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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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Our Cocky Icons

Three of the cockiest icons in Mets history have each crossed the path of the Mets fan who's been paying attention these last 24 hours.
1) Pedro Martinez. Tells the AP he's gonna be back…back in the New York groove in the second half of this year and feel like he did when it was great to be young and an Expo. Pedro's placid brand of cockiness is most pleasing most times, but this time, good sir, just keep rehabbing and keep mum and keep our hopes down. The idea all along is Pedro rejoins the team in August. But counting on it looms as a grand setup. Some of us counted on him being ready for the 2006 playoffs. If I believe in anyone in this game, it is Pedro Martinez. But I'll do some believing after I do a bit of seeing.
2) Tom Seaver. Did a bit of seeing Tom Seaver during yesterday's pitching-free telecast. Though the Terrific one empathized with Mike Pelfrey's showerful fate, one assumes Tom did not acquaint himself with the tiles and the Ivory that early very often. I love the way various Met greats have flitting through the booth and postgame set this year (even Dave Gallagher, for some reason), but seeing Seaver unleashes a set of emotions unlike any other. He definitely gives off that vibe of fulfilling a contractual requirement, but when Cohen and Darling ask about pitching, he'll talk pitching, at least until his car arrives. He speaks of his craft as a master, and if you can't keep up, too bad. Jerry Koosman a couple of weeks ago spoke slowly. Tom talked fast. Glad they met in the middle all those years ago.
So he's not thrilled to be there and he's not all that accessible. Yet that one inning of Tom Seaver presence was glorious. He's Tom Seaver, damn it. That's all I have to know. We've had, by my reckoning, two out-and-out, certified immortals play baseball in Mets uniforms: Willie Mays and Tom Seaver (Keith, Mike and Endy reside just a notch below). Willie was immortal long before he was a Met. Seaver's immortality was completely tied up in his Metness. Having him broadcast regularly between 1999 and 2005 diminished his luster a little for me. How immortal could you be while reading promos for the WB 11 Morning News and deconstructing Satoru Komiyama's myriad shortcomings? This is better. He's listed in the media guide as a club ambassador. I'm fine with that. I don't need much more than diplomatic relations from the gods.
Found it ironic, then, that hours after a glimpse of Himself that Jake Peavy was challenging Tom's most sacred, most heretofore unapproachable record, the ten consecutive strikeouts he threw past Peavey's predecessors in Padre togs on Earth Day 1970. Down goes Ferrara! Down goes Colbert! Down goes Campbell! San Diego swung through or looked at everything from two outs in the sixth to the bottom of the ninth when Al Ferrara (who had homered earlier) loomed as the tenth straight K and 27th out of the day. Seaver got him, too, his 19th in toto (then also a record), finishing up a two-hitter, winning 2-1.
What's more amazing by 2007 standards — all those strikeouts or the fact that Seaver pitched a complete game? Jake Peavy strung his K's against the Diamondbacks in the second, third and fourth, after which I found out he was nearing Tom. I turned on XM and rooted like hell against him. Normally I root for records to tumble on the oft-stated theory that they're set to be smashed. But I wanted Tom to keep his. So, apparently, did Jeff Kellogg. Umping first, Kellogg ruled Eric Byrnes, the potential Ferrara in this passion play, held his swing on a 2-2 pitch (maybe that's the most amazing thing of all, a check swing being called a check swing). Peavy walked him on the next delivery. Record safe in Arizona, sigh of relief exhaled on Long Island.
Peavy went on to strike out 16 Snakes in seven innings. Trevor Hoffman blew the win for him in the ninth. A premier starter has struck out 16, has allowed no runs, two hits and three walks and is removed because he has thrown 117 pitches. Not in Tom's day.
A contemporary account (captured in Tom Seaver: An Intimate Portrait by John Devaney) claims Johnny Podres, recently retired from the Padres, watched Seaver dominate his ex-mates that April afternoon and declare that the defending Cy Young winner would never throw that hard again in his life. Seaver's response?
“That's what Ron Santo said last year after my imperfect game against the Cubs. He said I'd never throw that hard again. Maybe Podres and Santo ought to get together and have dinner.”
3) Bobby Valentine. Required reading, everybody. Chris Ballard's profile in the current Sports Illustrated of our former leader of men is breathtaking. Everything you ever loved or hated about Bobby V is in exponential effect on the other side of the world. I knew he was big in Japan, but I had no idea how big. (Or how little he thinks of at least one current and one former Major League manager.) They've practically renamed the country for him. He's either happier than he's ever been or still cultivating a grudge that he's not managing in the States given his success with the Chiba Lotte Marines. I've generally fallen into the pro-Bobby camp though I can see why he has his detractors. As for the Valentine worship among the Japanese, it would not surprise me one bit if he's in for a Treehouse of Horror-type death spiral, figuratively speaking. Maybe they stop drinking BoBeer or don't record any more dance records or name any more streets in his honor. Surely every culture has its Bobby Valentine breaking point.

