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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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Ignoring the Mets in Texas

The day after an 18-inning Gotterdammerung in Milwaukee, the Mets sent Jason Vargas to the mound and he was middle-of-the-road Vargas. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good either (thanks mostly to a Christian Yelich homer that threatened to enter geosynchronous orbit) and then he was gone, with some mild hamstring bother. The Mets then leaned on two pitchers who were spared Saturday evening’s disaster, the newly summoned Tim Peterson and Tyler Bashlor, sandwiched around a cameo by Daniel Zamora.

There was no sign of Chris Flexen, already banished after getting walked off by Ryan Braun. On the one hand, this feels unjust — the real target of your wrath ought to be the man who put Chris Flexen on the active roster in the first place — but on the other, not so much. (Also: Fuck Angel Hernandez for being so reliably himself.)

Anyway, after the game the Mets concocted a nebulous injury for Vargas, who’s now on the 60-day IL, and signed Dallas Keuchel. Oh ha ha ha, I just wanted to feel what it would be like to type that. No, they will undoubtedly do something cheap and pointless and keep bumping along in an N.L. East field as crowded and sloppy as the Kentucky Derby.

But I don’t want to talk about Jason Vargas anymore, or Chris Flexen, or the Milwaukee Brewers. I missed all of Saturday night’s game except the heartbreaking part because I was in Arlington, Texas, visiting what’s now known as Globe Life Park — the home of the Rangers and my 28th stadium visited of the current 30.

Yes, we’re deep in the sprawl of Texas.

Frankly, I feel like anything I say about Globe Life Park should come with an asterisk — the Rangers’ new home is already rising across the street, and the staff has already turned the mental page, at times treating the team’s current abode as an inconvenience. Which is ridiculous for a park that’s only 25 years old and should only be considered middle-aged, but on the other hand, have you spent a summer in Dallas? The new place will have a retractable roof and be habitable for fans who don’t qualify for a Purple Heart.

My visit started with an unintentionally hilarious attempt to get there from downtown Dallas via public transport. Nope — this is Texas, where public transport is used only by the poor and Communists. It was Lyfts for me, a there-and-back-again experience that wound up costing more than my StubHub ticket.

The ballpark itself rises out of the middle of nowhere, or at least the middle of the suburban roadway where I abandoned my Lyft driver after going nowhere for several minutes. It then reveals itself as part of a tangle of stadia and accompanying mallish purveyors of terrible beer and generically suburban thrills, a knockout blend of the enticing culture offered in the likes of St. Louis and Kansas City. I looked around and headed inside at once.

Inside, well, it’s pretty generic. The strutwork is adjoined with lone stars — there are so many lone stars that the Lotsa Stars State feels a more appropriate sobriquet — but I will say the architects made a pretty decent attempt to turn the latticework a throughline of the stadium — it’s present inside as you walk through the concourse, in the frieze running around the stadium rim and in the center-field “plantation balcony” stacks of suites that are Globe Life’s most recognizable feature.

The park itself has an interesting dynamic going on as you move from one level to the next. Field level was jammed — it was Bark in the Park night and they were giving away a bobblehead, with lots of customer-service folks and long but brisk lines at concessions. The club level was sparsely inhabited — it’s a confusing mix of bracelet-only areas and public space — and the top deck was basically abandoned, with few concessions open and most areas occupied by smokers or overly tired and/or overly sugared children. (Here’s Greg’s review of the place from a 1997 visit.)

My biggest objection to Globe Life is that the Rangers aren’t much of a presence there. Granted, they’re about as anonymous as a franchise can be after 47 years in the same place, with few highlights and ever-shifting uniforms, but still. The one iconic meeting place is a statue of Nolan Ryan doffing his cap, but the Ryan Express is basically stuck in the slow lane of a food court. I went looking for the Rangers Hall of Fame, only to find after consulting three different customer-service people that I wouldn’t be able to visit because it had been moved to the new park. (To review: It’s May!)

This may sound like I’ve got it in for Globe Life, but I don’t mean to be overly harsh. It’s a pretty generic park for a pretty generic team, but I had a perfectly good time there. First of all, the food was legitimately good — I started with al pastor and brisket tacos that were excellent, ended by eating a Frito pie the size of my head (equal parts excellent and a terrible idea), and had easy access to legitimately good beer whenever I wanted it.

The other pleasant surprise was Rangers fans. They’re dressed half in blue and half in red, befitting their franchise’s steadfast refusal to figure out its own identity, but they know their baseball and they love their team, unimposing history and all. And they were kind to a stranger: I made everybody get up so I could return to my proper seat with my gigantic Frito pie, then realized to my horror that I didn’t have a fork.

Was I going to have to get back up and re-disturb everyone while I shamefacedly fetched a utensil that arguably should have come with my food in the first place? Yes I was — except I was already conscious of sidelong looks from my seatmates, and a moment later the teenaged girl on my left said, “We have an extra fork we didn’t use — would you like it?” Good luck having that happen at Citi Field. I accepted gratefully and started in on transforming approximately 35,000 calories into suet around my middle.

Anyway, that’s 28 ballparks in the books — with full awareness that this one will come off my ledger next April, necessitating a revisit. Maybe I’ll wait until summer, so I can appreciate that retractable roof — and finally get to see whatever passes for the Rangers Hall of Fame.

5 comments to Ignoring the Mets in Texas

  • Daniel Hall

    More than once I have wondered who else is playing in the AL West while wandering off with my thoughts, and it’s either the Mariners or the Rangers that elude me. Some franchises just don’t matter…

    The important thing – with both too much food on the plate and the Mets playing like they just don’t care – is to proceed slowly and bite by bite, and taking deep breaths at regular intervals. I give such good life advice…

    “The other pleasant surprise was Rangers fans. […] And they were kind to a stranger:” – Just be glad you’re not a Communist! =)

    “I went looking for the Rangers Hall of Fame, only to find after consulting three different customer-service people that I wouldn’t be able to visit because it had been moved to the new park. (To review: It’s May!)” – Yeah, well, mileage on these things often varies. For example, there’s a team or two already firmly entrenched in their annual June Swoon.

  • Daniel Hall

    Yikes. Baseball-reference.com lists as 10th-most-similar pitcher to Dallas Keuchel……: Jon Niese.

    No, thanks, I’ll pass.

    Mat Latos at #1 is also not particularly encouraging.

  • LeClerc

    Texas = Remember the Alamo.

    Davy Crockett – Born in Tennessee.

    Mickey Callaway – Born in Tennessee.

    I hope the 2019 season turns out better for Mickey than the Alamo did for Davy.

  • open the gates

    At least Davy had a winning record before the Alamo. Although, if we’re making comparisons, I wouldn’t mind if Mickey went to Congress and served a spell. He seems a pretty decent politician.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Also, was Mickey ‘born on a mountaintop’ in Tennessee? I somehow doubt it based on his apparent field of vision…