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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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I'll Miss Chris

For several hours Thursday I grappled with a modest identity crisis. My lifelong affiliation with the Capricorn party was cast into doubt by an astrological development that claimed I was actually a Sagittarius. I haven’t eyeballed my horoscope in decades, yet being a Capricorn — goat horns and all — has always been as much a part of who I am as being a Mets fan — goat horns and all. This realignment of stars was reportedly the result of the earth’s rotation wobbling, just like the Mets’ last May when their rotation spun on a shaky axis of Maine and Perez. Whatever the cause, the zodiac’s reset button had been pushed. It was all disturbingly different from when my sign was initially communicated to me…which was when I was six, right around the time I learned I was a Mets fan.

Now what I knew wasn’t true? I wasn’t a Capricorn? I was a Sagittarius? Or Sagittarian? What exactly was I now called? And what in hell was going on in the heavens? For all I truly knew, the standings I read when I was six years old were as retroactively inaccurate as the horoscope page.

For all I knew, I was really an Expos fan.

Somewhere across the Thursday evening sky, I changed my mind. If the cosmos had traded me from the Caps to the Saggies, who was I to not report? The hell with the goats. I was — once I looked it up — an archer, and damn proud of it.

Then I read another story that said, essentially, never mind. The realigned zodiac was for real, or as real as the zodiac gets, but because we live in the hemisphere where we live, we could all return safely to our previously assigned constellations.

Hence, just as I was deeply mulling my new identity as a Sagittarian (“mainly concerned with philosophy, higher education and global thinking”), I shifted right back to my familiar role on Team Capricorn (“introvert” — and I’d rather not say a word more than I have to).

Reassuringly, I never stopped being a Mets fan. They could shuffle the Libras, the Virgos and the Gemini from one calendar page to the next; they could shorten Scorpio to six days; and they could even roll out the new sign of Ophiuchus (which, if I recall correctly, is the sound I made when Luis Castillo dropped that pop fly), and that part of me wouldn’t change. Fans don’t get traded.

Players, however, do. They get waived, released, non-tendered, designated for assignment and sometimes they play out their options and leave as free agents. When I was granted the opportunity to exchange a few words with one Met some three months ago, I came away with the impression that the only option he wanted was to stay a Met.

The option, however, was not in Chris Carter’s hands.

A new regime swept in, and one of its first tangible moves was sweeping out Carter, a skilled specialist on a team badly in need of talented generalists. He gave the Mets what Frank Cashen would have called “character in their left-handed pinch-hitting,” 19 times in 58 at-bats (.328) to be exact. It was the stuff of Staub, but on Sandy Alderson’s Mets, good old latter-day, one-dimensional Rusty might not stick, either (1985 OBP of .400 notwithstanding).

Chris Carter couldn’t have seemed less animalistic — save for all humans technically being animals — when I met him, no matter how we all delighted in calling him the Animal for how ferociously he prepared in advance of his infrequent playing assignments. Chris, however, held a different identity dear as the 2010 season ended. As our brief early October conversation wound down, I asked him what I considered a benign enough question: who did he like in the upcoming National League playoffs? The look in his eyes indicated sheer animalism had taken hold. Chris Carter clearly had no interest in choosing among Phillies, Braves, Reds or Giants, not even for small talk’s sake.

“I just think Mets,” he said.

Nowadays, presumably, Chris Carter contemplates Rays, Rays and nothing but Rays. Last week he signed a minor league deal with the reigning American League East champs, an outfit suddenly beset by a Metsload of openings given their own Aldersonian budget issues. I sincerely hope the minor league tag is strictly bookkeeping and that he makes the Tampa Bay club this spring. Though I spoke to Carter in a quasi-professional capacity that particular Blogger Night, I was just thinking Mets fan. That’s my identity, that’s my star sign. When a Mets player turned so darn serious on the subject of being a Mets player, it was fair to say I didn’t need to read my horoscope to tell me I was about to experience much joy.

