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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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The Molina Crunch

When the League Championship Series are over, there is a certainty that the more sporting among us will feel compelled to say something nice about at least one team we don’t care for. Whoever emerges between the Nationals and Cardinals we’re not naturally inclined to praise. Half of the ALCS already potentially looms as a guaranteed pitfall for the civility our society once claimed to cherish.

Obviously, go Astros, the good half of the junior circuit finals. Save for some hard feelings over Mike Scott and sandpaper, we have nothing against the Houston club. We hailed them two Octobers ago on their glorious quest and are happy to go to hail on their behalf again. (And thanks for J.D. Davis!)

As for the National League, the Cardinals are a tough sell around here in any decade, though I’ll confess that not having gone head-to-head versus St. Louis for a sizable bag of marbles since 2006 has left me autumnally vulnerable to their cause a couple of times. I didn’t mean to board their rally squirrel train in 2011, but kind of did as they dramatically blew up the Texas Rangers’ world championship plans at the last possible minute. When they were briefly in possession of Carlos Beltran’s excellence during the 2013 World Series, I could at least conceive a reason to root them all the way home (where they didn’t get). Otherwise, they haven’t been in the playoffs since 2015 and they haven’t been missed.

Yadier Molina, the major reason my relatively dormant mid-’80s disdain for all things Redbird reignited as it did on 10/19/06, has become a latter-day Chipper Jones in my view. I hated Chipper Jones in 1999 and continued to hate Chipper Jones well into the new century. Yet I could send Larry Wayne off into retirement with a cap-tipping booooooo in 2012; I stood, I clapped, I jeered. I may not rise to my feet for Molina whenever I know it’s his last tango in Flushing, but I no longer instinctively reach for a bat and imagine what I might to do him with it when his image flickers across the television. I don’t know if that’s progress or going soft.

I still despise what Molina did to the Mets, and could do without him doing any more of it, yet the fact that he’s still doing what he does to anybody, including the Braves in the NLDS, can’t help but earn a grudging admire from me. Yadi and Chipper basically morphed over time into the Malachi Brothers from the legendary Pinky Tuscadero arc of Happy Days. Sure, they were demolition derby villains, but the Count (a.k.a. Marvin) and Rocco were sportsmanlike enough to show up at the hospital to look in on Pinky after the Malachi Crunch inflicted injury on her. Even the Fonz gave them the thumbs-up. By the end of the two-parter, Garry Marshall ensured you could no longer truly hate the Malachis.

You’re welcome to hate Molina, just as I’m sure there are some who’ve never degrudged from Jones, but a career that’s gone on and on with no more than a couple of annual drive-by reminders of whatever became of Aaron Heilman seems a little less abhorrent every year. Time heals, a tad. Molina and Jones did their worst and then stuck around running up Hall of Fame credentials. Whatever we lost to Molina and his equally culpable batterymate Adam Wainwright we eventually found. Sure, 2006 remains a bitter end, but 2015 removed the lingering sting and turned it into history as opposed to something awful that I swore happened the week before.

My perception of these Malachi types differs from the likes of Chase Utley, who recently said something benignly complimentary about the passion of Mets fans (no sale). Utley never faded as an enemy for us because he wasn’t around that much longer beyond his crime, a misdeed that wasn’t simply about competing and succeeding, but a cheap, unpunished shot. Ditto for Roger Clemens, his selective control and his faulty object recognition. Utley and Clemens aren’t sitcom villains. They’re the crew Walter White schemes to blow up at the end of Breaking Bad.

As for the Nationals, I have the feeling that if they went under some other brand and emanated from some other division, they’d represent a decently accessible feelgood baseball story from afar. It’s been nine years since we’ve had to process the presence of a division rival in the NLCS. The last instance was 2010, when the Giants did us the tremendous solid of removing the Phillies from the postseason premises. The only NL East team to advance beyond the NLDS since then, until this very moment, was the 2015 Mets, which was wonderful. The Nats, on their fifth try, are carrying our sector’s banner into the deep end of October now. We’ve dedicated ourselves to sticking our tongues out at Washington through too much of the decade to reel it back in so quickly.

That said, I don’t really despise too many of their frontline stars. Other than wanting the Mets to beat him when they face him and Jacob deGrom to outpoll him when Cy Youngs are distributed, I can’t help but like Max Scherzer. Ryan Zimmerman is essentially David Wright repackaged for the Mid-Atlantic market. Anthony Rendon is breathtaking. Juan Soto is mind-boggling. I’m not crazy about Strasburg, mostly as residue from chanting HARVEY’S BETTER, but I have to hand it to him for hanging in there as he has. Sean Doolittle seems like a righteous dude. Asdrubal is Asdrubal, albeit in the wrong uniform. Adam Eaton I’ll detest for Todd Frazier’s sake, but he’s Adam Eaton.

Most of our active animus for the Nationals stems from 2015, when they were our perfect foil, and the aftermath, when they swiped our NLCS MVP and recast him as Stan Musial. Daniel Murphy is safely disappeared from DC, and with him the sense that the Nationals exist as a specific plot against our happiness. They’ve also persevered minus the resting Bryce face of their franchise, which is delicious. Harper went to the Phillies. The Phillies went nowhere.

