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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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C'mon — What Else Are We Gonna Do?

I can't tell you with any great conviction that there's any good reason to invest your faith in our team this weekend. Of course I can't. I was at the same game Thursday night that you were or watched. There was nothing about the Mets' performance to suggest they ever held a seven-game lead in their division or, for that matter, that they were about to be tied for first. The Cardinals — Albert Pujols, David Eckstein and a flock of random Redbirds — played like contenders, not the washed-out world champions they are. Journeyman Joel Piñeiro may as well have been the lost Dean brother, so effective was this Cardinal pitcher against these Mets bats.

The only reason we were technically in the game for nearly two hours was that we had Hall of Famer and all-time legend Pedro Martinez giving again his all to this nearly lost cause. Pedro's made five September starts and has been exactly what the Mets needed five times. One unearned run in the first and two earned in the third, but unquantifiable guts and smarts otherwise. The best move Willie Randolph has made as Mets manager came in the seventh when he visited the mound after Pedro walked Rick Ankiel on four pitches to make it first and second with two out and Pujols looming. I may be crazy, but I thought Pedro wanted Albert. Pujols had doubled twice earlier. Pedro wasn't gonna let it happen again. The best move part was the manager leaving his starter in for one more batter.

Willie sat down. Two pitches later, so did Albert. Pedro was done at that point, though hopefully not for calendar year 2007.

As the ninth approached, I experienced the most horrible kind of déjà vu. It was 3-0 in the fourth-from-final game of the season, with the Mets' position in the playoff race tenuous, with the Mets having begun to lose alarmingly, with the Mets playing a team long out of it, with me sitting in the mezzanine hoping that somehow the Mets could get something going right here, right now.

Except it wasn't right here, right now. It was right here, Wednesday, September 23, 1998, the Mets, one inning removed from sliding into a tie for the Wild Card with the Chicago Cubs, down three runs to the Montreal Expos. I sat and watched in disbelief as Jay Payton, Jorge Fabregas and Todd Pratt lined, popped and struck out against Uggie Urbina. It was the second consecutive loss for those Mets who had been one up over the Cubs when the week began. They would go to Atlanta, lose three more and be one behind them and the Giants when the week and the season ended.

I tried to shake off the feeling that I was enduring 1998 again. We were sending up three legitimate hitters: Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo and David Wright. Unprompted by Kevin James or any other unwelcome recorded intrusions, about a third of the house drummed up a Let's Go Mets! It was sincere if short-lived. Reyes grounded out. Castillo grounded out. Wright flied out. It was another 3-0 loss, nine years removed from the same 3-0 loss.

We were beaten for the fourth consecutive game while the Phillies were topping the Braves, yet it wasn't a booing night in Flushing. Maybe because of Pedro. Maybe because this was a makeup date and you had to go a little out of your way to find it. Maybe some of the more sympathetic souls at Shea took “makeup date” literally and felt conciliatory toward their team on this, the last evening they would spend alone in first place. By night's end, we had a roommate.

Then there's the very real possibility that there wasn't a ton of derision because there wasn't a ton of concern or its sibling emotion, a ton of belief. You can't believe what you've seen since September 12: the Mets 4-10, the Phillies 11-3. After 140 quick minutes, we filed out like middle-schoolers from a mandatory assembly. It was cool to get out of class for a couple of periods, but that was pretty lame, wasn't it?

Yes, it was lame. Yes, the Mets are lame. Yes, the Mets are choking on their own vomit in historic fashion. At first it was disturbing to watch. Then it was sad. Now it's barely anything.

Except for this: There's a tie for first place in the National League East with three games to go. The Mets are one of the two teams in the tie. They didn't get here the way you'd want them to get here, the way the Phillies did. You'd rather rise than fall this or any time of year. But I've checked the rulebook and it turns out the Mets are still eligible to compete in and win the games they have remaining and the division as a whole.

And that's what I hope they do. I mean I really hope they do. You know how they've disappointed us by their actions? You know how it looks as if they're going through the motions instead of to the postseason? You know how most of us who are lifelong fans have said we can't stand them?

I don't care about that anymore. It may be as true as the drop has been precipitous, but I don't care about that anymore at all. I have rooted for this team since I was six years old. I'm forty-four. I've been at this nonstop for 39 seasons. I have lived — lived — to have my team be in a position to go to the playoffs every single one of those 39 seasons. It is all I ever wanted when it was unavailable to me. It has been unavailable to me almost every one of those 39 seasons by the time those seasons reached this juncture. There have been ten exceptions to the rule. There were the seven seasons when they made it; there was 1985, when they took it to the second-to-last day; there was 1998, when they took it to the last day; and there is 2007, when they are alive on the third-to-last day.

