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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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Statues With Limitations

I want to believe we’ll beat the Braves on Opening Day (you never know) and finish substantially ahead of them this season (probably, but I take nothing as a given). What’s sad is that Atlanta has lifted the lid on SunTrust Park — their fifteenth home in eighteen years — by moving ahead of us in the statues standings. They have an area dubbed Monument Garden, and it’s already immortal. Hank Aaron. Phil Niekro. More to come. Maybe they can do one of a moving truck stuck in traffic on I-285.

Had the Braves gotten away with signing University of Southern California righthander George Thomas Seaver in 1966, they’d probably have one for him, too, which would be nice (in the scary parallel-universe sense), because then at least somebody would celebrate Seaver properly. The Mets haven’t. The Mets have shied away from that sort of thing.

Until now. The Mets are finally embracing that sort of thing. Not that thing, but that sort.

Only the Mets.

When we show up at Citi Field on Monday, finally we’re going to be greeted by what the Mets have been missing since 2009…and before, I suppose. The Mets are at long last unveiling what most every other team/stadium has proudly displayed for years. We’re getting our statues.

Of course we’re getting them in the most Metsian way possible.

No Seaver. No Hodges. Stengel remains in miniature in the pocket-sized museum. Piazza? There’s a book, you might have heard, but no Mike monument. Nevertheless, the Mets are getting there, one baby step at a time. It’s progress.

Should you be coming off the 7 train for the Opener, you’ll see it right away. Or you won’t see what you’re used to. Where they’ve decommissioned the vintage Shea Apple (moved to the newly named Macintosh Club, formerly the Porsche Grill, formerly the Acela Club, formerly…no, I think that’s it), you’ll find Milestone Quarry, A Presentation Of Cambridge Paving Stones. That’s what it’s called. We’re long past fighting title sponsorships.

The erstwhile flower garden is now filled with stones and is ringed by the first three statues the Mets have deemed worthy of, uh, erection. I have to admit I do like the concept of Milestone Quarry, A Presentation Of Cambridge Paving Stones, even if I’m not crazy about the execution.

The concept is “a celebration of Mets milestones”. Great. No, after all these decades, Amazin’. But the milestones they’ve decided to celebrate may not have been the ones I would have gone with. They are indisputably round numbers, and in the moment, they were big deals. If there are more, they’ll fit in fine. I hope there are more.

What’s strange is the artistic license they’ve taken. I’m all for “interpretations of moments that speak to the Mets fan heart,” and whatever other adspeak with which they’ve peppered their press release, but, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, WTF?

If you’re coming down those stairs, and rounding Milestone Quarry, A Presentation Of Cambridge Paving Stones, in a counterclockwise direction, here is what you’ll see what the Mets have chosen to commemorate and how they’re going about it.

First, the 500th home run of Gary Sheffield, struck at Citi Field on April 17, 2009, the first objectively historic moment at the then-new ballpark, once you got all the parochial firsts out of the way. Sheffield came to the Mets with 499 home runs on his ledger and a career’s worth of rumors that sooner or later he’d be made a Met, mostly on the strength of his familial relationship to Dwight Gooden.

That’s where it gets weird, because instead of a statue showing Sheffield in the midst of his powerful swing, the sculptor was directed to capture a different, “evocative” moment from the same week: Gooden being led out of the Ebbets Club by security after signing his name on the wall. You’ll recall Doc had been absent from the Met scene until the Shea Goodbye ceremonies of September 28, 2008. Sheffield’s Flushing arrival had a heartwarming side effect: Gooden coming back, interacting with fans, being comfortable with baseball again. It was that comfort that led him to accept an invitation to autograph the pristine Ebbets Club wall the same week Sheffield swung for his 500th. The Mets, being the Mets, put their worst foot forward and tsk-tsked Doc for playing with markers.

