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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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My Country 'Tis of The Mets

“South Carolina,” declared John Rutledge, the fair colony’s delegate to the second Continental Congress on the occasion of that body’s 380th meeting, 7 June, 1776, “that is our country.” At least he said so in 1776, the restored director’s cut. As Rutledge was portrayed as a foe of American independence (and not big on the proposition that all men are created equal), I’m not in the habit of quoting him/his character to make my points for me. Yet on the occasion of this body’s deliberations as they concern the second World Baseball Classic, color me a little South Carolinian.

Elsewhere in the most important movie musical of all time, Judge John Wilson had to be continually reminded he couldn’t second Pennsylvania’s motion being that he was from Pennsylvania — but we don’t have that rule at Faith and Fear, so I will second the motion of my fellow delegate from FAFIF: phooey on the WBC. Ditto, ditto, I hate it.

Now please rise and repeat after me:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Metropolitans of New York, and to the baseball season for which they stand: one Team, under Jerry Manuel, noncollapsible, with Johan and K-Rod for all.

You may now take your seats. And the WBC can take a back seat to the M-E-T-S, because to paraphrase from Donald Hall’s biography of the late Dock Ellis, the Mets are a country all to themselves.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to disappoint or deprive the honorable baseball fan from England who shared his eloquent defense of the WBC with us in response to Jason’s enumerated objections. And as long as I’m quoting John Rutledge and praising the British, let me go for the triple play of 1776 heresy and echo John Dickinson when he says that in his own way he regards America no less than does Mr. Adams. In my own way I regard world baseball no less than those who favor the WBC. But I’m not joining its army and I’m not fighting in its defense. It’s not so much that I believe that fight to be hopeless. I believe the WBC to be a waste of my and our time.

It may not be a waste of time to those who want to see baseball take hold on all seven continents (I hear there’s a southpaw in the Antarctica League who throws a pretty mean snowball). It may not be a waste of time to the players we’ve never heard of from places we rarely think of, the way we once rarely thought about Venezuela or Venezuelans like Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez. It may not be a waste of time to fans whose attention will be focused on this once-in-a-triennium opportunity to see some if not all of the best players in the game on one stage.

Yet at the risk of forfeiting my station among those cool, cool considerate men who are willing to see the upside in all this, I’m saying it’s a waste of time to me, the medium-sighted Mets fan whose interest lies in the 2009 Mets mutually pledging to each other — and us — their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor in the 2009 baseball season. I’m saying it’s a waste of time to the 2009 Mets and their pursuit of championship happiness during the 2009 baseball season. As long as it’s a waste of time to the other 29 Major League Baseball teams, I suppose it’s a wash. But I don’t worry about them. I worry about us. And I see no good in this.

Except for what Jerry Manuel chooses to see. In the first Snighcast of the spring last week, Gary Cohen explained Manuel, while not crazy about the WBC concept, hopes the idea his tournament-bound players have expressed about playing for a cause greater than themselves stays with them when they come marching home to Port St. Lucie. For when the WBC ends, Cohen said of Manuel’s thinking, the Mets are their country. Just like it’s our country.

Jerry elaborated in the Post on Monday:

“I hope it has an impact on them as individuals to enjoy that camaraderie and bring that same feeling back here. I think it’s going to be a great experience for them to play for what’s on the front of their jersey and not what’s on the back.”

I’d like to think this isn’t a new sensation to the individual Mets, that whether they’re wearing the uniform of the USA or Puerto Rico or Venezuela these next couple of weeks that they’ve always gotten the idea of the team coming first in what is, for all the individual stats and glory, a team game. They’ve had some pretty piss-poor coaching and guidance their entire lives if it takes the World Baseball Classic to frame that they should be playing each game for the betterment of their team. But maybe that’s just Jerry being Jerry, finding a useful spin to put on any potentially detrimental situation. One assumes the reason the Mets didn’t capture what was right in front of them these past two Septembers wasn’t misdirected individuality deployed at the expense of the unit. One assumes they just kind of sucked at the very worst possible juncture in the schedule.

On the other hand, the last time the Mets made the playoffs was in the last season whose Spring Training was interrupted by a World Baseball Classic. I viewed the WBC in 2006 as something akin to a second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere as much as I do now, but despite the unwelcome break afforded for the piddling, twiddling and resolution of the WBC, those Mets raced out to their best start ever. By the end of that year, we saw fireworks; we saw the pageant and pomp and almost a parade.

At Tradition Field, how quiet…how quiet the chamber is. But when they turn ’round and the battle begins, hey Mets — look sharp. Get whatever you get from this foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy World Baseball Classic and take it to those obnoxious and disliked grenadiers of Philadelphia.

