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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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Fear and Arrogance

That's what Crash told Nuke you needed to play this game with. In recent days as a collective fan base we've practically wallowed in the former: Can we get by anybody in the playoffs with this rotation? Is Heilman out of his rut yet? Is Pedro healthy? What's wrong with Glavine? What's happened to our starting pitching in general? Are we going to trade Lastings? Are we not going to trade Lastings? And so on and so on, until sometimes you're left thinking, Jeez, this is sure one messed-up .594 team.

Well, Crash was right: You've got to have fear. A certain measure of fear is a good thing, both on the diamond and in the big, less-well-defined place around it in which the rest of us stumble through our days. The fearless get complacent, stop seeking opportunities, stop enforcing high standards for themselves, and never see what's coming until it knocks them flat. So OK, let's face our fears: Even when firing on all cylinders, our starting pitching isn't the kind of thing to stop anybody's heart once the stands are hung with bunting. And the starters aren't firing on even most cylinders right now — going down the line, they look hurt and out of sync and like Trachsel and too old and too young. Another starter would make us feel a lot better — but it has to be the right starter and we can't give up a big piece of the future and if we pull the trigger we better win. Which is a lot of tumblers to try and line up just so.

But in worrying about all these bogeymen, we've forgotten that other thing Crash told Ebby Calvin to bring to the table. How about a little arrogance?

After all, we've got no shortage of material: We've got the best record in the National League. We've scored the most runs in the National League. We've given up the fewest. Our run differential is +77 — the next-best mark in the NL is +25. We're 10 games over .500 on the road. We lead the majors in steals and are within six of leading the NL in home runs. We lead the league in ERA. We're second in the league in Ks. If it's close, we'll beat you — we're 22-10 in one-run games. Extra-innings? We're 8-5. Walk-offs? Ten in the books, with more heroics to come.

In short, we're a monster, a terrifying orange-and-blue beast with power and speed, stingy pitching and a flare for the dramatic. Playing us is like getting in the ring against a 25-armed hydra of a boxer. We've got supercharged kids who'll beat you and wily old men who'll do the same. Fourth outfielders and Hall of Famers and reclamation projects and budding superstars, speedballers and dead-fishmongers. Get through one terrifying Carlos and we'll come right back at you with another one. Escape Young Jose and we'll do you in with Old Jose. When we're going good we're unstoppable and when we're going bad we're still a handful.

And so now we head down south to face the Braves. They've looked better of late, give them that. They've looked dead before, that should be remembered. But put yourself in the other guy's shoes: Get swept and the flickering pilot light of their division hopes goes out. Lose two out of three and they've just wasted three days. Take two out of three, they gain one lousy game. If everything breaks right for them and they sweep us? They're two games under .500, nine games out of first and it's August. Not exactly the kind of thing to make you feel, um, chipper.

The Braves have gone 14-7 over the last three weeks — and for their troubles they've gained 1 1/2 games on us. At that rate, they'll catch us in mid-January. Sure, they've put themselves back in the wild-card picture. But they're five out and need to jump over three teams — and six more teams are within 2 1/2 of them. We've tried to solve that math problem before and know it's tear-your-hair-out stuff. The Braves, for all their good recent play, are a bad weekend away from last place. We're a bad weekend away from…from what, exactly? A stern talking-to from the manager? We can put their season on life support this weekend. All they can get is our attention.

Fear and arrogance. Let's not get so preoccupied with the one that we forget the other. We've got October problems. Fine. It's not October. While we're working on those, let's enjoy the heck out of July and August and September.

The Braves? Bring on the Braves.

10 comments to Fear and Arrogance

  • Anonymous

    I spend my free time at work calculating the percentage of wins any second place team would need to get in their remaining games just to tie the Mets if they played .500 ball the rest of the year (currently, that “magic percentage” is .689). But as we all know, the Braves will be officially be dead when they're 11 down with 10 to play. A healthy dose of fear balances out both faith and arrogance nicely.
    In that spirit of fear, does Haines (the official F&FiF illustrator) take requests? I'd love to see our beloved Mr. Met battling Jason – not YOU, Jason, the one from Friday the 13th – because they both have looked dead so many times before coming back to life. I think a Braves cap and a hockey mask go together quite well, don't you?

  • Anonymous

    Thank You, Thank you, Thank You.
    Finally someone with some perspective. Finally someone to say to all the panicing reactionaries “Don't take it as a foregone conclusion that we have the crown, but for the love of god….STOP PANICKING EVERYONE!”. If we go to war with the soldiers we have, its going to be difficult for just about anyone to match up with us.
    Great Article and nice use of the Bull Durham metaphors. I am with you 100% on this one.
    Pete from Happy Recaps

  • Anonymous

    i want to crush the Braves. I don't want to just win the division. I want to drive a stake through their collective, arrogant, weakly-beating heart.
    Also – why did we trade Jeff Kepplinger? the guy could hit! we have no second basement!

  • Anonymous

    We really do live in a parallel universe around here. We, Mets fans (most of us), dither over facing the Marlins and the Pirates and the Cubs and the Astros because we know that they're capable of giving us fits. Do we EVER consider what it must be like for the fans of those teams in 2006? “Oh shit, we've got the Mets this weekend.” They're not remembering some blooper Todd Dunwoodie placed out of Tony Phillips' reach eight years ago. They're thinking they'll be lucky to win one of three.
    We've got the fear covered pretty well. Time for some arrogance. The “you can't count out the Braves” stuff relates to slow starts and expert overreaction. If they were still the Braves as we knew them, they'd have rushed by all the divisional mediocrities by now. I suppose they have but they're not even in the single-digit club as it relates to us. This isn't 2002 or 2005 or whichever recent years when Atlanta woke up and surprised the shortsighted pundits.
    This is 2006 when we don't have to play them — they have to play us.
    And of course the rose goes in front, big guy.

  • Anonymous

    God I hate the Braves….from last night's recap..
    “If we start playing ball like we have the last couple weeks and start shrinking [the Mets'] lead a little bit, I'll bet you they're going to start looking over their shoulder,” Giles said. “That's just the way we want it. We're not giving up.
    “We want them to know we're coming and feel the heat a little bit. I think if we let this series slip, they're not going to feel the heat anymore. Let's face it, we need to get them.”

  • Anonymous

    Giles is right — if he's talking about the NY media and the fans. Fortunately, nobody from either of those groups is going to be taking the field tonight. And the actual Mets? They're not afraid of the Braves in the least. Were the Braves in the heads of some Mets in previous years? Yep. Does that matter one whit in 2006? Nope.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I think Valentin's done just fine. To my astonishment, but give him his due….

  • Anonymous

    That, my friend, is a great post. Well done. Now I remember why I link to you over at Toasty Joe's blog.

  • Anonymous

    And the fine job you do on your site is why we link to you in Blog Park @ FAFIF Yards (yes Joe, it's posted).
    Everybody read this guy — he's better than a 12-inch tuna sub. And those are pretty darn good.

  • Anonymous

    Are you satisfied now? Will you cancel that request for a Braves Friday the 13th illustration now? How big a lead will it take to convince you there's absolutely nothing to worry about between now and the end of the regular season? Oh, ye of little faith and too much fear…
    Feels good, y'all, don't it? I know it does for me.