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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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That’s All There Is

And then I fell in love
With the most wonderful boy in the world
We would take long walks by the river
Or just sit for hours
Gazing into each other’s eyes
We were so very much in love

Then one day
He went away
And I thought I’d die
But I didn’t

And when I didn’t
I said to myself
“Is that all there is to love?”
Peggy Lee, with a little help from Leiber & Stoller

When I learned Dillon Gee was designated for assignment, I felt genuine sorrow. Gee, I declared to anybody who was listening, had been among my favorite Mets of recent years, which wasn’t an easy status to attain. The recent years of Mets baseball haven’t been among my favorite to experience.

Still, you gotta have a soft spot for somebody. One of mine, when pressed to think about it, was for Dillon, the bulldog competitor, smart pitcher, menschy Met who took the ball every fifth day when healthy, even if he couldn’t quite take being bounced into a nonexistent role in the current rotation. The apparent end of his line here shouldn’t represent Gee’s dot on the Mets time-space continuum. He was better than our last sightings of him would indicate.

The moment I’m moved to remember where Gee is concerned came last May. Dillon was on the DL, but hanging around before a game against the Dodgers. It was one of those Blogger Nights when at some point Mets PR folks realize they have a couple of fistfuls of quasi-media types on their hands and nothing to do with them once home BP ends. Inevitably, somebody grabs an injured Met who doesn’t have to get ready for the action just ahead. On this night, Dillon was available and willing to stand in the tunnel between the clubhouse and the dugout and chat.

We surrounded the righty and let loose our general cascade of casually informed questions. You know, how’s the rehab coming, how do you like New York, what are you doing for dinner (OK, nobody asked that). Gee was amenable and articulate, but it was the way he answered a semi-throwaway that got my attention. I asked, in light of Jacob deGrom’s recent promotion, if the kid had been giving you guys any hitting tips, ha ha. You might recall that as 2014 got underway, no Met pitcher had done anything at bat until the unheralded rookie came up and got Mets hurlers off their collective schneid more than six weeks into the season.

“We just suck at it,” Dillon said of Met pitchers hitting. He wasn’t chuckling, he wasn’t going for shock value. He was expressing the obvious honestly, then expounding a bit on the subject before being ushered offstage.

Dillon most definitely did not suck at what he did, save for his awkward final appearances as a Met, final assuming the DFA takes and he winds up somewhere else. You never know with these designations for assignment. Kirk Nieuwenhuis was recently DFA’d, yet after a brief sojourn to Anaheim to check in on Collin Cowgill, he’s once again headquartered in Las Vegas behind the “activate in case of emergency” glass. But it doesn’t feel like Dillon Gee will be back with the Mets, so it feels right to remember him as something of a personal favorite while he’s still more or less top of mind.

Because if you ask me in a few weeks when he’s safely and I sincerely hope (unless he lands with a team I can’t stand) productively ensconced elsewhere, I probably won’t be thinking all that much about Dillon Gee. If the Mets continue to win in heartening fashion, as they’ve done three games in a row, then Dillon will have faded quickly from our Met consciousness. And if the Mets revert to the form that’s annoyed us intermittently since things began otherwise promisingly this season, then I imagine the subject of Dillon Gee will arise only in the idealized hypothetical, as in “…and they let Dillon Gee go, too!” Either way, we’re not likely to sit here and dwell on Dillon.

We’re not miserable human beings. We’re just being fans. The game moves too fast to dwell on those who fall away in quest of better things. If we’re fully invested in our team, business always edges emotion, sort of like the Mets edged the Blue Jays by one run Tuesday night. I’m a fairly emotional fan given to endless spells of dwelling on certain personally beloved Mets who are taken away from me without my implied consent — sometimes dwelling for decades on end — but ultimately I check the standings, check the score and root like hell for whoever’s wearing the uniform today.

I’ve had five “favorite” Mets in my now 47 seasons of fandom. I’ve had hundreds of guys I’ve liked or liked a lot, but only five I’ve identified strongly as My Favorite Player in a given period of play. None of them is a Met as we speak. None of them was when I took a phone call this past Spring Training from a ticket rep trying to sell me a package. Part of his script was to engage me as if he knew what he was talking about.

