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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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Way to Go John Maine — Way to Go! (Clap Clap!)

John Maine got the win last night…on the very first pitch of the game.

I didn't notice Nelson Figueroa responding to the Nationals' dugout antics Monday night, cocooning deep in my parka between innings as I was, but apparently the Nationals were acting like “softball girls” for encouraging each other on rhythmically. Given that they'd worked out five walks while Nelson was pitching, I might add they were softball girls with a very good eye.

Figueroa was pissed because, well, probably because he sucked his way off the 25-man roster but also because the Nats had violated some unwritten rule about comportment or enjoying themselves too much. Whatever it was, he was steamed and, presumably, his suddenly former mates on the baseball boys team (the one that lost 10-4) didn't take it too well either.

So what does his successor in the rotation to which he used to belong do Tuesday night? He hits the first batter with the first pitch.

And to that I say way to go John Maine — way to go! (clap clap!). Way to tell the Washington Nationals to cut out that extraneous, superfluous BS that had nothing to do with why the Mets lost Monday. Way to say you can take your cheers and rub them on your bruises if you don't like it, just as the Nats had said, through their steady scoring, that Nelson Figueroa could take his indignation, fling it wide of Brian Schneider's mitt and pack it off to New Orleans or destinations unknown.

I'm ambivalent where technically nonexistent codes and conducts are concerned. I've never been able to figure out for certain why a curtain call is supposedly showing up the pitcher, why a non-curtain call is supposedly sending the wrong message, why it's all right to toss your helmet after a walkoff home run, why some batters can stare at their deep fly balls without repercussion, why the best player in the sport is bush for yelling at the opposing infielder trying to settle under a pop fly, why it's OK to come inside, why it's wrong to come inside, why a good, clean takeout slide is definitively different from a supposedly dirty slide, why an effusive handshake is either too much or absolutely appropriate, why turning your headgear inside out and yelling “attaboy” is being a good holler guy, why urging on a rally from the dugout with a bit of creativity is akin to acting like, heaven forbid, a girl…it's all very confusing to me. Hence, my rule of thumb is thus:

• If the Mets do it, it's fine.

• If somebody does it to the Mets, it's not.

Hypocrisy is at home and logic takes a holiday, but do we really watch baseball to make Socrates happy? Or are we trying to advance the cause of whatever logo is on the cap we're wearing at night games even though caps are designed to keep the sun out of our eyes? Screw logic — Let's Go Mets (clap! or woo! or not).

Maine, by the way, said he was merely trying to establish the inside of the plate when his very first pitch just happened to get away and just happened to hit Felipe Lopez on the leg (Shawn Estes, take note). Another crazy coincidence, don'tcha think? Team that gets beat like a drum by a showy drummer seems intent on breaking the other team's drumsticks at the very beginning of the next night's set — John Maine has better control than that. But his judgment is even better than his control.

Let's not extrapolate this from message pitch to the specter of Bert Campaneris flinging a bat at Lerrin LaGrow. It doesn't always have to escalate or deteriorate. Last night it did neither. Putting the first runner on (there went the perfect game) doesn't mean, either, that you're digging yourself a terrible hole, not when you're the very competent Johnny Maine. Back during the Clemens Wars and such I was usually against manly retaliation because I didn't think the Mets could afford to give the Yankees extra outs. Top of the first, against the Nationals, the Mets could. That, too, is taking care of business. And hat tip to the umpires for not going overboard with warnings, even when Lopez glared at Maine.

Umpires should always let the players police themselves. Or the umpires should always take control of the action right away. Whichever one works to the Mets' advantage, whichever one makes me feel avenged at the operative moment.

John (or “Mainie Eisenhower” as I sometimes call him from the couch in terms more endearing than Nelson Figueroa might grasp) took matters in hand and then took the Nationals with him. Other than the homer to Ryan Zimmerman — sooner or later there's going to be a homer to Ryan Zimmerman — he was soothingly effective. Glad he got enough runs to literally get the win, too. It gave him five on the year which broke the three-way tie for team lead among himself, Santana and Jorge Sosa. In fact, until Saturday, Sosa was the staff leader in wins. Now Sosa, ERA 7.06, is Assignmentbound (frigid fans behind me were loudly advocating the activation of Matt Wise Monday night, so you had an inkling Sosa was literally and figuratively going down), same as Figueroa, ERA 5.12. Both succumbed to a club indulging in softball tactics. Thank goodness one night later Johnny Maine, ERA 2.81, came to play hardball.

(Clap clap!)

19 comments to Way to Go John Maine — Way to Go! (Clap Clap!)

