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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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After the Fire

I experienced an epiphany one day in 2007. It was Wednesday, May 30. I was kind of punchy, having fallen asleep on the reclining love seat in the living room after coming home from the Armando-Jose-Delgado twelve-inning thriller of May 29, and perhaps a little loopy from the fumes of the fire that broke out in another apartment in our building the following morning. I was tired, but I was alert to the situation at hand.

Over the previous few days, everything Met was working perfectly. We had swept the Marlins in Florida and then humbled the Giants in one of the great games Shea or any stadium will ever see. The Braves were in pieces. The Yankees, for that matter, were in pieces. The Red Sox were burying them. I endured what seemed like hours of monotonous Richard Neer through a long car ride the Sunday before just so I could keep hearing the FAN updates: Mets sweep, Yanks swept. Braves swept, Red Sox sweep. Everything we could ever want was coming true.

Even the fire on Wednesday, all things considered, wasn’t so bad.

I was still worn out on the afternoon of the 30th when, having decided everything was as close to copasetic as could be, I lit out for the nearest King Kullen to pick up a few groceries. I was sporting a Mets shirt and a Mets cap. This was not unusual. As I pulled into the supermarket lot, I saw somebody wearing a Yankees cap. That was not unusual either, nor was the familiar feeling of clenching that I’d been doing for a decade. Oh brother. I wonder what he’s going to say.

Then the epiphany: That fucker couldn’t say anything to me, not one goddamn thing! This was way beyond all the self-esteem grasping I’d been doing on and off since the late ’90s when I was prepared to answer any charges that the Mets suck with a veritable graph demonstrating that consecutive winning seasons and regular Wild Card contention meant, in fact, the Mets didn’t suck. I no longer had to make the case. The Mets were making it for me. They made it pretty clear throughout 2006 and now they had sealed it. The Mets didn’t suck. I didn’t suck for being their fan. We were now the arbiters of who sucked.

After the fire was the most satisfied I would be in 2007.

***

Five-Year Plans didn’t exactly yield long-term results for the Soviet Union, so there isn’t much sense in attempting to execute one now. Still, I thought I was in the midst of one.

We started this blog in 2005, a year that had a little of this, a little of that where the Mets were concerned: first year of Pedro and Carlos and Omar and Willie; last year of Mike; emergence of David and Jose; a whisper of Wild Card contention; a whiff of disappointment…a great way for us to get our typing fingers wet.

Then 2006 and the fast start and the obviously impending division title and the drama of a postseason with its highs and its lows and its lingering beauty…truly a privilege to blog.

Last winter, it dawned on me what an opportunity we had here. A season like 2005, a season like 2006 and, eventually, unbeatable storylines for 2008 (the last year of Shea) and 2009 (the first year of Citi). For the first five years of this endeavor, I theorized, it couldn’t get any better.

And smack in the middle? 2007? Of course this was going to be the world championship year.

It never, ever, ever occurred to me that we would have something of historic proportions to blog about in 2007 and it would not involve Met success. I just assumed the next logical step for a franchise that had come within one extra flare — just one — a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail…just one more dying quail of the World Series would in fact be in the World Series. Once we made the World Series, logically we would win it.

And wouldn’t that be something to write home about?

***

Well, we got a memorable storyline, all right, with a nice little twist there at the end. Nice little twist of the knife. Alanis Morissette would call it ironic. I don’t think it was irony. I don’t know that it was tragedy. I do know I would have chosen a different ending. Wouldn’t have we all?

But mostly I know that I knew very little about what was coming when this year began. And since I do know I was not alone in feeling this way, I know something greater was at work than sorry arms and aging legs.

For dousing my fiery passion, for altering my secret Five-Year Plan, for derailing our September and leaving our October blank, for showing once again that none of us — none of us — knows our elbow from our Aase, it is with great reluctance that I announce our Nikon Camera Player of the Year for 2007 is Uncertainty.

Why Uncertainty? Because you just never know.

