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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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99 Games Left at Shea, That is All

Eighteen home games remain in the 2007 season. Eighty-one home games can be assumed (barring weather, wildcat strikes, goodness only knows what) for 2008. And then that's it for regularly scheduled baseball at Shea Stadium.

There are 99 games left in the life of the ballpark that was born in 1964 and is slated to die before it can turn 45.

Holy Phil Mankowski! Y'know?

Like the Delta Shuttle roaring in for a landing just over the visitors' bullpen, time is just flying by. Those eighteen remaining games will be over soon enough, giving way — knock concrete — to some irregularly scheduled baseball in October. Those are extra innings, nothing you can pencil in yet, not easy to get your mitts on. Then we count down to next year and next year we count down from 81. When we get to zero, maybe there'll be some more extra innings. We hope so. But then those will end, too, and that will be that.

It's really happening. We're in double-digits. There are fewer than 100 regular-season games left at Shea Stadium. Ever.

I must be inoculating myself against the bitter end (I mean promising beginning) because without really meaning to, I've been at Shea a lot this year. A real lot. Friday night marked my third consecutive game and my 25th of the season, a crowded dance card even by my personal hardcore standards.

Twenty-five home games is more than I have made myself present for in any Mets season but two. In fact, last night's Los Mets fiesta at the expense of Los Dodgers tied pennant-winning 2000 for third place in The Log's regular-season pages (which don't reflect the five delightful dates tacked on that October). I believe I'm done for this weekend, but I'll be back out there when the Astros come to town, and have no reason to think I won't show up at least once for each remaining opponent. If I get to an even 30, then this here 2007, for all its faults and foibles into which we have so deeply delved, will have passed my beloved 1999 (29 games) for second place all-time. I suppose I could go nuts, purchase a Pennant Race Pack and give all-time champ 2001 (38 games) a Dynamet Dash for its money, but that's a fairly prohibitive exercise in terms of time and resources. Going to more games this year than in my favorite year will be a significant enough fan achievement.

In case you're wondering — and I can't imagine you are — the Mets are 16-9 with me in attendance in '07, behind only my '01, '99 and '00 regular-season Shea win totals. I am apparently the antidote to the home record blues (the Mets are 18-20 without me…so why don't they “take care” of me?). And just when I begin to get nervous that I'm anathema to victory, such as I was Thursday night after back-to-back L's, it was W time again Friday.

At the risk of being unnecessarily sappy about it, especially when I've stoked my share of “what's wrong with my first-place team?” discontent, every game at Shea Stadium feels a bit like a win to me in 2007. It's not just that I'm trying to enjoy what little time Ol' Leaky and I have left together; it's that I no longer even have to think about how much I want to be there. I'm just drawn to Shea, like a Paul Lo Duca to a flame. If you're not getting paid to do so, you don't voluntarily show up 25 separate times in less than five months to a place that is not particularly convenient to you. It must be more fun than I let on.

Plus there's always something new. Yes, new, despite the age of the facility and the nominal repetition of the exercise. I've made Shea debuts with a fistful of people (including the two I joined Friday night) who've entered my life this year and my fandom and I have been enhanced by their companionship. I suppose I'll be doing that sort of thing at Citi Field, going to games for the first time with somebody I've only recently met. When I do, I'll tell you if it's exactly the same, if it's way better or if it doesn't really measure up to the experiences I've had forging relationships where I've been doing it for so long. For now, I've got Shea and it's still showing me new and good times.

For Los Mets night, I sat in the left field loge…and I mean the left field loge. We were in a box to the fair side of the foul pole, a 90-degree drop from Tommie Agee territory. This was my 348th regular-season game at Shea Stadium yet my first sitting in just that loge spot, taking in just that view and perspective of the ballpark that won't be there the year after next. It made for a magnificent vista. Deep fly balls in our direction were best left to the imagination, but otherwise, you saw everything. Unlike in fair territory in right, you saw the scoreboard. You saw the DiamondVision. You saw Lastings Milledge tumbling and snaring. You saw Carlos Beltran covering acres of ground. You saw Moises Alou and wished he wouldn't get in Beltran's way. You had to squint, but you saw the Los in Los Mets.

I wouldn't go so far as to say this was Bizarro Shea, but I met my companions outside Gate A, which is literally completely opposite of where I do most of my meeting, at Gate E. It wasn't the first time I'd gone in at Gate A, not even the first time in 2007 I'd gone in at Gate A, but I definitely felt like Kramer when he found himself in a panic downtown far away from his familiar Upper West Side. I don't even know if Gate A is in 718.

