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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 Truthiness Hurts

The scoreboard presented a fact all through Saturday's game: the Mets were beating the Marlins. But my considerable gut told me different: the Mets are in trouble.

This is what this season and this September have come down to — feeling the game instead of following it. Even though the Mets led and were never in anything remotely resembling trouble against the Marlins, I never watched or listened calmly, not for a single batter, not until the 27th Marlin out was recorded.

The truth is the Mets won easily; that's a fact. The truthiness of the matter — and isn't that what Stephen Colbert has been teaching us to feel for two years? — is nothing feels easy anymore.

That a problem? Only in that it reflects the state of the Mets heading into their final eight days of the regular season, hopefully not their final eight days of 2007 baseball altogether.

Devoid of context, Saturday gave us a glorious game, featuring the strikeout stylings of Oliver Perez, a power burst by the almost but never quite forgotten Ramon Castro and some fairly Valuable David Wright action. Moises Alou continues to set the Mets' hitting streak record and the Mets have something that is technically a winning streak.

In context…phew!

All I could do, for the most part, was count down from 27 to 1 and cross every digit that flexes that Ollie was up to a complete game or the modern-day equivalent: an eight-inning masterpiece. It's both the truth and the truthiness that says relying on the Mets' bullpen to not lose a Mets' win is very, very dangerous these days.

Total props to the Damned Duo of Guillermo Mota and Scott Schoeneweis from Friday night for bailing their team out after a lengthy rain delay (and after Pedro Martinez bailed himself out with those frozen-custard strikeouts of Cody Ross and Miguel Olivo). They reversed a biblical flood of bad fortune, no doubt about it. But do you expect anybody in this pen — those two in particular — to replicate such competence on consecutive days? That's why I was rooting for Randolph and Peterson to forget this is 2007 and pretend it was 1968 when it was still legal to send a starter out to begin the ninth.

Failing that, the best we could hope for in these Wagnerless times was Heilman, a five-run lead and a lousy three outs. The most frightening image of this game was the recurring shot of the Mets' bullpen: all those sorry pitchers lingering on directors' chairs set up down the third base line; it looked like a casting call for the gates of hell. Heilman struggled to throw 24 pitches but escaped the fire down below. It was only the five-run lead that made me confident he wouldn't do us in. And I consider myself a solid supporter of Aaron Heilman.

Tim McCarver (who is a back spasm to listen to when not leavened by the genial grace notes of Ralph Kiner) did echo a point that had been hatching in my head these past couple of days, that this is not the way you want to go into a postseason. Just get to the postseason, of course, and then we'll quibble, but boy…what a mess in terms of health this roster is. Beltran was out there despite the bruise to the knee he took Friday. Delgado rushed back at probably well less than 100 percent. Lo Duca's been hanging in there with a battered hand. Green was hit today. You can hear Castillo's knees barking through the television. Alou is always one stiff breeze from dismemberment. If you can't admire this team for the way it's been playing, at least admire that many of them are playing at all.

They are on the field, they are trying and, for two straight days, they are succeeding. It should feel good. Most I still feel anxiety. It's so different from early in the season when the Mets would be trailing by some disturbing margin and I'd think, “all we gotta do is get a coupla guys on.” These days I look at a five-run lead over a last-place team and wonder how we can possibly avoid blowing it. The truthiness — the feeling surrounding this club — is still quite shaky.

Good thing the standings reflect only the truth.

17 comments to The Truthiness Hurts

  • Anonymous

    Castillo REALLY needs to sit, or he will not be able to do what he does in October. C'mon, Willie… can you possibly have the occasional run-in with common sense? Sit the guy down.
    And I can honestly say that a five-run lead fills me–the perennial Mets Pollyannna and also a solid Heilman supporter–with no confidence these days. I was also rooting for Ollie to see us out… why the **** not?! IS there some sort of law against it now?
    all those sorry pitchers lingering on directors' chairs set up down the third base line; it looked like a casting call for the gates of hell.
    HAHAHAHA, nice one.

  • Anonymous

    Let me remind you of something you have always espoused – there are no style points in baseball.
    The Mets won. The Magic Number is down to 7. Limping into the playoffs didn't hurt the Cardinals any last year.
    This is all good.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, the standings reflect the truth, but the truth is that I'm afraid 1.5 games isn't enough of a margin to hold off Philadelphia, who are doing it again tonight, thanks to another lackadaisical performance from Manny Acta's crew (funny, they seemed to get plenty up for the Mets), who had the lead run on third with no one out in the bottom of the 8th and couldn't score. Yeah, the Phillies still have to play Atlanta but, like us, after tomorrow they're home the rest of the way and, unlike us, they can't seem to find a way to lose even when they should.
    Notwithstanding the 1.5 game difference, I'm actually more hopeful of edging out San Diego for the wild card than I am of beating back the Phillies' charge. I hate myself for saying it, but it's the truth.