***

Uncertainty takes its place alongside our previous Faith and Fear Nikon Camera Players of the Year, radiomates Gary Cohen and Howie Rose in 2005 and Shea Stadium in 2006, for having defined its season like no other entity. They broke up Gary and Howie and they’re going to tear down Shea, but Uncertainty isn’t going anywhere soon. Surely we learned that much in 2007.

***

When did you know? I mean really know, deep down in your heart know? When did you give up on your expectations? Surely you had them. We all had them. How could we not? Even if there was enough to make you suspicious, how could you not believe these Mets were going to leap that little hump that had separated them from the World Series in 2006?

Did you see it coming in Spring Training? I’d be self-aggrandizing my powers of prophecy to tell you I saw it, but when we were losing Grapefruit game after Grapefruit game, I had a dark little inkling that something was awry. But I dismissed it as quickly as it arose. Ah, these games don’t count. Why am I sitting up late stressing over Chan Ho Park?

Did you see it coming in April? When we weren’t sweeping the Nationals by throwing our gloves on the field? Sure, it was irritating losing games to the Braves, but not beating the Nationals on a regular basis at Shea…shouldn’t they have been easy pickin’s?

Did you see it coming in May? A little? We took first in May. We peaked in May. There were afternoons when we played like children in the best way possible, grinning and winning and surprising ourselves by how much we could accomplish in the course of a springtime afternoon. But there were days and nights when we were downright ordinary. Yet these were the 2007 Mets! The heirs to the 2006 Mets! The hairless 2007 Mets! They got buzzcuts and they started winning!

The night that followed the afternoon that followed the fire that followed the Delgado walkoff that followed Benitez balking Reyes home…we were shut down completely by Barry Zito who we were supposed to get, as we welcomed back Guillermo Mota who was supposed to be gone.

I never did care for those buzzcuts.

***

June wasn’t a week old when we all saw it coming. This was the month with all the playoff opponents: Detroit, L.A., Yankees, Twins…preceded by Arizona and Philadelphia, teams that lacked only priors. The Mets played 18 consecutive games against the lot of them and lost 14. Panic was in the air.

But hey, we’re the Mets! We’re in first place! Sooner or later, you know we’ll snap out of it. We won a division last year. We came within a game of the Series. We play Takin’ Care of Business after wins because we take care of business.

The power of positive thinking seemed to right the ship. We swept Oakland and kicked dirt on St. Louis, our erstwhile October tormentor. Then we boogied on down to Philadelphia and won two on a Friday and one on a Saturday. I saw the first and third of them. With eight of nine won, I was giddy gliding toward home on NJ Transit. I had brought my iPod for the train trip and kept playing Bachman-Turner Overdrive as I rolled through Central and North Jersey on June 30, one month after the fire.

I wonder if I’m celebrating too much too soon, I actually thought. I wonder if I’m enjoying this to excess. Maybe I shouldn’t be too happy. We haven’t actually won anything. Maybe I should stop indulging in personal triumphalism. Maybe I should just play “Takin’ Care of Business” once.

Nah.

***

In 2007, I had my moments of fright that I was jinxing the Mets, that I was letting myself get ahead of the situation. But I didn’t worry as much as in past years about it. I didn’t want to. I wanted to enjoy this particular ride. I didn’t want to believe anything could stop it.

I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing. Three losses to the ne’er-do-well Rockies. Jose Reyes, that vibrant blur of enthusiasm and line drives, dogging it to first in Houston. John Maine giving the lousy Reds a large lead right away. Losing in San Diego. Struggling with the Nationals again. July was supposed to put June behind us. It didn’t. For two months, we played sub-.500 ball. Yet we led the division by three games.

***

I saw the future on August 11. I saw the Mets gift-wrap it, tie a bow around it and prepare to give it away. This I couldn’t deny. I saw the Mets spit up a game to the Marlins they had no business regurgitating. I’d already been on edge. A loss that could have been avoided in Milwaukee…a bad call setting the tone in Chicago…more frustration with Atlanta…and now we couldn’t beat Florida at home.

