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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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Among the Cheerful Thugs

Honestly, I dread the Subway Series, and I don't particularly like to go — I've got anger-management issues as it is, so being confronted with braying Yankee fans in the flesh, instead of at the safe remove accorded by TV, isn't the best idea for me. Winning? It's marvelous, sure, but it comes with a certain sick sense of relief — and losing to Satan's minions, then having to ride the subway home with their adherents, probably takes a month off my life each time it happens. I don't know how our Brooklyn Dodger forebears did it for all those years in the 50s. I really don't.

But you never leave a co-blogger to face the forces of darkness alone, and this was my '06 Shea debut. And besides, to quote the Replacements, “might even win this time…you never know.”

The biggest problem, though, was the forces of cold. You want October baseball? This was November baseball — when it got quiet you could hear the flags around the perimeter of the upper deck snapping in a 35-mph wind. For entertainment between innings, we watched the foul pole rocking back and forth. (Its sole connection to anything stable seems to be a guywire hanging in a rather limp smile between it and the rest of the stadium, by the way. I'm sure there's no possible issue there.)

And we watched the crowd, a decidedly odd beast tonight. Our section was the lair of a long-haired Yankee fan who kept doing something up there above our heads that would incite the rest of our section, which would turn and chant “Asshole!” at him until they got tired, after which the Yankee fan would start doing something else. Shea's crack security guards kept showing up, only to be left peering up the aisle quizzically, vaguely disappointed to find nothing particularly wrong — antisocial behavior and bad language galore, but no fights and the crowd seemed to be handling things themselves. Until the ninth, the goon squad's one reward for its vigil was busting a guy who let go of a hot dog wrapper too close to the edge of the upper deck — not a particularly sensational crime on a night when pieces of plastic and paper were whipping by at approximately Mach 3 every 20 seconds. Then, in the ninth, the long-haired Yankee fan started doing the Tomahawk chop, and for some reason (possibly the sale of 45,000 beers in the section) this relatively minor offense was what set the crowd off. Some sort of last straw was added to the pile, the Yankee fan got hauled out, then a Met fan got hauled out, then somebody got the bright idea of hucking a bottle (one of those ridiculous light metal ones now in vogue) at the departing Yankee fan. Not smart when there's one guy being frog-marched out by eight goons — unless you're Bob Gibson (and sober), you're going to hit a security guy. Predictably, a moment later there were security guys cascading through the section screaming at people and frothing at the mouth as we all dove for cover.

This will seem like a laugh line after the above, but it was the best Subway Series crowd I've ever seen. Seriously: Our section had its share of morons (most of them, alas, in orange and blue), but they were all cheerful morons, and the catcalling and trash talking was high-spirited, lacking the angry, looking-for-trouble edge I've seen before. (High point: Every failing of A-Rod's was met with booming chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!”) One Met fan came unhinged in the men's room and started howling at some random Yankee cultist, but everyone from both sides just shook their heads and laughed. Even the Mini Malice at the Palace that finally engulfed our section was more fan goofiness that finally went too far than it was actual rancor.

Which isn't to say this was a night for anyone who wanted to pay close attention to the actual game, or who believes in temperance, or who had kids in tow, but I've seen far worse crowds. (And lest we go overboard on thinking of the children, the eight-year-old a couple of seats down attending his first game — yes, really — was openly and unapologetically thrilled by the bad language and brief violence.)

Oh yeah, the game. The recap won't show that after Derek Jeter's single eluded Wright and Reyes and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, I hurriedly removed my hoodie, then my road blacks, and put them on in reverse order, with my colors out. Lo Duca immediately got on, Beltran followed, Delgado hit a three-run shot and Wright hit a drive that was so Piazza-off-Mendoza ridiculous that it might have decapitated a feral dog out chop-shop way. I will now wear some variant of this ensemble at all times, and accept everyone's gratitude for this timely bit of luck-changing. Sure, the eighth inning got scary, but luckily A-Rod came to the plate, and since the Yankees weren't up 10 or down 10, he was all but guaranteed to come up small. (A pull at the lucky now-outside-the-sweats colors sealed the deal, natch.) And then Billy Wagner emerged to the glee of Yankee fans and the defiant, frightened encouragement of the rest of us, and it all turned out OK.

Then out of the stadium and onto the subway and a chance to rediscover one of my favorite parts of the aftermath of a game: The 7 was packed, the 2/3 platform at 42nd fairly full, and then as the 2 headed downtown each stop subtracted a few folks in blue and orange, until finally I reached Clark Street and wound up with the couple of Met fans who happened to have been on my train and live near me — an accidental momentary family, in this case, of a younger guy also in road blacks and an older woman whose tote bag bore our colors.

“Long game,” she said. “But a good game.”

“Yeah — great game!” said the kid.

“Could be warmer next time,” I said.

They looked at me.

“But it was worth it,” I said as we went our separate ways into a grueling but triumphant night.

