8. I've mentioned the planned publication of this book almost under my breath here a couple of times because, as someone who has seen superb Met pitching thwarted by the likes of Joe Wallis, Wade Boggs and Chris Burke, I don't believe in touting something as done until it is done.
9. It is done.
10. Faith and Fear in Flushing has gone to press.
11. As I understand it, it will be physically available before Opening Day — and it can be pre-ordered right now.
12. I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about it and why, frankly, you should purchase it.
13. First off, it's your story.
14. Well, it's my story, but really, it's our story.
15. Though each of us experiences the Mets individually, there is a certain collective psyche we all share.
16. That's in this book, to be sure.
17. You will recognize yourself in this book.
18. You will read about what it's like being a Mets fan and you will relate.
19. You will say, “This could be my life you're talking about.”
20. Even if it is, technically, my life I'm talking about.
21. The subtitle of the book, “An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets,” attests to the nature of the perspective offered.
22. I don't know a true Mets fan who doesn't take this whole Mets thing extraordinarily personally.
23. There's something about our version of “our team” that seems to cut to the heart of the matter quicker than it does when other fans talk about their team.
24. When we say “we” for Mets, we mean it.
25. As for intensity, there's nothing casual about being a Mets fan.
26. This blog exemplifies that.
27. Your life, I'm guessing in a fairly informed manner, exemplifies that.
28. My life exemplifies that — which is why, in the book, I take the rather audacious step of standing in as “the” Mets fan in our story.
29. You'll recognize yourself, like I said, but you'll recognize me more.
30. You'll recognize some of what I've written from having been a longtime reader of this blog (if that, in fact, is what you've been), but Faith and Fear the book is by no means a best-of collection.
31. It is a carefully constructed narrative that follows the Mets' journey from the very beginning of the franchise right up to the end of last season…and my journey as intertwined with it.
32. It could be your journey; it happens to be mine.
33. I think you'd agree we mark the days of our lives by the seasons of our lives.
34. The Mets seasons, that is.
35. In Faith and Fear, you'll visit the championship seasons, the just-missed seasons, the surprisingly decent seasons, the shockingly awful seasons, the reassuringly mediocre seasons.
36. You'll see how those Mets seasons enhance, overshadow and dovetail with what some would call life.
37. As an intense personal history, the storytelling device is me as much as the Mets, but there will be plenty of Mets in there.
38. In fact, one of the impulses I had to fight was to pour on the Mets history, because I can do that, y'know.
39. My editor, an insightful fellow, gave me some good advice: when you have to make a choice, choose the information the reader doesn't know.
40. Thus, while this book can be enjoyed by any person or baseball fan, I wrote it primarily for those who won't require translation or cribbing.
41. I wrote it for you, the Mets fan.
42. I wrote it for you who knows without a lengthy explanation what I mean when I say, to use my editor's example, Terry Pendleton.
43. If I err on the side of inside baseball, I err on the side of the Mets fan.
44. Not nearly enough writers do.
45. I always will.
46. I've always wanted to.
47. Always, in my case, has its roots in the summer of '75, when I was twelve and hanging around the sports shelves of the Long Beach Public Library and taking out every Mets book I could find.
48. “Say,” I thought, “it would sure be great if I could write one of these way off in the distant future.”
49. Some move in mysterious ways.
50. I move like molasses.
51. There was a conversation with my mother (someone you'll get to know some in this book) in which she dismissed my notion to become what I, with youthful brio, called a “real writer”.
52. “What are you going to do — sit in a little room all day and write poems?” was her reasoned and encouraging response.
53. Or was it sit in a room all day and write little poems?
54. Either way, my mother did not believe in youthful brio and belittled my concept of what it meant to be a real writer.
55. Not to take the well-worn path of middle-aged men everywhere who blame all their problems on their late mothers, but that's the kind of thing that can resonate and rattle around in one's subconscious for what feels like an eternity.
56. It is probably as much that exchange as any episode that led me to pursue practicality and, ultimately, obscurity as a writer who wrote, for a living, things I had not necessarily much interest in.
57. It was definitely technology and the first good friend I made because of it that began to pull me out of that particular morass.
58. I like to reference the Bill Pulsipher story, how Jason and I went to our first game together in 1995 on the day the first of the Mets' three Generation K pitchers made his major league debut.