On August 11, we led the Marlins 3-1. Glavine was pitching in the seventh, facing the bottom of the order. He gave up a hit. He recorded an out. Then he was lifted for Mota.

In a matter of minutes, it was Marlins 5 Mets 3.

Yet the Mets, the Mets of 2006-07 persevered off Justin Miller: Milledge; Castro; Reyes; Castillo; two runs were built in a blink. The Mets tied it up. Sure, David Wright fouled out and Jose was thrown out trying to tag up (another lousy call), but that’s OK. We’re the Mets. They’re the Marlins. We just stuck a dagger in their heart. We’ll finish the job later. We’ll take care of business.

Heilman gave up two in the eighth and we lost 7-5. To the Marlins.

***

I’m OK with the idea that this isn’t the season we’ve been waiting for. Not happy about it. Not satisfied with it. Not necessarily resigned to the notion that it won’t be, because it’s August 12 and 46 games remain and we are in first and I still believe we are capable of staying in first, at least as capable as anybody else is of replacing us there. But as Miguel Cabrera drove home Cody Ross and Hanley Ramirez in the top of the eighth Saturday night, as I watched from an upper deck box another late-inning score turn away from the Mets’ favor, as I considered how most of the past ten weeks have played out, as I took in the width, depth and breadth of the 2007 season to date, I realized that the Mets truly and really might not make the playoffs.

Not just might not win the World Series. Not just might not win the pennant. Not just might not win the first round. Not just might not win the division. Not just might not win the Wild Card.

The Mets might not make the playoffs in 2007.

Me, 8/12/07

***

There was a time in the same month in which they executed that which is now known as The Worst Collapse Ever that the Mets were a lock. They had stumbled so unceremoniously so many times, most notably at the end of August in Philadelphia (takin’ care of business, indeed), but they bounced back. They were the Superball of baseball. They’d had a seven-game lead, let it melt, and chilled long enough to build it all the way back to seven by September 12. The Mets reeled off a 10-2 spurt. They were out of reach. Let the Magic Number countdowns and playoff lotteries and Met-a Culpas commence!

How dare I have thought something so right could go irretrievably wrong?

***

I did pretty well at being a student in first grade and second grade. It was a matter of pride and, to be honest, a matter of fact, that I was, for two years running, known (known, mind you) as “the smartest kid in the class”. But there was a spring day in second grade when I felt really dumb. I don’t remember what the day’s assignment was, but our teacher, Mrs. Cohen, told us we had to complete it quietly at our desks before we could have recess.

Everybody finished before I did. They had recess. I lingered and lagged, occasionally looking out the window to notice everybody else, none of whom was considered “the smartest kid in the class,” running around and yelling and tossing a ball or something. My assignment remained undone. It was getting late, so I hustled to finally finish. When I handed my paper to Mrs. Cohen, who was ready to move on to other lessons, I asked if I could have a little recess time outside. Sure, she said, go ahead, but don’t take too long.

I went outside. Everybody else had come in. I was all alone. I ran around in a circle a couple of times so I felt I was getting what was coming to me. Then I went back to my desk.

The first-place Mets who were swept three by the second-place Phillies; lost two of three to the fourth-place Nationals; blew leads of 3-0 and 7-4 before losing in ten innings to the last-place Marlins; were swept three more by the fourth-place Nationals; dropped a makeup game to the sub-.500 Cardinals; and lost two of three on the last weekend to the last-place Marlins reminded me of that spring afternoon in second grade.

They brought it back a lot.

***

It was exactly four months after the fire that the season ended. After the fire, I was full of certainty. There was nothing after the season except certain emptiness. Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya, the certified geniuses of 2006, had reverted to politicians, making the talk show rounds and insisting that no, the statistics didn’t tell the story, the losing twelve of seventeen wasn’t the complete picture, that this was still a good team that had endured a bad stretch, that the young players had just gained valuable pennant race experience for the first time. Randolph and Minaya had just watched their party lose both houses of Congress and were now in front of microphones telling anyone who was buying that the pro-Phillies election was just a blip. Really, they said, we’re living in a great Met era.