Three months later, that Mets player who thought just Mets isn’t a Met anymore. It may be a reasonable and ultimately helpful baseball decision, and there may be a net Met gain where 2011 roster composition is concerned. But gosh, to meet a Met who had his mind set on “Met” — even if Carter wasn’t a Met a whole lot longer than I was a Sagittarian — and then to realize his setting, like that of almost every Met, was merely temporary…

Sometimes the fault lies not in our stars, but in our attachments.

11 comments to I’ll Miss Chris

  • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

    I still can’t get past the fact that I’m apparently an Aries & not a Taurus.

    Why does something I never gave a shite about while (I thought) it was true bother me so much now that it’s been revealed that it never was?

  • March'62

    I grew up under the BUNT sign and now I believe I’m being asked to swing away. I’m not so sure what to do. Although that new sign, Opie’s Tuchus, or whatever it is, sounds like it might be mine.

    We all want our Animals to bleed Blue and Orange, so it’s sad when they do and then get sent packing anyway. But him going to a place where he could take Mariano deep in a late inning situation will keep him near and dear to our hearts.

    Oh and your Shakespeare quote is what turned Oscar Madison into a neatnik. Talk about classic. (Dressing!!!)

  • The pronuciation of the “new” sign could apply to all us Met fans: Oh-FUCK-us.

  • dmg

    you’ll enjoy being a sag. it’s always worked for me. now i’ve been made an ophi. if y’all don’t mind, i think i’ll stay with the team i was drafted by.

  • Jim

    I was a Sag for 45 years…..(Do a good job in my place Gregg!!) and now I am a member of this brandnew zodiac sign (can’t remember,or spell and too lazy to look it up) So I guess since this is a new sign, I guess that means I wass taken in the expansion draft!!

  • I am frustrated by release of Carter.
    I support Alderson regime,
    but some of its moves feel like they’re just trying to erase the past of Omar regime.

    I understand that,
    but some roaster like Carter could’ve been a good stay, even though it was a Omar pickup.

    I wish him best of luck in the Rays.
    At least he didn’t sign with Phillies.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Well, if Willie Harris makes the team in spring training, it’s a matter of perspective as to whether Chris Carter’s bat off the bench would be more valuable than Willie Harris’ glove in the late innings. As much as I liked the “Animal”, Harris might prove more valuable to the team over the course of a long season. But hate to see Carter released, if only for the point made by you and others – he wanted to be a Met and that’s a player worth rooting for.

    Not that Harris in lieu of Carter would have made any difference this upcoming season. Unfortunately, Alderson has already told fans to expect little in 2011 other than to write it off as a stepping stone for 2012. Doesn’t say much for those on the roster if their boss thinks they aren’t good enough to compete for a post-season berth this year.

    Of course, he might be right and therefore Alderson is acting like a man who backs up his words with actions. On a contending team, one would keep role players that could help contribute to a championship like Carter off the bench AND sign a Harris for his glove. He probably doesn’t have much faith in the pitching staff, seeing the rotation too thinned out (and not helped by Santana’s injury) to really compete — otherwise he would have retained John Maine in hopes of a come back. Same holds true with Pedro Feliciano, one of the few dependable arms out of the bullpen. If he felt we had a reasonable shot, no doubt he would have tried to re-sign the dependable Feliciano rather than let a erratic bullpen get even more so.

    But if 2011 is to be a transition year leading to better times in 2012, couldn’t a Maine and Feliciano help contribute to this year’s buildup for that future success? Seems better than the two injury plagued pitchers he signed to replace them. And couldn’t he have at least given Carter a chance to the make the roster in spring training? I

    Sandy said he needed to reduce the payroll but these moves were nothing more than penny-pinching.

    So again, he’s telling us to write-off the upcoming season and therefore is telling proven quality players like Wright, Reyes, Bay, Beltran, Santana, Dickey, KRod, Davis, Pagan and others to feel the same way as well. Nice attitude going into spring training (even if true).

  • Jeff

    Met Chris Carter (and Nick Evans) with my kids at a game last July. They both could not have been nicer. Too bad to see him go.

  • […] by winning Thursday, Friday and Saturday without losing on any days that were added to the calendar when they were reworking the zodiac, it adds up to three consecutive […]