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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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41-0 and Bored to Tears

“Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This IS the OTHER PLACE!”

—”A Nice Place to Visit,” The Twilight Zone

The Mets play the Dodgers Monday night at 6:30 on SNY. They will win. They take on the Yankees Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 on SNY. They will win. Thursday night at 7:30, the Cardinals are the opponents…and the victims. The Mets will win.

They always win, as long as the game has already been played.

By my count, SNY has aired 41 Mets Classics or UltiMET Classics since taking to the air on March 16, 2006. This means the network has been broadcasting, including today, for 1,054 days and has found room on its busy schedule for 41 of what it considers classic Mets games.

Of course much of its programming has been taken up by new Mets games, three seasons' worth, give or take a dozen or so per annum that went to Fox or ESPN (SNY produces Channel 11's telecasts). And often those games are repeated the next day or, if it's an afternoon game, that very night. Almost every game is condensed into Mets Fast Forward as well. Throw in SNY's commitments to Mets studio and entertainment programming along with its other sports news and debate shows, to say nothing of myriad college basketball games and Heartland Poker Tour, and you can't reasonably expect a classic Mets game to be rebroadcast at the drop of a hat.

But we can expect more than 41 across three years. Even if 41 is a most pleasing Met number.

That total is a little misleading, actually. At least sixteen of them appear to be completely out of SNY circulation. Those would be the 1986 postseason wins, that season's division-clincher, the 1969 World Series victories and the complete 2006 NLDS. The September/October '86 deluxe set seemed to be our welcome gift in SNY's first year. The '69ers were dug out of an attic somewhere in '07 and presented in a similar fashion, as if to say “look what we've got!” There is less mystique to the Dodger series, but that was also a limited-run proposition.

So if we're not seeing those sweet sixteen, it leaves us with 25 Mets games in something approaching regular rotation, some more regular than others. From as best as I've been able to absorb from my monitoring of the situation, here are what we get to see as Mets Classics every now and again (and again and again) from the pre-SNY era:

1986 (1): @ San Diego, the 8-2-5 double play

1988 (1): vs. Philadelphia, the division clincher

1991 (2): vs. Los Angeles, Darryl Strawberry's homecoming; @ Philadelphia, David Cone's 19-strikeout performance

1997 (1): @ New York (A), Dave Mlicki's shutout

1998 (1): vs. Milwaukee, Mike Piazza's first Mets game

1999 (3): vs. Milwaukee, Robin Ventura's first grand slam of doubleheader in which he stroked two salamis; vs. New York (A), Matt Franco game-winning pinch-single; @ Cincinnati, Al Leiter wins one-game playoff (this 10/4/99 Classic seems to have gone the way of the '86 postseason)

2000 (2): @ Tokyo, Benny Agbayani grand slam beats Cubs; vs. Atlanta, ten-run eighth inning

2001 (1): vs. Atlanta, Mike Piazza's homer caps first home game following September 11

2005 (2): vs. New York (A), Dae-Sung Koo doubles off Randy Johnson; vs. Los Angeles of Anaheim, Marlon Anderson's inside-the-park home run

The following are from the SportsNet New York era, all but one of them labeled an UltiMET Classic:

2006 (6): vs. Atlanta, Pedro Martinez's 200th win; @ San Francisco, Mets overcome Barry Bonds' ninth-inning homer; vs. New York (A), David Wright's walkoff single; vs. Philadelphia, Carlos Beltran wins 16-inning marathon; vs. St. Louis, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran power Mets to walkoff win; vs. Florida, Mets clinch division (this is labeled a Mets Classic)

2007 (3): vs. Colorado, Endy Chavez's drag bunt wins extra-inning affair; vs. Chicago, five-run ninth inning bests Cubs; vs. Giants, Carlos Delgado blasts homer after Armando Benitez balks Jose Reyes around the bases

2008 (2): vs. Florida, Fernando Tatis walkoff double; vs. Florida, Johan Santana twirls three-hit masterpiece on short rest in final Shea win

How do I say this without being unappreciative for being brought approximately two-dozen rousing Mets victories? Like this, I suppose:

I am sick of them. I have seen almost every one of them as much as I need to for now.

