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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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Elimination Day Has Been Postponed

Mike Burke was president of New York’s American League entry in 1969. When its National League counterpart clinched its first division title, he sent this telegram to M. Donald Grant:

Congratulations on being number one. Am rooting for you to hang in there and take all the marbles. As a New Yorker I am ecstatic, as a baseball person I am extremely pleased, and as a Yankee I consider suicide the easy option.

I feel no joy for anyone right now and I feel no sympathy for anyone right now. I am tempted to quote perhaps my favorite fictional character of all time, Toby Ziegler of The West Wing, at this moment:

There’s literally no one in the world that I don’t hate right now.

Except TWW creator Aaron Sorkin, a Yankees fan, made Toby a Yankees fan, too, and honestly, I’ve used up my hate for the 2009 baseball season. I feel no joy for anyone and I feel no sympathy for anyone, but I’m not filled with all that much bile for any of the participants from the World Series just completed, acolytes included. I’m tired of the hate angle. Besides, there’s something to like at last: the Yankees and Phillies are done playing.

The best team won; by the time it was over, there was barely a second-best team. Still, there’s not a single feelgood story among the winners of this World Series, not in that poor guy finally got the win he deserves sense. Those who won before could have lived off those titles for a century to come. Those who didn’t could have stuffed money down their void.

But they did win, so way to go.

The Yankees fans? Well, no, I don’t feel good for them, not a single one of them. I say that without contempt, no matter how contemptuous it sounds, no matter that like Ronan Tynan and the Jewish community, I have had and do have Yankees fan friends. One who is unfortunately in the past tense was named Harold, a big Yankees fan dating back to the days of Ruth. He died ten years ago this month. We went to his wake and saw his family had laid out his caps and pennants from 1996, 1998 and 1999. That’s nice, I honestly thought…the last baseball game he ever saw, Game Four of the ’99 World Series, ended with his team winning a championship. Then, within a few minutes of that uncharacteristically generous contemplation, his wife, his daughter, my wife and I — each of us a Mets fan — all agreed: we loved Harold but we couldn’t stand who he rooted for.

You never heard a solemn occasion ramp up into Yankees Suck territory so fast.

I could feel good for Angels fans I never met in 2002, White Sox fans I’d never meet in 2005, maybe (and, granted, it’s a stretch) a nontoxic Phillies fan I’d hope to never meet in 2008. Those people had gone without. The Yankee wait was minuscule by comparison and they whiled away their downtime by reminding themselves and everybody else how much they had already won. They don’t need my or our happiness today. They’re doing fine on their own.

All respect to the late Mike Burke, I couldn’t care less that New York has another championship. That part of New York, psychically speaking, has nothing to do with me or my concerns. I’m immune to its appeal to the point of not understanding it at all.

At the end of June, I was on a D train bound for the Bronx. Three Mets fans who had been given four excellent tickets to that night’s Yankees game were thoughtful enough to invite me along for a first look at the new Yankee Stadium. I accepted their offer with enthusiasm because they’re great folks and a ballpark I haven’t yet seen is a ballpark I want to see at least once…and with dread because of whose ballpark it was. What I couldn’t get past as I rode the D was all my fellow passengers, all of them (save for the tourists) New Yorkers, made a different fundamental choice than I did at some point in their lives. They could have been like me, like most everybody with whom I choose to commune. They could have theoretically chosen to be Mets fans.

But they didn’t. Perhaps they couldn’t; I’m not sure fandom is chosen as much as it chooses you. Anyway, however they happened upon it, they became Yankees fans. They looked different to me as a result, and not just because of their caps and jerseys. They were intrinsically unattractive as human beings. They were craven. They were opportunists. They were indecent. I didn’t investigate each of them on a case-by-case basis to confirm or deny my biases, but I felt comfortable arriving at my blanket generalization, just as I felt uncomfortable arriving at 161st Street and wandering behind enemy lines.

We could debate the whole concept of “enemy” as it relates to sports and dredge up all the familiar statistics (we only play them six times a year) and ancient arguments (before Interleague play, there was no rivalry) and soggy chestnuts (in 1986, so-and-so the Yankees fan rooted for the Mets against the Red Sox). But there’s us and there’s them. Watching them celebrate Wednesday night was something taking place on another continent, no matter its relative geographic proximity to us.

Nevertheless, others made a different choice from mine. I chose the Mets. They chose what they chose. As the legendary columnist Herb Caen wrote in his hometown San Francisco Chronicle, “Isn’t it nice that people who prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco live there?”

