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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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The Sum Also Rises

I love being a Mets fan.

It hasn't been fully fashionable to enjoy our lot in life of late, and I've certainly done my part in leading the charge toward self-analysis of our existential meltdown. Well, I'm done. No more therapy. No more Prozac posts. I've spent enough of my summer on The Couch. Since shedding expectations of what my team is supposed to do, I find myself gathering enthusiasm for what they are actually doing.

They're winning, six of the last seven — and the single loss was a game that probably didn't happen…though if it did, I'm willing to file it away with the Kazmir trade under something that needed to happen in order for better times to start rolling. I can't prove it, but I have a gut feeling the Mets took a collective look in the mirror after blowing a 5-0 lead and asked themselves, in one way or another, “what the fudge?” They played like a first-place team in Washington, a first-place team that had no business not beating a last-place team. And lest you say, “oh, it was just the Nationals,” these are the same Nationals who have been playing above expectations all season, including in the split they earned at Shea a few weeks ago.

They're winning with the people they need to win with. Reyes is the manchild running wild. Castillo is his Florida's natural self all over again. Wright is delivering runners home like he's the Budweiser designated driver of the game. Beltran is the motherflippin' power plant. Alou won't take “no ribbies” for an answer. Hey, that's the first five guys in the lineup, all of whom are clicking. Add in a recovered Delgado and dashes of Milledge, Green (his two-RBI single Sunday showed he can, too, differentiate shit from Shawnola), Anderson and the catcher du jour, it's not bad. It's not bad at all. We're down a solid benchman in Easley but soon enough we're due to return Lo Duca, Castro and even Endy (Endy!) to action.

They're winning by getting the other guys out. El Duque hasn't made a bad start in six weeks. Glavine is still chasing history. Perez responded to a “challenge” (oh that word) from Willie Saturday and quit screwing around. Maine needs to unkink and Pedro needs to come home (though Lawrence has been fifth-starter adequate), but this pitching can get us to September. The bullpen will be pitch-as-pitch-can, maybe, but I've seen worse. Sosa has found his calling. Schoeneweis hasn't altogether sucked of late. You know Billy Wagner. The others? Ah, somebody'll come through. That's not a copout, it's a probability. Every bullpen has its saggy spots across a year. Heilman, Feliciano, the dreaded master run-allower Mota are all due for good streaks just as they were all due for bad streaks. It's the nature of the business, it's the smuggler's blues.

They're outlasting the competition. For all our collective (and individual) caterwauling over the powerhouse Braves and Phillies pounding our undermanned UnderAmazins into the ground, that's nothing more than a Metropolitan myth. Dudes and dudettes, if the Atlantas and the Philadelphias were going to do us in, don't you think they would have made a serious move by now? Gosh, Sunday was The Heights — 17 games over for the first time in 2007. We played a bland 31-35 since the last time the Mets and part of my building were on fire and we gave back to the pack nothing of value in the standings. Nothing. After Delgado blasted Benitez out of San Francisco on May 29, we led the N.L. East by five games. Our margin is exactly that again. Somebody should have taken advantage of us by now. They didn't. Whatever didn't kill us made us, if not stronger, at least not dead.

They're not the Pirates. I mean they're not a perpetually crappy franchise with no immediate hope of improvement and no remotely reliable long-term prospects. Yes, the Buccos gave us all we could handle earlier in the week and no, Gary Cohen never, ever should have pointed out over and over how pathetic they were as long as they were on the same field with us, but big picture, being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan is incredibly heavy lifting. Deprived of a satellite signal on the Extra Innings channel airing the Phillies-Pirates game, I turned on the Buc broadcast on XM. When rain delayed the action, their announcers, Greg Brown and Steve Blass, morphed into hosts of Pirate Talk, a call-in show (not to be confused with Talk Like A Pirate Day). All at once, I was reminded what life is like to root for a truly fecal team. The calls alternated between “I'm so fed up with this losing” and “I really think we're going to turn this around soon, I just know it.” Not one focused on the frustration of being in first place for more than three months but not really feeling like it was a great season.

Now that we're done with the Pirates — and as long as I was waiting around for them to go out and complete their praiseworthy work on the Phils — my heart ached for these poor saps. We've been there: ownership doesn't spend the money; the minor leaguers can't get called up soon enough; every trade has backfired; the dead wood is rotting; the divisions, like the stars, are aligned all wrong (a caller wanted Houston in the A.L. West while one of the announcers suggested too many Central time zone games were holding back the Bucs).

Blessed art thou, O God, for not making me a Pirates fan. At least from 1993 on. I suppose if I had been in born in Western Pennsylvania, I'd make the best of it. I'd have a glorious ballpark, a surfeit of seating options, a periodically proud heritage, a standing footrace among Slavic dumplings, a tendency to annoy the big, bad Mets and a surge of adrenaline every time I heard my team's announcer exult (as Greg Brown did Sunday) “Raise the Jolly Roger!”

But that's not a birthright you can imagine walking the plank for if you managed to be born outside Western Pennsylvania.

