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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 2015 Oscar’s Cap Awards

It’s the one where Dick Clark is improbably playing himself as an afternoon drive time disc jockey on versatile WZAZ radio, and part of his gig is calling New Yorkers at random with trivia questions. The topic, he says, is opera, “which for you kids out is music with a lot of killing”. The number he dials belongs to one of the city’s best-known sports columnists.

What a coincidence!

I am describing, as some of you may have already inferred, “The New Car,” the sixth episode from the fourth season of The Odd Couple. It originally aired on ABC on Friday night, October 19, 1973, filling half an hour of space between Game Five and Game Six of that year’s World Series. The Mets were busy leading the A’s, three games to two, and things were looking pretty good, not just for New York’s favorite baseball team, but for the leading voice of the sports pages of the New York Herald.

Oscar Madison answered the three opera questions posed off camera by Dick Clark and won himself the new car alluded to in the episode’s title. Except he answered them with the help of his roommate Felix Unger, so he was ultimately compelled to share the car, which led to all kinds of car-related difficulties, considering Oscar and Felix resided at 1049 Park Avenue and parking in Manhattan, then as now, is always at a premium.

The most recent airing of “The New Car” occurred on Sunday night, December 27, 2015, over a channel called MeTV, which if read with extreme prejudice can be viewed as MetV. MeTV airs The Odd Couple every Sunday at 10 PM. I record it and watch it and enjoy it and, of course, keep an eye out for moments like Felix waking Oscar to tell him it’s his turn to alternate-side-of-the-street park the car. (Felix was up and dressed but wouldn’t move the car himself; he got up early just to see if Oscar would). Why?

Because in Oscar’s bedroom, a New York Mets pennant hangs limply above Oscar’s bed.

And when Oscar pushes himself out the door to move the car, he’s dressed in a bathrobe and a Mets cap.

That’s our Oscar. That’s who we celebrate at the end of every December when we hand out our annual Oscar’s Cap Awards in recognition of the year in Mets Pop Culture.

Our guidelines are loose. If we saw or heard the Mets infiltrate a movie or a television series or a song or a novel or a comic book or whatever, we mention it. And that’s the award. We strive to notice everything released ostensibly outside the world of sports and sports-related news in the preceding calendar year in which the Mets show up, but if we bump into something appropriate that was created years ago and we never knew of it or made proper note of it before, it gets an Oscar’s Cap, too. Though there are repetitious answers, there are no wrong ones.

So let’s doff our caps to Jack Klugman (and Walter Matthau) and hand out their character’s cap wherever we encountered the Mets when we weren’t expecting it.

2015 shared one overriding commonality with 1973, and it didn’t involve Dick Clark. The Mets won one of those things that hung from the wall in Oscar’s bedroom: a pennant. In this self-aware, self-generating pop culture age, that meant a dedicated tier of Mets creativity bubbled to the surface. I’m not sure that material created specifically to salute the National League champions qualifies as Mets Pop Culture in the truest sense, but how often do we win a pennant?

Here, then, is an honor roll of musical production numbers that strove to honor the 2015 Mets.

Sara Davis Buechner gave a Gershwinian spin to “Meet The Mets” and created a virtuosic “Rhapsody In Orange And Blue”.

Billy Joel, whose “Piano Man” scored eighth-inning breaks at Citi Field, broke out a bit of “Meet The Mets” at his monthly Madison Square Garden performance, the one in October that happened to coincide with Game Four of the National League Championship Series.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) became an unlikely musical Mets booster when he sang our theme song on the floor of the House of the Representatives to settle a bet with Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) following the Dodgers’ loss in the National League Division Series.

James Flippin of WOR put the “Meet” melody to good use in a very 2015 version of the old favorite (“Conforto and Thor ain’t your average rooks/Howie Rose, holy smokes, put it in the books”).

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra brought an extra touch of class to an already classy anthem when they performed “Meet The Mets” on the plaza at Lincoln Center one frosty morning prior to the World Series. Special guest conductor: Mr. Met.

