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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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Dream of Things That Never Were

“Only those who dare to fail greatly,” Robert F. Kennedy once said, “can ever achieve greatly.”

Boy have the New York Mets dared to fail greatly.

On the last night they would ever play in what has to be the most dismal edifice ever retroactively dedicated to a great American, the Mets honored the memory of their onetime senator (elected by New Yorkers in 1964, the same year they opened their own multipurpose stadium) by living up to another of his memorable quotes:

“People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him.”

The Mets were ruthless Wednesday night, and what a pleasure it was to watch them destroy the Nationals. It wasn’t just a win. It was a win born of execution. The pitchers pitched, the hitters hit every time it mattered and the fielders — three errors notwithstanding — made the key plays. It was an all-around, resounding, beneficial and cathartic win.

I’d forgotten what one of these things looked like.

For a night, it was the part of 2007 that explains what we’ve been doing in first place all this time. Jorge Sosa lived up to the faith we invested in him back in May, rescuing (first and third, nobody out) a very decent Mike Pelfrey (whom Sosa replaced in the rotation way back when, come to think of it) in the sixth with a strikeout of D’Angelo Jimenez and manufacture of the only possible double play grounder from Nook Logan, Jose Reyes practically on second in time to step, pivot and throw. I don’t want to start pegging potential turning points of the season because that kind of haughty, arrogant and presumptuous thinking is what got us where we are today, I am convinced, but it certainly made the difference in ending the ugliness of the previous five games.

If you want a talisman to tote to Miami, however, look to that ball Reyes hit in the top of the third, the one that got stuck in the padding of the left field fence, the one that had Wily Mo Peña groping around and looking not the least bit wily. No mo’ bases than two for Jose, but the ground rule oddity seemed to spark the Mets toward the tying run and eventual victory. For novelty’s sake, the Mets didn’t build a big lead just to hand it back and back again.

The other name to remember from the night the Mets didn’t lose is Moises Alou, now one game shy of tying the one-season Met hitting streak record. A former player, a contemporary of Moises’, told someone I know not long ago that if the Mets win the World Series, it will be because of Moises Alou. That seemed strange at the time but makes perfect sense now that I’ve seen him inject the lineup with a real sense of danger for opposing pitchers. I would say we’re simply getting a second April from Alou, the hitter notorious for hot starts and cold middles, but Moises has been back since late July; he’s been pretty hot his whole second half. I’d say his bat complementing that of Wright and Beltran is making a great deal of difference in these Delgadoless days.

With Wednesday’s win and the Phillies’ Yadier Molina-fueled loss (and what Mets fan doesn’t love Yadier Molina?), I’m feeling a little less bridgebound. Nothing’s guaranteed, even with a magic single digit at last, but it’s triumph enough that the Mets disproved the general consensus that they would go 0-12 to end 2007 and 0-Eternity thereafter.

I’ve been around for a lot of Septembers and I’ve seen a lot of potential ’64 Phillies scenarios unfold, probably every couple of years. The specter of pitching-challenged Gene Mauch is always raised as soon as a first-place team loses a few games off its lead and the team behind them closes the gap. Phrases like “6-1/2 up with 12 to go” and “lost 10 in a row” work their way into the September vernacular the way “Merry Christmas” pops back into use every December.

You know why the ’64 Phillies remain iconic? Because what happened to them was highly unusual. If it happened every year, we’d sort through myriad playoff and pennant collapses for cautionary analogies. It doesn’t happen that often. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t happen to the Mets. One game is one game and you haven’t not lost 10 in a row until you haven’t lost 10 in a row.

But just because the Mets have looked disturbingly dreadful (as did the Diamondbacks last week and as have the Red Sox this week), it doesn’t mean a first-place folderoo for the ages is necessarily in progress. That’s what building a lead is supposed to protect you from. It’s a barrier against falling involuntarily into the drink. I believe it was Earl Weaver who insisted pennants are won in April every bit as much as they are in September. It’s been a long, long season, but the part at the beginning counts as much as the part here at the end. Thank goodness.

Hopefully we didn’t destroy the Nationals’ will to spoil for the four games that lie ahead of them against the Phillies, the final four ever to be played at the erstwhile D.C. Stadium, built in 1962 and renamed for the fallen statesman in 1969. When Ed Coleman asked Nook Logan Tuesday if he would miss the stadium that housed the Nationals long enough to get their feet wet in Washington, he said no way, this place must be 200 years old; he was off by 155 years, but point taken. As Jace nailed it in 2005, RFK is the Vet on downers.

