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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 Got Your Positivity Right Here

Can ya hear us, Pittsburgh?

Can ya hear us, Pittsburgh?

After spending a slice of my Tuesday afternoon listening to Dave Hudgens complain about “negativity” and Sandy Alderson indicate he can’t spend more money on players until it is liberated from True New Yorkers’ pockets, a dispassionate consumer of Mets baseball might have been ready to devote his time and resources to something more satisfying — say, a good bang of the head into the nearest wall.

But we are not dispassionate consumers when it comes to our ballclub…our ballclub that doesn’t understand how much we love them even when we get the feeling they are programmed to repel us…our ballclub that transmits a message whose essence is, “We need more of you to buy tickets and less of you to respond to how we play when you buy tickets.” Yet the Mets can’t stop Mets fans. They can only hope to maintain them.

I was on my way to Citi Field Tuesday night no matter what truths and opinions the deposed batting coach spoke on a pair of radio programs, no matter how much spin the general manager put on his own reply. That Hudgens seemed to resent both us and our beloved proxies in the broadcast booth and that Alderson continued to sing the same budgetary tune (one little doubt penned for him by his real estate mogul employers) was immaterial when it came time to catch the 5:11 to Jamaica, change for the 5:49 to Woodside, dash upstairs for the 7 Express and glide down to ye olde Home Run Apple by 6:15. I was going to the game.

Going to the game. The Mets can’t curb that enthusiasm. I didn’t sit for six months and stare Rogers Hornsby-style out the window waiting wait for spring just so that when the evenings finally grow summery, the Mets frost my horsehide.

True, they don’t win much at home. They don’t hit much at home. They change coaches in that department because, for all the high-minded huffery about poor Hudge the scapegoat, what exactly was he doing to deserve continuing in his role? Under the current front office, they don’t direct what dollars there are effectively at the major league level. Give Alderson all the pass you want for having to operate under the constraining yoke of Wilponnery, and dream all you want about the paradise pitching rotation his cleverest trades thus far are in the process of facilitating (good eventual health willing), but we’re on our fourth substandard major league roster in four seasons. There have been few finds on the open market up to the standards of people we were led to believe are geniuses at mining undervalued assets.

We are keenly aware of all this. We are reminded of it regularly because we pay attention to it. We pay attention to it because we apparently signed on to Rod Stewart’s assessment of more than three decades ago that I need passion; you need passion; we need passion; can’t live without passion; won’t live without passion.

Our passion is stored at 126th and Roosevelt. Regardless of the latest round of oy! the Mets teased from us the last couple of days, I wasn’t going to deny myself access to my passion. I was heading for that Apple at 6:15. Waiting for me was my friend Ben, no lacker of passion he. Ben has a motto about rooting for his team: Real fans cheer real loud.

Ben, you have to understand, is approximately 30 years younger than me and probably 300 times more energetic. He’s pouring himself lately into every home game he can because he’s not going to be in the New York area for very long. Ben’s passionate about the Mets. Ben’s out at Citi Field practically every day. Ben invited me to go to this game, then briefly apologized profusely when he thought he couldn’t make it because of a family obligation, then offered to skip the family obligation before realizing he had his Tuesdays mixed up and all was clear for us to attend (though I wouldn’t be surprised if really he told his brother to show some consideration and graduate high school some night when the Mets are on the West Coast).

Point is Ben was ready to cheer real loud and I decided to keep up with him as best I could. From the wonderful seats he obtained not all that far beyond the Met dugout, we urged everybody in a Mets uniform onward and upward, whether we approved their wearing of the orange and blue or not. This wasn’t about budgets or management or postmortems. This was about real fans of their surreal team determined to do what we could for them.

I think I got a letter on that subject a month or so ago, but I can’t remember.

We cheered our heads off for every Met, 1 through 9 in the batting order and then some. Dave Hudgens couldn’t believe Mets fans booed Curtis Granderson? We didn’t know what he was talking about. We cheered Granderson. We cheered Juan Lagares, whose jersey Ben is thinking about buying and whose LAGARES 12 t-shirt is still overpriced for my taste, but yeah, I’m gonna get it eventually. We cheered Jon Niese, no matter how much he normally makes me yearn for a nap. We cheered the reviled Ruben Tejada and the overused Bobby Abreu and the waste-of-millions Chris Young and the not yet settled in Vic Black and the two-inning ingénue Jenrry Mejia. (Hell, we even clapped for a cameo by Ike Davis and a catch by Andrew McCutchen.)

