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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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Brian Schneider Finally Proves Useful

Pitchers are the early objects of attention and, potentially, affection at Spring Training. Catchers tag along dutifully. Yet it would be athletically incorrect to frame them that way, so we politely refer to this golden interval in the dead of winter as Pitchers & Catchers. Most years, it could be Pitchers & Pitchbacks for all we reflexively care about the receiving end of this equation. It’s not like we’ve been given much reason to dwell on or drool at Mets catchers these past five years.

The second week of February 2013 (spring, my ass; look out the window), however, seems a little more promising where the “2” on your scorecard goes. Our — or anybody’s — greatest-hitting catcher ever is poking his head out of self-imposed exile to promote his new autobiography. Our best excuse for not torching Citi Field in the wake of the exportation of R.A. Dickey is finally getting his picture taken in something other than a Blue Jays cap. And our temporary starting catcher is showing he’s something of a live wire, at least provisionally.

Mike Piazza didn’t do steroids, he says. Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t done anything, but we assume he will. John Buck? I kind of liked the cut of his jib when I saw him on Hot Stove the other night. Mets catchers’ jibs have almost uniformly lacked zazz since the De Parture of Lo Duca. They’ve all been underformed or overcooked. Some of them seemed genial enough yet demonstrated quickly they were, as Mets, skill-averse. Buck? He’s spent two years accumulating more strikeouts (218) than batting average points (.213 overall), but he’s already won me over, February-wise, by going on with Kevin Burkhardt and seeming a) more than competent and b) excited to be here. Ed Leyro considers the early evidence at Studious Metsimus and makes the case that John could be something of a catcher-coach. I don’t know if that makes him a latter-day Yogi Berra, but anyone who isn’t, say, Brian Schneider I’m willing to call an improvement.

Brian Schneider just retired, by the way. Maybe if I’d been in a better Met mood when Schneider first reported to St. Lucie as the well-respected veteran catcher de l’anée around this time in 2008, I would’ve found some reason to see him as a sage. But I was in a lousy Met mood post-2007 and Schneider’s wan presence didn’t help it. His brand equity wasn’t substantially different from Buck’s, except he never gave a cheery interview that I can recall. As Jules noted in Pulp Fiction as he debated pigs versus dogs with Vincent, personality goes a long way. (That might also explain Jeff Francouer’s extended big league engagement.)

I never much cared for Schneider, but I have no reason to doubt his bona fides as a human being. He could’ve said, “I’m done” and gone on a cruise. Instead, he joined a mission of current and former players to bring a little Spring Training to American troops stationed in Germany this month. “I want them to have the opportunity to see guys they grew up watching or who they see on TV now,” he said. “I want to have the opportunity to thank the troops because what they do on a daily basis is more than we know.”

It’s not the first time Schneider has been attached to a good cause. Upon his arrival on the Mets, we learned there existed (for a while) Brian Schneider’s Catching For Kids Foundation because there was a wine created to raise funds for it: Schneider Schardonnay. It came out in 2008 in conjunction with Santana’s Select, CaberReyes and some other player-named varietals. Most of the players were stars. One was Brian Schneider.

Fired up? Ready for him to go was more like it.

Fired up? Ready for him to go was more like it.

I can’t say I was fired up to own a bottle of Schneider Schardonnay, no matter whom it benefited. I can’t say I was fired up about Brian Schneider ever, no matter what he did. Not that he did much as a Met. Some players just let you down even if you expect nothing out of them. That was Brian to me. In two Met seasons, he batted .244, he OPS’d .680, he compiled a WAR of 0.3, he rarely lived up to his defensive billing and whatever he did behind the scenes in his final month here, his mentoring of Josh Thole didn’t pay many dividends.

Then Schneider went away, became a Phillie, mentioned the little differences between the two organizations (for example, in Philadelphia, they would win and only then would they enjoy a Royale with Cheese), batted a Buck-like .213 for three seasons and retired. I didn’t miss him.

But I did wind up with a bottle of his wine. My brother-in-law came across one in a Trader Joe’s a year or so ago and picked it up for me. He didn’t know Brian Schneider from Brian Boitano, but he saw orange, blue and a chest protector and figured it was right up my alley…which it was, more or less, if you eliminate my distaste for the player pictured in the chest protector. Still, it was a thoughtful gesture, even if Schneider Schardonnay was immediately stuck in our lightly visited cabernet cabinet and completely forgotten about.

On Thursday, with the latest storm of the century bearing down on us, Stephanie asked me to pick up some ingredients for a slow-cooker dish she decided to try in anticipation of being snowed in. The recipe called for one cup of “dry white wine”. I didn’t buy any because I assumed one of our cooking-specific wines would cover it. She said it didn’t, that we still needed some. Hey, I know, I said, reaching deep behind some paper towels and cat treats, why don’t we use this?

Brian Schneider may not have been the missing ingredient in a Mets championship, but he sure as hell fit the “dry white” description. And he worked out fine in a dish of creamy chicken and mushrooms even if he never clicked behind the plate at Shea Stadium or Citi Field.

Maybe it takes a dull catcher to make a tender chicken.

FYI, I’m scheduled to be on the air in Brian Schneider Country this Monday afternoon at 3:15, on WBCB (1490 AM), to talk Richie Ashburn, Original Mets and The Happiest Recap with Skip Clayton and Cassie Gibson. If you’re not in the Lehigh Valley, you can listen here.

