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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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Of a Type

Five games into the second year of the long-dormant Mets-Phillies rivalry, I think we can identify what one of these babies feels like.

Torture. Total torture. Put away the waterboarding. Bring on Jayson Werth. That'll make 'em scream.

Here's a Mets-Phillies game in digest form:

The Mets get a lead. The Mets fans get confident. The Phillies lurk. The Phillies creep. The Phillies make it close. The Phillies get a call. The Phillies stir memories of bad endings. The Phillies fans make too much noise.

Sometimes the Mets and the Mets fans get the last laugh. But there's always another game. And there's almost always more torture.

The Mets and Phillies have only been playing for universally acknowledged high stakes since the middle of 2007, though it seems to me the games have always been like yesterday's. They were like this in '06, we just won more often was all. They were like this in '05, there just wasn't as much on the table. There have always been Phillies batters who kept far too many at-bats going past their expiration date, always been Mets relievers wearing a path from bullpen mound to actual mound, always the sense of potential doom lingering over the entire exercise.

This isn't the Mets-Braves rivalry, which works generally as punishment in one park, a touch of lunacy in the other. This is different. This is failing to properly grip the remote because of the sweat that has formed on your channel-changing palm. Not that you want to change the channel from the sixth inning on — sometimes it's just a self-defense mechanism.

Somebody there's slumping. Somebody there's injured. Yet nobody here's ever off the hook. There's always some Phillie that experience wouldn't necessarily dictate your worrying about, unless your experience is that of a Mets fan: Werth, Dobbs, Coste, Taguchi, Victorino. Fans elsewhere would think “good thing those guys aren't Rollins or Utley or Howard.” I don't think we think quite that way…not that we take those more famous guys lightly either.

To say nothing of Pat Burrell.

It's not that we don't or can't beat the Phillies. We've won the last four from them. It took historic hoodoo to finish second to their first. But doesn't it take everything we've got to subdue them every time? And doesn't that take a toll on us eventually? Consider the past three wins over the Phillies:

April 10: Maine goes 6, gives up 1; followed by 6 relievers; Mets win 4-3 in 12

April 18: Santana goes 7+, gives up 3 (K's 10); followed by 3 relievers, Mets win 6-4

April 19: Perez goes 5-2/3, gives up 0; followed by 6 relievers; Mets win 4-2

These were all good, sometimes dominant outings by the Mets starters, yet there was nothing easy about them, nothing certain, nothing that would allow you to breathe long enough to leave in Smith when you can bring in Feliciano, leave in Feliciano when you can bring in Heilman, leave in Heilman…no, it's pretty much down to Aaron at this juncture, let's hope he doesn't have to throw the ball to first. It took almost emptying the bullpen twice in the last three wins against the Phillies, and even when we had our ace going and our ace had his great stuff, it still took three relievers to accumulate six Philadelphia outs.

It was like this last year, too, except for the winning when the going got tough. It's like this as a rule when we face them. Beating them is by no means impossible, but it's rarely easy. Granted, you can't not expect close games against anybody in this league — and managers are prone to overusing their bullpens from one end of baseball to the other — but against nobody else does it feel we're one sagging beam from the roof falling in.

Only solace is playing the Mets seems as daunting a task for the Phillies as playing the Phillies is for the Mets.

3 comments to Of a Type

  • Anonymous

    Tonight's game certainly violates the Geneva Convention – ugh!

  • Anonymous

    Took the drive down to Philly Saturday, my second game at CBP (first was the night Pedro blew out his leg or whatever back in '06). Great game, great time. Some notes:
    For those who enjoy it, the tailgating is excellent. No surreptitious gulps from plastic cups a la Shea – beer consumption is flagrant and seemingly encouraged. Port-O-Sans are provided.
    Phillie fans are huge into ring toss and its endless variations: every parking lot aisle had several groups of guys and girls tossing beanbags into targets, washers into coffee cans, plastic bolos onto racks. Guess they're simple people, easily amused. Then again, all we do at Shea is play catch.
    There were a lot of Mets fans there, but not as many as in '06. Maybe it's the price of gas, or fear of their mastery over us.
    Forget about Dodger Dogs, Chicago brats, ballpark sushi (seriously? I am gonna have to try it someday); the best stadium grub ever is The Schmitter – a combo of Philly's finest cuisine: essentially, they take a cheesesteak, and pile the contents of an Italian hoagie in there as well. Some fine dining establishment needs to bring this north.
    The reception by the host fans to their invading conquerors was mixed. I went wandering the lot for a while (my family chased me away due to cigar fumes), and met a great bunch of Philly fans that literally had me holding my sides from laughter talking sports and listening to them make fun of each other. But then, on the way back I fist-bumped the sole Met fan in a Phillie party, and was threatened by the rest of them (“Get the %&*# out of here you %*&%hole!”).
    For the most part we suffered genial mockery, sometimes hilarious. For whatever reason several groups chose to focus on my tonsorial choices. I mean, where I come from, checking out another dude's 'do is kind of Carson Kressley-esque, but whatever – they seem to have a thing against long sideburns and excessive hair product use (guilty on both charges). I couldn't help but crack up when as I passed a beer line someone called out “Hey Brandon Walsh – Andrea called and you're past deadline!”.
    The key is to just roll with it good-humoredly. You're in someone else's house, be deferential. In the non-moving parking lot exit queue we were sitting ducks for Phan abuse. And as opposed to the Missus who angrily shouted “10,000 losses! One World Series! You're the worst team ever!!”, I went with the jibes. Goofed on about my hair (again! I'm getting self-conscious) I gave them some Elvis. I responded to taunts questioning Met fan's mental acuity and driving ability with equally offensive, politically incorrect humor. As we were finally getting out of the lot, one of our tormentors approached. I expected the worst, but the guy actually congratulated me on my good humor. Like I said to him, “Hey, we all like drinking beer and watching baseball”.
    Now, if only my job still allowed me to travel to Chicago on business!

  • Anonymous

    Not sure why I just got dubbed “Anonymous”.