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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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Better Loved From Afar

I love Tim Lincecum, I really do. I love that perfect motion of his — my description of it last year was “the equation that solves a knotty physics problem, and leaves you smiling at the elegance and beauty of the answer,” which I’m not going to improve on. I love his God-given talents, his individuality, his doggedness, and most of all the fact that he somehow sailed through the anonymizing factory that is minor-league baseball without some idiot pitching coach ruining him or enough people deciding he was too small to meet their definition of success and so denying him any chance at it. Lincecum was so good so quickly that nobody had a chance to fuck him up, and now he sits atop the pitching mountain, walking on his hands before games and not bothering to ice his arm after starts, happily out of reach of the ligament-shredding groupthink that Organized Baseball calls wisdom. (The fact that Lincecum is nicknamed the Freak tells you everything you need to know about baseball and new ideas.) My goodness I love him.

Important caveat, though: I love him a lot more when he’s tormenting somebody else.

Lincecum didn’t look that good early — he was a bit wild, a bit out of kilter, and with Chris Capuano gritting his way through the Giants’ order you could at least imagine this was our night, a chance to put an Amish stitch in the grand tapestry recounting the Lincecum Conquest. In the sixth, the thoroughly revitalized Carlos Beltran led off with a double, after which Ike Davis trudged rather unhappily to the plate. Lincecum had fanned Ike twice already, and a third K looked like a question of when, not if — Ike was perilously close to helpless up there. But somehow he MacGyver’ed his way through tapping balls foul and watching balls slip just wide of the plate, fighting back to 3-2 over nine pitches and then serving the 10th neatly up the middle to put runners on first and third. If Ronny Paulino did just about anything it would be 1-1 Mets, and then we’d see.

Unfortunately, the Mets had Lincecum’s attention now. He got Paulino to send a little dandelion puff aloft that Freddy Sanchez converted into an out with a nice sliding catch, somehow springing up and heaving a perfect throw homeward to keep Beltran on third. (Staying put was unquestionably the right call.) Willie Harris then struck out. Let us pause for a deep sigh, a stare heavenward and a moment insisting that WILLIE HARRIS HAS TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE MOMENT THIS YEAR, RIGHT? (If he doesn’t have one soon, can he be crammed into the Boyer-Emaus chute and never spoken of again?) Jason Pridie also fanned, and that was that.

Seriously — that was that. Other than a Beltran single in the eighth, no other Met reached base. In fact, foul balls became the stuff of victory. After Ike’s single, here’s what the Giants did:

As recounted above, Lincecum needed 10 pitches to get Paulino to foul out and fan Harris and Pridie. Seven out of 10 pitches were strikes or went for outs.

In the seventh, Lincecum ended his night by striking out the side on 18 pitches — five balls, 13 strikes.

In the eighth, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo faced four batters. They threw 16 pitches — just three of them balls — in collecting a flyout and two more Ks.

In the ninth, Brian Wilson threw 11 pitches — just one of them a ball — in fanning Josh Thole and Pridie and getting Lucas Duda to foul out for the ballgame.

Four innings total, nine Ks, 55 pitches — just 12 of them balls. It was impressive. It was dominant. If you like watching pitchers not overthinking things, changing speeds, and throwing strikes, it was even beautiful.

I sure wish I’d watched it happen to someone else.

* * *

Slightly less depressing: I chatted with New York Magazine’s Will Leitch about the Mets and their confounding lack of no-hitters earlier today. Check out it here.

13 comments to Better Loved From Afar

  • Paul W

    As a Brit, living in the UK who gets to 4-5 games a season and relies on the MLB.com stream (yes, I like horror movies and this season is one of them!) The blog significantly enhances the post-game (almost constant!) “oh, well, maybe tomorrow”… great, keep it up.

    On my way to the Atros next week for the three gamer — sucker for punishment

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    This close game showed how much we missed the bat of Jason Bay.

    With David in a slump and Pagan out (who was in a slump beforehand), there was a hole in the three spot and no bottom third of the batting order to speak of. That’s too much of an advantage for the best pitcher in the league.

