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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Ninth Wonders

Scioscia … Gibson … Pendleton … Jordan … I certainly hope we've

salted the earth with enough bad retro karma to keep evil spirits at

bay for the balance of 2005. I took virtually the same tack as you

regarding the '88 World Series, peeking in only very occasionally (a

plan I found myself employing eleven years later under similarly

sickening circumstances). I'm guessing a lot of Mets fans were absent

from NBC's audience that week.

My whole life October meant watching the World Series whether we were

in it or not, but after the NLCS collapse, I just couldn't. The

immortal Fred Bunz and I treated Game 1 as just another Saturday night

of aimless late-'80s cruising the highways and byways of Long Island. I

couldn't help myself, though, from flipping the car radio from Johnny

Hates Jazz to Jack Buck's broadcast from Los Angeles for the ninth.

When Eckersley walked Mike Davis, I felt the same kind of “uh-oh,”

albeit a far more benign version, that I had when John Shelby's

fricking bases on balls quietly harbingered doom a week prior. And sure

enough, Gibson won Game 1, a moment that was pretty dramatic but

dramatically overrated in all those Greatest Moments surveys. It was

the first game, not, say, the sixth game with his team about to be

eliminated with two out in the tenth and down by two. Plus, I'm still

sore that hothead won the MVP over Strawberry.

When ninth-inning do-or-die situations arise this season, I hope Braden

Looper is up for them. He was the most dependable Met all of last year

and yet I still don't quite trust him ­ — maybe he was waiting for this

year to start blowing games in earnest because he knew doing so last

year would be a waste of time, what with nobody watching. I read his

save percentage in 2004 was 85%, which pales in comparison to his

predecessor's rate. That was thrown around by Armando apologists when

we handed him to the Yankees in July 2003 in exchange for a tube of

eyeblack and Jason Anderson.

Remember that whole delightful midsummer purge and all the “prospects”

it wrought? Have you noticed that except for Victor Diaz, none of those

guys have made the slightest impression or figured into anybody's

pretend rosters? Not that dumping Benitez, Alomar, Sanchez, Lloyd and

Burnitz wasn't worth it for the cheap composite thrill alone, but the

eventual return on those trades probably tells us bulk veteran dross

doesn't magically transform itself into future gold.

Diaz I'm looking forward to when the exhibitions start. A couple homers and it could start a Huskey-type tease and they'll have

to take him north. Maybe then he starts in right if Cameron isn't

healed or doesn't make peace with Willie's ways. Anything to get him on

the team is fine. Once he's here, he's going to play, right or

left (eerie that Bill Iannicello's plea to buy New Mets tickets arrived

in the mail Saturday and didn't mention Cammy or Floyd; for that

matter, Tom Glavine was demoted from star attraction to “control

specialist”). One more young guy to join Reyes and Wright and Pope

Carlos I would make me believe this is a team on a true upward

trajectory, not just the same lousy Mets plus a couple of better

players.

Yes, yes, I'm a touch overinfluenced by what he did against the Cubs

last September. Don't believe what you see from a rookie in the final

month — unless it suits your worldview. With one two-out, ninth-inning

swing, this Diaz kid rescued his team from certain defeat, shut up

Chicago's vast traveling party (which comprised half of Shea that

afternoon, ugh, ugh, ugh) and derailed a pennant contender's hopes.

After failing miserably against everybody with an agenda the previous

September, the Mets actually did what fourth-place teams are supposed

to do when they face their betters. To the spoilers belonged the Victor.

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