As for sympathy, I’ve none whatsoever for the vanquished National League Champion Phillies. I don’t feel one iota of bad for them. If they had won, I’d withhold joy in their direction, too. I wouldn’t feel good for Manuel, for Rollins, for Victorino, so there’s no misguided pity on their account either. They’re sated. Their fans (who are generally miserable souls but at least have as an excuse for not liking us the reasonable alibi of being from somewhere else) are sated. Even Pedro Martinez seemed a distant figure to me in this Series. He was sucked right back into the Yankee narrative as if his four seasons as a Met never occurred. I had hoped he would pitch well. That he didn’t didn’t particularly bother me. Good riddance to the Phillies. Let Cole Hamels flag down the first bus that takes them to winter.

I’m not happy for the Yankees. I’m not compassionate toward the Phillies. I’m just relieved they’re both done playing and that the 2009 baseball season has been put to bed. My most fervent hope shifts to the 2010 Mets now. I hope Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya and whoever else has a say in anything watched the Yankee euphoria and seared the impression onto their brains. I hope they call a meeting this morning to watch the tape over and over again and make it job one for their team…our team to be in that position ASAP.

Not that I project it will be all that soon, but what does that have to do with hope?

23 comments to Elimination Day Has Been Postponed

  • Anonymous

    Bring on the winter. Better than watching the Bronx win the series. So much for the curse of 2000. All it took was a bandbox of a ballpark.
    The difference between Mets and Yankee fans. To be a Mets fan you gotta have a life. The likelihood is that the Mets, aside from game to game (they went 9-6 on my Friday night plan, dig?) will give you no joy come October, even September. So, true believer, you get on with your life til February or so. Yankee fans, on the other hand, aside from the uber-wealthy among them, and there are many, live vicariously through the Yankees. Like their fandom transforms their status. They become something they are not. Some think they are part of the game. Tony Tarrasco might agree. Some baboon actually put his nose in the air to me the other night. He sez, “I'm a Yankee fan”, like he gained entry to a limited membership club. Which it isn't. I asked him, “what else is going on in your life?.” His mood went south and he sulked away.
    So dear brothers and sisters, in the real world, there are better things than being a Yankee fan. Except not today.

  • Anonymous

    Why do I feel like each and every person in Yankee Stadium last night, had they been watching The Sound OF Music rather than the game, would have cheered when Rolf blew his whistle?

  • Anonymous

    My fear is that the Wilpons and Minaya are watching this and saying: “Moneyball works!”.
    Which will lead us to acting like a 2010 version of … them… outbidding other less privileged teams to overpay for every single bluechip free agent available.
    And resulting in one of two things: the compounded embarassment of STILL not having a good team, or perhaps worse yet – a hollow victory like the Yanks just “accomplished”.
    For me, a Yankees WS win only has one benefit – it pushes the point of the need for a league-wide cap.

  • Anonymous

    People from outside this area never understand how we can be from the New York area and NOT be Yankees fans. And fans of other teams that already loathe the Yankees think they hate them more. Sorry, that's one competition the Mets can win. I don't think anyone from New England will have to wait until next July to safely turn on local radio or TV again. I will one day turn on the FAN again, but I will never watch Channel 11 news. Jerry Girard showed more class when 11 Alive was the Yankees station.

  • Anonymous

    In re: Jimmy Rollins, I say the Mets–although they weren't the best team during the season–were definately the best team in 2009.

  • Anonymous

    What kills me the most about this is that on WFAN, hosts and callers were saying things like “It's about time!” It's about time? They waited a long, arduous 9 years between championships. We're waiting at least 24! Hell, a Cubs fan could conceivably have spent an entire lifetime without seeing a championship. And Yankee fans have the audacity to say, “It's about time” after 9 years?!
    No. Can't feel good for anyone today. Greg's absolutely right.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    My initial reaction last night was jealousy and anger.
    I was very jealous seeing the celebration on the field and in the stands. It also made me finally admit there existed a bond of love and rapport between the players and fans as unique as it once was (and will be again) with us.
    And I still have a distain taste for Yankee broadcasters (there is a difference between a rooter and a homer), the way Joba Chamberlain is put on a pedistal or that they paid cash for a championship last winter by simply outbidding everyone else for the two top pitchers and top first baseman available. But to be angry about all this would just be a case of sour grapes on my part.
    No, I was angry at the Mets.
    I was angry because the Yankees were no longer a bunch of overpriced, marquee players acting as individiuals concerned with only with their own achievements and clocking it in under Joe Torre (overpriced, yes, but playing as a team). Sadly, that is now the only accurate way I could describe those wearing orange and blue instead.
    Even hapless last place clubs play harder than we do. Met “swagger” is not touching bases, losing pop ups in the sun with sun glasses perched over the bill of caps to look fashionable, not running hard on the basebaths, not busting out of the box, admiring shots before they actually go over the fence, not concentrating, not executing the fundamentals, not …, should I go on?
    Let's face it, our team has had no heart for a long time. The old cliche still stands today: it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Had the Mets played hard I would have still been devestated but not angry about blowing big leads on the final day of consecutive seasons. Nor would I be as angry with the star players this year when they weren't injured.
    And Yankee ownership concentrated on building a ballpark condusive to winning while the Wilpons concentrated on building a ballpark condusive to gimmicks.
    So that's why I feel the Yankees and their fans have the rapport and love that we once had with ours. It can only return when the Mets start playing like a team again and ownership starts concentrating on the business of baseball.

