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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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Clarity

Well, at least now we know.

John Maine, your time is now. You're only stepping in for one of the most-dominant pitchers of his era, the man whose arrival was a Piazzaesque sign that the Mets mattered again, one of the figures so vital to his sport that you say his first name and everybody knows who you mean. So no pressure or anything.

Our commentors have supplied the stats: We were 11-12 in Pedro starts this year, as an electric April gave way to a frustrating May and then a mostly doleful rest of the season. Yes, Pedro pitched his guts out in May with nary a W to show for it, but the mere fact that you have to dig deep into the stats to defend him tells the story — as many predicted, this was the year that the body (helped along by the floors of the Marlins' vile, OSHA-violation-encrusted, Soilmaster-infested stadium) thoroughly betrayed the artist that is Pedro J. Martinez, creating a deficit that even his legendary brains, grit and guile couldn't make up.

Summing up Pedro through cold empty stats has always been a fool's errand — if there's ever been a pitcher whose intangibles and unquantifiables must be spoken of, it's him. Which is one of the reasons this isn't another invitation to cannonball into the East River. Lead the Mets? He already has. We'll never know how many tete-a-tetes on the dugout bench helped the rest of the staff, or how many clubhouse or team-bus antics helped the young players realize they belonged. Here's devoutly hoping he'll drag his protective boot to Shea next week and then to St. Louis or Los Angeles or San Diego or Houston and then (we even more devoutly hope) to destinations unknown, so that wise counsel can be given or a joke cracked when it really matters to some member of the 2006 postseason squad. 26th man, sixth starter, second pitching coach — as long as I see him there, I'll feel better about things. He taught a lot of his current teammates the things they needed to learn to come this far. Those lessons won't evaporate along with his roster spot.

And, honestly, it's a relief to have a little clarity. There's no arguing with a torn tendon. Anything less definitive, and Pedro would have tried — which is in no way a knock on him, but a tribute to his lionhearted self. He would have tried, and it wouldn't have worked — that did-it-with-mirrors ride to the rescue in Cleveland was seven years and a lot of miles ago. I think we all sensed last night that he had no magic left in the 2006 hat, even if we were reluctant to admit it. I'm not sure Pedro would have admitted it — you don't climb to the pinnacle of sports from where Pedro started without superhuman confidence in your own abilities, without a certainty that you're invulnerable. Unfortunately, there's no off switch — the ineffable, enviable mix of belief and defiance is what makes an athlete the first to believe, but it's the same thing that makes him or her the last to know.

And that would have left Willie and Omar and the Jacket with a terrible dilemma, one that would have had us fretting and fighting and moaning: Should Pedro start Game 4? Pitch in relief? It's a later round, can he give it a go? Now, it's academic. The MRI has spoken, the verdict is in, and it's time to get on with it.

Oh yes, the game: It was like a documentary about a World War I battle, wasn't it? Grim and sloppy and endless, with the sole levity provided by the loopy announcers and David Wright's hasty retreat (with a mouthed “Wow!”) as Country Joe West instructed Brian McCann to take his opinions about the strike zone to the shower.

Anyway, we won. We even hit a little. It doesn't feel like the relief we'd hoped for, not with this news to absorb, but perhaps when we get to Washington we'll win a couple more and hit a bunch more, and remember that, hey, we really are going to the postseason. Now, please tell me we're going there with Pedro, that he'll brandish his toy bat and flash his elfin grin and whisper a word or two. I wish we could have more from him than that. We all do. But if we can bring his intangibles and unquantifiables, let's remember they're Hall of Fameworthy too.

(By the way, did anybody else hide behind the couch when El Duque reached for that ball with his bare hand? Between that, Pedro and Reyes's kamikaze slide I felt vaguely like throwing up all night.)

(Oh yeah — if you want a Faith and Fear shirt, holler.)

17 comments to Clarity

  • Anonymous

    For all who had penciled Pedro onto your postseason rosters — and if you assumed Willie would take 11 pitchers — look at it this way: 96% of the Mets and 91% of the Mets' pitchers will still be there.
    I'll take those odds.
    I'll also take Dave Williams to the dance if it's my call. Oliver Perez is tempting, but wild. Roberto Hernandez is not, but probable. I really liked what Williams did in his several Pedro fill-in starts. We can't be the only team in the world that has trouble with crafty lefties.
    But that's window dressing for the moment. Trachsel or Maine? Consider them your Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
    You got experienced guy in my hard thrower!
    You got hard thrower in my experienced guy!
    Hey, this isn't bad!
    We hope.
    (And if you can't have Pedro, how about a nice shirt?)

  • Anonymous

    I thought the same thing tonight: What did Dave Williams do wrong?
    Besides, we all know Oliver Perez will get starts in 2007's postseason.
    (Boy, I put all the bravado I could into that and it just doesn't work. I'd never make it as a Yankee fan.)

