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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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It's Gonna Be OK

Was it the cruel Willingham slam off Mota? No, I still had hope then. The criminal bullshit out call on the expertly sliding Reyes? No, because we had at least efficiently tied it that inning. Heilman loading the bases on a walk, a hit by pitch and another walk? It was coming, but it hadn't arrived. Cabrera singling in two runs? That was it.

That was the moment. Right there. Marlins go up 7-5 in the eighth inning on the Mets. The goodwill of Glavine's homecoming and Wright's home runs and three defensive outs at home plate completely dissipated…and I could feel something snap.

By snap, I don't mean with rage the way I felt Thursday after Willie Harris' catch or the way I wanted to feel Friday but didn't quite after Miguel Olivo and Hanley Ramirez cast their teal magic on us. I didn't snap and go ballistic. I snapped and went placid.

I was OK with it.

Not with the score, which would soon enough be final. Not with the losing streak, which had reached three. Not with any of the key indicators either. I'm not OK with the division lead that keeps diminishing, nor the municipal lead which is completely gone, nor the vast and discouraging array of injuries that continue to hamstring the roster, nor, of course, the bullpen, whose most effective inning of late has been delivered by Scott Schoeneweis of all people.

I'm OK with the idea that this isn't the season we've been waiting for. Not happy about it. Not satisfied with it. Not necessarily resigned to the notion that it won't be, because it's August 12 and 46 games remain and we are in first and I still believe we are capable of staying in first, at least as capable as anybody else is of replacing us there. But as Miguel Cabrera drove home Cody Ross and Hanley Ramirez in the top of the eighth Saturday night, as I watched from an upper deck box another late-inning score turn away from the Mets' favor, as I considered how most of the past ten weeks have played out, as I took in the width, depth and breadth of the 2007 season to date, I realized that the Mets truly and really might not make the playoffs.

Not just might not win the World Series. Not just might not win the pennant. Not just might not win the first round. Not just might not win the division. Not just might not win the Wild Card.

The Mets might not make the playoffs in 2007.

I've probably mentioned the statistical possibility of that nonoccurrence somewhere in here since June, but that was just to cover my bases. I didn't really accept it as an option let alone a likelihood. As recently as Thursday, I was willing to engage in a Rocky vs. Rambo debate, one of those undecidable hypotheticals about whether it was legitimate to win a division title without taking it to the Braves or whether winning a division title mattered much in the big picture of winning the championship we all thought we were going to win last year.

Thursday was a long time ago. I no longer take anything about the Mets for granted. I thought I could take their elite status as a given for 2007 at least, but I can't. I thought I could go to Shea on a night like Saturday as I have so many other times this year and continue to feed off the residual 2006 vibe that has filled the place since April. I can't do that either. The default mood of Shea all season has been one of expectation, expectation that 2007 will not just live up to 2006 but exceed it.

I no longer know what to expect. A winning streak of epic proportions could begin at 1:10 today. Matching sets of wins and losses could await and befuddle us further. Or we could lose our fourth straight and be swept by the Marlins. We could never fall out of first — just as we haven't since occupying it on May 16 — or we could be in second or worse by the middle of the week. I honestly don't know.

I also honestly don't think it will kill me if we don't succeed. I will be disappointed, I will be frustrated, I will be barren for a time. But come some day yet to be determined, I will move past it. It might gnaw at me for years the way other seasons' disappointments, frustrations and big empties have gnawed at me, but it won't kill me. That surprises me.

The subtext of this season for me (and, I would bet, for you) has been to beat back the ghost of Game Seven, to capture the flag that eluded us by a single vile inning, to build on that victory and go one better and find ourselves brushing confetti from our hair some early evening in late October. That was the plan. In April and May, the plan seemed to be working well enough. In June the plan began to curl at the edges. We've been smoothing it out as best we can ever since but it won't take. The plan doesn't look anything like it was supposed to.

