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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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 Valedic(key)tory

Final impressions, from the Mets' 2012 holiday party at Citi Field.

Final impressions, from the Mets’ 2012 holiday party at Citi Field.

“How does Alderson go about reviving the more dormant aspects of our passion, those which have been dulled by two years of dismal sputtering on the heels of two years of dramatic letdown? By winning, of course. Winning will make us all feel better. Winning will bring new iconicism to the uniform, to the franchise and to our self-esteem. Seats will not go unfilled when we’re winning. Enthusiasm won’t need to be cultivated. It will emerge and it will roar the way it once did in these parts. And how does Alderson get us to that point? That’s the more difficult question, and for all the broad strokes (and narrow beseechments) we are all willing to offer, the only person who is entrusted to answer it is Sandy Alderson. That’s why they’re paying the man. But if he doesn’t mind a touch of fan interference, I’d be willing to remove a potentially perceived obstacle from his thinking. Explore every trade that makes sense to you and, if you are convinced in your role as our grand baseball poobah that it’s the right thing to do, trade anybody you feel you have to trade. Your job is improving the New York Mets. There are no sacred cows grazing in Citi Field. Not after 2010. Not after 2009.”
—A relatively typical Mets fan, October 29, 2010

“While your lead character R.A. Dickey is richly drawn, and his backstory is potentially appealing, we here at Limited Imagination agree there is no way he could exist. Since you insist on setting Dickey within the milieu of major league baseball, there needs to be at least some semblance of reality attached to your protagonist, and quite frankly, your Dickey may be the least fathomable sports character we’ve ever read. According to our research department, most successful baseball pitchers attain a level of peak performance in their 20s, but your Dickey is supposedly a career journeyman derailed by the lack of an essential component in his throwing arm who attempts to learn a magic pitch in his 30s, takes years to master it and then, quite suddenly, takes it to a whole other level where he becomes all but impossible to hit. The sports reader may ‘root’ for the unexpected, but that demographic is more and more grounded in statistical probability and the Dickey you describe in the latter chapters begins to do things that sound impossible. We could accept a certain literary license in making Dickey fairly articulate as a contrast to the usual ballplayer, but having him write a searing memoir that lands on the New York Times bestseller list in advance of creating this pitching alchemy again stretches credulity.”
—“Clueless Editor,” rejecting book proposal from “George Plimpton,” following the events of June 13, 2012

“It was a blast to be in R.A.’s ranks Thursday. I’d practically call it an honor to bear witness to the sixth Mets pitcher clinching the ninth 20-win season in franchise history. Every fifth or sixth day in the second half of 2012, R.A. lifted us from the benign disengagement you’d rightly infer a fourth-place team inspires to full-fledged immersion that seemed perfectly logical as Dickey’s knucklers rode their own private highway from his well-traveled fingertips to Josh Thole’s oversized mitt. It’s a shame his 20th win didn’t come in service to a better Mets team, but it was enough, I suppose, that R.A. Dickey made the Mets a better team whenever it was his turn to try. And besides, as fans who are unshakeable in our affinity, we need these kinds of stories and these kinds of seasons when the overarching narrative is lacking. Dickey winning his 20th as a tuneup for his projected start in Game Two of the NLDS would be as sweet as that sounds, but given what we know as reality, what could be sweeter than a 72-84 club being redeemed regularly by the presence of a 20-6 savior? Savior of our sanity if not our season.”
—A view from the not-so-cheap seats, as sat in and stood in front of on September 27, 2012

“Mets fans in New York City chanted his name, waved giant R’s and A’s and loved him in a way that people love a child or a monk or a dying man who has shed all his armor and come before them in his truth.”
—Gary Smith, current cover story in Sports Illustrated

This was a baseball decision. And at some point the lines crossed. We did prefer to sign him at the outset. We felt we could sign him. I still felt confident we could sign him as we got into the winter meetings. But it also became clear that against the backdrop of a very hot market for pitching, his value in a possible trade was also skyrocketing. […] His value in trade to us at some point we felt exceeded our ability to keep him here over a one- or possibly two- or three-year period. We’re not going to replace him with a No. 1 starter in return, but we’re going to have to find someone who can give us some of those wins. We also have to hope the team improves in other areas to offset R.A.’s loss. […] R.A. was a very popular player. I’m sure he would have been very popular next year here. I’m sure he’ll be popular in Toronto, and for good reason. On the other hand, our popularity as a team, our popularity among fans, our attendance is going to be a function of winning and losing. And winning and losing consistently over time. Those are the kinds of things we have to take into account. […] I’m hopeful in coming years that our overall popularity will be more a function of our success than individuals. But, look, I recognize this is an entertainment business. It was great to have R.A. here, and yet we felt in the best interest of the organization and the long-term popularity of the team that this was the right thing to do.”
—Sandy Alderson, December 17, 2012

Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”
—Red, after Andy Dufresne escaped to a better place, The Shawshank Redemption

28 comments to The Valedic(key)tory

  • Kate Avallone-Serra

    Lovely, Greg. Thank you for this.

  • The Shawshank quote was 100 % spot on as was Alderson’s quote the market for top starting pitching is hot right now and the Mets GM struck a great deal for the future of the organiztion. It hurts losing Dickey but this deal could pay off big in the long term

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    How come you didn’t include Sandy as he outlined his plans for the future when first introduced by the Mets? Though I disagreed with him, his words were indeed awe-inspiring as he was addressing us for the first time:

    “Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown… the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here”

    And remember, he warned us against repeating the errors of the past quarter century when he concluded:

    “My friend, you have seen this incident based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn’t happen? My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent”.

    – That’s when he began dumping Beltran, Krod and Reyes and began signing Carasco, Eamus and others! LOL

  • 9th string catcher

    He’s dead. Murdered. And someone’s responsible!

  • Joe D.

    Reporter: Why is it so important that you rebuild the Mets?
    Sandy: Because all you of Earth are idiots.

  • Z

    I am warmed by the belief that RAD will be returning to the Mets in 2017.

  • I will never be happy about this trade. Never, ever.

  • Z

    Question for a Mets historian: Have we ever had a player with an apostrophe in his last name before?

  • James Allen

    I’m not buying. They had no intention of resigning him. The difference was 2 for 20 and 2 for 25. You mean there was no negotiating space there? They wanted Dickey to turn them down. And as a bonus, Dickey walked right into the ploy, getting cornered at a Christmas event to say some not that outrageous things that were just enough to make him look ever so slightly bad. With the gotcha moment obtained, he was finally traded. But come on, he was shopped from the get go.

    This was not trading Santana or Sabathia or Lee where the pitcher in question wanted 7 years 150 million. This was 2 for 25. 2 for freaking 25.

    So that’s the philosophy now? Get stuck watching shit like Jason Bay for a year and a half more than neccessary because they’re on the hook for a stupid amount of money, but we get one good and unique thing and he has to immediately be shipped out because he has “market value”? (i.e. they don’t think he can do it again.) I believe in R.A. I believed what I saw. Too bad the Mets didn’t.

    As I said before, I understand the reality of the situation, but the way they treated him, and the fans, on the way out sucks. (Dickey actually apologized after being traded! You believe this??)

    I hate this trade with every fiber of my being. And in the unlikely event this prospect kid catcher person becomes an all star I will not change my mind one iota.

    • Chris

      I don’t even believe them when they claim they’re rebuilding. They couldn’t pay Dickey and unloaded him. But don’t worry, the prospects have ‘tremendous upside potential.’ Wright’s contract is backloaded–watch them start shopping him when they decide his contract is too big.

      • Joe D.

        Hi James and Chris,

        I agree with both of you, except maybe the entrapment theory for even I don’t think the Mets would stoop that low.

        As I mentioned to Jason the other day, I believe from day one that Sandy Alderson’s job was to completely re-organize and downsize the franchise. His call was not that of any other vision nor did he carry the credentials for any other type of work. Rebuilding was just a smokescreen. As R.A. said last summer, a team can compete and re-build at the same time.

        And had the organization handled itself with integrity (sorry if I repeat using that word) instead of indifference, then I think many of us would have more sympathy for the Wilpons’ situation. But we got our first glimpse of their true personalities in the way they made Omar fire Willie Randolph and then make him stand up as the fall guy.

        • Matt from Woodside

          Totally disagree.

          Cutting bait on Jason Bay, while he is still owed more than $16 million, is a pretty good indication that the Wilpons have given control of the rebuilding process to Alderson. The organization could have cynically kept Dickey without an extension next year for $5 million. John Buck, as part of this trade, is going to make $6 million. Next year at least, they didn’t save money.

