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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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The Confounding Little Team That Sometimes Could

The Mets remain the confoundingest team in the world. Tonight they beat the Braves rather handily behind R.A. Dickey’s fluttering knucklers and Jose Reyes’s regular dose of high-octane awesomeness. They did so by scoring runs early and often against Tim Hudson — enough runs to withstand their own late-inning swoon, as Manny Acosta reminded us why he wound up on the discard pile and Frankie Rodriguez surrendered a home run to Diory Hernandez that looked like it had been launched by a cruise missile. K-Rod righted himself, ending things with Chipper Jones on deck, and so the Mets go on to Milwaukee after a 5-5 homestand that might have been 10-0 with better penwork and more offense.

So it goes: We’ve crept back to within three games of .500, which isn’t great but isn’t horrible, particularly considering David Wright and Ike Davis are sidelined. Here’s desperately hoping they’re not joined by Carlos Beltran, who crumpled in a heap after fouling a ball off his shin. X-rays were negative, but then they usually are with this team, and we know 2011 Mets who have wound up in the morgue after suffering injuries apparently less dramatic. The Buffalo Soldiers keep bobbing along, somehow afloat despite themselves. You give up on them and they come back to thrash the Pirates, or send Dillon Gee and Dickey out to throttle the Braves. You start believing in them and they gag up leads in the late innings or stop scoring runs or the owner says something horrifying or someone else exits with a minor injury that proves major. You could get whiplash just trying to keep up with your own expectations.

Sitting out behind the Great Wall of Flushing, it struck me that most of the fire has gone out of Mets-Braves. Tonight Bobby Valentine was up in the ESPN booth and Bobby Cox was home being cranky about something, and only Chipper remains to draw the boos. Still, it’s always fun to jump the Atlantans, and the Mets did so rather handily against Hudson.

As for Sunday night baseball, well, today’s game was supposed to be a 1:05 start, one I was going to go to with Joshua before ESPN snatched it away. That’s happened to my kid far too often over the years, and while he’s getting older and more accepting about the world disappointing him, it’s still a lousy thing to have happen to a boy. (I brought home a batting helmet for him, at least.) But when scheduled so as not to betray children, Sunday night baseball’s kind of cool: You know you’re the only game still rolling along, so you have baseball to yourself, the last show before the curtain closes. The crowd was pretty good given the schedule switcheroo, a boisterous bunch who chanted for Jose not to go away, for the Atlanta fans cheering Brian McCann’s homer to sit down and shut up already, and for good things in general and the celebration of them.

And it was a beautiful night, a little cool for early June but not cold. I attended with my friend John, a Citi Field newbie, who raved about the food (he was also a Shake Shack newbie) and the overall feel of the park. I found myself pointing that we couldn’t see the left fielder, and told him about how the Mets stuff had been missing for most of the first year, and then … and then I wondered what exactly I was doing. It was a beautiful night and the Mets were bashing out hits and we were having a good time, so why was I determined to run things down and weave a little Metsian black cloud above our heads?

So I stopped.

In the bottom of the fifth we took a tour, revisiting the Left Field Landing and walking across the Shea Bridge and up to the Promenade and stopping for a beer in the court atop the rotunda. I pointed out the Pepsi Porch, and we paused by the long exit ramp behind third base to take in a postcard-quality view of the Sound and the Manhattan skyline. It was a beautiful night, you could follow the game from TV to TV and screen to screen as you walked, and in no time we were back in our seats and the Mets had scored another run.

I suppose you could ask for more than that, but why on earth would you?

12 comments to The Confounding Little Team That Sometimes Could

  • 9th string catcher

    Glad to see that a) my prediction came true (two wins over the Braves) came true and b) Valentine’s comment that Reyes and Wright aren’t going anywhere was broadcast last night. No reason to trade these guys, or even Beltran, since he’s off the books next year anyway.

  • Tom in Sunnyside

    I sincerely hope the Mets find a way to keep Reyes and Wright (though I hope once Wright heals up his numbers heal up too). I just don’t see them having the will. Alderson is a Moneyball guy (and I’m not complaining about that) and Wilpon is looking to slash payroll to levels that make attracting talent really difficult. I don’t like overplaying for players, but if the Mets can get Reyes for five years or so at $14 million per, it would be worth it, and it still would not be Carl Crawford money.

    It was a good game, loved to see Dickey put out that great performance through what must be constant pain. I did reach for the Pepto in the ninth, it looked like the Mets were going to give away another home game in the late innings.