The Phillies played. The Yankees played. The Mets scattered. Shea went unoccupied. Citi Field went up, brick by potentially lucrative brick, but its foundation had been shaken. We really don’t know if it will be the home of winners come 2009 or if it will be just a pricey novelty for a little while. Willie Randolph was retained, more for the appearance of stability, I’m convinced (the team’s owners are politicians, too), than for anything he can offer as a manager. Tom Glavine declined his option for 2008, received $3 million to go away and didn’t offer a definitive plan for next year. It’s not impossible that he returns. God help us if he does.

In May when Cliff Floyd came back with the Cubs and June when Mike Piazza came back with the A’s, I heard each man go on the record lauding Mets fans’ judgment. Yes, they each said in so many words, they can be harsh when you fail, but when you come through for them, they really make you feel as if you did something great. The Shea faithful are faithful even if a segment thereof is not the most patient of sects. We can argue the merits of booing your own until we are orange and blue in the face, but who would have told anybody on the premises on September 30 that you’re sending the wrong message by booing the Hall of Fame pitcher who just hit the opposing pitcher with the bases loaded to force in the fifth run of the most important first inning of the year?

I didn’t boo Tom Glavine when he left after recording one out in nine chances. I was too busy cursing him and cursing myself for having been suckered into supporting him, publicly no less. I was certain I had gotten past my smoldering distaste for this ex- but never quite former Brave. I thought five years as a Met makes you a Met. In the end, it didn’t.

Glavine took lots of heat for not seeming hot and bothered that he turned in, almost inarguably, the worst pitching performance in a crucial game in Mets history. If the timing didn’t make it bad enough, the credentials of the pitcher made it unfathomably horrible. But there he was, the 303-game winner, in front of reporters, showered and powdered and explicitly “not devastated” by his cratering.

As the Mets offered themselves up to the media after they missed the playoffs, SNY showed each of them being true to themselves. Tom wasn’t devastated. Paul was one question from bopping Gary Apple. David held the emotional fort as long as he could. “Look at the way each of them is dealing with it,” Stephanie observed. “Glavine’s in denial, Lo Duca’s defensive and Wright wants to cry.”

Denial was the least pretty reaction of them all. Of course you give up five and leave three on in the first, you’re going to hear it from the crowd. But I cannot believe that a pitcher of Tom Glavine’s caliber — saluted as he’d been as he approached and surpassed 300 victories — had managed to build up so little goodwill in five Mets seasons that he didn’t rate the slightest sympathy from a representative sample of 54,453. A 303-game winner who wasn’t steeling himself with denial before he hit the first base foul line would have received that much. Maine, Perez, Pelfrey…freaking Brian Lawrence wouldn’t have been booed the way Glavine was, wouldn’t be regretted as Glavine will always be for his spectacular fade down the stretch in 2007.

I’m not glad he faded. I wish he had succeeded. I’d be perfectly willing to continue to indulge the illusion that I liked Tom Glavine being on the Mets up to and including November 1 and the seventh game of this year’s World Series if necessary. But on some perverse if impractical level, I’m thrilled that I didn’t have to root like hell for him one more batter than necessary. There’s a limit to the well-worn laundry argument. We sell bits and pieces of our soul to cheer on players we never wanted here. I once sat in the left field boxes and yelled “C’MON VINNY!” at Vince Coleman. I put my hands together for Mike Stanton. I could, for a time, look at Guillermo Mota in a Mets uniform without queasiness. And I gave my all for Tom Glavine because that was what I was supposed to do. I stood in my living room on the night of August 5 and applauded his landmark achievement. I applauded him a week later at Shea when his employers honored him with 300 golf balls and other tokens of appreciation.

