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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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Trying Times

Today I made up my mind: I was going to nip and tuck some assignments and duties and to-dos and do something I’ve done too little of this spring. Namely, I was going to watch my team play some baseball.

My team didn’t disappoint — a walk-off home run is always fun, even if it doesn’t really count because there’s a gale force wind howling out to right and, um, it doesn’t really count. I was happy to see K-Rod on the mound again (and agree the goggles make him look more intimidating, even though that may make Keith Hernandez burn down my house) and Chris Carter at the plate and get a look at Ruben Tejada and just generally happy to watch guys with METS across their chests play baseball. I was even happy to watch Luis Castillo hit a 26-hopper slightly to the left of the shortstop for 110 feet worth of single.

I was happy. But I was also forcing myself to be happy. LOOK! SPRING TRAINING! YAY! SAY YAY! IT’S EVEN DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AGAIN! BE HAPPY! HAPPY, DAMN IT!

Part of that is the usual mid-March malaise — the dead-arm periods and reassignment of guys who weren’t going to make the team anyway and moaning about how long April is taking to arrive and wondering which of the three or four spring combatants we’ll get slightly more sick of today. (I never want to see the Cardinals again, despite being neutral about most all of them except the thuggish Brad Penny and the eternally irritating Tony LaRussa. I can’t say the same about the Marlins only because I loathe the teal-clad welfare queens of MLB on general principles, and repeated exposure just makes me twitch a bit more.)

That part’s familiar. But the other part of the malaise isn’t. It comes from having the calendar turn to 2010 and immediately getting months 13, 14 and 15 of 2009. And that’s the part I can’t shake. Sunshine and palm trees and numbers in the 70s usually help with not talking about the past, but not this year. The past is all too present.

I shouldn’t say this given that the majority of Mets are still able-bodied, but you would have been hard-pressed to program a more-depressing offseason for this team so far. Jason Bay aside, the Mets front office spent the winter stumbling around as if they were confused, broke or both. If they weren’t bidding against themselves for eminently replaceable players, they were failing to even pick up the phone to contact guys they were supposedly interested in. (Even with Castillo parked at second, this rotation would look so better with Joel Pineiro in it.) The Mets then managed to get in an embarrassingly public feud with Carlos Beltran, an episode that made it obvious that the team’s own players don’t trust it to handle injuries. And now, the usual buzzard’s luck: If I’d told you last November that Jose Reyes and Frankie Rodriguez would be shelved by a thyroid condition and pinkeye, respectively, you’d have laughed and taken me to task for such broad satire. Yeah right! And then Jeff Francoeur will go on the DL with river blindness!

Seriously, can you think of an offseason more perfectly designed to keep the horror of 2009 fresh and keep us from the park in droves? I guess it could be worse if Ray Ramirez stabbed David Wright with an icepick, but that aside, our worst-case scenario is alive and kicking. And hey, it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day. When the Mets ticket people call with their cheerful scripts, I just talk about the economy and the kid. It seems kinder than calling attention to the utter disaster in the making.

I’m trying. I really am. I’m trying to focus on the “2” part of 2-to-8 weeks and not the “8.” I’m trying to remember that Angel Pagan was pretty good last year and Fernando Martinez looks older and wiser. I’m trying to remind myself that Oliver Perez is inthebestshapeofhislife and Johan looks healthy and if our luck evens out we’ll be rolling 7s and 11s until the felt’s worn off the tables. I’m trying to channel the Faith and ignore the Fear.

But it’s hard. Even on days that end with walk-off home runs and Tony LaRussa looking more sour than usual, it’s hard.

11 comments to Trying Times

  • Bluenatic

    John Maine tried to read this post, but he just wasn’t into it.

  • srt

    I know it’s early and I know it’s spring training but I’m not seeing what I think we need to see from the starting 4 (Johan excluded) that is inspiring confidence. We need strong pitching in April, out pitching the competition, until Beltran and Reyes are back.

    Why is it those vying for a starting spot – not named Johan – are pitching better so far than those that are apparently a lock?

    And yeah, the Mets have the most HRs this ST so far. But most of them are being hit by those not expected to be on the 25 man roster come opening day.