  • dak442

    Bobby Valentine, the Voice of Reason.

    He’s right, it’s ridiculous of the media to assert we can’t afford to keep Wright and Reyes.

    • 9th string catcher

      I haven’t seen anyone do the math, but here’s what I came up with: Santana, Bay and Wright come in at $56M. Adding 14 for Reyes brings you to $71. Pretty top heavy. But then think about the rest of the roster, a whole bunch of guys making league minimum or slightly above save for a handfull of $1 and $2 M contracts – once K-Rod is gone, you’re probably not spending more than $20M. $91M payroll and you still have Reyes. What’s more, if you can somehow get rid of 1/2 of Bay’s or Santana’s salary, you can bring in a decent closer or right fielder. In the meantime, the NY Buffalos just need to learn the game more, get another year of seasoning and who knows – you have a Tampa Rays type team in no time at all.

      • Rob D.

        Adam Rubin had something on his ESPN chat yesterday…If they sign Reyes..they’ll have $90MM tied up in 7 players, leaving them $20-30MM for the rest of the roster. Aint gonna happen.

        • Rob D.

          From Rubin’s Twitter page:

          2012: Santana $24M, Bay $16M, Wright $15M, K-Rod $17.5M (if he vests), Dickey $4.25M, Pelfrey $3.925 (+arb raise), Pagan $3.5 (+arb raise)

          That’s $70M with raises for Pagan and Pelfrey, and nearly $90M if K-Rod vests.

          • 9th string catcher

            Not a bad situation. K-Rod ain’t vesting, so subtract 17.5. Pagan isn’t getting a raise; hell, he might not even get tendered if Pridie is ready to take his place. He’s been terrible. Pelfrey might get a couple bucks more, though not a whole lot more with his record and ERA. And Santana, if he comes back is one guy that can be moved. So, 70M + 15 for Reyes is 85 + 15M for the rest of the roster is about $100M. Reyes is coming back.

  • Flip

    Yeah, but how ’bout just Reyes. Look, they gotta save money, big time. If it comes down to splurging on just one guy, I say Joseeeeee, jose, jose, jose, Joseeeeee, Joseeeeeeee.

    Jason, nice article about enjoying a beautiful night at Citi, for once, without all the kvetching. It IS a great ballpark, the weather IS just lovely lately, and the Mets ARE entertaining and occasionally good, despite their “bag-over-head” moments during the season. These Mets/Bisons (NY Misons?, NY Bets?) are nothing if not surprising and resilient. Hmmm, your description has me pining for tickets now.

  • open the gates

    Re Reyes, here’s a thought.

    I keep hearing how Reyes is the only Met who loves Citi Field, how it’s practically built for his kind of game. I also keep hearing about how he’s the most likely big-money Met to be traded. What’s wrong with that picture?

    The way I see it, keep Jose, get rid of some of the homer hitters who get driven nuts by Citi’s dimensions anyway, and build a scrappy team built around high average, speed, and pitching. Kind of like (boy, do I hate to use this example) the mid-’80’s St. Louis Cardinals. If you won’t alter the stadium, build the team around the stadium.

    Of course Sandy Alderson is Mr. Moneyball, and ol’ Fred will never change Ebbetts, er, Citi Field, so I don’t have high hopes for this to happen. But it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

    • Rob D.

      Who exactly are you getting rid of? No one is taking Bay..even if they did, Mets would have to subsidize..Wright?? Are you gonna take a guy with a broken back? Ike? He’s exactly the guy they need, good and cheap. I mean, they are truly hamstrung with this roster and the bad contracts. Santana gets $24MM next year (or close to it).

  • open the gates

    Rob D. – Well, I wouldn’t want to get rid of Ike Davis. He’s young, and, as you said, good and cheap. But as much as I like David Wright,once he recovers from his injuries he may benefit playing away from the Unfriendly Confines of Citi. I would certainly trade him rather than Reyes, if I had to move one or the other. And once Beltran is gone, and if by some miracle we can move Bay…

    OK, so I get your point. I guess I was looking more towards the future direction of the franchise a year or two (or more) down the road. IMO, Citi Field needs a team that will nibble the opposition to death with base hits, steals, hit-and-runs, triples, etc. The occasional longball, and the pitching and fielding to back it up. Old-school baseball, in other words. We could do worse.

  • Jerry Z

    Nice write-up. From time to time I like to wander around Citifield as well, especially with a newbie. Every so often I find a new spot that I’ve never been before and am impressed with this discovery.