We do sell our souls from time to time. Baseball’s personnel pool is too fluid not to. But I think a fan has to draw the line somewhere. I didn’t draw it firmly for Vince Coleman or Tommy Herr or Bobby Bonilla or Mike Stanton or Michael Tucker or Guillermo Mota. I draw it, finally, until the tip of the chalk breaks to keep Tom Glavine away from my heart and my head for the rest of my days. You will not read me rationalize ever again on behalf of Tom Glavine as a New York Met. He has lost his rationalization privileges.

I’ve taken that much of my soul back.

***

Glavine was a major culprit in the Worst Collapse Ever. He wasn’t the only one. The anti-Glavine, my precious Jose Reyes, was useless when it mattered most. Delgado’s hip pointed the wrong way just when the rest of him seemed to have figured things out. Nobody played second base more than 50 games the whole year. Lo Duca was angry more than he was good. Shawn Green leaned on his bat in the on-deck circle like he was waiting for a bus…and then stepped to the plate as if he had just missed a fleet of them. Really, where most of the Mets were concerned, the ineptitude was viral.

Wright the Valiant was on base the entire second half, but he couldn’t carry an entire offense on his back. Nor could Beltran the Magnificent, nor Alou the Astounding. These three, the 3-4-5 hitters almost every game, hit .352 combined in September. And it didn’t really help all that much. The only consistent pitcher — starter or reliever — in September was Pedro Martinez, and it would have taken a medical miracle to have wrenched an additional inning from him in any of his five sterling starts.

When even Pedro Martinez overcoming anatomical odds can’t rescue you, you are beyond hope.

***

There was a moment in September that was nice to see. I mean just nice. It was during one of the five wins in the final seventeen games, the one in which Ollie Perez held the Marlins at bay for eight innings, the kind of endurance generally unheard of from the Met rotation in 2007. With a large lead, Willie pulled him and the camera caught Ollie sitting down, collecting his thoughts when Jeff Conine walked over and shook his hand.

Jeff Conine? Jeff Conine who’d been a Met for about a month? Jeff Conine who contributed virtually nothing to this pennant drive? Jeff Conine who was about to retire no matter what the Mets did during his abbreviated tenure here?

Yeah, Jeff Conine. I wondered if Oliver Perez and Jeff Conine had done more than nod at each other since Conine joined the Mets. But there he was, being very much a veteran toward a younger player. I liked that. I really liked that. I suppose I liked Conine, too, though I never got much of a look at him as a Met. Nobody did.

I liked Castillo turning double plays and Anderson clubbing doubles and triples and, before them, Easley and Valentin contributing with smarts and base hits (Valentin could manage this ballclub someday, it occurred to me recently). I like older players, probably because they’re the ones closest in age to me. I like them a lot.

I just don’t need to see as many as often in 2008.

***

It was an imperfect roster, it is now obvious. There was almost nobody in the universally accepted prime of his career. The older guys broke down. The younger guys broke down, too, and had the nasty habit of not being fully formed (except for Wright). Kids like Gotay and Gomez and the tantalizing Lastings Milledge went untested at Randolph’s prerogative. Should have they played more? Would have they been the difference? Can’t tell without it having happened. I know I wasn’t particularly excited about entrusting our championship fate to a bunch of kids. But that’s because I thought we had a championship fate. We did not.

Remember the Mets’ rebuilding program of maybe three months in 2003 and three months in 2004? Remember the obtuse “Catch the Energy” come-on? Remember Jim Duquette’s retrofitted rationalization that Shea Stadium was a pitcher’s park, thus let’s load up on whiz-bang defenders and speedsters? It was enough of a strategy to allow me to bite my tongue when Vladimir Guerrero could have been had for a song in the winter of ’04 but was passed on. No, I said, we don’t need the best player in the National League. It’s not part of the plan.

What plan? There’s never any plan with this team. Or maybe there are just failed plans. “Catch the Energy” fizzled and next thing we knew, we were signing free agents. Good free agents. Game-changing free agents. I’m not complaining. But then we gave up on the youth movement, save for two positions. We had to have experience because we were so close. We were going to win the World Series in 2007. We needed to do that with Shawn Green and Moises Alou and an array of second basemen, many of whom could remember when Chevy Chase was boffo box office.

