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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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Surprises

Surprise! Aaron Harang was … not that bad.

He wasn’t great, but he pitched capably enough — a team with an iota of offense might have had a chance out there, which unfortunately doesn’t describe the current Mets. A couple of weeks ago, our young players might have frowned at hearing that baseball conventional wisdom is to pay no attention to March and September — after all, there they stood with a September essentially to themselves, with a manager and a front office desperately hoping to be impressed. Now, that “pay no attention to September” mantra must feel like a security blanket — perhaps nobody’s taking the team’s utter lack of offense too seriously, and promising to forget it by next spring.

(Well, except Terry’s definitely noticed.)

It wasn’t particularly a surprise that Frank Francisco did something rock-headed, blatantly drilling Jayson Werth in the back for some unspecified sin or another. (Possibly just being much better than anyone wearing blue and orange.) After staring at the screen in shock and dismay for a moment, I had a thought that was actually worse.

If Werth runs out to slug Frank Frank, I’m rooting for Werth.

You have to understand that I loathe Jayson Werth. My hatred for him is pure and deep. I hate him the way I hate Cody Ross, the way I hate Shane Victorino, the way I hated Michael Tucker and Jim Leyritz and (in his early years) Chipper Jones.

But Werth didn’t spend the better part of a year malingering, try to drag a young rehabbing teammate into the muck of bad citizenry with him, then come back and endanger his teammates by trying to start a beanball war. Frank Francisco did that. And now he’s doing other things, things we have to witness instead of sighing about and being glad there’s a Port St. Lucie dateline attached to the bad news. We can’t be rid of him soon enough.

At least the opprobrium has been swift and unvarnished, particularly by baseball standards. Gary Cohen wondered why Francisco would do such a thing, and Ron Darling replied, “Because he’s a fool.” Or here, reconstituted, is what a scout in attendance told Adam Rubin: “Frank Francisco is a douchebag. Almost got his shortstop’s ankle broken. It was so frickin’ obvious! Asshole almost got Tejada killed.”

As for the Mets and WFAN, to my mild surprise I can’t work up much outrage.

Like my partner, I have all sorts of good memories of listening to the Mets on WFAN, and a long record of doing silly things so I could hear the Mets on the radio.

I chose one college over another because 1050 AM came in clearly in one city but not in the other, something it took me years to admit to my mother.

I’ve stopped driving short of my destination because the signal was fading and kept driving farther than I should have because the signal was strengthening.

On weekends in D.C. I used to park my car by the Potomac River because the water amplified the signal. (I don’t know why the hell it did, just that it did.)

I’ve owned all sorts of contraptions that promised to boost a signal and made crazy antenna extenders out of tinfoil and hangars and stood on my leg like a stork for an hour because I thought it was helping reception.

I pride myself in being able to decipher what’s happening in a game even if I can only hear every fourth or fifth word amid hiss and atmospheric yowl — I’ve heard enough games to be able to intuit things from how an announcer pitches his voice and how fast he’s talking. Occasionally people marvel at this, and I admit that I let them.

But I did those things because I had to, and my nostalgia for them is colored, as is usually the case, by relief at not having to do them anymore. And note I said “listening to the Mets on WFAN,” not “listening to WFAN.” The first is a necessity; the second is a nightmare. If the Mets aren’t playing or about to play or just done playing, I don’t listen to a syllable of WFAN, because the world inflicts too many stupid and/or angry people on me as it is. Is it embarrassing that we’ve been jilted for the Yankees? I guess. But then a lot of things are embarrassing these days.

If I want to hear what people think of the Mets I come here, or to any of the wonderful sites run and read by smart, passionate fans. If I want to hear the Mets, I turn on MLB At Bat — even if I’m in the car and can get the “real” radio. At Bat is reliable, it’s cheap, it won’t kill your data plan, and when the game’s over I can switch over to any other game that’s on. (I’m listening to the Giants and Dodgers now, because I can.) I have a soft spot for remembering cheap little transistor radios under the covers or mounded up on a beach towel, sure — but if I could have listened to Vin Scully as a kid and actually been able to hear him, I’d have done that in a heartbeat. The digital age has its drawbacks and ambivalence, but I get to walk around with a Magic Baseball Machine in my pocket — something that’s quite literally a childhood dream come true.

I know exactly where the Mets will be when I want to hear them next year — they’ll be on the other side of the little headphones icon on At Bat. Howie Rose and Josh Lewin will be there, and the things they’ll be describing will be things the Mets are doing. That’s what matters to me. The rest of it stopped mattering to me a long time ago.

9 comments to Surprises

  • sturock

    So well put. The FAN is a what-you-call it, excrescence… Is that the right word? I have no patience for any of the morons I hear on that station. The fact that this is a big story just shows how behind-the-times outlets like the New York Times have become. So what if Sportsradio 66 pays up the wazoo to get the Yankees and drops the Mets. I can’t think of a single Met fan who cares or who won’t be able to find the team on AM/FM/XM/AtBat/wherever. The less radio sports talk I hear in my life the better…just thinking about it gets me all impatient and agitated.

  • Walter Alvarado

    The Evil Empire may have WFAN but we still have Howie Rose.

  • Dave

    WFAN is the spiritual home of people who think Frank Francisco is cool.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    …try to drag a young rehabbing teammate into the muck of bad citizenry with him,

    Huh? When? What?? I must have been out sick that day. Not that I need another reason to want Frank Francisco to be gone for good.

    It occurs to me that WFAN might be buying high with the Yankees and bailing out of the Mets at exactly the wrong time. There’s at least a possibility that the Mets will be a better draw than the Yankees over the next 5 years (this September and probably all of 2014 notwithstanding).

    • Dave

      He supposedly advised Mejia to just hang out and collect his paycheck instead of rehabbing and attempting to pitch or advance his career. When I heard that I hoped there was enough evidence that the Mets could void his contract. Frank Frank has a bright future as one of the least-missed former Mets.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Nice to see my thoughts on WFAN put to words. I will greatly miss “LETS GO METS… F-A-N (da na na),” the same way I miss “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Shea Stadium,” but life will go on quite easily. Outside of the inning-break-jingle it’s a pretty seamless transition for most of us.

  • ian b in md

    I remember while on family vacations in Canada staying up until after midnight with my radio at my ear – just hoping to turn the dial perfectly to hear Captain Midnight talk about the game. Like you, I only needed to hear every 4th or 5th word to understand what was happening.

    My most memorable WFAN moment was during the Knicks 1999 playoff run. I sat in my car at the Sloatsburg rest stop listening to Game five. When Allan Houston scored the game-winning basket, I jumped out of the car and ran to the bathroom. I was not the only person to do so. There were about a half dozen other guys in the restroom all talking about that play.

  • dak442

    I have fond memories of listening to non-Channel 9 games on the FAN in Scranton PA during the ’87 pennant race. We’d throw a keg party, our basement and living room would be full of nubile coeds (well, maybe not quite nubile), and 5 or 6 of us would be sequestered in a third-floor bedroom, gathered around a radio like it was the 1940s. At the end of each half-inning someone would run down to the kitchen shouting “House pitcher!” and jumping the line for a refill. Good times.