Lucas Prata, last heard on Z-100 in this realm in 2006 came back for another round of “And We Say…Let’s Go Mets,” this time swapping out references to Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado for “Familia, Clippard, Reed and Robles, too”.

Maxine Linehan put her beautiful Irish-born vocals to work in tribute to Daniel Murphy, a.k.a. “Oh, Danny Boy!”

Also worth a nod from non-traditional channels: Jim Breuer, whose SNL and standup fame provided him a platform to serve as Celebrity Mets Fan of the People via the videos he’d upload to Facebook after virtually every game in 2015. Breuer exulted and occasionally mourned, more or less like any of us. A happening was born.

And as if all that’s not enough (as reported by sharp-eyed FAFIF readers and other concerned parties or tracked by yours truly)…

In 2015, the real Ed Charles made two particularly memorable appearances, in January at the Queens Baseball Convention and in October throwing out a first pitch alongside teammate Ron Swoboda during the NLDS. Just two years earlier (and continually on HB0 since), he was revealed, at the end of 42, as the little boy who caught a ball from Jackie Robinson in Spring Training. As the postscript to the movie read, “Ed Charles grew up to become a Major League Baseball player. He won the World Series with the 1969 Miracle Mets.”

The Stargate TV followup, Stargate: SG-1, showed pictures of Jack’s son in a Mets uniform.

Peter Falk as Vince Ricardo in The In-Laws (1979) while on a stakeout: “I can’t believe this trade. What the hell the Mets need another pitcher for? All they got is pitchers!”

Jeff in Rules of Engagement (which ran on CBS between 2007 and 2013) mentioned the Mets frequently and loved to show off his Mets memorabilia collection at any given opportunity.

The Gift of Life, by Michael Elias (2013), discusses the Mets and features the main character’s connection to them. Specifically, the narratives in the book refer to the dominance over the Mets by the Braves, the exciting 2006 season and ultimately short-circuited postseason (including a dramatic retelling of the late stages of the final playoff game), the 2007 collapse, and other baseball commentary as observed by the main character. The novel, according to the author, is “about so much more than that, including disability and coming to terms with certain life situations, but there’s the sports aspect of it for fans as well”.

“Legal or not, if it gets the New York Mets a better shortstop, I am so down with this,” said team minority owner and talk show host Bill Maher regarding the opening of US-Cuba relations (Real Time, 1/16/2015).

In the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novels from 1962 on, Archie Goodwin is a diehard Mets fan (and a former New York Giants fan).

“I Didn’t Always,” a 2015 song by Andee Joyce, includes the lyric, “the monster is out of the cage”.

“Replacement Baseball,” a Ken Burns film parody on Saturday Night Live, April 15, 1995, uses a wide shot of action at Shea; also a picture of Nolan Ryan pitching for the Astros at Shea. The threat of actual replacement baseball was real that spring because of the strike that wouldn’t end, which was reflected on SNL’s September 24, 1994, episode, in which there was a commercial for Super Sports Tours’ 1994 Baseball Strike cruise, wherein one of the players featured as appearing is “Mets All-Star slugger Bobby Bonilla”. The gag was basically every striking ballplayer will be on the ship. At the end of the filmed bit, several MLB players are on stage, including Bonilla, in his 1992 road jersey and cap.

Married With Children, “A Man For No Seasons,” November 27, 1994, features a passel of striking players, including then-Met Bret Saberhagen appearing as himself, forced to get a job as a pizza delivery man, of which he says, “I’ve got the worst job in the world.” When Kelly Bundy notices his nametag says “Bobby Bonilla,” Saberhagen explains, “He called in sick.” Also, “If I don’t deliver this pizza in thirty minutes, they take it out of my check.”

Reportedly, a cop in the 2014 Off-Broadway play, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” decides to become a Mets fan because he hates Rudy Giuliani.

