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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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In Excelsis Reyo

At 9:25 tonight, with two outs in the top of the eighth, Ruben Tejada on first and the Mets hanging on to a rickety-looking 5-4 lead, Jose Reyes stepped to the plate against the Indians’ Chris Perez.

Reyes slashed Perez’s first pitch to right-center on a vicious arc, past the marvelously named Shin-Soo Choo. Normally I’m inclined to say the triple is the most-exciting play in baseball, but let me amend that: A two-out triple with another burner on first is even better. Racing around the diamond separated by 100 feet or so, Tejada and Reyes looked like some insane inventor’s whirligig, or a gag from a Looney Tunes cartoon. Tejada streaked across the plate as Reyes dived into third, the ball arriving high and left for the less-marvelously named Jhonny Peralta. Safe! 6-4, Mets!

At 9:30, leading off the bottom of the eighth, Peralta grounded Elmer Dessens’ second pitch sharply to deep short. Reyes fielded it on the backhand and fired the ball as he sat hard on the ground, with Ike Davis making a nice scoop at first. One out.

At 9:31, Shelley Duncan smacked Dessens’ first pitch toward left-center. Reyes took one quick step towards third, lunged at shoulder height and snatched the ball back out of the air. Two out.

In six minutes, Reyes had driven the Indians faithful to distraction not once, not twice, but three times. He was like a kid tormenting a little brother with a ball on a string — nyaah-nyaah, Cleveland, no ya don’t. Now that the Mets have completed the sweep, I wouldn’t be surprised if several Indians wake up at 2:25 or 3:30 or 4:31 screaming that Reyes is the monster under the bed. His hands are clapping! His knees are churning! His smile is huge and bright and carnivorous! He is coming to get me!

Cleveland’s nightmare, our dream come true. We watched the Mets assemble in Port St. Lucie not expecting much from this season, but comforted that at least we’d have No. 7 out there wreaking havoc. Then came the astonishing news that the game’s most hyperkinetic player had been sentenced to stillness and silence, stuck with an infuriating rehab course of doing absolutely nothing. He returned to us in early April, apparently whole but just as apparently not himself: He was waving at balls out of the zone, popping up balls he’d once driven, edging tentatively away from first base, stumbling at shortstop. It was February for Jose on top of his endless layoff, while it was April for everybody else.

But gradually the rust fell away, chips and flakes shed until tonight there he was again, Jose Reyes at maximum velocity and supreme wattage. And in those six minutes, I remembered what I’d risked forgetting about him — that when Jose Reyes is playing baseball at the peak of his ability, watching him seems like more fun than any human being should be allowed to have. And if it’s that much fun watching Jose Reyes, can you imagine being Jose Reyes?

7 comments to In Excelsis Reyo

  • Andee

    I have to admit, I was one of the ones who thought the year-long layoff had done in his talent for good. I’ve hardly ever been so overjoyed to be wrong about anything. He told us it was gonna be a show, didn’t he?

  • AlbMets87

    My favorite Jose moment isn’t any of his many electric triples. Even though watching him smoke a ball into the gap and circle the bases is amazing. My favorite Jose moment is from May 23, 2006. It just happens to be a game that I was personally at with my Dad, a fellow Met fan, and my ex-Girlfriend and her Dad, who are Phillies fans. I know, I know. What was I thinking? Well, she’s my ex now for a reason. Anyway, everyone remembers that game for the Beltran walk-off in the 16th inning. But not everyone remembers that entering the 8th inning, the Mets were down 8-5 in a game that had been close until the Phillies put up 4 in the 5th and 2 in the 7th.

    Well, Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui both fly out to start the innning, and I remember thinking that the ride back upstate with my GF and her father was shaping up to be horrible. Then Endy singled and Woodward doubled him home, and with the score now 8-6, Jose comes to bat. Now I figured it was just window dressing, and we’d probably still lose, but at least they’d go down valiantly. And then, on an 0-2 pitch, Jose golfs one out to right to tie it up at 8 all. I can’t recall going from disappointed to ecstatic faster, except maybe at the 10-run 8th inning game against the Braves a few years earlier, which I was also in attendance for, but that’s another story.

    Anyway, what made this moment my favorite, was not just the home run, which was AWESOME by the way. But after the inning ended, and the Mets came into the field for the 9th. Jose is at short, fielding his warm-ups, with his hat pulled low just above his eyes. And our entire section on the 3rd base side by the dugout is doing the “Jose, Jose Jose Jose” chant, but Reyes is trying his hardest not to acknowledge us. Finally, after about a minute of chanting, Jose turns to our section, and points right at us while flashing that 1,000 watt “Jose-smile”, which was the only thing we could see under his cap. I think that was the moment that I knew the 2006 Mets were for real. Even though it was re-iterated 8 innings later by Carlos B., I credit Reyes with making me a believer that year.

    And on the topic of watching/being Jose Reyes, is it just me, or does it seem like there’s a constant meringue soundtrack playing that only Jose can hear? It seems like he just has his own beat playing in his head and that’s what I love about watching him play.

    • March'62

      It’s well documented that as Reyes goes, so go the Mets. The frustration of these past years is that we’re not winning because of Reyes’ inconsistencies/immaturity/lack of baseball knowledge. He’s a great talent – far and away the best shortstop the Mets have ever had – but until he leads us to the Promised Land, we will just look at him as if he failed us.

  • 9th string catcher

    Say what you want about the relief corp, outfield offense, starting pitching, David Wright. The reality is that since he’s gotten here, it’s all about Jose. As he goes, so go the Mets, and it will be the case until he leaves the team for good. He simply is the catalyst of this team, and when he’s not here, not playing well or injured, this team doesn’t stand a chance. Make no mistake, when he’s going well, this team will win a lot more than they will lose.

  • mikeinbrooklyn

    There’s a St John’s Place here in Brooklyn. At the intersection of St John’s and Utica Avenue, about 2 or 3 stores down, there is a St Jhon’s Deli. Every time I pass it, I wonder if the owners are related to Peralta. (I also wonder how you can misspell John, especially since their store is so close to the corner that the street sign is practically right in front of their window.)

  • dave crockett

    That. Title. Is.

    AWESOME!!!!

    In Exelcis Reyo. Good wheels toward third.

  • [...] battled. Jose Reyes wasn’t overly popular in the Bronx — if you boo Jose Reyes, you’re booing happiness — and that was all to the good. Alas, Reyes’s two homers equaled our entire offensive output. [...]