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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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V-E-4 Day

Kiss me! Luis Castillo has been released!

By noon on Friday almost every man, woman and child in Metsopotamia was sure the war on second base was over. But most felt that they already lived through a sort of V-E-4 week, and across the great Roosevelt Avenue of Queens there was only a little cheering. In Woodside a housewife telephoned a newspaper: “Shall I go ahead and bake a pie for tomorrow?” In Astoria, N.Y., as in most of the Metropolitan Area’s towns and villages, it was another Friday and another washday. But on this Friday, Astoria got the news that four more second basemen were still in a battle.

In Manhattan, the most effervescent Metsopotamia borough, the carnival sights and sounds bubbled spontaneously, then subsided, then fizzed again. For a while on Friday, torn paper and ticker tape by the ton fluttered from skyscrapers, and the streets turned white. Half a million people clotted Times Square, sober and undemonstrative, waiting for somebody to start the fun. Nobody did.

The people milled for five hours, until in late afternoon Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s voice barked over a loudspeaker: “Go home … or return to your jobs.” Most of the people drifted away. The flags over Citi Field, half-staffed since the Wilpons began seeking minority partners, fluttered limply.

In the interest of accuracy, the above is a doctored description from Time magazine, May 1945, detailing America’s reaction to V-E Day as World War II neared an end. The news that’s just come down regarding the release of Luis Castillo may not be viewed in some quarters as quite so momentous, yet it does feel epic. One is tempted to note Castillo’s occupation of second base in Flushing lasted about as long as America’s involvement in the European Theatre, but let’s maintain some sense of proportion here.

Luis Castillo: not a scourge, not a villain, surely not a war criminal, just an overpaid, underperforming second baseman who (save for being in the right place at the right time with the rightest contract imaginable) couldn’t catch a break in New York. He certainly couldn’t catch a pop fly in the Bronx.

Luis Castillo: vouched for, practically up to the moment it was reported the Mets were surrendering to common sense, as a decent fellow who didn’t deserve to be disdained so vociferously. A former colleague of mine who grew up during World War II used to remind me that “hate is for Hitler.” Well…yeah. I didn’t hate Luis Castillo. I disliked his being signed to the MegaMillions Jackpot and waited for the day someone would redraw the roster so he wouldn’t be on it anymore. And now it is done.

When I first found out, I wanted to bolt straight into Times Square and kiss the first pretty nurse I saw, but then I remembered that (besides being married) the iconic image to which I refer occurred in response to V-J Day, three months after V-E Day. That was when the war was over in Japan, thus over for good. Here on V-E-4 Day, we can rejoice that Luis Castillo is no longer in the running to play second base for the New York Mets in 2011, but it’s not like we have achieved peace in our time, either.

Murphy…Emaus…Hernandez…Turner. Right now, it reads like a platoon of earnest grunts who are about to be ambushed by an enemy barrage of breaking balls out of the zone and sharp grounders in the hole.

Godspeed, boys. Godspeed.

14 comments to V-E-4 Day

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Dreams of an all homegrown infield are alive and well!

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Makes sense had to do it, although there was always a lingering thought of them keeping the both him and Ollie due to $$$$.

    They needed to do this to show the Mets and the new brass have some balls and this is a new era.

    Now what about OP?

  • March'62

    I would have been more impressed if they were able to trade him and half his salary for some bag o’ balls and a backup shortstop from single-A. As it is, it’s just a PR move meant to show that even if we don’t win we have the fans’ back (not as cool a slogan as the Magic’s back). Castillo wasn’t going to help us win any more than the other options so why not just let him go and look good in the process. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This move just doesn’t get me all happy and clappy, that’s all.

    • richie

      Great writing Greg. I really enjoy all your work.
      As far as Castillo goes..
      …I know he didn’t offer a future, but I think that fans have been pretty disrespectful in blaming him for everything that is wrong with the team. I, for one, don’t like the “Johns’-from-the-Bronx” influencing my GM’s baseball decisions. These are the same fans that boo our players on opening day. I just feel he got a raw deal here and was treated un-Metsie like by this new era of Mets fans. What did this guy ever do but play hurt and play the game the right way? He played well in his only healthy year here and was a standup guy. When he dropped the pop up against the Yanks..he stuck around to answer question after question by the press. Why do peeps think he dogged it? By all baseball accounts he is a gamer and a good teammate. Two WS rings and a very solid career as a second baseman. In my opinion, he deserved a little better.

  • Dave

    Minor and MBTN-geek point perhaps, but the world would feel more at harmony now if Mookie were allowed to ditch his current linebacker uni # and go back to the only number nature ever intended him to wear.

    6 million down, 12 million to go.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Maybe all those t-shirts sold on 161st Street in Da Bronx, depicting Castillo flubbing that pop fly, will now all go to the Salvation Army thrift store…or the dumpster.

    “…a decent fellow who didn’t deserve to be disdained so vociferously”? For a moment I thought I was reading a requiem for Kazuo Matsui.

  • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

    So when I found this out 5 minutes ago, I immediately had to come see how it was handled on FFF. Needless to say, you combined the two subjects in which I find endless fascination: Baseball & WWII. Well done, sir.

    However, I’m a bit concerned as the Phils homepage offers a story about the possibility of the Phils picking him up on the cheap as a placeholder… I nearly dropped to my knees in a Darth Vader “NNNOOOOOOOO!”

    We’re all in a state of mourning over Utley (PBUHN), and Valdez is pretty much a guaranteed GIDP, but replacing our best player with your worst (position) player is just too much for this Phils phan to bare.

    And don’t bother speculating on a “reverse Barajas” scenario where Slappy would suddenly rake against you guys. Won’t happen… For 2 reasons:

    1)That never happens for us.

    2)I don’t see a guy who won’t use two hands to catch a popup, won’t adjust his swing and won’t hustle or show effort when he KNOWS his job is on the line suddenly manning-up to show up the team that ditched him.

    In conclusion,congrats on V-E-4 day. It’s at the very least, a good sign of Alderson/Collins doing what’s right regardless of payroll, so I’m happy for you guys.

    And if he ends up at 2nd base for us, I hate you all.


  • Andee

    Fear not, WMPT. He will be a Cub. That’s exactly where he belongs.

    In fairness to Luis, though, after the Popup From Hell, he always did use two hands. But he will never, ever live that down. I mean, Bill Buckner was a very good player (better than Castillo), and not bad with the glove, either…except that one time.

  • gary

    Terriffic piece on the release of castillo.I never understood why they picked him up 4 years ago for the final 2 months of the season.Than the horrible 4 year deal.I never liked his game and he always looked like he was not happy to be on the team.I don’t get all these glubs on this forum and others who feel they have to defend this guy.He was surly, couldn’t run, had no range and swung like an old lady.I’m thrilled that he is gone.Please guys, stop with the poor looie posts.It’s ok to dislike a player.Always has been part of the game of any of you people think if u lost your job, castillo would give a hoot about you?Wake up folks and stop being apologists for a lousy 2nd baseman.

  • […] I’m not overcome by the urge to dash into Times Square and kiss the first pretty nurse I encounter now that Oliver Perez has been released. I liked Ollie […]