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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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Root, Root, Root for the Whole Team

Some Mets I can’t wait to see go. Roberto Alomar in 2003, T#m Gl@v!ne in 2007, Luis Castillo from June 12, 2009 to last Friday…those departures represented addition in my soul via subtraction from the squad. I didn’t much want to pull for them as Mets and I was eventually delivered from that basic responsibility of fandom. There simply came a juncture with all three when the mere sight of each in the uniform of the team I’d called my own since I was six years old saddened to sickened me. It transcended the “surely we can do better for a catcher than Brian Schneider” judgment, wherein you’d like to see a severely limited player replaced by a potentially higher-ceilinged one. You want to root for every Met, yet sometimes it just feels wrong to have to root for someone you have no rooting interest in.

It wasn’t that way with Ollie Perez. Mind you, I’m plenty happy that he’s been instructed to receive his $12 million at an address that isn’t the New York Mets clubhouse. I’m relieved that the new regime extricated itself from somebody else’s lingering mistake. I’m elated, really, that the “24 + 1” construction that became necessary last year when Ollie wouldn’t accept a Bobby Jones/Steve Trachsel-style fix-trip to the minors won’t occur this year. We may have lousy pitchers in the pen in 2011, but we won’t be shackled to them the point of utter uselessness.

Still, I’m not overcome by the urge to dash into Times Square and kiss the first pretty nurse I encounter now that Oliver Perez has been released. I liked Ollie — or wanted to — until he rejected taking the team-first tack of attempting to sort out his continual pitching woes at Buffalo for a few weeks. Would it have worked? We’ll never know. It surely didn’t work having him around cluttering up the roster. He surely couldn’t consistently get batters out for two full seasons. Whether he was acting out of insecurity or selfishness or principle, I lost most of my sympathy for his (well-compensated) plight when he wouldn’t try to partake of a latter-day Norfolk Miracle Cure.

Nevertheless, Perez showed up to camp this spring and I thought maybe he could get some of it back, provide a fraction of the effective innings he gave us in the desperate hours of October 2006 and then often enough in 2007 and 2008 so that he cashed in come 2009. He was never going to be a Mets starter again, but I bought into his potential as a reliever. He wasn’t so old. His success wasn’t so far removed from the present. He had been a lefty with baffling stuff. That’s always too enticing to dismiss cavalierly.

It didn’t happen for him, not how it had to. At his best this month, he flashed signs of adequacy. Then Saturday, facing successive righties on the Nationals, he provided a strain of rocket fuel that the engineers at nearby Cape Canaveral must have envied when trails of it appeared in the Space Coast sky. I have to confess I kind of involuntarily clapped when Jeff Frazier and Brian Bixler took him deep and deeper because I could hear the Band-Aid being ripped off in two easy swipes. It was inevitable Ollie would be going. Now the moment would have to be at hand.

Released from the Mets, Ollie can move on (if, in fact, his Blassification isn’t irreversible) and so can we. We are suddenly blessed with a team from which we’re not sitting around waiting for extractions. We’re not reminding each other and anybody who’ll listen that $18 million spent on Castillo and Perez is spent whether they’re here to soak it up or not. Two guys who aren’t them will be here instead. On the first actual day of spring, that’s as fresh a start as we can ask for.

The Mets might be better in 2011 than they were in 2010. They might be worse. They might be tangibly the same when 162 games are over. Right now, however, they feel different in a very good way. I’m beginning to get a grasp on this year’s model. Up until recently, the names that bubbled up from the bargain bin — Young, Capuano, Harris, Hairston, Byrdak — represented a blur of austere allocation and indifferent aspiration. Now they, combined with those who carry on from seasons past, are the Mets to me. There’s nobody here I’m wishing would get lost, which in itself is kind of new: new and most welcome. I haven’t liked not being behind everybody on my team. It’s not why I decided to have a team to call mine.

Let’s Go Mets. All of them.

31 comments to Root, Root, Root for the Whole Team

  • March'62

    The Mets cut Oliver Perez!
    Phillies sign Luis Castillo!

