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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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Classic

So long as they end properly, tense, nobody-can-break-through extra-inning games are the coolest. There's the initial annoyance/delight of free baseball (emotion dependent on whether your team's the one that tied it up or the one that let it get tied), the settling in for the long haul once things aren't settled in the 10th, and then the fretful wait from the 11th until whenever things will end. You figure out the rest of the rosters in your head. You think about the tales of redemption that might fit (Bruntlett? Delgado?) and try to spin plot reversals along with the baseball gods. You figure the end is near when it isn't (Jesus, they're a hit away with Utley up) and are sure the game will never end when in fact it's about to (Schneider and Clark make meek outs to start the inning, what's the use), and the whole time you're thinking that somebody's fated to wear the laurels and somebody's fated to wear the goat horns and soon it will make perfect sense who was who, even though you can't possibly guess who will be who at the moment.

Another fun thing about these marathons (again, assuming all winds up OK) is how much of the regulation game disappears into the ether of “almost forgot about that.” Like John Maine's mostly reassuring start — he looked unfocused and gassed at the end, but it was April and an unseasonably warm night. Like Brian Schneider's rifle-armed erasure of Shane Victorino at second, which left me with my fist in the air and Victorino pop-eyed in protest. (He thought he was safe; he was out.) Like the pinball shot hit off the first-base bag immediately afterwards by Chase Utley. (In our recent nine-game stretch of martyrdom, that would of course have been preceded by Victorino being called safe, and followed by all sorts of bad things; instead Maine somehow escaped after walking the next two guys.) Like Pedro Feliciano coming in, pitching dismally, and then finding his slider in the way you devoutly hope off-kilter relievers will, while knowing they rarely do.

Where predictive powers are concerned, I was right about two things and wrong about one. First, I was right that Aaron Heilman was not going to follow Feliciano's example in righting himself. I had paused the game while rushing out to get spaghetti sauce, returned to watch Marlon's epic at-bat, then TiVo'ed too far through the commercials and missed Ryan Howard's bomb entirely. How in hell is it 3-2? I wondered, and almost thought for a crazy second that Heilman's mere presence is now worth an enemy run. (Just to make me think I really was insane, SNY then stubbornly refused to put the Phils' third run up until the end of the inning.) It's cruelly ironic that with the Mets down two starters, the reliever who'd most like to start is instead auditioning credibly to be the guy called in to catch bullets in his teeth when it's 7-0 in the second.

Next, I was wrong about what Scott Schoeneweis's arrival meant — as was most of Shea Stadium, by the reaction. Schoeneweis got the ground ball he also got in the home opener, this time with better results — and just maybe, a chance for a do-over with Met fans. HIs fist pump was uncharacteristic, welcome, and well-earned.

And finally, happily, I was right about Angel Pagan emerging as the hero. One of the occupational hazards of baseball blogging is with the game in the balance, you find yourself rehearsing posts in your head. (This post was provisionally titled “Sent Me an Angel” until the Shea Stadium A/V guys made the same musical connection.) Pagan has been easily the best story for the 2008 Mets, a minor-league hero come back wiser and, so far, much better than the player we sent away. Of course in a game like this Pagan just had to fire a sharp shot up the middle, instead of a little parachute that could have let Reyes walk home. Of course Jayson Werth just had to hurl the ball in head over heels. Of course Reyes just had to be within a whisker of an eyelash of an iota of a sliver of being out. But no matter. He wasn't; we win.

The first 2008 classic's in the books; more importantly, it feels like 2007 is finally over.

19 comments to Classic

  • Anonymous

    Pagan has just been awesome. What's really uncanny is that I decided, based on his spring and my Cyclones sentimentality, to put him on my fantasy team at the beginning the year and it hasn't totally jinxed him–all wood knocked.
    What blows me away is how comfortable and patient he looks at the plate. He just looks like a guy who knows what he's doing and not the least bit lost and confused like say, Wright, Reyes, Delgado and Beltran have all looked at various times this season. Angels have a tendency not to stay earthbound in all their splendor for too long, but let's hope this blessing has plenty more extra innings left in it.