Let winning ring.

This Spring Training lull does present a great opportunity to pre-order Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other fine retailers.

17 comments to My Country ‘Tis of The Mets

  • Anonymous

    I hate the WBC as much as the next sensible Met fan, but I like to look at the glass half-full – the Mets have an average of 97 wins in seasons following the WBC.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Greg. Not only did you make the point I was going to make about the last time there was a WBC (“stole my thunder” in talkradio parlance), you exhausted most of my favorite 1776 metaphors.
    Oh, Greg, am I done…

  • Anonymous

    The WBC interrupts spring training which itself is an interminable, boring, probably unnecessary pain in the ass.
    WBC games are infinitely more entertaining than other spring training games. When one works, as I do, in a multi-ethnic environment, the good natured trash talking among Americans, Dominicans, Mexicans, etc. is a lot of fun.
    I mean, maybe not as compelling as a split squad contest against the Tigers out in Lakeland, but still.
    I like the WBC.

  • Anonymous

    I mean, maybe not as compelling as a split squad contest against the Tigers out in Lakeland, but still. I like the WBC.
    I'm a big fan of Mets (SS), though not really into Mets (SS).

  • Anonymous

    I'm with you on the WBC, but I am REALLY with you on “1776” being the most important and best musical ever.
    My name is mentioned in that film. Look for the scene when the mangy courier, the clerk, and the custodian are hanging around in the darkened Hall, and the courier starts talking about the end of a battle that he witnessed. He talks about how one woman found her (dead) son immediately – that's my full name. Then he sings that haunting song, “Momma, Look Sharp”. What a great movie.
    Of course, that's John Cullum from Northern Exposure playing Rutledge. He also played him on stage.

  • Anonymous

    I respectfully disagree.
    There's only 2 things that I don't like about this year's WBC:
    a) Bobby V isn't managing the Japanese team (not that he should)
    b) Because of an unfortunate pool selection, Yu Darvish won't be able to pitch against the Americans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, or any team largely consisting of Major Leaguers. I'd really love to see that kid step up on a global stage and impress.

  • Anonymous

    I just watched a bit of Team USA taking on Team MFY. Jeter batted for USA and I found myself reflexively rooting for the unfamiliar people in MFY uniforms. Ditto Chipper. Then they showed Davey on the bench and David at bat and I was as American as American Pie.
    Then I decided I couldn't take the emotional whiplash and shut it off.

  • Anonymous

    44% of the Met roster (11 players) were selected to be in the WBC – I believe the most from one single major league team and six more than the Yankees. This proves we either have the best talent in baseball or the most divergent – take your pick. I like to think we have the most divergently talented.

  • Anonymous

    I think it's going to be a great experience for them to play for what's on the front of their jersey and not what's on the back.
    Did anyone else find this a harsh assessment of last year's team? I think the failure was more due to bullpen suckitude than any Bonds-like push for stats.

  • Anonymous

    I thought so, too, but it must look different from the inside.

  • Anonymous

    I hear Sidd Finch is pitching for Antarctica

  • Anonymous

    I wish Ireland fielded a team , don't laugh . We fielded a cricket team in the last cricket WC and actually beat a few power houses. A good deal of the team was made up of English born Irish types , the Irish diaspora can represent Ireland in national sports as long as your ties are real and proven and you have not represented your birth country previously which brings me to the WBC. If like Alex Rodriguez you represented the USA in 2006 you then should not be allowed to represent the DR this time round. Fro me that makes a joke of things.

  • Anonymous

    Dear God, Sir, was that fair?

  • Anonymous

    I'm of two minds about the WBC. In principle, I think a world baseball tournament of sorts is a great idea and I support it. It's just that the timing of it seems an impossible problem to solve. Do it the way it is now and you have all the major leaguers not yet in shape and worried about over-exherting themselves, while other players have long since been conditioned. Do it after the major league season and then you have guys banged up and/or interrupt other leagues that play in the winter.
    Add on the fact that some teams like Cuba's are quite tight knit and already formed while many others are just thrown together out of players who either don't know each other or normally play against each other…well, it's just not as good as it is in theory. But a real WORLD series, that would be something, even so.

  • Anonymous

    Speculation in MLB circles swirled Wednesday that the Mets, who desperately need to obtain a frontline starter this winter, were considering

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you 100% on 1776, I made my daughter watch it on Inauguration day, and she loved it. However, the representative from Congress' name whom John Collum played was Edward Rutledge, not John Rutledge. I loved this post as much as I love that movie.

  • […] no need to be a total curmudgeon about this. While I had no use whatsoever for this tournament at this time of the preseason, and it still offends me that Mets weren’t […]