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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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Bracing One's Self (Or Trying To)

Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It’s a settling of grievances between the present and the past.

That’s Don DeLillo, in the great novel White Noise — and a quote that was uncomfortably top of mind as I watched the Mets make outs and drop balls and get whacked around by the Texas Rangers’ endless parade of sluggers. I thought of it not just because watching gigantic Rangers jog around the bases grew tiresome — it was also because I was still mesmerized by the footage of Jose Reyes in his first big-league game, eight years ago against these same Rangers.

He was the same, obviously, from the enormous grin and the slightly pop-eyed stare to the uniform and the number on the back, the number that at some point stopped being Ed Kranepool’s and became his. But not completely the same: He’s bigger, his arms are wreathed in tattoos, and the hair has exploded into a majestic, Predator avalanche of dreads.

As for the number and uniform, we’ll see. Possibly we’ll see very soon.

Rob Emproto, via my blog partner, makes a very good case for why a farewell to Reyes might be a wise strategic choice. All of us — including Rob himself, I know — can make the emotional case for why, at least in the medium term, it would be a horrible scar for a fan base that has no lack of them. It may come to head vs. heart for the front office and ownership. Or it may not — it may already be a foregone conclusion based on budgetary realities, in which case Sandy Alderson’s job is to maximize the return on Reyes.

If so, it is a task I do not envy him, since — as Gary and Ron noted — that return may be larger in July than it would be with a December IOU cashable next June. July, as Gary and Ron also noted, is suddenly very close.

The Mets are surprisingly OK for a team stripped of David Wright and Ike Davis and Johan Santana. But that won’t blind the front office to the qualifiers attached to that “OK” like barnacles, and it shouldn’t blind us, either. I suppose David could return and Ike could return and Johan could return and Beltran could stay healthy and effective and Gee and Niese and Tejada could continue to develop and Paulino and Turner and Murph and Capuano and K-Rod could remain productive and Bay and Hairston and Harris could see their fortunes turn for the better. All that could happen, but is it likely to? Or is it better to play the odds and turn arms dealer, looking to transform the useful, high-salaried veterans into prospects, or at least depth?

And if that’s the strategy, isn’t Reyes an obvious part of it?

That’s what I was thinking about instead of pondering how much Manny Acosta sucks, and that’s why the sight of Jose in that still-familiar uniform had an unexpected sting. Back then everything about the lithe, shorn young Jose amounted to possibilities, and the half-giddy knowledge that those possibilities were ours to hope came true. Now, the possibilities are different. They revolve around the knowledge that we may be watching the final acts as a Met for the still lithe, decidedly unshorn, still pretty young Jose. He is still ours, but soon — perhaps very soon — he will be someone else’s. Half-giddy has yielded to half-sick.

We know it will hurt, even if it wind up admitting it was a smart move in 2013 or 2014 or some date that seems impossible and science-fictiony now. We know it will hurt, but the hurt is still abstract, still something we hope to avoid.

And this is because we know, on some level, that it will hurt even more than we already fear it will.

* * *

Assuming everybody hasn’t headed for a convenient stairwell to hang themselves, I wrote a guest column for Baseball Prospectus about how technology has struck down distance on a barrier to fandom, with some further ruminations on nostalgia. (I promise they’re far less depressing.) I’d be honored if you’d give it a read.

4 comments to Bracing One’s Self (Or Trying To)

  • Matt from Woodside

    He’s a once-in-a-generation player, and I’m not even talking about this season. I’m talking about the smile and the secret handshakes and the anger he wore on his sleeve when Jerry Manuel on his first day as manager pulled him when he came up gimpy running on a sure out at first.

    This is a star every Mets fan has watched develop since the horrible depths of 2003. He’s going to shatter every Mets record for doubles and triples and steals if he stays. He is a product of the Mets’ system. Why on earth should a team as wealthy as the Mets give Reyes away for three or four guys who might be good in three years?

  • Reyes must stay- unless they have a better plan in mind- which we all doubt!

    Once again we fall short the elusive 500. mark. I believe it was about 5 weeks ago when we hit it at Yankee Stadium.. With 13 of our next 16 on the road before the break, these next 2 and a half weeks will probably set up the remainder of our season in terms of simple respectability..Hold on folks..

    Rich P

  • dmg

    jason, we’re fans, and as fans we have a somewhat different lens from management. but i cannot believe that management would be so stupid as to think there is anything like an upside to trading reyes.

    this is like a seaver trade, and i don’t know anybody who thought that worked out well for the team, even though they got norman and flynn and hendu and zachry (and it’s a measure of how infamous that trade was that i didn’t have to look up the names involved).

    actually, worse than the seaver trade, since that as much as anything resulted from increasingly hostile relations between player and management. that’s not the case here –just a cold-fish appraisal. and if, heat removed, they decide it’s better totrade reyes, then they prove — AGAIN! like we needed them to! — how clueless they are at running a baseball team.

    any team is more than bodies that field positions. when you have a star, who’s also a fan favorite, you build AROUND him. baseball is the toughest game to restock with talent. rebuilding doesn’t mean scorched earth; rebuilding means you husband what resources you have and find ways to fill the gaps that remain. this isn’t about this season, or even next. this is about another five to 10 years of how the mets are regarded both by its fans and by major leaguers. the treatment beltran’s received has already been waved as a cautionary tale, i’m sure. now, what free agent is going to want to come to a team that gives up on its own, home-grown all-stars?

    as i say, a fan’s perspective. but also a business appraisal too. how badly does management want to savage its brand?

  • Andee

    Once again, though — what is Sandy being offered for Reyes that’s any more of a sure thing than two first round picks? Seaver demanded a trade, Reyes has done no such thing. What’s the rush? I don’t recall Mariners fans a year ago yelling TRAYD HIM NAO about Cliff Lee, and they knew there was zero chance of keeping him. The Mets’ chances of keeping Jose are much, much higher. So let Sandy wait for someone to knock his socks off — and if nobody does, do you really want a bunch of Mark Cohoons in return? I sure don’t.