  • Anonymous

    Did anybody else have a chill run up their spine when Pagan was batting in the Bottom of the 10th, and Ronnie said, “He's done everything today but hit a walk-off home run” …? My friend and I were watching the game, and we both looked at each other as if to say, “Could he have called one again?!?!”, but Pagan popped out, so he was an at-bat early for the walk-off call. Sometimes I think our broadcast team isn't just the best out there, they're psychic too.

  • Anonymous

    God, yes. I've kind of been a self-pitying Met fan for the first week of this season. Now I remember why I like this baseball thing.

  • Anonymous

    Why, I think everything is going to be okay!
    So I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, which local paper will have the corniest headline about Angel's walk off hit? I'm going with the Daily News (Of course, any of these rags could decide to put the Yankees on the cover for no good reason)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jason,
    Like you, I grimaced when seeing Schoenweiss called in from the pen. I also missed the Howard home run but rewound the DVR and saw his mammoth shot.
    One wonders if last year's Mets would have won this type of game – for victory was certainly achieved with lots of help from those who didn't wear the orange and blue last season.
    Angel Pagan gets the game winner.
    Ryan Church drives in two.
    Brian Schneider guns out a runner at second.
    and….
    Aaron Heilman blows a two-run lead.
    OK, in his first ten games Lastings Milledge is hitting .310 (333 OBP) with one homer, five ribbys and seven runs scored and while it's way too early to tell, how many sense the Mets are better off with two position players in Church and Schneider? I think I was one of the few who actually liked the trade when announced last winter. Again, only time will tell if Omar and I will both have to eat crow.

  • Anonymous

    Viva los Mets

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who thought Reyes looked out on the replay? Because he did.

  • Anonymous

    I thought so at first too, but then on subsequent replays from different angles thought he did in fact get the hand in just before Coste got him in the back. Too close for either team to have a substantive beef regardless of the call. (That statement goes in the “Easy to Say After You've Won” file.)

  • Anonymous

    That was tough. At times it looked like the tag got him on the back a split second before he touched the plate with his left hand, however, on others it seems either he beat it or tied it using his right.
    I sometimes wonder on close plays at the plate that occur in extra innings if the umpires give the benefit of the doubt to the runner in order to get the game over with. Remember what happened in last year's NL playoffs?

  • Anonymous

    That may have been the closest play at the plate I've ever seen and, IMHO, the ump would have been correct calling it either way . . . but what's being lost is that it was a another bone-headed play by Jose Jose Jose, sliding into Coste's planted leg and the way he buckled and catapulted forward, he's lucky he did not suffer a severe ankle/leg injury . . . the correct and smart play is to barrel over the catcher, but Jose's either too dumb or too much the pussy to go that route.

  • Anonymous

    Check out the second comment in this January post.
    Also, it was great to be at Shea last night and see the crowd give half-a-standing-o for Schoenweis when he got pulled. He deserved it for sure. I don't know if that came across on TV.

  • Anonymous

    Lovely piece, Jace.
    Does it make me a bad person if I went to bed after the Mets went out in the 11th?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but I forgive you. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Wellll, he probably remembers getting a faceful of Jason Varitek and being out for a couple of days after that. I think he thought there was no way it was that close. Heck, I was surprised myself. Great throw by Werth.

  • Anonymous

    A bad person misses most of the game, is surprised when it's still in progress and kind of, sort of, just a little bit wishes that instead of a successful conclusion in the 12th that it would go on and on and on. But the successful conclusion is nice, too.

  • Anonymous

    Would not want Jose barrelling into a catcher at home plate – he's not built for such a collision and could risk injury.

  • Anonymous

    For all of Keith's “la-de-da, country club” remarks about runners not attempting to take out catchers, it's hard to tell Jose to risk it all for a run in that situation, at least until he has as much equipment on as the catcher.
    I was also surprised how close it was at the plate.

  • Anonymous

    Bah. Joshua knows the “butcher and the baker” verse too.
    Just kidding. The vamping at the end was awesome.