          Good catching prospects have become very difficult to find. d’Arnaud is considered the best right now, and he’s not just a prospect. He was the Jays catcher of the future, slated to start next season. A lot of their fans are currently pissed about this trade for that reason. They’re in win now mode, and a lot of those fans will only be happy with this trade if Dickey continues being great and they make the playoffs.

          It’s a pure no pain, no gain trade. I just don’t see this move having anything to do with the Wilpons’ finances.

          • Matt from Woodside

            And with all that, I still think they’ll send him to the Las Vegas Area-51s for three weeks to extend his arbitration period, so we won’t see him on opening day. But he’s probably going to be our catcher for the next several years. Give the kid a chance.

          • Joe D.

            Hi Matt,

            It’s just that one has to look at the cost-cutting in the overall terms of the organization downsizing, decreasing revenue and the accumulating debt.

            Perhaps, your point about still owing Jason Bay more than $16 million was why they did trade somebody who, if there was any one player at any one time, bled Met Orange and Blue. And that is the shame of it – if this is how they reward one who was more than just on top of his game but one who was loyal to the organization, the team and fans as R.A. was, then loyality and dedication to the Mets is now just a one way street.

            If Sandy wants to look at it as simply a business – then that’s my perspective too and, I think, the perspective of so many others come the even more empty seats next season and the errie silence from those who are there.

          • Matt from Woodside

            Hey, Joe

            Agreed about Dickey bleeding orange and blue. He really wanted to stay here, and that’s one of the reasons that I also felt really torn about the trade.

            I guess I just see Alderson responding with unemotional rationality and the Wilpons letting him go with it. Surely all of them know that they’ve lost potential ticket sales next year because of this. Fans loved Dickey and he loved them right back. And he came from nowhere to awesomeness on our stage in a fleeting three years. With his reinvention of the knuckleball, he could have another 7 years of greatness in him.

            But that’s where I have faith in Alderson and confidence that the Wilpons are letting him do his job. He stripped the emotion out of it. Improbably, his biggest chip to play right now was a 38 year old Cy Young winner signed for $5 million next year during an offseason in which Zack Greinke and his career 3.77 ERA and 91-78 record just got signed for $147 million. It was getting ridiculous out there. He had to make this move if he’s serious about rebuilding the team. He waited to see how the market would develop, and he got the Mets a catcher of the future and a pitcher who immediately became our entire farm system’s #3 prospect (behind the catcher and the other pitcher he got for renting Carlos Beltran to the Giants).

            I hate losing Dickey, but I like feeling that the organization finally has a plan for the future that doesn’t involve (as it did during the Minaya and Phillips eras) adding just one or two more expensive pieces to win it all. It’s rebuilding and it sucks, but he’s actually doing some rebuilding.

    • dmg

      the two can’t-miss prospects? they will miss, badly. especially the catcher, with his damaged-goods situation, is closer to being a journeyman than he is to a breakout. all the “baseball consensus opinions” don’t mean jack when the kid has yet to make a single plate appearance in the bigs.

      i’m not sure what’s worse, that the mets actually would have the gall to do this deed, or that so much of the fan base is credulous enough to swallow this argument that we must send off our ace and fan favorite for prospects, we had no other real choice.

      i cannot stand it. it’s as though the mets management wants to find whatever bright spots that exist on the team in spite of the chaos and render them useless. moves like this — and this is no fluke; it’s in keeping with those in earlier off-seasons — mock our fandom.

  • Scott M.

    Ok, fine. After all that’s gone down with the R.A. situation, you finally had to go and make a Shawshank reference and have me tear up and practically do a spit take with my coffee this morning. Thanks for that…(But, seriously, what a great reference…)

    Anyway – on to my conflict- I am so CONFLICTED about this deal.

    R.A. Dickey – he of the Lord of the Rings-named bats and Star Wars loving, nerdy persona (like nerdy baseball fans – just like me!) R.A. Dickey – he of the ‘I’ve lost more than i’ve won, (heck baseball is mostly losing, right?) Except when 1969 happens. Or 1986. Or even 1973 or 2006. (Ok, fine – or 2000). R.A. Dickey – he of the ‘I’m gonna keep trying until I’m a starting pitcher, somewhere, somehow.’ R.A. Dickey – he of the Ya Gotta Believe ethos way before he was even a glimmer in the Mets eyes. I mean if anyone outside of Tug McGraw could actually physicalize the Ya Gotta Believe spirit of our team’s unofficial philosophy, it had to be R.A., right?

