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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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Damned Season Extended

’Twas a victory of and for the Damned. Damned Castillo. Damned Francoeur. Damned Rodriguez. Damned Mets and their perpetually damning fans.

We won the damn thing!

Y’know what, I’m not even gonna give ya the spiel about it’s just one game. Of course it’s just one game. That’s what a baseball season is: 162 episodes of just one game. Tuesday night, the night after a damned awful game, we were treated to a damned lovely game, thanks in great part to the second baseman none of us wants and the right fielder we’ve all dismissed as fatally flawed and the closer whom nobody trusts. They’re all issued checks by an ownership group we’d all wrest the keys from if we could — and we’re not so hot on the upper-level management it employs to keep an eye on things.

Things haven’t been so great lately. Boo-bleeping-hoo.

Y’all can bury; I’ll be contrary.

It’s baseball season. Still.

It’s 2010. Still.

The Mets are alive ’til they’re not. Still.

The Mets have picked up a game on the Braves. For a change.

Hey, you know who else is having a season that could be going better by the druthers of those who follow them? The Atlanta Braves, that’s who. Check out this lede from Dave O’Brien in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Braves were miserable again with runners in scoring position Tuesday night against the New York Mets, and this time that recent deficiency came back to haunt them. So did a former Brave.

After new Braves reliever Kyle Farnsworth blew a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Jeff Francoeur hit a ninth-inning home run off closer Billy Wagner to lift the Mets to a 3-2 win against his former team at Turner Field.

“They’ve been struggling just as much as we have to get that one run across, and tonight they got it,” said Wagner, who has two losses and two blown saves in his past six appearances. “It was a good pitch. Pull hitter, hits the ball to the opposite field — tip your hat.”

Everybody’s got their problems, according to the sage John Mellencamp, ain’t no news here. The Braves have problems. The Phillies, minus Howard and Utley and Victorino, have problems. Their problems aren’t quite as daunting as ours given that they’ve each won an extra handful or two of games (and made some pre-July 31 roster renovations), but the season is just as unfinished for them as it is for us. They’ve clinched nothing…and all we’ve been eliminated from is an easy route from here to whatever comes next.

In the meantime, a couple of big hits and nice plays from Castillo; a monstrously huge home run from Francoeur; an untraumatic ninth from Rodriguez; invaluable contributions from Chris Carter and Manny Acosta; and, as always, nothing but good out of the heart, head and knuckles of one R.A. Dickey, the pitcher so tough he’s got extra guts where his ulnar collateral ligament is supposed to be.

Is R.A. Dickey supposed to be anywhere near a major league rotation in 2010? Near the top of ours? At the core of our comfort zone? He persevered on a night when he said conditions weren’t “optimal”. He actually used that word. He also likened pitching in humid and rainy conditions to “straight guerilla warfare”. Again, how many pitchers talk like R.A. Dickey? Better yet, how many pitchers stand in and battle like R.A. Dickey? After Francoeur turned Melky Cabrera’s single into a run-scoring triple in the sixth, a Met meltdown would not have been unexpected. It certainly would not have been unprecedented. But R.A. did not give into either Matt Diaz or Omar Infante, and our deficit remained no more than one.

That was impressive. Acosta bailing out Feliciano (why let him face McCann?) on a double play grounder was impressive. Francoeur’s homer to right off Wagner? Shoot, that was just doggone enjoyable. It no more makes Francoeur a long-term fixture than Castillo’s run in the third or double in the fifth or sacrifice in the seventh calls for an extension to be grafted onto Luis’s already endless contract. But you gotta, just gotta love it if you’re a Mets fan who is willing to remember the future is utterly unknowable and that the present — any present — requires nights like Tuesday.

Maybe it was just one game. Or maybe it’s the game before the next game that can be another just one game. Team Torpid from the game before gave way to a bunch that had rarely looked as alive as it appeared after Frenchy’s homer. Dickey spoke afterwards of recapturing the “fire” this team had when it was going gangbusters. My pitcher is R.A. Dickey, and R.A. Dickey says

Well, when R.A. Dickey pitches, Mets fans listen, whereas when Mike Pelfrey pitches, Mets fans have cause to cringe. But look at it this way: Big Pelf is listed at 6’7” — the good Pelf from earlier in the season has got to be hiding in there somewhere.

The good Mets from earlier in the season aren’t necessarily off hunting and fishing already, either. They could have found themselves just in time. They are an imaginable (if not particularly manageable) 6½ out of first with yet another Must Win staring them square in the Pelf.  Turner Field is an unoptimal a place as one would choose for a stay of contention execution, but they’re getting another shot at the team they Must Win against if they are to have any hope at all. Jerry Reed, in serenading the legendary Banditry of Mr. Burt Reynolds, once apprised us that, “The boys are thirsty in Atlanta.” Now would be a good time for them to be hungry, too.

Let it all hang out, ’cause we got a run to make.

17 comments to Damned Season Extended

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by You Gotta Believe!, Greg Prince. Greg Prince said: #Mets teams in the rear view mirror may be less completely dead than they appear. http://wp.me/pKvXu-1Fx [...]

  • BlackCountryMet

    Chuffed to bits with last nights results but will take a sustained run to prevent me believing this season is OVER!!

  • I still have difficulty understanding the concept of Mets fans who can think the season is over when the Mets are still above .500.

    Sure it isn’t likely that we’ll make the playoffs. They rate us now as only 6% likely to. But you know it’s perfectly possible.

    What I’m waiting for is the first Mets fan who will say, when we’ve won a division, that he’s given up on them because it isn’t very likely now (only 12.5 %) that we’ll win the World Series.