Harry Breitner’s well-titled 2014 song, “Faith and Fear in Flushing Meadows,” references 1962 (and losing), Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Ray Knight, Mookie Wilson.

In the pilot episode for the latest iteration of The Odd Couple, starring Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison, February 19, 2015, Oscar is a sports talk radio host who, in the opening, is taking a call from someone who can’t believe Oscar things the Mets have a shot this year. Oscar hangs up on him. Oscar wears two Mets t-shirts in the episode and his apartment is prominently littered with Metsiana and other sports stuff until Felix (Thomas Lennon) moves in and cleans up.

“You’re right, Father. I’m a Mets fan now.”
—Danny Castellano, The Mindy Project, after his priest (guest star Stephen Colbert) tells him the Yankees are “the team of sin,” March 10, 2015, S3, Ep 19, “Confessions of a Catho-holic”.

The Dark Knight had a predecessor in Mets lore. On June 25, 1966, a live “Batman Concert,” featuring Adam West and Frank Gorshin (as the Riddler), took place at Shea Stadium. The Mets bore the brunt of several jokes, including, “Why are the Mets like my mother-in-law’s biscuits? … Because they need a better batter!” and “The Mets are like a box of Kleenex, because when they get boxed in, they pop out one at a time!” The conceit was Batman had come to Shea to save the Mets (the original script called for Mayor Lindsay’s participation; the mayor was supposed to have expressed concern over “the trouble the New York Mets have been having,” and thus called for Batman’s aid). The event, whose original bill included acts like the Young Rascals, the Chiffons and the Temptations, drew 3,000 young people to the ballpark. That same Saturday in Chicago, the Mets were beating the Cubs, 9-3, behind a complete game 11-hitter from Bob Shaw and home runs from Ed Kranepool and Eddie Bressoud.

Probably not heard at Shea on Batman’s big day was a song recorded in 1966 by Ray Watt & The Questions. It was called “Till The Mets Win The Pennant,” and was released on LOY Records, a label out of Winchester, Ky. The lyrics are light on baseball, focusing on love and longing. The Mets are merely a Met-aphor for endless waiting. No way the composer guessed his concept of eternal love would add up to three years’ time in real life.

3-2-1 Contact opened its first episode, in 1980, with a description of all the things its hosts had tried, including Marc (Leon W. Grant) asking, “What about the time I played baseball with the New York Mets?” Roy Lee Jackson is seen pitching to him at Shea, most likely in 1979.

In the music video for “Paging Hiawatha” by the Knockout Drops (2010), the Mets bullpen cart appears driving down a two-lane road.

“In the late ’70s and early ’80s, John Travolta was Scientology’s biggest star,” said the narrator of Going Clear, HBO’s 2015 Scientology documentary. While that was being said, we see Travolta in a still photo in which he wears a 1986-era Mets Starter jacket (a period photo, not a retro item). Meanwhile, footage of 1986 ticker-tape parade shows up in a montage scored to “New York New York” toward the close of HBO’s 2015 Sinatra documentary.

On the pilot episode of the Ridgewood, Queens-set Weird Loners, which aired on Fox on March 31, 2015, we meet Eric Lewandoski (Nathan Torrence), 34, toll collector and one of the four title characters. He is wearing a Mets baseball shirt featuring a skyline logo and watches a game with his dad (wearing a 2013-14 style alternate cap). In their game, an announcer says it’s the bottom of the ninth and Wright is up. Father and son argue over whether a base on balls would be an acceptable outcome. Then the pop drops dead. Eric is concerned until he hears the announcer say the batter swings. He turns toward the television and…SCENE. (The episode also includes an appearance by a dermatologist named Howard Blatt, same name as a Daily News sportswriter who once covered the Mets.) In the second episode, Eric watches a Mets doubleheader with neighbor Zara, sitting in for his late father. They both wear Mets jerseys. Hers is a SEAVER 41 blue pullover of the 1983 variety. The Mets lost the first game; we don’t see the second game.

