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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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This One Would Have Been Intolerable in June

After we lost that mildly disgusting 2-1 game to the Marlins, a friend offered sympathies. My response: “I don't know if you do this, but for me early April is Baseball Honeymoon — I'm so happy that my nights and days have normal structure again that losses don't particularly rattle me. And then it's April 26th and I'm like, 'Goddamnit, how the hell are we 5-13? This sucks!' But until then, I'm good.”

The 6-6 Mets are mathematically safe from a 5-13 record, and I'm still in my Baseball Honeymoon. But it's the equivalent of the day on your honeymoon during which you catch yourself thinking not about the beach or wedded bliss, but about packing and the long flight and unpacking and the stack of annoying mail and the bills that will need to get paid and going back to work. The real world is about to come crashing through the bubble.

Today's 4-2 loss to the Brewers didn't leave a particularly visible mark: I lucked into superb seats for my Citi Field regular-season debut, basked in sunshine instead of huddling in the expected rain, spent my time in the amiable company of a friend I don't get to see enough of, crammed myself deplorably full of Shackburgers and tacos and beer, and snagged a Super Express 7 for an easy trip home. What's not to like about a day at the ballpark, particularly after the months of slush and football?

Well, that 4-2 score. The Mets wore their classic pinstripes! Great, they lost. Jose Jose Jose Jose treated us to the first of many Citi Field triples! Great, they lost. Nelson Figueroa pitched scrappily and cannily in an emergency start! Great, they lost. (And poor Figgy got DFA'd by way of reward.) A right fielder got mugged by the sun — and it wasn't Gary Sheffield! Great, they lost. Omir Santos looks like a cult hero! Great, they lost. You can make yourself hoarse talking up character-building losses; better to grope for something to say about mundane wins.

(Citi Field Observation of the Day: At his superb blog, Dana Brand has been wrestling with Citi Field and his reactions to it in a series of heartfelt posts that are by turns hopeful and agonized. The one that really struck me was his thoughts on the crowd and the noise, which so far he doesn't find equal to the Shea experience. Part of this, as Dana notes, is undoubtedly because people are spending time exploring the stadium instead of watching the game. But Dana also notes that people don't seem to stand up a lot at Citi Field, and that the parade of passers-by — nicely described as “the constant and familiar racket” — is missing, because now those people circulate behind the seats. Particularly poignant is his description of Cow-Bell Man being heard but not seen except when he'd pop up at the top of a stairwell before working his way back down and up to a new section. Dana's right — so far the fans do get to their feet less, and the constant circling of people and crowd reactions to them is basically gone. I'd noticed the lack without quite grasping what was missing. The question, though, is whether it's truly a lack, or just something to get used to that we might even come to appreciate. Cow-Bell Man and the grass-roots Let's Go Met agitators are now back in the concourse, to less effect, but so are the mooks displaying their Yankee gear, the people on cellphones trying to locate their friends 33 sections away so they can say “Yeah, I see you waving!” and the legions of dimwitted, drunk and potentially homicidal who would emerge from a tunnel and stop in front of you to stare like stunned cattle at the field. When I mentioned the lack of fans getting to their feet to my seatmate, she cocked an eyebrow and said, “Well, now they can see.” I'm not sure what side of this one I come down on — ask me around Independence Day. But it's definitely one to think about as we get used to the new place.)

Anyway, the Mets had good at-bats and hit balls hard though often in evil luck. They're 6-6, and those six losses have seen a total margin of defeat of just eight runs, which is what your average pinstriped middle reliever surrenders during a bathroom break up at Leni Riefenstahl Stadium. A bit of regression to a friendlier mean and the Mets look just fine, particularly since I'll go out on a statistical limb and bet against the Marlins playing .917 ball the rest of the way. But stripped of the novelty of new parks and new seasons, losses like this eat at you. What's acceptable and almost forgivable in April is distressing and dispiriting in June, and calamitous in September.

It will repair your losses and be a blessing to you. No, not The Collected Works of Whitman or a DVD of Bull Durham with deleted scenes. (Don't bother looking, it doesn't exist.) I'm talking about Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets. Get yours from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

30 comments to This One Would Have Been Intolerable in June

  • Anonymous

    I was at the game as well. It was my second.
    I think the noise, at times, is on-par with Shea. I think more it's not Citi Field, but the Mets themselves. People just don't seem into it. Maybe it's the unfamiliarity, or maybe it's the collapses and the general anger that too many fans cultivate towards the players and team.
    It seemed to me that as many people were yelling negative stuff about RISP than cheering.
    We didn't stand much either, but yes, we could see.. (Standing doesn't actually make any more noise) It'll be interesting to see how this progresses, but there were moments on Thursday for instance, that I felt the same level of noise and cheering.