“So when was the last time you were out at Citi Field?” he asked.

“September 28,” I answered cheerily.

Silence.

“You know, Closing Day…the last game of last season?”

“Oh,” he said. “Well, I’ve only been working here since November.”

Anyway, the ticket rep asked me how long I’ve been a Mets fan and I gave him a condensed version of my origin story: 1969, six years old, world champions, still with them. He asked me who my favorite player was. Tom Seaver, I told him. Of course it’s Tom Seaver. You pick a favorite player at six and are still rooting for his team when you’re 52, you don’t automatically turn him in for a newer model just because his warranty expired.

He wanted to know who my favorite player was on the current team. That I had to think about. I realized, as of March 2015, I didn’t necessarily have one. I groped about the roster in my mind. I said I liked Gee (he was pitching on SNY while we spoke, so that probably helped) and I was excited about Harvey coming back, and “of course you can’t go wrong with David Wright,” which got no response from the guy, who was then on to the variety of ticket packages that could meet my needs and budget.

I interrupted him: “Oh, Juan Lagareshe’s my favorite.”

That also got no response, because we were deep into the selling portion of the conversation. While there was no transaction completed between us, I did realize that I must not really be that into Lagares if it didn’t occur to me to mention him right off the bat (or glove). I love his defense and I am affectionate toward his potential, but the title of Favorite Met remains vacant.

Unless you count Jose Reyes, who’s been my Favorite Met since 2003, and my Favorite Met in exile since 2012.

Don’t let the past
Remind us of what we are not now
I am not dreaming
Crosby, Stills & Nash…mostly Stephen Stills

Yeah, this isn’t about Dillon Gee. This is about Jose Reyes, who visited Citi Field this week for the first time since he was a Miami Marlin, which was a bad dream that didn’t discourage my ardor for the shortstop of my subconscious. I still can’t look at Reyes as a Blue Jay and not see a Met, the same way I couldn’t look at Seaver as a Red, Gooden as an I forget what, Brogna as a Phillie or Alfonzo as a Giant and not see a Met. Those were my other Favorite Mets, the guys between Seaver and Reyes. Those were the ones whose removals without my say-so irked me the most. Those were the ones who took a long time to be replaced in my heart of hearts.

But they’re also the ones I functionally got over because I had to. Because I was a Mets fan. Because I needed the Mets to win tonight and convince me that they might win come October, whichever October it was. There were only a few Octobers in which that seemed like a realistic goal when Reyes was here, but he was square in the middle of it. Jose and David and the Carloses and Pedro and some other Mets I couldn’t get enough of, but Jose more than the rest. He was my guy. He helped me get over Fonzie, who helped me get over Rico, who helped me get over Doc, who helped me get over Tom’s second departure (I’m still not quite past the first one from 38 years ago this week).

Then he wasn’t here and I moped throughout 2012, not particularly caring if the Mets without Reyes prevailed when they played the Marlins with Reyes that year. I hated the Marlins, but I couldn’t root against Reyes. I wanted him to go 5-for-5 and score five runs every time we faced them. If we happened to win 6-5, that would be nominally preferable, but mostly, give or take an R.A. Dickey decision, I wanted Jose to succeed.

This does not mean
I don’t love you
I do
That’s forever
Yes, and for always
—CSN

These days I want the Mets to succeed. I want the Mets to be what the Chicago Blackhawks and Golden State Warriors have been on successive evenings, evenings when the most I hoped Jose would generate at Citi Field were two triples, two singles, four stolen bases and absolutely no runs scored. I want champions in Flushing again. We’re going on 29 years without, you might have noticed.

Watching the awarding of championship trophies to championship teams who aren’t the New York Mets was, as it has been since October 27, 1986, bracing. There have been 113 titles earned in the four major North American team sports following the 1986 World Series. I’ve seen 53 different franchises toast ultimate victory since the Mets last did. I’ve seen champagne gush, parades jam downtowns, commemorative caps go on sale, trophies passed from hand to gleeful hand. The Mets were part of none of it (except for that one time they were the runner-up).