Minor character, major fandom: Ed on Mad Men tips his own Mets cap in 1970/2015.

Minor character, major fandom: Ed on Mad Men tips his own Mets cap in 2015 by way of fictional 1970.

In Mad Men’s second half of the seventh season premiere (S. 7 E. 8), April 6, 2015, Joan Harris is seen reading the May 1970 issue of McCall’s, with Tom and Nancy Seaver on the cover. Meanwhile, in Ed Gifford’s final scene on Mad Men (“Lost Horizon,” Season 7, Episode 12, May 3, 2015; takes place late summer 1970), the copywriter dons a Mets cap before taking leave of the almost abandoned offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners. And good old Don Draper kept Lane Pryce’s Mets pennant hanging in his office in the “The Forecast,” Season 7, Episode 10, 4/20/2015.

In episode seven of Daredevil

MATT, discussing Foggy’s injured side: “I think Foggy will be pitching for the Mets by midseason”

KAREN: “I’m being serious”

MATT: “So am I. Have you seen their bullpen?”

The rose ceremony on 6/15/2005 edition of The Bachelorette takes place on the field at Citi Field. The cocktail party takes place in “one of the many luxurious event spaces”.

In Superboy #24, December 2013: “He had the power to read. To influence. At first he was weak and could only affect small minds — like animals and Mets fans.” DC Comics is said to take shots at the Mets since Marvel Comics is generally pro-Mets. Then again, the New York Mehs are portrayed in Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Deadpool, Marvel Comics, 2015

In 1985, Starchild recorded the hip hop ditty “You’ve Gotta Believe (Let’s Go Mets)” on the Fever Records label. Among those listed as producer [original tracks] are Kurtis Blow and Russell Simmons. Lyrics shout out Nelson Doubleday and Frank Cashen, among others, and invoke the signature call of Warner Wolf.

A “Go Mets” message appears on a book shelf in the 2015 season premiere of Teen Wolf. Star Dylan O’Brien is a big Mets fan.

Colin Quinn, as Amy Schumer’s father in Trainwreck, plays a major Mets fan. There’s a 2013 All-Star Game blanket in his nursing home room, a Mr. Met poster torn up by his daughter in anger, Mets apparel in evidence everywhere and, ultimately, a Mets floral arrangement at his funeral.

“Right now, your case is weaker than the Mets bullpen.” So it was said on Blue Bloods, CBS, October 8, 2010, Season 1, Episode 3, “Privilege”. Fast forward to the Season 6 episode “All the News That’s Fit to Click,” October 9, 2015, and you’d find Citi Field serving as a backdrop.

Marc Black offered a folksy number in 2015 called “You Gotta Believe…Mets!” in conjunction with John Sebastian, Eric Weissberg and the sampled voice of Steve Somers.

“I almost moved to the Mets.”
—Moose Washburn, “You Can Win ’Em All,” The Bob Newhart Show, Season 1, Episode 22, first aired February 24, 1973. The line was uttered by .183-hitting Cubs backup catcher Moose Washburn (Vern Rowe), who becomes a patient of Dr. Hartley’s when he sees how Bob has helped his teammate, pitcher Phil Bender. It refers to the many times he’s been traded. He eventually goes to Japan.

Morgan Freeman was spotted wearing a Mets cap while seen filming the 2016 remake of Going In Style in downtown Manhattan in September 2015.

Billy Joel’s translator wears a 1986 World Champions t-shirt in A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia documentary (released in 2014, filmed on Joel’s 1987 tour of the Soviet Union).

Mr. Met appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’s Phone Booth game, October 5, 2015. He was introduced as being from the 2015 National League East champions.