  • Anonymous

    Leni Riefenstahl Stadium

    CLASSIC!
    I discovered a most unhappy by-product of the Citiexperience in my debut on Saturday: the Neverending Wave. In the 8th inning of a 1-0 game, the Wave started…and kept goingandgoingandgoingandgoing. It struck me as odd until I realized that CitiField is completely enclosed. Film at 11! At Shea, there were end points and when the wave made it all the way around — no mean feat, mind you — it had to stop (mercifully) and re-gear. Not so at Citi. The Wave crashes the bridge in CF and rebounds around the park once again.
    I hate the Wave.
    I think another “reason” for the lack of noise is that the “Hoi Pellew” — as Jimmy Drante used to say — are all upstairs and the relatively empty field/excelsior (!) levels are populated by the corporate and the clubdwellers. So the yawps of us, the great unwashed, fly up and out and don't burble up from below and build up the Cotillion (hat tip to Stephanie Prince for that one).
    Or everybody could be at the Shake Shack.

  • Anonymous

    I'm holding off on figuring out the noise issue. The first and most obvious reason why is because Shea will always be louder in our memories, it's just human nature. Secondly, it's too damn early to tell. Friday night's game got quite loud in the Promenade and felt like Shea. Sunday's game was real quiet in the Promenade and also felt like Shea–because Shea never got that loud on a weekend day-game for a non-rival team (despite the wild card situation w/ the Brewers last year, any team you play 6/162 that doesn't occupy the same city as you just can't be a rival). When it was the top of the 8th and Parnell had 2 strikes w/ 2 outs on Cameron, I asked to nobody in particular “why am I the only one clapping?” This brought back the memory of one Shea weekend afternoon that saw Bobby Jones strike out the side in the 2nd inning only to meet scarce applause. Lame crowds on weekends is not a Citi phenomenon. And besides, it's a new place, I think naturally we're all a little timid. Once the ballpark really becomes our own, the noise will return.
    As for nobody standing in front of you looking for their seat, well I can attest there are a small number of poor unfortunate souls in attendance that still have this problem. Sunday, I was one of them. Promenade 524, Row 4, Seat 4. In an image seen all over the internet already, the staircase from the concourse ended right on top of my view of home plate. While getting around the handrail and the glass edges of the staircase were not a problem, the dipshits looking for their seats were. It is truly amazing how stupid human beings are. Is it not public knowledge that the location of your seat can be found on the ticket?! That you don't have to stand there, staring, blocking everyone's view until you've found your party 12 rows up?! These people looked at their ticket to find out what section they were in, didn't they? Was there a reason they stopped there? Is reading the row and seat number confusing? I can't understand this.
    Luckily, this was only a serious problem in the first two innings, and it wasn't too awful for the remaining seven. I'm not at all saying that makes it acceptable, but it does make it more tolerable. I refused to get bent out of shape over it, because we're all on a learning curve here. At Shea I refused to sit below Row E in the Upper Reserved so the clueless wouldn't disrupt my view of the game, and now I know that I can't sit below Row 7 in the Promenade at Citi. It's all good.
    As for the Mets… I keep reminding myself how much I despised the 2008 squad at point last year, and that they turned it around (sort of). I keep remembering that the Phillies got off to slow starts the last 2 years, and that the Yankees and Braves historically got off to slow starts at the end of their runs and still took the division by a mile. While it calms me down, this procedure will probably only work for another week or so. We need to start hitting with RISP and the Marlins need to lose a focking game already.

  • Anonymous

    That Fucking Wave was an embarrassment to all Metkind on Saturday.

  • Anonymous

    I would bet that people might not stand as much because there's not as much reason to stand. So many of the field level seats at Shea were pointed to the outfield so the only way you could see an at bat was if you stood.

  • Anonymous

    The wave seems to be one of those things that we can't leave rotting in the ground. Those are usually when it's full of 'casual' fans and families. For some reason I've noticed that Saturday's have the most waves, and ESPN Sunday night's have the most fights.
    I've seen some pretty 'epic' waves at Shea too.

  • Anonymous

    All waves are embarrassments when it's 1-0 in the eighth, no matter where, no matter who.

  • Anonymous

    True. They were about 8 miles from the right spot. If there is any good time to do a wave, it's down 20-2.

  • Anonymous

    Wow..just wow. I can get along with the rotunda, I'm fine with the black and orange walls, but things like that really bug me.
    I was thinking about this yesterday too. Why are the staircases so boring? Why are they bland and concrete? Why not at least the Mets Logo on each landing/floor? Hell, why not paint the concrete orange in the stairwells, it'd even accentuate the light.
    It seems like they spent so much time about thinking about the physical building, they did very little thinking about what to decorate it with.

