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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Die Hard and Like It

If you can remember all the way back to May 17 (as in 17 runs surrendered), the Mets scored five runs in the ninth inning against the Cubs to secure a most unlikely 6-5 victory at Shea. I was at that game, endured eight mediocre innings and almost left. Almost. Instead, I changed seats and was treated to what stands as the in-person comeback of a lifetime. I came home and divined one lesson of many from that afternoon was “play the full nine, stay the full nine.”

I haven’t been particularly reliable about taking in first pitches lately, but I’m almost always around for the end, whether at Shea or on the couch. This week’s three-night Festival of Humidor Destruction has adhered to that pattern. I seemed to miss the competitive portions, a.k.a. the first innings, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but once it became apparent that these games had become follies, I hung in there to watch them become history.

The Fourth of July followed the examples set on the Second and Third. We were deep into our 17th (as in 17 runs surrendered, it bears repeating) annual viewing of 1776 (as in 17 runs surrendered, it bears repeating yet again) when the Mets and Rockies began to get it on at Coors. As is tradition, I forego baseball and everything else for this movie. Thus, the Mets had to start without me — not a bad deal for them as they jumped to a 3-0 lead in my absence. David Wright belted a home run, inspired no doubt by John Adams’ words when he recruited Thomas Jefferson to serve on the Declaration of Independence committee:

This business needs a Virginian.

The same could be said for our tattered rotation and John Maine’s upcoming turn in it, but as ever, I digress. We paused the disc once or twice to monitor doings in Denver, unfazed by an early 3-3 score. We weren’t winning, but at least we weren’t losing. It’s effing Colorado, after all; 3-3 in the third is no more definitive than 3-3 in the NBA. Once our DVD was over (spoiler alert: we’re not British), Stephanie called me upstairs to peer out the bathroom window, our best southern exposure. We had a panoramic look at no fewer than nine different fireworks displays, sanctioned or otherwise. No Aaron Copland accompaniment, but no crowds either. Nice show.

Twenty minutes of peering complete, I head back downstairs. It’s the bottom of the fifth. We’re losing 7-4, a runner’s on first. Discouraging, but not devastating. It’s still Colorado unless they’ve moved it. Plus, there were two outs. Mota’s pitching. He gives up a foul grounder. Oh wait, it’s called fair for some strange reason. First and second. Then Matsui pokes one between Delgado and Valentin. Thought one of ’em could get it. 8-4. Damn. Ball in the hole to Reyes. He can get the runner. No, Holliday beats it out.

And that appeared to be the best part of the game I would see. In a matter of seconds it would be 12-4 and a few minutes later it would be 15-5 and they told two friends and they scored two runs and so on and so on and so on.

Anyway, through eight the Mets were losing 17 to 6, giving me some morbid consolation that it was an appropriate score on a day when we commemorate 1776. But then the ninth rolled around and reminded me why I like baseball so much.

Three things:

1) Paul Lo Duca led off and saw 14 pitches before grounding out to third. Down eleven runs, he worked the count to 3-2 and then fouled off eight consecutive Matt Herges deliveries. Talk about never giving up. Lo Duca doesn’t think “let’s get this over with, let’s get showered, let’s get on the bus, let’s get to Houston.” He’s just “next pitch…” I’m sure there’s a graph somewhere that would illustrate the Mets’ likelihood of storming back from eleven behind in the ninth was nil (a little Best of Thomas Paine would also do the trick). But watching a baseball player hang in there in impossible circumstances…well that’s why you sit around all winter and stare out your southern exposure. You wait for baseball. You wait for 6-5 rallies in the ninth, of course, but you wait just as much, in a way, for Paul Lo Duca to not care that it’s 17-6 in the ninth and foul off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch.

2) As noted, Lo Duca battles for 14 pitches and reaps nothing more than an atom ball and an atta boy. Next batter, Carlos Beltran, hits the first pitch he sees far, fair and for a double. That, too, is baseball. It evens out in the oddest ways. Beltran comes around on a single and a sac fly to make it 17-7, thus ruining my 1776/17-to-6 symmetry, but that’s OK. Nice to see the Mets taking ninth innings seriously even if their pitchers mostly laughed off this entire series.

