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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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Die Hard

What if the Mets survive, but none of us do?

This is heart-attack stuff, brutal baseball in brutal weather, a Nor'Easter of cruelty and joy and panic and hope buffeting you and threatening to blow you down altogether. How many moments did that game offer to pierce the heart, whether with ecstacy or misery? It started with the look in Pedro Martinez's eyes as the first inning once again frayed and unraveled, a look I hadn't seen before — a grim awareness that the end of the road is in sight. There was Pedro gamely hanging in there despite all that against Micah Hoffpauir and the Iowa Cubs, then acknowledging the fans who were acknowledging him, who were remembering all he once was, all he would be still if only the fragile body could obey the steely mind, and all he did to bring this franchise back to respectability. And then there was Ricardo Rincon restoring the fans' usual state of mind by instantly and irrevocably giving up a monster shot to Hoffpauir. Nice moment? Not for your September 2008 Mets.

By the way — Micah Hoffpauir? Between the name and the chin beard, it's like an extra from Witness walked away from the barn-raising to try his hand at this English sport Harrison Ford kept rattling on about. Oh, and with Hoffpauir and Pie and Fontenot and Fukudome and McGehee and Theriot, these Cubs must give copy editors and public-address announcers alike night sweats.

(The Pirates just gave up a walk-off grand slam. Fuck.)

If our Mets live hard, though, they also die hard. You'd think the combination of a no-outs, man on third in the ninth debacle and instant arson a night later might have killed them — for a while there tonight, I certainly feared it had killed me. (And try not to remember that if Wright had hit a sac fly, we'd be tied for first right now.) But they fought back yet again, and man, that bottom of the eighth was one of those frames that keeps you watching game after hopeless game on summer afternoons when you've got things to do and when they're in extra innings on the West Coast and it's 2:30 a.m. and when you're in the park and it's 48 degrees and they're out of cocoa.

Because you never know.

Because sometimes, as the rain comes down remorselessly and the wind bends and bows everything in sight, Beltran gets a two-out hit and Church gets another two-out hit and Ramon Martinez, who a few weeks ago occupied the Mariana Trench on the second-base depth chart, gets a two-out hit and then Robinson Cancel, who's pretty much the Ramon Martinez of backup catchers, gets a two-out hit only Ryan Church is clearly going to be out at home by a country mile but he takes a desperate detour around Koyie Hill (there's another name to reduce the sports desk to tears) and misses the plate and there's a terrifying, apparently endless moment during which Church is neither safe nor out and then he stretches his hand out onto the plate just before Hill gets there and THE SCORE IS TIED!

Yes, sometimes that happens.

And then sometimes the bullpen doesn't blow it, even though Pedro Feliciano tries and Joe Smith has to face lefty after lefty. And sometimes Jose Reyes harnesses his wild energy for a marvelously determined, disciplined at-bat, and even though Daniel Murphy botches a bunting assignment or a hit-and-run or whatever that was (because something sure got botched) and David Wright is squeezing his bat to splinters again when he needs to let the game come to him, Carlos Beltran will be there. And Carlos Beltran will wait for his pitch and hit a ball on the screws and we'll see that Micah Hoffpauir's seemingly bottomless bag of tricks does not presently include stupendous defense.

Let us pause for a moment, by the way, and bottle this game to break out when people next speak ill of Beltran. He's playing with a bad left knee and aching ribs from that battering against the outfield wall Monday night. He's missed exactly one game all year. He's over 100 RBI for the third-straight year. (Tip of the cap to Jack Curry for a nice profile in the Times the other day.) Beltran's amazing physical gifts, superb instincts and placid demeanor can trick you into thinking he's not going all out, particularly when you compare him with heart-on-the-sleeve grinders like Wright or Murphy. But that's an illusion, one we should be wise enough to see through. Beltran is our Roberto Clemente — a player who was criticized for his temperament and incessant aches and pains and never truly appreciated the way he should have been. We know we're lucky to have him after a game like tonight's; we should remember it when he glides over to make a catch in left-center that we think is easy only because he made it look that way.

And so. We have survived. Survived to confront, yet again, who we are. It's daunting, no question. We've got no bullpen, we don't know who the hell will start Saturday, we don't know if we'll even get to play Friday. Or Saturday. Or even Sunday. Our enemies include Marlins, Phillies, Brewers, wind, rain, 2007 and ourselves. But what the hell. We've come this far, haven't we?

8 comments to Die Hard

  • Anonymous

    Unreal. I love these guys. What a season this has been. I'm not sure my heart could even handle playoff baseball.

  • Anonymous

    One of the great quotes that emanated from the Mets' radio booth in 1986 was from Bob Murphy, I believe just before Billy Hatcher tied Game 6: “This is heart-stopping baseball. Pulsating baseball! Nobody has sat down for the last four or five innings. Incredible!” Replace “four or five innings” with “four or five weeks” and you have the 2008 Mets.

  • Anonymous

    OK, lets all come clean. Who was wearing their loser socks, jersey of misfortune and cap-of-no-pop-sacrifice on Wednesday?

  • Anonymous

    “Where there is life, there is hope. Where there are hopes, there are dreams”
    Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

  • Anonymous

    OT: Mets signed a 2 year agreement with the Buffalo Bisons of the AAA IL.. Mets were there '63 – '65. Most signs had been pointing to Syracuse with Buffalo a longer shot. Pretty sure Tug McGraw pitched for the Bisons. Cleon Jones may have played there.

  • Anonymous

    What a game!! No matter what happens in the remaining 3 games (by the sounds of things they might not get to play until Monday!!!!), images that I will be thinking about in the offseason that will put a smile to my face are Pedro pointing and fist pumping to the crowd as he walked off the mound in the 7th, Church's crazy slide to tie the game, and Beltran's single in the 9th.

  • Anonymous

    I haven't listen to the FAN much anymore, but I heard a brief comparison to Bernie Williams with Beltran the other day( guess who made the comparison..hah). Without having seriously watched either or even bothering to look at numbers, i'm pretty sure Beltran's a better player.
    I think..just maybe..the fans are starting to really come around on Beltran. It's all unfair, often based on him being the last guy to fail in '06, despite everything he did to get them there. Just like we hate Glavine so much for being the 'last' guy to fail last year, despite pitching big games in '06 and big games against the Phillies that the bullpen blew.
    What Beltran's fan rep really hinges on though, is a championship. And that's where Bernie probably has the edge in fan loyalty. If the Mets win the world series with Beltran he could become the Mets all-time favorite outfielder and the first number retired in Citi Field. Or he could quickly be forgotten. I've got hope for the first.

  • Anonymous

    All the goofy names you listed and you forget Jeff Zamardzija?
    I can't wait to hear McCarver butcher these names–if any of these guys actually make the post season roster.