  • Anonymous

    Idiots…

  • Anonymous

    I can tell you that in the last couple of rows of the upper tank, it is plenty noisy. They stand when appropriate, and it isn't the kind of standing in the mezzanine, where someone behind you would surely SIGH that they had to STAND UP again, it was “you're standing here because you should be standing”. The commentary was funny, on point, and mostly PG-rated, except for the kids next to me Friday night, who were going to start making entrendre jokes about the last name of the pitcher until I finally pointed to the two kids sitting in front of me and gave them a look that said “what are you doing, c'mon”.
    people booed the wave. People booed Sweet Caroline. Too many people doing the wave on Friday night, but those were, I think, the people who were high on being in the house for the first time.
    I'm also coming down on the side of the wind carrying away the sound. the PA system is terrible upstairs. it's distorted and we cannot hear clearly. part of it, I think, is the wind blowing it away.
    it is stunning to me that people have a problem finding their seats, when things are SO CLEARLY POSTED.
    OH NO SAID SOMETHING WRONG ABOUT CITI FIELD, TAKE AWAY MY TICKETS
    observations after being there 5 times.

  • Anonymous

    Somebody named “Random Transaction Generator” posted the following on Baseball Think Factory today. I think he or she deserves a Nobel Prize nomination:

    If they were smart they'd immediately sign a licensing deal with Sharpie, stick a plaque over the top of the wall that says “Sharpie(tm) Signature Wall”, and invite famous Mets to come and add their signatures over time.
    When they aren't having someone signing the wall, they could put a plexiglass barrier over it to stop the uninvited from adding their own graffiti.

  • Anonymous

    Went to the game Thursday night, section 103 next to last row. I have to say the crowd noise was just fine when the crowd got into it (Jose Jose Jose chant late in the game), maybe because of where I was sitting it sounded louder than Shea. An enclosed stadium tends to trap more of the noise. The service at the concessions was SLOOOW!! That's one more reason why fans may not have been in their seats cheering (p.s. if three games in to the new season, at any stadium, the hot dog buns are about to turn into croutons, it's not a good sign). We spent time before the game walking around taking in the place, not during the game. Once fans break in the new place there will be greater concentration on the game.
    Someone tried to start the wave a couple rows back from the wall and thankfully went nowhere. I will happily echo the “Take the wave to Shea!” chant from now on… since it's no longer there.

  • Anonymous

    The Sweet Caroline fiasco is really perplexing. If there was an uproar about its absence in 2008, I didn't hear it. In fact, that was one of the songs the fans could vote for, wasn't it? AND IT LOST. Not that The Monkees were any better… I wish they'd put up an internet vote for a new 8th inning sing along, with the stipulation being one of the choices would have to be “no 8th inning sing along”. I'd bet the mortgage it would win.
    My friend Shai put it best on Friday night: the last thing you want is to deaden the crowd late in the game, and that's exactly what Sweet Caroline is doing. When are the Wilpons going to realize that Northeast baseball fans are smarter than they think? I mean, is it our fault? Does Fred sit back and think, “wow, 2007, then 2008–and the fans are still showing up? These people are stupid!” (well… he may be onto something there)
    I'm sure if you asked someone in charge why they keep playing Sweet Caroline even though the fans obviously hate it–partly because it's stupid, partly because it belongs to another team–the response would be, “I don't think the Mets rip off other teams traditions. If we did, you'd see Rally Monkeys or hear New York, New York after the ball game. We're not doing that, so obviously you're wrong to complain, once again.”

  • Anonymous

    I think you'd be surprised. there are people that do want a song in the 8th, and have no problem with sweet caroline. They are the same type of people that do the wave. But their money is as good as ours, sometimes better. I see plenty of people groan at it, but I saw more singing along.
    They had that nice video clip to play with it of the Mets though, that they didn't have this year. maybe they're working on a better video/song combo.

  • Anonymous

    If the PA says “now batting, number ten, Chipper Jones,” and everyone boos, nothing you can do about that. Chipper still gets to bat. If the PA says, “now let's all sing 'Sweet Caroline,'” and even 40% of the house boos, you do have it within your power to make your audience less hostile. It doesn't seem like a win-win if an appreciable, audible component of the crowd is against something designed as a broad crowd-pleaser or at least innocuous space-filler. Delete it and chances are nobody's going home and complaining, “Can you believe they stopped playing 'Sweet Caroline'? Stupid Mets!” to the extent the opposite reaction occurs.
    It's no longer a matter of whether some people like it. It's a matter that enough people don't like it to make it a net negative. If something you can control is coming back at you with unpleasant feedback, then you ditch it and you move on. Period. This isn't Chipper or Jimmy Rollins. You don't have to let Caroline bat.
    There are approximately eleventy-jillion other songs in the world and there is also silence. Why it's either “Sweet Caroline” or “Sweet Caroline” is a bit of a mystery.

