The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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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To Be Determined, Determined To Be

It didn’t fully hit me what a void we’re staring into until early Friday morning when I went through my weekly ritual of checking the forthcoming C-Span2 (Book TV) and C-Span3 (American History TV) listings to record any programming I might find worthwhile, choosing among classroom lectures, author discussions, unearthed newsreels…yes, my weekends do rock. In making my taping decisions — no tape is involved, but old nomenclature dies hard — I asked myself if I’m really going to want to make time to watch this or that, and because it’s the middle of March, I reminded myself that Sunday afternoon wasn’t going to be a time to catch up on the C-Spans because there’ll be a game.

There’s always a game of some sort to watch on a weekend, of course, so specificity demands a clarification: the Mets and Nats, Sunday afternoon, one o’clock, Channel 11. Not a real game, but an exhibition game, as it used to be routinely called, Spring Training game as we call it now. Live from Port St. Lucie. I went through the mental machinations of what that would mean. Not a real game, so I’d probably sit down to take in the intro, be let down that Gary Apple or somebody who isn’t Gary Cohen was on the call, and decide to give it an inning. Or two. Or more. Because it’s mid-March in a year when Spring Training seemed to begin when confetti was still falling on Patrick Mahomes, I might not allow my cognizance to slip away as quickly as I did in late February. The names I knew coming into Spring were likely to stick around for an extra plate appearance or two. We wouldn’t be asked to accept as Mets young or young-ish men not slated to be Mets in 2020, not projected to be Mets in 2021, and maybe never to be Mets, until the sixth inning. Then would come the parade of Edgardo Fermin, Jake Hager and the fleetingly immortal Johneshwy Fargas into the lineup, along with relievers who aren’t the relievers whose bouts of hiccups worry us even when they don’t count. This would be the Ryley Gilliam pitching portion of the affair, with maybe a touch of Adonis Uceta to follow, give or take somebody being pinch-hit for by Jarrett Parker, who would remain in for defense.

This melange of mostly unfamiliar names and pleasingly proprietary colors wouldn’t mesh without cynicism, and as the game got later and I noticed I was still on the couch — eyes on something else, paying little attention to the Cohenless narration, yet with Channel 11 undeniably unchanged — I’d huff to myself that Spring Training has gone on too long. It’s a tic particular to the middle of March. The food is flavorless, the portions are too large, but I guess I’ll have another bite.

Then, of course, I remembered I was free to record and consume all the C-Span2 and C-Span3 programming I wanted this weekend, because there won’t be a game of any sort.


Welcome to lower-case March madness, of which we are all afflicted in one way or another. If it were only baseball that was going underground for an unspecified hiatus, especially if it were only the Mets, I’d be paranoid about the whole thing. But it’s the whole thing, and baseball and the Mets are collateral roadkill. Maybe we all are. Sunny thought.

No actual March Madness, let alone the conference tourneys that precede it, the latter likely my one-and-done chance to slip into alma mater mode on behalf of the USF Basketbulls. No Masters in the offing. No Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson giving me the Nets several times a week, or Brendan Burke and Butch Goring keeping me up with Islanders at least a little. No checking the lower rungs of the playoff picture for either of my winter affiliations. No stumbling upon XFL action and gazing curiously at Guardians and Defenders, whoever they are, for a few minutes.

No Spring Training baseball for the next week-and-a-half. No baseball at all after that.

No Mets.

Also, everything else out there that isn’t going to be out there and all the uncertainty that swirls about us and the danger inherent in something we never heard of a few months ago, and when we first heard of it, we did an aural double-take and wondered what they were saying about a Mexican beer making people in China sick.

The coronavirus disease is serious, serious business. It’s bigger than sports. Bigger than a sports void. Bigger than the chasm of voids every hour brings word of. But, now that the void is sinking in, no sports. And no Mets.

No Mets.

Opening Day was going to be a dozen days from now.


Wednesday night when I caught Adrian Wojnarowski’s tweet that the NBA was suspending its season (though who can remember what day was what this week?), I took a moment to absorb what that meant, and then turned from MSNBC to MSG. The Nets were off, but the Knicks were playing. I’m estranged from the Knicks most of the past couple of decades, but better Knicks than nothing, I figured. We’d be trying out nothing soon enough.

The Knicks were leading in the fourth quarter at Atlanta. Then, being the Knicks, they weren’t. We got overtime. Perhaps they could go into double-overtime so the sport wouldn’t go away and take every sport with it, then maybe quintuple-overtime, then phipple-overtime, provided no Knick or Hawk or ref or fan or anybody got sick, because, oh yeah, that’s the problem.

