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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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House Money

On our last morning on LBI, we had a final breakfast, for which we were joined by longtime Faith and Fear commentor Charlie Hangley and his wife Sarah, who were arriving as we were departing.

Outside the pancake house, a Yankee fan had scoped out Charlie and me and our Met shirts and decided we must know whether the Yankees had won or lost the previous night. As it happens I did know, but I sent a text message to Google via my phone so the Yankee fan would have to wait for ill tidings. (Yes, I'm a bad person.) And then, having told him that the Yankees lost, I jauntily volunteered to find the Red Sox and Rays scores for him as well. (Which I also already knew. OK, so I'm a really bad person.) This took a little while; settled at our table, Charlie and I chatted briefly and fairly amiably with the Yankee fan, who didn't seem like such a bad sort. (Did I feel bad then? Yes. A little.) He was realistic about his own team's bleak forecast, but seemed oddly confident in ours: The Mets, he said with no-big-whoop certainty, were going to the playoffs.

Charlie and I immediately fell over ourselves appending qualifiers and hypotheticals to that, and apparently we did so with the kind of well-rehearsed ceremony generally seen in religious rituals — because a day later Emily was still chuckling about the scene. This show of backpedaling and poor-mouthing amused her, but it must have confused the hell out of the Yankee fan, because Yankee fans don't bother with qualifiers — they chest-thump and bray about their inevitable postseason triumph until silenced by mathematics. (And then they blink for a second and start woofing about rings, baby. This is why I only felt a little bad.)

But while Charlie and I did everything but throw salt over our shoulders at the prediction of a September to remember, at least for me the ceremony was largely unconscious. I'm strangely serene, given that Labor Day has arrived with us holding a lead of a wafer-thin single game.

I'm sure part of it is that last year we were up seven with 17 to play (will that combination of numbers ever not rattle around in our brains?), so I know even more than I normally would that a one-game lead can portend any number of reversals before the final judgment. But still — how am I not gripped by panic? Or at least more worried?

I think it's that this strangest of baseball campaigns has turned weirdly sweet. The first half was one of the more maddening stretches I've ever endured as a baseball fan, a continuation of 2007's lethargic mediocrity which was inexcusable coming as it did after the Collapse. But then Willie got axed (awkwardly but deservedly) and Jerry arrived, and he blew away the gloom and doubt that had hovered over the Mets for a year. And with that change in the metaphysical weather, strange things started happening. The left-field wormhole that swallowed Moises Alou and Brady Clark and Angel Pagan and Marlon Anderson and Trot Nixon and Chris Aguila inexplicably spat out Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans, Double-A roommates who have formed the best platoon of out-of-position rookies one could possibly imagine. Ryan Church endured a second concussion, strange medical advice and forced inactivity, but that allowed the unlikely resurrection of Fernando Tatis, living a “Blues Brothers” plot come to life. (Seriously. Like Jake and Elwood, he's on a mission from God.) El Duque never came off the shelf, but Mike Pelfrey reclaimed his curve ball and found himself. Luis Castillo hit the DL with his bad knees and unfathomably stupid contract for company, but up stepped a revived Damion Easley and Cleveland castoff Argenis Reyes, who shared not just a last name but also a boyhood friendship with his double-play partner. And of course Carlos Delgado, proclaimed by most any judge of horseflesh as ready for the glue factory, turned out to have some thoroughbred left in him.

Put all these unlikely events together and you got a team that not only won again but was fun to watch doing so — in a gleefully improvised, by turns terrifying and thrilling hell-for-leather way. Given how many times the 2008 Mets have already cheated the hangman, why start in now with worrying about John Maine's shoulder, or Billy Wagner's elbow, or the entire bullpen's hideousness, or that sliver of a lead? It feels like we'll think of something — and if that something doesn't work, well, who'd have dreamed we'd get this far? It's Labor Day and our stack is just a single chip higher than what the Phillies have brought to the table, but we're playing with house money. So what the heck — let's double down and see what happens.

5 comments to House Money

  • Anonymous

    Gotta love Yankee fans. If I am ever away from either Shea, the TV or radio (an exceedingly rare occurrence, I'm not proud to say), I still always know what's going on. Friday night I was at a wedding reception and still managed to follow the game through regular text message updates from a friend and surreptitious under the table/in the powder room visits to ESPN.com on my cellphone. I couldn't imagine, unless of course I was in deepest, darkest Siberia, not knowing if the Mets had won the previous night… and having to ask a Yankee fan. I've been known to exchange text message updates while at the theatre or at a concert.
    That's how Yankee fans are. They don't bother to attend, watch, listen to or even follow the games. All they want to know is the final score, so they know whether or not to brag and bully on that particular day. I've known Yankee fans who lived in the Bronx and yet still relied on the boxscore in the morning paper to find out what happened the night before.

  • Anonymous

    fwiw, i took my son to, um, yankee stadium, you should excuse the expression, yesterday for his one and only trip to the big house before it comes down.
    we enjoyed the afternoon for many reasons — a fave moment was when he realized shea's walls are further out and thus yankee homers are somewhat cheaper — but perhaps the best of it was sitting among folks who were having explain to their kids, as well as themselves, that no, the yankees were not going to be in the playoffs this year.
    yes, i definitely feel like this late-season race is a gift. and i appreciate it all the more.

  • Anonymous

    I sat next to my Yankee-fan brother at that reception (luckily my Met-fan aunt was there to have my back) and he started throwing 7/17 at me. I countered that as horrible as that was, it didn't hold a candle to October 2004 in the annals of chokedom. Of course my friend Bobbi chose that moment to text me about the rally and Beltran's grand slam… and my aunt and I (inappropriately for the setting, I suppose) exchanged high-fives and toasted to our first-place Mets. It was glorious.
    As is knowing that the Yankees won't make the playoffs in this the last season at that smelly, crumbling old heap of a “cathedral,” after having its “majesty” shoved down our throats nonstop all season. How sweet it is to know that they can't cap off their annoyingly “we're the center of the universe” year with their, uh, first ring since the turn of the century. Sorry, Yankee fans… but if you're going to brag and bully everyone the way you do, you should have something to back it up. And that doesn't include things that happened before you were born. You can't brag about stuff you didn't even witness or experience. So knock it off with the “26 rings, baby!” crap, because all but a scant handful are totally irrelevant at this point. Heck, they're all irrelevant, they were so long ago. This is now NINE CONSECUTIVE RINGLESS SEASONS… coming up on A DECADE OF RING FUTILITY… and remember, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RINGS, BABY!! You're no longer the defending world champions (or league champions or even division champions). Stop acting like you are.

  • Anonymous

    LOL, oops, EIGHT seasons. Told you I was mathematically challenged. But it's still nearly a decade, and nothing to brag about. They all need to chill.

  • Anonymous

    Considering the amount of steroid users on the 2000 Yankees, I'd say it's okay to strip them of their rings.
    So, yes, nine consecutive.