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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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Our Uniform and Theirs

Loyalty is strange.

Not in the sense of feeling it for men decades younger than me, men I think I know but don’t in any way that matters. Though that’s certainly strange too.

No, I was thinking about it in the context of how that loyalty gets transferred when those young men change — sometimes willingly and not — out of one set of faintly ridiculous pajamas and into a new set. They keep doing their jobs and behaving more or less as they did a little while ago, only now that loyalty has been transferred to new young men about whom I know a whole lot less.

I have a few hours invested in the likes of Kodai Senga, John Curtiss and Jeff Brigham. I gave many, many more hours of my life to cheering on Wilmer Flores, Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis. (We’ll leave poor star-crossed Darin Ruf out of this conversation.)

Flores literally grew up as a Met minor leaguer, learning English by watching “Friends” re-runs; maintained his dignity while being asked to play positions he had no business playing; wept when he learned from cellphone-wielding fans that he’d been traded; and then authored one of the signature moments of the last decade when he followed his walkoff homer against the Nats with a heartfelt pull at the METS across his chest.

I watched Conforto as a Cyclone down on Coney Island, then as a Met with my heart in my throat in the World Series because I remembered him being in single A just moments earlier. He was my favorite player for several years, the guy I kept predicting greatness for and whose cause I espoused with ardent fury when the Mets mishandled him. That greatness proved more theoretical than realized, derailed by bad luck and injuries, but I still needed a moment when I learned he was officially no longer ours.

Davis also never quite ignited as a Met, but provided seemingly endless moments of entertainment and surrealism — heckling opponents in his reedy, not-made-for-heckling voice, all but urging Met fans to storm the Bastille after a walkoff, and offering general merriment as Pete Alonso‘s sidekick, Sun Bear to the Polar Bear. (Though as Greg noted, Solar Bear was right there.) Even his nickname was the stuff of amused double takes — Jonathan Davis’s middle name is Gregory.

By comparison:

Senga comes from Japan, seems like a good dude, and throws that ghost fork.

Curtiss signed with us and spent a year waiting for his elbow to knit, during which there’s no way I could have picked him out of a police lineup.

Brigham was a Marlin and shares his name with a New England chain that’s kind of a JV Friendly’s.

And yet as the Mets and Giants battled it out, I was rooting for Senga, Curtiss and Brigham to succeed and — after initial, heartfelt applause — hoping Flores, Conforto and Davis would fail. On the face of it that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Such contradictions are easier ruminating upon when your team is comfortably ahead, which the Mets were … twice. They built both leads using a dynamic that it was nice to see them tap back into, spending their first rotation of ABs carefully studying a pitcher and then ambushing him in the second go-round.

Sean Manaea was the first victim, undone in the fourth by two-run homers from Alonso and Eduardo Escobar and a run-scoring double from Brandon Nimmo, hot enough that objects near him are suddenly aflame.

Senga repaid his teammates’ generosity by having one of those seemingly inexplicable innings that used to plague Al Leiter, where both principal and perplexed fans are left wondering why said principal has apparently forgotten how to pitch. Blake Sabol and LaMonte Wade Jr. homered, Mike Yastrzemski singled in a third run, and a Senga wild pitch brought home Conforto, sliding across the plate on his now cream-colored belly.

Some harm, no foul: After sizing up newcomer Tristan Beck for a bit the Mets blitzed him, running up a brand-new five-run advantage. At which point your chronicler, who is Officially Too Old for West Coast Trips, bid them and the land of the awake adieu and checking the score once rebooted with sleep and coffee. Turns out they won, with the guys I barely know in gray and orange and blue beating the guys I know well who now wear the wrong unis. And since I am mildly alert for the first morning in quite a while, feels like I won too.

5 comments to Our Uniform and Theirs

  • Seth

    Well, I know J.D. and Wilmer were traded, and I’m still not quite sure why we didn’t re-sign Conforto. But if our former favorites had performed more to their potential, perhaps they would still be Mets.

  • mikeski

    Our current starting rotation appears to be Peterson, Senga, and go play some Jenga.

    • Daniel Hall

      I had “Scherzer, Senga, and three days the bullpen conga”, but that was before Mad Max had a rosin bag stuck to his paw.

      I also wish Wilmer, Conforto, J.D., and – heck! – Ruf, all the best and that they hit 30 homers each … if possible, principally against the Dodgers though and/or once the Mets are outta town.

  • Pat

    Nicely turned, Jason. One of the things that makes me proud to be a Mets fan is that a former member of the team can usually count on a warm and friendly reception from the crowd when they return in an opponent’s uniform — especially guys like Wilmer who played their hearts out in their orange and blue days. We love to meet the old Mets, even if we also love to beat the old Mets.

  • Erez Schatz

    As Seinfeld aptly phrased it, at this stage, you are actually rooting for the clothes. (boo! wrong shirt!)