9 comments to Our Cocky Icons

  • Anonymous

    Excellent article by Ballard. I always thought the future of baseball was to truly make it global, though that road trip to Gdansk would be a killer. In my world, there'd be a live major league baseball game being played somewhere in the world at every moment between midnight, April 1st and midnight, September 30th. Monterey, Cairo, Agra, Seibu…I'd put up with the insomnia for a pay TV network like that.
    I'm glad to see Bobby V is thriving in Japan. I always thought he and Mr. Met were separated at birth, especially the eyes, the smile, and the big head (no insult intended there, Mr. Met). And it was excellent to see the name Benny Agbayani in print for the first time in who knows how long.

  • Anonymous

    In the print edition, there is a picture of Benny with Bobby. With the orange seats in the background, you can almost look past the Marine uniforms.

  • Anonymous

    ” Peavy went on to strike out 16 Snakes in seven innings. Trevor Hoffman blew the win for him in the ninth. A premier starter has struck out 16, has allowed no runs, two hits and three walks and is removed because he has thrown 117 pitches. Not in Tom's day.”
    Hi Greg,
    In Tom's days, pitch counts were only stats referred to in a game summary. As long as one stayed sharp, was holding the lead or tied, he stayed in – even in extra innings. In 1969, I witnessed Juan Marichal shutting down the Mets only to lose on a Tommie Agee home run in the 14th. In Atlanta's 1966 season opener (the first game ever played there) Tony Cloninger pitched a complete 13 inning game, giving up two runs in the 13th and losing 3-2 (mind you, this was two days after the Braves broke spring training).
    Those who were regulated to the bullpen were usually there to mop up. Casey Stengel was one of the first to incorporate use of specialized reliever on a regular basis with Joe Page in the late 40s. Whitey Ford won a career high 25 in 1961 because of Louis Arroyo. In 1966 the Baltimore Orioles were credited as the first team whose bullpen played a major role in winning a pennant because their starting staff registered one of the fewest amount of complete games in the majors. Ever since then, the complete game slowly became more and more a thing of the past and so today the chance to witness nine inning shutouts, high strikeout marks and even no-hitters is increasingly rare.
    Yet, less games are now lost in late innings due to good closers. Keith Hernadez has said he would rather have faced Steve Carlton four times on a night when Lefty had no-hitter stuff than face three or four different pitchers. The term “five o'clock lightning” was given to the 1927 Yankees because they so often came from behind to win against a tiring pitcher.
    However, the most important aspect of a pitch count, even more important than strategy, is that it extends careers. Top pitchers in the 60's routinely pitched 250+ innings each year but when one reached 35 they were mostly through, even if making the transition from power to finese pitcher. If they hung around, it was only because they were needed by second division clubs to fill out the rotation. Today, much older moundsmen like Tom Glavine and El Duque are still on top of their game. And, when was the last time one heard about a pitcher having a sore arm?
    “BoBeer”? – Could the Japanese have confused Valentine with Ballentine?

  • Anonymous

    The Bobby V article was great,typical Bobby holding court,dropping the hammer on Baylor and Hardgrove was classic.I remember the baseball tonight guys when saked about Valentine after he was there a while basically saying that all those things they had heard about him were not what he was like in person,apparently Gammons and co liked him a lot,and truth be known Bobby could talk rings around most people when it come to the game.
    Seaver,I dunno,I didn't care for him as a color commentator ,I wanted to like him but couldn't.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Just finished reading that great article on Bobby Valentine and baseball in Japan and very happy to find Bobby not only embraced by the Japanese but also receiving credit due him that still lacks in the States. I'm just afraid, however, of the mighty possibly falling for three reasons: 1) the Marines finish below .500 again this season, 2) Bobby self-destructing like Billy Martin did in Oakland (not due to drinking, of course) despite having complete control of the ballclub and 3) Japan's conformist-type culture becomes less tolerant of Valentine's behavior as the miracle of the 2005 season wears off. While this eventually happens to all managers, no matter what the country is, many are offered other jobs right away – which might not be the case for this particular “giajin”.

  • Anonymous

    Don Baylor and Mike Hargrove? Ehh, they're easy pickins. Everyone knows they suck. Baylor won't manage again in all likelihood, and if Hargrove wasn't white he'd have lost his job a long time ago. He did manage to get umpires to call a Mariners game due to inclement weather this year when they were a strike away from losing. That was about the peak moment for him as a manager.
    No, no, I want to hear what BV thinks of Willie Randolph and Joe Torre. C'mon, Bobby, don't be shy, no team in the States is going to hire you anyway.

  • Anonymous

    MIKE AND THE MAD DAWG MUST READ FAFIF!!! They just talked about the same Sports Illustrated article and how else would they have known about it???

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they have a subscription?

  • Anonymous

    Naw…., you're just being modest.