A while back, I read a comment about Faith and Fear in Flushing (the mildly insane Mets blog I co-write with my friend Greg Prince) that’s stuck with me. The commenter wrote that we got too caught in the narrative.
In part it’s stuck with me because I’m too thin-skinned, despite years of trying to get over it. But there’s another reason, one I think contains a more valuable lesson.
Greg and I call Faith and Fear “the blog for Mets fans who like to read.” A couple of things have kept us writing it for eight years, during generally less-than-stellar years for the Mets.
One of the blog’s engines is that for for us no game, player or season stands alone — they all have echoes back through Mets history, bringing to mind players who have been traded or retired, similar games or crossroads for the franchise. Yesterday Greg noted that Zack Wheeler is the first Met born in the ’90s, and ran down who the other first-of-a-decade players were. I noted that Wheeler looks like a young, slim version of Dennis Cook, a half-deaf, thoroughly irascible Met middle reliever who retired 11 years ago. We dream that Wheeler will be Jerry Koosman to Matt Harvey’s Tom Seaver, or Ron Darling to his Dwight Gooden, while fearing he’ll be Jason Isringhausen to Harvey’s Paul Wilson.
The blog’s other engine? Faith and Fear is written for the guy or girl who immediately groans when events are planned for 7:10 pm on weeknights or 1:10 pm on weekends. We’re the ones who listen to the AM radio signal when you can only hear every third word amid the static, the ones who are sneaking an earbud in the back of the wedding chapel. And our readers are the same way. The Mets are part of our daily lives, and the blog reflects that experience.
In other words, narrative is what we love and narrative is what we do.
That’s far from the only way to write about baseball — lyrical writing about a team’s day-to-day and year-to-year story is what grabs me, but I also enjoy stat-based breakdowns of games, visual examinations of pitches and hitters’ swings, and even the occasional gamer. And I accept that some folks’ priorities and interests are different.
The criticism that we’re too caught in the narrative basically amounts to “that site’s not for me.” Which is fine.
It’s also of no use to me.
Every bit of criticism that rises above tossed-off venom is worth examining and considering — it means something you created didn’t connect with a reader. But that broken connection doesn’t necessarily mean you have something to fix. Some readers won’t value what fascinates you or like what you do — because they’re a different audience. You should respect that audience, but it’s OK to accept that you’re not going to satisfy it and your job isn’t to serve it.
Do what you do. Because there’s an audience for that too.
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The Mets, somehow, have beaten the Yankees three straight, winning this year’s Subway Series and reminding their fans that sometimes the little black clouds hover over the other guys.
Notes from an odd night spend wandering around a ballpark.