3) I laughed a great deal during the latter portions of Lo Duca’s epic at-bat when Keith Hernandez compared Paul to Bruce Willis. What, you mean like Die Hard? asked Gary Cohen — who admitted during some desperate blowout chatter that he doesn’t go to the movies during the season. Between pitches, the announcers tried to remember the name of the latest Willis action thriller, one whose exploding title (Live Free or Die Hard) chewed up much screen space during ads on Mets telecasts not two weeks ago. Gary’s guess was Die Hard and Like It.

I can’t say why for sure, but that cracked me up. Die Hard and Like It. Captures Hollywood’s sequel ethic perfectly. Describes what this road trip has become, too. Anything one finds funny as a 17-7 decision and a four-game losing streak go final must be worth staying tuned for.

10 comments to Die Hard and Like It

  • Anonymous

    I stuck around just for the commentary. Keith is nuts, and great!
    About the 8th inning the Missus came up from the basement where she was folding laundry or something and asked “Why are you still watching this?” I just kinda shrugged and “I dunno”ed. But really, why wouldn't I? What else am I going to do? Come December you'll be wishing you had a Rockies blowout loss to watch. Besides, you never know what you might miss. Wright's longest HR ever… a beanbrawl… a 12-run rally…
    One note on last night's telecast: How on earth did Pete Rose beat out Roidger Clemens for worst Met villain? Rose started a harmless brawl to (unsuccesfully) try and fire up his team. HGH cheat Clemens couldn't get our best player out so he tried to kill him. Put him in the hospital. Out of action for a week or so. Oh, and he did it while wearing the uniform of the forces of evil, for good measure. Cripes, what were they thinking? I thought Web use demographics alone would have made Clemens a lock.

  • Anonymous

    DVD, schmeeveedee…
    1776 — 3 hr. “director's cut”, no less! — was on TCM last night, starting at 10:00.
    After SarahH & I got back from fireworks voyeurism, I flipped on SNY, saw that it was 12-4 in the 6th, muttered something along the lines of “jeezuschristwhatthehelliswrongwittheseguys?” and settled back on channel 96 to spend the remining forth in the company of the Continental Congress.
    Hey…hey… Mama, look sharp…

  • Anonymous

    Watching 1776 on the Fourth has been a family tradition since I was 9 or 10. Glad to know I'm not the only one who still watches it!
    I'm also glad I turned off the game (to go to a prior commitment) at the end of the first inning, when it was 3-0 Mets. I slept much better not seeing the carnage myself…

  • Anonymous

    i too drifted in and out of the game, pausing, for example, to watch the nbc broadcast of the city fireworks after my little town cancelled its show.
    and there it was, the ninth, and yes, i loved lo duca's at bat. all the while i kept thinking: 11 to tie? why not? it's colorado, and we've done 11 before (a couple weeks shy of a year ago, to be exact). i even did the calculus to figure out how many men would have to come to the plate for it to happen.
    sad but true. could the lads kindly find their way to a couple wins in houston?

  • Anonymous

    I'm assuming it was Pete's strong showing in the March Metness tournament that catapulted him to ignominious victory.

  • Anonymous

    If only TCM had been there for me since 1991 (or 1776). The release on DVD in 2002 was a godsend, what with its directors cut, its wide screen (no more cutting off a third of the “we may see murder…y-e-e-e-et!” shot that ends the act one finale) and its awesome commentary telling the whole strange saga of why we never got to see “Cool, Cool Considerate Men” (thanks Tricky Dick) and what this version was doing gathering dust in a safe in Kansas.
    Turner Classic's a nice channel to have, but to the DVD, I sing hosanna, hosanna!

  • Anonymous

    To the right! Ever, to the right! Never to the left!
    (Sounds kinda familiar, no?)
    Have you ever been to a meeting of the New York Legislature?
    Classic stuff!

  • Anonymous

    If I were running the DiamondVision in Philly, I would play the “why doesn't New York just stay in New York?” scene every single Mets' visit (though management might not appreciate the gesture toward we thousands who make the trek and patronize the concessions).

  • Anonymous

    CHOO-CHOO..Here comes the Coors express down the tracks. I heard it before I saw it. And I'll be damned if I sit and watch it pass over the team..

  • Anonymous

    …In foul, fuming, fetid, foggy, filthy…PHILADELPHIA!