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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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An Open Letter to Braves and Red Sox Fans

Dear brethren in Atlanta and Boston,

We’ve been where you are. We know how you feel.

Braves fans, on Aug. 25 your team led the Giants by 9 1/2 and were given 99.2% odds of making the playoffs. Sox fans, on Sept. 3 you were up by nine games on the Rays, with playoff odds of 99.6%. You both now know that doesn’t mean bulletproof. (Numbers — and a good read — from here.) You’ll never forget these things, just like any of us Mets fans will always wince at the formulation “seven up with 17 to go.”

Hopefully by now the hangover is fading and you did not, in fact, take out last night’s disaster on your kids, pets, spouse, friends or co-workers. Hopefully you punched neither walls nor windows, are uninjured and still have a clean arrest record. Assuming this is so, let us tell you what’s going to happen next.

October baseball is going to seem like it was expressly designed for your torment. Try to resist this feeling — before you know it, it will be winter and there will be no baseball and you’ll be faintly irritated that you didn’t see any of the games played by the [INSERT TEAM HERE] on their way to a World Series title. But be advised that rooting fervently against the Cardinals or Rays won’t make you feel better. If your tormentors are ousted, you will just get madder at your own team for having failed to do what some other band of 25 schmoes managed to accomplish.

With the season truly over, you’ll sulk for a bit, but gradually things will get better.

Until spring training.

In February everyone will dredge the collapse up all over again. It will be a pain in the ass and a distraction to your team, and then eventually it will stop and you will play the 2012 season. At which point you will be at a crossroads.

If you make the postseason in 2012 or at least play generally sound and admirable ball, the collapse of 2011 will become a blip. You will never forget it — it will be lurking in the dark, waiting to ambush you at 3 a.m. or while you’re doing something else, and all of a sudden you’ll realize you’ve been seething about Carl Crawford not making the catch or Craig Kimbrel walking guys or the Astros doing nothing or the Yankees not fielding a big-league lineup in St. Petersburg. But the team will move on, and the memory will pop up like some obscene jack-in-the-box less and less often, pushed back in the collective consciousness by other seasons.

It’s if you collapse again in 2012 — or play poorly enough down the stretch for someone to utter the word — that you’ll have real problems.

This is where dots turn into lines and people start constructing narratives. The columnists and talk-radio baboons will do it. So will the dumber, more reactionary fans that we’re all stuck with. This narrative can then metastasize, until it becomes a self-reinforcing part of every move, every bad stretch and every damn thing. It can become a lazy rationale for why completely unrelated things happen, and eventually this stupid fantasy can become a psychological issue for players, agents, front-office folks and everybody else. Then, well, you really do have a mess. You’ll turn over the roster completely and have baffled newcomers from AAA forced to run a gantlet of microphones wielded by reporters and pundits who will ask them questions about culture and attitude and little black clouds that follow a franchise around.

Trust us on that one. We know.

Should that come to pass, all you can do is resist. We are all of us storytelling monkeys, who construct tales from facts that may or may not fit together because that is how we make sense of a world that is sometimes senseless. This is utterly irrational, but it’s not particularly a surprise that we do it. For being a sports fan is itself irrational — it’s crazy to give 25 callow millionaires power over your emotional well-being, yet that’s what we all do for six months of the year.

But while granting the irrational its place — for sports would be no fun without it — you can’t let it run roughshod over everything. You know better. So resist the narrative. The 2011 Red Sox weren’t chokers. Neither were the 2011 Braves. Choking is a story we tell when confronted with a run of injuries, failures and bad luck — an ill-timed statistical valley that happens to coincide with someone else’s perfectly timed statistical peak. Those teams that were sound, successful and lucky? They had intestinal fortitude, or knew how to win, or were gritty, or wanted it more. Sure they did. At least that’s what everybody will say.

Collapses happen. They befell other teams long ago, but have receded sufficiently for the choker label to be shed. Well, mostly — yell “1964″ at a Phillies fan of a certain age and he’ll belt you. (And, OK, no Bosox celebration ever lingers on 1978 for long.) The Rays’ turn is coming, at a date and time yet to be written. Same for the Cardinals. And the Orioles, and the Phillies, and us again, and everybody else. It was your turn was all. Heck, at least you had company.