It was just one overtime. The Knicks wrangled the lead back from the Hawks in a match that would have no postseason implications within the context of the outdated assumption that there’d definitely be a postseason. At once, it dawned on the home team crowd and home team bench — Terry Collins was probably the last sports person to not know what Twitter is saying during a game — that if this was the provisional end of the NBA season, this was also likely the permanent end of the NBA career of Vince Carter.

Vince Carter’s been an NBA player for so long that I remember writing a Scope item about his new sports drink commercial. Scope was a section in the beverage magazine I edited what amounts to a million years ago. I think I wrote Carter projected as the new Michael Jordan, thus he’s an ideal spokesjock for the forthcoming new millennium.

Somehow Vince Carter is still playing fairly deep into the 21st century. He’s been Julio Franco without practically disappearing from view for a spell, Bartolo Colon without the air of exoticism. I rooted for Vince Carter when he was a New Jersey Net, which he hasn’t been since 2009. To be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention to him since. I don’t pay that much attention to the NBA when the Nets aren’t playing. I was surprised to see him in action versus Brooklyn earlier this season. “Vince Carter is still around?”

Now the Hawks fans were calling for Carter to come off the bench and get into the game. So was Twitter. So was I. This was no way to possibly end a career, but neither was sitting on the bench in overtime. Sure enough, his coach sent him in with about fifteen seconds left and his teammates fed him the ball. The Knicks, safely ahead, cleared out. Carter launched a three. It was good.

It was really good. From no more than vague awareness that there was a Knicks game on, to the need to tune in ASAP, to being immersed in the instant drama of what the 22-year veteran might do if given the briefest opportunity, I found myself raising my right arm and pumping my right fist and letting out a “YES!” because a so-called old guy got off one final shot.

That’s sports. That’s one of those chance encounters on a random Wednesday night. That’s what hooks us and keeps us coming back. That’s what we’ll miss over and over without realizing it.

And that’s before you factor in the Mets not being there.


As baseball fans, we ask each other how we think our team is gonna do this year. It doesn’t make much sense to ask too far in advance. It couldn’t have been too many weeks ago that I might have said, “Well, with Carlos Beltran managing and Steve Cohen preparing to assume ownership, I think we have every reason to look forward to starting the season on March 26.”

Permit me a chuckle at anyone’s fealty to ZiPS, PECOTA or Steamer as a roadmap to what will happen next. Project all you want. Life and baseball will do what it wants. Life just did. Baseball can’t do a darn thing about it other than suspend operations. Not even Opening Day turned out to be a sure thing. I had an inkling March 26 was a terrible idea for an event that feels innately wrong if it arrives before the first Monday in April in Cincinnati. It could snow in New York that day (though we don’t seem to get snow in New York that much anymore). It could rain, though I suppose it could rain any day of the year. It was probably going to be colder than it oughta be for baseball.

As for a worldwide pandemic, I didn’t see that in any long-range forecast, but there ya go.


You know the drill. “Pitchers and catchers.” Yay! “Position players report.” Yay! “First workout.”Yay! “First intrasquad game.” “First game.” “First televised game.” All the yays!

Then it gets tired and old, a little like those of us at the heart of baseball’s demographic. Port St. Lucie. Jupiter. West Palm Beach. Anywhere the Mets scare up a pretend game. They are datelines from nowhere after a very short while. The only news is non-news (Noah Syndergaard went shirtless today), unknowable news (will Eduardo Nuñez or Luis Guillorme grab the backup infield spot?) or bad news (Michael Conforto has tweaked his oblique). The losses don’t count and the wins don’t matter, though if the Mets lose too often, it’s discomfiting. Give it a few days and you have no idea what the Mets’ record is. I had to look it up: in the abbreviated Spring Training of 2020, the Mets won eight games and lost nine. It’s neither good nor bad. We were totally indifferent.

Still, I’d watch the televised games, even the ones without Gary Cohen. And I’d listen to the games broadcast on the radio, because I’d listen to Howie Rose gleefully kvetch about anything for three hours. The combined forces of SNY, WPIX and WCBS-AM could be bothered to transmit only so much meaningless baseball north this year, so after a while, I found myself resorting to out-of-town radiocasts on the At Bat app for midweek midday Metsian company. In other Springs I’ve found this an unsatisfying alternative because the announcers from elsewhere weren’t talking about the Mets in the least despite the Mets being half the teams in those games. In this Spring, I noticed Cardinal and Marlin broadcasts in particular were devoted mostly to repeatedly reading their club’s promotional schedules and reminding their target audience that it’s really gonna be a great time at Busch Stadium or Marlins Park this season, get your tickets now.

