Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who We Are

I've never met Greg Prince, though, after reading his new book, Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, I kind of feel like he's someone I've known for years.

The book, written with the same grace and eloquence as his blog, certainly justifies its title; it's a glimpse into the life of a man who has lived and died by the Mets, through moments of joy and pride, moments desperate and harrowing, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and beyond.

Any Mets fan can't help but feel some kind of relation to Greg as they read this book. It's this particular attention to detail, the ability to remember the highest highs with the same clarity as the depths of despair, that the beauty of this book lies.

As I read the book, I couldn't help but feel that Greg and I are very similar as people. We come from fairly similar backgrounds, discovered the Mets at basically the same age (his true fascination coming just at the right time, mine beginning a tantalizing year too late) and even had parents who seemed happy to indulge our interest in the Mets despite not fully sharing it themselves. And we seem to remember everything when it comes to the Mets. I would venture the guess that if you put the two of us in a room together, we'd probably have a 3-hour discussion...about the 1999 Mets.

But this isn't what the book is about. Though Greg's knowledge of the history of the Mets is indisputably vast, the book is written for any fan and every fan of the Mets. It's not simply about history or knowledge, the book offers some insight into what it is to be a fan of the Mets. Though, of course, not every Met fan immerses himself with the same voracity that Greg does, we can all relate to his experiences. We've all had that one great moment, as fans, where we saw something or watched something that will stick with us forever. For the Mets fan, it's never about saying, "We're better than you," or "When was the last time your team did..." Mets history is steeped in words like "Believe" and "Miracle." Words that inspire thoughts of the little guy who rose up and did something great. Not all the time. In fact, sometimes, it's been downright humiliating. But for those moments, we continue to root, we continue to believe, and we keep coming back. Certainly, we have our rivals. Greg wholeheartedly admits a dislike for all things Yankee or Brave. We believe in things like superstitions and karma. I used to follow the same route every time I went into Shea Stadium, buy my program from the same vendor, take the same escalators, etc. Greg, in 1999, lashed out against the Braves while watching this game, and then felt the need to praise them for karma's sake. But these things, too, are all a part of being a Mets fan.

More than anything else, however, Greg is a Mets fan with the gift of eloquence. Memories of the Mets are interwoven with personal anecdotes as smooth as Kevin Elster used to look out at SS. Certainly, the book isn't flawless. But I feel that many of the problems are merely matters of opinion, my own opinion of historical moments, certainly not problems with the writing. Greg does a fine job of telling us his life story as a Mets fan without being too schmaltzy, without being too forceful and with great care for his own personal life. Basically, you should read this book, if you're a Mets fan at all. It's one thing to read about Mets history. It's readily available in many different forms. Greg gives it to you from a fan's perspective, good or bad. It's truly a worthy addition to any Met fan's Library.

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