So that’s what they’ve decided to commemorate? Yes, apparently. The text on the accompanying plaque explains, “Family ties only go so far. Sheff cooks at the plate, but Uncle Doc needs to learn a lesson: rules are rules!”

A necessary reminder in life, but is this really how they want people to think of Doc? As a one-year veteran’s wayward uncle? It could be worse. They could have shown Doc doing other things. On the other hand, the “Citi” logo on the golf shirt of the security guard who’s part of the installation is raised in sharp relief. There’s no questioning the craftsmanship, only the idea.

Second, the 400th home run of Duke Snider, launched at Crosley Field on June 14, 1963, even more of a milestone in its day than 400 would be now. Few had scaled those homeric heights to that point, and it is indeed worth toasting the erstwhile Duke of Flatbush for his signature stroke in a Mets uniform.

Except that’s not what the statue does. As with Sheffield, we don’t see Snider. We see Sandy Koufax. Koufax didn’t throw the pitch Snider slugged (that was Bob Purkey). Koufax wasn’t in Cincinnati, even if he did attend college there. No, Sandy was shagging fly balls at Dodger Stadium in advance of his club’s game against the Cubs later that night on the West Coast. Thus, that’s what we see — a statue of Sandy Koufax, not Duke Snider. The plaque explains: “The incandescent Koufax glances up at the out-of-town scoreboard and nods approvingly that his old Brooklyn teammate has gone deep. Long live the Dodgers!”

Yes, there’s actually a statue now of Sandy Koufax outside of Citi Field. The same Sandy Koufax who no-hit the Mets and never played for the Mets. The plaque adds Sandy was “the ace of aces” (never mind Seaver) and “a graduate of Lafayette High School” (alma mater of somebody who makes these statue decisions, apparently). Snider’s name is mentioned, but only to confirm that he indeed hit No. 400 as a Met and knew Koufax.

Modern art will be modern art.

Third, the 300th win attained by T#m Gl@v!ne, recorded at Wrigley Field on August 5, 2007.

No, really.

Look, I’m on record on my feelings about Gl@v!ne, if you haven’t inferred it by the preferred spelling, but I won’t argue that a Met winning a 300th game wasn’t, when it happened, special. I won’t even debate that T@m, unlike Gary or Duke, spent considerable time as a Met. Mostly we remember how it ended for him eight weeks later (brrrr…), but history is history. A Hall of Fame-bound pitcher won No. 300 as a Met. I can honestly see celebrating that.

But celebrating it as Milestone Quarry, A Presentation Of Cambridge Paving Stones, has chosen to portray it? Jesus Alou, Jesus Feliciano and Jesus anybody else you care to name is all I can say.

We don’t get a statue of Gl@v!ne in motion at Wrigley. We don’t get a statue of Gl@v!ne accepting congratulations from Billy Wagner, who completed the win for him. No, we get Gl@v!ne signing autographs for kids. A lovely framing device, you say?

He’s wearing a Braves uniform while signing.

A frigging Braves uniform.

The plaque attempts to make sense of it. “Tom [their spelling, not mine] has returned to Shea Stadium as a Brave in 2008 and children of all ages are charmed by the sportsmanship of baseball, one of the many sports whose apparel and accessories can be found at Dick’s Sporting Goods. In any uniform, a good sport is still a good sport!”

Did the Mets get a deal on exclamation points? They certainly seem excited about the choices that inform Milestone Quarry, A Presentation Of Cambridge Paving Stones, and maybe we should be, too. We’ve wanted statues at Citi Field all along, and on the eve of its ninth season, we’ve got them. They’re not the ones any of us would have imagined, but I’ll bet when we see them, we’ll be resisting the impulse to deface them and instead pose for pictures next to them, just as we did with the Shea Apple, just as those with specially marked tickets can still do in the Macintosh Club, provided they’ve consented to the additional photography fee implemented for 2017.

I wish I could say I love these statues. Maybe with time. We’re two days from Opening Day. By Monday it might make sense. Today, who knows what to think?

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