When I paid these third-tier broadcasts an iota of attention, I scoffed at the content and I scoffed at the delivery. I scoffed at the occasional realization that I had no idea what the score was on a given afternoon. But I kept every one of these games on until the end. Then I told myself that I wasn’t really that excited about the impending start of the season coming March 26 the way I used to be when the season started on, say, April 8 as the good lord and Ford Frick intended. No baseball fan likes winter, but this winter seemed artificially compressed. Too many managers. Too many owners. Too many distractions, some of it generated by the sport’s unique ability to tie its shoelaces together, some of it going on in baseball-free regions of my own head (they’re not sizable, but they’re there).

Yet March 26 was going to get here. Syndergaard’s shirt was going to be on. Conforto’s oblique was to be determined. The presence of Nuñez and/or Guillorme would be dependent on any number of factors, though probably none of them an upsurge in Jed Lowrie’s mobility. What of Cespedes? Matt Adams? Would Michael Wacha start or relieve? What would a 26-man roster look like as opposed to a 25-man? What would be the blowback from the three-batter rule if, worst-case scenario, Betances came on in the seventh and, with his velocity still down a notch, immediately gave up the precarious lead Jake left with after six? Could Luis Rojas handle his first flurry of postgame questions as ably as he accepted the pregame floral horseshoe from the Shea family?

Despite the calendar looking off, March 26 was going to be exactly right, because Opening Day is always exactly right. It’s right in March once it’s here. That it’s better in April should provide a touch of solace if we somehow get it in April. And if it takes until May or whenever, it will be welcomed with open arms.

Just don’t shake hands with it.


I will miss the major public health crisis in our world being the status of Michael Conforto’s oblique. I will miss getting in the car a little after six to pick my wife up at the train and putting on WCBS to hear their sad excuse for a pre-pregame show, but at least they mention the Mets frequently in the runup to 6:30. I will miss catching my wife up on Conforto’s condition or whatever Rojas reported on in his four o’clock briefing during our drive home. I will miss the instinctual turning on of the TV as soon as we walk in the door, straight to Channel 60 on our cable system. I will miss half-listening to Steve Gelbs’s further update on Conforto or Lowrie or whoever else isn’t yet off the IL. I will miss seven o’clock and the throw from the studio to the ballpark. I will miss discovering if both Keith and Ron or only one among them is joining Gary. I will miss the first thing that goes wrong in the first inning and the first snarky comment I commit to Twitter over it. I will miss maybe being proven premature in my snark once the game’s going better than it looked at the beginning. I will miss Rojas’s explanation of went right, despite never having heard him explain anything that counted yet.

I will miss what I do late at night or early the next morning or, if I’m distracted by non-baseball matters, early the next afternoon if it’s my turn to recap. I recently electronically thumbed through some of my 2019 game stories and couldn’t imagine ramping up to that level of engagement again by March 26 given how little I engaged with the games played through March 11, but I knew I would engage fully. Because that’s what we do when we root for and write about the Mets with all our heart.

Like Celine Dion, I believe that the heart does go on. Like those people on the Titanic, perhaps I have no notion of how much of a threat the iceberg on the horizon poses, but proceeding on the shaky assumption that we’re not all sunk, I plan to be here writing about the Mets in some form or fashion. Every winter I fully conceive and barely execute an array of historically themed articles and series. Then Opening Day comes earlier and earlier and I put them aside until next winter, and the winter after that.

We’ve got loads of winter now. Time enough at last, eh? Or so we hope.


Lest we transition into the void without a speck of 2020 game coverage, we were fortunate this past Wednesday to have on hand at Clover Park in St. Lucie friend of FAFIF, St. Lucie-area resident, professional fact-checker and literal man of faith Steve Jacobetz. Steve knew he’d be going to the game on March 11 and asked if he might write something for us. Neither he nor we projected it would be the last Mets game of any kind for the foreseeable future. His graciously provided perspective, filed Thursday afternoon, follows here.


Before I begin, I’d like to thank Greg Prince for this opportunity of being a guest correspondent here. Greg is a guy I’ve yet to meet in person, but I feel like somehow I’ve known him for most of my life because of the bond we share through Mets baseball.