I’ve been wanting to be a part of that scene again for 29 years. Victories like the one over the Blue Jays — Matt Harvey returning to Dark Knight dominance; Bobby Parnell materializing from out of the shadows to save Matt’s W; Wilmer Flores continuing to muscle the ball if not do everything else certain other shortstops used to do with élan — are giving me hope that I might get my wish in the present era, maybe even before the wish turns 30. My hopes might be dangerously out of control after a three-game winning streak, but what a trilogy it’s been. The Mets could have very easily lost on Sunday, on Monday and on Tuesday. The Mets lost on none of those days. It’s not so much, per the middle of April, that this feels different. This feels warmly familiar to the way it was when the way it was was the way it was supposed to be. These are the Mets I know and love in my soul. These are the Mets I love when I know they are capable of coming from behind and just as capable of not blowing from ahead.

This is Mets baseball at its spiritually finest. This, maybe, could be the stuff of The Year The Mets Lost Last Place. Never once, in my last seven years of cheering for the Mets, have I felt so good.

For the first time, I don’t miss Jose Reyes quite so much.

24 comments to That’s All There Is

  • dmg

    i feel bad about gee, too — it wasn’t so long ago he was a true bright spot in the rotation, and had earned opening-day pitcher status. i wish him well.

    and i still flinch seeing professor reyes giving lessons in someone else’s uni.(after he’d raced around the bases the other night, his cap flew off to reveal a bald spot brewing. jose aging? say it ain’t so.)

    i have to add, playing against dickey is going to be hard to watch. i know who the mets have on their roster thanks to the trade, but i will never appreciate it regardless. (everyone is right to point out how it’s working out now, but i’m not forgetting the seasons in between.)

    even so, yes, these last few games of the homestand have felt special — i even remind myself the last time the mets were no-hit at home was a championship season. the lineup i thought at the start of the year would have trouble in triple a is really jelling; who has a sweeter batting stroke than flores right now?

    it’s the middle of june and despite everything the lads are in first. it’s been a long time since we could root from the front, and maybe we fans should shift from expecting the worst to something approaching optimism. i have to believe at some point a big bat will be added, because the front office must know this is a win-now situation. these seasons just do not come around all that often.

  • BlondiesJake

    I feel like a broken record when I say, “Great post.” But almost every day there is something that makes me feel like FAFIF understands MY PERSONAL Mets fandom and today is no different. Gee has always been the gritty, gutty guy who gets more out of his talent than we should expect, as opposed to that Niese guy who will not be mentioned.

    My favorite Mets across history include Doug Flynn, Hubie Brooks, Wally Backman/Tim Teufel and Wright. I guess I have a thing for infielders.

    People looked at me like I was crazy when I said the Mets would win 90 games this season. They may not, but more and more, especially with the youngsters improving and the injured healing and the suspended getting close to returning, it seems like they have a reasonable chance to do so. And we will all be along for the ride.

  • Art Pesner

    Greg, thanks once again for just getting it. I am now making jokes about home playoff games, and my college age kids do not look at me like I am crazy.

    • Dave

      Oh exactly…my daughter goes to school 500 miles from home and is probably the only Mets fan within 400 miles of the campus, so the Mets are kind of off her radar screen while she’s there. She’s just accustomed to a bad team (2006 seems more distant to a 20 year old than it does to adults) and when I start talking about them actually becoming a good team, she’s probably shaking her head wondering when she and my wife are going to have to put me in a home.

  • Dave

    At times I think I’m too old to have a favorite Met (last and final Met older than me was Julio Franco). But then there was Keith and Doc and Mookie and RA and Olerud and Alfonso and Reyes. Now there’s deGrom and Harvey (even though after the ESPN piece my wife just looks at him and says “he’s a dick”) and Familia. Hard not to like, because they’re amazing at one or more aspects of the game and they’re playing for us.

