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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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Yes and No

The phone rang at my desk on May 22, 1998. I didn’t recognize the voice.

“Hi,” someone said. “You’re gonna have Mike Piazza on the Mets, but he might or might not use some substances that aren’t exactly on the up and up to keep his performance at the extraordinary level it’s been since he’s been in the majors. Not saying he’s doing that now, but he might have been. You still want him on the Mets?”

I said yes.

The phone rang in my home on October 19, 1999. Same voice.

“Hi,” someone said. “The Mets are down to the Braves 7-3 right now and if they don’t come back, they’re done for in the NLCS. We’re headed to the seventh. Piazza can hit an absolute laser of a homer off Smoltz and tie it in a few minutes, but he might need a little something to help him, considering how banged up he’s been this month. He might not, but I’m just saying it’s a possibility. You OK with that?”

I said yes.

The phone rang in my pocket at my seat on June 30, 2000. Same voice.

“Hi,” someone said. “Listen, I know this game sucks right now in the middle of the eighth, the Mets losing 8-1, but some baserunners are gonna get on and before you know it, it will be tied 8-8, two will be on and Piazza will be up. He can take one mighty swing and give you the memory of a lifetime here. I mean you’ll be talking about this forever. Thing is the swing might not produce anything unless he’s sort of ‘enhanced’ before coming to bat. Can’t say for sure that he’ll need that extra boost, but if we have to go that route, will you sign off on that decision?”

I said yes.

Every now and then, I’d get a call like that. Same basic proposition: Mike Piazza will perform as no Met before him did, as no Met around him could. Every time he did, it would give me a thrill unsurpassed by any other sensation. But I had to say yes, that however Piazza prepared himself to deliver on my behalf was all right by me.

I always said yes.

It’s years since Mike Piazza played for the Mets. I got one more call from that voice, this afternoon.

“Hi,” someone said. “A book is coming out that alleges Mike Piazza used performance-enhancing substances. There’s no irrefutable evidence, but it’s by a writer you basically trust. And it’s not the first time someone’s mentioned this sort of thing. Anyway, you’ve been a Mets fan your whole life and you never got a rush from any Met the way you did from Piazza hitting those amazing, dramatic homers he had such a knack for. So I’m just wondering, do these revelations — if they’re true, and we don’t know if they are — change any of the way you felt toward Mike Piazza?”

I said no. Not really.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers.

21 comments to Yes and No

  • Anonymous

    Hear, hear!

  • Anonymous

    This goes, you realize, for all of them. Clemens gave plenty of people some great moments. God willing, Mikey won't go lie to Congress, but the (reasonably credible) accusations diminish him, for me.
    It was an era. Blemished like every other baseball era. But each era needs to grapple with its particular failings. We can't just gloss over it because we loved our player.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    It would be devestating to learn Mike Piazza used performance enhancing drugs. It would also finally put us who voiced outrage over the entire sterroid issue to the test. If it involves one of our beloved Met institutations do we stand by our principles or become hypocrites? Do we accept the feats of Bonds, McGwire, etc. in order to continue rejoicing his?
    It would hurt. Who could ever forget Mike put out his all for the orange and blue and came through both on and off the field after 9/11? But from a fan's perspective, his on-field accomplishments could no longer be seen in the same light as they were before.
    So let's hope the rumors just stay that way. Anything else would be a painful disappointment.

  • Anonymous

    a) Steroids was baseball's fault – not the players. You put human beings in a choice of don't play or cheat – they are going to choose cheat everytime, but then if it isn't against the rules is it cheating?
    b) I don't believe that he used PEDs. Find me one reporter in NY that wouldn't have printed it the second he said he did them. They'll print he is gay, but not using PEDs – I don't buy it.
    c) Greatest Met position player ever. Name the 5 most memorable home runs by a Met, Mr. Piazza has 3 or 4.
    d) Mr. Piazza is a great man for our city. After 9/11 – he didn't just hit a home run. He helped. He volunteered. He donated more than his money.
    e) I don't care if he did or didn't (I still say he didn't). When he came back in 2006 as a Padre, he got a curtain call for hitting a homer AGAINST the Mets. He got a giant standing ovation for bringing out the lineup as an A. And after a miserable end to 2008, the whole of Shea was rocking with his name. Not Willie Mays, not Keith Hernandez, not Doc or Daryl, heck not even the Franchise got his reception. He is our best – on and off the field.

  • Anonymous

    oh and I don't care that A-Rod, or Bonds, or Sosa, or Big Mac, or the Rocket, or Petit, or Tejada, or Giambi, or, or, or did it then. I'd care if they do it now.

  • Anonymous

    This is why I favor rules of full disclosure — you have to admit to everything you're on, and if you're caught in a lie you're banned for life — instead of forcing players to bullshit and cover it up, which of course they will do if they know at least half the league is doing it.
    Mike Piazza was a completely mediocre player in college, and came back one year from the Mexican Leagues with a huge barrel chest and scary biceps at age 22 and started smacking beebees. You can't tell me the weight rooms in Mexico are THAT great. At some point, at least, he used. None of this surprises me.
    So if Piazza copped to using to the media and nobody reported it, whose responsibility is it that we didn't know until now, anyway?
    Also, Jeff Pearlman is a festering jackhole. Guy does a story on David Wells and all he can do is go on for 72 paragraphs about how fat Wells is. If only Pearlman could have borrowed some of Wells' adipose tissue to inject into his own carb-starved brain cells, he could have written a real story.

  • Anonymous

    Ya gotta stop beating around the bush, Andee: tell us how you really feel…

  • Anonymous

    If Piazza was using, that makes me sad. It doesn't diminish all those moments he gave us, any more than the coke diminishes '86, IMHO.
    I guess mostly, I'm just numb…

  • Anonymous

    I suppose you're right, but I hate Clemens not because he used steroids but because he was such a raging lunatic jerk.
    Of course, that may be BECAUSE he used steroids . . .