The security's a lot tighter at Gate A, apparently. Uniformed TSA types didn't simply and indifferently paw at my bag — they aggressively searched it. I mean they opened my glasses case, examined my radio, asked me “what's this for?” when handling my innocent iPod splitter (which I didn't even know was still in the bag). I actually don't think this was a Gate A thing, more a Fiesta Latina Night thing, sadly. I'm willing to give those who make these decisions the benefit of the doubt as to why there were suddenly crisp white-shirted securitarians (no Mets or Shea logos on their uniforms) by the escalator at the entrance to loge checking tickets. I don't think it was because loge is undergoing some kind of field level gentrification, but rather somebody figured out that when the Mets host postgame concerts, they often get patrons who don't know their way around Shea and thus wouldn't know loge from mezzanine any more than I know salsa from merengue. Actually, it's not a bad idea. They do that in Broadway theaters, you know. (Come 2009, we'll all be strangers in a strange seating chart land and we'll need all the help we can get.)

But the superdiligent searches of bags? Gee I wonder why they chose this particular promotional night to be all Checkpoint Charlie and not, say, DHL Drawstring Bag Night, which was Thursday. Threat Level Los Mets? I wonder if any families who came to Shea specifically for Fiesta Latina Night but decided the baseball was good enough to merit a return on a future evening will wonder why there's not that kind of security when there's no Fiesta in sight (and I'm not the only one wondering). Something tells me marketing and operations did not dance on the same page in advance of Friday.

I have no idea why there are people who get up in arms over the Mets' acknowledgement that Latinos y Latinas play and/or watch baseball. It's New York, there are lots of people who speak Spanish, there happen to be lots of players who do the same. If it's good for business and it's good for the standings, I'm all for it. All anybody wants is a good ballclub. In our little slice of loge, there were fans of every international strain, it seemed, and you know who they cheered most wildly for? Whoever on the Mets did something good. Those are my kind of fans. As I've said via my actions 25 separate times this season, we Metropolitan-Americans gotta stick with our own kind.

Fox is doing something brilliant for once: Watch today in the third inning for a reunion of longtime totally awesome broadcast team Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner. Oh baby I love it!

15 comments to 99 Games Left at Shea, That is All

  • Anonymous

    You know Bill Veeck would have had Barbara Feldon throw out the first pitch this afternoon…

  • Anonymous

    When you called Shea “Ol' Leaky” here, it reminded me of this –

  • Anonymous

    Hey, Greg – this is the second time I've read something here about guards at Shea specifically interacting with stuff in a bag (and forgive me if I can't remember if the previous mention was you or Jason – i tried to find it, something about a book, but I couldn't). I realize my sample size is much smaller, but in three years of going, I've never had them ask me what anything is for, take anything out of my bag for closer examination, or do anything more than glance and move a couple of things around at most. I could get almost anything into Shea, because they look but they don't look.
    TBF and I have often remarked that we believe the reason they barely give us a second glance (besides the fact that we are obviously white and middle-class, and wearing Mets gear), is because when we get to the table, our bags are wide open and handed to them with an air of resignation, we have to do this so we're just going to go do it, we're people who do this all the damn time and who have nothing to hide. I wonder what would happen if we weren't so forthcoming, or acted like we'd never had to do this before, or that it was some kind of imposition (not that it isn't).
    So I am curious if you can characterize your approach to security. Or if you believe your approach is different if you'd give ours a try and see if it helps. Because I bring in camera gear, ipod, notebooks, pens, fancy-schmancy headphones that don't look like headphones, etc. and carry books on the train that are pretty controversial.

  • Anonymous

    I find it's a crap shoot sometimes. Especially now that Gate A is virtually untravelled compared to Gate E, so less people to search means they can spend more time seraching. I've been searched well, and searched badly. I've taken my knife into shea, and gotten harrassed for bring in cream puffs. Same difference inside too. Concerts do seem to be a problem too. I wasn't in attendance this year, but If i recall merengue night last year and the year before that, I think there was the same security on each level and what not. But the Shea security ahve always been bitchy about which level and seat you should be on. They even hinted in the Citi Field preview center that the luxury box people deserved better food.