I don’t mean we tacitly approved of these fellows. I mean we shouted encouragement and applauded continuously and stood and yelled and baffled much of Section 113 and drew the attention of some Pittsburgh camera operator who beamed us aboard the Pirate broadcast for a couple of seconds. Most of the night we were pretty much alone in our demonstrativeness — Ben could sense the ire of a guy behind him who was more interested in making a phone call than urging a third strike — but we didn’t succumb to social graces. This was the Mets game. This was the Mets ballpark. We were the Mets fans.

We would be heard from. And we would win.

Long before sending the Pirates to their watery doom, back on that first train ride I had to take to reach the Apple, I noticed a fellow passenger in a Mets shirt and a Mets cap with headphones on and eyes closed as we pulled into Jamaica. I got his attention, fearful that he was sleeping through his stop.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Are you going to the game?”

“No,” he answered. “I wish I was.”

For everybody who still aspires to be part of the Mets crowd…for everybody who roots as hard as he or she can at whatever volume he or she sees fit to muster…for all the real fans, the True New Yorkers, the genuinely passionate partisans whatever their locales…for those who calibrate so-called negativity with heartfelt positivity…we wished were going to the game, too. It’s just that our wish happened to come true.

Why wouldn’t you make a lot of noise about that?

18 comments to I Got Your Positivity Right Here

  • Scott M.

    This really gets to the heart of what it means to be a fan. In the end, it’s not about how many championships your team won or how successful some of it’s players are – it’s about the feeling you get when you step through the turnstiles – the feeling of anticipation and the idea that something special might happen.

    I’m going to today’s game. I can’t promise I’m going to cheer loudly – or even for every player in orange & blue – but I’m going to the game and in that way I support my team…

  • Lou from Georgia

    I get a lot of joy from baseball, by far more than any other sport. As much as this team confounds us there are things much worse happening in the world than what goes on at Citi Field these days. And while losses can be a bummer and wins make me smile a bit before going to bed, I still have hope each day that we’re all 24 hours closer to watching a top shelf team again. I don’t envy fans of other more successful teams because I’ve never assumed that being a fan of a particular club means I’m guaranteed to see only wins out there. I know that when this team gets back to relevance, it will be sweeter knowing I’m a real fan and I’d been there during the lean years. Great post Greg- I’m right there with you. Sometimes it’s just fun to remember this is a game and enjoy the ride.

  • Art Pesner

    I wish this posting was required reading for the Mets front office. Maybe they would understand just a little bit better. Bravo, Greg.

  • Dave

    Nailed it, Greg, as did Scott and Lou. Last night my wife asked me if I’d like my Father’s day present to be tickets to the game that day (just so long, and I quote, “as they’re not playing the damn cheesesteak eaters”). Despite all Wilpon-related frustration and True New Yorker embarrassment, of course I said yes, because there’s still nothing like being there, not only cheering on this quadruple-A assemblage, but in communion with an announced crowd of 20,000 others who somehow enjoy doing the same.

  • Life Long Fan

    For all the nonsense the Wilpons and their front office put the fans through, I sincerely believe that the franchise has ability to turn a corner soon. Alderson, Hudgens and Collins may be tone deaf to the fans (that the Wilpons are is re-established daily)and may not stick around long enough to see it, but I think Wright, Murphy, Granderson and Lagares along with the solid young arms are the beginning of what should be a special time in Flushing.

    We just have to wait out players like Chris Young & Bartolo Colon…you can stick a fork in both of them.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    The fandom also rings true in that well-worn-yet-taken-care-of Fonzie shirt. Nice job! (would ownership agree with me, or would they blame you as being part of the problem for not buying an overpriced Lagares tee?)

  • The Jestaplero!

    “We’ve spent $85 million, and we expected a little more at this point in the season than we’ve gotten,” Alderson protested before he was contractually obligated to watch the Mets defeated the Pirates at Citi Field Tuesday night. “So I don’t believe payroll is the issue.”