  • Anonymous

    This Nats-Phillies game is great: a West Coast start in Washington, DC.
    Of note: The Nat announcers, both with frayed Mets ties (forgotten Channel 9 alum Bob Carpenter, '85 pinch-hitter Tom Paciorek), are burying us. We don't have good starting pitching. The West teams are hot. Even St. Louis could do it.
    Good. I've had enough of being the favorite. I've got a stack of magazines from the past week: SI, ESPN, New York, Time (Time, for cripes' sake!) declaring us, at last, the flavor of the month. I think they were all written in July. Spit like that makes me nervous. All due respect to the spirit of '86, this is more like it.
    Hey National League, get comfortable. Get real comfortable.
    As for the Phillies, their fans at RFK (there aren't many of either kind) were just chanting for Jimmy Rollins, “Jay-Ro! Jay-Ro Jay-Ro Jay-Ro!” Hey morons, go rip off your own soccer song.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, dude, get me to a playoff game right now. I'm fucking ready.

  • Anonymous

    The team site reports that the Mets are now considering carrying three catchers, and only five OFers with Michael Tucker getting the nod over Lasto. I can understand carrying DeFelice, I guess, so you can use Castro to pinch hit, but I was kinda pulling for Milledge. I had visions of him coming up big in a surprise start, or late in a game. Tucker, I dunno, I see him as nothing more than did-not-play, or grounding out for Heileman in the 8th. And every time I see DeFelice's mug I can only think of the dumbest managerial move Willie ever made, 'bout a year ago.
    The hopeless romantic in me was hoping that Pedro would get DLed, opening a spot on the roster for a certain veteran infielder who could fill in vs lefties and provide backup insurance at all IF spots.

  • Anonymous

    It's not so much that I'm thinking “oh my God, what will we do now, without Pedro?” because yes, we've been winning most of the year without him. For me it's more “our pitching has been so sketchy… I was really hoping to get Pedro back so it would be less so.” I just wanted to exhale, basically.
    I'm worried as ****. What I've seen in Atlanta this week has scared the living daylights out of me. We keep moving further down the list of the best teams in baseball. The Twins–who in June seemed destined to finish third in their own division–now have a better record than us. Ouch.
    Let's get it together, guys. Fast. This was supposed to be Our Year… don't tank on us now!

  • Anonymous

    Alas, they would have to open a spot on the 40 man to add the (not so)mysterious player you refer to. They would have to DL Pedro for 60. That and the fact the player did little this year adds up to no move.
    To all Milledge, they would have to DL someone as well, but not make room on the 40. The Mets play by the book, so Anderson Hernandez will not come down with a mysterious back injury. Yet.

  • Anonymous

    But if he did, could we call it an “A-Hern-ia”?
    Sorry. Sorry.

  • Anonymous

    Tears on my Pedro… pain in my heart… caused by youuuuuuuuuuu…

  • Anonymous

    As your apt analogy to the '02 Angels and a cheesy sports marketing campaign have made clear, you can't script the postseason. You don't know what heroes will emerge and what thrills lie in store (see Mets, '99). As your partner said, bring it on.
    And one minor nitpick: one needn't limit oneself to vague discussions of intangibles and grit when defining the greatness of Pedro. Surely, these elements are part of the mystique but the stats also bear witness to the fact that he is one of the best ever.

  • Anonymous

    The hopeless romantic in me was hoping that Pedro would get DLed, opening a spot on the roster for a certain veteran infielder who could fill in vs lefties and provide backup insurance at all IF spots.
    OK, now I'm going to cry… :-(

  • Anonymous

    That was precisely my thinking – if you DL Pedro, does that open a spot on the 40-man? And if it requires a 60-day stint, does that clock run during the offseason?
    Eh, it's all for naught… Omar has shown no such inclination toward sentimentality, and you can't really argue Fonzie's inclusion on merit (though I dream that he would magically turn the clock back six years because it's October).

  • Anonymous

    I'm in for games 1 & 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Anonymous

    Nitpick most definitely acknowledge. I done wrote that crappity.
    Subconsciously, I probably skipped the stats because a) Pedro the Met has been, on balance, more about the intangibles; and b) I can barely add.

  • Anonymous

    And you actually made no reference to the Angels, '02 or otherwise. I read that somewhere else and this stuff can run together in the old brain sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    Re “Jay-Ro”: The Philadelphia papers say the fans used to sing that tune for T.O., which I think would make it a fair borrow. (Holy Sandman!)
    Not to be all fair and stuff.

  • Anonymous

    When was the last time a team won in the mid- 90s with such an iffy starting rotation ??…………………