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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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Humility 4 Hubris 0

Those Staten Islanders sure are a cocky bunch.

Actually, that would be a gross generalization and probably inaccurate. I knew one guy from Staten Island in college and he seemed nice enough. I know one guy from Staten Island now — big Dave Kingman fan — and he's never struck me as over the top (except maybe in his fondness for Dave Kingman). And the patron saint of Staten Island sports figures, Bobby Thomson, is perhaps the most humble hero baseball has ever produced. In fact, he'd no doubt recoil at being called a hero.

But I encountered this one guy from Richmond County a few weeks ago, and he was raving about the season Jason Marquis, also of Richmond County, was having. As if his numbers couldn't speak for themselves, this Staten Islander had to burnish Marquis's credentials as such:

He's gonna beat the Mets when the Rockies come to New York.

That unnecessary boast has been on my mind ever since I heard it. I wasn't frothing for the Mets to take on a freshly minted National League All-Star, but something about the man's guarantee struck me as the wrong thing to say. It was hubris in a game where humility is far more helpful to your cause. It reminded me of the last Bar Mitzvah I attended, some cousin of mine from Massapequa in 1991. He taunted some Northern California relatives in his challah-slicing poem (don't ask*) that he'd be going to San Francisco in a few weeks to see “my” Mets sweep their Giants.

Their Giants swept his Mets. And our Mets went on to wander in the desert for the next six seasons.

My cousin from Massapequa. The guy from Staten Island. Will baseball fans ever learn it doesn't pay to imitate Joe Namath? That there are no sure things? That you don't write checks your ass has no way of knowing in advance whether it can cash?

Jason Marquis didn't pitch terribly Tuesday night, but his Staten Island lansman put the nahora on him. I don't know if that fellow (like my cousin and, come to think of it, Jason Marquis) is Jewish, but he should have said, “You'll see Jason Marquis and maybe he'll do all right, kinahora,” which is what we say in Yiddish or at Citi Field to ward off evil spirits. It certainly worked for me, sitting and rooting humbly in the Left Field Landing Tuesday night.

Beat an All-Star pitcher with a lineup wherein that All-Star pitcher could easily bat sixth? Why wouldn't we be humble?

Sorry Marquis, you were doomed by the hubris of one of your friendly neighborhood boosters. And the Mets…the new, improved and humble Mets…they won their fourth in a row after no one in his or her right mind was boasting about their chances.

How do we proceed from here in the Wild Card race where the odds against us are as long as the Verrazano and our prospects still distressingly narrow? Stay humble, keep a low profile and hope for the best. Kinahora.

*It occurs to me it was the candle-lighting that brought out the poetry, not the challah-slicing. If it was the bread that had to wait for 64 couplets on the Bar Mitzvah experience, it would have gone stale.

More baseball advice you might find as not so awful: Get a copy of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

10 comments to Humility 4 Hubris 0

  • Anonymous

    Were you davening along the Left Field Wall?
    ;)

  • Anonymous

    I ain't sayin' nuttin'…

  • Anonymous

    To quote the immortal Steve Somers: “Greg Prince, getting ETHNIC!” :-)

  • Anonymous

    Striking to me was what I saw on a short clip on SNY.. Delgado, with a big grin on his face, tutoring Murphy at first base. Then, during the game, the camera closeup on Murphy wearing Delgado's glove.

  • Anonymous

    First thing that popped into my head after reading this: leaving work past midnight, walking through Penn Station, seeing a guy all alone holding up a Yankees jersey and announcing over and over to nobody and everybody, “Cardinals are next. This wasn't even a series.”
    This was, of course, after the Yankees 19-8 routing of the Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. To this day I still have visions of that guy crying on his pillow (hey, to be fair, he wasn't wrong about the Cardinals–though he almost was).

  • Anonymous

    I’m an artist featured on the website http://www.baseballart.com . I’m the orange glove, second blog down. I encourage you to go see my 40+ baseball glove paintings (double click on the image then use the slide show feature upper left to get the best view).
    And please think about supporting this great new site. Your readers may be interested in or be doing baseball art themselves and would be glad to know there’s a venue dedicated exclusively to baseball art.
    I happen to be asking $300 to $500 for the gloves but I’d like to find an agent, someone to do this marketing thing for me.

  • Anonymous

    I was hoping the Mets would sign Marquis last offseason, as much for his pitching acumen as to continue the great tradition of Staten Island-connected Mets: Larry Bearnarth, George Bamberger, Mookie, John Franco… ummm… Matt Galante…
    It would have been neat for us Islanders, who generally don't have a whole lot of famous pop-culture types to celebrate other than a couple of B-list actors, David Johansen, the Wu-Tang Clan, Frank Menechino, Notre Dame's recent stoner point guard, Rich Kotite, and a Raiders DB in the 70s. The Staten Island Advance's already hyperbolic Marquis coverage would have gone into overdrive were he a Met. And besides, he seems like a genuinely nice guy and lived (lives?) within walking distance of my house. But I am puzzled by the ranting Marquis booster. Guess he's not a Met fan.

  • Anonymous

    SF Giants fan, but willing to sacrifice ground in the Wild Card race to the Rockies for Marquis's greater glory, apparently.

  • Anonymous

    In my house, we call 'em the Kiner-horas.

  • Anonymous

    And you say them to the star of the game.