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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 Mets Need to Rent a Superstar

Man, were those winter meetings depressing. I really miss the days when the Mets took money that technically didn’t exist and gave the green light to a general manager with little concern for long-term implications to do with it as he saw fit. The illusion may have worked only fleetingly well, but danged if it didn’t make for fun winter meetings.

So let’s do it again on a limited scale. We can’t go out and gather up the current iterations of the Martinezes, Beltrans, Delgados, Lo Ducas, Wagners and whoever else we like and re-create 2006, but we can pretend.

Then why don’t we? I don’t mean giving Bernie Madoff a jingle in stir and asking if there are any other fake accounts that can be drawn on, and I don’t mean rekindling the magical moolah thinking of Omar Minaya. I literally mean let’s pretend we’re offseason big shots again.

Let’s rent Josh Hamilton.

Usually you hear “rent-a-player,” and you think about taking on some big contract for the final year of somebody else’s onerous pact or maybe just the last couple of months of one for a pennant drive. You know that player won’t be around, but you’re going for the win with all you’ve got.

The Mets can’t do that, but they can give us a momentary respite from their futile search to find a better version of Mike Nickeas, their grim machinations to rid themselves of their reigning Cy Young Award winner and their bulletins revealing Rule 5 finds they select and quickly sell off. They can rent Josh Hamilton.

For an hour.

Seriously, how much could it cost? As long as Hamilton is just sitting on the open market waiting for his multiyear megadeal, let the Mets swoop in and engage his services for 60 minutes. He doesn’t have to sign for longer than that. He doesn’t have to play ball. There’s no time for that. There’d be just time enough for this:

A crowd gathers in one of the Citi Field clubs.

Jay Horwitz steps to the podium and introduces Jeff Wilpon.

Jeff Wilpon welcomes one and all, marveling that this is a milestone day in the history of the New York Mets and introduces Sandy Alderson.

Sandy Alderson speaks to the creativity and persistence that led to this moment and how pleased he is to have not just filled a need but to have upgraded so meaningfully to a true game-changer: “We’ve gone from having no viable outfielders to the outfielder who’s the talk of the industry.” He then introduces the man of the literal hour, Josh Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton steps up and dons pinstriped Mets jersey No. 32 and the traditional blue cap with the orange NY. He is beaming from ear to ear as he poses with Alderson, Wilpon, Terry Collins and David Wright and then makes a few remarks.

Josh Hamilton says he is thrilled to be a New York Met.

He explains he developed a real bond with Jeff and Sandy and how they made him feel wanted.

He was inspired when he heard their plans for 2013 and beyond.

He is ready to play wherever Terry wants him.

He credits David for convincing him what a great fit New York would be for him.

He remembers the overwhelming passion of Mets fans the one time his old club visited Shea in 2008 and looks forward to rekindling it immediately.

He feels comfortable knowing the New York area offers him all kinds of options, whether he lives in the city or the suburbs.

He knows he will have a terrific support network here, thanks to the Wilpons, “who are just the best people ever”.

He calls his eyesight “perfect for any game — day or night”.

He announces the formation of the Josh Hamilton Big Apple Foundation, which will support an array of children’s charities “every time I make that big apple in center rise”.

And he singles out Jenrry Mejia for being gracious enough to let him wear No. 32.

David makes a brief presentation of a commemorative bottle of Schweppes Ginger Ale to Josh, letting him know this bottle is a “down-payment on the case we’re gonna be celebrating with as teammates when we win the World Series”.

Cameras click, boom mikes hover, Horwitz arranges the media into groups and sets select reporters up for one-on-ones with the Mets’ newest superstar.

Kevin Burkhardt tells Chris Carlin and Bobby Ojeda back in the studio that, “Guys, you can just see in Josh Hamilton’s face how happy he is to be a New York Met today.”

Joe Benigno asks the first radio question via remote: “Josh, you signed with the Mets as a free agent. The Mets have signed a lot of free agents, but a lot of free agents haven’t exactly worked out here. What about that?”

Bruce Beck records a standup, declaring, “The Mets may have played like turkeys these past few seasons, but now they’ve got a real HAM as the meat of their order!”

Everybody smiles. Everybody’s excited. Everybody’s happy for the rest of the hour. And when the 60 minutes are up, Hamilton removes the jersey and the cap, and the Mets aren’t on the hook for another dime — no muss, no fuss, no commitment…just like a classy escort service for teams that couldn’t otherwise take a date to the hot stove dance.

Compared to ginning up enthusiasm over Brandon Hicks and Anthony Recker, I’d take it.

6 comments to The Mets Need to Rent a Superstar

  • Andee

    Heh. An hour of being a Met is probably about all Hamilton could handle before he was back on the pipe. (Being a Yankee or Phillie would have the same effect, but for a different reason.)

    But it actually would not surprise me at this point if he took a one-year deal, since he last relapsed less than a year ago and another full year of sobriety (even with slightly lesser production) would probably increase his value. On a one-year deal, I might take my chances with him. But if he had problems staying away from the rock of doom in Cincinnati and Dallas, I’m not sure what city would be clean enough to have him AND have the money to pay him.

  • Dave

    Wait, you mean that Anthony Recker is supposed to be a Met for more than an hour?

  • Rick

    As a diehard mets fan who sat in agony in the mezzanine section of Shea stadium, and watched Carlos Beltran frozen in mets lure…this article is offensive. We have been tortured long enough by high price players not living up to their contracts, Bernie madoff taking over our franchise, and now writers insulting us by dangling a player like josh Hamilton over our heads. Please have some respect and write something that pertains to the upcoming disaster that we as mets fans are in for.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Rather than a one hour rental, SNY can instead roll out videos of the press conferences announcing the signings of Foster, Martinez, Beltran, Santana, etc. as part of the “Mets Classics” series. They can even use modern digital editing techniques to implant Sandy as the GM making the announcement.

  • 5w30

    Do we really need to hear from that stammering, under-educated, toupee wearing un-indicted co-conspirator Jeff Fredo Wilpon?

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    We are already punting the 2013 season and Spring Training hasn’t started yet!

    What makes us Met fans think that anybody decent even wants to come here!

    I’m debating whether I want to invest $10 to see this team in a spring training game?

    Limbo….How low can you go?