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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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Keep Me Up 'Til September Ends

I heard Pedro after the game talk about the mistakes he threw. If he's big enough to own up to his, I'll own up to mine.

1) I wore MARTINEZ 45 to Shea. It was the third time I've worn it this season. The Mets are 0-3 when I've done that. In retrospect, I figure I was asking for it the first two times because Pedro wasn't pitching then. But tonight? Geez. Sorry. Yo, shirt: Back into the drawer until winter. (Give my regards to VAUGHN 42 while you're there.)

2) When Pedro was briefly rolling, retiring the primary Philadelphia banes of our existence, I turned to my companion and remarked what a pleasure it was to have a pitcher who has no problem handling Abreu and Burrell. Ryan Howard hit the next pitch over the left field wall and nothing was ever the same. I hope I mean that in the short-term sense. I will never again say nice things about a future Hall of Famer unless he's up by eight runs after six.

3) With the Cardinals up 2-0 on the Marlins and us up 2-0 and the Braves having beaten the Nats in their first game (though I declared their doubleheader a gimme because there was nobody to root for between them) and the Reds not yet having taken on the Astros, visions of a September 1 that included us at the top of the Wild Card standings began to dance off first base in my head. Thirty-seven seasons of hypercaution gave way to glints of optimism. My sincere apologies for not being more of a wet blanket.

So I'm owning up to my mistakes and I'm willing to suffer the consequences. I'm willing to have Glavine take care of the Phillies Thursday afternoon, willing to have the Mets take two of three and willing to have me absorb the one loss there was to be absorbed in person. Three hours of my life that I'll never get back is a small price to pay to get back to within a half-game of the WC.

Besides, it's not about where we are on September 1. It's about coming home on the afternoon of October 2 and figuring out what time our first-round game is.

WHOA! Who's getting optimistic now? Well, there's wet-blanketing and there's the reason we do this. The reason we do this — be fans beyond all the stuff about how we like to “suffer” for our teams — is to have a September and use it to get to October. As I fought my way through the uninvited, unwanted, unnecessary U.S. Open beautiful-people hordes exiting the 7 (oh Muffy, it's raining…this Flushing place is awful!), I had an extra bounce in my step. Man, I thought, I haven't felt this way since 2000. September's starting and we're good and we're close and we're not done. Has it really taken us this long?

After the Phillies ruined a perfectly good storyline (oh Chase, it's raining…this Flushing place is awful!), I was left to contemplate what September can be like in Metsopotamia.

It's not pretty.

Our most mythic month has had its moments. September '69 and Goodbye Leo, we hate to see ya go! and September '73 and Tug slapping glove to thigh and September '86 when the Mets were so bold that they painted A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER at the base of the leftfield wall and handed out pennants every night lest anybody get the idea we wouldn't have one in October. September '88 was at the heart of a 29-8 finishing thrust that kicked sand all over the East and frightened the Dodgers into submission (I fell asleep toward the end that year — what happened in the playoffs?).

Thing is, September hasn't been much of a Met month since 1988, a mere 17 years ago. When the Mets had nothing to play for, it didn't matter what they did. And when they did have something to play for, well, hoo-boy. I suppose it's all kind of irrelevant given that hardly anybody on this team had anything to do with anything that happened more than a couple of years ago, but the Mets have not cashed in on any opportunities presented by any September since Gregg Jefferies was hatched from his pod.

• The Mets couldn't catch the Cubs in September 1989. The Cubs!

• Every pitcher except Doc, especially Frank Viola and John Franco, made a ptui! noise of some sort when confronted with the bit in their mouth in September 1990.

• Bobby Jones' right hand was either too sweaty or too dry, I forget which, in September 1997 during a crucial game at Turner Field. He didn't get out of the first. (What, you thought Al invented that?)

• September 1998, lost last five games, don't wanna talk about it.

• The melodrama of 1999 was exacerbated thirty times over by the Mets' near-fatal collapse that September. It's more fun to relive than it was to live.

Five years ago tonight, as September 2000 dawned, I was beside myself — it's true, there were actually two of me — with joy because the Mets had pulled ahead of the Braves. No Wild Card pikers us. We were going to capture the actual division title that was rightfully ours (we won the first one, therefore it belongs to us). About five minutes later, the Mets went to St. Louis and lost three straight one-run games, all of them in walkoff fashion. A few days later, following a series of crushing losses that featured a grand slam by Benito Santiago off Benitez in Cincinnati that turned an 8-7 eighth-inning lead into an 11-8 loss, the Mets were thoroughly ensconced in second behind Atlanta. The Wild Card looked dicey for a bit but was preserved. Still…

• September 2001, not a good month in New York to begin with. In his own nefarious way, Brian Jordan made baseball matter here every bit as much as Piazza did. I never thought I'd hurt over baseball again, but only a dozen days passed after 9/11 when Brian Jordan wrecked our miracle comeback, already in progress. Six days later, he wrecked it again. Honestly, as beautiful as Mike's 9/21 shot was, it was Jordan torching our bullpen over (9/23) and over (9/29) that refocused my attention on the Mets. I suppose I owe Brian Jordan some small debt for helping me return to normality and care about a silly game. (Now that's what you call some serious rationalization.)