In April, especially in the heady first days of the first month when we swept the Cardinals and won our first game against the Braves, I had visions of blogging us to a championship. I don't mean blogging a championship as in recording the instant drafts of history. I mean helping it along any way I could through this medium. I thought all of us collectively, through our words and our faith, were going to will this season up the hill. I'm not sure how that was supposed to be put into action, but I couldn't believe after Game Seven and how determined we all seemed to make it better that we weren't capable of pitching in for the greater good, of making the Mets that much more formidable, of giving them that little extra edge they were going to need to overcome Game Seven. I may not have thought of a way we were literally going to do it, but I had confidence we — Mets fans everywhere — would figure it out. The Mets would more or less replicate the excellent parts of 2006 and we would take care of that last tiny bit of business for them. We would win this thing together, them and us.

That part of the plan doesn't seem to be working either. Not yet.

Approximately every two series since June started slipping away, I've tried, in my own way, to save this season. I've tried to rationalize the Mets when they've been less than we expected. I've tried to forgive their foibles, ignore their shortcomings, read them the riot act, damn them with faint praise and praise them amid loud damns. I've tried to go overboard, I've tried to demonstrate reserve, I've tried to pretend nothing unusual is going on here.

I've tried everything. Maybe they have, too. Maybe they have something else that will work. Me, I'm out of answers. I'm just going to let them play. If they win, I will be happy. If they lose, I will be anything from murderous to morose, as ever, but I won't be surprised anymore. I want them to be those 2006 Mets-plus, still. I love that Shea Stadium is filled with that kind of expectation every time I go there. But I understand there's an aspect of cognitive dissonance to those expectations as we near the middle of August in 2007. It still feels like 2006 in the stands, which is neat. Long live the emotion and the vocalization of 2006. But down there, on the field? It's another year. It's another epoch, practically.

2006 may very well have been the exception, not the new rule. Maybe we go back to being a crapshoot of a franchise, not the gathering juggernaut we've sensed we've been watching since 2005. Maybe we don't just keep improving until we're rewarded with a parade and a better burger. Maybe we had one decent year then one awesome year and are now having one so-so year. Maybe we don't know what will be next. Maybe instead of the last game of last year ending a beautiful season, maybe Game Seven was really just the first game of this year.

Most of this entire season, actually, has been one long Game Seven. We get nice pitching. We get a memorable moment. We get the bases left loaded with nobody scoring and the other team winning. We get dismay that things don't turn out as well as they should and could. We don't get it once, however. We just keep getting it.

If that's 2007 in a nutshell when all is said and done, I'm OK with it. If this is my lot as a Mets fan, then it's no different from what it's ever been. I'm not suggesting we are doomed for all eternity. We'll have other 2006s and 1999s and 1973s. We'll have another 1969 and another 1986 in whatever incarnation they reveal themselves, I swear we will. We'll probably have loads of 1976s and 1989s when we're a little above average and a few too many 1982s and 2003s when we scrape bottom. We'll come around, we'll fall back, we'll cycle. We'll triumph. We'll fail. We'll play ball.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

I'm OK with it. I'd prefer success and I'd prefer it immediately. I'd prefer invincibility along the lines that I'd anticipated all winter and spring and that I hadn't fully given up on as the summer developed. I just don't see it anymore. The Mets are in first place? That's what surprises me now.

The Mets don't get to win just because I think they should. I'm OK with it because it's finally hit me that I don't have a choice in the matter.

14 comments to It's Gonna Be OK

  • Anonymous

    I'm right there with you, pal, but… you gotta believe.
    You gotta.

  • Anonymous

    I concur Greg–last night was when I realized it really was next year, and that I can't expect this team to be last year's team.
    It's like I'm finally done with the seven stages of grief from Game 7.
    And to make matters worse, now the Yanks have more wins. THAT just makes reality much harder to take.