    Well, yeah. But, one of the top catching prospects in all of minor league baseball (maybe THE top catching prospects) in addition to yet another potentially great young arm? You have to make that deal if you’re Sandy, right? We all knew that at some point after the collapses of 2007 and 2008 that we weren’t the contending team of 06, right? As Mets fans we’re contractually obligated to believe that our front office (if not our ownership) is committed to winning, right? We have to believe that Sandy still has some juice left from building those A’s teams that featured ROY’s like McGwire, Canseco and Weiss from the late 80’s, right?

    I knew that, win or lose, R.A. was going to give us the best that he had every fifth day. And if he lost, he would offer us honest, penetrating analysis of why the loss occurred. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the prospects. Heck – the catcher is apparently already damaged goods. Some reports say – ‘no big deal’ while others blare ‘RED ALERT’ and then there’s the report the pitching prospect is casually throwing around insensitive jock speak comments on Twitter and it’s hard to think of the honest (if goofy) tweets that R.A. would post of him and his kids wearing Star Wars costumes.

    Argh! I guess I just miss my friend, indeed.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Apologies if somebody already brought this up, but man I hope RA pitches the Sunday before the All Star Game, making him unavailable to start it and very available to receive a welcome home ovation upon player introductions.

    • Joe D.

      Hi Kevin, I somehow guess R.A. is going to get a standing ovation from those other fans in the Bronx when he first takes the mound at Yankee Stadium. And I think the applause might be so thunderous as a way for those fans to rub it further into the noses of us Met fans – not that many of us wouldn’t agree with them.

  • Steve D

    The Mets were not going anywhere with Dickey, so this deal may work out eventually. I feel for the people who love Dickey and do not want to see him go. For example, I am furious at the Knicks for letting Lin go…I like the way he played. In basketball a point guard can dictate the whole style of the team. I could care less that the Knicks are off to a good start…they will break our hearts again. Baseball is different…Dickey plays once every 5 games…he doesn’t change the Mets style of play. He is 38 and knuckleballs are fickle. I think this trade will be a good one.

    • Will in Central NJ

      Steve, I agree with you. I’m sorry to see Dickey go, but I’ve long ago stopped rooting (too hard) for individual Met players and instead, root for the orange and blue laundry. It’s just easier on the soul to not get overly attached. It is also easier to justify this trade if one takes the emotion for Dickey out of it; should d’Arnaud, Syndergaard and Buck contribute to a pennant or more while playing for the Mets, it’ll be a lot easier to stomach and just might come to pass.

      Example: in April 1982, many Met fans wailed long and loud when the very popular Lee Mazzilli was traded to Texas for two unknown minor league pitchers. “What an idiot that Cashen is! Couldn’t he even net ONE legitimate major leaguer for our beloved Italian Stallion?” cried the callers to Art Rust Jr. on WABC-AM. Well, the two pitchers–RHPs Ron Darling and Walt Terrell– turned out to be pretty damn good. When Terrell was flipped to Detroit a couple of years later, the return was Howard Johnson, and we then had very key pieces to a WS Championship team….one that included a prodigal Lee Mazzilli, as well.

      My point is, give this trade some time. Mourn the loss of R.A., but have patience, fellow fans. As I look at the potential of d’Arnaud and Syndergaard, it could work out quite well.

      • Dak442

        I just can’t allow myself to become too attached to any single player anymore. It’s too painful when they leave, especially if it’s over money. I was inconsolable when the Mets let Piazza leave, even if it supposedly made baseball sense. I’ve wholesale given up on teams and entire sports when other favorites (Messier, Ewing/Starks, and especially Simms) departed. I am not prepared to do that with the Mets, so I try to be a little more detached from guys than when I was younger.

        So yeah, I loved Dickey while he was here; he was a great player, great story, and great guy. But time and the Mets march on. I wish him all the luck and success in the world, and hope he and Jose knock Satan’s minions out of the playoffs this year.

  • Jeff

    I agree with the comments of “hate it and will hate it for the rest of my life.” Can’t remember liking a Met more than RA since 41.

    Here’s to waiting til July 16 for the most thunderous ovation Citi Field will see this year.