Baseball’s best mascot stayed busy seventeen nights later when Mr. Met appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, October 22, 2015, escorting Guillermo on stage during JKL’s run of Brooklyn shows, brandishing Mets pennants, including one signifying the Mets as participants in the 2015 World Series. The show’s band played “Meet the Mets,” while Guillermo wore alternate blue home TEJADA 11 jersey. In the same episode, Mr. Met appeared in a recreation of Jimmy’s third-grade class picture, standing in for his teacher, Mrs. Metz (her real name). One night later, October 23, 2015, David Wright, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, all wearing their jerseys, appeared on Kimmel’s show and received thunderous ovations. On that same episode, Flavor Flav of Public Enemy wore a Mets cap while performing.

Mike Piazza appeared on Late Night With Seth Myers on October 28, 2015, told stories about Mets fans recognizing him in Sicily and was generally supportive of their World Series efforts.

Real Time With Bill Maher had a jack-o-lantern on set featuring the Mets’ NY logo, October 30, 2015.

A twentysomething guy walks through a scene wearing a black Mets shirt toward the end of 2006’s World Trade Center.

Part of the 2014 HBO documentary, Banksy Does New York, is filmed in Willets Point, with Citi Field clearly in background. One guy wears an beat-up black Mets cap.

Rick Ross wears an ’80s Mets Starter jacket and Mets cap in the video for DJ Khaled’s 2009 track “Fed Up”.

The trailer for the 2015 film Secret In Their Eyes features a Mets logo on an office wall (with other action depicted at Dodger Stadium).

Daily strip Pearls Before Swine mentioned Tom Seaver on October 30, 2015. (“Feed Tom Seaver” in a riff on “feed a fever, starve a cold.”)

Rapper Fabolous wore a Tom Seaver 1969 road jersey throwback when he performed at the 5th anniversary party of Mitchell & Ness’s flagship retail store in Philadelphia, November 13, 2015.

Dock Ellis’s brief tenure as a 1979 Met was briefly touched on in No No: A Dockumentary (2014). Also spotted: Tom Brokaw reporting on the 1985 Pittsburgh drug trials, with a picture of Keith Hernandez in a Mets cap over his shoulder.

Relevant because, like the Mets, this exchange between “Naked Man” (Ernie Sabella) and Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) aired on TBS during the 2015 postseason. It’s from “The Subway,” Season 3, Episode 13, of Seinfeld, which was originally broadcast January 8, 1992.

NAKED MAN: They still have no pitchin’. Gooden’s a question mark. You don’t recover from those rotator cuffs so fast.

JERRY: I’m not worried about the Mets’ pitching. They got pitching. They got no hitting.

NAKED MAN: Hitting, they got hitting. Bonilla, Murray. They’ve got no defense.

JERRY: Defense, please. They need speed.

NAKED MAN: Speed, they’ve got Coleman! They need a bullpen.

JERRY: Franco’s no good? They got no team leaders.

NAKED MAN: They got Franco! What they need is a front office.

JERRY: But you gotta like their chances.

NAKED MAN: I love their chances!

JERRY: Tell ya what, if they win the pennant this year, I’ll sit naked with ya at the World Series.

NAKED MAN: Deal!

On April 28, 2015, five days after throwing out first pitch at Mets game, Edie Falco discussed how nervous she was on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She recreated the pitch with fellow guest Jeremy Renner.

The following exchange took place between Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 3, Episode 7, “The Mattress,” November 14, 2015:

“That is much too much money.”

“Well, you spent twice that for Mr. Met to come to your birthday party.”

“Yeah, and it was worth it. Mr. Met used my bathroom. Number two. That’s a memory I will cherish forever.”

On the pilot episode of the Amazon series, Good Girls Revolt (2015), set in New York in 1969, a discussion in a bar touches on the Mets, including an observation that “the real star of that team is Gil Hodges”. Also, “Ryan” described as “raw”.

In 2015’s Danny Collins, Bobby Cannavale as Tom Donnelly says, when he is asked if he is happy, “Am I happy? I hate my boss. Fucking Mets break my heart every year…”

In their 2015 song, “Darryl & Dwight,” the Sheepdogs offer a tone of lament for how much is expected out of the narrator via the lyric, “I feel my life is movin’ too fast…”

Mets fans and Shea Stadium show up prominently in the 1991 video for “It’s Only Natural” by Crowded House.