  • Anonymous

    Given the Wilpons' Madoff-related losses, the rights fees to “The Curly Shuffle” may now be a little prohibitive.
    That's my theory, anyway.

  • Anonymous

    If that's the case, pretty soon we'll be down to Good evening, everyone, and welcome to a wonderful evening of baseball and picking up after yourselves.

  • Anonymous

    I was a boo-er. And I tried to start a “We're not Bos-ton (clap, clap, clapclapclap)” chant but nobody picked up on it.

  • Anonymous

    Doc miffdom in News here.

  • Anonymous

    Well the Red Sox picked it up from someone else too. It's not like it's a “Boston Thing” anyway. I find baseball/sports teams constantly copy 'good' ideas off each other. We certainly weren't the only (or the first?) to play who let the dogs out? (at least that's dead..) I'm not positive on this, but i'm 99% sure the Rangers play sweet caroline too.
    Clapping for two strikes, the brilliant, brilliant wave, “everybody clap your hands”..etc. are all played around the country.

  • Anonymous

    I actually did find the Monkees marginally better than Sweet Caroline, but only marginally.
    If they really need a sing-a-long… maybe something really up-tempo and with an actual New York connection. The Ramones, perhaps? Can you imagine 42 thousand people singing “I Wanna Be Sedated”?
    As far as the overall noise, there was plenty of it for David Wright's HR on opening day and for Sheffield's 500th on Friday. But it's been the Padres and the Brewers in the “real” games, which isn't much to inspire noise even had the Mets' level of play been better.

  • Anonymous

    According to Matt Cerrone, the Mets have seen the light and are doing the right thing.

  • Anonymous

    I did find that the noise was louder when I went on Sunday than when I went on Wednesday, so I half-take back my assertion about the lack of noise. I do think, though that there will be a continuing problem with energy deficit issue due to the fact that except in the Upper Deck, all seats behind the infield cost over $100 and a lot of those people who are at the game will be enjoying the privileges of their exclusive clubs (what's the point of being exclusive if you don't do the exclusive stuff? nobody pays $250 just for a marginally better seat, do they?) I want them to bring back “I'm a Believer.” It won the election and refers to “Ya Gotta Believe.” “Sweet Caroline” is an abomination and I do not for a moment believe that there was any fan uproar demanding that it be brought back. Would the Mets have us believe that they pay attention to “fan uproar” when it comes to issues having to do with the atmosphere and culture of the stadium?

  • Anonymous

    But not instinctively, of course. It's only after realizing what a PR nightmare this was becoming that they try to spin it in a different direction. It shouldn't take an internet based outcry for them to make the, seemingly obvious, correct decision. Likewise for the (believe it when i see it) Mets Museum/Display. Still, it's only fair that I give them credit for at least ultimately making the right decision here.
    My heart really sank when I read the quotes from Doc. After almost 15 years in exile, our second greatest pitcher finally came home last year, declared himself, first and foremost, a Met – and then almost immediately gets scolded like a toddler for writing on the sterilized walls of the Ebbets (of all things) Club ? J.H. Christ, this organization is aggravating.
    Perhaps he didn't show the greatest judgment, but when you see Dwight Gooden, one of the greatest and most popular Mets of all time, interacting with fans, and acting as an ambassador of good will on behalf of your ballclub after all this time away, well…you've GOT to fucking roll with it. It's that whole “Forest-Trees” scenario.

  • Anonymous

    doesn't take a rocket science to figure out it should be summer of '69.
    or, you know, meet the mets. i haven't noticed it in the early innings yet, but that may be when i'm stuffing my face.

  • Anonymous

    I was hoping the Burgundy Jackets took him out behind the chop shops and worked him over. Politely, of course.

  • Anonymous

    Companies are not designed to show humanity at its best — once they achieve a certain size, they're by their very nature slow, overly deliberative and timid. After a good chunk of my adult life tied to good ones and bad ones, all I ask is that they come around to the right decision before things become a real horror show. As long as they do that, I'm willing to forgive (or at least shrug away) initial missteps. Ask more than that and you're pretty much always going to be disappointed.
    Gosh, that's pretty cynical. Ah well. I'm getting old.

  • Anonymous

    I might have done something myself, had I seen the guy. Unfortunately, I was in Section 524 and couldn't see a fucking thing in left field. Thanks Fred.

  • Anonymous

    If the chop shops were involved, I hope he had his organ donor card filled out.
    ;-)