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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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Out of the Tunnel

As expected, Cliff Floyd has signed with the Cubs (at Shea May 14-17), making him officially an ex-Met. It’s not like we didn’t know his going wasn’t coming. And now he’s truly gone.

Cliff became a Met when the team didn’t know whether it was coming or going. The 2002 season was a calamity and the 2003 version would be a disaster, yet there was Cliff, jumping on board our sinking ship after one and before the other. He wouldn’t make much of a difference to Met fortunes his first two years, the second of which he framed with one of the most honest Met quotes since “can’t anybody here play this game?”

Things aren’t looking bright. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

It was the best traffic report ever given on the long and winding Mets expressway. Cliff knew from what he spoke as the 2004 season crumbled to bits. I suppose it was a coincidence that it was practically moments later that Art Howe was fired, Jim Duquette was replaced and the Leiter-Franco regime was changed. Perhaps it was chance as well that in his eagerness to clean house Omar Minaya shopped Cliff around in the winter of ’04-’05. “The New Mets” promotional literature of that offseason spotlighted Beltran and Martinez, Reyes and Wright, Kris Benson even. No mention of their intermittently hobbled teller of truths and incumbent leftfielder.

Cliff stayed. Willie Randolph arrived (and will remain, hallelujah). Maybe it was one more case of the coincidental that this manager teased more health and more hits out of his default cleanup hitter than his predecessor did. Every third quote in 2005 from Randolph was of the “I challenged Cliff” variety and Cliff met every challenge. He was the best everyday player we had two seasons ago. While Carlos settled in and old Mike felt around for a comfort zone and David and Jose learned their craft, Cliff Floyd was the first all-around star of the Willie Randolph era — and, to be blog-indulgent about it, the Faith and Fear era. We liked to refer to him as our Monsta, but he was more like our light. Thirty-four homers, 98 ribbies, serious athleticism in left…the days of the Mets being stuck in the tunnel were over.

Cliff Floyd in 2006 wasn’t Cliff Floyd of 2005. The Mets didn’t need that much from him. If he couldn’t deliver a reasonable facsimile for longer than a spurt here and there, then we’d win with approximately half a Floyd. His ’05 protégés grew up around him and the more recently imported talent carried its load. We could afford an off year from Cliff in ’06 and still succeed. I guess we couldn’t take that chance for ’07.

Though the light-and-tunnel remark was briefly his calling card and cross to bear, I prefer to remember another exchange as quintessential Cliff Floyd: smart man, smart player, veteran player, player’s player, our player. It was from the NLDS — one of those mostly pointless pregame press gaggles during the postseason, the first one the Mets had been in six years, the first one Cliff Floyd played in since he was a young Marlin.

Q: Little off topic, you guys had such a great season, finished first. Is it enough of an advantage for a team to have that extra game at home? Should there be more of an advantage for a team that had such a good season?

CLIFF FLOYD: That’s way over my head, boss.

I have a hunch it wasn’t.

16 comments to Out of the Tunnel

  • Anonymous

    May 14th just became my first must-attend game of 2007. Gotta get Cliff to step out of the box and doff his helmet….

  • Anonymous

    The most amazing thing about Cliff was how he came from the Marlins with a reputation for dogging it. But he always seemed to play as hard as he could with the Mets, even though he was constantly hurt. I never thought, “That guy doesn't try.” More like, “Can you believe how hard he's running into the wall when his (insert body part) is in shreds?” Proof that sometimes a guy's reputation says more about the team he came from than anything else.

  • Anonymous

    Very well stated Greg.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Will very much miss Cliff Floyd and never understood why Omar wanted to so much rid himself of the outfielder, especially in light of his replacement – a much older 41 year old Moises Alou whose overall bat won't be any more productive and defensive play less efficient with a throwing arm that won't hold runners at bay like Cliff's did. Will not accept the notion that being injury prone caused Cliff's departure.
    Playing devil's advocate to understand the reasoning behind Minaya's tireless efforts to shop Floyd around my thoughts travel back to the pre-Omar era when Cliff was reported as one of those with an open door to the front office. Being a clubhouse favorite, this might have doomed Cliff from day one.
    Seems like it was a move based on personality and nothing more.
    True, Cliff's contribution last year was minimal due to ongong injuries so maybe the bat and arm won't be missed on the field, but the person will sure be missed by those on the field and in the stands.