It’s only natural to thank all who contributed Mets Pop Culture sightings to our collection in 2015. If you know of something you don’t think we have, please let us know.

16 comments to The 2015 Oscar’s Cap Awards

  • Brian H

    Is this list just stuff you became aware of this year or is this EVERYTHING?

  • Rochester John

    I’m sure your collection includes the original “Odd Couple” movie where Oscar (Walter Matthau) misses a Met triple play (courtesy or Bill Mazeroski) because Felix has called him in the Shea press box. The story at the time was that it was supposed to be Roberto Clemente hitting, but that he refused to hit into a triple play against the lowly Mets, fiction or not.

  • I confess Jim Breuer had me longing for The Rally Monkey. I found the unique appreciation for his whatever-those-weres to be much like watching the wishful, balletic preparations of Joe McEwing in the on deck circle — an acquired taste.

    Here’s hoping something completely different proves captivating in 2016.

  • “Yeah, and it was worth it. Mr. Met used my bathroom. Number two. That’s a memory I will cherish forever.”

    That’s (a) funny shit!

  • open the gates

    “In the World Series, the Kansas City Royals defeat the New York Mets. The payrolls of these two teams combined are less than the payroll of the New York Yankees, who were eliminated immediately from the playoffs in the Wild Card game by the Houston Astros, whose payroll is less than a third of the Yankees’.

    – Dave Barry, “2015: The Year in Review”, Miami Herald

  • Jon

    It’s a bit obscure, but I can say I made my own contribution to this list. In March, I directed a play, titled GREAT KILLS, at Theater for the New City. The play opens with a solo character, Mr. G (played by Joe Pantoliano), watching a Fictitious Mets/Reds game on TV. Yours truly played the part of Gary Cohen’s voice, as Jacob deGrom pitched to Joey Votto in the 3rd inning. Ultimately, the sound is turned off and the game becomes part of the background. Later, Mr. G requests to be left alone so that he can go back to watching the game. The play closed with the TV being turned back on and we learn that Bobby Parnell ended up blowing a 3-run lead and the Mets wind up losing, 6-5.

    This, needless to say, was not my preferred result, but in keeping with the tone of the play, felt a more appropriate ending.

  • eric1973

    Hey Jon,

    Sounds like your Parnell reference was ripped right from the headlines!!

    BTW, anyone sign him yet? Didn’t think so!

  • Paul Schwartz

    Greg
    The number one spot on this,should always be the film Frequency!

  • Stan

    One of my most prized possessions is from a few years ago when Adam Klugman was selling his dad’s book from his website. One of the add-ons was a Mets cap autographed by Oscar himself. We call it “The Klugger” and it gets rubbed for luck. :)

  • Greg, thanks for the mention of my novel The Gift of Life in the 2015 Oscar’s Cap Awards. I’m very honored. The sequel to the novel will also mention the Mets, though its publication is not imminently emergent; this year is possible, with much concentrated effort.

    I continue to enjoy the blog, including the masterful post following the World Series loss. That one still disappoints whenever I think about it. We should have won those three close games instead of blowing them; then, we’d have won it all in five instead of losing it in five. Some of the sting is ameliorated by my perspective that the Royals are not a team to hate, unlike, say, the Stankees. Just very disappointing that the Mets played their most uninspiring ball since midseason, at the very time it mattered the most on the biggest stage. What is encouraging is that we are legitimate contenders to win it all this year! Maybe we’ll get it right all the way through to the end this time. I do like the acquisitions of Walker, Cabrera, Bastardo, and Cespedes. Another power bullpen arm would be helpful….I’m looking forward to this coming season like no other for at least the last fifteen years! Let’s go Mets!

    Michael Elias