  • Anonymous

    I still don't get it. Batters used steroids. Pitchers used steroids. It's an even playing field.
    And we all LOVED it.

  • Anonymous

    It does shatter my image of Big Mike a little, but in the context, all things considered, it's not surprising and I don't regret for a moment every cheer I ever gave for the Man.
    More and more it seems baseball was to blame, more than any given player. And at least Piazza didn't go around throwing shards of bat at people. Nor did he react in anger at that show of senseless villainy.

  • Anonymous

    If true, this will be the worst news for us since 6/15/77. I will absolutely be crushed. I have loved Piazza like no Met since Seaver. All the heroics, all he did for the city, and this will be what we're left with. He was such a great story, from last player drafted to greatest (hitting) catcher ever. Our second hall of famer. All for what? To be lumped in with Bonds, McGwire and that rancid piece of shit Clemens? After reveling in the news of A-Roid/Giambi/Clemens/seemingly every third Yankee of the past twelve years, our greatest player is revealed to have cheated too? I pray this isn't true, or that maybe he just used that andro stuff that wasn't technically outlawed.
    Damn.

  • Anonymous

    Faith is the first word in the blog-title for a reason. In the absence of conclusive evidence, we give Piazza the benefit of the doubt.

  • Anonymous

    I was there the night Piazza got multiple curtain calls, his first time back at Shea – it STILL gives me goosebumps. When tix went on sale that year, I KNEW that that was the game I would be at.
    It's easy to vilify these men for something the MLB looked the other way about for far too long. It needs to be a closed chapter so that everyone can move on.

  • Anonymous

    Greg, I know your being facetous with the phone call thing, but while Mike was playing for the Mets did it ever cross your mind that he was doing steroids? I have to admit, I never suspected it.
    I understand you cherish the memories Mike gave us, but aren't they tainted just a little if these allegations are true?
    Or at least will you agree that if you had evaluated Mike's career based on the notion that his success was purely the result of hard work and was not abetted by PEDs, that evaluation would have to change to some degree when you learned later that he did have the help of some substances not available to Carlton Fisk? If Mike used steroids, doesn't it make him less “great”?
    -Mike V
    By the way, Greg, if I learned you were on the 'roids, I would still be a huge fan.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate your unconditional support, Mike. Caffeine and some No-Doz a quarter-century ago (if you're up to Chapter Eleven) are my only performance-enhancers
    For me (and speaking just for myself), I'd feel the hypocrite if I suddenly decided Mike Piazza let me down. Mike Piazza lifted me up. I'd rather he didn't do anything he is alleged to have done but I thought “what if…?” What if, in the cauldron of the moments I described, I was given that choice, would have I said yes? I think I would have. I was hooked on Piazza.
    Can't speak for Carlton Fisk or any of Mike's HOF predecessors. I don't worry too much about his historical standing versus other catchers. I just dig Mike Piazza. (Plus, unlike others alleged to have taken these substances, he never came off as a jerk while he played — or now.)
    If steroids came up as a topic twice during his Mets career, it would have been a lot. I don't mean among players, I mean in the press where fans like us would have heard about it. It never crossed my mind independently. Other guys were hitting 60 and 50 homer runs. Mike never hit more than 40. Since he was a great hitter for the Dodgers from the start (before the McGwires, et al took off), it never occurred to me we were seeing anything more than a phenomenal player. As long as I keep him perspective as that: a player, not an other world being, then, to me, whatever happened happened.

  • Anonymous

    This is the difference re: Piazza and those other blow hards who did steroids or have been “accused” of “allegedly” doing them – Piazza wasn't necessarily a monster like Bonds or McGwire or Sosa who did them, by most accounts, to hit the most home runs. Clemens did it and when someone performed against him (ahem – Piazza) he went off on a roid rage – kind of like that guy in Major League who threw at his own kid in a father-son game (and Clemens DID do that to Koby). Kind of like Robin Ventura (who I believe did them as well but I could be wrong), Robin was always the type of guy who played hard. Piazza was too, so for that he is endeared to us. I do think we could be a bit hypocritical when we throw players like A-Rod under a bus, but then again, these guys had bonafide God-given talent that only exploded once they took the PEDs. I'm not say what Piazza did was more “acceptable” than A-Rod or others per se, but will it matter if we knew for sure? I think it will more than people say. Sucks when our idols come down to earth, that's for sure.

  • Anonymous

    I tend towards being judgemental and unforgiving, among my many dislikable qualities. I am really having a hard time with this. IF (and that's a huge if, because I don't believe it and will give Mike every benefit of every doubt) this turns out to be true I can't imagine I'll feel quite the same about Mike ever again. After all the derision we heaped on seemingly every Yankee these last 3-4 years, it would be the height of hypocrisy (for me, anyway) to be unfazed by this.

  • Anonymous

    OT:
    When I was 17 it was a very off-year…
    (and no, I'm not in this)

  • Anonymous

    But I was at the game…

  • Anonymous

    If it turns out that Mike Piazza used steroids, I will be devastated and it will in fact taint the whole era for me. I have no patience for the guys that tried to cheat and I don't have it in me to forgive them. Baseball is such an arbitrary thing anyway as it is. It's an illusion. But if some are finding a way to sneak an unfair advantage into the illusion, well it makes it too much of an illusion. I have a hard enough time understanding why I care so much about baseball as it is. I need Piazza to be a baseball hero. The Mets have had precious few. Coke and alcohol didn't give anyone a competitive advantage. I don't care about that stuff. I care about steroids. If Mike used them I will be heartbroken. I hope, and for the time being, I believe that it is not true.