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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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The Towel, Thrown In

Time to start thinking about 2006.

This team ain't catching the Nationals, no matter what the Nats' run differential says their record should be. This team ain't closing 5.5 games worth of ground on the Braves either. I know, you could argue we haven't had a run, one of those where you win 14 of 17 and get some momentum going. But there's no law of baseball that every team gets one of those. Bad teams don't, and neither do plenty of .500 teams. And we're not going to get one either. Those October '05 plans you were holding off making? Get on the phone. You'll be free.

This isn't to say I'm down on the 2005 edition of the New York Mets. Not at all, in fact. We added a superstar center fielder, signing him to a rare long-term deal that makes sense, and will start reaping the dividends offensively once he settles in to his new, extraordinarily demanding city. We have a pair of 22-year-old infielders well worth building on, particularly now that/once they're hitting in the proper slots in the batting order. We've got two outfielders and an ace starter who may give us solid '06 seasons, and if not have already served as veteran leadership to help the next generation through its apprenticeship. We've got some promising young arms maturing at the big-league level or close to it, and can expect a least a couple of arms further down in the system to prove useful. We've got a manager who may move a little slowly for our tastes, but is a firm, respected hand in the clubhouse and a good teacher. We've got a pitching coach who may not always live up to his off-the-cuff boasts, but already has a string of successful or near-successful reclamation projects on his resume. We've got an ownership that's willing to spend and a new stadium and TV network on the way.

So 2006 looks good, and there's no reason the rest of 2005 shouldn't be fun and encouraging. In fact, I think it'll be more fun and more encouraging if we let go, if we accept. This club just has too far to go to play postseason baseball this year: Too many old players aging too fast, too many young players who won't be ready in time, too many declining or dead roster spots that can't be cleared in the next couple of weeks. It's not going to happen, and that's OK.

Since it's not going to happen, here's hoping Omar and Willie and the Wilpons do the smart things in the next few weeks. From my admittedly flawed, fannish perspective, here's my list:


* It no longer matters that Ishii and Glavine are dragging down the starting rotation, so keep them in there with hopes of moving them at the deadline.

* Listen to any takers for Zambrano. He's certainly earned the chance to stay, but might be worth more in a trade.

* Figure out whether Seo, Heilman or both deserve starts in August and September, and make sure they get them.

* Move Looper and/or Roberto Hernandez if the right deal comes along.

* Solidify roles for Ring, Bell and Heilman (if he remains a reliever) so we know what we have.

* Continue the Danny Graves experiment, but cut the Dae-Sung Koo one short.


* Listen to any offers for Piazza, Floyd or Cameron. Don't trade Floyd and/or Cameron for the sake of trading them, but they may have more value now than they ever will again.

* Get rid of Matsui by the time pitchers and catchers report again. He's not a dog, but he needs a new start. We may never find out if he was hurt, couldn't change positions, couldn't adjust to natural grass, hated New York, or exactly what went wrong, but it doesn't matter anymore.

* Determine, as best one ever can, the right long-term place in the batting order for Reyes, Wright and Beltran and let them get 200+ at-bats there.

* Figure out which veterans can really be teachers in part-time roles, and give the other spots over to minor-leaguers who could use a taste of the Show.

Post-Script: Funny, but my reaction to the Nationals last night was the opposite of yours. I'm actually coming to like them. Sure, Jose Guillen seems like a jerk, but other than him it's hard not to root for them. They're a bunch of kids and journeymen you've barely heard of or forgot were still around, and yet they win one-run games and somehow do everything right, and they're unbeatable. In fact, I daresay they remind me a bit of the story of a hangdog squad that made good the year of the moon landing.

Hell, I hope we go 11-0 against them the rest of the way, but I wouldn't mind rooting for them come October. (I don't think they'll make it, but that's another post.) It's a great story for that franchise and for Washington, and I'm happy for both of them. And nope, even though you've chronicled our struggles and our frustrations with the Expos quite ably, I don't mind that tri-color M in their history. What I hated about the Expos was the turf and the dead air in the stadium and the weird mirror glass behind home plate and the air horns going BRAAAP! BRAAAP! all the time and Youppi and the acres of empty, jaundice-colored seats and the random road trips to Puerto Rico. All that's gone, and in my mind the Expos and their essential Exponess went with it. This is a new team, and I bear them no ill will beyond the fact that they're ahead of us in the standings. Which, as I said too many words ago, no longer matters. With 11 exceptions, Come October, what the hell: Go Nats!

6 comments to The Towel, Thrown In

  • Anonymous

    Update: Similar post, smarter poster — check out Michael Oliver at Metsgeek on what Omar & Co. ought to do. Good stuff.

  • Anonymous

    They got to you. God help us all… they got to you.

  • Anonymous

    this was a killer loss, no doubt. mets seemed incapable of supporting pedro, who even on an off night deserved better from his teammates. piazza as cancer bat? never thought i'd write that.
    indeed, the loss left me in a funk all day, so much so i could only read your posts about it now, after a surprisingly capable mets win to mitigate the deep deep anguish it brought.
    even so, there is NO REASON to toss in the towel so completely. and picking another team to root for in the eastern division? for shame.
    i'll let you off this time. but really, let's show a bit more spine.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I know, it is pretty spineless. Still, tonight's win hardly leaves one hopeful — we tried our best to lose that game on the basepaths and in the field.
    I should have made one thing clearer: I'd root for the Nationals in October, not while we still have live games on the schedule. Goodness no. There's a difference between throwing in the towel and turning in one's cap, after all.

  • Anonymous

    I think our ships passed in the night on this one. The pecking order remains 1) Mets 2) there is no second place.
    But on the off chance that the Mets don't reel off, say, 60 of their next 78, the Nats remain my “if it can't be us” team. When we're not rooting for the Mets, we root for good stories and there's not a better one anywhere than Washington's. But this has a DO NOT OPEN UNTIL SOMETHING APPROACHING MATHEMATICAL ELIMINATION tag on it. Nats, Phillies, Marlins in that order of preference for the N.L. East if (if) we can't have it.
    As ever, ABB.

  • Anonymous

    That's funny. My ABB list is exactly the opposite. I'd totally rather see Fish before Expos. Oh, sorry… Gnats.