    This is so misleading it’s almost a baldfaced lie. Sure, the Mets’ payroll this year is $85 (really, $82.2, but who’s counting?). Last year’s payroll was $102.2. They are spending $20 million LESS than last year.

    This was the year that famously the Santana and Bay contracts came off the books: $31M for Johan, 21.1 for Bay, that’s $52.2.

    Sure we signed Grandy, Bart, and CY, but we are paying Curtis 13M, Bart 9M, Young 7.2, for a total of $29.2.

    They didn’t even come close to re-allocating the money they saved on Santana/Bay. We are 23rd out of 30, just behind the San Diego Padres. Is your blood boiling yet?

  • metsfanKeith

    All this discussion about Alderson or Wilpon or budgets and off the field politics. It don’t matter to me as a Mets fan since the 1970’s all the off the field politics we are reading about. Whether the Mets are in ;ast place or win a world series, it is till about enjoying 9 innings of a baseball game in person or on tv. It is one game at a time and enjoying the sport of baseball. Even currently I appreciate these 2014 Mets as they give me baseball entertainment. We as Mets fans should smell the roses. IN a couple of years we will long for the days of the ‘Young boys’ or ‘Duda’ or ‘Murphy’. All this banter about Alderson and cheap ownership and salary caps/budgets has nothing to do with what is on the field. No matter how bad the Mets owners are or even the teams standings, I will always be the type of Mets fan who just appreciates innocently watching a good baseball game and as the article states if going to the actual game the “sound of the turnstiles.” All this talk of Mets ownership and Mets organization politics is superfluous. Let us a as Mets fandsenjoy each baseball game as it comes.

    • argman

      I agree with much of your sentiments, but have to point out the obvious that it is so much more enjoyable when the team is winning.
      Last night’s game was the first I have attended this year. I was happy that they won, and it was a close game with some exciting moments – but it took almost 4 hours, I am pretty sure there were more walks than hits, and there were three errors. The Mets do not “look” like a good team, and their record bears that out.

      • metsfanKeith

        Great to here argman that you enjoyed the game. After all that is why we love America’s pastime. Just sit back, chill and watch the Mets play. Just to watch them each game is fun because you don’t know how the team will respond each day. It took hours but heck you got your money’s worth and got to see a solid four hour game. Remember the doubleheader games back in the day? You got to chill at the ballpark from matinee to nighttime. As loyal long time Mets fans it’s good to cherish the team unique to each year. Oh heck we all may be longing for the days of good scrappy type Mets players like Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, and Anthony Recker that are not mega superstars but play with their heart out when their on their game. Glad you had a good game and they won to boot. Cheers from one Mets fan to another.

  • open the gates

    I get what you’re saying.

    I became a Met fan in the late ’70’s, which was probably the worst time for any kid to have ever glommed on to the Mets (including the present). My Yankee fan buddies, who were winning 3 WS in a row with Reggie, Piniella, Guidry, etc., could never understand why I would stay loyal to a perennial basement-dweller. “Of course you don’t understand,” I would say. “That’s why you’re not a Met fan.” “Exactly,” they would say, thinking they just won the argument.

    It’s not about the “bottom line” all the time. You focus on that too much, and it becomes a joyless pursuit of winning it all, every year, which can never happen,even with the Yankees. We Met fans know that we’re not getting any October baseball this year, so we get to not miss the forest for the trees and just enjoy each game on its own merits.

    Which isn’t to say that we wouldn’t be a lot happier if the Mets didn’t stink as badly as they do now. But there’s always another game tomorrow, and maybe Lagares makes another nifty play in the outfield, and maybe the young pitching gives us something to look forward to, and maybe we finally found us a closer in Mejia…And of course, when (if?) we finally get back to better baseball, and playoffs, it’s that much sweeter for the wait.