  • Anonymous

    Having realized it's a losing battle, I'm cooperative as all get out. My bag's unzipped before it hits the table. Sometimes the transaction takes three seconds, sometimes a minute (which can be very long in that situation). Sometimes I get the guy at Gate E who has a joke for every bag (in my case, he misidentified my sandwich a few weeks ago). Sometimes I get someone who's a little carried away by the power his job confers on him, though the book being opened, being pored over and my being stared at happened a few years ago before they got the hang of security (if in fact those who operate Shea can be said to have gotten the hang of anything).
    I won't say I don't mind it, but it's part of what they do and I'm not lookin' to cause no trouble (double neggie intended). But last night was just weird. Again, this was officious jerk territory. If that was the norm, if they searched every inch of your stuff every time out because you can't be too careful, well, OK. Wouldn't love it, would respect it. But for it to come out on Fiesta Latina Night (I'm not Latin nor would I “appear” Latin, but I got the treatment, too, leading me to believe they were ordered to not profile lest they elicit a lawsuit)…as you observed, that was creepy.
    I should point out that the small duffel bag I use to schlep my stuff in is half filled with crumpled plastic grocery bags, so it was kind of amusing watching the TSA lady grimly unfolding each one of them trying to figure out what I could be hiding.
    Mostly a tendency to hoard, I think.

  • Anonymous

    And of course you need the knife to divvy up the cream puffs.
    Or were the cream puffs to throw at opponents to tell them that's what you think they are?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but would have she missed it by…that much?

  • Anonymous

    MG, you're bringing the champagne this year, should we have cause for it.
    I'm still bitter about the Gate E guy who went through my clinching-night bag like he was uncovering layers of Troy. He found the champagne and I wound up dragging around the 10-odd pounds of distracting clothing and books and newspapers I'd brought.
    Not that I minded when Cliff Floyd clutched the ball that made us National League champs, of course….

  • Anonymous

    I sat in the loge in fair territory in 1992. It was weird. Just thought I'd share.

  • Anonymous

    So today TBF and I drove up to Connecticut to see the folks, and in the 3 hour traffic jam on the way back, in between me begging TBF to teach me baseball minutae to stop me from going crazy (“What are the 8 ways you can reach first base? What are the ways you can get an RBI? What are the all-time records that will never be broken?”), I also asked for legal advice in the case of subway searches and what to do if I get stopped for taking photographs.
    His advice in the case of an overzealous Shea guard would be to say, “This is not on the list of dangerous or prohibited items,” and if they continued to press, to get their name, and then ask for a supervisor. If they don't let you in, get their name… and then find another gate and go in.
    (The book thing just makes both of us CRAZY to think about.)
    Last year for the playoffs, I had just bought my new telephoto lens. Somewhere I swear I read that cameras with detachable lenses were NOT permitted at Shea. I have a very good friend who is a professional photographer – she shoots for the Daily News now – and when she went to see Springsteen with TBF at Giants Stadium, the way she got her telephoto lens in was to wrap it in butcher paper, tape it shut, and write “turkey sub, $3.75” on it in crayon.
    TBF went in a few people behind me with the real turkey subs, is all I'm sayin.
    Those champagne splits are awfully tiny.
    This comment will now explode in 30 seconds.

  • Anonymous

    The Citi Field preview center was closed Friday night.
    just sayin'.

  • Anonymous

    Sitting in fair territory won't necessarily be novel in a couple of years.

  • Anonymous

    Endy Chavez was the left fielder for game 7 when we won the National League pennant.
    Hey, if we're gonna do Pravda-style historical re-writes, let's get the names right.

  • Anonymous

    The cream puffs were doing their best Kirby impression actually..
    I've also gotten kicked out of Shea, here, and it does seem very arbritary the more It hink about it.
    But it's not just Merengue night and concerts. If I recall the time with the Cream Puffs (I also had a bag of popcorn, which he actually squeezed and poked) was a Yankee game. The time I got kicked out was a Barry Bonds game. The times I remember walking right in are weekday games, weekday daygames, I've gotten my pocket knife(which is on my keychaine) in accidently against teams like the Padres and Marlins.
    I've noticed on occasion that they've only let you onto the level you have tickets for. I guess the concerts are one of these nights, but I've noticed it for Yankee games too. (And really, if there are 56k people there, where am I going to sit if I sneak down?) That's also probably why the PreviewCenter was closed, since they basically weren't letting anyone on that level.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the word “East” was intended to follow National League. (I also believe you knew that!)