11 comments to Among the Cheerful Thugs

  • Anonymous

    I feel your pain and your exhiliration. Well familiar with the wind off Flushing Bay from my youth.
    Did we spit in the devil's eye ? You bet.
    For the weekend, we pick up a game on the Phils and the skanks lose a game on the BoSox.
    Sweet !

  • Anonymous

    I suffered the upper deck as well. Lemme just agree with you once again – so worth it. Throw Billy back in the fire… he deserved it.
    I wore my customized '17 Hernandez' jersey again, third time now for a Mets-Yanks tilt. 'Down in front, Hernandez' someone yelled as I rose to let someone pass… a few moments later I actually overheard a Yankee fan a few rows back say how he hated people who got their own names on jerseys.
    Yankee fans. So fun. I wanted to ask him who they traded for Paul O'Neill, just to see if his head exploded.

  • Anonymous

    Saw a dude wearing a jacket that celebrated 26 world championships (none since 2000, incidentally). To borrow from my buddy Dan, I thought if he can't name every year listed on the back, that jacket should be taken away from him and turned into fabric swatches.

  • Anonymous

    I can't help but snicker every time I see a Yankee fan wearing a T-Shirt with a player's name and number on the back, because it's usually the case that they wouldn't know who the number belonged to otherwise.
    Great game (I loved how the ESPN announcers kept marveling at how Delgado's homer went against the wind but still managed to go to the back of the bullpen), and as nervous as it made me to see Wagner go out there for the 9th, I can see why it needed to be done. I'm completely over Saturday's loss now – going into the series, I figured we'd take 2 out of 3. Sure, I assumed we'd lose Friday with Randy Johnson doing what much lesser pitchers have done and getting his shit back together against the Mets before taking the next 2, but the end result was the same.
    On another note, as nerve-wracking as it was seeing everyone pitch their way into jams, it felt so damn good to see a team make our struggles with runners in scoring position look like child's play by comparison.

  • Anonymous

    whenever a MFY fan brings up the 26 rings, I ask him to name the year, opponent, and length of series for each.
    Good times.

  • Anonymous

    MFY fan.
    That's beautiful.
    Now go cheer your boys on to a sweep this week.

  • Anonymous

    Sat in the upper deck last night , game one of my 86-themed six-pack. Great googly-moogly, it gets cold up there. T-shirt, sweatshirt, Met hoodie and replica home white, and me cursing myself for forgoing the thermals. The Missus only took in about half the game from our seats – just too darn cold, she hung out in the ladies room and next to a food concession watching it on TV. She was there for my brilliant pronouncement in the bottom fourth: “God, look at this wind. No one is hitting one out tonight.” Delgado made short work of my soothsaying on literally the next pitch. I didn't mind when Wright provided further ammo for spousal mockery.
    Lots of fun in the stands. Chanting “Jeter's Boyfriend” at A-Rod is puerile and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it was still funny. Almost as funny as his continued failure in the clutch. I still do not understand the refusal of the crowd to take up the “Sterrrrroooids” chant when Giambalco is up. Does no one think cheating is a big deal? The huge guy singing “Kelly is a girl's name” every time Stinnett came up was just silly enough to make us all laugh. And kudos to the crowd for the rousing ovation Billy got on entering in the ninth. Let's face it, without this guy, we're not even gonna make the postseason, and it was good to see people recognize that. Now that Beltran and Kaz are producing, and (seldom the ) Victor is gone, how about we go without a home whipping boy for the rest of the year?
    Speaking of the crowd, it is good to see people can yell at each other, have some laughs and behave themselves. I don't know if it's the increased security, the stratospheric beer prices, or an increase in civility, but I remember brawls in the stands in the mid-eighties (specifically at Cubs games in late 84) that were so out of control the players actually stopped to watch.
    One bum note: this is as good a forum as any to call someone out for being a jerk and hope his boss sees it: a guy goes up to an usher mid-game and complains that people are in his seat and won't get up. Usher says “Tell them I said to move. If they don't, just find another seat, I'm not walking all the way up there.” Nice move, Tommy G, section 13 usher. Douche.

  • Anonymous

    Entertaining find from the Daily News, about Wright's post-HR celebration….
    “He even tried to pimp it,” Floyd said. “He's got no pimp.”
    Said Wright: “I don't even know what that means.”
    Those two crack me up.

  • Anonymous

    May he wear that jacket for the next hundred years.

  • Anonymous

    Heh, that's just perfect.

  • Anonymous

    I actually LOVE it when I hear “26 RINGS, BAY-BEEEEEEEEEE!” because, that's when I know I've won.
    “26 RINGS, BAY-BEEEEEEEEEE!” is the last bullet in the gun.
    “26 RINGS, BAY-BEEEEEEEEEE!” is the last arrow in the quiver.
    “26 RINGS, BAY-BEEEEEEEEEE!” means they're out of arguments, out of ideas, out of breath.
    “26 RINGS, BAY-BEEEEEEEEEE!” is the Yankee fan's equivalent of “Oh, yeah?”
    It means you've won.