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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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You Can Never Have Too Many Marlins

In Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life, Judgment City serves as a celestial yet brilliantly pedestrian way station for the recently departed. If the individuals who arrive fresh from death are not judged up to snuff, they are sent back to Earth for another lifetime reincarnated as somebody else until they get it right. If they pass judgment, they “move on” to the next magnificent level of universal existence.

I'd like to think we represent that next level for Florida Marlins. We've done it before and we can do it again.

Perhaps there is no greater test case than that of converting Mr. Marlin to Metdom. Jeff Conine, as every schoolchild knows by now, was part of both the '97 and '03 champions, albeit never one of the more flamboyant pieces of the Fish pie. I'm actually quite surprised that he is overwhelmingly considered the ultimate Marlin since I have to admit virtually his entire career has occurred with my being only dimly aware of it despite how much we play them. I remember him losing first base time to Darren Daulton in '97. I remember his return to Tru Playa Pimp Park Stadium in '03 being a South Floridian cause célèbre, lighting up faces along I-95 South from Hollywood to Hallandale (which isn't very many exits, but there aren't very many Marlins fans). I don't remember much else.

Did you know Jeff Conine was the 1995 All-Star Game MVP? I might have the night he won it since I actually watch All-Star Games, but I'd forgotten all about it. Everything else about Jeff Conine's achievements as a player have escaped me, too, if I ever knew about them in the first place. I don't mean to be disrespectful to Mr. Marlin, but he's just made zero impression on me as a player. I don't doubt he's beaten us a game or two over time, but with all the Kotsay and Dunwoodie bogeymen with whom Florida has tortured us across the years, who can keep track of the more likely suspects?

But I welcome Jeff Conine to the fold for several reasons.

1) Righthanded bat, et al.

2) Marlin Mania has always served us well. Their first wave of franchise demolition gave us our Leiter, our Cook, our Piazza somehow. The next wave gave us our Lo Duca and our Delgado. Those Marlins helped give us our last three playoff teams. Viva la fire sale!

3) Though the 1997 Marlins were an affront to our higher aspirations for my beloved 1997 Mets, the presence of Moises Alou on their World Series roster likely negates his later Cubbiness, which as any decent superstitious weirdo can tell you is essential to negate if you have certain goals for your team.

4) We don't appreciate the 2003 Marlins nearly enough, both for their simply amazing run from nowhere to the top and for who they ran through in the home stretch of their sprint to glory. If the 2001 Diamondbacks killed a most unappetizing dynasty and the 2002 Angels buried it, the 2003 Marlins of Jeff Conine and Luis Castillo and assorted non-Mets/not-yet-Mets drove a stake through its heart. (I shudder, from a strictly clinical standpoint, to think what the 2004 Red Sox did to it, charging it as they did full-force from behind.)

I don't exactly remember what Jeff Conine did in support of The Greater Good in the 2003 World Series, but he did do this afterwards: He posed on the back cover of a book called Miracle Over Miami: How the 2003 Marlins Shocked the World holding a genuine and genuinely presumptuous New York City Subway poster. It was a notice about additional service, decorated with an oversized vertical swastika, urging one and all to

Celebrate our Yankees' World Series victory at a New York ticker-tape parade!

The parade date is listed as Tuesday, October 28, 2003…three days after Josh Beckett and a school of friendly Fish made sure no such celebration would ever take place. I suppose any World Champion Marlin could have posed with that poster, but Jeff Conine was the one who did. And he looks pretty pleased about it.

Mr. Marlin was Señor Schadenfreude, too? Mr. Marlin rubbed the collective pinstriped nose in their inability to attend their own parade? Mr. Marlin practically stuck out his tongue at aura and mystique?

Mr. Marlin is my kinda guy.

2 comments to You Can Never Have Too Many Marlins

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE Defending Your Life – great movie!
    And, thanks to this column, I'm warming up to Conine.

  • Anonymous

    There are not enough lavish superlatives in this language or any other to describe the magnificence of the 2003 Marlins. I could watch that last game a thousand times and never tire of it.
    Mr. Marlin has been a pain in the butt at times, but not nearly as much as his cohort Luis Castillo (later reborn in Minnesota as a Little Piranha). Yet Little Piranha could not be a more welcome addition to this team. So yeah, bring on Mr. Marlin. Why the heck not?