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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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Time Doesn't Just Fly — It Zooms

Upon arriving in camp, Carlos Delgado was asked by reporters to explain himself, his lousy last season and his team's horrific nosedive. In the course of offering his take on 2007 (not as if we didn't see or couldn't figure it out for ourselves), he gave a shoutout to its predecessor:

“I think 2006 was a magical year. It was an extraordinary year. We went out and played great baseball from the start to the finish.”

Perhaps the subtext of CD's remarks is you can't expect to live that kind of charmed life every year. Perhaps it is Delgado's way of gently wriggling from responsibility for the worst you-know-what in baseball history because ordinary years, by definition, occur more often than extraordinary years, and boy weren't the 2007 Mets ordinary when it counted? Perhaps it's nothing. I'm doing my best not to read into what every Met says about every little thing for the next week even though there isn't much to be gleaned from Spring Training at this point other than every little thing every Met says. Maybe Delgado was just trying to get through this little rite of arrival — the peppering of uncomfortable questions for which there are no easy answers — with a minimum of fuss so he could get over to the cage and let his bat clear its throat.

What interests me for the moment is 2006, the year that was indeed magical through roughly the middle of October. Yes, it was extraordinary. Yes, they did go out and play great baseball from the start to the finish. Yes, we had some bananas.

So where did those 2006 Mets go?

I don't mean in the competitive sense. I mean literally, where'd they all go? Like every good fan in February with nothing better to do because there is nothing better to do once the yay!ness of St. Lucie sightings has worn off, I was constructing an Opening Day roster in my head and I noticed something numerically startling.

Do you know how many Mets who played in October 2006 against the Dodgers and Cardinals are likely to be 2008 Mets six weeks from today?

Ten. No more than 40% of those who line up in Miami on March 31 will be able to say they were part of the payoff to that magical year. There are five position players: Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Chavez and Delgado. There are five pitchers: Maine, Perez, Wagner, Feliciano and Heilman. And that's it.

Mind you, the math is a little skewed when you take into account three pitchers (Pedro, El Duque and Sanchez) who were injured two Octobers ago, one catcher (Castro) who was glued to the bench, two players who played then and are in camp now but likely won't survive the spring (last-chance invitee Jose Valentin and perpetual pinch-runner Anderson Hernandez) and, for the hell of it, one current Met who was a former Met who then was playing against the Mets (brief Dodger Marlon Anderson). When you apply all the asterisks, maybe it's not as startling as it seems.

Even still. A scant sixteen months ago, we cheered our hearts out and screamed our heads off for a particular set of individuals who repeatedly made us not believe our eyes (gladly paying through the nose for the privilege when we got so lucky). For ten games in October 2006, those were our live-and-die Mets, the Mets we'd do anything for if we thought it would help them win us five more games than they did. Yet come the last day of March 2008, a majority of those Mets will be long gone long.

If I were to call the roll of those who have split, you might shrug. I wouldn't exactly be shedding a tear over their individual absences either given that several of them earned their way out of town in the ordinary year that ensued. For many, it was simply time for them to go. Yet they were most of the 2006 Mets into whom we threw ourselves with as much force as we've done anything since the turn of the century, and now they're not here anymore, they're not Mets anymore. It's not ten years later. It's not five years later. It's not even two years later. October 2006 was practically yesterday and suddenly it's tomorrow once more.

Geez, that was quick.

4 comments to Time Doesn't Just Fly — It Zooms

  • Anonymous

    Probably more of a commentary on just how transient sports has become.
    For the sake of comparison:
    Backman, Elster, Hernandez, HoJo, Teufel, Dykstra, Mazzilli,
    Strawberry, Wilson, Carter, Augilera, Darling, Gooden, Fernandez, McDowell, Myers.
    16 Mets from 1986's postseason roster found their way onto the 1988 postseason roster. Throw in an injured Ojeda, an MLB debuting Magadan, and members of the New York-Tidewater shuttle in 1986 Lyons and Leach and that means you have a nice even 20 members of the 1988 Mets performed for the legendary 1986 Mets.
    Makes that old Seinfeld line about rooting for the laundry sound truer now than ever.

  • Anonymous

    Not be Johnny Pissparade, but 2006's “Magic” all but disappeared long before 2007 came along, and maybe, acknowledging that would make 2007 easier to explain. Whaty I mean is, the great “start to finish” team looked pretty lousy by September and with the offense tanking and the pitching hurt, they were kind of fortunate to get by a flawed Dodger team in the division series before losing to an even more flawed St. Louis club.
    2007 was more or less a continuation of late 2006.

  • Anonymous

    Yet one base hit (or one better placed pitch earlier in the NLCS) and we're viewing '06 not as an engine that ran out of steam, but one that fought its way uphill when the going got tough and the cliches were raining like cats and dogs. Heck, a couple things go right for the Astros or Red Sox and we're still living down the “embarrassment” of 1986. It sure does help to get to the tournament.
    Carlos D. is right about the magic of that regular season, at least up to the night of September 18, and though it wasn't as overpowering as it could have been into the postseason, it never stopped, slump notwithstanding, being exciting, breathtaking or one hit away. 2007, however, did take its cue from the soft underbelly of 2006, not the hard magic shell.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! That's a scary topic. Seems like the 2006 Mets happened about 5 minutes ago . And, the 1986 Mets about 10 (ok, maybe 20 minutes ago)!