Still, let’s hope the Nats honor it and the memory of Senator Kennedy by being as ruthless to the Phillies as we were to the home team most of the time we visited (21-7 despite the ragged start to this series). And let’s hope even more fervently that we remember to do whatever it is we did earlier this year at Your Name Here Stadium (5-0 in April and May) against the Marlins. If we do what we did Wednesday, we’ll be fine.

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t,” said RFK himself. “And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

In other words, the lead is 2-1/2. Let’s achieve greatly.

15 comments to Dream of Things That Never Were

  • Anonymous

    You gotta give it up for Pelfrey, too. The box score certainly doesn't reflect it, but Pelfrey was close to dominant last night, breaking bats with velocity and movement. More than anything, though, was his gutsy performance, reminiscent of Maine and Ollie last October.

  • Anonymous

    And I'll be in attendance for those last two RFK games, my first and last. I didn't think I'd have this serious a rooting interesting though. I wonder how many Phillies Fans will make the slightly longer (than to Shea) trek down and if I can harass them.

  • Anonymous

    “the only possible double play grounder from Nook Logan, Jose Reyes practically on second in time to step, pivot and throw. I don't want to start pegging potential turning points of the season because that kind of haughty, arrogant and presumptuous thinking is what got us where we are today, I am convinced, but it certainly made the difference in ending the ugliness of the previous five games. ”
    You are so right, Greg. Just after Gary Cohen points out Logan's one of the most difficult men in the league to double up, he hits a slow grounder up the middle. The way things have been going our hearts sank for we were sure that was to be a seeing-eye, run scoring base hit. Instead, sweet jubalation as we turn one against the man who never gets doubled-uped and get out of the inning still hanging onto that two run lead.
    It's not arrogance, but if we do hold on, last night might be remembered as the break that turned the tide in our favor (just like the ball that bounced off the top of the fence into Cleon's glove back in 1973) for two reasons: that clutch and unexpected double-play and for whoever would have thought we'd be rooting for Yadier Molina to get a game winning base hit for the Cardinals. Instead of hanging by a thread, there's now a little breathing room with a 2-1/2 game lead and three in the loss column

  • Anonymous

    I've been hiding under my bed the last week (having a little fun, but still), so it's good to see the Mets win and the Phillies lose.
    I like to tell myself that the Mets are just dragging their feet so they can clinch on the 27th, after I was given a couple tix for the Cards/Mets makeup game. Yeah, that's it…

  • Anonymous

    GO EXPONATIONALS! GO! GO! GO! (Only stop again next week, please.)
    Nook La Logan, you are frigging hilarious. Yeah, I can just picture Thomas Jefferson nailing that stadium together with his bare hands, can't you?
    And go Red Sox, PLEASE. Must they always roll over and play dead for the Yankees (other than October 2004)?

  • Anonymous

    In a hypothetical situation in which the Mets happen to be playing a playoff series, I'm beginning to think hypothetcially (of course) that Pelfrey starts and Maine and Perez are relievers (depending on the schedule and El Duque…it's all hypothetical, nobody's in the playoffs at this juncture).

  • Anonymous

    I prefer “ExpoGnats” because they're still the Expos to me, plus they can be friggin' pests at the worst possible time.

  • Anonymous

    I forgot all about that game until I was reminded this morning. Well, there goes my planned three-day Shea sabbatical.

  • Anonymous

    Transitionally, they were the “Exponentials” or “Natspos”. Since then, they're just who they are. Without Jose Vidro, I have to strain hard to see their Montreal roots.
    May they be a powerhouse this weekend.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, RFK isn't all bad. For instance, there's ample parking.

  • Anonymous

    how poetic if that was the clincher? Yadier Molina striking out to end it?

  • Anonymous

    Two words: Brian Schneider. *shudder*
    But yeah, go ExpoGnats!! Your ledger is not nearly balanced with me… you still owe me for every cold/wet/lopsided/14-inning loss you ever put me through. Sweep the Phriggin' Phillies and I won't venomously spit your name until next year.

  • Anonymous

    Who decided to put the subway stop like 2 miles from the stadium entrance? The Missus needed oxygen last year!

  • Anonymous

    One game is one game and you haven't not lost 10 in a row until you haven't lost 10 in a row.
    Kudos on your use of the double negative.

  • Anonymous

    Well, it was nice to see a solid outing for one day. The Mets might need to consider bringing in a late inning defensive replacement for Wright. How many late inning errors can that guy make?
    And Billy Wagner has proven to have the heart of a tin man, with the courage of the lion.