    Just a little bit scary….

  • 5w30

    Why are the Mets and by extension Comcast’s SNY so damn cheap? The spring training games on TV are in standard definition, without closed captioning. Their competition from Tampa is all in glorious HD.
    SNY must have gotten such a deal from Joe’s Old TV Equipment … here’s an exclusive picture of the truck they used!
    http://www.tvhistory.tv/1960nbctruck-YONEZAWA-batteryOp-9in.JPG

    • Joe D.

      “SNY must have gotten such a deal from Joe’s Old TV Equipment”.

      From me? If so, the games would also be in black and white!

  • NostraDennis

    I can’t believe our friends at Mets Walkoffs don’t have this info handy, but does anyone remember the last time we heard the sentence I caught on SportsCenter this morning: “It is gone, and the Mets win!”

    I don’t think that happened at all last year. Fells like it, anyway.

  • Crooksbanza

    It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be gray, and it’s gonna last us Mets fans for the rest of our lives.

  • I’ll admit – it’s taking all the strength I can summon to not make sweeping generalizations about the pitching staff after the average 5 total innings pitched for each.

    It’s 5 innings. I know all I need to know, right?

  • Jackabite

    I can remember a time when we would root for a .500 season.
    Nowadays, it’s all or nothing.
    You would have be more of a cockeyed optimist than good ‘ol Nellie Forbush to believe that the 2010 Mets will contend for the WC. I say 78 wins, but I hope for 81+. It is what it is.
    The worse pill for me to swallow this spring so far is the fact that the Phillies are really that good – the Phillies! This is what it has come to.

  • Matt in Sunnyside

    Come ON. It’s spring training and you guys have already given up on the season. I seriously hate you all. Including Jason. Dude, STFU. It’s spring training. SPRING TRAINING.

    If you have to crush our dreams, at least wait until the second week of April, man. I am not kidding.

    Jesus.

    • Matt in Sunnyside

      Hey, sorry about going overboard last night. I was trying to be emphatic and ended up sounding like a madman of the Interwebs.

      But, seriously. Why the Spring Training pessimism? The Mets have some interesting prospects, it’s no longer blizzarding every week in the tri-state area, and Daylight savings time means many of us can still see the sun occasionally during commutes home.

      The rotation looks very questionable, other than Johan, but most teams are dealing with questionable pitching. It’s not exactly a unique situation we’re in. Many teams don’t even have a legitimate ace for a starter.

      You guys have bashed Brian Schneider for two years. And now the team has let him go and hired a truckload of pitcher whisperers. I realize Faith and Fear hasn’t been bashing that, but it’s become a running joke everywhere else. Why? Maybe Minaya saw a legitimate problem and was trying to fix it. Maybe Barajas and Blanco can extract some things from this relatively youthful pitching squad that Schneider and Santos could not. It’s not the worst set of choices I’ve ever seen a GM make. It’s not like the guy was in a position to trade for Joe Mauer or Matt Wieters. And they’ve basically hired Chris Coste to mentor Josh Thole.

      Oh yeah, and we’ve got Jason Bay in left field now. And you’re still bitching that we didn’t overpay for Joel Piniero, who is almost certainly going to suck without David Duncan.

      I’m not delusional, but when I read negative article after negative blog post after negative article, when I can’t read the local tabloids without seeing two columns about how the Mets have already lost the 2010 season, when I can’t read any blog that doesn’t feature a raging debate about how Manuel and Minaya are prepared to sacrifice Jennry Mejia’s superstar career in a demonic ceremony of call ups and send downs, just to save their own heads for six more months, when I can’t even turn to Sports Illustrated without reading Tim Marchman’s sour snark about the Mets, it gets old fast.

      It’s spring training, man. The Mets, as usual, have assembled a decent team. The team is likable and they have much more of a shot than the Pirates or the Orioles or the Padres or the Royals or about at least half of the MLB league. Can we at least focus on the positive aspects of the team until we’re sure there’s not going to be another brutal snowstorm this year? Not trying to be a dick, man. But what is up with the unrelenting pessimism? It’s spring training.