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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Victory Is a Dish Best Served Soggy

As Mets fan, we know that all too often the jokes write themselves: On Tuesday the Mets canceled a game while the sun was shining, and sat around at home while the evening was more or less dry. Tonight the Mets played on and on, while the rain fell in sheets and the infield turned into a bog. It was like Bishop Pickering in the monsoon during Caddyshack, except no one was laughing. (And happily, nobody got hit by lightning.)

I did have one of my more or less random moments of precognition. After the Nats walked Jose Reyes in the sixth, I entreated Justin Turner to “knock one up the gap, make it 3-0, the ump can put the tarp on, and in an hour everybody goes home.” Well, at least I got the important part right. Turner did as I asked, but Bill Miller remained rooted in place in the rain behind third base, refusing to let anybody do anything except wipe rain out of their faces and hurl wet balls in the general direction of home plate. (I even stayed my hexing of fans on their cellphones waving at the camera. If you were still there after 9:30 tonight in that mess, I hope you called everybody in your contacts list and waved your ass off.)

Why keep playing? I assume Miller was stuck with the same baffling weather-as-videogame forecast we’ve all endured this week, with mist and monsoons and dryness and even teasers of sunshine randomly succeeding each other as the same apparently immortal low pressure system chases its tail around and around the Ohio Valley. That not being any fun, though, Emily and I sought a more interesting answer. Miller, we decided, was some kind of flinty scorched-earth type, a fire-and-damnation ballfield preacher seeking to save players and fans and his umpiring brethren from the fleshpots and booze factories of New York City, the Sodom of the West. “For ye shall not be set free to sin in Manhattan; nay, ye shall play on — and so be purified by the Lord’s heavenly rains.” (For the benefit of dim future Googlers, let me state for the record that this is almost certainly not true.)

Games played in such conditions are almost always close (since otherwise everybody would have been sent home), and so teeter uncertainly between farce and tragedy. Tonight’s followed the blueprint: In the seventh, as things cratered, Jonathon Niese clearly couldn’t control his pitches, batters were peering at them between raindrops, the field was nearly submerged, balls put in play were doing unpredictable things, and no one could run or throw. The Mets were one Roger Bernadina calamity away from descending into a baseball Verdun, and I held my breath as Daniel Murphy grabbed a soaked baseball and set sail for first across a drenched, strangely reflective infield, with Bernadina on a different course for the same destination. Would Murph get there first? Would he drown en route? Happily, he made it. That was enough for me and probably everybody else, but the game continued, with Izzy and K-Rod keeping the Nats down and victory achieved. Will we play tomorrow? Don’t ask — not even the weatherman knows which way this wind is blowing.

Meanwhile, something struck me tonight beyond the immediate business of chronicling: At least for the moment, the Mets are fun to watch again. I know most of that is simply that they’ve been playing better baseball, but that’s not the entire explanation. With Ike Davis and David Wright and Chris Young all shelved, we’re way past Plan B: I felt like I was reading those interminable “X begat Y” sections of the Bible as I explained to Joshua how Murph and Turner and Ruben Tejada had wound up where they were to start play. With half of the Buffalo Bisons in residence in New York, expectations have been adjusted accordingly, and our fan prophecies become self-fulfilling. If the Mets win, they are spunky and gritty and more than the sum of their parts. If they lose, they are snakebit and outmanned and we figured it would happen.

It’s not the stuff of making plans in October, or even meaningful games in September. But it beats the heck out of being pissed off by 7:20 every night. Lets go Mets, whomever that category might conclude on a given soggy evening.

9 comments to Victory Is a Dish Best Served Soggy

  • Ken K. in NJ

    ( I assume Miller was stuck with the same baffling weather-as-videogame forecast we’ve all endured this week, with mist and monsoons and dryness and even teasers of sunshine randomly succeeding each other as the same apparently immortal low pressure system chases its tail around and around the Ohio Valley. )

    As a weather buff of long standing, I can say I’ve never seen a weather system described in such a way. If this Mets blog thing doesn’t pan out, you should do a weather blog next. I’d read it, there aren’t any good ones out there.

