The 365th day of the second year of Faith and Fear in Flushing is nearing completion. Tomorrow we, like Reyes to Valentin to Delgado, turn two.
We includes you, gentle reader. The comments you post, the e-mails you send and the vibes you put out have convinced me that what we’ve got here is far more than a two-man operation.
I learned who we were in that sense in our second year on the job, not so much via a V8 moment, rather by a slow build of realization that it wasn’t just Jason and me writing, you reading and the twain never-shall-meeting. The twain met, all right. The tipping point for our evolved relationship, at least from my perspective, was the same one that sent our Mets from running roughshod over the National League to having a title to show for it.
It was the magic number countdown. Remember that? 18 For 18, 17 For 17 and all the way down to 1 For 1? It was a throwaway idea almost, not completely original by any means. What I started loving about it almost immediately was the way it brought us together in common mission. We made counting count.
There were insistences that each numeral get its due even if the magic number diminished by two at a time. There were genuine snorts of dissatisfaction when a numerical association I chose did not jibe with somebody else’s. There were mini-countdowns offered as addenda to the countdown from those who wanted to revel in this rare happenstance, this march to inevitable victory for which we’d waited collectively so long. Then it wouldn’t end when it was scheduled to in Pittsburgh, and we couldn’t have been sicker of magic numbers, but that’s just human and Mets fan nature.
The countdown was simply the portal to what awaited us: that overdue sequel to the 1988 divisional championship — captured on our native soil no less; its boozy aftermath; the collective impatience for the next step in the process (Dodgers? Padres? Padres? Dodgers?); the breath-holding over hurler health; and then, at last, the playoffs. We were all in it together up to our necks by then.
Great days would follow. When I allow myself to not get tangled up in red over the ultimate outcome, I see October 2006 through the prism of Faith and Fear, less for what Jason or I wrote than for how much and how often you wrote. We forged ourselves into an authentic community (I’d say family, but family is often a pain in the ass). I didn’t approach the keyboard without thinking of everybody who made themselves a part of it all. If I had to pick the one episode I’ll carry to my dotage from the seventh postseason in Mets history, it wouldn’t be called strike three, it wouldn’t be Y.F. Molina, it wouldn’t be Endy at the wall or the echoes of “Jose” to the sixth power or Lo Duca’s double tag or Holy Saturday or even the waves of fellow travelers sweeping me giddily from the LIRR platform as I sought a path to Gate E.
It would be that span from the moment Game Five ended in St. Louis until I left for Game Six at Shea. It would be Jason and I taking turns at warding off our own evil spirits and finding something positive to say so that we could, all of us, believe just a little longer. It would be the way everybody whose name isn’t on the masthead pitched in with one good thought after another, Faith triumphing over Fear in a blowout.
It worked. One night only, but it worked.
October’s end enveloped us too quickly. Light grew scarce, air turned to ice, crowds leveled off in this space. But I’ve not lost the handle on the hours when each of us expressed our thoughts, our hopes, our prayers for this team like our Met lives depended on it. We were something more to each other than just another click to another baseball bookmark. I’ve not looked at blogging the same since.
As prelude to Pitchers & Catchers and our third season on the beat, I was going to say something about it having been a long, cold lonely winter, but that would one-third false advertising. It’s been long. It’s been cold. But it’s never lonely here, not with all of us teaming up to be who we are.
Happy birthday to us. Let the third year be a charm.