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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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And This Makes Six

My birthday is December 31. I tell you that because I have a real problem with year-in-review features. Everybody from the World Almanac to Newsweek to Entertainment Tonight produces those looks back at “the year” in advance of the actual year ending. It's understandable, I suppose, given deadlines and the holidays and a belief that nobody will want to wait until the second week of January for what is by definition old news.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in the last week of 1979, but no review of 1979 that was published in 1979 had that information. The tsunami that blasted Indonesia in the last week of 2004 came after the 2004-in-review packages were put to bed. I was born on the last day of 1962, and though I hope I wasn't such a disaster, I know I didn't rate a mention in any where-were-you-in-'62?s.

It's within that vein of personal discontent that I refuse to overlook the generally overlooked final sixth of the baseball season. Tomorrow come the Long Season Awards, encompassing the scope of all 162 games the Mets played this year. Today, we do what we do every time a sixth of the season is completed.

We overreact to what we've just seen, which in this case is a 13-13 (.500) fraction of 2005.

This is how we covered this sort of thing previously:

First Sixth: 12-13 (.480)

Second Sixth: 16-13 (.551)

Third Sixth: 12-15 (.444)

Fourth Sixth: 14-13 (.519)

Fifth Sixth: 16-12 (.571)

And this is how we cover it now:

Five For The Road

1. Tom Glavine: The multiple Cy Young winner who decided to pitch all the way to the end.

2. Aaron Heilman: The ninth inning is right this way.

3. Juan Padilla: You go before Aaron.

4. Jose Reyes: This guy is injury-proof.

5. David Wright: Funny, he didn't look tired.

Five Who Should Pack It In

1. Braden Looper: Never mind the blown saves. Think about his bouts with logic.

2. Jose Offerman: Running from first to second is the best route to get to second.

3. Danny Graves: What is the color of futility? Faded Red.

4. Shingo Takatsu: Funk never sounded so tinny.

5. Kaz Matsui: Mark FRAGILE.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

1. Ryan Langerhans

2. Sleepful in St. Louis

3. Benson Hedges (should I do something about my shoulder or should I listen to Loop?)

4. Let's pitch to Vinny Castilla instead of Keith Osik!

5. Starting at wide receiver, Victor Diaz (he sure wasn't playing right)

Where Did It All Get Better?

1. Pedro! Pedro! There'd be a third Pedro! but he's saving himself

2. Cairo Comes Alive

3. Jakey Gets Back in the Buggy

4. Roberto Hernandez gets better if older

5. Beltran Bests Baerga, Bell

Our Impact On The Way Things Are: N.L.

1. The Phillies are staying home this week

2. The Braves could set their rotation

3. The Cardinals can feel confident

4. The Marlins are in shambles

5. Frank Robinson is even crankier

Our Impact On The Way Things Are: A.L.

1. Angels 2-1 over us allows them to tie Yankees, thus gaining home field

2. Yankees 3-3 against us keeps them from topping Angels, thus losing home field

3. Red Sox stretch run reinforced by John Olerud instead of Doug Mientkiewicz

4. Timo Perez didn't get thrown out on a near home run in White Sox' clincher as far as I know

5. Indians failed to pawn off a used-up second baseman on us and missed the playoffs

If You Blinked, You Missed Them

1. Anderson Hernandez's one hit

2. Mike DiFelice's second hit

3. Howard Johnson coaching first base

4. SNY's first commercial

5. Trachsel, Zambrano and Seo lowering their market values

What's Different From One Year Ago?

1. We were playing with zeal, not just playing Zeile

2. There's no lingering sentiment for former closers

3. Cliff Floyd is running, not sitting

4. We're not looking for a new manager

5. A dozen wins

31 Personal Impressions Stemming From Mike Piazza's Final Game

1. I dithered over whether to wear my PIAZZA 31 shirt because two of the last times I wore it, the Northeast was enveloped by a blackout and I was laid off

2. I wore it for the first time since April 12, 2004 anyway and it felt very comfortable

3. As I pulled it on, the lyrics playing on the bathroom radio were “it was long ago and it was far away and it was so much better than it is today”

4. When Mike Piazza was in his prime, it was indeed so much better than it is today

5. Still, if this was really it, better that it came with the Mets on an upswing as opposed to 2002, 2003 or 2004

6. As I walked to Gate C, I wondered whatever happened to that kid who was on TV all the time in 1999, the kid who had the Piazza facial hair drawn on; is he still a Mets fan?