  • Anonymous

    Never in all my years watching this game have I seen so many bad calls by umpires well out of position! I know they lost by 2 but really I wonder about these umps that are out there now. They almost always seem too far behind whats happening or are angled strangely or moving to one side or the other blocking themselves off from seeing the tag. I wont even go into balls and strikes or calls at first!!..
    I've forgotten about last season- except for game 7, you NEVER forget game 7 losses, they stay with you the rest of your life.Just win today and stop the bleeding…Now I will go and enjoy my Sunday on the Beach instead of sitting in front of a TV fussing over men left on base or shitty calls by dick head umpires.

  • Anonymous

    when I am at a loss for words you always seem to find the ones that suit. I have been reading all the Sunday papers looking for a slant that's going to fit how I feel this morning,,,,couldn't find it until I dropped into your space,,,,right here,,,,right now. ….With the reality check comes a certain sadness,though. Letting a big sigh out…getting quiet,not angry anymore.
    You are so right when you say that they can't be what we want them to be….they can only be what they are.

  • Anonymous

    I think the most disturbing thing about this isn't that the Mets haven't been playing well as we all would like… it's that it seems that everything bad that happens to this team is an indictment of the way they do business. Especially when you consider that according to Omar's “timeline,” the Mets were ahead of schedule in 2006 and were really supposed to start to contend in 2007.
    Omar surrounded Wright and Reyes with a bunch of guys in their mid-to-late thirties (or older), gambling that they all wouldn't turn into the cast of “Cocoon” at the same time. He lost that gamble.
    Further, it feels like every “gut” decision Willie makes this year has gone very, very wrong, whereas most of them worked out beautifully last year. I like Willie, but he can be maddening. Prime example would be the way he's used Gotay since the Castillo trade – mainly as a right-handed pinch hitter (like last night), when the kid can't hit a bull's behind with a bass fiddle right-handed. It makes you shake your head. (And I get the awful feeling that while we're watching Castillo age over the next two years, Gotay will be raking… for somebody else).
    The one thing that impresses me about this Mets team is their incredible depth. This team has had back-ups to back-ups go down, and they always seem to be able to plug somebody in who can produce.
    The Mets just have to hang on and hope things get better. It's very possible things might not get better. But if they somehow turn survival into prosperity, *that* will be the story of the season.

  • Anonymous

    far be it from me to assume the mantle of the optimist, or the sage. lord knows that's not who i am.
    but i have to say: steady, people. it's august.
    august is the burn zone of the lengthy regular season. september comes around and refreshes everybody: players, coaches, media, fans. but right now we are by definition in the dog days.
    i don't have any strong belief that if the mets were to fall from first they would be able to recover. they don't intimidate anybody this season, and once out of first they would no longer be in control — they'd have to rely on other teams. (and don't we know how THAT usually goes?)
    but, and this is a huge but, i don't think they're going to fall from first — or they would have already. remember june? heck, remember july?
    david wright is hitting, milledge is producing, castillo is a great get, delgado is coming around. alou and beltran are still effective.
    willie seems to have issues managing the bullpen (which, let's face it, is a pretty big problem in this era of baseball), but i believe that he will finally learn that mota is not the guy you want in there in a big spot, as he seems to have learned with schoenweiss.
    (let's go light on the skankenfreude, too; they are irrelevant to our team, and it hasn't worked out all that well.)
    these three losses have been crushers, no doubt. everyone's contributed to them, some folks in bigger ways than others. and rooting for this team has been tough, given their inability to match what were career years in 06. but they are grinding it out. they deserve our support.
    i honestly don't know how they'll do in the playoffs. but they'll be there. as division champs.
    suck it up.

