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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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Bad Albert

Hope nobody's on when he hits one.

That, famously, was the scouting report for how to pitch to Hank Aaron, a.k.a. Bad Henry when the Mets were plotting a course past the terrifying Atlanta Braves in this newfangled thing called a League Championship Series. Now, a couple of generations later, we have Bad Albert — Jose Albert Pujols, the Ted Williams of our times. The man has 200+ home runs. The lowest batting average he's recorded as a big leaguer? .314. The fewest RBIs he's amassed in a season? 117. And he's 26 years old!

This is the terrible thing: that this curdled baseball age has us all looking askance at Pujols, wondering if that talent and power and consistency comes out of a syringe. This is what Mark and Sammy and Jason and Barry and all the guys whose names we'll never know have done to the game — they've made us look for something wrong with Pujols, who's never been connected to any shady business as far as I've heard, instead of just being in awe of his accomplishments. Doubt and cynicism are the new starting points for watching the game we love, and it will be years before it's otherwise.

Fortunately, there's a good thing, however small and temporary: Tonight Bad Albert was mortal. A bit fumbly, if anything, down to his pratfall on the rain-slicked surface of New Busch. A swinging bunt, a gorgeous dissection by Glavine after a 3-0 count, a groundout, a flyout and he even made a throwing error along the way. It's a measure of respect that this kind of washout by a player of Pujols' caliber leaves you a bit nervous: Might it have been better to see him hit a 500-foot solo shot than have him regress to the mean by pounding the tar out of us Wednesday or Thursday? You don't think that kind of thing after, say, Brady Clark goes 0-for-4. (Note I picked a player from a team we don't play again. I'm not a complete idiot.)

Still, no reason not to enjoy tonight in worrying about tomorrow. Floyd showed signs of luck and life, Lo Duca was his usual amusingly volatile self (anybody else want a game without a disagreement with an ump?), Glavine was good enough and Wright got his hits and made a gorgeous bare-handed play.

The rain delay felt inevitable — is there anywhere in North America that isn't sporting a good coat of mold right now? — and I had to go check on the rule for suspended games, for fear we'd somehow get screwed the way we did last week. (Rule 16.A.3 states that if a team takes the lead in the top of the inning but cannot complete the bottom of the inning, the results of that inning are discarded and the team that took the lead is docked an additional run for being presumptuous. Sorry Mets!) Sure, it was a nice piece of karmic balancing to put Glavine on the long end of the score after three years of frustration, but continuations have a way of getting out of hand, and I spent the time I wasn't scoffing at moronic FAN callers fretting about how Heilman would do, whenever the game would resume.

And, indeed, things did get out hand. For us.

3 comments to Bad Albert

  • Anonymous

    Watching the Mets Weekly on we shared camera time with a bunch of clever people, I actually yelled at a couple of our fellow fanatics when they casually admitted wishing Chipper Jones would be hit in the head. Not because I give a damn about Chipper Jones' head, but because it's bad form, it goes against one of my commandments and it's just asking for trouble. Wish for Chipper Jones to be hurt and he will hurt us.
    When Albert Pujols slipped on the on-deck circle and lay flat on his back for a minute, I heard myself say, “Get up. Get up.” This wasn't casual humanity peeking through the clouds nor was it karmic BS. This was genuine concern for the greatest hitter in our game, the best player in our league. I don't want him to beat us but I don't want him harmed. We need him to go 0-for-this series but then we need to him to do what he does. He's Albert Pujols. He deserves to stay healthy. This indeed must have been what it was like to appreciate baseball royalty before talk radio morons took over the world.

  • Anonymous

    So true.
    After the “If he's OK, send this to the blooper real” moment, I got a text message from the “classmate”: “Die Pujols, die!” Woah. Since she's still in training, I gave her a pass, and responded with the following: “No need for that… Yankees must die; Albert is one of the good guys… Just have a bad next two games and all is well, then go back to hitting homers.” Mets opponents don't deserve Yankee treatment… unless they're the Yankees.
    By the way, imagine being a Cardinals fan during those three minutes. Maybe not as excruciating as the infamous Thirteen Minutes but watching the best player in baseball, who also happens to have 564% of your team's RBI's lying on the ground probably made some St. Louis hearts – bless them for cheering our guys for taking the field – stop for a moment.

  • Anonymous

    Not that this is relevant or matters very much, but Yusmeiro Petit just made his major league debut and struck out the side against the Braves. Let's hope Delgado breaks out of his mini-funk soon and reminds us why he's well worth the young left-hander.