What I’m Reading: Faith and Fear in Flushing
In my last post I mentioned “cabin fever” getting the best of me. Trying to write about the Mets during a winter of inaction led me to do some reading.
For the past few weeks I’ve been re-reading favorites from my own shelf and borrowing books from the library. What I’m reading this weekend is a book I’ve been meaning to read for two years, and never got around to it, until now: Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, by Greg Prince.
Prince’s blog partner Jason Fry wrote the Foreward, and in it, describes one of Greg’s extraordinary traits:
“… one of them is his memory. The man remembers everything. … It’s jaw-dropping the first time he does it (and pretty amazing the hundredth), but Greg doesn’t do it to show off. It’s a rare gift, but not one of which he’s particularly exhibitionistic — if anything, he’s a bit shy about it. (Nobody likes being a parlor trick, even if it’s for a friendly audience.) That level of recall is just something he’s always had, and it took him a while to realize that other people didn’t have it too.”
It happens that I’m one of those “other people”; one of the reasons I blog (and write down nearly everything I need to remember) is because my memory is horrific. My wife finds it amusing that I can watch a TV show repeat without recalling anything from the first time I saw it two weeks prior. So the vivid detail in which Greg Prince describes games and events going back to the 1970s, I’m fascinated — and grateful, since through Greg’s memory I can re-live the good times (and the bad).
But Greg Prince’s recall isn’t the only thing that makes Faith and Fear in Flushing worth reading; there’s the writing, of course! The tagline for the Faith and Fear blog is “for Mets fans who like to read”. I’m a Mets fan who likes to read, and it turns out, I like to read Greg and Jason’s blog. As it turns out, I also am liking the reading of Greg’s book.
Though, it could be argued that a Faith and Fear blog post and a book are similar when it comes to length. OK, just kidding. The truth is, the book — like the blog — reads more swiftly than one might expect. Sometimes I look at a Faith and Fear blog post from a distance and think, “oh man, there must be ten paragraphs; I don’t have time to read all that” — five minutes later I’ve plowed through it and scrolling down to start reading the previous one. That’s kind of how me reading the book went. I started it on Sunday morning, and zipped through the first 220 pages (of 304) by the early evening. Mind you, it usually takes me about four months to finish a book from cover to cover.
Greg’s flashbacks to the days of Rusty Staub (his first go-around) to Ron Hodgers to Doug Flynn to George Foster to Rusty Staub (his second go-around) to Dwight and Darryl to Mike Piazza were the first elements that sucked me in. Then, it was the author’s self-deprecating humor and openness about the pain and awkwardness that comes with being a Mets fan through the years that kept me turning the pages.
If you became a Mets fan anytime after 1984, you might not feel the same way about the book, nor identify with Greg, in the same ways as I. But you can catch up with us during the pain of the post-1986 club, and/or the post-2000 team. Because to be a Mets fan is to endure troublesome times, usually amidst the constant shadow of that other New York baseball team. Why we love this team is beyond logic, and it connects us as fans. Or as Greg puts succinctly in the final chapter:
“I love the Mets because I love the Mets. Call it circular reasoning whose perimeter permits no logic to permeate. I love the Mets because I love the Mets even though there is, at certain times, almost nothing on the surface about the Mets that I can stand. … I picked them up at six and stayed with them. … I was little. They were local. It was 1969. From there, it was easy. I was a Mets fan then, I’m a Mets fan now.”