    But then there are the Dillon Gee types who I’m not going to elevate to favorite status or whatever someone twice the age of many of these players would call it, but most definitely a guy who’s been very easy to root for. Like Murphy I suppose, frustrating at times, but a guy who established a career without being supernaturally gifted, who has worked hard to get here, then goes out and does what he’s asked to do without complaining; Gee’s rhythm was obviously thrown off as a #6 or working out of the pen, but he was never going to stamp his feet and demand to be told what “his role” was (he’s a pitcher, he knows his role is to get hitters out). In a few years he’ll probably be thought of as a prototypical journeyman pitcher, but there are far worse things one can be than that.

  • Michael G.

    If Parnell can spell Familia as well as help in the eighth, that will be huge. d”Arnaud is fast becoming one of my favorites because he was nice to me when I met him as well as extremely humble, and because he’s proving to be the hitter many projected him to be. When Murphy returns, and d’Arnaud, Flores, Tejeda, and Cuddyer keep hitting, we’re going to put runs on the board. I’m waiting for the Dude, Duda, to get hot. And Flores has been so clutch with these walk-offs!

  • Tim Donner

    I’ve always thought having favorite players who are gritty, imperfect and overachieving is part and parcel of being a Mets fan. That’s why I loved Turk Wendell (appeared in 9 straight games in the wildcard hunt of ’98) and Benny Agbayani (was sitting right there when he beat the Giants with a 13th inning homer in the pivotal game of the 2000 NLDS). Sure, I loved Seaver, Doc, Darryl, Piazza, etc. like every other Mets fan, but as a fanatical fan for the entire existence of this underdog franchise, I always felt it natural to have a particular fondness for underdog players. So I share your sadness about Gee. Perhaps it’s the same feeling Yankee fans had for Mattingly, not because Gee approaches him in terms of talent or accomplishment, but because he was a substantial contributor during some very down years and will not be around to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Godspeed to Dillon wherever baseball and life take him.

  • eric b

    Mookie…always and forever. But I was also fond of Hubie Brooks. And then, definitely Fonzie. And a touch of Benny Agbayani. Loved Reyes and, briefly, Dickey. Now it’s Bartolo. He’s the 8th wonder of the world.

    • Dennis

      “Mookie…always and forever”

      I’ll second that as well……after Seaver of course!

    • argman

      Mookie – favorite of both my grandmother and me.
      When I was a kid it was Swoboda, with Cleon and Kooz very close.
      Now, I have to agree that I find Colon fascinating. His whole act is great to watch – and he’s effective. Viva Bartolo!

  • eric1973

    Greg-Liked Gee a lot, and wish him well. Too bad this year he fell off the face of the earth.

    On MAY05/14, you wrote:

    “Our starting pitcher was Dillon Gee. While other Mets starters have seen their best days or are no doubt striding toward them, Dillon is experiencing them right now. Unlike his colleagues Colon, Wheeler and Mejia, he knows how to get through a fifth inning every time. He’s gotten way better at the sixth as well…”

  • APV

    Glad someone brought up Benny. I still have an autographed picture framed in my apartment from that 13th inning home run against the Giants. Temperature must have been in the low 40s, maybe even upper 30s that night, and you wouldn’t have known it from the tension in that ballpark and the sheer joy when that ball left his bat. Liked Fonzie a lot too and certainly loved Ventura.

    As a kid it was Mookie, Hubie pre-Carter trade, and eventually on-field Lenny and Ray Knight. Darling snubbed me for an autograph in ’86, then pitched two absolutely shitty playoff games; it took his admitting how awful he was vs. Dodgers in ’88 on SNY for me to truly like him again. Almost cried the night of the 20th anniversary celebration in ’06 when I remembered Doc was in jail at the time, so that tells you what i thought of him too.

    Jose was talented yet maddening with his sometimes lack of smarts on the diamond. Even so, I almost went off the deep end when he signed with the Fish. Frankly I’ve never gotten over it; while Flores has been decent, there will always be this part of me that thinks when the Mets let Jose walk I should have walked away too. Will there always be someone new when the ones we love leave? I guess, but it’s hard when the Mets keep forcing us to find someone new. And is it really love if force is involved? Sorry, about to go off the beaten path again.

