We’re a team. We win together, we lose together, we celebrate and we mourn together. And defeats are softened and victories sweetened because we did them together.
It was fairly early in the life of this enterprise, which turns four years old today, that I coined the phrase that passes for its mission statement: the blog for Mets fans who like to read. It’s probably one of the most succinct complete thoughts I ever committed to print.
Thing is, back on February 16, 2005, that description was a theory, an aspiration at best. The blog for Mets fans who like to read? You needed readers to validate that appraisal.
Soon enough, we got ‘em. We got you, which is all we ever needed. Then we got so much more.
On February 16, FAFIF Day (a Federal holiday since 1971, provided it falls on the third Monday in February), I like to take a few moments and think about who we are and what we do. We write, yeah, but more than that — what makes me smile most about Faith and Fear in Flushing — is that we gather. We gather everybody around this particURLar campfire and we tell each other stories. Not just Jason and me, but all of us. You like to read and you like to write back and we respond in kind. It’s the circle of blog life.
It works. It works here in a way I’ve never seen it work anywhere else where the world is viewed through orange & blue-colored glasses. I’m a devoted and enthusiastic reader of dozens of Mets-themed blogs, but this is the only one that feels, on both sides of the digital railing, like a community in which I would choose to live, a place where I kind of do.
Just before the inauguration of President Obama and in anticipation of the Super Bowl, Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman, a native of Pittsburgh, used current events as an excuse to salute his beloved Steeler Nation, “one of the planet’s most populous and intense sports-fan cohorts” and, eventually, draw a larger point:
[S]uch groupings — what might be called “voluntary tribes” — are assuming a new importance in America. As neighborhoods and schools become more diverse, marriages become more mixed and social hierarchies break down, old lines are getting blurry. Voluntary tribes are a way of recreating a sense of community.
Fineman’s black & gold-tinged conclusion reminded me of an article I read in the Times five years ago this month, about the trend toward making funerals less about traditional religious rites and more about what made the deceased’s life his or her own; Humanists call it “a celebration of the life”. Some clergy grumbled that the “personalization” movement was an affront to what made a funeral a funeral. Said one theologian, ”It’s not as if old rituals are evolving to absorb new needs. It’s as if we’ve broken with tradition and people make things up.”
Which is fine with me, in death or life (which is always up for grabs if you’ve survived two consecutive seasons of Mets relief pitching). I cast my lot with my team a long time ago and I’m most at peace when congregating with those in my tribe, here or elsewhere.
Leigh Montville wrote a wonderful story in Sports Illustrated in 2000 about what the end of Mile High Stadium would mean to a group of Broncos fans who had autumned together in the South Stands and grown close as a result. One of the regulars summed up the arrangement:
“Everybody knows everybody else in our section. It’s nice. Sometimes you don’t see these people anywhere else except at the games. But when the next season starts, you pick right up.”
During my brief forays into partial ticket plans and packs, I never felt that way about those who wound up by chance my recurring neighbors (a point hammered home by the “BULLPEN IS PIG PEN!” guy on the Final Day), so when the Mets ticket rep called last week to ask if I planned on “coming out” this season (which is a pretty personal question for a ticket rep, even one from the Mets), I continued to pass. I don’t know enough about The Field @ Shea Point, as the Other Jason calls it, let alone a particular section’s inhabitants, to want to commit to as many as fifteen games in the same spot.
But I’m good right here. I’m good here with you guys. I’m good that we, without as much as a memo, subtly shifted Faith and Fear from a blog about a team by its fans to a blog about the fans of a team — and their team. I’m glad that with our fifth Spring Training underway, I don’t feel compelled as I did during our first Spring Training to remark on every little development that drifts north…though Luis Castillo won’t bat leadoff for long if ever and Livan Hernandez won’t make or break this rotation. I’m proud that I can read a comment by one of our regulars and generally detect who left it before confirming the identity of the commenter, and that sometimes I know something’s been written by Anonymous before I see for sure that it indeed went unsigned (I would ask those mystery readers if they plan on “coming out” this season). I’m gratified that a mile-high level of discourse runs through our comments concourse; it runs like Reyes. I’m thrilled that ruminating for rumination’s sake is accepted as currency of the realm by those Mets fans who like to read, who like to read us.
I’m a Mets fan who likes to write. Thanks for playing along at home for another year.
Ruminating on Mets fandom like no book before it, Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available for pre-ordering now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine online retailers.