    And we can take only so much heart in Cappuano’s pitching performance in a losing cause despite limiting the Giants to two earned runs in 6-1/3 innings. Cappuano allowed eight hits and two walks (another was intentional) and worked with runners on base in all but one inning – six that were in scoring position. The Giants were only two for eleven with runners in scoring position and left eleven on base and had he not been pitching against the 27th worst scoring team in the majors, the game might have been a blowout.

    It can be said that pitching against the Giants, almost any pitcher can appear like a Giant Tim Lincecum.

  • RM

    Nicely put .. Lincecum was so good, so quickly, that nobody had a chance to fuck him up. Real pleasure to watch this kid pitch (particularly if you happen to be a Giants fan.)

  • Kevin From Flushing

    When I bought my flex pack before the season, I selected a Giants came in the hopes of seeing Lincecum. I’d already seen him once (the Benitez double-balk walkoff homer game) but that was before he got all endearingly Mitch Kramer on us. Alas, I gambled on the Tuesday game instead of the Wednesday game, but that’s okay. I was cold enough on Tuesday night, I don’t want to think about what I’d have went through yesterday.

    But I made damn sure I was home in time to watch all of his pitches on TV. When the Mets are sub-par and winning isn’t life-or-death, I actually enjoy watching a strikeout artist (outside of the NL East & The Bronx, of course) go to work. I’m reminded of being in the Upper Deck at Shea in August of 2004. While everyone around me was furious at Trachsel (chanting “THROW-THE-BALL!” if you recall), I was simply marveling at Randy Johnson who K’d 14 through 8 and a third.

    Like you said though, seeing it against somebody else would be more pleasant (Lincecum’s total ownage of the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS comes to mind), but in seasons like this, I still enjoy watching the spectacle.

    • Less appreciated amid the howling winds and exuberant Giants fans of Citi Field — trust me.

      But that seventh inning was disgustingly impressive.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Almost as stupefying as the lack of Met no hitters is the fact (also more frequently alluded to by Gary Cohen this year than ever before, it seems), that no Met has ever hit 3 home runs in a home game.

    Unless I missed it, I’ve been unable to find a list of all 3 home run game occurrences, to see if that feat is even more common than no hitters.

    It seems it’s happened about 500 times since 1900, but I can’t find a list, from which hoepfully I could sort by date, and then by home or away. I’m guessing three home runs in a home game is in fact rarer than a no hitter (since 1962 anyway) but, even with the internet at my fingertips the answer doesn’t seem to be out there.

    • According to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index (a fantabulous tool), 3 HR in 1 regular season game by 1 player has occurred 480 times. That doesn’t count the relative handful of 4 HR games or the couple of postseason games that spring to mind (Presidents Jackson and Kennedy, in 1977 WS and 2002 ALCS, respectively), so you’re on target with the 500.

      • Guy Kipp

        The presence of so many Giants fans at CitiField the last two nights (not just for the Lincecum game) was significant.
        I’ve been watching the Mets for 40 years and, Subway Series events notwithstanding, I don’t remember many instances of Mets fans being blatantly outnumbered in their home park.

  • vertigone

    Ugh, useless Willie Harris. I haven’t disliked a Met this much since Guillermo Mota.

  • dak442

    “a franchise known for generally being doofy and bad.”

    That would make a really cool t-shirt.

  • open the gates

    Yeah, Willie Harris has been fairly useless this year. On the other hand, think of Jose Valentin, who was about 0-for his first two months as a Met. Or, for that matter, Ray Knight, who seemed to be about 0-for-1985. Ya never know – maybe Alderson knows something about the guy that we don’t.

    Then again, probably not.

  • Mets1986

    I appreciate this article almost as much as I appreciate Lincecum. I was an avid fan of the Mets in the ’80s and watched “Kiner’s Corner” after watching every game on Ch. 9 in NJ. But after moving to the Bay area for over 20 years and having very little opportunity to see the Mets on TV I finally switched allegiance to the Giants, mainly because of Lincecum (how can anyone not love Timmy?) I still root for the Mets as long as they are not playing the Giants.