I can't do a blessed thing about 1985 or 1998 anymore. But I can do whatever a lifelong fan can do right here, right now. As my Thursday night companion AlbertsonMets put it in a very perceptive comment on this blog yesterday, I am going to root like hell.

I am going to be at Shea tonight, and I am going to root like hell.

I am going to be watching on SNY Saturday, and I am going to root like hell.

I am going to be back at Shea on Sunday, and whether there is still something on the line or not — and there may very well not — I am going to root like hell.

I am going to root like hell for the Mets. Not because these particular players who have whizzed away a formidable lead like nobody before them necessarily deserve my unqualified support, but because I deserve to give it. I don't wander through the winters thinking how great it will be for the baseball season to come along so I can ignore my team or dismiss my team or decide my team is pointless, hopeless or worthless. I haven't been at this for 39 seasons so that when I am presented with a two-way tie for first place with three games to play I will act like I am too good for it.

When the Mets clinched the 2006 National League East title, I told you this:

We look at the script Mets on those uniforms and that's our name. That's us. However it happened, we became Mets a forever ago. We don't get paid. Doesn't even occur to us how much being Mets costs us in dollar terms let alone man and woman hours devoted to this cause we've made our own across each and every one of our lifetimes. We bleed, we sweat, we cry because, c'mon — what else are we gonna do?

We can do everything for this team except hit, hit with power, run, throw, catch and pitch. So we do what we can. We wear them and we hope them and we yell them and we live them and we write them. We do it with only limited promise and no guarantee of success most years. We do it on the slightest chance that every now and then we can call ourselves the champion of something. It's not a dealbreaker when we can't, but it surely serves as a contract extension into perpetuity for us when we do.

Hey, fellow Mets — there is only limited promise and no guarantee of success this year, but the slightest chance still exists. Don't pass it up. Root like hell for us.

27 comments to C'mon — What Else Are We Gonna Do?

  • Anonymous

    Even if the Mets blow it, it won't be the biggest collapse ever, according to Baseball Prospectus. That distinction belongs to the '95 Angels, who had an 8,332-to-1 chance of missing the playoffs at their peak. We only had a 500-to-1 chance of blowing it on Sep. 12 — good enough for second place all time. Now that would add insult to injury — we can't even finish first on the all-time choke list!

  • Anonymous

    That's the spirit!

  • Anonymous

    The sad thing is that, as a Royals fan, I can't remember ever being in this position. Really.
    “Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it…”

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the post, Greg. I was beginning to feel like I was the only one who still cared.

  • Anonymous

    This weekend, we all need to just chill out, take a deep breath, and change our shirts like Pedro.

  • Anonymous

    Update from your Provo correspondent…
    Two-hour delay in departure from JFK meant I could listen to the entire game. I kept it on while we sat on the runway, assuring the stewardess that no, my “iPod” was turned off. (Apparently radios don't crash jetliners.) Wright flied out as we sat behind international traffic. The Phillies won as the back wheels left the ground.
    Earlier today, at MetsBlog, I watched the video of Lo Duca walking Jim Rome through the Mets' pregame preparations. It provided the only Met-related smiles of the day (OK, there was a fist pump for Pedro getting Pujols out), particularly when Lo Duca called Reyes “Tracy Chapman” and started singing a parody of “Fast Car.” That's pretty funny — partially just to hear Paul Lo Duca signing a Tracy Chapman song, partially because damned if Reyes doesn't look a bit like Tracy Chapman.
    So, driving from Salt Lake City to Provo in the primeval Utah dark, I'm stuck flipping around the dial. What's the first song I hear? “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman.
    A sign! A sign! It's a sign!
    I should've declared that a good portent and turned off the radio right then and there. Because the next song? It was “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
    As my memory rests
    But never forgets what I lost
    Wake me up when September ends

    Oops.
    Tomorrow's game will unfold during a meeting, kept track of via SMS messages to Google. Let's go text!

  • Anonymous

    So, driving from Salt Lake City to Provo in the primeval Utah dark, I'm stuck flipping around the dial.

    Rattlesnake Speedway in the Utah desert
    I pick up my money and head back into town
    Drivin' cross the Waynesboro County line
    I got the radio on and I'm just killin' time…
    Sorry. I thought we were still doing Springsteen songs…

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone catch the front page of the Daily News today? “Meet the Mutts “——- OUCH!!

