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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 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Good job, fellow National Leaguers! Hurrah, everybody but the Marlins (since they didn’t help)! And what the hell…competent handling of a starting lineup that outperformed its credentials, retired wormlike manager we never need to look at again!

Graciousness doesn’t always come easy when you’re used to rooting against so many of those who constitute “your team” for one night, especially when there’s still a bowl of sour grapes over there by the TV regarding who began the game at third and on the mound, but when the results are favorable and your actual guys got a couple of minutes to shine, it’s all good.

I know it’s not the default Mets fan reaction to judge anything as “all good,” since we tend to thrive on feeling spurned and/or scorned by everybody and everything we perceive as out to get us, but that’s All-Star magic at work. It’s the night we lock arms with the Chooches and the Chippers, the Gios and Strasburgs, the Pandas and the Cains if we must. We’d even link in common cause with Giancarlo Stanton if he’d have been able to make the show. But since he unfortunately couldn’t, and since Heath Bell couldn’t save a coupon less a baseball game, there went our chance to temporarily be friends of the Fish. Oh well.

National League victories really do raise my spirits, regardless of who gets to take advantage of home field in October. All those years of pinstripe-trimmed American League inevitability rigmarole pushed me incrementally toward the grumble, grumble, who cares about the All-Star Game? camp, but now that “we” have won three in a row, I’m back in that good mood where the Midsummer Classic annually left me when I was a kid.

And that, more than four potential games in the National League park in the World Series, is the real win here. The All-Star Game should make every fan recall what it was like to be seven or twelve or seventeen and lean forward for that moment the PA announcer got through introducing the Expo du nuit so he could clear his throat and inform us, from the New York Mets, shortstop Bud Harrelson; or from the New York Mets, pitcher Jon Matlack; or from the New York Mets, catcher John Stearns.

I lived for that moment every July, no matter how the Mets were doing. And I’d pay attention to the delegates from San Diego and Cleveland and everywhere else, too. It was never about seeing the best players play against one another. It’s become fashionable to bemoan the novelty of the All-Star Game as sapped because of saturation coverage and Interleague, but I never got turned on by the matchups. I got turned on by the proximity. For me, it was about the gathering of the statistical and reputational gods, superstar upon superstar convening in one stadium in 24 or 26 different uniforms. At its best, the All-Star Game struck me growing up as an otherworldly baseball summit. All those names I marveled over in Baseball Digest jetting in from all around the standings, like it was the U.N. or something. The ritual was the thing. They were announced, the camera would find them on the foul line, they’d tip a cap, one or two would be Mets, and we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.

I still kind of live for that moment, though the moment zips by faster and faster every year by some accident of age. It’s so easy to harden your cynicism, but I tell you what: when the PA announcer got to from the New York Mets… Tuesday night, and pitcher R.A. Dickey and third baseman David Wright appeared, well, I had my moment. The eight runs and the glimpses of our players (and our manager) in eventual action were gravy, or icing, or whatever it is I consume less of these days.

There are people whose sole purpose in considering the All-Star Game is to tell anybody who will listen that they don’t care about this silly exhibition that means nothing. Do me a favor — save your studied sophistication for when the N.L. winning streak is snapped. I’ll agree with you then.

14 comments to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

  • Andee

    NL All-Star MVP: Justin Verlander.

    (Hee.)

  • 9th string catcher

    Dickey got a nice hand I thought.

  • eric b

    I like the title… You’re not a fan of the comic are you? If so, this is coming dangerously close to being the Platonic site.

    • Nah, just co-opting the title for my own nefarious purposes, which, I’m guessing, is something the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would unleash its fury over.

  • JPB

    It was a little dull after the runfest but I have to hand it to the Panda. He didn’t fall on his face as much as we would have liked him too. In fact, he justified his position on the team quite nicely. So, have a golf clap, Pablo.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Me, I turned it off when that American Idol guy came on. I did come back when I figured The Mets would get in the game (I guessed pretty good on that one). And I did tape the intros, cause like you, the highlight of the games for me is the Mets tipping thier caps.

    That, and (especially when it’s in a 2nd division AL team city) watching the hometown fans go nuts over thier lone (mandatory) representative, whom usually I had never heard of until that moment.

  • open the gates

    Two thoughts:

    1) If, in some alternative reality, I were a Marlins fan, I would be a lot more ticked off at La Russa than we are over the Dickey start snub. As much as I detest the Fish for stealing Reyes (and Tejada, bless his heart, is taking more and more of the sting out of it daily), every ML team should really be represented. Yes – even the one with the dead mackerel on its uniform.

    2) Every year, I decide that the All-Star game means nothing to me. That is, until the yearly pundits who – every single year – declare in unison how much better the American League is than the National League. Of course, if the Senior Circuit decided to CHEAT like those newcomers in the American League and put an extra hitter in the lineup every day and never have to have their pitchers stand like a man in the batter’s box, things just might be different. (And don’t bother me about those interleague games – I’m on a roll here.) So this year, we get to cheat too, and we beat those guys eight-zip! So there!

    So now I like the All-Star game. Until those AL brats win again, that is.

    • Not with you on that one, OTG.

      The Marlins had a representative — the issue was baseball not replacing Giancarlo Stanton with another Marlin. So who did David Samson suggest as potential substitutes? Justin Ruggiano, a 30-year-old journeyman with 96 plate appearances, and Steve Cishek, a middle reliever.

      The amazing thing is that David Samson could make those suggestions with a straight face. But then if you work with Jeffrey Loria, you probably get good at saying laughable bullshit and trying to make it sound good.

      Next time this happens to the Marlins, I vote baseball commission a six-foot Red Grooms sculpture that can sit in left-center and do something gaudy and annoying while everyone does their best to ignore it.

      • Sometime in the ’70s I vaguely recall a team with a not lot going for it in the AL being in a similar predicament and they didn’t get anybody (let’s say it was Don Money not getting to show up on behalf of the Brewers). I felt bad for them. For the 9-year-old Marlin fan I feel bad. If Samson wasn’t such a flaming bastard, I’d dig his point about a specialist coming in and taking a berth, as I’m a fan of All-Star rosters being filled out with role players like in real life, at least in theory. But geez, you’d think they could rustle up one legitimate candidate beyond Stanton.

        Yeah, send the sculpture and let it be introduced on the foul line.

      • Andee

        That kinda blows my mind. We were apoplectic over Reyes leaving, and the Marlins’ team president recommends a couple of no-name scrubs to replace Stanton in the ASG? Reyes must be PISSED. His OPS+ is slightly down from what it was in ’09 and ’10 (forget ’11), but not that far down. It wouldn’t have been ridiculous to send him.

  • Joe D.

    I doubt Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter or any other AL manager or player lost a wink of sleep last night by losing the “summer classic” that was “for keeps” in regards to the “fall classic”.

    But I do suspect those at Fox and Commissioner’s office are…. ratings were the lowest of all time