I was predisposed to get behind the Nationals the first time they entered October, in 2012. Davey Johnson was their manager and their Expo roots hadn’t totally withered from contemporary memory. Whatever made them a modestly empathetic story early in their relocation has gone the way of Chad Cordero and Nick Johnson. Too much water has flowed under the Francis Scott Key Bridge to kindle even fleeting postseason simpatico. The Nationals are the Phillies are the Braves, indistinguishable within the big ball of ongoing distaste we call divisional rivalry. (Marlins, too, should they ever choose to involve themselves in a playoff race.) Plus — and this is a big one — my Mets-loving friend Jeff who lives down there hates them with the fire of a thousand Utleys. It’s bad enough he couldn’t dance on the Nats’ NLDS grave a fifth time. I’d hate to think of him choosing sides within a Nationals-Yankees World Series if it comes to that.

I’d hate to think of an anybody-Yankees World Series. Like I said, go Astros.

14 comments to The Molina Crunch

  • Inside Pitcher

    Nationals fans have been horrible from Day One – I can never bring myself to root for them.

  • chuck

    Viva L’Enfantes!

    And in honor of Jim Bouton, “It makes a fella proud to be an Astro.”

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Could you imagine if the Astros were still in the NL? Sheesh.

  • Seth

    The reason I can’t hate Molina and Wainwright after all this time is because of their future careers. Let’s face it, we were beaten by the best. Scioscia hurts a lot more. :-)

    Can’t root for a division rival, ever.

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    The Malachi Brothers!

  • Daniel Hall

    The prospect of a Yankees-Gnats or Yankees-Birds series fills me with unspeakable horror. By my count I scrambled enough time and effort together to watch 10 of the 18 LDS games. The Yankees were not among those 10. Grrr, Yankees!!

    Can’t muster much resentment for Chipper Jones, since he was on his very last leg when I started watching (though the first Mets game I ever saw live on was them losing to the Barves in Atlanta – the D.J. Carrasco Game, to make it disturbingly brief), but Molina …! Grrrr, Molina!! That face! That attitude! Grrrr!! *effortlessly tears phone book in half*

    Between the Gnats and Birds I only hope for everybody to play as badly as possible to give the TBS guys more chance for exasperation as in Game 5 in Atlanta.

  • I never could hate Wainright or for that matter Beltran. The curve he threw that postseason was unhittable. However, rooting for the cardinals seems wrong, and unlike my trips to Philly, I’ve enjoyed my time rooting for the Mets in D.C. I can easily root for either of these teams against the Yankees though.

    If the Astros make it (please!), I dunno. I might be inclined to root Gnats. Sans Murphy and Harper – I don’t have any real vitriol.

  • MikeS

    Who to root for reminds me of 2009 Yankees-Phillies. Of course I hate both teams but I live in north jersey. If the Yankees win I’d have to deal with a lot of obnoxious, annoying yankee fans. Some of whom are my best friends and family. Not many Phillies fan up north. So I begrudgingly, unenthusiastically rooted for the Phillies so I wouldn’t have to hear all that yankee crap. As for Chipper, a great player’s a great player and he did name his kid Shea.

  • chuck

    With apologies for belaboring the point, I’m long over Molina and Wainwright and Chipper and Scocsia. I’m even over the guy who hit the home run off Familia in the 2016 Wild Card Game.

    I will never get over Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf.

    • Joeybaguhdonuts

      I just looked up Selig and Rosenstein to get the reference by chuck and read an excerpt of Selig’s autobio (WTF) where he discusses the Internet company MLB created.

      “When I was no longer the commissioner, MLB would sell controlling interest in it to Disney for about $2.6 billion. Pretty good return for an investment of $4 million per team, if you ask me.“

      Hey now. Where did that money go?

      • chuck


        I was actually referring to the 1994-1995 strike, and to a lesser extent, the barely averted 2002 strike. Reinsdorf attempted to use the antitrust exemption to break the MLBPA, and after the owners fired Fay Vincent for standing up to them, Selig became their stooge.

        And just to show you how old I am, I cop to not being over Chris Chambliss.

  • Bob

    My rule is ABS!
    Anybody but skanks!
    Go Colt 45s!

  • Lenny65

    I’d happily root for Stalin’s Soviet Barnstormers if they were playing “them”. Anyone but “them”. This is a universal truth and it always applies. I grew up hating the Y*****s with a passion and after the 2000 World Series I vowed never under any circumstances to ever talk to a Y*****s fan about baseball again. I have stuck to that vow too and the only way it ever becomes undone is if the Mets win the World Series in that goofy Bronx bandbox they call home. Shea was forever soiled on that dark day and until that’s atoned for there will be no forgiveness here. If you happen to be too young to really remember the 2000 WS I envy you. It was a darkness I hope I never experience again.

    • Seth

      You may hate the Yankees more than the Royals, but 2015 was equally dark. Now both Citi and Shea have hosted opposing teams’ World Series victories. It isn’t pretty.