Well, better that September has the capacity to disappoint than not matter at all. I'll take my chances with whatever lies ahead versus talk of spoilers and callups and hunting and fishing. September has arrived. We're part of the welcoming committee. And we don't necessarily have to wave goodbye when it's over.

The first pitch of the rest of our season is scheduled for 1:10 PM.

7 comments to Keep Me Up 'Til September Ends

  • Anonymous

    As September dawns, mark my words – the Mets WILL BE PLAYING OCTOBER BASEBALL.
    Against the Rockies.

  • Anonymous

    Bold prediction. Would you care to go out on a limb and say the Mets will go at least two deep in October against the Rockies and play beyond October 1?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I think this team will be able to push it to a Game 162.

  • Anonymous

    OK, I was three years old in 1969, but I remember just about every mostly painful detail of just about every mostly painful season since 1973. You're right, of course, that the two best Septembers were '73 and '86, and I was just thinking…
    Who did we have batting second in those two magical months??? Well, second-baseman Felix Millan — he of the legendary choke-up (not choke) and, I believe, something like 7 strikeouts for the full season, was our #2 guy in '73… and the two-headed 2B monster, Backman/Tueffel in '86.
    And now? Heading into what should/could/would be another September to Remember? Yes, once again it's our second baseman manning that all-important spot in the lineup… Ladies and gentleman I give you… Miguel Cairo? He of the .204 BA in August? But wait, on his off days, we have the .230-hitting Kaz whatshisname hitting between Reyes and Beltran. Oh, well that's more like it.
    Can someone please explain this to me? Please? Does Cairo's agent have possession of photos of Randolph and someone's daughter in the back of a van in Florida? Someone's emu? Is there a secret society of second basemen — with handshakes and decoder rings – in which Willie is a made man, which has a clause in its bylaws about where their bretheren should bat?
    Help – our lineup has been commandeered by a pivot-turning cabal!

  • Anonymous

    What's your alternative lineup?

  • Anonymous

    Good question. Hope you really wanted to hear my answer. :-)
    My preference would probably be to have Beltran batting #2 – at least for the remainder of this year – followed by Wright and Floyd, but of course there are 119 million reasons why management doesn't want to hit him there.
    Given that, there are a couple of options. They could bat Diaz #2 – no, he's not a prototypical 2-hitter, but at least you have to pitch him carefully, and when Reyes is on base, he'd likely see a steady diet of fastballs, which would make him dangerous.
    At this point, I'd even strongly consider hitting Wright 2nd. Yeah, he's more of a 3 hitter (I really think he's our best #3 hitter right now), and you might lose some protection for Floyd, but we're absolutely dead last in baseball in OBA – and just about every other offensive category – for our 2-hitters, meaning that Beltran and Floyd are mostly batting with no one on base anyway. Plus, Wright's patient enough to let Reyes run, and he's way too dangerous to feed him fastballs, meaning every Reyes single puts him pretty much at third, or else Wright hits .350 from there.
    The other option is to either play Woodward and bat him second — how much worse can he be, for chrissakes? It's not like Cairo has any range anyway – or bite the bullet and find a way to put Anderson Hernandez on the 40-man roster and get him the hell up here. Scouting reports say he's defensively a plus major-leaguer, and he's hitting like .317 at Norfolk with a bunch of stolen bases. Give him a shot. Hell, even if you hit him 8th, with Diaz hitting 2nd, it couldn't be any worse.
    Today, we have Matsui batting 2nd. All hail the secret international fraternal order of the exalted second-basemen… which is – as unbelievable as it sounds – the BETTER of Willie's pre-ordained options. I have no problem with Reyes and his .300 OBA leading off, he's a special talent and we can live with his growing pains. But especially given that, we absolutely MUST have someone hitting behind him who can get on base occasionally.
    Since you asked. :-)

  • Anonymous

    I'm most intrigued by Diaz. He's not a bunter or anything (that we know of), but I think a lot of those batting order stereotypes are a little overrated. Benny, for example, was an adequate leadoff hitter circa 2000.
    Cairo/Matsui aren't getting it done. So why not try something different. A little shaking up is due.