  • Anonymous

    Hope he's playing regularly and, if he's not, that Willie's throwing a righty that night.
    Let the debate over whether we want Cliff to hit a home run begin!

  • Anonymous

    Hell, no.
    Good Met and a great guy. But he's no Piazza.
    Plus, a big homerun just a few days short of seven months too late would have, shall we say, somewhat of a bittersweet element, no?

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Let's just hope he plays.
    (Didn't want Piazza to hit one for SD…nor do I for Oakland in June.)

  • Anonymous

    Nor did I. I did greatly enjoy the video tribute and the standing ovation. But then it was down to business and Trachsel was our guy.
    I have tickets for the game on 5/14 and will give Cliffy the appropriate reception.
    Call it the Mike Cameron treatment. Less, of course, the unfortunate juxtaposition with a slightly more heralded homecoming. Unless Seaver is on the hill for the Cubs that night.

  • Anonymous

    He always seemed so sullen, too. Life among the Soilmaster can probably do that to anybody.

  • Anonymous

    Hey folks. I just started up a Mets blog, “Riding with Rickey.” Check it out if you want:
    http://ridingwithricky.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous

    Cliff the man, mentor, joker, sage, teammate and giver of 100% will be sorely missed. Cliff the .244 hitter and participant in fewer than 100 games, not so much. It's a hard world and sometimes it's tough to let go. I still miss #31.
    But Alou is a serious upgrade at the plate, and Endy will provide the D when needed. I don't fault anyone for this move. I look forward to greeting Cliff warmly in May. He'll get a much more emphatic welcome than Cammy. One of the times I was most proud of my fellow fans was the standing O Cliff got a couple years ago, when he was pinch-ran for in his last game once we were officially eliminated and he could finally rest his aching body for the season.

  • Anonymous

    Things to also consider:
    1) What if Cliff is still the 34 homer, 98 ribby ,273 hitter he was in 2005?
    2) Even if only the 2004 18 homer, 63 rbi man with a .260 average playing just two-thirds the season, can Alou be counted on to start more than 100 games? Last year playing less than 100 games Moises had 22 homers, 74 ribbys and a .301 average; very impressive indeed but not such an overwhelming increase in production to justify losing a six year edge in age and defense.
    3) Defense is so important. Wouldn't it be better if Chavez either became the everyday right fielder or would come in during the late innings to replace Milledge or Green so we could still have a Floyd-Beltran-Chavez defensive outfield?
    Will admit, Cliff was more of a streak hitter and when cold could go below zero, but when hot, would be on fire. Also, with injuries two of the last three seasons his future may be all behind him. But coming off an injury prone year at the age of 40, same could be said about Alou.
    There are two arguments that are equally sound. Considering Alou's age and injury plagued 2006 season plus Floyd's defensive assets and production, the switch wasn't necessary. On the other hand, taking into account all those injuries and to have passed up Alou in favor of keeping him would be a gamble.
    Since Cliff has been a Met for many years who gave 100 percent and might have some productive seasons left in his bat, it's just my take that he deserved the opportunity rather than replaced by Moises Alou.

  • Anonymous

    I swear to God, though Cliff had his share of failures at the plate last year, I'm not sure I've ever seen a hitter struggle through worse luck. Maybe this is fandom coloring my perception, but all season it seemed like he was ripping the ball right into the left fielder's glove, or crushing it eight inches foul. If he can stay healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him resurrected for the Cubs.
    No big hits against us, please. But otherwise: Go Cliff!

  • Anonymous

    Defense is so important. Wouldn't it be better if Chavez either became the everyday right fielder…
    YES!!! YES IT WOULD!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Laurie,
    Somehow, I knew you would agree!!!

  • Anonymous

    It's just good sense!!! ;-)
    I mean, what more does the poor kid have to DO? Can we honestly say Shawn Green is more deserving of a full-time spot, just because he's been around longer? Endy belongs in there every day. With Beltran and Nady. But that's another rant for another day…