    Okay, now I’m getting that happy, clappy feeling. Now, Scott Boras can have his own baseball game with OP and Millwood both too good for the minor leagues and now out of baseball. And with Castillo in Philly we can finally get revenge for Juan Samuel. This is turning into a pretty special spring.

  • Once I know how to pronounce Emaus, I’ll be ready to ring in the new.

  • oogieball

    I was at the game on Saturday, and I have a picture of him leaving the mound after giving up four runs in what is now likely to be his last appearance as a Met. I do believe I will make a nice, framed print out of it.

    Minaya: Gone
    Manuel: Gone
    Castillo: Gone
    Perez: Gone

    If the Wilpons are forced to sell, I’ll consider this a successful season.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Well put, Greg!

  • Lenny65

    Terrific news, addition by subtraction, without Ollie the pitching staff is automatically better. They may replace him with someone equally as awful but there’s no way they’ll find anyone worse.

  • 9th String Catcher

    I wasn’t big on getting rid of Castillo, although turning the page is probably a good thing here. Would rather have players who want to be here, get younger and more athletic, and best off probably reconstructing the clubhouse by getting rid of most of the Minaya era. Getting rid of Ollie? Pure joy. He embodied all the stupidity and egomania that defined the Minaya era. I can only hope the Phillies sign him too so our lefty batters can walk around the basepaths and our righties can hit tape measure jobs. (Sorry, WMPF – would just like a competitive advantage – nothing personal).

    • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

      Ha, no worries, man. I wouldn’t respect you if you didn’t want to crush us. Needless to say, however, that we are NOT signing Perez. Nobody needs a LOOGY that bad. I’ve also tried to stay objective on the Castillo signing. I’ve never gotten a good vibe about his attitude or effort (and that perception has been pretty well backed up by Mets friends (ad nauseum), but it’s a cheap, minor league deal that is completely dependent on his making the team. If he doesn’t, we don’t owe him a dime.

      Plus, the poor bastard is vying for a job that requires him to fill in for CHASE UTLEY. Coming in for any hurt player, but Utley holds a revered, god-like status here with this city. He’s never been booed. Ever. The guy’s the very model of a modern major league ballplayer, exemplifying hustle, grit and max effort. Not even Jesus (the retconned South Park-come-Family-Guy superhero version) would be embraced with open arms… not at second.

      So I’ll cut the guy (just) a little bit of slack.

      Not Perez, though. That guy’s got tendonitis of the brain muscle, and there’s no Tommy John for that.

      • Nicely put. And now that I think of it, I guess I wouldn’t wish Ollie on my worst enemy. Then again, he’d look great in pinstripes…

        • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

          Just as long as they’re not red.

          But navy blue? Now I’m with you… that would be GREAT for a laugh. They need a fifth starter, no?

          Maybe he and AJ Burnett can come together in a sort of critical-mass of naturally talented, mentally insignificant head trips, and their individual brands of crazy could cancel each other out and they could – GASP- throw strikes?!

  • Kevin From Flushing

    It’s so refreshing to see this team think about the future. Hopefully it’s in the 1997 Bobby V style, not the 2004 Jim Duquette version.

  • 5w30

    You saw Ollie give up those two taters Saturday? Must have been on the original WPIX broadcast, as SNY cut out Ollie’s inning from the rebroadcast!

  • Lenny65

    Ollie will always have a place in Mets lore, that’s for certain. Is anyone else almost expecting to see Perez starting for Pittsburgh or Houston in August and holding the Mets to three scattered hits,10K’s and 1 BB over 8 solid shut-out innings? Nah, didn’t think so.

    • Yes, he’ll always have a place in Mets lore, right up there with Doug Sisk, Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Mel Rojas and the medical & training staff from 2008 and 2009.

  • eric b

    I agree that Ollie really had to go…He was the most painful of all Mets to watch…Every appearance last year was pretty much a disastrous mess.

    I too was in favor of holding on to Castillo and seeing if he could deliver a throwback (to 2009, at least) year. The Mets are paying him anyway, and the alternatives aren’t SO attractive, that I was hoping for a little redemption.

