Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bears On Books: The Happiest Recap, Vol. 1

We're bears, and we're on books.  Get it?

Hi, everyone!  We're Joey and Iggy Beartran, and we'd like to welcome you to the premiere edition of Bears On Books.  Today, we'll be giving you our review of the first volume of "The Happiest Recap" by Greg Prince.  (Or to be exact, it's a review of "The Happiest Recap: 50 Years of the New York Mets As Told in 500 Amazin' Wins, Volume 1 - First Base: 1962-1973".  But we like the abridged title because we're more into the brevity thing.)

The Happiest Recap began as a series on Faith and Fear In Flushing in 2011.  The series recapped the best Game 1s, Game 2s, Game 3s, etc. in Mets history.  For the book version of "The Happiest Recap", Mr. Prince employed a double switch and inserted the best games in Mets history, regardless of which game it was on the schedule.  (Don't worry.  The Tim Harkness game was not double switched out of the book.  If you don't know what we're referring to, just ask Harkness or Jim Hickman or Mike Jorgensen or Tim Teufel or Kevin McReynolds or Jordany Valdespin.  We're sure they'll be glad to clarify things for you.)

In the first book of the four-volume series, Mr. Prince tackled 127 games from the team's first dozen seasons that resulted in happy recaps.  In other words, the team went a perfect 127-0 in those games.  From the team's seminal days in the Polo Grounds (#SLAMWATCH  #TimHarkness) to the advent of the state-of-the-art facility known as Shea Stadium to Look Who's No. 1 to Ya Gotta Believe (and the resignation of vice president Spiro Agnew), Mr. Prince has all the bases covered.

As always, Mr. Prince paints a colorful picture using the pages of his book as the canvas.  His mutual mastery of the English language and the language of the Mets is evident throughout the book.  And his frequent clever wordplay will bring a smile to your face faster than you can say "bring on Rod Stupid!" (For more on that, feel free to flip to Game No. 82 in the book.)

Do you need an example of Mr. Prince's clever wordplay?  You know you do.  And here it is, courtesy of Game No. 83 and Tommie Agee's glove (also known as the third game of the 1969 World Series).

"Tommie Agee made one of the most incredible catches in World Series history.  Then, just as remarkably, he maintained its integrity by gripping the ball in his glove's webbing.  From the Upper Deck, it looked like the most delightful scoop of vanilla a counterman ever served up at a Baskin-Robbins.  Tommie Agee kept 56,335 who screamed for the Mets in very good humor."

Thanks to Tommie Agee's catch and Greg Prince's words, I'm now in the mood for Baskin-Robbins.

Mr. Prince has an incredible mind for all things Mets and he doesn't mind sharing that Metsian knowledge with all of his readers.  Fans young and old will enjoy reading about teams that were far worse than the Mets teams we've gotten used to seeing over the past four seasons.  Those early-to-mid '60s teams might have had poor records (and by poor, we mean they stink, stank, stunk - they stunk worse than Moises Alou's hands after he toughened them), but they were lovable.

And most important, they were ours.

Mr. Prince reminds us that winning wasn't everything for those early Mets teams.  But fortunately, they had just enough happy recaps in those first few seasons or else his first volume would have been nothing more than a pamphlet.

Sure, the Mets might go through some rough patches every now and then.  Sometimes every now and then lasts for nearly a decade.  But with writers like Mr. Prince finding memorable moments in otherwise dismal seasons, aren't you glad you've kept your fandom despite all the hiccups our team has gone through over their 50-plus years of existence?

If you haven't purchased the first volume of "The Happiest Recap", please take a trip to your nearest bookstore or just click here if you're afraid to go outside for fear of missing an inning or two of Matt Harvey's latest phenomenal outing.  Where else will you get recaps of 127 thrilling victories and short Mets history lessons on players who shoulda, woulda, coulda been stars, but instead ending up being Les Rohr and Dick Rusteck?

Karl Ehrhardt - the Mets' original Sign Man - held up a sign that said "THERE ARE NO WORDS" when the Mets wrapped up their first World Series championship in 1969.  Fortunately for us, there are plenty of words in Greg Prince's latest book, and those words show his unabashed love and passion for the New York Mets.  After you read "The Happiest Recap", we're sure you'll have plenty of loving and passionate words to describe his book as well.

We're Joey and Iggy Beartran and we give volume 1 of "The Happiest Recap" two paws up.  Way up.  Like Tommie Agee's home run in the Upper Deck of Shea Stadium up.  And yes, you can read about that shot in Game No. 57 in the book.  After all, the Mets won that game...

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