18 comments to Brian Schneider Finally Proves Useful

  • Dave

    I would not have guessed that Schneider hit .244 as a Met, seemed more like .144. And a WAR of 0.3? What’s that mean, he helped us win 3 more innings than his replacement would have? Then he has the nerve to badmouth the organization on his way out the door…well, exactly. The team sucked because it had to resort to the likes of Brian Schneider. So, nice of him to do some charity work, hope your wife’s coq a vin was good, but he was a putz.

  • Schneider did contribute one thing to my Mets lexicon: “two scoops.” He had a fine hiney. Ill miss that. Otherwise I’m with you on his usefulness.

  • Buckardi Dark? Two-Buck(-But-With-Power) Buck?

  • I’ll never forgive Brian Schneider for beginning the end of David Cone’s career (Cone was one of my all-time favorite Mets).

    After Cone won his first start in his 2003 return to the Mets, he appeared to be on his way to a second consecutive good start. Cone had shut out the Expos over the first two innings at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Then Brian Schneider came up with a man on base in the third inning and BANG, ZOOM – he sent a Cone offering to the moon. Montreal would go on to score seven runs in that inning. Cone would go on to retire a little earlier than he expected. It’s too bad he wasn’t allowed to age like a bottle of fine Brian Schneider wine.

  • Metties and Beer

    Schneider is a very good person and those that know him (I do) can attest to that. Based on your post you clearly do not know Brian at all. You are not aware of he personal hardships in his life or how important his family is to him.

    Not every player is a star. A few years ago brian’s wife’s sister died giving birth. So maybe before you make your little jokes, throw your immature jabs be a little more sensitive about the man who wore the mets jersey.

    • Patrick O'Hern

      Wow. I have never met the author or the catcher so I think I am objective here. I don’t see any of the meanness or insensitivity in this post that M and B. is referring to. As a matter of fact, I learned more and respect Schnieder more now than before I read the post.

    • Dave

      Metties and Beer (love the Zappa reference, btw) – I am sorry if my comments offended you or any of Brian’s friends or family, as that was certainly not my intention. I was not aware of the death of his sister-in-law, and however belatedly, my sympathy to all those close to her. That’s tragic and something no one should have to go through.

      However, we know the players primarily as players. Schneider seriously underperformed as a Met, and that by itself puts him in some pretty good company. Although I don’t have links handy, I do remember him being very critical of the team after he signed with the Phils. Now, maybe some of that was to score points with some of the truly low-rent knuckle-draggers he suddenly found as teammates, but don’t hit .218 and then badmouth the team you didn’t help much. Own up, or just turn the page and say that you’re happy to be with whatever team you’re with and ready to help them win, and all the other cliches that Crash Davis teaches Nuke in Bull Durham.

      Obviously, the flipside of getting the rare opportunity to play baseball for a living and be pretty handsomely remunerated for doing so is that you have to deal with the boos and the snide comments from middle-aged, unathletic fans on blog sites. I’m sure Schneider understands that that’s part of the game. With the obvious exception of Satanic spawn Roger Clemens, I’m sure that most athletes are good people, and I applaud him (as the author clearly did) for what he’s given back. Peace.

  • Metties and Beer

    Suzanne Elaine (Sproat) Treadway, 27, of Jupiter, FL died on Wednesday March 16, 2011, peacefully and surrounded by family. Suzanne passed away at St. Mary’s Medical Center following the birth of a healthy baby girl, Sawyer Elaine on March 12, 2011.
    Suzanne was born November 4, 1983 at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ to Kent and Betty Jane Sproat of Jupiter, FL. After moving to Granger, IN Suzanne settled in Jupiter where she graduated from Jupiter High School in 2001. She attended Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach Community College, before graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 2007.
    Suzanne is survived by her husband Jordan, daughter Sawyer, parents Kent and Betty Jane Sproat, Brother Ben Sproat (Kourtney) of Chicago, IL, Sister Jordan Schneider (Brian) of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, nieces (Tatum and Lucy), nephews (Calin, and Holden), In-laws Terry and Marla Treadway of Hernando, MS, and Brother-in-law Justin (Heather) Treadway of Coldwater, MS.
    Suzanne was in her first year as a second grade teacher at Seminole Trails Elementary School after several years of teaching kindergarten at Cape Coral Elementary School and Tanglewood Elementary School in Ft. Myers, FL.
    Visitation will be held at Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home (250 Center St. Jupiter, FL) on March 21st at 5-8PM followed by a mass of Christian burial at St. Peters Catholic Church at 1701 Indian Creek Parkway, Jupiter FL a 10:00 AM March 22nd.
    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to directly to Jordan and Sawyer though an open group on facebook.com call the “The Treadway Foundation”. For directions & online condolences, please visit http://www.taylorandmodeen.com.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Outstanding post, Greg. Perfect warmup for pitchers and catchers. Speaking of warmup, I remember Schneider defending every ball in the dirt like it was a harmless warmup pitch.

  • M and B, glad to know Brian Schneider is a .400 hitter away from the field; you are apparently blessed to know him in a context different from we who develop our impressions mainly from the upper deck and TV. Best to his family. May they experience only good things.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Maybe it takes a dull catcher to make a tender chicken.

    Love it!