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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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Bay Fatigue

“I’m not sayin’ he should’ve killed her. But I understand.”
Chris Rock on O.J. Simpson

Jon Niese threw one very bad pitch very early, Jay Bruce hit it very far and Saturday night’s ballgame was very over. Unfortunately another 8½ innings needed to be played and another 8½-thousand content-free words had to be needlessly issued via the flapping Red-tinged tongues of yappy Fox hounds Thom Brennaman and Sean Casey before the Mets could just leave all their runners on base and call it a night — a very blah night.

The Saturday Night at the Metsies miniseries, which began last weekend and runs for the next two weekends, is revealing itself as a prime-time disaster. Before Fox got its 7:15 PM hands on us, we were 8-1 on Saturday afternoons. Darkness, when enmeshed with Foxness, does not become us.

Nor, to go back to Friday night, does booing our left fielder when he’s going all out to haul in a deep, tailing fly ball, diving onto the warning track in his futile pursuit and inadvertently ramming his battle-scarred noggin into the base of the outfield wall to halt his skidding forward motion as the ball trickles away for an inside-the-park home run (Bruce’s, of course), leaving him to lay helplessly in the corner.

Jason Bay took a nasty spill and it elicited a nasty reception. The failure was jeered despite the effort involved in trying to execute a fairly hopeless catch. The result was loudly derided because who wants to fall behind when the bases had been empty and nothing traveled over a fence? And, quite clearly, the man in left was booed…and kept being booed while waiting to be medically attended to.

When the Mets got Bay on his feet and helped him off the field, there was some applause. Some, not a ton. Let’s say it wasn’t unanimous. Just as not everybody booed an injured Met at Citi Field, not everybody clapped in support of a banged-up Met who looked to have just courted another bout of head trauma. Brushing with broad strokes would be a mistake here.

Yet it’s clear two rules of baseball etiquette — unwritten Commandments, you might say — were breached by Mets fans or whoever goes to Mets games when they draw 34,716:

1) You don’t boo a guy when he is literally down;

2) You don’t not cheer a guy when they finally get him up.

It doesn’t matter that times have changed. It doesn’t matter that the main attraction at ballgames is apparently the electronic device in the palm of your hand. It doesn’t matter that Citi Field, like all modern fields, seems designed to detract from the traditional ballgame-going experience and certainly doesn’t nurture certain time-honored traditions. There are just things you don’t do and there are things you are compelled to do. There was poor behavior on both ends where Jason Bay’s second concussion in three seasons was concerned.

You don’t boo Jason Bay when he is down. And you don’t not cheer Jason Bay when he gets up.

It doesn’t matter that Jason Bay has been a deeply dug hole for tens of millions of dollars since 2010 and he’s owed tens of millions more through 2013.

It doesn’t matter that Jason Bay has shown next to no power and little production despite power and production being exactly the items for which he’s being handsomely compensated.

It doesn’t matter that Jason Bay has missed significant chunks of time in each of his three Met years to date — even managing to contract flu-like symptoms the moment he was restored to the active roster this season — meaning we always seem to be wishing him speedy recoveries and banking on his next fresh start to set everything right.

It doesn’t matter that while his performance has been utterly unlikable, his persona couldn’t be less worthy of bile and therefore Mets fans of decent upbringing can’t quite bring themselves to pour vitriol on his star-crossed coconut because Jason Bay is always hustling, always trying, always making the effort and never saying anything outwardly insulting (if not exactly saying anything inspiring).

It doesn’t matter that most of us have been trying our best to temper our criticism of him personally even as we legitimately excoriate his performance because Jason Bay doesn’t come off as a self-absorbed mercenary or a preening jerk, yet for all our thoughtful self-editing, he won’t return the favor and simply hit like he’s supposed to.

It doesn’t matter that every isolated now and then, he teases us with a taste of what we thought he’d do as a matter of course and then reverts to the Jason Bay form as we’ve come to know it.

