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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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I've Looked at Mets from Both Sides Now

It was billed in some quarters as a battle of aces. Ours slipped out of the deck in the fourth inning. Theirs ran the table, collected the pot and was home in plenty of time for Cops.

So much for Pelfrey vs. Halladay. Just as well we still have Santana to deal as we await (and await and await and await…) the series finale at 8:05 tonight. And while no news is good news from a 10-0 drubbing in which the Mets were schlubbing, absorbed a clubbing and were in desperate need of subbing, there is one truth that remains.

It’s still early.

It was still early when we were descending to 2-6 and 4-8, though we acted as if the window was shutting on a season that had at least 150 games remaining. It was still early when we were 14-9 and riding roughshod on four different opponents whom we lapped at every turn. It continues to be early this Sunday morning, no matter the unpleasant thud! that resounded from the Citizens Bank Park grass as one ball escaped Jose Reyes’s grasp, another fell away from Alex Cora and an eight-game winning streak crashed to Earth.

Funny thing about the sport in which it legendarily gets late early: it does, yet it doesn’t. Sometimes you know a season is over before it’s over — in 1993, the Mets were done by the middle of May, probably sooner. Sometimes you know no such thing — in 1999, the Mets had to do the near impossible to survive after having played a presumably definitive 159 games, yet they did just that and kept playing, memorably so, for several weeks longer. Most of the time, however, 24 games is just 24 games, especially when they’re the first 24 games of a season. Unless you’re 20-4 (which only the 1986 Mets were) or 4-20 (which even the 1962 Mets weren’t), it’s still early.

There was a strain of Mets fan who didn’t want to hear it when “early” was a synonym for let’s show a little patience. Patience had worn as thin as Gary Matthews’ batting average in these parts, and eight games or twelve games was as much a sample size as we needed in order to know that the rest of our season would be played an under an intractable doom. Another segment of the fanbase chafed when “early” was bandied about in a different cautionary context, as in perhaps we’re not really on a pace to win our next 139 games. For these folks, this was a blasphemous, mean-spirited interpretation of a beautiful 14-9 record.

We’re in first place!

We’ve won ten of eleven!

We just pounded the Phillies!

In other words, tell your early to shut up.

In the spirit of Joni Mitchell, I’ve looked at early from both sides now. At neither 2-6 nor 4-8, I didn’t want to hear that these bums could be trusted to turn it around and, ten rabbits in eleven hats later, I didn’t want to hear lots of luck, lousy opponents and uncommon hotness were primarily at work. I wanted to believe, more than anything, that I knew what was going on. I wanted to be certain that my team sucked/ruled.

I didn’t. And I’m not.

It’s still early, no matter how you care to examine it. It’s too early, despite our recent run of exhilarating success, to say we’re home free. It’s too early, despite our reluctant referral to Dr. Halladay, to say we’re screwed. We’re all gonna be right sometimes about how bad this team and several of its players in particular really are. We’re all gonna be right sometimes about how good this team and several of its players really are. We’ll come together in about five months, underscore our favorite data points and prove how much we knew all along. That much — probably — is certain.

But it’s too early for that. We’re still finding out what 2010 has in store for us, which is fine. It’s a baseball season, the thing for which you wait an eternity to arrive. Why you’d want to know how it ends not even four weeks after it began is beyond me. Put your certainty aside. Read one page at a time. No skipping to the final chapter. It isn’t written yet.

It’s still early. Take that as you will.

14 comments to I’ve Looked at Mets from Both Sides Now

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by You Gotta Believe!. You Gotta Believe! said: Via Faith&Fear: I’ve Looked at Mets from Both Sides Now: It was billed in some quarters as a battle of aces. Ours … http://bit.ly/aDpiP6 […]

  • Chris

    Excellent post. The one thing I am certain of is that right now this team is fun to watch. I certainly wasn’t expecting a twenty game winning streak, but I’d love to see them take 2 of 3 from the Phillies.

    As for Halladay, I suppose there are two ways to look at the first game against him. The natural one is probably that the Mets will just lose the games he’s starting. The other one is that this was their first time seeing him, and perhaps they’ll improve just a little bit the next time around. I guess time will tell on that one.

  • Gavin

    Let’s hope Santana can do his business today and we can take the series.

    I thought Halladay was a tad lucky before the Phillies broke out in the 4th. Don’t get me wrong he was fantastic, but Pagan and Francoeur both hit balls hard that went straight to fielders when we had RISP. I couldn’t see us scoring once he was handed that kind of lead.

    I know its still early but looking at the NL at the moment, I think the wild card is really there for the taking.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    The loss didn’t bother me much as the performance of Pelfrey after those seeing-eye popups were just too out of reach to enable Reyes and Cora to keep them in their gloves.

    Pelfrey was making his pitches up to that point but seemed to become discouraged and deflated and that’s when the Phillies began to tatoo him. He could have still kept the Mets in the game.

    The mark of a quality pitcher is not just the stuff he has going for him but how he reacts to adverse situations that were not of his creation. This is a different kind of character trait as opposed to keeping one’s poise in a tight pitching duel.

  • There was a strain of Mets fan who didn’t want to hear it when “early” was a synonym for let’s show a little patience.

    That’s the same rationale for why Jeff Francoeur takes pride in swinging late on pitches.

  • CptnS

    A Phillies fan here; looking forward to tonight’s rubber match. This year is SO much better than last year. IF you beat us, it’s only because your team is better than ours, but at least this year you don’t just have Santana and 8 guys named Joe. THIS is what I want; a real competition all the way to September.

    Nonetheless, I look forward to the Phillies crushing their enemies, see them driven before them and listening to the lamentations of their vimmen.

  • Joe D.

    Greg,

    Ever see Santana blow up the way he did tonight, from any side?

  • LisaMetsFan

    To Joe D:
    See Santana’s performance last year against the Yankees–the day after the infamous Luis Castillo game–where we also desperately needed a big “Ace” performance. I still think Santana is awesome…but when he’s bad, man he is baaad.

    In happier news, thanks for this column, Greg. The line “We’re still finding out what 2010 has in store for us,” and so far it’s been a damn fine rollercoaster ride!

    • Thanks Lisa, though to clarify, Santana’s 2009 blowup in the Bronx followed Fernando Nieve’s stanch job on the Saturday after the second baseman had his mishap.

  • LisaMetsFan

    Hi Greg,
    Are you sure? I think the Mets won the first game of that series (Nieve?) Then Luis had his (ahem!) mishap in game 2 and then Johan pitched game three. The reason I remember is pre-Luis I remember feeling pretty great b/c we were about to take the series from the Yankees. (Sigh…)

  • LisaMetsFan

    Ah, you are correct. Now I remember worrying about game 2, and the ill-effects of the Castillo drop. (And, like last night, I thought, “Well, NATURALLY Johan will win tomorrow and the Mets will win the series.”) Argh.

  • […] known that. For weeks I’ve been pretty sure the Mets could come back from any circumstance. When Big Pelf finally proved human in Philadelphia and Doc Halladay was operating and the eight-game winning streak of late April was about to turn […]

  • […] THE METS WERE GOING TO LOSE: 12 Blowouts of the unfriendly kind go here, such as Roy Halladay’s 10-0 whitewashing in Philadelphia or the next night when Johan gave up 10 earned runs. When none of your pitchers is […]