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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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A Classic … for the Other Guys

You know, I've tried to hate the Phillies. I really have. But I can't quite manage it.

There's the country thunder of Ryan Howard, the guts and intensity of Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins' habit of backing up his big talk. Can't hate any of them. There's the goofy surfer charm of Jayson Werth and Cole Hamels, and the strange sight of Raul Ibanez, who somehow has 20 home runs despite looking like he's about 60 years old and hunched over in constant pain. None of them get black marks in my book. There's the stranger-than-fiction story of Chris Coste and the apparently never-ending tale of Jamie Moyer. Great stuff. There are guys who annoy the crap out of you but you know you'd adore if they wore your uniform — a category that includes the likes of Shane Victorino and J.C. Romero. Not so long ago, the Phillies were known as a soft clubhouse full of guys who spent the spring hiding from Larry Bowa and could be counted on to quit in the summer. Now, the Phillies play like the fate of the world's at stake every night, and the clubhouse accused of being soft is our own.

I'm not saying some of the Phillies don't get me worked up — Brett Myers needs no explanation and Greg Dobbs strikes me as a Cody Ross-level douchebag. (Rollins' takeout slide on Alex Cora was clean; Dobbs's tonight was decidedly not.) And I like that the Phillies rub the Mets the wrong way — I wish more opponents made the Mets a bit testy. But watching the Phillies — even getting beaten by the Phillies — just doesn't make me seethe like seeing triumphant Yankees or Braves does.

Maybe it helps that tonight's game was another classic — just one that turned out wrong for us. There was more bad feeling on display, another three-run lead surrendered, chance after Met chance wasted, tit-for-tat highlight plays and finally too much Werth and Utley to withstand. And there was plenty to ponder along the way.

For openers, it's increasingly apparent that Mike Pelfrey is somewhere between eccentric and batshit insane. During the broadcast it came to light that Johan Santana had taken Pelfrey aside and told him to stop fidgeting and taking off his cap and being generally Pelfreyesque on the mound. Gary, Keith and Ron used that to salute Santana's leadership, but it struck me as evidence of just how weird Big Pelf has become: He falls off the mound, mutters the pitch he's going to throw so the hitter can hear, picks fights with enemy batters and at least once per start has to be tended to by the catcher and the infield like he's a spooked horse. It's not that there's anything wrong with this — rather, it's that pitchers are expected to start off flighty and jumpy and then calm down, or at least channel their competitiveness as they mature. But Pelfrey seems to be going in the opposite direction: The better he gets, the weirder he gets.

Speaking of weird, is it possible baseball's umpires have taken up pre-game crack? Dan Iassogna blew two calls at first (Castillo was out, Beltran was safe) and Fernando Tatis all but draped himself over Carlos Ruiz on a remarkably incompetent bunt without drawing an interference call from Randy Marsh. What gives? And while I'm feeling cranky, whatever happened to the home-plate umpire removing the bat when a runner was inbound?

When Bobby Parnell came into the game, I glanced at his stats and did a double-take: Were opponents really hitting .300 against him, with lefties up in Ted Williams territory? Yes, they were — and the Phillies immediately proved it, with Utley lacing his fatal home run into the right-field seats and Ryan Howard driving Jeremy Reed to the left-field wall and a good distance up it. Lighting up three digits on the radar gun is nice and all, but that BAA is more than a little terrifying for an eighth-inning guy.

And finally, what can you say about Werth's catch? Werth himself admitted he didn't expect to catch it, which I'm sure offers David Wright no comfort. A couple of inches in any direction, and our lasting image of tonight's game is Werth rolling over disconsolately in the grass as SNY's cameras track the ball to a final resting spot somewhere on the warning track and Wright gets dogpiled at first. Then Emily goes to Citi Field Thursday night with her husband having bought her a mini-broom and insisted she chant “SWEEP!” all night while he glues himself to the couch and tries not to think too hard about a share of first place.

Instead, we're left with this: He sure as hell looked like Ron Swoboda out there, didn't he?

***

METSTOCK: 3 Hours of Pizza and Baseball is coming to Manhattan on Thursday, June 18, 7:00 PM. Meet the authors of A Magic Summer, Mets By The Numbers and Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, talk baseball with them, watch the Mets beat the Orioles just as they did in '69 with us and have a generally great time. Details here.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

29 comments to A Classic … for the Other Guys

  • Anonymous

    You must be kidding. While I objectively appreciate the fact that they do what it takes to win and admire their success, I hate those Phuckers with every fiber of my being.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I did too. Help me out here!

  • Anonymous

    I'm with mikeski. You're getting soft, Jace.

  • Anonymous

    As a Mets fan who moved to Philly a few years ago, it's like dealing with the late-90s Yankees and the perma-frustrating Braves all rolled up into one. The Phils dominate the Mets in the division like the Braves did, always get the break or the big play like the Braves and Yankees did (do), are complete and utter media darlings, and have a legion of smug, bandwaggoner fans in brand-new Phils caps who get to enjoy baseball much, much more than I do.
    And like the ongoing decade-plus of the Mets playing foil to the Braves and Yanks, it really doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon. In any other rivalry I would expect the roles to change every few years, but it's hard to imagine these Mets ever turning it around against these guys.

