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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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2.5 Back the Extraordinarily Hard Way

Holy shit.

I'd say “the Mets win the damn thing, 10-9,” but of course Gary and Howie beat me to it. (Can't outblog either one of those gentlemen.)

I mean, oh my goodness. We were headed for an easy walk down Redemption Road with Pedro J. Martinez, who took the mound with a hint of doom showing on his gunslinger's face but then had much better location and a month's worth of run support for Johan Santana. And that easy stroll was just fine with me.

Oops.

In the sixth, Damion Easley came gently into home plate after Pedro singled up the middle off R.J. Swindle, who looked like he was about five feet tall, and seemed to shrink with every ball lashed off of him. Easley offered Chris Coste the gentlest of how-do-you-dos, and who could blame him under the circumstances? Turning 10-1 into 11-1 isn't worth it with 12 outs to get, not if it means a collision and the possibility of Plan C at second base after Plan A wasn't exactly a capital idea. (I suppose Plan C would be Argenis Reyes, who the other night was standing next to a furious, possibly injured John Maine and staring out at something, transfixed with a big smile on his face. The camera coincidentally pulled back and revealed that the Other Reyes was watching the Kiss Cam. Or maybe the Phillies too had named an official pudding, and Argenis liked the idea of taking in a ballgame while snacking on a glob of thickener and sugar. Either way, I'm not sure he's on the same planet as the rest of us.)

Anyway, these are the kind of thoughts that go through one's mind in the middle of such a game — in a laugher, some runs are more sacred than others, so don't get yourself worked up.

Or so you'd think. While I slunk off to catch the rest of the radio, R.J. Swindle seemed to grow two feet taller, Pedro got tired, Tony Armas looked mortal and Aaron Heilman started channeling his spring self, whom I'd be willing to wager neither of us had missed. The Mets were seven up with eight outs to go, and it was barely enough. I returned hastily to my proper station in front of the TV for the ninth, by then numb with terror. Our bed is one of those platform things with drawers underneath, which I've always liked until tonight, when I realized that means there's no way to hide under it.

Of course Billy had to confound every one of the 1,000 expectations I threw his way while reminding myself to breathe. Victorino doubled and we were doomed, doomed, doomed. The SNY guys were making much of Charlie Manuel taking Utley out when it looked like a long night for the varsity, but I wasn't fooled — and sure enough Bruntlett walked. Tying run, Howard at the plate. With the baseball gods now having made plain that they were on some sort of sadistic acid trip, of course Billy vaporized Howard with sliders and got Pat the Bat to pop harmlessly to Endy, if anything hit more than 15 feet in the air can be said to be harmless in this broom closet of a stadium. Two outs and against Pedro Feliz Billy looked genuinely on instead of perturbed and uncomfortable, quickly getting to 0-2. Which of course meant he'd give Feliz something too good when he was protecting and it would be 10-9 and of course Jayson Werth was up again. Honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if Werth had won it with another blast, or by running all the way around the bases on a dropped third strike, or if the Rapture had occurred. It was that kind of night.

And on top of it all, they've pulled me back in, the stupid sexily mediocre Mets. All they had to do was whisper to me of being 2.5 back, of who the hell were the Marlins, of Pelfrey rounding into form and Easley and Tatis finding the fountain of youth, of how the season can never be chronicled until it's over, of the fact that it's baseball and they know I'm addicted and they've got what I need even if I'm far from sure this is the year to want it too feverishly.

You just know now they'll get swept by the Giants.

10 comments to 2.5 Back the Extraordinarily Hard Way

  • Anonymous

    ok, i felt things tighten and retract in me i didn't even know i had, but still: 3 of 4 when they lost the one gimme on the docket, after splitting with the cards in a series they could well have taken.
    they're above .500 for the first time in a month, and coming home against the giants and rockies, teams whose characterizations i will suspend so as not to flag the baseball gods.
    meanwhile the phils play the cards and dbacks before the allstar break; the marlins are at san diego and l.a. this will be an extremely interesting week. for once this season, could the mets make the most of it?
    (i have had a hunch for a while that the fans have made shea an unwelcome home for the mets. here's hoping those in attendance make the boys know they are loved, well, ok, supported. heck, just don't boo.)

  • Anonymous

    I'm still trying to remember how to breathe. I understand there are games where big leads turn to small leads turn to miniscule leads turn to “they win the damn thing,” but for God's sake, when you give your “All-Star” closer a three-run lead, that should be the point that you can exhale a bit. No more. This game('s second half), to me, is not about Armas or Heilman or the umps screwing up or Easley's waltz. It's about our rich man's Benitez. I don't know what the Mets' ultimate destiny is. What I do know is that Wagner will keep them one step from it.
    Also, God bless this team for employing as its lead TV voice and lead radio voice two gentlemen who, aside from being absolute masters of their craft, are so steeped in this team's history that invoking Murph's call in the same city with the same final score came so naturally you'd have thought they knew the outcome beforehand.

  • Anonymous

    I don't generally feel like starters have earned their wins if they can't finish the sixth. In this case, however, Pedro J. Martinez had what turned out to be the game deciding R.B.I., so kudos to Pedro. W well-earned.

  • Anonymous

    Hey hey, some optimism now!
    I do agree though, they have to play well over the next six for me to truly believe they've turned any corner. Beating a mediocre Phillies team which is not one of the top offenses or clutch teams by any stretch is not exactly turning a corner.
    They won two where Wagner pitched badly though, so that's good. Since the Phillies typically have a let-down after facing the Mets, let's play better than them over the next six and go to the break within 1 loss, or even 0 losses, of first place.

  • Anonymous

    It was fun watching a great series with Gary and Ron (and Keith for half of it). I really missed listening to them. It's odd–I felt like I should root for the Mets, but I found myself not caring who wins and instead rooting for close games and extra inning affairs just to hear GKR talk some more.
    That being said, this team might win me back in 2010, but not any sooner. F THEM.

  • Anonymous

    Four weeks ago we would have probably lost it. But there was something
    during that ninth inning that had me thinking this wasn't the same team
    that struggled the first half of the season. It was the infield
    gathering on the mound, rubbing shoulder to shoulder, intensely talking,
    picking up each other and their struggling reliever AND covering their
    mouths with their gloves so the Phillies wouldn't hear or see what they
    were saying. I don't think I've seen that type of concentration and
    camaraderie all year.
    Always look at the glass being half filled rather than half empty, I always say.

  • Anonymous

    You sound like me at this point in the '99 season.
    And look what happened there…

  • Anonymous

    These Mets are hellbent on giving me an ulcer – I know it!

  • Anonymous

    Also, if you haven't already, go vote for D-Wright in the final vote!
    http://mlb.mlb.com

  • Anonymous

    Went to Milwaukee for business, hit Miller Park Monday night (great stadium, especially the roof!, great food, great fans, great beer – definitely go). Was happy to see the blowout on the out-of-town board, grew progressively more nervous as the night wore on. Ultimately, I become one of those wankers we all detest the most – the guy in the great box seats on his cell phone – when I had the Missus giving me Phils bottom of the ninth play by play. Got some strange looks from my neighboring fans upon letting out a huge Whoop! when Endy caught the last out, during a lull in the live Brewer game.