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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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Next Stop: Mets Classics

After the Wagnerian (as in Richard, not Billy) storms that rolled through here overnight and this morning, I thought we'd be lucky just to get a game in. I didn't count on one so thoroughly entertaining.

You want home runs? Done. Wright. Beltran. Howard. Ibanez. Rollins. Church. Utley. And a shot by Tatis (of course) that would have been out if the Great Wall of Flushing weren't quite so lofty. (Tatis seems to get victimized inordinately by Citi Field, and he's learned — he hauled ass out of the batter's box to ensure he could get to second.) Church's drive went in the apple housing, which doesn't count extra but feels like it should. I wonder whose job it is to retrieve those. It'd be kind of cool if they just left them there.

Drama? 3-0 Mets turned into 4-3 Phils in a potentially deflating hurry, thanks to Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez exploring distant Citi Field nooks and crannies. But Tatis immediately dragged the Mets right back into it with his laser-beam double, followed by various misadventures put right by Santana and Alex Cora.

Santana? We got a look at his greatness (maybe we should just call him JHN) from a rather different angle. After a bravura show against the first six hitters he was very hittable — but if he didn't exactly pitch flawlessly, he did everything else that way. I know this is pretty far from quantifiable, but it's like his will has its own gravitational pull — he is not going to lose, and by God you are going to do your part, whether it's zeroing in on a 2-1 pitch or hitting the cutoff man or handing him a towel or offering particularly timely Yays and Attaboys on your couch in Brooklyn. The one thing Johan hasn't done since becoming a Met is hit — he arrived as a lifetime .258 hitter but hasn't ever looked particularly good with the bat for us. So of course tonight he goes into an 0-2 hole trying to bunt, then tries the butcher boy and yanks a double down the right-field line. Going in (hard) to second base his eyes were fixed plateward — had Church scored? (Yes.) Could Santos score from first? (No.) And then he short-circuited a Phillie rally with a calf-height stab of a Shane Victorino tracer up the middle, turning first-and-third and one out into the bottom of the seventh. Johan with all his pitching weapons is an awe-inspiring spectacle, but somehow Johan barreling through on sheer competitiveness is even more impressive.

Supporting Cast? They did their part, from Pedro Feliciano's efficient throttling of the Phillies to Church's resurgence to Gary Sheffield doing a pretty fair job in the field and on the basepaths on one and a half 40-year-old legs to Cora's gutsy play at short on nine fingers. They better — see Santana above.

Sideshows? Lance Barksdale botched a call pretty thoroughly at home — Tatis was clearly safe, with the ball rattling around up Carlos Ruiz's wrist as Fernando slid underneath him, but Barksdale was out of position and couldn't see that. The Times reported Johan's double was against Jerry Manuel's orders, which is interesting. Johan squawked about coming out of the game, which was also interesting. Who plays, Church or Fernando Martinez? Whither Daniel Murphy? All interesting.

Bad Feeling? Jimmy Rollins shushed the crowd after his bolt into the left-field stands brought the Phillies all the way back. From the variety and exuberance of his postgame pointing (against Greg Dobbs — take that, motherfucker), Frankie Rodriguez's God is indeed a mighty God. SNY caught Shane Victorino staring at Frankie with a distinct lack of brotherly feeling. Good. A little summer hatred is the stuff of baseball history.

Yet for all the potential ill will, the lasting image for me of this game might be Rollins taking out Cora at second base on Matt Stairs's little bouncer with one out in the ninth, dropping Cora on his bad thumb and wrecking his throw to first to give his team another out. A pitiless play, but one that violated neither written nor unwritten rules. Rollins didn't appear to offer any kind of apology and Cora didn't appear to expect one.

Which is as it should be: Pennant race ahead, between one flawed World Champion and one battered nemesis. It's off to a pretty fair start.

Be nice to yourself by picking up Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

7 comments to Next Stop: Mets Classics

  • Anonymous

    My first and only reaction to Rollins' takeout of Cora was “Goddamnit, how come *we* don't do that?”
    Great game.
    Also, every time I think I've reached “Full” on my Victorino Hatred Tank, he manages to pump a few more drops in there.