On Flashback patrol recently, my mind was exploring 1983. I remembered the night Mike Torrez walked ten Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium in less than four innings. I had my sister and her husband in the car with me. They were oblivious to the broadcast and that I was trying hard to listen to it. In addition to whatever my brother-in-law was complaining long and loud about, it was hailing. I had them both hocking me to be careful driving in the hail as if I didn't know the heavens were unleashing frozen peas on my windshield. Torrez just keeps walking batters. Bob Murphy is telling me no Met has ever walked as many batters in one game as Mike Torrez has. Nick Esasky homers. The Mets are losing 6-1. I'm being backseat-driven in stereo. It's hailing. Frank Howard removes Torrez after he has walked ten in three-and-a-third. Charlie Puleo, traded by the Mets to the Reds so we can have Tom Seaver back, walks six in six-and-a-third, but we only score the one run. We lose 6-1. The Mets' record falls to 34-59. I'm almost certainly seeking solace in Craig Swan and Scott Holman holding Cincinnati scoreless over the final 5-2/3.

When your team sucks…when your team really and truly sucks…you don't have to think about it. You know it.

10 comments to The Sum Also Rises

  • Anonymous

    Let's hope they don't squelch this momentum by going out and getting Miguel F. Cairo as Adam Rubin suggested was “sensible.” Shut up, Adam. Get Craig Monroe.
    If I were a Pirate fan, I might want one of their uniforms. They are hard to beat in those home whites. A close 2nd to the Dodgers in best NL home unis.

  • Anonymous

    Greg…..can you say bi-polar?????

  • Anonymous

    I should go away more often…

  • Anonymous

    What on earth were they wearing the other day… was I imagining things or were they in some kind of red vests?
    Black and gold is great, though. As a little kid I had zero interest in football, and all the other kids pressed me for what team I liked. That weekend I saw the Steelers on TV and liked their unis and decided they would be my team. Four rings, the Steel Curtain, and a Canton-chocked roster were all incidental pluses.

  • Anonymous

    MIGUEL CAIRO????!!!!!!!
    NOOOOO!!!!!
    I would seriously rather have Victor Zambrano, Gerald Williams and Michael Tucker back.

  • Anonymous

    All that, and the Mariners still lead the WC race in the AL. I forgot I'll need to add a Mariners t-shirt to my AL rally monkey. Although Choo Choo knows you can't find one in Portland, we're only “their” market when someone starts making noises about an NL team in PDX (oh please oh please oh please).
    And if there's ever been a better time for the Beltran-2000 to show off his new battery, I can't think of one.
    Glad you're off the ledge for now, Greg.

  • Anonymous

    ML,
    That's why they sell reserved seats. Because we reserve the right to change our minds.

  • Anonymous

    I had the pleasure of listening to the Pirate announcers last week on XM when I was on vacation. Greg Brown described a run-scoring double by Delgado with enthusiasm and clarity: “And Delgado hits the ball to right center. He drives it all the way to the warning track. David Wright comes around to score. And Delgado is on second with a double.” Horrific.
    Yesterday, I had the extended pleasure of attending the Phillies-Pirates game. It was Slovak day at the ballpark. They had a pierogi race between innings.
    Lorn Brown, please come home. All is forgiven.

  • Anonymous

    Victor Zambrano, you'll no doubt be schadenfreuded to know, is pretty much finished. The sad result of not one, but several, injuries, surgeries, and rushed comebacks too many. A man can only do so much and try so hard.
    When he wasn't hurt, he was awesome (see 2005, First Half Of). But three major surgeries and not enough recovery time overshadowed everything (but not to me).
    I for one appreciated his efforts, and truly miss one of the kindest souls and hardest-working guys ever to don the blue and orange.

  • Anonymous

    Not to pile on someone who's better than many out-of-towners (though I'd hate to think that's our primary criterion for quality), but in the rollup of highlights before one of the games this weekend, I heard for the second time Tom McCarthy's call of Damion Easley's inside-the-park home run in Milwaukee. When I first heard it, in the car with Stephanie, I expressed shock that it was a four-bagger based on McCarthy's laconic description of the action (to which my wife agreed). OK, I thought later, maybe I'm being too harsh. I mean who can see an inside-the-park home run developing? Even Gary Cohen's classic call of Marlon Anderson had an element of surprised-announcer to it:
    Fastball driven in the air toward right-centerfield…chasing back is Finley…on the track, reaches out…CAN'T GET IT! Kicks it away! It's rolling toward the corner! Anderson around second! He's on his way to third! Finley's tracked it down! Anderson is being…WAVED AROUND! He's comin' to the plate…the relay throw…he slides…SAFE! It's an inside-the-park-home run! And it ties the game! Marlon Anderson with an inside-the-park home run…he is shaken up…Jose Molina arguing the call, Mike Scioscia out as well, but Marlon Anderson has tied the game at two and two with an inside-the-park home run. Finley tried to field it on the warning track, kicked it toward the corner, and Anderson came all the way around ahead of the relay throw by Adam Kennedy…Anderson still down on his knees as Mike Herbst and Willie Randolph look after him, but with his FIRST home run as a New York MET, Marlon Anderson has tied the game, and as he gets to his feet, he gets a ROUSING ovation from the crowd at Shea Stadium!
    But hearing it again confirmed my original impression. Tom has Damion rounding second when he interrupts his own broadcast with the bulletin that Damion is, in fact, heading for home.
    These words may come back to bite me, but I'd rather have Miguel Cairo on the bench than Tom McCarthy in the booth.