  • Joe D.

    Didn’t know if I was more worried about the ability to properly field and throw any ball hit into the ground during that top half of the inning or Neise’s ability to throw a strike that the batter could not tee off due to the wet mound. Fortunately, I realized this was offset by the inability of the runners to go full stride and the batter unable to get the proper footing entrenched in the ground when swinging.

    Understand the dilemma Miller was facing – if advised that the rain was soon to stop does he then delay play even longer by having the grounds crew start putting on the tarp only to then take it off? Also, was he aware of a maybe an hour window of opporunity to complete the game whereas stopping it at that point would have meant being unable to complete it all?

    Also, there was the timing issue. The Nationals were mounting a rally and he wanted to give them every opportunity to complete what possibly could be the team’s last at bat. Had there been two out and nobody on base with the field in such miserable condition he might have called time. But in trying to be fair (if that was indeed the case) he made it worse for the Nationals hitters because just like Neise, they could not get their proper footing waiting for the pitch affecting their swing and could also easily slip trying to bust out of the batter’s box.

    Miller blew it in this case. Every team knows that in any close, rain-shortened game the losing club always gets short changed. It’s a situation every team has to contend with and has experienced on both sides of the equation

  • 9th string catcher

    Of course they’re fun to watch – they’re the Bad News Freakin’ Bears! This is a team full of Lupus’s, Englebergs, Tanners and Ogilvies, with the occasional Kelly Leak and Amanda Whulitzer thrown in. And who wouldn’t root for those guys?

    • March'62

      Oh for a few more Amandas and Leaks. That actually may change our official cheer to Lets Go Leak. I think of this Mets team more like a M*A*S*H unit with good ol Colonel Potter in charge.

  • Rob D.

    I officially love this team. (Your 2011 New York Mets).

  • Guy Kipp

    They’re fun to watch at the moment because they’ve got a second-half-of-1995, nothing-to-lose, no-expectations vibe about them.
    And they’re actually playing hard.

  • I fell head over heels for this team on Monday night. The excruciating manner in which they lost reminded me how much fun it is being a Mets fan.

    Oh and Justin Turner is my new favorite player. He’s yours, too. Admit it already!

    • 9th string catcher

      He certainly is. He just usurped my previous favorite Ronny Paulino who overtook Mike Nickeas who passed Daniel Murphy.

  • dak442

    A friend had a corporate outing at Citifield scheduled yesterday, and when over 50 people out of 120 called to say they were bagging it (and assuming most of the rest were just not courteous enough to call) he postponed it (at substantial loss). Having not much else to do, having my car already in the commuter lot, and having generally wacky judgment, I picked up a ticket at his office and went anyway. I like going to games alone – I can strike up conversations with random people, or just be alone with my not-terribly-deep thoughts, so I had a good time.

    One major complaint: when the rain picked up mid-game I left my exposed Apple-area seat and headed back to where I had hung out on the field level concourse behind right field. The stands under the Pepsi Porch there were more than 80% empty, so I asked an usher if I could grab an empty seat in the back. To my surprise, he said no! He said that usually in such games management tells them to let people sit where they wat within reason, but they had said not to do so last night. Seriously, Fred and Jeff? A couple of thousand of us defy reason to come out to the park in a downpour, and we can’t grab an empty outfield seat in the fifth inning of a sparsely-attended game? I’m not trying to get into the Sterling Section behind the plate, I’m just looking to rest my legs for a while! They make such an effort to be fan-friendly (I feel like I’m in the midwest, so many random strangers are paid to say hello to me), and then do something so tone-deaf it ruins their intent.

    No complaint about the usher, though – he was sympathetic and a really good guy and we spent the rest of the game chatting about the team, the park, his job, family, school, and growing up in Brooklyn (him, not me).