    • Matt from Sunnyside

      That’s been a weird trend this season, right? Why has everyone been citing those PECOTA playoff odds reports since, like, May? Those reports are so volatile during the regular season, they’re basically statistical noise until September, when teams start getting mathematically eliminated.

      • It is weird, Matt. There are more and more fans willing to give up hope of making the playoffs because it is UNLIKELY. It is always UNLIKELY that anything significant in baseball will be won. The point of baseball fandom, as I see it, is to root hard for something unlikely to happen. And unlikely things happen at the end of every baseball season, as I don’t need to remind Mets fans. The idea of giving up hope on a team still above .500, still only 6.5 games out, with 57 games to play, just because they’ve been playing badly lately, strikes me as not just weird, but exotic. What reason is there for anyone out there to think that it is impossible that this team could suddenly start playing better? If they lost all six games this week, then you could start with the dirges. But they’ve only played two and they won one.

  • Mike D

    If you had told me at the beginning of the season that at 108 games played the Mets would be above .500 and 6.5 games out of first place, I would have been ecstatic. If you expected better than you were looking into a different crystal ball than I was. That, or you are one of Those Met Fans that still assumes some kind of New York entitlement.

    I was actually very pleased with Met ownership/management that they didn’t trade away our (in my humble estimation) very bright future for some imagined stab at the present. I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it through the trade deadline and still retained the likes of Niese, Thole, Carter, and Pagan.

    The team we’ve got is actually better than the team I thought we’d have. This team has played above it’s head for much of the season, albeit below for some of it as well. I think you’ve really got to tip your cap to our starting pitching, especially Dickey and Takahashi, for keeping us this close to contention and keeping things interesting.

    I, for one, am perfectly OK with where we are at the moment. Let’s go Mets!

  • I’m perfectly OK with where we are AND have given up on them winning anything this year. It’s possible to believe both those things.

    I don’t think making the playoffs is realistic, given the poor hitting and the team’s appalling lack of consistency. Given that, I think the focus should be on 2011, and doing everything possible to head into that season as well-positioned and prepared as possible — something the Mets did a very poor job of heading into 2010.

    Which is why I’d like to see the Mets dump players who clearly aren’t or shouldn’t be part of the plan for a 2011 campaign, even if that means some short-term disarray and watching some guys learn on the job for the rest of 2010.

    • Give me a call the afternoon of October 4 and we can figure out everything that needs to be done for 2011. Until then, hands off my last 55 games or however many exist until the rest are played just because they’re scheduled.

      I waited six months for another baseball season. I refuse to give it up after four.

  • maryanne

    We’ve been thru so many more challenging times during our history…I still think that we have a very good chance at the playoffs this year. I love the enthusiasm of the younger players and the spark of RA and Angel and Reyes. Here’s to a good solid outing by BIG Pelf tonight. Let’s go, Mets!!!

  • LarryDC

    I so admire the optimists — Greg, Mike, Dana, Maryanne — and find your comments encouraging and welcome. But damn, I just can’t get myself off Jason’s more pessimistic bench. It’s not just the disasters of the last three seasons, though of course that’s part of it. It just seems to me, through my jaded eyes, that the losing-streak Mets of 2010 seem so much more plausible, so much more genuine, than the winning-streak Mets of 2010. Does that make any sense? The former seems to reflect the reality of the lineup; the latter, the best-case-scenario-that-can’t-last-forever.

    But Greg has the bottom-line point: Even my pessimism can’t cancel the last 50-odd games, so let’s play ball.

  • metsadhd

    i literally got sick when I was at a game at Turner field and spent the game in the first aid office.
    they couldnt have been nicer to this beleagured Mets fan but if Pelfry spits the bite again tonite i will just be sick in my old bathroom.
    LGM

  • “Chuffed”? I thought that word only existed in England.

    It was 25 years ago today, August 4, 1985, that Tom Seaver won his 300th game, beating the Yankees for the Chicago White Sox, 4-1 at the original Yankee Stadium. He pitched a complete game at the age of 40. And 54,000 fans — who seemed to be brawling with each other, as a lot of them were Met fans — stood to applaud him as he left the field.

    I was there, mainly because it was Phil Rizzuto Day. But even I had to tip my cap to the old master.

    • A lovely day, indeed. While Seaver was notching his milestone, Doc Gooden was facing Chicago’s other team and beating them — his eleventh consecutive win, breaking the old master’s Met record. I was due at an engagement party the middle of that afternoon but arrived unfashionably late because I didn’t want to miss either ace doing his thing.

      Plus the couple never got married.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Greg-”chuffed to bits” means Very very pleased.

    To all optimists- Fair play to you. I view myself as an optimist but also a realist. Sure I accept it’s not impossible that we can still have a run at the play offs BUT….the team would have to play consistently good baseball from now until close AND other teams would have to slump. Based on the evidence I have from the season so far, thats just not going to happen.

    I agree with Mike D’s comments, at the start of the season I could really only see a .500 season and certainly there’s many good points to indicate a brighter future. This season however…I don’t think so

  • metsadhd

    Greg and Jason
    I beseech thee, please get with Cerrone and organize a mass protest in front of Citi.
    To effect change we must take action.
    Fred’s idiotic comments in Ct only further emphasize that the organization and players are beyond the pale.
    If I were to demand a Ws every year, I would go over to the darkside.
    What ever happened to sub-optimal goal of meaningful games in September? Heck we cannot even achieve meaningful games in July.
    I guess those Shack Shack lines are gonna be extra short.
    Chose a bad year to be a pescatarian.