Flushing Transit Authority Episode 2: Opening Day

Will and Jay share opening day stories, predictions and worries for the 2017 season, and out themselves as Grander-stans. Nina Bargiel joins for a discussion of the Jeurys Familia domestic violence suspension.

When @willstegemann​ and I decided to do this podcast, one of the first goals we set was to have the episodes be on the short side. So, naturally, episode 2 is a hour long.

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Have you heard The One Where Wilmer Flores Learns English by Watching “Friends”?

The story begins in Savannah, Georgia, where a teenage Wilmer Flores, playing minor-league ball for the Mets, found comfort in tracking the lives of a bunch of 20-somethings living in Manhattan. That he had nothing in common with the people on the screen meant little to Flores, who was fighting homesickness after leaving his native Venezuela.

Years later, Flores still feels a connection to the show. During Sunday’s nationally televised game, he debuted new walk-up music: “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts, the theme song to “Friends.”

“It’s one of my favorite shows,” said Flores, who, like many, became a fan of Rachel Green, portrayed by Jennifer Aniston. “I watch it every day before I go to sleep. It’s on Netflix. It’s on Nick at Nite every night.”

Flores, 25, has seen all 236 episodes, so his homage Sunday was no surprise. It’s the show that wound up becoming his gateway into learning a whole new culture.

Wilmer Flores debuts new walk-up music: “Friends” theme song | Newsday

I swear, sometimes I think Tumblr invented Wilmer Flores

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It was late Friday night, Sept. 21, 2001, and Shea Stadium had already established itself as the scene of a community revival. People say that sports cannot heal or unite in a time of tragedy, that they can only serve as a temporary sanctuary from the grief and pain. But if you were among the 41,235 fans in the building for the first major sporting event played in New York after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, you understood this was not just a baseball game providing a distraction for a heartbroken city.

The night Mike Piazza became a Hall of Famer

I was one of those 41,235 at this game. It was one of the most amazing, emotional nights of my life.

A couple of years ago, I got to meet him very briefly at a book signing. I told him that I was downtown on 9/11, and that I was also at this game, and I thanked him for it. And he shook my hand and thanked ME.

He’s still the greatest baseball player I’ve ever had the fortune to personally see play, and I dearly hope he gets the call from the Hall of Fame today.