  • Anonymous

    If they can win every game from here to November 1 by 13-12, you won't hear a fretful peep out of me about how they got there — though that might not be the formula to get anywhere near there in the interim.
    It's never the style points that worry me. It's what, at this late date, the style of play foretells for…I was going to say the next eight games, but let's just take 'em one at a time.
    Mind you, today was fairly perfect. It's what lurks behind Door No. 1 that will have me up tonight.

  • Anonymous

    I began to type in “phi” in my browser and my computer helpfully knew I was headed for phillies.com. It's gotten that close.
    Of course they won. We better continue to win.

  • Anonymous

    Deck chairs on the Titanic, I swear.

  • Anonymous

    Also worth noting because I can't find any more walls to bang my head against: the Phillies aren't just winning almost without exception, but they are winning one heartstopper after another. Tonight was extra innings. Two of the three in St. Louis were extra innings (they lost one). The one that wasn't was the nearly blown lead that they held onto. All three of the games they won at Shea were, to varying degrees, thrillers.
    It's a little like watching us at the end of '99 except they got it together sooner. Come to think of it, maybe it's like watching the Reds at the end of '99 when they stormed from the almost-dead to get the drop on us.
    We won that year. A little happy omen, perhaps.

  • Anonymous

    And we're a lot like watching us at the end of '98. But as ever, I digress.
    Unfortunately, the Phillies are playing like we should be playing. Like a team headed for the postseason no matter what it takes.
    Yeah, I'm jealous.

  • Anonymous

    The painful truthiness is in the won-loss log.
    These guys were only the worldbeaters we thought they should be for the first 50 games this year (33-17, .660).
    Over the next 81 — exactly half a season's worth — they played below-500 ball.
    Only in the last three weeks have they really found some of their old form, going 12-8 in September so far.
    Assuming they stumble into the postseason one way or another, which team shows up in October — the April-May-September Mets who ripped through the league playing .640 ball or the June-July-August Mets who stunk up the place at .475?
    Considering how wrung out and banged up they now look, I have trouble feeling confident that the Good Mets will be the onew we see in the postseason. Those Maddening Mets held the stage for too long this year.

  • Anonymous

    Good news: San Diego lost again, so we're a game up on them now. If the Mets had the division sewn up, I'd want the Pads to win the wild card to keep the Phillies out altogether, but we have to root for them to lose every game unless and until we know the Mets won't need that slot themselves.

  • Anonymous

    One thing in our favor: the Phillies have one fewer game to play than the Mets and trail by two in the loss column with seven of their own to play.
    Therefore, if the Mets go only 4-4 the rest of the way (hard to fathom that against such weak comp mostly at home, regardless of the recent doldrums), the Phillies can afford to lose but once over their last seven if they want to beat us out. And on the way to doing so they have to deal with an Atlanta team that would probably love nothing better than to shove the entire season up Jimmy Rollins' noisy bunghole, and actually has enough talent to do so.
    Yeah, so it means we have to root for the Braves. S'okay, they're not really the Braves anymore, not the way we knew them.

  • Anonymous

    If I can root for Yadier F**king Molina, I can root for anyone. September always makes for strange bedfellows.

  • Anonymous

    THEY ARE DRIVING ME OUT OF WHAT'S LEFT OF MY MIND.

  • Anonymous

    I'm sure glad there isn't an Ugliness Quotient (UQ) for wins. Or we'd be leading the league in it. Oh no, wait, the Phillies would.

  • Anonymous

    Laurie,
    Hope today's finals delay your visit to the loony bin for one more day at least. Especially since great Met minds think alike. I'd be joining you in Arkham Asylum myself.
    If the Mets can limp to a 3-4 record this week, the Phillies would need to go 5-1 just to tie us. Is .429 baseball too much to ask? I seem to remember we've had three months of that already this year.

  • Anonymous

    Believe it or not, when My Man Billy let up that HR, I snapped. I turned it off. Much more pleasant goings-on at the Metrodome, plus Greg Maddux was pitching. I just couldn't take another loss, esp. after watching the last inning of the Phils-Gnats game and being so excited. And knowing I'll be at Shea all week and needed whatever shred of sanity I had left…
    I didn't even have the heart to check the score until just now.

  • Anonymous

    Long time reader, first time poster here.
    Having survived through the latest episode of our cardiac kids, I kept reminding myself that it has never come easy for our beloved Mets, at least when it counts. If the greatest Mets team I've ever had the privilege of witnessing, the '86 edition, had to struggle and scrape and claw in the playoffs to get to the top of the mountain, I realized I was being unfair to this flawed by comparison roster to lose faith now.
    So I made myself a promise that despite the pain the latest edition of this team has put me through, I'm going to watch until the end, come what may. As Willie said, when they win the champagne will taste that much sweeter. From his lips to God's ears.
    Of course, I may need to start drinking that much sooner to survive the trip.