  • Anonymous

    I was telling a co-worker after the Thursday game how the Mets were the “it” team last year, and just aren't anymore. You know, how 27 of the 30 teams are the ones that go around fearing the big inning, the late collapse, the improbable comeback, and the other 3 teams are the ones expecting to create those things. How most of the league feels like the chum, and those teams feel like the sharks smelling blood, ready to pounce. It was there last year, and it's not there this year.
    But here's the thing. Every year, teams that have “it” reach the playoffs and lose. The only team with “it” to win the World Series in the last five years is the Red Sox. Oakland is pretty much the greatest purveyor of “it” in the regular season every year, and look how far that gets them. “It” inflates a team's record somewhat above their talent level (by like 5-8 wins in my guess), but that gets leveled out in the playoffs. My point is, all things being equal, with a complete absense of “it” in the NL East, with us on an extended skid in fact, we still look poised to take the crown.
    Amazingly, you know who really does have “it” in the NL this year, at least at home? The Nationals. God, I can't remember ever seeing such a bad team win so many 3-2 and 4-3 walkoffs. Next year when they go from simply bad to abjectly terrible, no one will know why, but “it” will be the answer.

  • Anonymous

    For me it was the slam. I just knew in my gut that they lost it right there. F–king Mota!

  • Anonymous

    Getting Castillo, no matter how much he MAY seem to be helping, will only hurt in the long run-I was listening on the radio the other night, bases loaded and castillo up- the odds that he can even hiot a ball far enough to get a SF are slim, while Gotay has some power- why not platoon Gotay and Easley at 2nd- use Lastings to platoon wi Green(or replace him) and get some bullpen help(MOTA?? )-why isn't Pelfry in Sele's spot? WIllie is NOT a very good handler of game situations/matchups, but they do seem to play hard and there seems to be little bickering so that is good. I agree that they are not tha same club as last year-the “it” factor is not there.

  • Anonymous

    Greg, as usual, states it beautifully when he suggests a season-long Game 7 hangover. The team has been sitting around, waiting for the playoffs to begin, so they can redeem themselves for ‘06. The problem is, this isn’t hockey or basketball so there’s no automatic playoff berth. OM did little in the off-season and has done even less during the season. Willie showed no fire after that horrendous call last night and that reflects the Mets lack of spirit. Sometimes a manager needs to get tossed to show his players how much he cares. It might be a BS display of emotion but how can it hurt?

  • Anonymous

    Letting the days go by (Let the water hold me down)
    Letting the days go by (Water flowing underground)
    Into the blue again, after the money's gone
    Once in a lifetime! (Water flowing underground).
    Same as it ever was…

  • Anonymous

    I'm not ready for the FAFIF comment section to become the Metsblog comment section whinefest.

  • Anonymous

    You know, I'm at the point where I don't even want the Mets to be in the playoffs. Because if they're in the playoffs, they might well win the pennant. And if they win the pennant, that means they have to face YET ANOTHER FUCKING YANKEE JUGGERNAUT.
    The New York media decided long ago that the Yankees were New York's team. They ignored or brushed off the Mets even at their 2007 peak, hung on the Yankees' every breath, did stories and stories and stories about how the Yankees losing was bad for New York. They laid on their hands and chanted to make them a juggernaut again, and so they are.
    The Mets might as well be the Los Angeles Clippers. Who cares if they lose? They're supposed to. They were made to be a dog toy. Right? Anyone who loves the Mets, that's like rooting for the Shaggs to make a followup to History of the World, in tune this time. That's about as much respect as the media gives them (and you, if you live there). The Mets losing yet another World Series to the Yankees, I need to see that as much as I need to see Giuliani elected president (speaking of the media laying on hands and chanting).
    Let the Braves have the division, let them have the damn pennant. Let them be the ones who are embarrassed in October. Let them be the prettiest 90-year-olds in the nursing home. Meanwhile, the Mets should think about moving to Portland. We'd treat them like frigging kings here.

  • Anonymous

    “Abject Dread and Total Capitulation in the Pacific Northwest.”
    Hmm. No. Doesn't sing.
    Gonna have to work on my entry for the “Re-Name the Blog” contest.
    And I'm no engineer, but I”m guessing that new stadium's gonna be a bitch to move 3,000 miles.