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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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More Face, Less Base

Major League Baseball has been running a promotion called “Face of the Franchise,” which crossed my mind Saturday night after returning home from the first Queens Baseball Convention. In MLB’s Twitter-based contest, fans are being asked to choose a current player to visually represent each team and, ultimately, the entire sport.

Due respect to whomever this exercise eventually glorifies, this is silly where the Mets are concerned. The face of this franchise is that of its fans. And the face appeared to be enjoying itself at QBC. It smiled. It focused. It pondered. It moved up and down in a nodding fashion (which might be more of a head trait, but the face is in there somewhere). It was surely engaged by all that transpired around it.

Two of many happy faces found at QBC 14. (Photo by Sharon Chapman.)

Two of many happy faces found at QBC 14. (Photo by Sharon Chapman.)

We’d make for an ideal Mets visage, except for one logistical obstacle: you can’t really fit us all onto one face. Blame it on the individuality that pokes out from underneath our common-interest umbrella. We’re snowflaky that way. Even within the realm of our respective Mets fan identities, we are each a variation of the species.

Y’know what we’re not? A “fan base”. I’ve really come to dislike that term.

Never mind that it evokes political strategy, as in “playing to the base,” which always sounds very cynical. My distaste for the phrase comes from the implication that you can blob us together until you don’t have to bother distinguishing among us. It’s easier to dismiss prevailing concerns by pretending a mob is howling. “Sign a player? Lower a price? Convene a wintertime baseball event? Oh sure, that’s what the fan base wants.”

Send out all the surveys you can generate, cherry pick your feedback mechanisms or just draw your prefab conclusions. You won’t know what your so-called base of fans is about unless you’re fully among them. There may be majorities or pluralities in favor of this or that, but there’s rarely anything close to unanimity, save maybe for winning being considered preferable to losing…and I wouldn’t swear to that one, either.

Our distinctions are good things. They make us multifaceted instead of monolithic. That’s probably why the first QBC succeeded so absolutely completely. There was a little bit of everything for everybody. A lot of everything, actually. It was glorious not just for the triumph of choice, but for watching the choices being made. Not everybody wanted the same thing out of the day, or at least they didn’t behave as if they did.

Y’know the one thing I’m pretty sure we all wanted? To be at a gathering like this. Not every Mets fan might have chosen to spend one winter Saturday with hundreds of other Mets fans, but hundreds did. Once we were there, it seemed the overriding point was to revel in the existence of this unprecedented opportunity. Again, there was a lot of everything for everybody, yet the one item that didn’t formally appear in the QBC program but managed to emerge as Saturday’s common denominator was unfettered access to each other.

We were Mets fans embracing not just the chance to listen to former players, current broadcasters, dedicated historians and garrulous bloggers. We were confirming we’re still in this thing together; that January notwithstanding, we each maintain our unique place within our franchise’s face.

Consider confirmation achieved.

Sincere thanks to all who made Queens Baseball Convention 14 possible and equally sincere thanks to all who made Queens Baseball Convention 15 necessary.

20 comments to More Face, Less Base

  • Art Pesner

    Terrific event, and sincerely enjoyed hearing excerpts from your forthcoming book.

  • EMW

    Wish I could have been there, but I am struggling with this 50s weather in Florida. I can either invest in arctic winter attire to come there or buy more Mets shlock. I even have the heavy Mets jacket, the one with all of the patches on it, but that wasn’t warm enough to get me through the night here. I am glad the event was a success! Sounded great.

  • 5w30

    Yes, we know the even was on their heavily leveraged land, but don’t ever let the Wilpons/Mets control the Queens Baseball Convention.

  • Rich Anderson

    Enjoyable day- minimal hiccups given QBC’s maiden voyage. WOM should increase attendance for next winter.

    Wondering if there will be podcasts from any of the panels? I sat for Kranepool- tough acoustics in room but what I was able to hear was pretty provocative re: Tim Foli and Yogi’s ineptness in ’73 World Series- but missed the Mets marketing team panel save for last 5 minutes. What i did hear was an answer to a question about perhaps having more Met support, ie. active player integration in future years. The answer was a serious tap dance- some contractual obligation reference about “pressuring players to show up in January takes away a charitable appearance during the season. Not likely- anyway, it’s more about the fans, blah, blah, blah.” Curious to hear how the other 55 minutes went.

    • Keep an eye on QBC’s site for links to video of sessions. I caught the same final five minutes of the exec panel. Did think it was kind of a pale response. Agreed the whole thing was pretty Amazin’ considering it was the first time out and run by so-called amateurs. I’d trust Shannon Shark, Keith Blacknick, Darren Meenan (and a whole crew of volunteers) with all of Citi Field after this.

  • Jerry

    I attended QBC14 and enjoyed it very much. I sat through Ron Darling, Mets Marketing & uniform/logo panels; all very excellent I thought. I agree that there was a little bit of everything for everybody. Impressed by this first time event, a lot of friendly people there as well and I learned some new things.

  • Inside Pitcher

    You know who would have enjoyed this? Dana Brand would have loved seeing this offseason gathering of Mets fans; I definitely felt his presence on Saturday.

    Kudos to everyone who put together the QBC – it was a great event!

  • Quite the Amazin’ day, made even more Amazin’ by the fact that it was completely organic. This wasn’t an event that sprung from the forehead of Jay Horwitz, or the departed David Howard. This was US, man…

  • […] the Queens Baseball Convention (QBC) this past Saturday.   Hopefully you’ve read Greg Prince’ great account of the day’s events and also The Mets Police for great pictures of all the festivities on what was a great day for Mets […]

  • Will in Central NJ

    Hi Greg and Jason, I missed the inaugural QBC because my 18-year old son had his annual MLK weekend ice hockey tournament in Albany. The missus and I watched the offspring with pride, but after reading the summaries here and elsewhere, I’m selfishly hoping that QBC ’15 will be held on another (non-MLK) January weekend.

    Let’s go Mets!

  • Nicholas

    I enjoyed the QBC but felt it could have used one more guest, to keep people around after Eddie Kranepool (who was REALLY hard to hear, unfortunately). Would have been great to have a Stevie Somers or Eddie Coleman. Sure, an active player would have been nice. Maybe one of the veritable ARMY of assistant GMs? The interview of Ron Darling was superb. Plus, RD’s a VERY nice guy. We’re lucky to have him – and Jason and Greg too!

  • […] — I want to acknowledge how genuinely gracious it was of Gil Hodges, Jr., to join us at the Queens Baseball Convention for the presentation of the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award. Seeing as how this was the first […]

  • […] The QBC gave it a good, hard scratch, and the 2014 FanGraphs and ESPN projections provided sweet, albeit temporary, relief. But, suffice it to say, The Bite still itched. […]