It doesn’t matter that one game after Jason Bay helped the Mets sweep Tampa Bay, he immediately played a role in putting the Mets behind Cincinnati.

It doesn’t matter that when you see another player risk his well-being to make an impossible catch and then hurt himself, your instinct is to care deeply and support him wholeheartedly, yet somehow when it’s Jason Bay, you feel you’ve been around this cul-de-sac on multiple occasions, thus you’re incredibly frustrated just thinking about him and your empathetic baseball-fan instincts betray you.

None of it matters. Even if you don’t want to, you have to not boo Jason Bay when he appears to injure himself and you have to applaud Jason Bay when it is confirmed he hasn’t killed himself.

That’s just what you have to do — even for Jason Bay.

22 comments to Bay Fatigue

  • Gary l

    Don’t agree at all. I think that booing is warranted and required. Why not because he hurt himself? Spare me. What other repricutions domballplayers face? He is rich for life! He has a guaranteed contract that will not change even if he doesn’t perform. What other profession for the common man exhibits this kind of free ride? His effort matters little his results are the only thing that should…period! I say boo all you want mets fans. He will be fine after he retires a little booing isn’t going to rob the man of his fortune at our expense. There needs to be some repricutions for his failures! Frankly….lill take a lifetimes worth of boos for 65 million beans and a guaranteed payday!

    • neoncleon

      Gary,

      Wow, what an idiotic response to a well thought out piece. Greg is talking about acting like a decent human being despite being frustrated at Bay’s performance. If you boo and jeer at ANYBODY while he is laying on the ground hurt, that is all about you, not the victim (well-compensated/under-performing or not). Please go back to WFAN. And “repricutions”? Says it all.

    • Joe D.

      Just hope you’re never in the same situation and find people asking to see your income tax form to determine if they should care about you being hurt or not.

  • Joseph B

    It’s embarrassing that this article even requires being addressed. This is a fellow human being we are talking about here, and he got injured selling out to try to make a play. Who cares if he is overpaid? Who cares if he is under performing? When plays of that type happen they are men, not baseball players. Even the most reviled players of modern times should not be subjected to such behavior if/when they are hurt. These are not evil people, they play a sport, a game, for OUR amusement. Considering the nature of the injury and all the focus on concussions in professional sports right now, how could we be so callus? Anyone who “boo’d” Jason Bay and didn’t cheer that he was healthy enough to walk off the field should take a long look in the mirror as to what kind of person they are. Save your vitriol for his statistics, not for his health. For shame.

  • Gary L

    Idiotic response!?!? Really!?!? How naive can you guys be??

    Since when does anyone care about mine yours or any strangers well being!! What does my income have to do with it!?!? Also guess what…if a 60 million dollar income statement would cost boos from a bunch of stranger I’m pretty sure all of you holier than though warriors would gladly accept it!

    These ballplayers are treated like they are super human their entire lives but once they get a boo boo they at supposed to be averag joe humans!?!? Nope sorry how naive can you be?

    Jason bay is not going above and beyond! He is doing HE BARE MINIMUM…what I mean by that is a pro athletes bare minimum is 120%. With no results he doesn’t dersrve chear!

    I feel sorry for your kids if you guys raise them to beleive in a world where there are no repercussions for not doing your job and not living up to responsibilities….as long as you try really hard!!! They will how up very confused!

  • Gary l

    Fellow human being!?!? What a Joke! How does a professional athlete have anything in common with any of us!?!? Relax he will go on to outlive all of us…and will never have a second thought about a bunch Of strangers booing him!!

  • Gary l

    Oh and btw by repercussions I mean booing not getting hurt!! Grow up guys. It’s just booing!! He earned all of it!

  • Dave

    Gary – sorry, you’re off base on this one. You want to boo Bay because he is as unproductive a hitter as there can be, fine. But when he runs headfirst into a wall – as klutzy as it may have been – he’s demonstrating that he’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win, including risking injury. I suspect we’d all be happy to see Bay become an ex-Met, but booing him when he’s hurt…sounds like the actions of a Phillies fan to me.

