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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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The Next Line of Defense

I’m a diehard Texas Rangers fan since just after 11 o’clock last night.

HOOK ’EM HORNS! Or whatever it is we diehard Texas Rangers fans have been known to say.

Ten things I know and like about the Texas Rangers besides the obvious

1. Mike Shropshire wrote two of the funniest books ever written about a team that had never won a postseason series until just now: Seasons in Hell and The Last Real Season. To the extent you’ve ever considered Pete Broberg, you’ll never think abut him the same way again.

2. Dan Ziegler from the sadly dormant Lonestar Mets was a helluva blogger circa 2006 and an extraordinarily nice guy to boot (as they presumably say in Texas). When I learned his favorite A.L. team was the Rangers, I told him how much I liked the Ballpark in Arlington. He said it was fine there but that those retro parks didn’t hold a candle to Shea in terms of the passion generated. Dan wrote in April 2006 that “Shea Stadium is a wonderful stadium and, although few will admit it, will be missed in 2009.” This from someone who had just made his first trip to Flushing in 21 years.

3. The Ballpark in Arlington, or whatever it’s called this week, is a great place to watch a ballgame, too, based on my lone experience there. It’s a strong No. 17 on my countdown, held back mostly by its middle-of-nowhereness and the volumes at which they cranked the P.A. in 1997.

4. Stephanie’s cousin Lisa couldn’t have been lovelier in getting us those tickets 13 years ago. I hope she gets to an ALCS game (if she wants to).

5. Jeff Burroughs, 1974 A.L. MVP. Mike Hargrove, 1974 A.L. Rookie of the Year. Billy Martin, 1974 A.L. Manager of the Year. Ferguson Jenkins, 1974 A.L. Comeback Player of the Year. I was crazy for the Texas Rangers in 1974. They improved by 28 games over 1973 and gave the Oakland A’s a run for their dynastic money all summer long, pulling to within four games of first in the middle of September. It didn’t happen for them, but they captured my 11-year-old imagination as few American League teams ever have.

6. Lenny Randle‘s proto-Francisco Rodriguez actions (punching out not his girlfriend’s father but his manager Frank Lucchesi) made him available to any taker early in the 1977 season and the Mets, of all teams, took a shot on (not at) him. Randle instantly became the Mets’ most dynamic player — which wasn’t saying much in 1977, but he was the goods for that one year: .304 average, a then team record 33 steals, the misfortune of batting when the lights went out during the July 13 blackout (admitting later he thought the Lord had come to get him). Lenny Randle went on to have a mediocre 1978, and that would be that, but for one year, the one year we needed somebody or something not to be dismal, Randle was the man.

7. Ron Darling and Walt Terrell for Lee Mazzilli. Thanks!

8. Bobby Valentine honed his managerial skill set in Texas. I seem to remember reading that as he led the Rangers into first place for a while in 1986 that he was in greater demand in the Dallas-Fort Worth area than any Cowboy. Those folks showed some good taste.

9. Jeff Francoeur actually said in the victorious clubhouse after Game Five last night that he always wondered what it would be like to play in the playoffs in New York, and now he perversely gets to satisfy his curiosity. At least Frenchy gave the subject some thought when he was a Met. By the way, Jeff continues to work his personable magic on the local media, whomever they may be. This from Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News: “Loosest of loose bunch of pregame Rangers was Jeff Francoeur, who started in right field after sitting out last three games. His looseness didn’t translate into much production on the field (he was 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play), but it did help keep the team in the right frame of mind.” When a Francoeur team goes to an LCS, everybody’s frame of mind is right.

10. Cliff Lee: another great pitcher to watch and drool over in this pitching-rich postseason. And what better use for him than what lies ahead?

I sure hope there are four of seven even better reasons to know and like the Texas Rangers soon enough.

20 comments to The Next Line of Defense

  • Andee

    You forgot:

    11. Longest pennant drought for entire existence of franchise in the game (as in never having been to the World Series ever).

    12. They didn’t want Josh Hamilton to feel left out, so they sprayed him with ginger ale. (Bet it was Frenchy’s idea.)

  • Joe D.

    If Ron Washington wore plastic, black rimmed glasses he would closely resemble Jerry Manual.

    So too bad we just didn’t make a covert switch during the last inter-league series in 2008. All we needed was to gently knock them unconscious, send them to the local Total Recall store and ingrain new memories into their minds so Jerry would think he was Ron and Ron would think he was Jerry, personality quirks and all. We would only allow them retain their managerial abilities. Keith Hernadez could also share coke with him.