Show me something else. Show me other Mets wins. Show me a compelling Mets loss — that carries historical significance or serves as prelude to an ultimately happier ending — if you have to. Show me more Mets games is what I'm really getting at.

We're 41-0 in Mets Classics. We're at least 20-0 in the games that I've ascertained are more or less still among us. The Leiter game seems off the table. I'm not sure if I'm imagining the sixteen-inning one was UltiMETted; I think it was shown in truncated fashion, but I know I haven't seen it lately. The Phone Company Park game, wherein Brian Bannister pulls up lame, may have been retired after, like Brian himself, being run into the ground.

They've almost all been run into the ground. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for a Mets win any time. But do they have to be the same Mets wins? As much as I can while away the hours floating on a cloud of timely hits and clutch outs in my mind, turning on SNY and knowing, by heart, the outcome kind of dulls the thrill. Easley's always gonna homer and Endy's always gonna put down that bunt against the Rockies. Jose is always gonna rattle Armando. Tatis…why is that a classic? I mean, yeah, a win in the twelfth, but the Late Randolph era? Really? And Pedro's 200th win? I love Pedro, I love that we got off to an incredible start in 2006, but we can be done caring about that one now.

This is tricky terrain to complain about. Before SNY, there wasn't much of any old Mets shown. MSG did a little good-faith stuff, like the Todd Pratt game with Murph & Cohen's radio call dubbed in, plus a few vintage highlight films, but MSG was never really in the Mets business. A million years ago, in 1986 for the 25th anniversary season, SportsChannel showed every yearly highlight film (including the ones that celebrated 50-112 campaigns). But nobody was superserving us.

Now nobody is superserving us correctly.

I appreciate that SNY has sort of, kind of tried to do right by us. The first time every one of the aforementioned Classics aired, it came off as anywhere from a moderate thrill to an immense thrill. It's just that there's a real law of diminishing returns at work here. David Wright tags Mariano Rivera in the ninth? On May 19, 2006, it was stupendous. By February 1, 2009, I'm stupefied to the point of having my senses dulled by it.

Half of these games feel exactly the same after a while. We win in our last at-bat or we beat the Yankees, perhaps in our last at-bat. It's the other half or the repertoire that make Mets Classics classic viewing. It's the curios. The Darryl returns to Shea game, which is on Monday night, is an exquisite example. There's a real End of the Empire feel to it, with '80s heroes and '90s nonentities meshing for one final lunge at contention (ultimately aborted, as becomes abundantly clear in the David Cone game). Piazza arriving feels like an accidentally uncovered gem that way. Yes, it has a hook, but we're dropping in on an otherwise inconspicuous game from a band of Mets that never won anything. It's a sneaky classic. It works despite Fran Healy.

Surely there are other games from 1998 or 1991 or any of the seasons that have yet to be deemed containing anything Classic. And surely there are more recent Snighworthy games that didn't air on Snigh. I love the ten-run inning, of course (though I love it a lot more with Gary Cohen than Gary Thorne; same for radio over TV where Marlon Anderson and Cliff Floyd against the Angels are concerned), but how about the Sunday night eleven-run inning from 2006, the one with two grand slams? That would be worth a few viewings. Or instead of the barrage of Pedro beating the Braves in early 2006, what about the Saturday game at Turner Field in midsummer when the Mets pounded the curse to dust once and for all, liberating us from the hell we always felt in Atlanta?

Those were, respectively, ESPN and Fox games. Might SNY have to pay extra to show them? Would it mean there'd be less inherent promotion of the SNY brand? I don't know if those are the problems, but those problems, if those are the problems, aren't my problem. The Mets network should be showing more Mets Classics, not less. They should be combing the archives and doing whatever it takes to fill their schedule with an abundance of Mets broadcasts from through the years, whether it's a great 2006 or 1986 year or a subpar 1996 or 1976 year. If they can't find full games, find footage. It's there. We've seen it on DiamondVision. We've seen it parceled out on Mets Weekly.

