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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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No Big Deal

It will be a big deal when it happens. Of course it will be. I could tell that by they way my heart had lodged itself in my throat by the seventh.

But sometimes I wonder why a pitcher winning a complete game in which he happens to allow nobody to record a base hit is such a big deal.

Because it's a no-hitter, stupid. And we've never had one.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm as haunted by it as any of us. I'm on it after the first pitch of the game is a strike. My highway's jammed with broken pitchers on a last-chance hitless drive. I'm certain it would instantly become a thrill on the order of our two world championships if it ever happens.

But why?

Because it's a no-hitter, stupid. And we've never had one.

I understand that. I understand how we've become — on a smaller, less tragic, more trivial scale — identified with not throwing a no-hitter the way the Red Sox were identified with not winning a World Series or the Cubs are identified with not winning a pennant. I understand, too, the taunting irony of all our great pitchers not throwing no-hitters for us but throwing no-hitters somewhere else. I understand Nolan Ryan and all he symbolizes. I understand that it's a gaping void in our history and that it would ease our pain to fill it.

But why?

Because it's a no-hitter, stupid. And we've never had one.

The idea is to win games. Advancement in the standings is never awarded by what's in the second column at the end of the line score. It's all about the R, baby, the runs. Every game we've ever won has included at least one base hit by the other team. I didn't throw a single one of those wins back.

Disappointed at times? Sure. I was raised (or raised myself) on the tale of Jimmy Qualls. Shea Stadium. Every seat taken. Fans planting themselves in the aisles. But everybody's standing. Twenty-five Cubs up, twenty-five Cubs down. The whole world aligning as it should. The Mets are on their way. And Tom Seaver is about to throw not just a no-hitter, but a perfect game.

Then Jiminy Who'zits, playing only because Don Young couldn't handle two fly balls the day before (not that anyone minded that), dumps one in between Cleon and Tommie. No perfect game. No no-hitter.

Seaver was disappointed. Who wouldn't be? But at all of 24 years old, he figured it out. When he saw Nancy, her eyes red, swollen with tears, he asked, “what are you crying for? We won 4-0.”

Nancy perked up and smiled: “I guess a one-hit shutout is better than nothing.”

I read that exchange when I was eight years old in a book called — get this — The Perfect Game. Ghosted by Dick Schaap, it's the story of the most important game of Tom Terrific's young life…

Game 4 of the 1969 World Series.

That was Tom Seaver's perfect game. At least that's what he said in the book and why would Tom Seaver have lied to me when I was eight? The Astros, it was noted by the greatest broadcasters in baseball Tuesday night, have a passel of no-hitters to their credit (including that way cool gang-blank of the Yankees in 2003) but would likely trade in the whole lot of them for what the Mets have:

1969.

1973.

1986.

2000.

Given a choice, I guess I would take four pennants, two world championships and zero no-hitters over the Astro alternative. But why have to choose? Why can't we have it all just once?

I'm beginning to believe we have a real chance to inscribe 2005 above the right-field wall and that we won't ever get a no-hitter. On a scale of One to Qualls, Pedro's certainty factor was hovering between Chin-hui Tsao and Benny DiStefano. His breaking ball was so sharp. His command was so absolute. The Houstons were so overmatched. I did the Times crossword during the fifth and sixth (must find something to do so as to act as if nothing unusual is going on) and could feel his adrenaline coursing through my pen while 26 Across — stuffed headrests — became DOWNPILLOWS; 33 Across — stuffed appetizers — became MUSHROOMS; and 49 Across — stuffed polling receptacles — became BALLOTBOXES.

All the clues said 45 on the mound had great stuff.

When Chris Burke did what he did, the no-hitter became evitable and that, I suppose, was inevitable. Houston had a hit and a run. We had ten hits and two runs. Now it was the game I was worried about. Well, not that worried. We still had Pedro. They were still the Astros. But we hadn't gotten to four games over all year and the Nationals were winning and life's priorities were coming back into focus.

So when we added a run and Pedro yielded nothing else of substance and we came away with the victory, it had been a wonderful night. If my eyes were red or swollen with tears, it was just the antihistamine talking. Winning's what matters. The no-hitter can wait.

But why?

2 comments to No Big Deal

  • Anonymous

    If I'd known for sure you were actually watching, I wouldn't have gotten so excited. I would have known it wasn't gonna happen.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn't seem to matter where any of us is. But if it makes you feel any better, Pedro's next scheduled start coincides with my long-awaited return to Lincoln Center.