  • Anonymous

    That was the best game I've seen in a very long time.
    And have no worries about the Cryin' Hawaiian: I have a feeling the celebrated Mr. K will dump him on his bony ass in short order…

  • Anonymous

    Because when _we_ (Marlon) do that, we get called out, the game is over, we lose. (Games of inches right? If we get that call in '07, if Marlon was an inch closer to the bag, the Mets make the playoffs) I don't think it would've been a bad call to call Rollins for interference there either, he slid into Cora, and _then_ reached for the bag to his left.
    The double was against Manuel's orders? That's interesting. I've always disdained the first and second 1 out bunt. Even by the pitcher. Especially a pitcher that runs. You need a hit to score a run anyway, and I think the chance that Santana gets a bloop, a walk, an error, or a solid hit are greater than the chance that he grounds into a double play and ends the rally. This is especially true when the guy batting next (if it was Reyes) has XBH power and can drive in both runs from first. (Except it was Santos. Remember when Omir was 'fast'? Only in comparison to Castro. He's still got below average speed. That ball hung out in the corner for a while. Then again, maybe Shines is toning back that over-aggressiveness we killed him the other day)
    I'm starting to see a lot more hints that maybe the clubhouse doesn't quite like Manuel, or at least trust his decisions. Santana obviously didn't want to come out of the game. Manuel pulled Santana two early in Phillies games twice last year. If you weren't going to use Parnell for the whole inning, why not let Santana face the next guy before you bring in Pedro? I hope htis decision didn't have anything to do with the Double/Bunt play.
    Who plays? well supposedly Church will play all three games (I'll believe it when I see it, we all know Manuel doesn't like Church, he's pretty much admitted it) What happened to Everyday or Buffalo Martinez?Is Platooning with a weak-legged 40 year old actually better than everyday in the minors? (I'm of the opinion major league AB count for at least 1.5 a minor league one in development..)
    Murphy? I've been screaming for Murphy every time Tatis (who can't play defense and hasn't looked great on offense either) starts. Why a platoon at first? (And Murphy was starting to pick it up in LF, somewhere he'll ultimately have to go back to when Delgado gets back if he's part of this team, until Manuel had him start taking 1B drills) I've said a couple of times that Manuel manages scared, and sets his players up for failure. Well here's a test.
    Supposedly Murphy is going to get one of the starts against the Phillies two lefties. You've got Hamels, who is pretty good, and Moyer, who is old and slow. Lefties hit Moyer. So, theoretically that'd be the guy you give Murphy the start against. Especially since Tatis had a good game last night, so why not get him out there again tonight? play the 'hot hand' and see if it gets him going. But there is every chance Manuel doesn't do that, and puts Murphy in against Hamels, and then continues to believe that Murphy can't hit lefties.

  • Anonymous

    And because I can't stop until my comments are as long as your post, my comment about Razor Shines aggressiveness reminds me of 2004.
    I was in Boston for an interview, and I was listening to sports talk up there. They spent all day killing Dale Sveum, the third base coach, for sending too many guys to get thrown out. The Red Sox, of course, won the World Series that year.

  • Anonymous

    I know youre not supposed to show up your manager, but how frickin' great was it to see a Met pitcher furious about being taken out of a game? Johan is rocketing up my favorite Mets of all time list.

  • Anonymous

    Easily the best game in CitiField history, eclipsing the Sheff 500 game in short order. Don't know if it tops Omir in Boston, but regardless: great win.
    And hey, maybe it happened and I missed it, but how has there not been a Santos Al Halper joke so far into the season?

  • Anonymous

    Wasn't one of the rataionalizations for the call on Marlon that he had to reach way out with his arms to touch the bag? I'm only going on memory, but I think one could make the case (should one choose to) that Rollins wasn't nearly as wide of the bag as Anderson was.
    If your point is that we get rooked on a frequent basis, well, sure – that, I agree with.