We all have a wish list, some of which is probably out of range. We're never going to see all nine innings of the Jimmy Qualls game. We're never going to see every one of Tom Seaver's 19 strikeouts against the Padres as they appeared on Channel 9. We're out of luck if we want games from 1962. But so much more could be shown. So much more can enrapture us and make us hungrier for the next new Mets game and so much more loyal to SNY not because we have to watch it but because we want to watch it.

I don't watch much MSG, but they do one thing brilliantly: MSG Vault. Al Trautwig hosts, usually with a guest, and shows parts of vintage games or promotional films from the Garden archives. Don't have a full 1968 Knicks game? They give us part of it and Trautwig explains it. Why can't the Mets do that? It's a great idea that demands to be ripped off at once. Show some 1965 highlights, bring in Jack Fisher, bookend it with something from some other season, pay Gary or Howie or Ron a few bucks…bam, you've got a show that makes Mets fans happy. Filleting Mariano Rivera isn't the only thing that gives us reason to smile.

SNY has, in many ways, been a boon to Mets fans. Their Web site has plenty of relevant video and mini-shows. They shine a deserving light on MetsBlog, which is more than any “mainstream” outlet would have done with any blog three years ago. I may be biased because I've written for and appeared on Mets Weekly, but I find that an entertaining show. I like Kids Clubhouse even more most of the time, and I'm a kid only at heart. The game telecasts themselves are top-notch. You can't go wrong with Gary, Keith, Ron and Kevin.

But what a waste this network is when it comes to deepening the well of Mets history. Showing the same 41 or 25 or however many games over and over is a start, not a finish.

Keep 'em coming, for crissake. And next Super Bowl Sunday, don't show another Beer Money marathon. A Mets fan always welcomes counterprogramming.

***

A Faith and Fear salute to the hardy souls who paid one more round of respects to the home of the Super Bowl III champions yesterday. Hundreds of Shea lovers did as promised and toured the demolition site/burial ground Saturday, no matter how cold, no matter how potentially dispiriting. It sounds and looks like it was a great time.

To read more about it, check out the report from our friend Kingman at Loge 13, along with perspectives from pal Zoe at Pick Me Up Some Mets and DyHrdMET at the appropriately named Remembering Shea. Newspaper coverage can be gleaned from Newsday, the the News and the Times (twice), with video via Channel 2 and NY1.

Way to go, Baseball-Feverites.

15 comments to 41-0 and Bored to Tears

  • Anonymous

    Amen!! i would love to see those old highlight shows (even if “highlight” is a stretch) or any random game from the 70's or early 80's.

  • Anonymous

    Some games that would certainly be fun to see again (assuming the footage is available):
    - 1973 Postseason – we've all seen the 1969 games, but you never see broadcasts from '73
    - Tom Seaver's 19 strikeout game and/or the one-hitter in 69 if the footage somehow exists
    - The Bob Murphy 'Mets win the damn thing' game
    - Opening Day 1985
    - Carlos Delgado's 400th home run game. It was a great game.
    - A special on the July 4/5 game in 1985 vs. the Braves
    - Strawberry hits one off the Busch Stadium clock in 1985
    - The final regular season game vs. the Pirates in 1999
    I'm sure there are a lot more, all it would take is a little creativity.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic suggestions, every one of them The 400th Delgado HR game, however, has made the SNY rounds. I identified it above as Delgado and Beltran powering the Mets past the Cards. I find it was a better game to live through than watch again because its action is confined to a few swings. Not that there's anything wrong with that…
    Here's a Mets-Cardinals game I'd throw in from the “surely they have it era”: Opening Day 1996, great comeback, Ordonez's incredible play to nail Royce Clayton at the plate, Howie Rose's first game as a TV announcer (for what that's worth). In fact, why not a series of Opening Days? '85's gotta exist; '83 probably does. And how about the first game of '06, technical difficulties and all? The '05 Home Opener with Pedro dancing during the scoreboard delay? The games when flags were raised in '87 (bittersweet) and '01?
    The suggestions are waiting to be made…and acted on.