  • Anonymous

    If you've seen “Simply Amazin',” the oft-repeated documentary on SNY about 1986, perhaps you've noticed Mike Krukow too steamed to speak coherently when addressing the subject of Lenny Dykstra. It was 20 years later and he still couldn't stand him. I'm guessing that should I live to the year 2029, I will still randomly mutter “fucking Shane Victorino” with little prompt.
    If he were on my team, it might be different. The point is he's not. One can recognize and appreciate talent in another uniform. One should also recognize that it's in another uniform, one filled with personnel that has made our collective lives more miserable than necessary since June 2007.
    Get over the Braves, at least until the next series with them, amigo of mine. It's almost the second decade of the current century. What time is it? It's time to hate the Phillies.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot stand any of 'em…
    And I had a Metcovetousmancrush on Jayson Werth before he went all Swoboda on us last night.

  • Anonymous

    And let's not forget that the Phillies' cherished role as the Celebration Police, captained by a guy in Shane Victorino who could give Derek Jeter a run for his money in the fist-pumping department.

  • Anonymous

    Bleh, take out a “that.”

  • Anonymous

    “That” or not, Frankie Rodriguez can't point skyward enough for my tastes. The Phillies can take their Judith Martin protocol back to their sewing circle along with their bats if they don't like it. Same goes for any blowhard radio hosts who tut-tut the most prolific recorder of saves baseball has ever known.

  • Anonymous

    RRRRAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! PHILLIES!!!!!
    I'm trying!

  • Anonymous

    I'm guessing that should I live to the year 2029, I will still randomly mutter “fucking Shane Victorino” with little prompt.
    I'm guessing that, at the very end, when the movie of my life is flashing before my eyes, I will mutter “fucking Shane Victorino” hard on the heels of “fucking Chipper Jones”.

  • Anonymous

    At least early on in their 90s resurgnce, it wasn't Yankee players I hated so much. A couple of tools like O'Neill aside, they seemed like a bunch of solid guys who played the game right. It was the Yankee fans that roiled me. The obnoxious, arrogant, fair-weather know-nothing dimwits whose club had been in baseball Siberia for the previous 15 years, an absolute afterthought in NYC, who just would never, ever shut up.
    You think Yankee fans are bad? Hang with Phillies fans. As obnoxious as Yank fans, but (until last year) utterly without portfolio. Four mid-eighties years of college with “Mets suck! Ahhh, your team sucks!”. WTF, you guys have won won one World Series in like 100 years, and you're 20 games out. “Ahhh, Mets suck! New York sucks!”. They wear their stupidity like a badge of honor: “Yeah, brah, we booed Santa! Yeah, we had a jail in our stadium!”.
    You wanna hate the Phillies? Go to the July 4 game in Philly with your Mets stuff on. A 4:00 start, their fans will be even more rabidly intoxicated than usual. You'll come away full of hate.
    Oh, and Sphincterino is the most grating d-bag opponent in many years. Reyes celebrates too much? Nice fist-pump dancing last night, you wanker.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I have to post a rare disagreement here. These Phillies are utterly despicable. Their lineup is loaded with punks. They whine about Jose Reyes enthusiastically high-fiving his teammates. Meanwhile, you have Rollins and his logorrhea, recently updated to include shushing the Citi Field crowd in a game his team went on to lose; Hamels, he of “choker” fame; Dobbs and his, well, Dobbs-hood. The list goes on. And if Victorino doesn't take one in the ribs soon I am going to lose it. He may be the worst offender in the league. While I hate the Yankees and Braves as much as the next guy, I never felt such pure and utter contempt for a group of players as I do for this Phillies team. Even Chipper Jones never got me this agitated.

  • Anonymous

    how does “the country thunder of Ryan Howard, the guts and intensity of Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins' habit of backing up his big talk” not make you hate them more? that shit is annoying as hell. its also exhibit A, B and C when someone makes the stupid arguement that those 3 are more valuable than reyes, wright and beltran. mother eff howard's thunder, utley's grission and rollins' mouth. i hope all three fall into an open volcano.
    you are one weird mets fan dude.

  • Anonymous

    Let me just add this, Kingman fan: Last summer I took my 7 year old son to Philly for a game. We went properly decked out in our Mets gear, but I made it clear to him that, while he could (and should) cheer as loud as he could for the good guys, he could NOT trash-talk the Phillies or their fans. He complied. Well, the fans started shouting things at him – my 7 year old – the minute we got near the building. But what I found really amusing was that the CBP personnel even got in on the act – when the guy working the fan information booth saw us, he started calling out, “Don't forget to visit the American Red Cross booth by the 3rd base gate. They'll be giving lessons on how to avoid choking all evening long.”
    (Okay, it was a lot less eloquent than that, but that's what he said, in sum or substance.)

