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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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New Month, New Start, New Anxieties

The sooner it stopped being April, the better life got for David Wright and Mike Pelfrey. The David's power numbers for May already dwarf those from the previous month, while Pelf used May Day to keep Willie from screaming “MAY DAY!” toward his well used bullpen. That's something.

Not much in the service of attaining a Metropolitan victory Tuesday night, but small steps are better than no steps at all. Where the phenoms of late summer 2004 and early spring 2007, respectively are concerned, they only seemed to be stepping backwards in April. They certainly weren't stepping up. Against the Marlins, they found a preferable direction to follow.

In David's case, the Wright direction may be within his grasp again. Three hits, two runs and a ball that mysteriously flew off his bat and over the fence does not necessarily signify detonation of his doldrums, but the schneid always looks better in the rear view mirror. His homer was to the opposite field which says something for the authority of his swing. I guess he bats second again later today.

Pelfrey? His first inning was characteristic of what he's been, his next 5-1/3 was happy and uncharted territory, hopefully a sign of Mike to come. After Josh Willingham buried him, Pelfrey made like Pepsi, his young career bubbling out of the grave (or something like that if you believe the urban advertising legend). Good for him. And good for Willie who, whether by toughlove or dint of bullpen shorts, wouldn't send him to his standing appointment with an early shower. This could be a night Pelfrey looks back on with satisfaction, knowing he lost a decision but notched a professional hash mark.

If choosy mothers choose Jif, baseball fans choose stats, trends and whatever data that's handy to prove their assertions. Here's a line that sticks to the roof of my mouth: since busting out of the gate at 4-0, the Mets are 11-10, barely .500 during the 84% of the schedule that is most recent. Of course you could also say the Mets are 0-10 in losses and make it sound really disturbing. Every game counts, so let's say they're 15-10 in 2007 and still neck and neck with the Braves. But there is something undeniably underwhelming about their inconsistency of late.

I don't mind that they had to dig deep to quell the Nationals. The Nationals are professionals even if they play in a city too long run by amateurs. The Rockies, who allegedly don't amount to a pebble in our spikes, were also more of a handful than paper would have you believe. On paper we should have won six straight coming into this series. On paper the game is not played. We took four of six from two last-place teams. That's livable.

I do mind not beating the Marlins once in two games at Shea Stadium. No disrespect to the Fish, but that's lame. Even if one game was overshadowed by Chan Ho Park's crisis deployment and the other represents a granite building block for Wright and Pelfrey, it's still two losses to a perpetually rebuilding team that we crushed just two weeks ago in Florida, the second of them to erstwhile Met pin cushion Ricky Nolasco. It's four losses in six games overall, six losses in eleven games.

Maybe that's all it is, a 5-6 stretch in the midst of a 162-game span. There was a 3-7 run in May 2006, the yips of which were snowed under by a quick 8-4 response and the Mets went back to being unstoppable. Maybe there's another wham-bam 4-0 in our near future like the one we laid on St. Louis and Atlanta at the year's outset or even a punishing 3-0 along the lines of what we did in Philly and Miami.

Or not. If Wright and Delgado are finally breaking loose of the stranglehold futility has had on them, will they burn as hot as Alou and Green did in April? And can you imagine for a second that Alou (already slipping) and Green will scald any hotter than they have? That they'll come close to keeping it up? No Valentin for a month, no Duque for who knows how long, no Heilman except of the Aaron-go-blah variety…something's creaking in my closet of baseball anxieties for the first time in 2007.

Hopefully it's only a figment of my imagination.

5 comments to New Month, New Start, New Anxieties

  • Anonymous

    I think they're keeping their heads above water during a stretch where they were getting no production out of their two, four and five hitters; breaking a rookie into their rotation; and still trying to find a go-to guy in the bullpen. And when you throw a Chan Ho into that mix, things can look dreary in a hurry.
    15-10 means one thing: We're halfway to Mota Time…

  • Anonymous

    A) 15-10 extrapolates to 97 wins. I'll take that.
    2) A loss is never fun (Park's start sure wasn't), but the glimmer we saw from David last night made losing much easier to swallow. Especially since the Braves lost, too.
    III) Some definitions for your rumination:
    (W)right (adj.) – in accordance with what is good, proper or just; correct in judgment, opinion and action
    Pelf (n.) – informal term for money
    May (v.) – used to express any of the following: possibility, opportunity, permission, contingency, wish, or prayer
    May David be Wright and Pelf be money beginning this month.

  • Anonymous

    But there is something undeniably underwhelming about their inconsistency of late.

    …something's creaking in my closet of baseball anxieties for the first time in 2007.

    I'm with you 100%. I came to a sudden, sobering realization as I was shaving this morning:
    It's not 2006 anymore!
    Now, this may be a figment of my imagination, but it seems that if a game like last night's had occurred — say — last June, the Good Guys would have found a way to put up a 3-spot in the 8th and a walkoff sac fly in the 9th to give Wagner a W. Last year, I believed that would happen, was sure of it, became indignant if it didn't (cf. 10/19/06).
    Watching last night's game, the indignation was there without the belief.
    That makes me sad.

  • Anonymous

    Last year Reyes would've scored on the double steal and Olivo would've been a smear on the third-base line where Delgado ran over him.
    Heilman looks awful and his body language suggests someone who is pouty and unhappy.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    While most focus on our number four and five guys not yet pulling their weight, too many players not hitting in the clutch and poor play in the field at the worst possible times, we can't lose sight that our mediocre 11-10 record after those four straight wins opening the season is mostly due to the ineffectiveness of our set-up man.
    It is, of course, unfair to put the blame entirely on one man's shoulders, however, Heilman has not held his own in the critical position of a late inning specialist. There are at least three games he let get away which we could have won. There's a difference being down 3-2 than 5-2, as what happened last night. He gave up that three-run homer to Kelly Johnson that put the game out of reach against Atlanta a week before. On April 8th he gave up two runs in the eighth inning for our second straight loss in Atlanta. Even our last two victories were put in jeapordy because he gave up the go-ahead run on Saturday night before the Mets came back in the ninth to tie and in the 1-0 win on Sunday he gave up two hits in 2/3 inning of work.
    We won't talk about his last inning of work in 2006.
    Of course, it's too early to panic. Many go through slumps but it's the relief pitcher who often gets noticed the most. If 2007 becomes an off-year for Heilman, Willie does have enough options to make up for his inefficiency. But it's something to think that we could have been 14-7 in the last 21 games and 19-7 overall despite the inconsistant play.
    Such is the life of the relief pitcher.