  • Anonymous

    ESPN Classic once aired game two of the 1973 series against Oakland. For some reason, the last inning was lost so they showed portions of that inning that were in the world series highlight film. I recorded in on VHS in the days before DVD recorders became affordable.

  • Anonymous

    They did something similar with Game Seven. There's two out in the ninth and suddenly it's the highlight film for the final out.

  • Anonymous

    I know I've said it a million times, but I've got an Andy Dufresne-esque drive to see this again: The Almanzar Game. I love the '96 Opening Day request. Of course Game 162 in 1999 is a must. The McEwing/Ventura/Bell game vs the D'Backs in 2000 would be a treat. Then of course there's one of the most famous games in Met lore that I've never seen any footage from: Tug beats Koufax. Something tells me if any film existed from that game, Fred has burned it.
    Couldn't SNY run something through Metsblog and see which games are requested the most via their fanbase and get 3 years worth of new entertainment out of that? And can they PLEASE take a cue from MLB Network and cut out commercial breaks during pitching changes?

  • Anonymous

    I remember seeing that Game 7 one years and years ago. You're exactly right about it. I remember they cut to commercial with 2 outs in the 9th, 3 minutes away from the top of the hour and I was thinking, “how are they going to have enough time to show the ending?” Then, to irk me even more, they say during the highlight, “the Mets got a run and had the tying run at the plate, but the A's prevailed.” Very frustrating. How do they not show that?!

  • Anonymous

    Apparently, SNY has the same attitude toward Mets history as the owners of the team/station…

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the game hasn't yet ended and the Mets still have a chance?

  • Anonymous

    You Gotta Believe!

  • Anonymous

    Great ideas about the 1996 opener, the 1999 closer, and every season's highlight film.
    It doesn't take much to satisfy my longing for baseball after a long, cold winter which followed another Mets collapse, but only 41 different (16 of which they hardly ever show) is an insult.
    SNY needs to show some effort, thank you for writing this post and shining some light on a topic that has bothered me for quite some time.
    Other suggestions:
    -Any '84 or '85 game showing the promise of Doc or Darryl.
    -Keith's debut in 1983.
    -ANY other game from 1986 besides the 8-2-5 double play. (the 14-inning game vs. Cincy in which Carter wound up playing 3rd and McDowell/Orosco wound up in RF or any game from that April series vs. the Cards in which the Mets declared their dominance).
    -ANY Seaver start.

  • Anonymous

    How about, instead of showing whole games from the past, they get together some notable half-innings, organized around a theme, with a little bit of setup narration.
    I'd spend an hour watching Jerry Koosman's greatest innings, or Tug McGraw's or Dwight Gooden's. I'd watch a collection of innings from different games and eras highlighting spectacular outfield play, or miraculous escapes from jams, or buccaneering baserunning in the Jose-Rickey-Mookie tradition, or debut appearances by Met stars. Show me innings with sensational 15-pitch battles between grizzled veteran pitchers and scrappy batters, or sustained outbursts of Met power. Show me innings with the wierdest, wackiest headscratching plays.
    I'm not saying dump the “classic games” completely, just broaden the concept, and show me, in an organized way, classic innings from the 7,000-odd games televised so far that aren't classic the whole way through (including the team's 3,900-odd losses).

  • Anonymous

    That could very well take effort on the part of somebody associated with the Mets. From what I hear, they can't even send out two shovel-ready seats.

  • Anonymous

    I actually attended the Delgado game and the 162nd game vs. the Pirates. Both were fantastic in person.

  • Anonymous

    I love how in this way, despite SNY's every attempt to distance itself from the taint that YES has when it comes to the Yankees, they are very much like YES in terms of what games are replayed in “classic game” context.
    I swear, is there actual market research that says viewers will only watch rebroadcast of games if their favorite team wins, or if it is of significant magntiude historically (no hitters, milestones, rare performances, significant moments)?
    And generally of course, it is the games that the team wins that the moments garner the “significant” tag. Especially if said player is still on the roster or very much beloved with the fanbase, so expect the Endy bunt game to be dropped from circulation!