  • Anonymous

    Everytime I see Reyes dancing around on the field or in the dugout, it pops in my head: “I'm so happy he's on the Mets. If he wasn't, I'd think he was the most disgusting player in the majors that needs some serious chin music.”
    Come to think of it, I should absolutely hate Joba Chamberlain… but one doesn't really care as much now that the Yankees have stopped winning Championships (I'm positive I'll do a complete 180 on this subject after this weekend).

  • Anonymous

    To be serious for a minute, sportsmanship is deader than print journalism, and it shows in fans who cannot wait to boo and players who cannot recognize when their celebrations go over the top.

  • Anonymous

    So now the Mets are 3-2 on a homestand that I said needed to be be no worse than 5-2. Two more wins and we're there…

  • Anonymous

    I second the cheer.
    It actually bothers me a lot how hyped up everyone seems to be over the minutia of baseball decorum. Like, every other game somebody's breaking some unwritten rule. Everybody's ego and honor is on the line all the time. What's the big deal? Are baseball players really so temperamental? In little league, I don't care what Gary and Keith claim, there was plenty of cheering and trash talking. If you felt like the other team was showing you up, you either trash talked back or you just went out there and beat them.
    That's what I wish the Mets would do (and what John Maine essentially did, as you point out, Greg). Don't like the cheering? Win. Don't whine about it. What's Figueroa trying to say, “We're such macho men, we don't cheer” but we also lose to the “softball girls” who do cheer and then complain about it afterwards?
    Two things. One, baseball people need to lighten up. It's a game, you don't have to take things so damn personally. Better that people show too much spirit than act like bloodless automatons like Tom Glavine. Two, if you do take issue with something somebody does, then just go out and beat them. Sure, maybe go up and in, whatever, but more importantly, get the W. Put the focus back on the game. Let the losers worry about decorum.

  • Anonymous

    Someone please answer this for me: why is it ok for football players to do the most obnoxious of dances after a touchdown, without penalty, while baseball players are supposed to never show emotion.

  • Anonymous

    It's not ok. It's awful. And they celebrate after every tackle, nevermind touchdowns. That crap makes its way into baseball, and this guy's gonna drift away from it for good.

  • Anonymous

    My hypothesis was always that it wasn't as bad (not “is OK”) because in football, if someone's being obnoxious you at least have the chance to pancake them into the turf as part of the normal part of the game.

  • Anonymous

    Glad he got enough runs to literally get the win, too. It gave him five on the year which broke the three-way tie for team lead among himself, Santana and Jorge Sosa. In fact, until Saturday, Sosa was the staff leader in wins.
    Wins, for a pitcher, are the most meaningless of stats.
    Do you really need further proof than what you yourself just wrote?

  • Anonymous

    Awesome!

  • Anonymous

    I think wins mattered more when starters went deeper into games regularly. Nowadays everyone pats you on the back for going seven, but that used to be the norm, so pitchers had a lot more control over their records. Games were theirs to win or lose, to some extent. When the bullpen's getting nine outs a game, yeah, wins correlate less and less with the actual performance of the starter.
    On the other hand, wins still do measure, to some extent, the starter's tenacity, his ability to hold the lead he is given and to pitch deep enough, on average, not to let the 'pen blow it. So, over time, say, over a few seasons or a career, wins do have significant meaning, I think.
    Now, you still might say, why wins at all? Why not different gradations of the quality of your start? Or a leads held vs. leads surrendered stat. Perhaps baseball, especially given the change in the starter-reliever dynamic in this era, should think about updating the W-L stat or at least adding to it.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps starter wins should be a whole separate category (baseball could use some more stats).

  • Anonymous

    There's always fine line between being appropriately fired up and inappropriately obnoxious. In football they ask the refs to make the call and dish out penalties when they see that line's been crossed. But it's a little like figuring out where the ball is down; there's a lot discretion involved. The threat of the excessive celebration penalty is always there though.

  • Anonymous

    I love sportsmanship as much as the next guy but you know what rubbed me the wrong way? When in the 2004 NLDS between the Dodgers and Cardinals, Tony La Russa and Jim Tracy agreed to have their players shake hands after the series a la the NHL. It just felt forced and not right. I'm glad it didn't catch on. It's beautiful in hockey, it's just…not in baseball.
    It also rubbed me the wrong way that the Mets were not involved in the 2004 postseason.

  • Anonymous

    Always.

  • Anonymous

    So if Maine leaves the game with his team leading, and the bullpen surrenders that lead, Maine loses his win.
    Did his performance become worse after he left the game thus making him less deserving of a win?
    Any stat that is that misleading is completely useless.
    And I realize it's not going anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    If Maine doesn't win, he's not a winner. Bad job on Maine's part, Mikey.
    (Sorry, had the FAN on earlier and it clouded my brain.)

  • Anonymous

    That a tehble job, Greg.
    Tehble!

  • Anonymous

    Way to stink up the joint, Aaron…. God, it's embarassing