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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.

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This Is a Drive-By

Blink and you’re missing it, this 2012 World Series. The Tigers certainly seem to have leaned on the fast-forward button without realizing it.

Maybe it’s appropriate how swiftly the first three games have flown by as they’ve landed in Giants territory, and not just because record-level winds are forecast to lift America’s East Coast into the air and plop it somewhere in the middle of Ohio in the coming days. Unless you’re rabidly invested in the projected outcome — which is to say you already owned a set of panda ears before Game One — these have been the kinds of contests you keep tabs on while doing something else.

Or maybe I’m not necessarily speaking for the nation, just myself. I never seem to fully ingest World Series the Tigers are involved in. Four have been played in my lifetime, and what I remember about the lot of them is that I didn’t really see very much of any of them.

1968: The Year of the Tiger…the year before I knew from baseball except for my handful of earliest, inherited ’67 and ’68 baseball cards. I had from that primordial period (and still have, I’m pretty sure) a Joe Sparma, a Mayo Smith, a Willie Horton and, oh yeah, an Al Kaline. But I didn’t grasp who they were for a little while longer. For my seventh birthday, which came a couple of months after the 1969 World Series, at which point I was a fully vested fan, I was given a sports almanac that was already a little out of date. It listed the Detroit Tigers as baseball’s most recent champions, detailing Denny McLain’s 31-6 season; how the Cardinals behind Bob Gibson (17 strikeouts in Game One) took a 3-1 Series lead; and how Mickey Lolich (3-0 in the Series) won Game Seven to complete Detroit’s comeback. It had happened fourteen months earlier, but it was ancient history to my young mind.

1984: I was in college, which is my blanket excuse for having only scattered memories of the Fall Classic when I was a sophomore, junior and, in ’84, senior. If the World Series was a major, I would have muddled through with a “C”. I watched intently my freshman year, Dodgers overcoming the Yankees, because it was the Dodgers overcoming the Yankees and because I kept to myself my first semester and was happy to have something as familiar as the World Series to cling to. The next three — Cardinals vs. Brewers, Phillies vs. Orioles, Tigers vs. Padres — found me immersed collegiately and quite busy the way you’re supposed to at that stage of your life. My sister and brother-in-law were visiting the weekend Detroit wrapped up their first championship in sixteen years. I followed the action a little here, a little there, not all that much. My strongest memory of that five-game set was the waiter at Steak ‘n’ Shake (where I always dragged everybody who came from out of town) telling us he was from Detroit and wished he was there right now.

2006: Scrupulously avoided most of the Tigers’ five-game defeat for reasons completely unrelated to the presence of the Tigers. I’m going to guess I’m not alone on that count here.

And in 2012? Ah, you know. Things to do, places to be, maybe something more compelling on TV (Wednesday night with new episodes of The Middle and Modern Family are almost sacrosanct in our living room, so I had to catch up with Pablo Sandoval’s power display during commercial breaks), maybe another storm of the century to panic over. I watched Prince Fielder thrown out at the plate in Game Two in the company of several serious Giants fans, which made the moment (like Fielder) larger than life, but then I had to skedaddle. I listened to the middle innings that night on ESPN Radio and found myself absorbed by the pitching duel I wasn’t seeing. Once I got home, though, I kept no more than one eye and one ear on the proceedings, not fully settling down with the televised version, really, until the ninth.

Game Three, with the same 2-0 outcome as Game Two, was a little like that, picking it up in bits (the two Giant runs) when I had a moment to sit down and pieces (Ryan Vogelsong taking command) when I was following along on radio. Eventually, I was in front of the TV without looking up at it all that much as Vogelsong gave way to Lincecum, and Lincecum gave way to Romo…but I never changed the channel, at least.

I did see Gregor Blanco make the running, reaching catch in left that instantly evoked Sandy Amoros from 1955. I did fathom Tim Lincecum, accomplished starter turned deadly reliever, was doing something similar to what Sid Fernandez had done on the same night in 1986. I did calculate that the Giants of 2012 are one game from duplicating the sweep the Giants of 1954 laid on the Indians. And I marveled that the World Series perpetuates its past very well even as its present becomes harder to nail down. In San Francisco, this World Series will someday provide precedent and fodder for knowing analogies. In Detroit, too, albeit likely in a sadder context. For the rest of us, maybe we’ll remember some of what we caught here and there. Or maybe we’ll remember what we were doing when — unlike Gregor Blanco — we didn’t catch all that much of it.

9 comments to This Is a Drive-By

  • Joe D

    Hi Greg,

    Did you also notice how thanks to Angel Pagan the country can get a free taco on Tuesday from Taco Bell? And that Angel also is appearing on a commercial?

    And that the center fielder we traded him for made it to the world series too – as a spectator?

    Happy for Angel.

  • Metsfaninparadise

    I thought of Amoros too. It’s amazing how baseball fans can absorb so much of the history of the game that we can remember plays and tell anecdotes about players from before we were born. For me the Dark Ages lasted up til 72 because I jumped on the 7 train in Aug 1973, coming to fanaticism late (although I graduated from college in ’84 my baseball memories don’t go back nearly as far as yours). I remember the ’74 season of 71-91, Seaver’s sciatica, and his barely making his 7th straight 200 K season in almost excruciating detail, but have absolutely no memory of the Willie Mays trade or Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit, both events occurring before baseball became an everyday part of my life.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Its telling to read you talk about being absorbed in the radio broadcast and distant to the tv. I know it’s an old complaint, but: Buck and McCarver are not doing anything good for this game. Like you, I got the sense in both games 2 and 3, “Giants just have everything going for them, the Tigers are hopeless,” and found myself doing other things with the game on in the background, looking up from time to time. Compare this to a game the Mets are losing 12-4 in the 7th, and I’m far more locked in because I’m fully interested in what Gary, Keith and/or Ron have to say about it.

    It’s not just that the Tigers have never had the lead. The Yankees never had the lead in the ALCS and it was still quite compelling, moreso IMO than the 7 game NLCS. Does the announce team have something to do with it? Perhaps.

    But come on Fox, your ratings keep sinking, clearly some changes need to be made. Go to google and type “Joe Buck is” and “Tim McCarver is” and let the auto-fill shine some light on how the country views your top announce team. Wouldn’t you rather have two INSPIRING announcers calling the game, that make people WANT to tune in instead of feeling like they have to watch just because?

  • McCarver not going an ad nauseum comparing the Blanco catch to Sandy Amaros? He and Buck must still be crabby that the Cardinals got bounced–in a replay of the 1996 NLCS they blew to the Braves. The best thing about the 1982 Cardinals-Brewers World Series you missed? Not having Buck and McCarver working it. And there was Bruce Sutter and the unltracool Keith the Cardinal who took the first five games of the Series off and then dominated Games 6 and 7–a la Reggie in the ’73 WS for the A’s (boo!). My favorite part at the time, though, was pulling hard for the Brew Crew as an AMERICAN LEAGUE TEAM. Was fully in the spirit as a high school senior for the Busch-Miller World Beeries.

  • Andee

    Did anyone else besides me think, “Holy cannoli, if the Tigers are having this much trouble scoring against the Giants, can you imagine if it was the Yankees? They’d have been no-hit three games in a row!”

    Four-game sweeps are always boring unless it’s your team doing it. Even then, it’s probably kind of a snore, compared to the thrill-ride we had in ’86. But it’s nice to have a resounding reminder that AL superiority is a thing of the past.

    And Angel Pagan probably just priced himself out of Brian Sabean’s wallet, so Sabean can have Andres Torres back if he wants, dirt cheap too. Good luck with that, Brian!