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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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Fans Plan, Manfred Laughs

Counterfactually, the Mets are in West Palm Beach today playing the Nationals. It’s not much of a counterfactual to the reality we live in to conclude the Mets would be busy training their spring away a little south of St. Lucie given that the Mets sent out a preliminary Spring Training schedule last August marking FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches as their planned whereabouts for March 2, 2022. The same preliminary schedule indicated the Mets were to have played every day since this past Saturday, meaning we would’ve seen them on television at least once; we might’ve heard them on radio; and we would’ve had a satisfying visual, aural and/or anecdotal glimpse of them taking on, for practice purposes, each of their Treasure Coast neighbors.

And we’d be growing sick of the whole thing after five games of the Grapefruit League slate because the Mets would have already been officially preparing for the 2022 season for about two weeks. Pitchers & Catchers & Third Basemen-Outfielders & everybody else would have reported; we’d have all praised their arrival to the highest heavens; and the practices prior to the practice games, too, would have lost their novelty after approximately five days.

Which doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have appreciated the whole Sunshine State spectacle despite its apparent pointlessness, for the point is baked in. By the second day of March — today — we would have had the routine of baseball hammered into us and therefore be set for the year ahead. The key to Spring Training is the repetition of Spring Training, in which weeks and weeks of mostly nothing have to happen in order to prepare us for six months that we collectively concur will be something. That’s what we’re in it for every Spring. We put up with Spring so we can be rewarded with summer and, if we’re lucky, fall.

Yeah, right.

Right now, we’re putting up with literal nothingness where Major League Baseball is concerned and we will be for the foreseeable future…though only if we feel ourselves putting up with it. Personally, I feel only a little put out by the news that The Lockout has clamped into institutionality. I would, like any baseball fan, prefer Spring Training to have magically appeared this February and March the way it magically appears every February and March, smoothing the path to Opening Day and the 161 games that, by natural law, are supposed to follow. Instead, The Lockout is the new routine. The owners of the thirty MLB clubs have locked out the players and decided to keep them locked out. Simultaneously, they are locking us out of our previously precious pointless routine and they’ve now confirmed they’ll lock us out of at least the first two series of our season.

Or their season. They view it as their ball. They’ve taken it and gone home. They don’t seem particularly upset about it. Rob Manfred couldn’t be bothered to suppress a grin in announcing the indefinite continuation of The Lockout. At least Bud Selig would have managed to look morose on the heels of frenzied negotiations that ultimately went nowhere. We can either stand around outside the proverbial gates of the Citi Fields of the mind and wonder wistfully when somebody will come along to open the ballpark for us, or we can think about something else. The Lockout makes you shrug. It is designed to make you shrug.

By instinct, I miss Spring Training. I will miss Opening Day for the same reason. I will miss the unfurling of the routine. Maybe the void the owners of the thirty MLB clubs and their hired commissioner have created will grow to a size that will envelop my emotions, and the lack of baseball will get to me and get to me bad. But it hasn’t really happened this time around. I guess I have other things to think about. I guess we all do. The so-called stewards of the sport don’t seem to care if we care, so why should we care? Even my instinct is shrugging.

I still love baseball, by instinct. Instinct carries us through March every March. Until this one. In the counterfactual universe of what we’ve come to routinely expect Spring Training to be, I’d be savoring our March maneuvers — Mets at Nationals today; Marlins at Mets tomorrow; then a weekend versus more Nationals and more Marlins — even as I was growing sick of them. That universe, however, presently sits light years from reality. The Lockout is what MLB has become in reality. MLB can keep its reality.

Call me when the gates reopen. I won’t be standing by.

6 comments to Fans Plan, Manfred Laughs

  • Bob

    Manfred is an asshole.
    Case closed.


  • ToBeDetermined

    Manfred seems to have clinched the #2 spot for “worst liar about the reasons for a conflict” this year. (I think #1 should be obvious, though I worry about other potential contenders making a late run…)

    I suppose we can be thankful that Manfred’s lies don’t carry the casualty numbers as Comrade Vlad’s.

  • Seth

    Counterfactually, I love what’s going on in MLB right now.

    I am seriously considering cancelling my subscription, which is my only lifeline out-of-market. If and when they settle this “thing,” I will decide at a time and place of my choosing whether I will resubscribe.

  • I’m hoping the smirk on Manfred’s face is indicative of a secret agreement between owners and players to play most of the regular season and only miss the first month or so. This would reduce player injury risk, omit April home games which are sparsely attended due to bad weather, kids in school, etc. As we all saw last year, and increasingly in recent years, the first half means not nearly as much as it used to, anyway. Yes, this is very cynical. What would be even more so is if the underworld has a profound neckhold on MLB, somehow positioning itself to come out ahead if there are fewer early games. We can hope that they made real progress toward a pact and they are waiting for the pre-agreed place, time, and environment to announce a certified labor deal. But, hope is not proof.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Today I cancelled my flights (across the pond) and hotel for Opening Series 2022 thus marking the 3rd straight season I’ve been prevented from attending. I am not yet over learning of the cancellation and the overwhelming sadness i felt. I now target the series in May in Colorado (a new ballpark for me) ….but i wont hold my breath

  • Brian H

    I canceled my package for…ever? and my Airbnb in Pt. S.L. for the week of 3/12-19, what a bummer. I’m thinking of a train trip in May from Portland Or. (home) to see the Chicago Dogs, the Tri-Valley River Cats and the L.I. Ducks in May, who’s with me?