I don’t know that there is such a thing as rebuilding. It may very well be a polite euphemism for sucking without spending. But someday I hope to see the Citi Field Mets bring up some outfielders and let them play.

***

Magic Number countdowns throughout Metsopotamia stalled at 4. Anxious e-mails regarding potential playoff ticket acquisition halted. And unlike May 30, I didn’t want to wear a Mets shirt or a Mets cap or a Mets anything ever again — at least not right away. I wasn’t worried about what the lunkheads at King Kullen might say. I just didn’t want any part of us so soon. It took me more than a week after the season disintegrated to pluck so much as a faux Vaughn tee out of a pile of moderately viable garments to wear around the house. I preferred not being seen in it when I ventured outside to get the mail.

I’m back in my usual wardrobe since the Yankees were eliminated. Their losing helped. It always does.

***

I’m still superstitious about baseball. I was superstitious on May 17 when I realized my sitting patterns were key as the Mets mounted their furious five-run comeback on the Cubs. I was superstitious on September 29 when John Maine came oh-so-close to pitching the first…DON’T EVEN THINK IT…in Mets history. But my conviction that my thoughts and actions have an impact on the doings down below feels a little misplaced. There weren’t enough good thoughts in the world to save the Mets in September. There weren’t enough precautionary thoughts to block out all that expectation we had accumulated in advance of the reality of 2007.

I used to be more superstitious about baseball. Now I would just as soon be surprised by five-run ninths and not expect a blessed thing.

***

Is this still the golden age of Mets baseball? Was 2006 the norm and 2007 the aberration? Were Willie and Omar right, not just politic, in selling their storyline that a historic collapse could happen to anybody?

The 1970 Reds were the original Big Red Machine: Rose, Perez, Bench of course, but also Lee May and Bobby Tolan and Tommy Helms and rookie shortstop Davey Concepcion shunting aside Woody Woodward and kid pitchers named Wayne Simpson and Don Gullett and a 20-game winner in Jim Merritt and a formidable bullpen led by Wayne Granger and Clay Carroll. The ’70 Reds raced out in front of the pack the way the ’06 Mets did. The ’70 Reds fell a little short the way the ’06 Mets did. The ’70 Reds loomed as a powerhouse for years to come the way the ’06 Mets did.

The ’71 Reds went 79-83 and wound up in fourth. Their collapse was complete and early. But the ’71 Reds were an aberration in the history of Cincinnati baseball. Joe Morgan was acquired — terrible announcer but a heck of a second baseman — and the ’72 Reds won a pennant and the ’73 Reds won a division and the ’74 Reds won 98 games and the ’75 and ’76 Reds were World Champions, considered one of the great dynasties ever.

The 2005 White Sox shared several of the same characteristics as the 1970 Reds and the 2006 Mets, except the Sox went all the way; first time since 1917. Can’t think of a fan base (other than ours, naturally) that deserved it more. They could be forgiven for assuming a repeat was in order in ’06. Those White Sox had a great start, too. But it didn’t last.

“Still,” wrote film critic and South Side superfan Richard Roeper in the afterword to Sox and the City, “there was that ferocious lineup, and just enough good outings from the starting staff to make you believe that at any moment, the Sox were going to shift into a higher gear and blow away” the competition. “With all the distractions and disappointments,” Roeper wrote of the year-after hangover, White Sox fans still expected a finishing kick that would push the Chicagoans into another October. It never came.

“That’s what made things so frustrating,” Roeper explained. “The Sox didn’t have to be great in the last two months to get into the playoffs; they had to be average. They played hard, but they seemed to be lacking a sense of fire and urgency.”

In 2007, two years removed from their championship season, the White Sox went 72-90 and wound up in fourth.