These are extraordinary times. Last night, I saw someone I respect on Twitter write, “Sports, you really don’t matter much now.” I strongly disagree. First of all, anything “matters” if someone cares about it. Don’t let anyone tell you what should or should not matter to you at any given point in time. For instance, what mattered to me on the first Friday night after 9/11 happened was putting a tape in the VCR and watching the ball go through Bill Buckner’s legs. The following Friday night, what mattered to me and many others was Mike Piazza hitting a home run at Shea Stadium. Maybe the proper thing to do those days was to watch the news channel of your choice endlessly. Who’s to say? To each his own. No one should judge such things.

Secondly, life is short and not particularly fair. On the day I was born, a series of human errors were made concerning my delivery. As a result, I’ve lived 44+ years on this planet with cerebral palsy. My life hasn’t been all hot dogs and sodas and tubs of popcorn, so when I get a shot at those things, chances are I’ll take you up on the opportunity. This includes situations in which I may have a chance to be exposed to, contract, or spread, a deadly global pandemic. And yes, I am dealing with a [chronic] respiratory issue at the present time. I went anyway, and I’m glad I did. So were more than 6,000 other people happy they were there.

I’m not afraid of death. I believe the day I die is the day I’ll be healed. My eventual demise is a day I rather look forward to. Furthermore, I believe in a God who willingly subjected himself to crucifixion and death for my sake, and for the sake of all humanity, so that I might have the privilege of being healed in Heaven someday. Voluntary crucifixion is a lot worse than anything that may befall me in this life, including coronavirus. So pardon me if I don’t share in the general hysteria. When death comes, being in a ballpark would definitely be in my top ten choices of locations in my final days and hours. When the whole world seems to be going crazy around me, I think a ballgame is one of the better places to be. I have no regrets about being there.

By the way, personal religious views are not something I would normally share on a baseball blog, but like I said before, these are extraordinary times. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Now, on to the day’s events. I saw Jacob deGrom pitch yesterday in person. It wasn’t my first time doing so. I seem to be somewhat of a deGrom magnet. My last three times in a ballpark have all featured performances by him, and I don’t go that often. However, this was by far the most dominant outing of his I’ve seen. I’m sorry no one anywhere else in the world saw it due to no television coverage. How 100 years ago. Anyway, it was thing of beauty. Jake was in keeping with the pre-TV era feeling in terms of pace; four innings, fewer than 40 pitches, only a fourth inning homer by Matt Carpenter to mar perfection. A reporter wrote that he threw 15 pitches on the side afterwards just to get to his intended pitch count. That’s a great day.

A “great day” in St. Lucie, courtesy of correspondent Jacobetz (foreground).

Most of the other pitchers looked good too, including Dellin Betances; L.L. Slim J., a.k.a. Jeurys Familia; and Edwin Diaz. Ryder Ryan looked like Nolan Ryan when he came on in the eighth to strike out Harrison “Bader Tots” Bader. Joe Zanghi pitched last and got the final out. His name is Zanghi. He’s probably done everything last his whole life. He’s used to it.

Meanwhile, the offense hit Carlos Martinez hard, so much so that he had to suffer the indignity of being removed mid-inning in a Spring Training game. Robinson Cano was announced as the Wendy’s Double Stack Batter of the game, and he dutifully doubled in the third inning to win us all burgers. J.D. Davis immediately followed Cano with a home run. Jeff McNeil contributed two hits on the day, and the party was on. Now Robbie will forever more be affectionately known to me as Double Stack. (Who knew that Wendy’s would come up in a FAFIF post twice within a week?) We went immediately after the game to eat our prizes triumphantly. Final score: 7-3 Mets.

The “we” involved included my Cousin Mark, who came in from Arizona. Mark had this day planned for months in advance as part of his mom’s (my Aunt Lorraine) 80th birthday celebration this week. We weren’t turning back now. Lorraine came down from Long Island, along with my cousin Laura, and Laura’s boyfriend Joe, I hadn’t seen any of them in forever (or in Joe’s case, ever.) It was a great time. Let’s get together again soon.

7 comments to To Be Determined, Determined To Be

  • Bob

    Very heartfelt & moving..Thanks for that!

    Would be OK if this 68-year old just drop dead in CF during one of my Senior Baseball workouts..
    Or this would be OK too…
    Let’s Go Mets for ever & ever!

    Two ninety-one year old men, Moe and Sam, have been friends all their lives. It seems that Sam is dying of cancer, and Moe comes to visit him every day.