    Ollie, however…yecchh

  • Dave

    In a fit of human compassion upon hearing the inevitable news, I thought about what it would be like to have millions of strangers rejoicing that you lost your job. None of us will ever have to face that. But there’s always another hand, and on it, none of us are ever going to be given a $12M severance package either. Between his refusal to go to the minors last year and Manuel’s refusal to put him in games meant that an already weakened team was playing with 24 guys against teams who saw nothing wrong with using 25. More than tips the human compassion scale. Scram, Ollie. See you later this summer pitching for the Somerset Patriots.

  • Andee

    I can prove nothing, but I get the feeling Ollie might have been one of those PED “success” stories, given his precipitous drop in velocity at a relatively young age with no apparent injury. With monosodium glutamate, he could hit 95 on the gun and get away with being a thrower; 85 MPH, with crap control to boot, and he’s toast. Jamie Moyer (or John Franco) he ain’t. Unless his next team slips him Extra Unleaded on the sly, I doubt he makes an MLB rotation ever again.

    But yeah, he officially attained cobag status by refusing to be sent down (even if that little bit of shenanigans was Scott Boras’s revenge as much as anything else), and while nobody is likely to ever reach Vince Coleman’s level in the game of Cobag, he was right up there. Addition by subtraction — I like it!

  • Will in Central NJ

    In all honesty, we have no winners here. Stubborn Ollie poisoned his own reputation by refusing the minor league assignment. Did he think the 29 other teams/potential future employers were not watching? Castillo, the Ed Kranepool of the Marlins franchise, hustled early on for us but was limited by his bum knees and later his growing surliness. The dropped catch in Da Bronx will ensure his name will live forevermore in Met Infamy. That may have been Castillo’s karmic payback for having hit the foul ball that made Steve Bartman famous, and his 2003 Marlins the eventual WS Champs.

    The Wilpons, and by extension we, the Met fan base, are saddled for $18.0 Million for zero services rendered on these ill-conceived contracts. It’s just an ugly divorce, and there ain’t nothin’ to do but pick up the pieces and hope for better, victorious days ahead.

    The interesting thing about Ollie is that I recall hearing on WFAN that Ollie is the son of two physicians in his native Mexico. Has anyone else heard that?

  • BlackCountryMet

    THANK GOD!! Ollie has LEFT the building. Once he refused to go to the Minors to try and sort the problem, ANY last vestige of support I had for him was gone,gone,gone. I agree, it’s really hard when you have a player in your team, you actually DON’t want to do well, and now we know longer have that. The 2011 Mets look better already ;-)

  • Joe D.

    Will we all be rejoicing when Reyes is let go for financial reasons the middle of the season?

    • oogieball

      Um, we’re paying Castillo and Perez either way. Neither of these decisions has any direct effect on whether or not we can keep Reyes.

      • Joe D.

        Of course, since the Mets will no longer be bound by the financial obligrations for Perez, Castillo and Beltran in 2012 and that any new contact with Reyes won’t take effect until that time.

        The Wilpon financial trouble is not going to go away anytime soon and if they unload Jose it will show that they are dragging the Mets down with them, not only this season but in 2012 and beyond for who knows how much they have cut back the operations of the minor league and scouting operations which would have to hinder the development of our potential future prospects. Yes, they want to keep the Mets for both financial and deep seeded personal reasons but by continuing to do so, everyone (including Fred and Jeff) will be losers.

        • March'62

          Sergeant Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.

          • Joe D.

            Was that before or after he said: “Soldier, I’ve noticed that you’re always last”?

          • March'62

            Psycho: The name’s Francis Soyer, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I’ll kill you.
            Leon: Ooooooh.
            Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. And I don’t like nobody touching my stuff. So just keep your meat-hooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I’ll kill you. Also, I don’t like nobody touching me. Now, any of you homos touch me, and I’ll kill you.
            Sergeant Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.

  • I felt that way about Castillo — I thought he was smart, he worked hard, he was a good presence on the team. I guess I started seriously rooting against Ollie when he wouldn’t accept the minor league assignment. But for players one wasn’t sorry to see go, I’d add the guy whom Bob Murpy always called Vincent Coleman.