***

Of all the sadness attendant to The Worst Collapse Ever, one of the saddest events was the death of glorious 2006. Even if ’07 proves to be a bump in the historical road, there is now separation. It no longer feels seamless. ’07 was a continuation of ’06. ’07 was going to perfect ’06. It would take all the robustness and add a couple of flourishes. Everybody who was good in ’06 was going to become great; everybody great was going to become awesome. We’d win more than 97 games. We’d win more than a division series. We’d rearrange Shea’s upper right field wall one last time. And we’d be takin’ care of business every day.

“All season long,” Roeper wrote of the White Sox’ failure to follow up 2005 with an equally satisfying 2006, “I urged my fellow fans not to expect a repeat. Live in the moment!”

I wish I’d read this book before September.

***

Theoretically, the future has never been more foreseeably agreeable for the Mets. If the three young pitchers who now seem to have assured themselves of rotation slots each succeed, our 2007 fortunes would figure to do no worse than shadow our 2006 accomplishments. That trio could easily go quartet by April 2008. The outfield would be rehabilitated next, with two of three fast-rising kids patrolling corners currently occupied by short-term elders. Not as publicized but just as tantalizing this spring is an eventual first base candidate who got some good swings in before being sent down. Thus, in a blink, we could be swimming in a plethora of prime: Maine, Pelfrey, Perez, Humber, Gomez, Martinez, Milledge, Carp joining Reyes, Wright and Beltran. Throw in two or three strategically signed free agents by our nonpenurious ownership and we’re looking at a nucleus that rivals our not-so-wild dreams from the crest of 1988. If you’re inclined to take it a step further, there’s the TV network and the new ballpark and the vast resources contemporary sports success seems to yield in staggering amounts every time you turn around. The foundation for this organization shapes up as solid as the accumulated brickage that will define Citi Field.

And you know what it all guarantees for our Mets and our Mets-related happiness? Absolutely nothing. It never did and it never will. Per the in-sickness-and-in-health vows each of us took when we betrothed ourselves to our team, the reality that everything’s a year-in, year-out crapshoot shouldn’t matter one little bit.

But it’s something to keep in mind.

Me, 3/18/07

***

I guess I was never really that certain about 2007. I don’t mention that to let myself off the hook or attach the gift of exceptional vision to my blogging. I thought we might not win, but it never occurred to me that we would lose. I did understand there are no guarantees, though I was pretty sure we entered the past season as close to one as one could legally get.

The fine print at the bottom of the fan contract said otherwise. That’s the clause that says Uncertainty is the only thing that’s certain, that you’re guaranteed nothing, that you really do have to take them one game at a time, whether you’re 4-0 in April, 33-17 in late May or 83-62 and leading the field by seven games with seventeen to go on the Twelfth of September.

Damn. I should have read the fine print more closely.

***

We were in the midst of a five-year plan. Blog about a little of this, a little of that in 2005. Then a division championship and a postseason in 2006. Then something monumental and unforgettable in 2007.

Can’t say we didn’t have that to blog about.

The five-year plan, I suppose, is still in effect. The fourth year is next year. And next year will arrive.

Of that I am certain.

7 comments to After the Fire

  • Anonymous

    And Greg hits the Postmortem off the Keypan sign. Whack.
    More in a moment…

  • Anonymous

    I officially gave up hope when we lost the Friday game to the Marlins but as I said often before my doubts were with me all season — they had me by the scruff of the neck and only released their grip rarely — once in April and again when we beat the Dodgers in July. I was never convinced of the quality of the offense — this went back to last September — and there were WAY too many moments this year when the Mets demonstrated they just didn't have “it.”
    Now that it's all over the series that to me epitomizes the 2007 Mets was the first series with the Yankees. Though we took 2 of 3 and finished a great home stand, we looked awful in nearly blowing a giant lead in the second game then bricked a free throw in game 3 when we couldn't knock out scrawny, zit-faced Tyler F. Clippard — absolute meat.
    That series — bullpen shakiness, poor fielding, poor situational hitting, failure to exploit obvious mismatches — still disgusts me, and symbolizes all that was dissatisfying about the 2007 Mets.