60. Jason and I met online, via the AOL Grandstand sports forum, trading with each other and dozens of Mets fans thoughts and plans for the 1994 Mets.
61. I was shocked to learn such a venue existed and that there was a way of meeting other Mets fans without actually meeting them.
62. More pertinently, I was delighted to learn there was a place to express myself to an audience on Mets matters.
63. Except in the most limited way, I had never done that before.
64. Jason appreciated what I was doing, just as I appreciated what Jason was doing, which is why we wound up taking our segment of the conversation to e-mail once the strike dried up the at-large Mets chat.
65. As an aside, I assumed everybody would want to stick around and talk Mets baseball through the strike just because it's what true Mets fans should do.
66. They didn't; we did.
67. Anyway, as noted, Jason and I went to the Pulse game and other games from 1995 on, but most of all kept e-mailing each other.
68. Somewhere back there in the late '90s, probably about the time the Bobby Valentine Mets were giving us something to really write home about, Jason began encouraging me to write a memoir about being a Mets fan.
69. Others would, too, but he was the first.
70. And when Jason encourages you in your writing, you know you're doing something right, because this man is an incredible writer.
71. He still is, as you know, but when we first started corresponding…I know I'm telling you about a baseball book, but it reminds me of a basketball player of whom I was quite fond when I was growing up.
72. If you saw Julius Erving play for the Philadelphia 76ers, you'd hear others call him great, yet, if you saw him before he was a Sixer, you'd think, “Yeah, but I saw him in the ABA with the Nets, and he was really incredible then.”
73. And if you saw him a few times as a Virginia Squire, before he was a Net even, you knew you saw him when he was beyond incredible.
74. I read Jason writing about the Mets in his AOL days…it was Dr. J on the Squires all over again.
75. He was beyond incredible.
76. So when Dr. Jace tells you you should write a book, you'd do well to listen.
77. Even if you don't act on it immediately.
78. It's years later, and it makes me incredibly happy that the book I finally wrote has as its first piece of text a foreword by Jason Fry.
79. Right away you're getting your money's worth.
80. I should also point out that it was the publisher's idea to call the book Faith and Fear in Flushing, to which I protested a little because I saw that name as a joint production of Jason's and mine (never mind that he came up with the name on his own).
81. Last summer, when I was offered a book deal by Skyhorse Publishing, I told them I felt obligated to check with Jason about the name.
82. I asked and he never blinked, which I appreciate as much as the foreword itself.
83. I also appreciate the direct participation of two others in this project.
84. First is the other name you'll see on the cover, and that is Gary Cohen.
85. When my editor and I discussed having a “name” (besides mine and Jason's) involved, we both had the same one in mind: Gary Cohen.
86. When I contacted Gary about writing an introduction, he was thoughtful, gracious, as much a mensch in real life as he's been on the air since 1989…but he declined, saying he simply didn't like to write (which is an odd thing for a blogger to hear).
87. We never doggedly pursued anybody else, so I went back to Gary with a proposal: what about an interview?
88. It wasn't exactly my idea; I stole it from Dennis D'Agostino's essential This Date in New York Mets History, which includes a wonderful Q&A with Bob Murphy.
89. Gary agreed to that format and, as a result, Faith and Fear in Flushing includes a wonderful Q&A with Gary Cohen on the end of Shea Stadium.
90. Completing the lineup is the abundantly talented photographer David G. Whitham, an artist whose Mets portfolio it has been our honor to showcase here throughout the winter.
91. David lent the book some of his best baseball work and was kind enough to join me for a day of vital shooting late in Shea Stadium's life.
92. So there it is: what the book is about, how it came to be and who else made it what it is.
93. All that's left is for you to buy it.
94. I don't say that lightly.
95. I'm kind of shy about self-promoting, let alone asking you to pony up actual money, particularly in this economy.
96. But if you can spare the list price of $24.95 — less via some of your popular online booksellers — it is my honest belief that you will not be sorry.
97. It is my honest belief that you will recoup your investment in enjoyment, in emotion, in Mets.
98. Thank you for enduring what amounts to an extended commercial — and thank you, for that matter, for being a reader of this blog, which is what made the publication of this book possible…hell, necessary.
99.9. Please (and, by all means, tell your friends).