    With regard to Gee I was up and down with him ability-wise but always respected his professionalism. He deserved a lot better from fans than the GTFO-type booing I heard watching the game on Sunday. I’ll be sorry to see him go but understand why he has to be moved with Matz, Syndergaard, and hopefully Wheeler next year in the fold. Jon Niese, though? Man, he got lit up the last time he faced the Jays and he pitches tonight in Toronto. If he sucks tonight, can Terry drive him to customs and have him searched?

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Lots of heroes over the years. Seaver, Koosman, Grote, Rusty, Mookie, Doc, Darling, Keith, Carter, Piazza, Leiter, Alfonzo, Ventura, Olerud, Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Agbayani, Todd Pratt, LoDuca, Murphy. From the current crop, deGrom and Harvey are already there, Lagares and Ceciliani (so far) are moving up nicely.

    From the early years, I have to include Marvelous Marv. Funny that he was never called Marvelous when he played for that team in another borough when he was a backup for some guy named Moose.

    And I always rooted for Anthony Young. Let’s not forget that in the midst of that horrendous losing streak, he managed to save 18 games when John Franco was injured and unavailable.

    • Dave

      And AY went on the freaking Tonight Show during that losing streak. Compare that to guys who disappear if they go 0 for 4 or make an error because they don’t want to answer any questions about it.

  • Bob

    Ed Kranepool, Ron Hunt, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Tug,
    Ron Swoboda, Tommy Agee, Cleon Jones….
    MOOKIE-saw Mookie play first game VS Dodgers here in LA.-years later got his autograph @ The Murph in San Diego.
    World Series– 2000 spent $1,200 airfare (LAX-LGA via Midway Airport)–had tickets for game 3 @ Shea VS evil ones. Tickets were $60 each–got 2 and John Franco got W, Armando got Save.
    Mets beat skanks in WS game–I recall going down the ramps–Shea was shaking–skankees suck!–Heaven.

  • Rochester John

    Gil Hodges (I was an eight-year-old at the Polo Grounds, Memorial Day, 1962, when Gil hit three home runs), Ron Hunt, Buddy Harrelson, Mookie. It was tough to consider anyone else my favorite Met after Mookie, but I managed it for Edgardo, and, later, Jose.

  • Eric

    Other than being a lefty in a righty heavy rotation, I don’t understand why Niese was preferred over Gee.

  • eric1973

    All-Time favorites are:
    Felix Millan (will always hate Ed Ott, though Felix started the fight).
    I still have the photo from the Daily News “Ott—For the Year” Felix was squirming in the air before he was body slammed.

    Lenny Randle (sorry, Frank Luchessi):
    Cannot imagine Randle ever getting that angry.

  • open the gates

    Kid fandom is a funny thing…

    The first Met game I listened to from beginning to end was a late-’70’s Mayor’s Trophy game. Joel Youngblood hit two statistically meaningless home runs to help the Mets defeat the hated Yankees. Didn’t matter that the game didn’t count. I was a Blood fan until the day he was traded. Which was an interesting day for him as well, if memory serves.

    I was also a big Maz fan (who wasn’t?), and I liked John Stearns. Wasn’t much else to like in those days, was there?

  • Meticated

    You don’t also embrace fondly Neil Young?

  • Meticated

    The player…not he player!

  • JerseyJack

    OT- did the 1000th Met show up ,yet ??

  • Ian

    As a kid in NJ growing up in the 1980’s, Keith Hernandez was always my favorite Met. And still is, really. I was at Shea in 1997 for Keith Hernandez Day, too. Always enjoyed watching him play, and he was the inspiration for me even picking up a bat and a ball when I was a kid. Baseball was always my first love and nothing has come close, since.

    I haven’t had another favorite Met, really, until last year: Wilmer Flores. He embodied everything about the Mets and their history: resilient, persistent, has been told countless times “he can’t do this, can’t do that” (usually by vapid blockheads whose baseball IQ rivals that of a postage stamp), and now he’s finally getting a chance to show what he can do with some playing time under his belt.

    So here’s to the Mets, past and present, and hopefully with a bright future, as well :-)

  • […] nobody’s ever been younger longer. When you open them, no matter how much you loved him then and maintain at least a flicker of a torch for him now, Jose isn’t quite the Jose of Jose-Jose-Jose halcyon […]