  • Gary l

    Dave …not remotely off base!! Like I said…him
    Going all out is the BARE MINIMUM of What he owes the fans!! That’s shouldn’t be commended that’s a joke! Phillies fans would cheer Jason bay getting up because the know he’s a hole on the team!

  • Gary l

    Who here is willing to give up 65 million bucks so that a bunch o strangers would care about their well being??? Anyone?? No didn’t think so.

  • Jacobs27

    One of the things I enjoy about this blog is that discussion is usually civil, reasonable, thoughtful. All I can say is I hope you’re just trolling, Gary L or I.

  • Folks, disagree with me or each other, but disagree without name-calling. Thank you.

  • Gary l

    Why exactly do you hope that I’m trolling? (I’m
    Not) what is your Counterpoint? Irrational altruism? Naivate? What?!? Lemme her it really? All I see is a man boy who has no risk whatsoever for not Doing his job?!?!? Besides boos!?!? Really!?’b is that really so horrible?? Come on!! I’m
    Pretty sure your boss AND mine would fire the hell out of us if we didn’t perform! Regardless of wether we “tried” or not.

    • Jacobs27

      What I meant was: I find it morally troubling that you so emphatically advocate what amounts to the cheering of an injury to another person. Your reasoning seems to be–correct me if I’m wrong–that this is OK because this person is not performing in a way that seems to merit the compensation he receives.

      No argument on the fact that Bay is doing next to nothing to earn the money is legally entitled to. What is morally troubling, at least to me, about your reasoning, is that, by implication, it would be perfectly acceptable to make one’s concern for the well-being of other people contingent on their performance-salary ratio or knowing them personally, or any number of other arbitrary criteria.

      I hope its clear why it disturbs me a little to hear people talk that way. That’s why I was hoping you were only doing so to be provocative (hence the trolling remark). I apologize if I offended you, however. It was not my intention.

  • nestornajwa

    I was saying “boo-urns”.

    Sorry, couldn’t pass that up. Booing Bay in that situation attempts to place him in the same category as the truly reprehensible Oliver Perez, and that’s not correct. We booed Ollie not because he tried and failed, but because there was solid evidence he wasn’t doing his best to improve the team. We booed him because he gave up on us. Even then, it would have been unacceptable to boo Ollie after, say, he was beaned by a batted ball. If Mike Baxter had failed to come up with the ball, despite his best effort, would it have been ok to boo him? I say no. You don’t boo a guy who injures himself trying to make a play, period (and that goes for the opposition, too). This isn’t Philadelphia.

  • Gary l

    No I’m I’m not offended. But I think your mistaking booing out of frustration and cheering an injury. I bet if you asked all of the boo birds at the stadium that day very few would say they where happy that bay hit himself. I think you are assuming the morality for these people! My point is that effort earned bay 2 plus years of cheers and his lack of results has earned him eventual boos! Dont forget….no one at the game had any idea that it was a concussion! To those people it was just bay once again failing them!

  • boldib

    On another topic: Thank you, Greg, for mentioning the abysmal game call of
    Thom Brennaman and Sean Casey. Whew, man! Talk about insult to injury.

    • If you really want to express your dissatisfaction toward Jason Bay, don’t boo him — just play him the audio track from Saturday night’s telecast. That’ll teach him!

    • Dave

      Oh man, you ain’t kidding. You could find guys three sheets to the wind in any bar with more intelligent things to say about the game than Sean Casey.

  • Joe D.

    A parent just mentioned to Mike Francesa that he turned the television off when the crowd began booing because he was watching it with his seven year old son. I think a father concerned how such type of behavior could affect an impressionale seven year old says it all.

  • ayn rand

    Gary…you’re invited to my objectivist meeting anytime. Bring gold.

    Ayn

  • [...] against the outfield fence and was booed off the field. Some of that booing was no doubt reflexive, an expression of frustration at the team being so luckless and snakebit, and it was much easier to see that Bay had risked real [...]