    Nobody would have ever noticed the difference other than the Mets starting to win and Nolan Ryan suddenly arguing with his manager about pitch counts.

  • Guy Kipp

    Seasons in Hell might be the funniest book ever published.

  • The Texas Rangers! Not the Yankees since 1961! We love ’em!

  • Tim

    Nolan “you will pitch nine innings and like it” Ryan

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    I went to all 3 Rays playoff games.

    You think its tough being a Met fan? How about being at three playoff games and your team never had te lead!!!…Talk about sitting on your hands!

  • March'62

    Wow!!! Finally caught up to you guys. Was out of the country 2 weeks in the summer and had my stack of newspapers awaiting me upon my return so I could catch up on our Metsies. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that while I was gone they had morphed into the 1979 version (well without any catchy slogans about Magic). I was just about to walk away muttering when I remembered you guys and this blog. What would you have to say about another awful year going by the books? (or is it going off the books?) Anyway, you somehow salvaged the final 2 months of the season with your combination of reflections on the good times and joining me in our Brotherhood-of-Suffering. Thank you so much for all you do.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Lenny Randle had a brutal 1978,not mediocre.

  • And when you’re talking 1978 and Texas Rangers, how ’bout that Willie Montanez? While Lenny Randle was admittedly brutal in ’78, we had Willie Montanez! (You always had to say both names.) He drove in 96 runs for the ’78 Mets! And the ’78 Mets only scored like 95 runs all year. Never mind that it essentially cost Jon Matlack and John Milner to get him. Remember the stutter step around the bases on his home runs? There’s never been a Mets hot dog like Willie Montanez. Willie Montanez came from Atlanta in a four-team trade in December ’77 and was went to Texas for Ed Lynch in August ’79. Nice pitcher that Ed Lynch, but he was no Willie Montanez.

    • 1978 New York Mets with pasts or futures as Texas Rangers:

      Lenny Randle
      Willie Montanez
      Elliott Maddox
      Doug Flynn
      Tom Grieve
      Lee Mazzilli
      Ken Henderson
      Dale Murray

      And, of course, future Ranger skipper Bobby Valentine.

      Apropos of one of the above, six Toronto Blue Jay pitchers in 1981 were former Mets:

      Dale Murray
      Mark Bomback
      Nino Espinosa
      Roy Lee Jackson
      Juan Berenguer
      Jackson Todd

      It might not surprise you to learn the 1981 Toronto Blue Jays went nowhere in both halves of that split season.

  • kjs

    Don’t be a fool. You’re too smart. This organization is steeped in blood.

    This is the club that served as G. W. Bush’s slush fund for the his Presidential Race:

    [Also best documented in Harper’s at an archived-rate price.]

    And the War Criminal and his wife often attend their games.

    Generally I’d root against the NYY at any cost, but their “Evil Empire” doesn’t start endless wars for endless profits.

    • Bush’s former ownership of the Texas Rangers notwithstanding, please refrain from overt political discourse on this, our humble baseball blog. I don’t doubt the world is going to hell, and when it does, nobody will care who’s playing second next year, but until then, we’re still a baseball blog, and we ask our commenters to respect that.

      Bash Bush all you want for his war crimes in the American League West or how his firing of Bobby V was steeped in blood, but this just isn’t the forum for the other stuff. Thank you for understanding.

      • kjs

        Every Met game begins with the Star-Spangled Banner.
        Every Met game involves the Worship of a veteran. (Why doesn’t David Wright, the anti-Beltan, enlist? You can enlist in the US Army until you’re 42.)
        Dig those perverted patriotic hats on Memorial Shopping Day and the 4th of July Beach Day?
        Many Mets photos ops involve the war(s). “You lost your limbs, buddy, but here’s a Mike Hessmann signed baseball. Feel better?”
        The Mets ticket prices have priced the working class out of the ballpark. “Wanna see all 9 players for under $50, kid?—well, you can sit in the last three rows of Section 512-517.”
        The Mets have created gulags of class systems in their new stadiums.(So have the Yanks, Jints, Devils, and Jets.)
        That’s not politics?

  • well-meaning Phils Troll

    So the ’78 Rangers & ’81 Jays were the Mets’ (AL)version of what the ’08-Present Astros are to the Phils?

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