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, right now, it can get no worse for the Mets. (ok clearly it can, and it would result in us losing the next 3 and the Phils winning the next three)
    But this entire time, since we've begun this tailspin, there's been this fear, we've been nervously glancing in our rear view, seeing an insanely fast approaching car filled with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, JC Romero and the rest of them (not Alfonseca. He had to take a separate car, just wouldn't fit)
    What I mean, is the season starts tonight. We're neck and neck. There's no more, 'they're playing from behind' and 'we're letting the lead slip'. Game 1 of a 3 game series. You know what? At this point everyone expects the mets to blow it. So let's take that and leverage it in the fact that we know they won't.

  • Anonymous

    I believe. I believe. It's silly, but I believe….

  • Anonymous

    Willie Randolph is a double agent secretly working for the Yankees. His mission was to destroy the Mets threat to Yankee NYC dominance. He will be rewarded with the Bronx manager's job when Torre is done.

  • Anonymous

    He will be rewarded with the Bronx manager's job when Torre is done.

    He gets his feet wet and gains experience here and takes over for St. Joseph of Torre when the time comes. I've thought that since the day he was hired…

  • Anonymous

    Once the family felt secure
    Now no one's really sure
    Your own worst enemy has come to town
    Your own worst enemy has come to town
    Now everything is falling down
    Your own worst enemy has come
    To town

  • Anonymous

    It's a four game season. I fully expect to be playing for all the marbles on Monday.
    It's always darkest before the dawn. Let's Go Mets!!!

  • Anonymous

    There is no magic in this team.
    Another problem is that no one else in the National League East wants the Mets to win the division again.
    The Braves laid down for the Phillies after they were eliminated, wanting nothing more than to see us lose.
    For some reason the Nationals hate us more than Philly and will also lay down for them.
    That means the Phillies will easily sweep this weekend. I doubt the Nats will even score a run. Just watch.
    Leaving us to need a sweep against the Marlins just to make the post season. I'm not a pessimist, but I don't see that happening.
    I can't take the torture anymore. I'm sorrowfully throwing in the towel to save myself the anguish I have been feeling for the past two weeks.
    I've been taking out my misery on my wife and children and it just doesn't seem fair. This team is awful. No heart. Not deserving of the post season in any way. The season is over and I can finally say I am relieved. The Mets will go 1-2 this weekend and lose the wild card by 1 game. Willis will pitch a 3-hitter on Sunday to eliminate us and thankfully I won't be watching.
    My one hope is that next season Minaya can put together a better bullpen.

  • Anonymous

    New to baseball, and all on my own, for no reason whatsoever, I started watching around 2002. I followed both New York teams for a couple of seasons before realizing that the Mets were the only team for me, this was the middle of the '04 season, more or less. I chose my team, and for better or worse, have been right with them every step, ever since.
    Either I go down with this ship, or we all sail off into the sunset together, and that's that, but no matter what happens, I absolutely believe they can win it, and will stand by my team 'til the end.
    I was there last night, will be there tonight, maybe Saturday, definitely Sunday. Whether I carry my “Believe or Leave” sign, or my “Love You Mets, Win or Lose” sign on Sunday, or both, remains to be seen.
    For tonight, it's absolutely “Believe or Leave” and you bet I'll be rooting like hell.
    “I've been a Mets fan all my life.” – Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?: The Improbable Saga of the New York Met's First Year by Jimmy Breslin (1963)
    Let's go Mets!

  • Anonymous

    From first place to a tie for second in the wild card race. All in a day's work.
    And ever since you decided to (still) exclude George McRae's”Rock Your Baby” from the list (despite its distinction as “#1 Single of the Year, 1974″ by Rolling Stone, and arguably one of the most resonant tunes of the last 30-odd years), I didn't read today's post beyond the third paragraph; similar to my not reading too much into Cardinals 3, Mets 0.
    And for the record, I requested “Kung Fu Fighting” (No. 350) at my aunt's Engagement Party in '74. The band didn't know it (effing tools). A disappointment. Like a certain NL East team. (phew; full circle post.)

  • Anonymous

    At a particularly self-pitying and futile juncture in my life, I decided I hated “Fast Car” for I feared winding up like Tracy Chapman's loser boyfriend.
    Then the Mets went out and won a division championship.

  • Anonymous

    Damn, now I've got Darlington County stuck in my head.

