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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.

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Liván On A Met Plane

When Air Metropolitan departs from Palm Beach International in a couple of weeks (assuming this perpetual Spring Training ever ends), I think we all know who's going to be sitting in the fifth row of the starting pitchers' section and who will be deplaning to meet his connecting flight, ETA April 11 or 12 against the Marlins, maybe sooner given the way rotations have of never, ever spinning as planned.

Meet the new Met, same as the old Met in that Liván Hernandez is classic fifth starter Met-erial. Is anybody here really surprised this veteran's veteran whose shiningest moment in baseball came in the previous decade wound up a Met? Isn't everybody more surprised that he hasn't already been a Met? Doesn't he seem just that familiar?

Tim Redding was injured before he ever had a chance to pitch well. Freddy Garcia was injured long before we signed him. Jonathon Niese was born not 22½ years ago, which makes him kind of young to be keeping this kind of company just yet. That leaves Liván, and not just by process of elimination. The old man has pitched well (embellishing his credentials with five very solid innings Wednesday), though it certainly helps that Redding, Garcia and Niese have a combined ERA of way more than Hernandez's age…whatever number that might be today.

Niese should have a future, Garcia has shown nothing more discernible than a past, Redding has a bad shoulder and Liván Hernandez — named World Series MVP right around Kid Jonathon's eleventh birthday — is undeniably the fifth starter of the present. Liván Hernandez is officially 34. And I'm the King of Sweden. But whaddaya want from a fifth starter: an accurate birth certificate or lots of innings, many of them dependable? That's Liván's stock-in-trade. He's big, he's durable plus he hits. I saw him hit a home run at RFK, and that's no mean poke. Let the “bat Liván eighth and Castillo ninth” talk commence in earnest (hell, let the “play Liván at second the days he's not pitching” talk commence, too). I'm not convinced Liván will endure into May or June let alone September or (deep breath) October, but let's get to the first week of the season with five starters on board and take it from there.

Santana had to shut it down at one point this spring. Pelfrey was seen wearing a boot. Maine ain't all the way back even if he's out there firing. Perez mentioned something about being tired from Playing For His Country. Hopefully they'll all be tip-top when everything counts again. Until then, I'm not going to look askance at someone with Liván Hernandez's track record, long-term or extremely recent. The King of Sweden would never be so shortsighted.

As for the man ultimately on the other end of the rotation's deliberations, Brian Schneider — not my favorite catcher by any means but surely a guy we need given the present roster composition — is experiencing “pain and stiffness behind his right knee“. I would assume all catchers experience loads of pain and stiffness, but Schneider hasn't played since Sunday and he required an examination that revealed “inflammation of the capsule in the knee”. Omar Minaya said he was not particularly concerned. I'm pretty sure that means Schneider will be out six to eight weeks.

Also, an X-Ray showed David Wright's left big toe is all right after he fouled a ball off it in WBC play. Excuse me while I go hyperventilate into a paper bag For My Country.

Thanks to the Eddie Kranepool Society for a glowing appraisal of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers — and at many fine bookstores near you, including Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton locations from Connecticut to Washington, D.C. All are welcome to join the FAFIF: AIPOTNYM discussion on Facebook here.

12 comments to Liván On A Met Plane

  • Anonymous

    Deja Vu. I could swear I've read this post before today.
    What does that mean? Crap.

  • Anonymous

    Every spring (if not every post, I hope) is kind of the same over and over again, except for the WBC which just makes it less so.
    Want proof? Jason provided it in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

  • Anonymous

    Certainly not every post. I suppose it is just normal spring BS. And you're right, this spring is taking forever. I'm kind of annoyed that come Tuesday, after the WBC final, we still have 2 friggin weeks left.
    Can't the season start Tuesday? How am I supposed to go from the awesomeness this WBC has been and “I'll sacrifice 3 hours of sleep just to watch Yu Darvish pitch” to “it's the 8th inning now, am I a bad Met fan if I don't want to watch the Tides Zephyrs Bisons play? Am I allowed to shut this off?”

  • Anonymous

    Actually because there are WBC games to watch I've found the month less boring than before (I'm not big into March Madness). The approximate three weeks required for the pre-season tournament makes it seem as two less weeks of spring training instead of an extra one.
    Last night the U.S. and Venezuela played in the rain and David Wright fouled a ball off his toe. I'm enjoying the WBC but never should players be susceptable to injury on wet turfs for completely meaningless exhibition games to determine nothing more than bracket positions.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree. Also, why did Venezuela put Rodriguez in to pitch the ninth when they were winning that meaningless game 10-6? They've already been using him for two innings at a time, which I'm sure the Mets aren't happy about.
    I still think the WBC is a good thing. It's important to a lot of players, and it's important to a lot of fans–albeit mostly fans in other countries. But that game annoyed me. The weather was nasty, the field was wet, there's already a lot of players injured on the U.S. roster, and the only thing on the line was seeding in a tournament where the final round is played at a predetermined, neutral site? It just didn't make sense to play that game.

  • Anonymous

    Isn't everybody more surprised that he hasn't already been a Met? Doesn't he seem just that familiar?
    I think you're mistaking Livan for his brother, Orlando. You know, the guy who we all used to fill this very spot one year ago only to be grossly disappointed.
    That might feel like pre-emptive déjà vu, too.

  • Anonymous

    His Inevitable Metness transcends El Duque. He's been rumored to be On His Way for so long that somehow it seems like he's been here the whole time.

  • Anonymous

    Like that crappy Tigers OF/1B we seemed constantly on the verge of acquiring from about 2001-2006. Bobby something?

  • Anonymous

    Livan is an inning-eater, which means besides keeping us in those 5th games, he'll help keep the bullpen fresh for the other 4 games. If he pitches as well when the season starts as he is now, he'll be an important component.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, What's amusing is that Livan probably won't be on the Opening Day roster due to keeping an extra batter until the 5th spot pops up or whatever, yet he'll still probably come up to New York and pitch against the Red Sox. He'll just have to turn around and go back to Port St. Lucie to wait while the others go off to Cincinnati.

  • Anonymous

    I know I'm late, but shouldn't that be AIPHOTNYM?