7. When the lineups were posted and I saw 31 C was batting cleanup, I broke out into a big grin

8. I'd hoped his original music, “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix, would accompany his first at-bat, and it did

9. The announced attendance of 47,000 was probably a little high versus reality, but I was thrilled that there weren't a ton of empty seats, that Mets fans really did get it

10. Cal Ripken had his midgame jog around the perimeter of Camden Yards when he broke Lou Gehrig's record, but I don't remember an in-game ceremony honoring a player who wasn't doing anything except finishing out his contract

11. Mike seemed so stunned that at the scale of reception he received that it looked like he was trying to calm the crowd the way Springsteen might tell his audience to sit down after it stood for the first three songs

12. I wondered how long the umps would let it go on; they let it go on a pretty long time

13. I didn't see the logic in not giving the man one final at-bat

14. I had turned my cap around during his 7th inning ceremony to honor his catching, but turned it back to its front when he left; I feel no need to honor Mike DiFelice

15. I loved the heads-up fan who taped hand-drawn retired-number discs to the facing of the upper deck in far left field and included 37, 14, 41, 42 (in red, yet) and 31

16. The usual post-game, year-end video tribute to the season just past, including images of the beloved Pedro Martinez, lost its audience as soon as Mike stepped out of the dugout to do an interview

17. I'm disgusted that mere early-season football games took precedence over the departure of a New York sports icon on the local news

18. I'm disgusted that New York Giants football in week four got dibs on the flagship station of the New York Mets on such a historic day for the franchise

19. I loved what I could hear of the awesome montage of Piazza radio calls on Mets Extra when I arrived at Woodside, but it was extra staticky because it was on WBBR

20. The tenor of the Sunday papers' farewell stories didn't quite ring true given their overdoing the “he made the Mets matter” angle — the Mets always mattered to Mets fans whether the media got it or not

21. Mike Piazza undeniably made the Mets better, but in his first season with the team, they had the exact same record as they did the year before

22. The post-9/11 homer got the most play in how Piazza was remembered, but I've always been ambivalent about it because I never bought that anybody who lost somebody could be lifted by an eighth-inning home run, no matter how swell it was on all counts

23. I decided my favorite Piazza homer will always be the one off Terry Mulholland on June 30, 2000; it was such an unlikely inning yet he was such the obvious candidate to do what he did

24. I decided my second-favorite Piazza homer is the one off Smoltz in the NLCS. I like to call it his Cobra shot, as in Smoltz was the disease and Mike was the cure.

25. I decided my third-favorite Piazza homer is a tie between the Billy Wagner shot in 1998 (when I felt compelled to declare Mike “the greatest man who has ever lived”) and the moonshot off of Ramiro Mendoza in the Matt Franco game, which unleashed the fury of furies in me toward any and all Yankee fans in my section that afternoon — if somebody had wanted to fight, I swear I would've fought; Mike had my back

26. I've never stopped being amazed that Mike loves to catch, that he didn't look at first base as a Get Out of Pain Free card

27. My favorite Piazza non-homer moment was when he dove over the rail at Dodger Stadium to catch a foul ball in 2000 and he came up with the ball even after his helmeted head hit concrete

28. I chanted ONE MORE YEAR! with the rest of the vocal majority, but I just don't see it; if there were to be one more year, why was there such a fuss on the last day of the season?

29. My train home was delayed because somebody stumbled and fell getting off at Lynbrook

30. Driving home from the station, I discovered a roadblock near my home because a power line fell a few hundred yards from where I live, but the police (after briefly making fun of the Mets) let me pass without incident

31. Yet a bad thing did happen to me after wearing PIAZZA 31. Mike Piazza stopped playing for us. The shirt goes back into retirement pending his next appearance at Shea.

