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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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Billy Don't Be a Stranger

Billy Wagner used to be the closer for the New York Mets. He's going in for surgery on his left flexor pronator and MCL. I don't know what a flexor pronator is exactly, but MCL stands for Mets Closer Lost for this season and next. Wagner's contract is up at the end of '09, by which time the last meaningful pitch to have come out of his left hand will have been whacked for a two-RBI single by Geoff Blum (the play on which Mark Loretta and Hunter Pence formed a human pyramid atop Ramon Castro). That was in the ninth inning, August 2.

The Mets are 22-11 since.

The Luis Ayala Era, however interim in nature, is surely in effect. The Billy Wagner Era, pending medical marvels, appears over. He'll work hard to get back and pitch somewhere, and I'll root like hell for him personally because, as prickly as he can come off, I admire how much he cares, how well he means and how much he did to close games that for too long had gone uncloseable in these parts. But this is a real page-turner where the Mets are concerned. No way in hell does his $10 million option for 2010 get picked up. No way in hell can the Mets now not think about Francisco Rodriguez if the Angels don't lock him down. No way in hell can the Mets jump on K-Rod without qualification because we've seen, first with Pedro and now with Billy, how short-term benefits and long-term risks unfold where free agent pitchers carrying significant mileage are concerned. But that's for later. For now, it's Ayala and staff and a two-game lead with nineteen to play.

Sleep with one eye open. Good luck Mr. Sandman.

(I was at both games of yesterday's doubleheader. Will be back to tell you about the last longest day in the history of Shea Stadium when I'm fully recovered from it.)

3 comments to Billy Don't Be a Stranger

  • Anonymous

    I admire how much he cares, how well he means and how much he did to close games that for too long had gone uncloseable in these parts.

    Well said. I, for one, can't help but feel a little bad for uttering unsavory things the last time he walked off a mound in 2008, and maybe as a Met. Yes, we could've done without some of the BS (the box score BS, not the other kind of BS he was wont to dispense), especially in 10/06 and 9/07. But let's be honest — other than that otherworldly Sandman in the other part of town, who can we have had total confidence in? The closer that does not give you fits is a rare, if non-existent animal. Thanks, Billy, for on the whole, giving us less fits than your predecessors.
    If you told me a month ago that Matt Cassell and Luis Ayala would be on the biggest stages…

  • Anonymous

    Let's see… The Red Sox don't need a closer, the Phillies don't need a closer, and the Yankees don't need a closer… to me, that says the Mets are the easy big-money front-runners for K-Rod. Unfortunately, the front-runners never seem to get the guy, do they?
    I'm looking for Texas or Baltimore or either Chicago (maybe even Milwaukee) to swoop in with a ridiculously over-priced contract to win the K-Rod sweepstakes.
    That is unless the Yankees want to pay him 20 mil-per to setup Rivera for a few seasons. Wouldn't shock anybody, would it?

  • Anonymous

    After Luis Ayala saves Game Seven of the upcoming World Series, we won't even be thinking about K Rod.