  • Anonymous

    You began calling it last fall, mbtn. Wanted to not see the signs you were seeing (except for the Keyspan; thanks). The Clippard nonsense led into a lackluster Braves series, but seeing as how it followed the great Cubs set and preceded that Marlins-Giants streak, I decided those good games were the reality, not the illusion.
    It's like this season was manufactured in Japan and the instruction manual didn't indicate clearly how to turn it on.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic job.
    I was uneasy about this year a few moments after Beltran looked at strike 3 last October. I said to myself, “too many guys on this team came out of nowhere and had career years. Our bullpen was untouchable. We can't do this again.” But still, I hoped. Then the strangest thing happened: Mets tickets went on sale, and I could care less. This marked the first time in 14 years that I didn't a) have a ticket package, or b) bought a round of tickets the day they became available to the public. I couldn't explain it, but as I told my girlfriend, “I don't know… I just have a bad feeling about this year.” I eventually came to my senses and snatched up 9 games, which is about the lowest total since 1992. I even paid decent money to fly to Pittsburgh to see the Mets play at PNC. But there was always that “something” that wasn't right about this team. Damien Easley and Carlos Delgado were miracle workers twice early on, but far too often we watched as they didn't win games they should have. I just couldn't shake that bad feeling (ugh, and I still haven't).
    Then it happened.
    All year long my friend was making playoff plans while I sat on the sideline, warning him “not yet. Let's just please get there first, then I will relax and we'll make our plans.” He had been killing me for being so cautious, but I kept reminding him of 1998. And then, somehow, there we were… 7 games up, 17 to go. Memories of the “season-ending” 4 game sweep in Philly were gone. He asked me a question I wish I was never asked: “NOW, on a scale of 1-10, how comfortable are you?” I refused to play his little game, but I came up with what I know cursingly refer to as “The Seinfeld Theory”.
    I said, “remember the Subway episode of Seinfeld where George follows the sure thing back to her apartment, but panics when she tells him to make himself more comfortable? Well, right now with the Mets I got my shoes off and Im sitting on the bed. I'm not ready to take off all my clothes and go wild, but I wont be such an idiot about the marvelous situation in front of me. Because a 7 game lead with 17 games to go, 'I gotta tell ya, I'm pretty comfortable'”.
    We had a good laugh at the analogy. Then the Phillies won and picked up a half game on the idle Mets. 6.5 back. Then it hit me: “oh shit… George's paranoia pays off in the end–in one of the most embarassing and painful ways it could possibly happen.” My buddy laughed it off, but that bad feeling I'd had all year got a little worse. 3 days later Greg F Dobbs hit a Grand F Slam, and THAT'S when I was 100% sure we were missing the playoffs.
    My buddy kept saying, “RELAX! Even if the Mets play .500 baseball the rest of the way, the Phillies would have to play off the charts to finish ahead of us!” And I kept saying, “yeah, that's IF we play .500 ball.” I couldn't help but think back to June, specifically that series in Detroit. I knew what was going to happen. It started happening. It happened.
    God dammit.
    Sorry for the long post, but… well, I had to get it out too.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, like we don't care for length around here. Great stuff, Kevin. The name Greg Dobbs deserves to live in Mets infamy, though not as much as that of the chickenspit steroid user who loaded the bases for him.
    I'm pretty comfortable asking you to come around the other six days of the week.

  • Anonymous

    I printed this out for the ride home Friday, with comments that's 17 pages . This really spoke as to how I felt all season, there was just something missing with this team. I laughed out loud when I came upon this snippet , taken on it's own perhaps a little harsh( not much).
    Shawn Green leaned on his bat in the on-deck circle like he was waiting for a bus…and then stepped to the plate as if he had just missed a fleet of them.
    Absolutely brilliant that line , Green was a nice addition the year before but for a full season he just didn't have it.
    sláinte

  • Anonymous

    Shawn seems (seemed?) like a nice enough guy and it was good of him to step up and shoulder more than his share of the collective blame. Would have been nicer to have seen him step up instead of get run over at the plate.
    Glad we could make your bus ride slightly less solemn.