10 comments to And This Makes Six

  • Anonymous

    Was there ANY explanation for taking Mike out before the last at-bat? That was the biggest element of the surreal glow surrounding the final day — that and the fans who got dirty (“game-worn”) jerseys to “honor fan-appreciation day,” but only those worn by players most people would prefer to forget the names of; and the amazingly depressing “That's Entertainment” musical interlude in the 9th; and the grounds crew pulling down the flags and pulling up the bases while the fans were still watching the video highlights, and of course the surly guards, non-existent vendors, etc., who help make Shea what it is.
    Still, it was a joy to see you, Greg, and share in one last day of Mike in the jersey he should be wearing, standing in the sun and the glow of the fans. We'll miss you.

  • Anonymous

    From this article by Filip Bondy (couldn't the Daily News have sent the Yankees' despicable propagandist to Fenway?), I'm guessing Willie was sick of the whole thing and pulled the plug. Though there were indications elsewhere that this might have been the plan beforehand, which would make this an example of Howe-era miscommunication as a nice parting gift for Mike. And Piazza did admit he was out of gas, not that anyone in the stands would have minded a K or another 6-3. Maybe our manager just came down with a case of LaRussa-itis.
    Whatever the case, a Willie move to go up there with Castilla/Osik or Shingo/Cabrera, even though this one didn't matter gamewise. The fans understood Piazza would have a final at-bat and were awaiting it, that knowledge was shaping how we all reacted, and then a managerial decision disrupted the normal flow of things, and everybody left feeling vaguely cheated. I didn't think I minded that much yesterday, but this morning I woke up pissed. Booooo!
    Of course it's fucking winter, so I was going to wake up pissed anyway.

  • Anonymous

    All week I kept thinking of a commercial for a Billy Crystal (ack) movie in which he played an NBA referee who's apparently so distracted by matters of the heart that he ejects Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (I think) out of the final game of his career. “Hey man, you can't throw me out of my farewell game!” is the line I semi-recall from the commercial. I half-figured Eric Cooper might pop up behind home plate yesterday to take care of Piazza or, more likely, that Willie would say he wanted to get a “different look” at catcher with Miggy so he sent Mike home.
    I remember Ripken's last game. First there was a ten-hour ceremony, which is relevant because it pushed the start time of the game back long enough for me to get home from Shea and see the end of it live. He was on-deck with two outs and Uggie Urbina pitching for the Red Sox. The game was out of reach for the Orioles and neither team was playing for anything. The whole world within Camden Yards was begging for one more Cal at-bat. Urbina had gone three balls on the preceding batter. Oh come on, Uggie, just walk him! Instead, he struck out whoever was in front of Ripken and that was that. But that was Urbina's job.
    Willie's job was to let Mike bat once more. The only thing I'll say in benign defense of the move is that for Mike's sake, I'm kind of gratified his last appearance was a catcher since the position apparently means so much to him.
    But what would've been the harm of another 6-3?

  • Anonymous

    Oh God, you mentioned him.
    A couple of years back the Human Fight and I collaborated on some highly involved drunk/bored simulation in which we tried to determine, by repeat voting, the worst people on the planet. I think Billy Crystal wound up being the highest-ranking person who wasn't actually an al Qaeda member.

  • Anonymous

    If I'd mentioned that Billy Crystal and I share the same hometown, we never would've gotten this far. It is to my everlasting shame.
    His brother my was my sister's day camp counselor and later my 7th grade art teacher. He was never overly offensive.

  • Anonymous

    Osama Bin Laden was #1. I don't remember if Billy Crystal was #2, but he was definitely up there. So was Shaq, Michael Kay, and Brent Musburger.

  • Anonymous

    Billy Crystal, Larry Brown, Mike Francesa and Greg Prince.
    What's up with the drinking water in Long Beach?

  • Anonymous

    Forget what I said. I'm from France.

  • Anonymous

    I'd just like to know where OJ ranked.

  • Anonymous

    What's the big objection to Billy Crystal? So he's a C-rate comedian, and yet another frontrunner to come out of the woodwork in the late 90s professing his eternal fealty to the Empire. Well, if I was such a big Yankee fan, I probably wouldn't have worn a Mets cap throughout my biggest film.
    Let's talk douchebags: is anyone in New York more annoying than John Sterling? He's so far and away the worst broadcaster ever, I'd feel bad for the Yankee fans who are stuck listening to him… if they weren't, y'know, Yankee fans.