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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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Whew. Wow. Gasp.

Come in off the ledge. Come down from the bridge. We’re not out of the woods, but there’s some sunlight coming down through the trees.

In the box score this looked like a laugher, but we know better. John Maine’s sixth inning was a passion play. Up 4-0 and with Hudson out of the game, Maine looked like he was going to let it all come crashing in on him, as he’s tended to do recently. Pete Orr single. Kelly Johnson walk. Matt Diaz walk. On CW11, Ronnie was talking about how Maine was in uncharted territory innings-wise and what a toll that had taken on him as a young pitcher. But never mind that – at the plate was Chipper Jones, the Pat Burrell of the South, standing in as the tying run with nobody out.

Raise your hand if you thought Chipper just might hit one to Stone Mountain. (Mine’s raised.) You could see into a terrible future, couldn’t you? The ball would clear the fence by eight or 10 feet, bracketed by a disappointed Beltran and Endy. Chipper would grin his joker grin as Whoa-oh-whoah-a-whoahs rained down on the Mets’ heads. Gary would say something about Pat Burrell and give us the latest grim tidings about what the Marlins were suffering at the hands of the Phillies, those hellhounds on our trail. Maine would wipe his brow and try not to hang his head. Willie would emerge from the dugout, grim as death, and soon we’d be watching Sele or Schoeneweis get whacked around, the Phils would be one game out, and all would be sackcloth and ashes.

Except Chipper – incredibly, amazingly, unfathomably – popped up.

He popped up, allowing me to exhale and briefly mock his horrible-looking chin beard. But here came Mark Teixeira – and here came a wild pitch by Maine to make it 4-1. Only Teixeira too popped up. (Raise your hand if you thought Teixeira just might hit one to Athens.) But here came Brian McCann – and Maine promptly went to a 3-0 count on him. (Raise your hand if you thought McCann just might hit one to Macon.) Rick Peterson had already been out, so here came Carlos Delgado. And, after whatever counsel he offered, Maine gathered himself and got McCann on a borderline strike at the knees. Out of the inning! And with the added benefit of pissing Bobby Cox off! (Emily and I were amused to see Roger McDowell sitting absolutely still beside Cox, the way one sits when the giant drunk stranger on the next barstool suddenly turns red and starts screaming about the government.)

How appropriate that it was Delgado playing emergency pitching coach with no second visit possible. Delgado had reminded us of all that’s gone wrong this season on the very first batter Maine faced, looking very much like a statue as Kelly Johnson rifled one not very far from him into right field. But he’d also reminded us of all he can do that's right by connecting off Hudson — a majestic shot far over Andruw’s head. I’m a big fan of small ball, but there’s nothing like a three-run homer or a grand slam for releasing a baseball fan’s pent-up frustrations. Delgado connecting brought back Olerud hitting his grand slam off Maddux and Piazza capping the 10-run inning off Mulholland. It was like a thunderstorm sweeping away stifling heat and leaving you free to breathe. It was exactly what we needed. And then he gave us exactly what we needed again and reminded us of his not-be-overlooked intangibles, stiffening Maine’s resolve and willing him through that one more batter so he too could breathe again.

And we’d get more than that. We got Jose Reyes looking like Jose Reyes again, and Endy Chavez stifling an outbreak of Bravery with a wonderful catch off the annoying Willie Harris, and the continuing magic of Marlon Anderson, and news that with El Duque’s annual September break here and Pedro Martinez looking good in a bullpen session, The Man may be done with St. Lucie and with us for the duration.

A lot of good news all at once. But after the horrors of Philadelphia, weren’t we due?

2 comments to Exhale

  • Anonymous

    Small ball is all and great, but I feel like all season the Mets have struggled to really make the opposition pay for mistakes. They'll get a key single or hit here or there, but they miss out on that big home run that suddenly makes everything feel alright. This is where Delgado(and Alou not being here) hurts us. But hey, if he can wake up now, or in two weeks and be hot until November, all is forgiven.
    At least El Duque's random injury is a month earlier this time, so he can heal from it.

  • Anonymous

    My hand was raised several times.
    But this brought such horribly conflicting emotions:
    Olerud hitting his grand slam off Maddux and Piazza capping the 10-run inning off Mulholland.
    Went a little something like this:
    Yay!! *groan* Yay!! *groan*
    All four of those names are utterly precious to me. Baseball promiscuity, much like actual promiscuity, produces strange bedfellows.