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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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Sunday Night at the Giants (Part IV)

The first time the Giants won the Super Bowl, I was shocked — not because the Giants of 1986 weren’t a very fine team but because the Giants of 1969 and 1971 and 1973 and 1974 and clear through to the Giants of 1980 were so darn awful.

The Giants to whom I established diversionary ties as a six-year-old seemed to exist so I wouldn’t take sports team success for granted. When I fell into them in the autumn of ’69, the Mets had just completed their Miracle and the Knicks were making a high art of hitting the open man. The Giants, as introduced to me by my father, were any given Sunday’s bad news, grounding me in how sports fan reality actually worked.

It worked like this: The Mets won the World Series…then the Giants lost seven games in the seven weeks that followed. When they finished their 1969 by raising their record from 3-8 to 6-8, I swear I was beaming. Six and eight, I calculated, was extremely close to 7-7. Seven and seven, I then reasoned, was the essence of not bad.

My baseball team was a champion. My basketball team was en route to being a champion. I could live with my football team striving to be not bad.

Took a long, long time for the Giants to attain that standard on a going basis. After a couple of modestly encouraging campaigns in which wins slightly outnumbered losses, the Giants avoided spreading further encouragement as if vaccinated against it. From 1973 through 1980, they played every week and lost in most of them, compiling a record of 33-84-1. As diversions went, the Giants were not a fulfilling one.

But I hung with them in the non-Met months and was finally rewarded with all I ever thought to dream of: a playoff appearance, in 1981. I didn’t expect them to do anything with it. I didn’t expect them to repeat it annually. I was just happy that for one weekend after the end of a football season, there’d be another Giants game.

Standards changed. The Giants managed to improve themselves enough to transcend not bad by the mid-’80s and ultimately attain excellence in the form of that first Super Bowl victory, January 25, 1987. They had gotten so good that it was actually disappointing when they didn’t achieve a second immediately.

But they did get a second eventually, January 27, 1991. A third arrived almost out of nowhere, February 3, 2008. And last night, February 5, 2012, a fourth materialized in brilliant fashion.

I swear I was beaming each time.

The Giants are four-time Super Bowl champs. They’ve won the biggest game there is to win in four different decades in four different time zones* on four different networks. They’ve won more Super Bowls than all but three franchises, yet nobody has won more in the span that began with the Giants winning their first. For as long as I’ve been following them with a tangible measure of heartfelt allegiance, they’ve never been a dynasty and never been positioned as one of their league’s glamour teams, yet by the ultimate measure, they’ve risen to stand among what some would call the elite in their sport.

Which is all well and good, but all I ever wanted out of the Giants was enough Sundays when they’d be not bad and a few years that weren’t part of a 33-84-1. I got that and I got it again…and again…and now again.

Trust me: My appreciation for it is boundless.

And until further notice, it’s the Mets who keep me grounded.

*Indianapolis apparently runs on Eastern time nowadays, so there goes that one. Giants will need to win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans to restore this factoid to factual.

10 comments to Sunday Night at the Giants (Part IV)

  • Jim Haines

    In other words, The Giants Giveth, The Mets Taketh Away.
    Go Blue.

  • Bluenatic

    This is a terrific factoid:

    “They’ve won the biggest game there is to win in four different decades in four different time zones on four different networks.”

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    ” it’s the Mets who keep me grounded”, I am sure that you meant to say,”Below ground” as in basement!

  • Dave

    But some of us, perhaps even lots of us, are Jets fans, therefore hitching our wagons to not one but two decidedly 2nd class citizen franchises. My anti-Giants feelings don’t come close to my hatred of that team in the Bronx, but yesterday was the winter equivalent of a Yankees-Phils WS for us.

    • As one who’s rooted hard for both NY football teams, in good times and times that were not at all good, I don’t get the antipathy in either direction (it’s not like it’s baseball), but hang in there. By Wednesday, we’re all full-time Mets fans again and there’ll be plenty for us to come together to root against.

      Starting with thin-skinned ownership.

    • Rob D.

      Agreed. I rooted for the Giants in 2008 and as soon as they won, immediately regretted it. So I “rooted” for the AFC representative yesterday. What do I care if Brady wins a 4th ring, I thought, they’re 200 miles away. I live with Giant fans every day and today it was..”you guys couldnt even get to a Super Bowl with Rex, and we’ve already won another one”. Giant fans might be worse than Yankee fans.

      I love Eli and Coach Tom, but Jesus, enough is enough!!

    • dmg

      dave, definitely in the same ballpark as you, probably the same section. but it occurred to me that there was no WAY i could stomach the HC of the NEP winning another ring. once that was cleared up, the path was clear to enjoying the game.

  • The Mets longer season has kept me grounded for years..
    Greg- thank God for the Football Giants. I know what it feels like to support a Champion.Its been a fantastic ride!!!

  • NostraDennis

    Greg – Awesome factiods. But as my buddy Johnny Gunnz (who’s a Mets fan AND a Colts fan – ugh) pointed out, Indianapolis is in the Eastern time zone now. But still. Nice.