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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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First Blood

The email came at mid-afternoon: Two tickets for tonight, did I want them?

I nearly broke several fingers replying in the hell-yes affirmative, then fired off a note to Greg. (You never know, he might have been busy tonight or something.) And so it was off to the ballpark for Faith and Fear — a rambling odyssey home, then to Penn Station for the securing of tickets, then out to Shea on the LIRR, then to Gate E where Mr. Prince was waiting, resplendent in his orange Mr. Met jacket. Endless thanks to our original benefactor, a Yankee fan who felt strongly that the two tickets he couldn’t use should go to raving Met fans (a kingly gesture — there is some good in Yankee-fan hearts, folks), and to pals Aileen, Keith and Nick for their kind middlemanning.

Greg and I made our way along the mezzanine during the top of the first, and the roar of the crowd told us exactly what was happening. We were in a fine section, too — lots of high-fiving and high spirits and no horrible drunkenness — the worst thing we saw was scattered Cardinals getting rough vocal treatment, but even that seemed to be in good fun, though obviously the blue-and-orange masses enjoyed it far more than the lonely outposts of red. (OK, the worst thing was actually poor Greg getting nailed in the face by a vendor’s bag-of-peanuts missile, but that was really just startling. He was fine and the guy behind us, for whom the peanuts were intended, felt so bad that he shared them.)

If this had been a game on a sultry July evening, we’d have praised it to the skies as a classic pitcher’s duel, a modest little baseball gem. I suppose that’s still true — but this was October and I, at least, wasn’t in a frame of mind to admire the ratcheting tension and all that. Instead, I was bouncing around in my seat in complete terror, aware that something was gonna break and aware that it could well be us. Glavine’s pitching line came out looking spectacular, but appearances can most definitely be deceiving: He benefited from seemingly innumerable balls hit right into gloves, a great catch by Endy (replacing Cliff Floyd, now our pinch-hitter deluxe) and some boneheaded Cardinal baseball. After Pujols was doubled off first, he was left standing in the center of the diamond, alone except for the umpires, for an excruciatingly long time, waiting for someone to bring him his hat and glove already. Of course we occupied his time by serenading him with various critiques of his baserunning.

Meanwhile, I don’t know if some heretofore-unknown Weaver brother was impersonating Jeff for most of this year, when he sucked, or has been doing so this fall, when he hasn’t sucked. But something is definitely up. Weaver was well-nigh unhittable, and it was interesting to hear the crowd’s bloodlust slowly diminish and turn to befuddlement and then desperation. In the sixth, with two out, the crowd was begging Lo Duca just to work the count and get Weaver somewhere in the vicinity of 100 pitches. His modest little single through the hole didn’t exactly fire up the faithful, particularly not when Beltran immediately found himself in an 0-2 hole. But then, that thunderbolt into the night — it didn’t exactly have the trajectory and acceleration of the game-ender off Isringhausen, but we all knew exactly where it was heading. By the time Beltran came home, our section and every other one had dissolved into a happy pandemonium of slapping hands and screaming and spilling beers and fans falling into each other and nobody minding. Of all the magical things about baseball, I think this is my favorite part of all: one swing — a few seconds of bat meeting ball and ball in urgent flight — blasting hours of frustration away like a cork from a bottle, turning worry into joy so quickly and thoroughly that it actually hurts a bit, like a mild case of whiplash from toes to fingertips.

That was of course the signature moment of a marvelous game, though there was drama yet to be witnessed. When Guillermo Mota went 3-0 on Preston Wilson with Pujols looming on deck as the go-ahead run I could barely watch. And there were some anxious moments as Wagner recorded his outs on a hard shot right at Delgado, another one speared by Valentin and a dunker that sure looked like it would drop between Valentin and Green.

Were we lucky tonight? Maybe. Oh, make that probably. But you know what? Luck’s part of it too — balls with shoe polish on them and backup catchers not called for running inside the baseline and right-fielders making foolhardy but marvelous catches and balls hitting off the top of walls and rebounding right to outfielders and little rollers behind the bag and tagging one runner out and then finding a second bearing down on you.

Luck, the kindness of friends and strangers, and thrilling baseball on an October night. I’m grateful for all three.

(Keep going — we’re doubling up. It’s October, after all.)

17 comments to First Blood

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Jason… man, what a game tonight. I walked the fifteen blocks to the subway in the freezing weather and the colder I felt the more I loved that it was October. That was playoff baseball, old school. The gem our staff wasn't supposed to be able to give us. Who's going to tell us what we can't do now? C'mon John Maine shutout!
    LET'S GO METS!!

  • Anonymous

    Per Glavine; man, sometimes it feels like Trachsel is pitching except for a couple of differences: 289 career wins, no/few runs are scored and, of course, the pitcher keeps telling us he knows what he is doing. All three may be true but watching him pitch was like passing a kidney stone: constant, radiating pain followed by occasional moments of relief. The difference w/Trachsel is there is no underlying feeling that he has it all under control even if he's pitching a shutout.
    Absolutely great, professional win. Great defense, crafty pitching, rare but potent hitting. Let's those watching who haven't spent every waking moment thinking about the Mets know that this isn't just a team that can outslug you. Wait til Reyes gets untracked and starts getting on base and creating havoc. So far Jose has looked like year one Jose without the patience of the current model. Somebody needs to get that boy to relax and get back on his game. But we can win any number of ways, which is much more comforting than watching Glavine throw the same pitch to the same spot 4 times in a row expecting to get the call. Of course, sometimes he does…
    Joel

  • Anonymous

    Great game! Great weather, great crowd, great pitching, great fielding, just enough hitting, some timely boobery by the bad guys (what on earth was Pujols doing?), great relief work. Life is grand these days.
    Imagine my surprise when the Missus points out a guy three boxes over from me also sporting a Kingman jersey! An early-80s correct one, no less (unlike my '02 model I had customized). Too tense a game (and too crowded) to go over and exchange pleasantries other than a wave and fist-pump, but it's nice to know I'm not alone.
    Better wear some thermals tonight… it's gonna be frosty!

