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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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Damn, It Don't Help to Be a Gangsta

Life is more lively under Jerry Manuel, no doubt about it. He's a fun listen, a great gaggle interview. Let nimrod tabloids have their way with his words. I'll take Jerry's way.

That said, if it were as easy as switching managers for the Mets to materially improve, they wouldn't have had to have switched managers, would have they now? The previous manager wasn't helping matters, but it wasn't like the players were sitting on their talent just waiting for the right man to make like Hellmann's and bring out their best.

Monday night the New York Mets could have been managed by the Hand of God and it wouldn't have mattered. The Hand of God can't swing those bats, not against King Felix, nor against his court of random relievers. The Mets are still the team for whom adversity can be overwhelming on any given night; statistically speaking, it blows them away approximately every other night.

On Monday night, they were, to borrow a phrase from Casey Kasem, ponderous, man — bleeping ponderous. Figured, though. Shea Stadium was torpid, humid and a failure as a proving ground in the Mets' quest (if indeed they really care) to show they are ready to become anything more than a .500 team.

But at least it was refreshingly quiet.

Felix Hernandez was living up to the legend he is building in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. He toyed with the Mets and outshone Johan Santana, who more often than not has pitched this year like a pretty good, sometimes very good pitcher but almost never like the kind of ace Felix Hernandez was pitching like. (Funny, but wasn't Santana that ace before he was a Met?) King Felix crowned Johan in the second by closing his eyes — Johan's description — and swinging with the bases loaded and two out and driving in four runs, including himself.

Lima Time, apparently, lives.

Maybe it was too weird a night to read anything into. You don't see an American League pitcher slam too often. If form holds, it won't happen again until 2045. You also don't see that same pitcher, already throwing and hitting beyond reproach, field like a novice and get himself rolled right out of the game one out from qualifying for a win (which, trust me, he was en route to). Carlos Beltran showed admirable hustle from third on Hernandez's fifth-inning wild pitch which didn't trickle very far from home. Hernandez, I suppose, showed admirable hustle in trying to cover the plate. He should have covered his ass instead, because Beltran got him inadvertently, right in the ankle. Ouch!

Mets fans are so screwed up right now that they cheered when Felix was writhing in pain (a cosmic no-no, of course). I don't think they were cheering the pain, rather merely approving the idea that Hernandez's invincibility had been pierced, with a run no less. When his limping evinced genuine injury, the cheering didn't stop but at least it lessened. Our karma was in the crapper from there on out.

Santana persevered for seven and saved the bullpen some miles (is that why we got him?). Wright…well, Wright's getting a day off, which is good. David Wright was actually booed, not immediately after the error that extended the second long enough for King Felix to reign around the basis, but upon striking out in the sixth. It wasn't the DP. It was the error still simmering in the mind's eye. Misplaced anger, if you ask me. Does David need a blow? Absolutely. Is David a fielding liability? For one Willie Bloomquist grounder he was, but he's been remarkably improved defensively this season. To blame him for Santana's four runs, even if three were unearned — that's fertilizer thinking.

Hernandez exiting in the fifth didn't make things easier on the lineup, which garnered all of three hits off his Seattle successors, only one before the ninth when it fell to ancient Arthur Rhodes to finish off what little sapling of a rally the Mets fleetingly contemplated nurturing. The sole moment of encouragement was the organic chant of LET'S GO METS! that went up as the home team suddenly decided to attempt to make a bit of a game of it. Understand, this wasn't any LET'S GO METS! This arose from the throats of fans who were not encouraged by public address overkill or DiamondVision cue. It was as if, despite the cheering of Hernandez's physical misfortune and the castigation of favorite son Wright's humanity, somebody somewhere was giving us credit for being intelligent.

I got to my seat as the top of the first was ending and detected a certain flatness in the park. Maybe it was the moisture that literally filled the air. Maybe it was the specter of King Felix figuratively suffocating the offense. But I wasn't hearing the hum I was used to. Eventually it hit me: none was being manufactured. Nobody's urging us every three seconds to clap our hands, nobody's suggesting we make some noise and nobody's accompanying our batters to the plate with a stentorian soundtrack. All my fondest wishes for Shut The Fudge Up Night were actually coming true. Not completely — the sponsored stuff was still carried out, and late in the game, the A/V crew couldn't help itself and just had to dump Kevin James' atonal mangling of our credo in our laps, but mostly they shut the fudge up. It took a bit of acclimation to appreciate 21st century baseball without blare, but it's something to which I could grow accustomed.

***

The game was a donut, no question, but the occasion, it should be remarked, was an absolute cupcake: a treat. I was at Shea Monday night at the invitation of Metstradamus and his brother Fredstradamus (it's true, those are their real names). Fred lives elsewhere and was in town only for a bit, so the 'Damii made the most of a fertile opportunity and convened a Monday night group big enough to rate a scoreboard mention. We were listed as Cincinnati Fred & Mets Bloggers, and that's as fine a Metsopotamian assemblage as I've been in in quite a while. Kindred blog spirits My Summer Family, Pick Me Up Some Mets, Toasty Joe and Riding With Rickey, loyal opposition gadfly Darth Marc (who came in peace), peripatetic blog reader Dykstraw and FAFIF commenter emeritus/transcendent Shea denizen Laurie were all on hand. A couple in our gang even scooped up Bubba Burger boxes (they contain t-shirts and coupons, no meat). Thanks to all of them, along with the 'Damus brothers, for the superb company, the kind words and the questions about my cats.

