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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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Recognizing Our Mets-in-Law

When the Hall of Fame voting was announced Wednesday, I felt a mild surge of Metsian pride as two of the four new members were ushered into immortality. Chipper Jones was the quintessential turn-of-the-millennium Atlanta Brave and Vladimir Guerrero’s many splendors were established as a multitooled Montreal Expo. Given their respective pedigrees, we take this moment to recognize them as true Mets-in-law, essential elements of our extended family.

Every extended family has its supreme pains in the ass. In baseball, those are your divisional rivals’ stars, the ones who show up on your doorstep or to whose doorstep you drag yourself. “Oh, hi…good to see ya…how ya been?” You make your small talk through gritted teeth, screwing on a good face to be polite. These out-of-towners tend to cause you heartache and give you headaches. But you put up with them. You see them a few times a year, year after year, because tradition dictates the get-togethers. You’re used to these people. You don’t necessarily care for them, but familiarity will spur you and they to develop a grudging mutual bonhomie.

In the case of the Hall of Fame Class of 2018, National League East branch, that’s Chipper/Larry and that’s Vlad. We had different experiences with both. Chipper required a surfeit of visits before he sort of, kind of grew on us in that “at least we’re not surprised anymore” sense. Come to think of it, it was the almost two decades of visits that landed him on our nerves, but we couldn’t do anything about those. Also, he needed to learn tact. Age seemed to take care of that. Time heals some wounds, or perhaps reframes their context.

Vlad was more gracious. He came to kill us, sure, but never said a discouraging word, at least not that we picked up on. The side of the family he was from, in Canada, was never nearly the issue that Chipper and the Georgia relations were, certainly not in Vladimir’s day. He was fun to have over when you could forget why we were seeing him. Vlad we might have liked to have had stay on a more permanent basis. Such an arrangement wasn’t meant to be.

The other two Hall of Famers selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America — Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman — weren’t total strangers, but rate, to us, as Met acquaintances at best. Thome passed through our field of vision now and again, but he did the bulk of his nice-natured destruction elsewhere. Hoffman you had to be a night owl to know from where his best work was concerned. Overall, you heard good things regarding both. Their numbers, like those compiled by our Mets-in-law Chipper and Vlad, are suitably impressive. Now that none of them is trying to ruin a Mets evening or season, live and be well on a wall Upstate.

Most parochially pressing from the latest round of Hall voting is the ASAP disappearance of Johan Santana, a most discouraging result. Ten years ago, right around this moment, we were edging to the front of our collective seat because news was spreading that Johan was on the verge of becoming a Met. If you could permit yourself to dream of any pitcher joining the bosom of your immediate baseball family in the winter of 2008, or in the several winters preceding that one, it would have been Johan Santana. He was the best of his era, an era that didn’t endure quite long enough to crack the consciousness of the ballotholders. Johan received 2.4% of the vote, higher by far than the portion of Major League batters who wanted to face him between 2004 and 2010, but well off the 5% needed to continue to be considered for Cooperstown.

As disappointing as the expulsion of one of the greats from the ballot is, the upside, I suppose, is no lingering à la long shot Mets Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent and Gary Sheffield, none of whom neared 20%, never mind the necessary seventy-five. Of course it’s better to be up for a lightning-strike election than immediately dismissed, but there’s something undignified about players who crafted outstanding careers having to be treated as also-rans January after January, one self-serious expert after another paying them lip service, then skipping the box next to their names. A year from now, we won’t have to hear writers offer afterthoughts on Johan, that he was really, really terrific…but not really that terrific, or not as terrific as ten other players, almost definitely not terrific for as long as would have been preferred.

The First No-Hitter in New York Mets History is the First No-Hitter in New York Mets History and always will be. I’ve got a plaque in my head for June 1, 2012, and it was installed unanimously. As for the conferring of immortality, anybody who witnessed Johan Santana carry his team and our ballpark to one more day of life on Saturday, September 27, 2008, doesn’t require further validation. We saw a Hall of Famer that day and we will never forget what he looked like.

I was honored to be the first guest on the new A Metsian Podcast with Sam, Rich and Mike. Thank you Messrs. Maxwell, Sparago and Lecolant for having me on. You can (and should) listen in here.

9 comments to Recognizing Our Mets-in-Law

  • Matt in Richmond

    Big news that the club has resigned Reyes, one of the bright spots from last year and further evidence that the brass is willing to spend.

  • Jeri Nevins

    Didn’t Chipper Jones name his son Shea… definitely after our beloved stadium ??

  • Dave

    Random thoughts: Good for Larry. He deserves it, and we’ve all come to lovehate him. I mean, among Los Bravos, he’s no John Rocker or (gulp) G|a^¡ne.

    Compare the lifetime stats of Hoffman to those of Billy Wagner and tell me why one is going to Cooperstown and one is nowhere close. Wagner was very arguably the much better pitcher, but Hoffman goes in on the strength of not blowing more 3-run 9th inning leads. You gotta keep that ERA below 27.

    I guess Johan isn’t in the Mets Hall of Fame because the Mets are waiting to see how the market plays out, they may be able to find other Hall of Famers at a more team-friendly cost.

  • Xtian

    Yes, I’m a homer, but I remember the Mets getting to Hoffman once or twice or three times. I never got the feeling of dread which occurred when Wagner, in non Met iterations, would appear. If only there were ways to find out who did better against the Mets. . .

  • Will in Central NJ

    I recall how, in the offseason of 2003-04, Mets ownership was sniffing around the free agent RF Vladimir Guerrero, and how the tabloids howled for the NYM to sign him to perfectly fill out RF and the middle of the lineup to support Mike Piazza. Seems the Met brass were skittish about Vladi’s low back injury history; he had, in fact, a very similar lumbar injury to the one that ended Keith Hernandez’ career.

    Instead of signing Vladi, however, the Mets signed another free agent, CF Mike Cameron, and also moved young Jose Reyes from SS to 2B to accommodate new SS Kazuo Matsui. Vladi, meanwhile, only went on to sign with the Angels, and win the 2004 AL MVP award. He’s now enshrined in Cooperstown.

    Perhaps feeling they’d missed a golden opportunity, the Mets opened up the wallet the next offseason for CF Carlos Beltran (and SP Pedro Martinez). Anyway, that’s how I remember the orbit of Vladimir Guerrero veering ever so close to the atmosphere of Flushing, Queens. We had a shot, but went instead to Matsui and Beltran. Ain’t history funny?

  • Kevin From Flushing

    I’ve told you before Greg, Johan is one of my all-time leaders in Memories Above Replacement. ‘Tis a shame.

  • K. Lastima

    Trevor Hoffman is NOT a HOF’er. Complete garbage. Next year’s garbage will be the induction of Edgar Martinez as strictly a DH, who not only could not play the field, as baseball players were intended to do, but could barely run the bases for much of his career, but hey, check out those stats compiled while sitting on his backside in the dugout interrupted by 4 at bats. Garbage.

  • DAK442

    How on earth does Jeff Kent get no play from the voters? He’s one of the best-hitting second basemen of all time! Is it Bonds stink rubbing off on him? His notoriously difficult personality?

    Larry seems like a gracious, good dude. Witness his comments about Wright last week.

    Shame about Johan burning out so early, when he was on he was fantastic.