  • Anonymous

    One of the most fun scenes ever at Shea:
    walking down the steps from the LF bleachers to the picnic area, all 3 security guards head-boppin' along to “Taking Care OF Business”…

  • Anonymous

    Check out this crap:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/story/461337p-388158c.html
    Flat Albert
    Rips Glavine, despite taking 0-fer
    BY PETER BOTTE
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Albert Pujols goes 0-for-3 but gives Met pitching no credit.
    Albert Pujols was less than impressive in last night's NLCS opener. He was even less impressed with Mets starter Tom Glavine.
    A peeved Pujols snapped at reporters following his 0-for-3 outing that included a costly baserunning blunder in the Mets' 2-0 Game 1 win, claiming that Glavine wasn't fooling any of the St. Louis hitters and that the NL Central champs should have lit up the lefty.
    “He wasn't good. He wasn't good at all,” Pujols said of Glavine, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball for the victory. “I think we hit the ball hard, we didn't get some breaks.
    “I say he wasn't good at all. We just didn't get some opportunities and that's it. . . . (Glavine did the) same thing that he always does. Throw a changeup, fastball and that was it. I just think we should've done a better job than we did.”
    There's no argument that Pujols could have done a better job than he did. The first baseman lined out hard to infielders Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado in his final two of three official at-bats. He also struck out swinging on a 2-2 changeup from Glavine to end the first inning, and let Glavine escape the fourth when he was doubled off first base on a flyout to shallow center field.
    Still, Pujols barked that his off night was no big deal.
    “Why can I be frustrated? I can't make a mistake?” Pujols snapped at the reporters who waited him out after the game. “Am I perfect?”
    One of those wasted opportunities Pujols alluded came on a rare mistake on the basepaths by the man manager Tony La Russa described as “an outstanding baserunner, and I'm not exaggerating.”
    After drawing a one-out walk in the fourth, Pujols strayed too far off first on Juan Encarnacion's fly to shallow center and got doubled up on a one-hop throw by Carlos Beltran. “I didn't think anything. Double play, that's it,” Pujols said. “It's part of the game.”
    “He's an outstanding baserunner. Part of it is aggressiveness and almost always he mixes in good sense. That was the exception,” La Russa said. “When he first read it, he read blooper, but the ball hung up in the wind and it was basically a mistake – a rare one for him.”
    Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter will try to overcome whatever mistakes his teammates make tonight in Game 2, but Pujols said it “doesn't matter who we've got out there pitching – we need to score some runs, and we didn't swing the bat well today.”
    Beginning with Pujols, who is hitless in his last 10 at-bats dating back to Game 3 of the division series against San Diego.
    “We have nine guys here in the lineup, so I don't look at it like that,” Pujols said. “(It's) just one game, my man. Hopefully we can come (tonight) and even the series and go home.”

  • Anonymous

    Oh, that's it, you little powerhitting prick. It's fucking ON.

  • Anonymous

    Nice column by Dan Graziano today, reinforcing Pedro's value even if he's not pitching — he played a role in Mota's resurgence and apparently called one of the pitches against Preston.
    Also, terrific column by Lisa Olson on Cory Lidle.

  • Anonymous

    How very Yankee of him.

  • Anonymous

    The Lisa Olson story was fantastic. Nice that she wrote it, I loved the closing.

  • Anonymous

    Jace, how the heck did (me and) my niece end up on Deadspin? Was that your doing? The lovely and talented Batgirl pointed me to it.
    (Somebody, please salve my bruised ego by assuring me I'm only being referred to as a “MILF” because I am pictured with a small child… not because I look old)

  • Anonymous

    Joshua, you are always good for a laugh! Priceless comment! (And yes, you are correct to assume that I love Albert Pujols to death. But not this week. This week, he must be contained.)

  • Anonymous

    Wasn't me — think Deadspin just liked the image.
    And yes, dearie, I'm sure they're referring to you as a MILF because of the kid. Greg and I were up there once upon a time, and nobody referred to our ILFness…. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Rest assured Laurie, you got that label only because you're quite MILF-a-licious.
    Or AUNT-a-licious if you prefer.
    (Well, she did ask.)

  • Anonymous

    Awww, you guyyyyyyys…
    And Jace, I think you'd be referred to a DILF. (You guys do NOT want to know how many years it took me to figure out what “MILF” meant… as Greg can confirm, I am tragically pop culture-challenged.)

  • Anonymous

    Eh, that's just the performance enhancers talking.
    Roid rage is a terrible thing to behold.

  • Anonymous

    So what did you think when you realized it meant “Maddux-ilk Loving Freak”? :)

  • Anonymous

    HAHAHAHAHA! Joshua, you are too much. Keep 'em coming, baby. :-)
    (Maddux Is Laurie's Favorite)