When it happens to the next team and fan base, be glad it wasn’t you. But remember everyone winds up on the wrong side of the decimal point sometimes. And so spare whatever sympathy you can muster.

Unless it happens to the Yankees. Because they’ll deserve it.

Sincerely,

Mets Fans

17 comments to An Open Letter to Braves and Red Sox Fans

  • Pat O"Hern

    Fuck em- Welcome to the club suckers.

  • Welcome Mr. Torrence, we’ve been waiting for you…

  • dmg

    jason, you have far more class or grace than i do.

  • Dak442

    I felt something for the Sox fans… that whole enemy-of-my-enemy thing. But Braves fans can go suck an egg. Does anyone care if they make the playoffs in Atlanta? You couldn’t tell by playoff crowds, or enthusiasm. I think it interferes with football for them.

  • Andre

    I have to agree with Dak442 on this the only “Braves” fans I have ever met seem to be fans of the hat logo. Heck even my former father in law when I lived in GA just liked the hat and not the team.

  • Schneck

    Alternate Open Letter to Braves Fans:

    Dear Braves Fans,

    bwahahahahahahahaha!!!11!!!

    Respectfully,

    Met Fans

    PS. bwahahahahahahaha!11!!1!

    • Ha! I like it!

      I dunno, I want the Braves of the teens or whatever this decade is to lose of course, but I can’t summon up the same visceral hatred in the absence of Maddux and Glavine and Smoltz and Bobby Cox. Chipper’s still there, sure, but he’s old enough that I find myself somehow kind of glad he’s still trucking.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    HERE HERE!!! To all!

  • Will in Central NJ

    To paraphrase our old pal Chipper (Larry) Jones, “All them Braves fans can now go to their closets and put on their Thrashers hats now.”

    (Note to all who don’t follow the NHL: due to lack of interest and other problems, Atlanta just lost its NHL hockey franchise to Winnipeg, Canada). Sniff.

  • Dave

    I think Braves fans are too dispassionate to be deeply effected by their team’s collapse. They’ll go watch a NASCAR race or something. Red Sox fans, obviously a different story. Now let’s hope that the Sox’ misfortunes rub off on the Patriots, the Yankees of the NFL.

  • Joe D.

    Now I know how Jonathon Winters felt when he lost the reputation of being the best pool player to Jack Klugman. These were the two best “worst” collapses ever and the Braves and BoSox and just like the fat man who had the burden lifted off his shoulders, so is it for us.

  • Jacobs27

    Mets ownership and general managing is known for reacting poorly and otherwise irrationally to its teams problems. Now the Red Sox ownership seems to have joined the party. Firing Francona? Really?

  • Andee

    It had to be the Cardinals, though, right?

    And somehow the Braves and Sawx getting bumped lacks for me the visceral satisfaction of watching the Yankees or Phillies suck eggs, though I’ll readily admit a soft spot for the Tampax. But I’ll happily forgive Yadier Molina everything if he can make at least one of those teams look stupid this month.

  • Ed

    Having endured the Mets collapse in 2007 and ‘extreme disappointment’ in 2008, I do not wish to toss sand in the faces of Redsox and Braves fans. It’s a horrible feeling – yes even those thrashing Braves fans. However, it feels damn good to know we are no longer the responsible for the greatest collapse – or 2nd greatest collapse – whatever it is! It’s liberating! Heck sign me up for “So you think you can Dance”! I don’t have as much emotion for the Braves anymore – kind of spent y’know? But I will miss Yankees/RedSox. I don’t wish anything bad on Red Sox fans, but seems they are headed in the wrong direction as the ‘idiots’ fired the man who won them 2 world championships. Sounds like a Yankee thing to do! I have a feeling the Sox will continue to fall, and may see the rise of the flight of the Baltimore Oriole!

    Jason, thanks for a great season of blogging – looking forward to your thoughts on the off season.