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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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They Call This Tim 'Pariah'

Thanks to the Cubs' vigilance on our incidental behalf since the All-Star break, the Mets have picked up ground on the Nationals, so we go to Washington holding a 17-game lead in the only race in which we are likely to participate for some time to come. I'd say we have a real chance to lock down fourth place with a good trip.

And that's all I've got anymore. I won't technically give up while the Mets are single-digits from first (9 games) or the Wild Card (7 games). Should they gather steam and enter August within five or so games of a playoff spot, their chances must be taken seriously.

Also, if my cat Avery grows wings, I'd urge you to consider him a bird.

But Avery's not going to grow wings. And the Mets aren't going to stop barrelling in the wrong direction. The only — only — thing we have going for us on the four of five days through the rotation that aren't spoken for by Mr. Santana is if we have to leap out of a burning National League East pennant race, the Nats will provide the mattress to break our fall.

Or as an erstwhile co-worker from Alabama liked to say, “Thank the Lord for Mississippi.”

Fernando Nieve, who would have had a tough time getting the ball ahead of Roger Craig, Jay Hook and Al Jackson when this franchise first drew breath, was the latest victim of the occupational hazard of being a Met Sunday night. He had been doing his job more effectively than most of his teammates for quite a spell. Fernando Nieve, international man of mystery when we grabbed him off waivers in March, was our No. 2 starter based on both merit and process of elimination. Now he's been eliminated by tough luck. He ran hard to beat out a high chopper in the top of the second and there he went, strained right quad and all. Nieve will go to New York for an MRI, which is the Met equivalent of that farm upstate where you tell your kid dear ol' Rover went. Vaya con Dios, Fernando. And while the Mets misdiagnose his condition, keep in mind that by changing one letter, Nieve can become Niese pretty quickly.

Natch, an injury where a guy has to be carted off the field doesn't mean he'll really be placed on the DL, not here. We're already carrying thirteen pitchers, if you want to count Tim Redding under that heading, and we've seen the Mets don't like to make moves that clear the roster of the lame and the halting in order to make room for the conceivably healthy. I'm guessing it's because they know once they say adios to a hurt player they will never, ever see him again. Apparently, the Mets organization — despite its implied and now stated distaste for celebrating its own history (part and parcel of its top executives' transparent disdain for their brand and their customers) — can be sentimental in weird ways.

The upside of the innovative four-man bench Omar Minaya has put at Jerry Manuel's disposal is it allows the manager uncommon latitude in terms of emergency fill-ins when starting pitchers pull quads. We lead the league in emergency fill-ins. Hell, we lead the league in emergencies. Enter Tim Redding, the most unlikely Mets pitcher extant considering the word is out that he's gone in all but body. One of the truly great headlines of the season appeared on page A75 of the Nassau Edition of Sunday's Newsday:

Redding is pariah in clubhouse

It's not because Redding expressed a thought that could be construed as hate speech or because he had a Ponzi scheme cooking that was just busted up by the Feds…and it's not because each Met has suddenly developed shame from being associated with other spectacularly subpar baseball players. It's simply become common knowledge that eight men out in the bullpen means somebody's about to take the proverbial pipe. On other, shall we say…professional teams, a fellow who has proven dreadful as a starter and useless as a reliever might have already been issued his golden ticket out of town and would, by now, be blaming his stratospheric earned run average on inconsistent use (you know Redding's going to do that, and at this point, who has the energy to argue the salmonella-infected chicken/rotten egg point?).

In Newsday, David Lennon somehow made me feel sorry for Tim Redding and his immensely undeserved salary. “Half the guys won't even talk to me,” the outcast pitcher said. (I wonder if the incommunicativeness includes his catchers refusing to put down one finger for a fastball, et al, or if Schneider and Santos simply avert their eyes from the mound.) Of course he's a pariah. We've known baseball works this way since we read Ball Four and Jim Bouton described what it's like to be sent down: “[A]s I started throwing stuff into my bag I could feel a wall, invisible but real, forming around me. I was suddenly an outsider, a different person, someone to be shunned, a leper.” It is tradition to avoid acknowledging the guy who almost any one of them in that clubhouse can be at any moment. There but for the bizarre machinations of the godawful front office go close to two-dozen men who have no business suiting up for a big league team — even this one.

But Tim Redding's still here. And because Fernando Nieve took an unfortunate tumble, Tim Redding was called upon to enter a scoreless game in the bottom of the second. He commenced to make it scorey. I thought for a fleeting moment that the pariah might rise up, save his season, save our season or at least give us something to savor between Johan starts. But no, not this year, not this bunch, not this pitcher. Three innings, four hits, three walks, five runs, two earned — though as Bobby Ojeda (who is the most scathing home-team analyst you've ever heard dissect a home-team loss) said afterward on SNY, “errors, schmerrors,” or words to that effect. Redding and his 7.16 ERA — still lower than Ollie's! — can go back to sitting on the bubble now, thankful that internal Met ineptitude has kept it from bursting altogether.

The Mets faced adversity and Atlanta Sunday and each creamed them decisively. Who says doubleheaders are dead?

But believe it or not, we still love our Mets. Thus, the first of three AMAZIN' TUESDAYS is coming to Two Boots Tavern July 21. It will be a Mets night devoted to reading, rooting and Roy Lee Jackson. Get all the details here. And get your copy of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

10 comments to They Call This Tim 'Pariah'

  • Anonymous

    that redding tidbit does seem tough for the man. but a sinking ship is no place to get sentimental. almost everyone's a candidate to get dumped overboard.

  • Anonymous

    Can Avery pitch?

  • Anonymous

    Tends to go to sleep on baserunners.
    So he'd fit in fine.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, baseball gods. Fernando Nieve? WTF is wrong with you people?
    As someone born and raised in Mississippi, I've got to add, Greg, that the toothbrush was invented in Alabama. And the reason we know why is because if it had been invented anywhere else they would have called it a teethbrush.

  • Anonymous

    To quote a mutual acquaintance, the Alabaman who slammed Mississippi thought pompous was a men's hairstyle.

  • Anonymous

    It's really a pain in the ass hating a team you love…

  • Anonymous

    13 Days til Giants training camp.

  • Anonymous

    “He ran hard to beat out a high chopper in the top of the second and there he went, strained right quad.”
    Greg,
    So that's why nobody ever ran hard on the Mets the past few seasons – fear of injury! And we always thought it was lack of effort.

  • Anonymous

    I'm not mad. I'm just really disappointed that hope is slipping away in July. As last night's game wore on, Steve Phillips kept saying that he expected the Mets to go into selling mode before the trade deadline. But who are they going to trade? Sheffield? He could barely walk off the field on Friday. Pagan? I'm sure lots of scouts recognize his potential, but the Mets should, too. He doesn't have enough of a track record to net the team any sort of gain by trading him.
    Castillo is actually having a good year, other than that dropped pop-up, but the Mets would still have to eat part of his contract. Murphy is looking better and better at first, but he hasn't been hitting nearly as well this season. The bullpen is split between guys that the team will really need next year or guys that wouldn't net much value in a trade.
    And, I have never understood those “break up the core” arguments. Because trading away your top talent helps you win next year how? Even so, it would be impossible to get any sort of true value for Beltran and Reyes while they're on the DL.
    So, who can they even make viable, forward-looking trades with right now?
    Man, I'm still mad about Sports Illustrated picking the Mets to win the World Series this year. Incite a friggin' baseball god Ragnarok is what that did.

  • Anonymous

    Lousy baseball beats all football. Never wish away summer.