    “Sam,” says Moe, “You know how we have both loved baseball all our lives, and how we played minor league ball together for so many years. Sam, you have to do me one favor. When you get to Heaven, and I know you will go to Heaven, somehow you’ve got to let me know if there’s baseball in Heaven.”
    Sam looks up at Moe from his death bed, and says, “Moe, you’ve been my best friend many years. This favor, if it is at all possible, I’ll do for you.” And shortly after that, Sam passes on.

    It is midnight a couple of nights later. Moe is sound asleep when he is awakened by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calls out to him, “Moe…. Moe….”

    “Who is it?”! says Moe sitting up suddenly. “Who is it?”
    “Moe, it’s me, Sam.”
    “Come on. You’re not Sam. Sam just died.”
    “I’m telling you,” insists the voice. “It’s me, Sam!”
    “Sam? Is that you? Where are you?”
    “I’m in heaven,” says Sam, “and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got really good news…and a little bad news.”
    “So, tell me the good news first,” says Moe.
    “The good news,” says Sam “is that there is baseball in heaven. Better yet, all our old buddies who’ve gone before us are there. Better yet, we’re all young men again. Better yet, it’s always spring time and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play baseball all we want, and we never get tired!”
    “Really?” says Moe, “That is fantastic, wonderful, beyond my wildest dreams! But, what’s the bad
    “You’re pitching next Tuesday!”

  • open the gates

    Ah well – I guess I won’t have any spring training games to ease me through my quarantine. MLB is obviously doing the right thing here – nothing to talk about. The only contest that matters right now is World vs. Coronavirus.

    So I turned to YouTube and watched, in sequence, the 27 outs of Johan Santana’s no hitter, Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 home run, Dom Smith walking off last season, and Mookie hitting it through Buckner’s wickets. Baseball will be back, and we’ll have some more great moments. Meanwhile, let’s all stay safe and healthy.

  • eric1973

    Yes, everybody stay safe, but while we have some time, go on You Tube and listen to the radio broadcasts from the 70’s (especially 1973) of regular season games with the dulcet tones of Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy.

    You can even get the ‘Ball on the Wall’ game, in its entirety, and it is most interesting listening to Bob Murphey’s comments after they got back from the commercial.

  • Lenny65

    Just speaking strictly as a Mets fan, it’s tough, as I really have high hopes for this bunch. The 2019 Mets were a Mickey and a bullpen away from being something special and the season couldn’t have ended on a better non-playoff note. The fact that our sports leagues took these drastic measures tells you plenty, as we all know they never willingly leave dollars on the table like that. Stay safe FAFIF and fellow fans, happier recaps hopefully to follow.

  • Daniel Hall

    Hah. Bright sides. Conforto should be good to go when the season starts!

    Apart from that, nope, I got nothing. (slowly rocks back and forth, sulking)

  • Pat O’Hern

    This stinks! But during the never ending offseason- nothing better than enjoying Humbolt county’s finest and reading old F&F articles. Or better yet looking up games from ur childhood. 1975 8 years old in Liverpool NY . One of first to get cable tv which then was channel 5,9, 11 from NYC. Become Mets fan instantly. Bob McAllister on Sunday mornings was good too. Dad takes family to NYC for June trip and Mets Old time twilight 2 dots on the calendar in the yearbook monthly schedule 5:35 DH. My luck_First time in their 13 year history Mets were shut out in both games of DH. I Remember my dad busting on Ted Simmons and his “long girly” hair just before he blasted a grand slammer of Jon matlack in relief. Next time I was at Shea was the first home game after 81 strike to see them lose to the Phil’s but long Kong HR made my night and 2 wins the next 2 days. And Ellis Valentine throwing a bb from right field to nail Pete rose at 3rd base and tug McGraw on the wrong end for the phils. Even better than relying on wasted brain cells during this extended rain delay, I can go to my bookshelf and read “Amazin’ Again “ again. Written by some hack back during the days of bars and restaurants.

  • BlackCountryMet

    So, I couldn’t make Opening Day this season, my national soccer team were due to be in action the next day & I don’t miss a game they play.

    I’d scheduled a little trip for April 3-April 11. Indians@Tigers April 4 (new park) Rays@Indians April 5 (new park) our Mets@CheatSTROS 7&8 April (new park) and our Mets@Brewers 9/10/11 April (new park) Super excited, another 4 parks ticked off taking it 23 of the 30

    And then…this happened :-( and a scramble begins to reclaim what I paid.

    FAFIF Community, stay safe and healthy and I look forward to the day when comments commence about the MASTERY of Jake and the POWER of The Polar Bear and other great and positive things

    I do wish I paid more attention to those Spring Training Games now!