  • Anonymous

    not touching bases… not running hard on the basebaths, not busting out of the box…not concentrating, not executing the fundamentals, not …

    Meet the Nots!
    Meet the Nots!

  • Anonymous

    < >
    In the case of most Mets fans, fandom chooses us; In the case of most Yankee fans, they chose to become Yankee fans.

  • Anonymous

    When I woke up the news was covering Yankee-Day. On more than one occasion I overheard somehting like, “Yeah we haven't won anything in a while so this feels great.”
    Made me sick

  • Anonymous

    That was great Charlie. Guess it means we're one of the have-nots.
    And they better change the lyrics to our theme song – would not be wise to bring the kiddies…..

  • Anonymous

    Does hat mean I've twice been called to be one of the Chosen People?

  • Anonymous

    …or the wife.
    We'd be arrested on domestic abuse charges before we got the Rotunda.

  • Anonymous

    The worst of it is it's not like we can realistically say “Hey, that'll be us next year”, the way some Met fans are whistling past the graveyard on the Daily News boards. Not unless Charlie Samuels can sneak some testosterone into the postgame banquet. And some brain food into Jerry's snacks.

  • Anonymous

    Not for nothing, but my dad's and most of my father's side of the family are Yankees fans. I picked the Mets and don't regret it for a minute. Remember how much fun we had in '86? Did it look like anyone connected with the Yankees was having this kind of fun? They looked merely relieved, if you ask me.

  • Anonymous

    I'm trying, real hard, to see the silver lining here amidst the Evil Empire clouds that will obscure all that is good and light until next April. Now I have even more reason to loathe the Phillies, so there's that. Nice going, assholes. As far as silver linings go, that's about it.
    The worst part is hearing one of them blather on and on about the nine whole years they've waited. I'd kill for a world title every nine years. All I can really do is try to ignore them as best as possible and not give them the attention they crave. It doesn't make it any less sickening though.
    Note to Mets ownership: we'd like to be relevant again now, sirs. That is all, thank you.

  • Anonymous

    don't worry, you're not missing anything: there is no silver lining. the only thing you can marvel at about 2009 is the sheer completeness of the devastation.
    i just wish the wilpons saw it that way, too. a false hope if there ever was one.

  • Anonymous

    Guys, I've come here to comment a time or two this year and now that my Phillies have come up short I'll take whatever derision you may care to send my way.
    I really want to see us fighting it out in the last week of the 2010 season for the NL East title and if a wild card is in the mix as well, even better. You guys are WAY more fun than Atlanta or Florida ever are. I'd LOVE a Phillies/Mets NLCS on the way to a Yankees WS. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year – see ya in 3 months in Florida.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn't watch the news today and wont tomorrow in a few days it will be over football will take over then wait for the winter meetings, pitchers and catchers then the first pitch of spring and the feeling of hope

  • Anonymous

    No derision to you, but all the same, thanks for nothin'! At least you and your entire city can be content with an NL championship. We in NY will be surrounded by satan's minions shouting “27 rings, baby” perpetually, when not congratulating themselves for having stuck it out during a semingly endless championship drought .

  • Anonymous

    I've been in Massachusetts on business the last couple of days. I'm waiting to leave the hotel to go back to NY. If I wait until 1 PM to drive back, the party will have died down. But I'll home in time for the 6 PM news and to watch it over and over on MLBN, so I guess I can't escape it.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is that it SHOULD have been us. MLB is set up for the big-market teams to win.
    There's no salary cap– that favors the rich teams.
    You can go “over slot” and pay draft choices more money than MLB mandates– that favors the rich teams.
    Foreign players are not subject to the draft and can be signed for any amount of money– that also favors the rich teams.
    A big market team with lots of money will be in the playoffs every year if it's well-managed. look at the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and now the Phillies.
    The Mets have no excuse. For this team, with all its resources, to fall short year after year, is testament to how poorly the organization is managed. Until there's change at the top, we'll be watching a whole lot of other teams celebrate victories that could easily have been ours.

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