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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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Freeze This Moment

So. Eighth inning. Two on. One out. Aaron Heilman on the hill. Here comes Mike Piazza, 800 feet of home runs hastily appended to his resume, only this time we're not talking about some cosmetic solo shot. He's the go-ahead run. Gary Cohen comments on the strange mix of wild cheers and sudden boos filling Shea, sagely noting something about the process by which a revered former player becomes the enemy.

No, not really. I wasn't in the park, but I think I know what those fans were doing. They weren't booing Piazza — it may be Nostalgia Week at Shea, but nobody's nostalgic for nearly running a Hall of Famer out of town in the summer of '98. They were booing their fellow fans who were still cheering — playing out, in 49,000+ instances of voting with hands or lungs, the family feud that gripped us earlier today. The same one that gripped any other Met blog and countless Met households and was fought around umpteen watercoolers today.

How can you be cheering for a guy who's trying to beat us? If he hits one we're down 5-4 and Pedro doesn't get a win! And man, there's a lot of baseball left to play — this team hasn't won a damn thing yet! What are you, nuts? Don't you have any brains?

What? How can you not be cheering for the best position player we ever had? Day game tomorrow — this could be the last time you ever see him! And we're so far ahead in the standings it's not even funny! What are you, nuts? Don't you have a soul?

I was thinking that was the perfect moment to freeze, but it's not. That came one pitch and a few seconds later. The ball's left the bat in an awful hurry, gone rocketing by far over the heads of the Joses, Carlos B. is moving onto the warning track, eyes on the sky, tracking its trajectory. Gonna be close.

And…STOP.

So. Where do you want that ball to land?

Maybe you're saying, screaming, pleading that it needs to find Carlos's glove — for Pedro's W, for the team's march to October, for the sake of finding a role for Heilman, for the simple reason that the guy in the wrong uni hit it. That's OK. I'm on your side. Lots of other smart folks and diehard Met fans are too.

Maybe you're hollering, whooping or cheering for it to bank off the camera tower, for Gary to yell that it's outta here — one of Mike's final bits of tape in a storied career, a nice bit of closure, another unforgettable night at Shea, the happiest L you'll ever take. (And hey, we could still win it.) That's OK. I'm not on your side, but lots of other smart folks and diehard Met fans are.

Or maybe you have absolutely no idea what you want to happen. And you know what? That's OK too.

It landed in Carlos's glove. We won. Twenty-four games over .500. Heilman got the job done. So did Wagner. (Neither was a model of execution, but this year I've taken a lesson from my co-blogger: There's no column in the standings for style points.) Endy gave us more evidence he can play. We got to see another how'd-he-do-that work of art by Pedro. Got to cheer for Mike, or at least smile. Saw a visiting player get a curtain call, of all things.

Not a bad night, even if it did come with a scenario that couldn't have been more perfectly designed for an intra-Met-family squabble. Heck, that's OK too. It's not abortion or Iraq or whether or not to tip on tax or any of the terrible searing quarrels that bring out the long knives. Just a baseball argument among adherents of the same faith, and an academic one at that.

Besides, we should be so lucky. Tomorrow we might have to cheer for Michael Tucker.

13 comments to Freeze This Moment

  • Anonymous

    Two for the past. One for the present.
    Present wins.

  • Anonymous

    That Piazza, man, he's got some class. For all the squabbling and soul searching he caused, I think he managed to send everyone home happy. Two home runs, a curtain call, a trip back in time…and then turmoil: that ball leaps off his bat, Shea's threatening to tear itself in half (which would save demolition costs, huh?)
    But when that moment freezes…suddenly, abruptly, wonderfully, everything is at peace. The Big Guy takes us aside, collectively, and as individuals and says, “Look, I'm still me. I've just reminded you that Shea Stadium's walls cannot possibly hold me. I could very well beat you here. But wait, don't worry: I'm Mike Piazza. What do I do? I deliver for Mets fans. In my heart of hearts, I want them to win just as much as you do. So here you go, this is my last flash of brilliance, it's beautiful, and terrible, like another ball I drove to deep centerfield here once… but this time, when my ball finds a centerfielder's glove, it will be to give you what you truly want–a Mets victory. Ciao.”
    Billy Wagner recovered and notched the final out. Good for him. But as far as I'm concerned, the save goes to Mike Piazza.

  • Anonymous

    On a totally different note, did it strike anyone else that Pedro appeared to be channeling Brandon Webb tonight? After racking up the K's in his last start, he was a ground ball machine tonight.

  • Anonymous

    I think the biggest dilemma is how long the knives we use on Michael Tucker should be.
    Ugh. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Ice Williams.

  • Anonymous

    That was it: that freezeframe was the moment that New York needed to say goodbye to Mike Piazza. We got everything we could ask for — a dazzling offensive display, not one but two victory laps, a curtain call — and then we got the bucket of cold water we needed. My heart has been pouring out non-stop love for Mike Piazza for the last 48 hours, and that drive to center was the moment it stopped. The love was replaced with panic (“oh fuck, Carlos, catch the damn ball!”) and the crystalline realization that this might happen in the playoffs.
    Love is too soft for what we feel for Mike. We also feel respect. And after tonight, might we not also cop to the smallest dose of fear? But hell, I prefer it this way. We poured out the love. We said our goodbyes. October is coming, and Piazza's a damn good soldier wearing enemy colors.
    I like being scared of Mike Piazza. It means he isn't really gone.

  • Anonymous

    May Mike take the energy he no doubt picked up this week and carry it with him the rest of the season, go on a rampage that doesn't stop until the beginning of October. If Philly wins the wildcard and we're playing the Pods in the first round, I'll still love him, but I won't be cheering for him.
    Who the hell tips on tax?

  • Anonymous

    What an awesome game. My 11 year old son joined his friend who had won 4 tickets plus Diamond Club access from a school fundraiser. Geez…..they've got all the luck.
    Michael, my son, told me that he cheered loudly after the first home run, but did nothing for the second and cheered for Heilman to strike out Piazza the last time he was up. He came home and told me he'll keep his Piazza shirt but not wear it anymore.
    I guess that's one number 31 retired.
    JoAnn

  • Anonymous

    I was already starting to sort out how I'd feel if Piazza had another at bat against Pedro and Pedro brushed him back. (Mommy, Daddy, please stop fighting!) The Expos Pedro would have, but the Mets Pedro was very gracious when he was interviewed during the game and afterwards. Maybe it's all that gardening he's been doing.

  • Anonymous

    i was at the game, and don't really recall hearing the smattering of boos the morning papers write of. (then again, when you're up on the third deck, the experience is a bit different from field level.)
    i can say this, i cheered loudly and long after both home runs. in the eighth, i was not rooting for piazza to hit the third one, but when it left the bat, i thought it was gone. lucky for the mets it was to the deepest part of the outfield. in the moments afterward i was deeply conflicted, but by the time the game ended, i was disappointed it hadn't gone out. yes, the mets might have lost, but even if they hadn't — and they could have come back — yer talkin piazza hitting 3 hrs and 5 rbi's? that's not just a great game; that would have been LORE.

  • Anonymous

    Well said.

  • Anonymous

    Cripes, this was a good comment thread.

  • Anonymous

    Pods bring in Hoffman to close… is there any doubt the Mets win?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah… Faith and Fear seems to have not only the best content of any Mets blog, but the best readers and commenters as well. Good stuff, guys.
    Plus Piazza brings out the poet in us all.