10 comments to Damn, It Don't Help to Be a Gangsta

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like nice night, if a ballgame hadn't gotten in the way.

  • Anonymous

    I was there last night in the LF Terrace at a business networking function I put together. Normally I really work the room, business cards and such, but I really wanted to settle in and watch this game. Which I did for all of 2 innings. I kept commenting how fast the game was going. This team is maddening. There was no buzz in the crowd and the building was very quiet. i didn't realize that there were no manufactured noises, sounds, etc. Unfortunately, even in NYC, we are now waiting to be told when to cheer.

  • Anonymous

    Mets fans are so screwed up right now that they cheered when Felix was writhing in pain (a cosmic no-no, of course). I don't think they were cheering the pain, rather merely approving the idea that Hernandez's invincibility had been pierced, with a run no less. When his limping evinced genuine injury, the cheering didn't stop but at least it lessened.
    I was absolutely horrified by the crowd reaction in the fifth inning.
    I'm starting to realize my fellow Shea-goers are no better than the cretins in the bleachers in the Bronx.
    And that really sucks.

  • Anonymous

    we have a terrace?
    in our defense, as fans, i believe we are definitively off the hook in any game in which the opposing pitcher hits a grand slam.
    i got into it when beltran scored and when we put together that feeble rally in the 9th. but i was definitely not obligated to.

  • Anonymous

    oh, man I was screaming at the guys in LF Terrace next to me (part of my party), remembering the admonishment on FAFIF..”no, no don't cheer for an injury..it's bad karma, it's bad karma!!!!”
    Yes, we do have a terrace.

  • Anonymous

    That is just cold-blooded! People were cheering an injury? I am embarrassed for us.
    It was hard to tell watching it on TV. It looked like people were cheering Beltran's hustle, which was top notch, and then quieting down when it became evident that Hernandez was hurt. But it's so hard to tell on TV, especially when they're showing half a dozen slow mo replays. At least people stood and clapped when he finally walked off the field.
    Otherwise, yesterday's game was just too weird to get worked up over. That pitch that Felix hit was exactly where Santana wanted it. An eye level fastball meant to fool someone that doesn't bat often. That swing was crazy, and 998 times out of 1000 that would have been an easy fly out. It sucks that we weren't able to do more against their relievers during the second half of the game, but that spooky weird combination of the grand slam and then the painful looking injury to Hernandez kind of took the wind out of everyone's sails.

  • Anonymous

    Is it my imagination or is more freaky shit happening to the Mets this year than any other?

  • Anonymous

    Teams that can't make up their minds between winning and losing — that is to say .500 teams — are more interesting by nature than teams that win a lot or lose a lot. Not as satisfying, not as definitive, but sure as hell interesting.
    Or freaky.

  • Anonymous

    Facing the worst team in baseball, with the worst team batting average in baseball, against a journeyman pitcher with a career ERA of over 5, of course the Mets get blown out 11-0. I don't care if Wright's out of the lineup; you don't lose to this team in this manner. This is crazy; they look great one day and god-awful the next. They lose games they shouldn't lose. They get shut out by pitchers who have no business being in the major leagues. This team needs to be imploded from the top down. The Wilpons should pull a Willie Randolph on Omar now; fire him at midnight in a hotel room somewhere. The same goes for Bernazard. Give the team to Krivsky, and direct him to trade all the dead weight away by July 31 of this season. Get what you can from whatever team can be suckered into taking guys like Delgado, Perez, Castillo, Heilman, etc. off our hands. Get some young guys on this team who may not win at first, but at least they'll try and play hard. I'd even hear some offers for Reyes, who just won't grow up. Change is a must for the Mets. This team can't cut it; not if they change managers a 100 times between now and the All-Star Break. This team is a sub-.500 team. It's morally corrupted and woefully inept. Implode this team, Wilpon. Let's make a brand new start of it in Citi Field.

  • Anonymous

    Oh man. That loss hurt me bad. Made me do a Cormac McCarthy Mad-Lib:
    See the Perez. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. Outside lie dark turned fields with rags of snow and darker woods beyond that harbor yet a last few wolves. His former pitching coach was known as a hewer of wood but in truth he was a schoolmaster. Peterson lies in drink, he quotes from poets whose names are now lost. Perez crouches by the fire and watches him.
    Night of your birth. Eighty-one. The line drives they were called. God how the balls did fall. I looked for blackness, holes in the heavens. The Dipper stove.
    The general manager dead these six games did incubate in his own bosom the creature who would carry him off. Manuel never speaks his name, Perez does not know it. He has a horribly weak-assed line-up in this world that he will not see again. He watches, pale and unwashed. He can neither read nor write and in him broods already a taste for bipolar pitching. All history present in that visage, the child the father of the man.