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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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The Ides of Something

It’s not yet the Baseball Equinox — though I’m eagerly awaiting word from Greg that we’re finally closer to new baseball than we are to old. But nonetheless, in the last couple of days I’ve felt a quickening somewhere in my blue-and-orange soul.

Justin Turner got a card!

Spring's coming. Promise.

And it has nothing to do with our front office. Just having Sandy Alderson on the payroll is grounds for celebration, as is having him make smart hires and calmly explain to everybody from Mike Francesa to panicky Mets fans what is and isn’t happening, and that there’s a plan that’s being stuck to. (And hey, getting to talk to the man himself is certainly a welcome new experience.) Still, even the wisest doings of men in jackets and ties can only do so much.

This was different.

And welcome, as I was beginning to worry a bit.

After the 2010 season mercifully expired with Oliver Perez and a bunch of Jerry Manuel Veteran Leaders (TM) taking up space at Citi Field, I didn’t particularly want to think about my misbegotten baseball team for a while. The Giants and Rangers offered a welcome diversion, but then — as always happens — baseball was over and it was winter.

For a while filling my days wasn’t a problem: I was insanely, frighteningly busy in a medium-term freelance gig I’d taken, and I was trying to finish a book that had been squeezed into night-owl hours but whose deadline hadn’t moved. It was about the most tired I’d ever been — I registered the departures of Omar and Jerry and the arrivals of Sandy and J.P. and DePo with what approval I could muster, but mostly I just stayed tired.

And then when I got my breath back a bit, it was clear that the Mets weren’t going to be making big headlines. No Cliff Lees or Zack Greinkes or even Orlando Hudsons were going to be showing up to awkwardly button a jersey over a shirt and tie (seriously, this looks ridiculous) and say can-do things. No, it was Paulino and Carrasco time. I’ve watched the Knicks a bit, with what started as a professional duty turning into a genuine rooting interest. (Perhaps sensing the arrival of a Mets fan, they’ve now stopped winning.) Today I checked in on the Giants, decided to watch them finish off the Eagles, and found myself profoundly grateful that I didn’t really care as Tom Coughlin’s bunch gagged horribly. No offense meant to the Knicks and Giants (or the Jets, Nets, Rangers, Isles, Devils and anybody else), but the more I reallocate my portfolio of Sports Caring, the more I realize that for me there’s baseball and there’s everything else.

So what lifted my spirits? Baseball cards. Yes, in December.

Topps just released 2010 Bowman Draft Picks, news that I greeted with the kind of enthusiasm appropriate for a minor card set purporting to belong to a year that’s over. But then I noticed that Justin Turner had a card — Justin Turner who’d gone into The Holy Books with an evocative but inappropriate Norfolk Tides card from his time as an Oriole. Cool, I thought (becoming one of at least five or six people on the planet to do so), now I have a Justin Turner Mets card.

And hey, Topps made a Matt Harvey card — better get two of those, in case Harvey makes the big club. And ditto for potential future catcher/backup/trade bait/minor-league washout/who? Blake Forsythe. Thinking of Harvey made me think of Alderson’s announcement that the Mets would no longer abide by Bud Selig’s ridiculous slot criteria in the draft. Thinking about Turner made me think about Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada and Luis Castillo and Brad Emaus and a second-base competition in Port St. Lucie.

And that was a pure baseball thought — it wasn’t about the front office or cards or payrolls or draft picks. It wasn’t about being mad at Omar Minaya, or wondering about 2012. It was a brief vision of dirt and grass and sunshine, the pops of balls in gloves and the thunk of spring-training contact before little crowds.

Not so far away, I thought. And then, finally: That will be nice.

15 comments to The Ides of Something

  • InsidePitcher

    That WILL be nice :)

  • Thank you for pointing this out! I normally don’t pay any attention to the post-season Bowman releases.

  • The Marlins, being the Marlins, have yet to announce a start time for Opening Day, so a precise time cannot be stated, but the Baseball Equinox will fall in the hours before dawn, New Year’s Day — appropriate enough.

    F*ck the Marlins — the asterisk also seems appropriate in their case, as if to denote they are big league on a technicality of some sort.

  • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

    Kudos for your use of “Quickening.” It’s one of my favorite words and I wish it were used more often.

    I am also in lock-step with you on the allocation of my “Portfolio of Sports Caring.” Incidentally, turns-of-phrase such as this are why I frequent your blog- much moreso than Shaudenfreud ;)

    Everyone around me today was losing their collective shite as Jackson returned that punt (and I’ll admit to getting a little caught up in it), but much as I’m happy for and will continue to cheer on the Birds’ success, as well as the success of the Flyers (& even the Sixers, to the extent that they manage to stretch the meaning of the word to its break point…), it’s become increasingly career that there is only room in my heart & soul for one all-in, life-postponing, years-stealing sport to which I can I can fully devote myself… not that there was ever much doubt.

    For me, like you – it’s Baseball.

    PS: If after moving into their new stadium, the Marlins do what they should have always done and name themselves “The MIAMI Marlins” (for alliterative purposes alone if not Marketing reasons), it would aid in their attempt to at least SOMEWHAT legitimize themselves as a big league club*…

    *although not really.

  • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

    *Increasingly CLEAR

    Christ, I hate BlackBerry…

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    55 Days….till “Pitchers and Catchers Report” but whose counting!

    I ordered my tickets to the first Spring Training game (2/26 vs. Atlanta) a couple of weeks ago.

    It is the best time of the year for baseball….Every team is in first place!

    “Hope Springs Eternal”, even though your team is going to be bad!

  • ToBeDetermined

    Am I the only one who watched that punt return and immediately thought of Luis Castillo?

    • I think of Luis Castillo whenever anything klutzy, stupid or ill-advised happens. Actually I think of Omar. Omar and Luis handcuffed together. And far from Citi Field.

  • Dak442

    My Portfolio of Sports Caring (awesome!) also consists entirely of one, Flushing-based investment. As in regular investing, lack of diversification leaves you especially subject to the ups and downs of that particular asset. When the Mets are down, I have nothing else to balance it out. But as yesterday’s fiasco unfolded I was sure glad I stopped caring much about the Giants 16 years ago.

    • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

      Posted by Dak442:
      ” As in regular investing, lack of diversification leaves you especially subject to the ups and downs of that particular asset. When the Mets are down, I have nothing else to balance it out. But as yesterday’s fiasco unfolded I was sure glad I stopped caring much about the Giants 16 years ago.”

      This is both funny and brilliantly accurate.

      The one thing I would add is that on those rare occasions when your investment pays out (’08 most recently for us, ’86 for you guys), the emotional high is incomparable compared to that of a casual fan of every local sports team.

      It’s the one common factor that unites all of us, even when you’re talking about a fan of a hated rival.

      The team we fully invest in may be different, but the passion, intensity and focus of that investment is identical.

      • Dak442

        In ’86 I was still a rabid Giants fan, had moderate interest in the Knicks and Rangers, and even rooted for Georgetown fairly vigorously. I have yet to experience victory since going all-in with the Mets, but I expect to feel like the guy who put his every last dollar into the Google IPO.

  • DIVERSIFICATION!

    Dammit, that was the word that eluded me when posting that.

    (And yes, I worked for the Wall Street Journal for nearly 13 years. Sad.)

  • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

    Ha! While I’ve point of reference as I’ve got years of student loan payments before I can financially invest in ANYTHING, I can say pretty confidently that hitting it big on google stock couldn’t have felt any better than ’08, so I believe you.

  • JerseyJack

    ha,ha ! Good one, Greg !!