    In other words, Met fandom as usual…

    • metsfanKeith

      exactly open the gates, just enjoy each game for what it is this summer of this 2014 edition of the Mets. Who knows it’s funny we may reminisce fondly years from now about the “good ole days” of 2014 with dubious or even fond memories of current Mets such as Lagares, Mejia, Duda, or Colon. Sometimes it is best for us loyal longtime Mets fans to stop complaining and being so darn negative, baseball can get depressing and it is only May. In my opinion, it may be better to look at the bright side and have hope for the Mets organization. As you stated maybe the young pitching gives us something to look forward to for the future and our hitting will improve. What is also positive is we are hovering around the 500 mark which is respectable and the division still does not have any really dominant teams so that gives the Mets a chat least shoot for a wild card. Instead of the Mets culture being one of depressing hopeless complaining it can become one of looking forward to a up and coming team with some good pitching prospects, a promising superstar in Matt Harvey and potential to improve the overall hitting.

      • APV

        I always appreciate when the Mets win. Problem is they don’t do it enough and haven’t for a few years now. Put that on top of three straight years of having a heartbreaking loss to end the season and it’s easy to get ticked off. So much so in my case that I’ve only been in Citi Field four times and none since July 2010. Yeah, I miss the hell out of Shea and will forever but I want to embrace this park; can’t do it when the team and especially the organization are crap.

        There certainly is some stuff to be excited about in the future, but as long as we have this cloud that is the Wilpons owning the team, those exciting things can all be taken away (Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, etc.). And with the money being charged for tickets, that’s not good enough for me anymore. No, I don’t demand playoffs and championships every year like those fans across town do, but I damn sure demand the stuff that can put this team consistently over .500 (better bullpens, for one thing). And until that happens, I’m content to just watch on SNY or follow online. Oh, and the occasional road trip.

  • Matt

    This made me smile, thank you Greg. I was at the first game on Sunday as a belated birthday gift for my father. The 36 hours after Murph booted that ball at 2nd in the 9th were some of the lowest moments of my 24 years of fandom. As much as I would like to take a more hardline stance and swear off spending any more of my limited funds on a Wilpon/Katz enterprise, I know I am not strong enough to hold true to that. I think of our Mets fandom like a Stockholm Syndrome. We are held captive, loving something that often causes us more pain than joy. But that joy does come around, whether it be another leaping catch in center by Juan (whose shirsey you have just spurred me to purchase), or a major league rope to the gap by Murph, or a 5-0 victory over a mediocre Pirates team. We take what we can get and truly learn to appreciate the small victories, the games within the game which may not get us a pennant flying above Flushing Bay, but do plenty enough to get me out from my cave in New Jersey to 126th and Roosevelt whenever I can.

  • Lenny65

    I seriously believe this team is a few solid bats away from having a shot to contend. Young arms are always iffy but if this pitching staff continues to develop and Harvey (and Gee) come back strong it’s going to be one of the better ones in the NL. I can only hope that the organization is devoting all their resources to doing everything possible to address those needs as soon as possible because the time to capitalize on this abundance of pitching talent is now. I want to believe that this will be the organization’s primary goal and that as baseball people they realize this is a real opportunity to build upon and one that doesn’t come along all that often. But for some strange reason I feel the need to keep my expectations…tempered, let’s say.

    So come on, Mets front office, make me regret ever doubting you. But don’t take too long because that strategy never works. The ball is in your court…

  • […] I Got Your Positivity Right Here »    […]

  • SL

    A wonderful post. I’ll join you when I see the same, or similar passion anywhere in this organization.
    It’s funny, but my hope with TC was that he’d bring the fire from Anaheim to NY.
    When will I hear about him, or D Wright or anyone taking a bat to the water cooler in disgust at the mental errors, the seeming lack of caring.
    It’s been said, and what I remember, that what Seaver brought to the Mets was not his talent, but his refusal to lose, his refusal to tolerate, even in that awful first season he endured with the team, the losing attitude, much less the actual losses.
    I wonder if the team even understands that THAT is what made Matt Harvey so instantly popular?
    Hell, as someone who has been lucky enough to work in the sport, I’d love to see a story “leaked” about Alderson, or DiPodesta or anyone, knocking over a filing cabinet or something to letg me know THEY care even an iota as much as we do.

    • open the gates

      The other day, I saw a video clip of the normally beyond-stoic Jon Niese repeatedly slamming his baseball cap on the bench – after being removed from a game and given yet another no-decision after yet another stellar pitching performance. Believe it or not, I thought that was encouraging. I want these guys to get mad.