  • Anonymous

    Logorrhea. I love it.

  • Anonymous

    I think it's because even before they won the World Series, the media lapped up their mythos. If Reyes had shown up late to a game with first place on the line, the media outrage would have sent the Earth hurtling out of its orbit and into the sun. Yet Rollins did just that last year and the baseball punditocracy barely cared. They didn't and still don't let anything mess with the overrarching narrative that's been constructed around these two teams.
    Hence when the Mets pulled out a tough comeback victory on Tuesday night it might as well have happened in a vacuum, but when the Phillies did the same last night it's now suddenly time to condemn the Mets yet again.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed. Caught John Kruk reading far more of that “this proves Phillies have heart and Mets don't” logorrhea into a 5-4, 11-inning nailbiter than was merited on BBTN.
    Which surprised me since Kruk doesn't seem like one who is likely to read.

  • Anonymous

    And while Tug is probably close to as much theirs as ours, their fans co-opted “Ya Gotta Believe!” That's like the LA Dodgers suing the Brooklyn Dodgers Sports Bar a few years back.
    Have I written enough about this yet? :)

  • Anonymous

    Let it out. You're among friends (unlike where you live, I take it).

  • Anonymous

    Let's make our own headlines:
    JOHN KRUK HAS GONORRHEA

  • Anonymous

    I'm sticking to my pick of Braves second over the Phillies, but time will tell. Right now I despise the Phillies, probably the way Goliath looked at David afterwards. Only David's the bad guy.
    It's more the missed opportunity that makes me hate them. How everything would be so different based on any little aspect of 2007. Take Marlon's Anderson's slide against the Phillies, that was very similiar to Rollins. If he doesn't get called out, and the Mets win that game: The Mets probably win the division. David Wright probably gets the MVP. _Charlie_ Manuel probably gets fired. The Phillies are pegged as constant underachievers who lost 10000 games. Do they come back from that and win in 2008? Probably not. The Mets would again make the playoffs, Willie Randolph would be the best Mets manager ever and we'd be trying to figure out if there was room for 12, 5, 7, 57, and 15 on the LF wall at Citi Field.
    I hate them because they have what's ours. And I want it back.

  • Anonymous

    I've been saying this since the beginning of '07. It might be time for another post about it. I want the Mets to step it up even. I want Reyes to bow at the pitcher after a home run, Japanese style. Leap on the Phillies dugout and high five fans.

  • Anonymous

    My wife, my sister, her girlfriend and I went to a game in Philly last year. The fans in the parking lot were reasonable, I even had fun hanging with a bunch of them for about 45 minutes when my family banished me from the vicinity of our car due to my cigar. The creeps inside were a different story. We are respectful opposing fans. I don't like when an outsider is up, screaming and waving his hat in my face at Shea, so I keep it cool at away games. That didn't stop the shouting at us (and the rest of the Met fans – it must suck to be outnumbered in your own park) from the moment we sat down. Fine, whatever. Here's the great part: every time I got up to roam, get a beer, pee, whatever, the heroes near us got more abusive to the women. Ultimately, my sister lost it when the two tough guys behind them kneed them both in the head and dropped sandwich bits on them, and laughed and said “Go back to New York”. My wife implored my sister not to tell me because, well, they didn't want to bail me out of jail. Without knowing exactly what had transpired, I knew something was up and confronted them. Typically of bullies, these two candy-ass bitches backed down from a guy twice their age and left. THEN they told me what had happened, after enough time had passed to preclude my finding them.
    Suffice to say that Philly fans are despicable, mouthbreathing assholes. Their team and third-rate “city” can go Phuck themselves. And we'll be back.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh, Phillies fans. What an obnoxious breed they are. I remember leaving one game from 1983 with my family at the Vet, and after taking our usual ass kicking from the Phils, a few kind gents yelled over to my family in the parking lot, “Why don't all of you fuckin New York Jews go back to where you came from!” I wanted to tell them that I'm not Jewish or from New York, but what would have been the point. I've pretty much hated this team from the late 70's on (when they picked up Pete Rose), and continue to despise them even more now.

  • Anonymous

    I'm a regular visitor to this blog and have never posted before. I have to agree with KenDynamo about the utter bizarreness of your premise: that the Phillies are somehow likeable. How do you not despise this bunch with every fiber of your being?

  • Anonymous

    I don't know; it's a good question.
    Note that I didn't say I liked them — rather, it's that I can't work up the hatred for them I would expect.

  • Anonymous

    They are evil incarnate and I hope they all die in a plane crash on their way to getting swept by forfeit in Boston.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, a bit of hyperbole there. I agree they're a good team. A really good team. I am not ashamed in the slightest about how the Mets played them this series, and I'm glad we're still 4-3 against them this year. They won the frikkin World Series last year. But how can you not hate that endcap display of uberdouche. Seriously.