  • Anonymous

    I think “Rock Your Baby” was just too slow for my 11-year-old sensibilities and my appreciation for it in adulthood never quite caught up with either “Rock The Boat” (No. 387) which it always seemed to be played right after or “Rockin' Chair” (No. 123) which blew it out of the water at the imaginary McCrae Family Reunion and Greatest Hits Festival. I like it, just don't love it.
    Kind of like this season most of the year.

  • Anonymous

    MBS,
    We know you have your choice of baseball teams and we appreciate that you chose to fly with this one. Hopefully you won't crash with it either.
    Ran into an old friend and co-worker on the Woodside platform heading over last night. He had virtually no interest in baseball when I (and two similarly obsessed co-workers) met him in early 2003. By the time we were done with him, he was One Of Us. The second sentence out of his mouth last night was “I thought Humber looked good for the first few innings.”
    Makes me proud when that sort of conversion process bears fruit.

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone catch the front page of the Daily News today? “Meet the Mutts “——- OUCH!!
    Of course that newspaper would discover us in our death spiral. I'm surprised the headline didn't read “TORRE THINKS METS IN TROUBLE”

  • Anonymous

    Wish I could feel as optimistic, but I don't.
    This team – as anonymous said – has no heart. No guts. And they deserve no glory. Forget about the Nationals or the Braves 'laying down'. The Mets laid down. These past two weeks have been the most pathetic, gutless, and heartless exhibition I've ever seen in my many years of watching this team. I'd prefer to see them in last place and playing hard, then see them in first place playing like this.
    I feel particularly awful for those players who do seem to still care – who've fought their way back, and who seem to keep fighting every day. Pedro (especially). Lo Duca. Moises. Marlon. Endy.
    But the 'big stars' have been going through the motions for months now. Reyes reminds me more of Vince Coleman every day.
    As a fan – lifelong like you – all I want is for next season to get here as quickly as possible. With a new bullpen, a new manager, and with NO jobs safe. Not even our 'future's at 3B or SS. Straw and Doc were the 'future' once as well.
    Springtime brings hope. I have no more hope for this team in 2007. And, sad as it is, I don't believe they do either.
    Just end it. It's over.

  • Anonymous

    Just for the record, the Braves weren't eliminated until they finished losing to the Phillies last night, and thus they could not have “laid down for the Phillies after they were eliminated”.
    There are few things more annoying than a troll who can't even get his/her facts straight.

  • Anonymous

    And let's not forget George McRae's “You Can Have It All”, which has an indirect Mets connection — it was covered by Yo La Tengo, a band that got its name from “the best anecdote in Mets history.” They're big Mets fans, obviously … you can hear YLT's rousing rendition of “Meet The Mets” (performed live on WFMU) on their album, “Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics.” Think I'll listen to it tonight for some good team mojo.

  • Anonymous

    I am going to try not to watch, or even look at any scores — not because I'm too much of a pussy to handle it (although I might be), but because I cannot deal with the thought that it is I who is accursing them. I am following them. They are losing. Therefore, I might very well be the problem.
    Whether I follow through with my resolve or not remains to be seen. History is not on my side here. If we do not make the playoffs, please do not find me and kill me because I peeked. If I am here it's because I am an addict. One day at a time I can do. One weekend at a time and then nothing until April, AAAARRRRGH.
    But that's why I came here and did not go to any other Mets-related source today. My boyfriend, who is a Dodgers fan albeit a very casual one (and through me a secondary Mets fan, ditto), said today, “But it's exciting, so many teams still in the race!” And of course, his own is not one of them (and was quickly disposed of by my team in the last NLDS), so that's rather generous of him. But yeah, wouldn't Braves fans totally rather be where we are now than where they are, even with the team appearing to be completely fried? Hell, wouldn't half the frigging teams in the game want to still be in the race now? How believable are we if we say to their fans, “Nah, you wouldn't want this, better to be out of the race by the end of August and enjoy your September call-ups”? They laugh at us in Seattle. Laugh. Hysterically. We don't know how frigging good we have it.
    And there's no way to tell them in a way they'll get it. Yeah, it's exciting. So is a fine-needle biopsy. Remember when they used to tell your spouse the results of a biopsy instead of telling you?

  • Anonymous

    This was a interesting experience. I like going to the Mets games too. And most of the time I get really nervous because they don`t play like they are suppose to. But after the game in over I relax myself because i know that its just a game, and in this case, only the best will win.