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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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Last Train to Beltran

I haven’t enjoyed too many Citi Field nights more than I enjoyed Tuesday’s. You know you’re on the literal right track to a fine evening when your LIRR conductor announces that “for tonight only,” you won’t have to change at Jamaica for Woodside. All the dominoes fell favorably from there.

Stay on for Woodside and you…

• Get the Shea…I mean Mets-Willets Point connection across the track at Woodside

• Don’t get checked for a ticket, so — in transitspeak — you’re saved both a Metrocard swipe and a ten-trip punch.

• Meet up with two-sport blogger extraordinaire Matthew Artus (late of Always Amazin’, lately with Amazin’ Avenue, plus with the soccer) in plenty of time to secure BobbleIke, quite possibly the only Ike we’ll see ’til next year.

• Enjoy a ringside Promenade seat for Dillon Gee’s four-some innings of no-hit threatening.

• Shake off dissipation of potential no-hitter when the Mets actually begin to cash in their own bounty of hits for a couple of runs here and a couple of runs there.

• Analyze the efficacy of Tony La Russa’s insistence on batting his pitcher eighth and remaining baffled despite our (and Kyle Lohse’s) best efforts as to why if it’s so bleeping genius, why hasn’t anybody else adopted it?

• Boo Yadier Molina.

• Wonder why Daniel Murphy is so mad at his batting helmet.

• Welcome back Jose Reyes with open arms, smoking bats, ready gloves, healthy legs, contract extensions — welcome him back with everything we have, really.

• Stare agog, agape and aghast as Lance Berkman drills a pothole in the Shea Bridge, but that’s almost all right, because nobody’s on and it kind of gets us past the idea that Gee should have stopped those two balls up the middle that cost him his no-hitter, like we were really going to see a no-hitter, but as Matt admitted, “I was thinking no-hitter from the second inning.” Anyway, Berkman’s shot was a sight to behold, as long as it came in a losing cause.

• Be joined in our section (right in front of one of our several weird, incomprehensible, yelling neighbors who wasn’t particularly invested in either the Mets or the Cardinals, he just liked yelling weirdly and incomprehensibly) by Matthew Silverman, who drops by for the late innings.

• Settle down in our newly reconfigured bullpen with Bobby Parnell and Jason Isringhausen making us all most comfortable.

• Put it in the books, or in my case, once I get home, The Log II, the steno pad in which I record the essential details of every game I’ve ever been to at Citi Field, just the way I used to at Shea Stadium.

• Make an eastbound train at Woodside that requires no changing at Jamaica. If you ride the Long Island Rail Road on any line but Port Washington, you understand what a luxury that is.

The seamless commuting, the no-resemblance Ike, the pair of Matts, the ultimately harmless Bridge job, the return of Jose and of course, of course, of course that 4-2 win all get filed under why we count off the days in winter until it’s spring. We do it so we have summer nights like this one. Amid what amounted to an infomercial for baseball, however, something nagged at the Metsopotamian soul:

We were probably watching the beginning of the last series Carlos Beltran ever plays in a Mets home uniform.

If we were — and it’s tough to doubt, considering that the Mets are on the road starting Friday and through the trade deadline — then what a way to begin to go out, for him and for us.

First off, I’m impressed most not that he went for 3-for-3, smacked two doubles, reached base five times and showed no ill effects from the flu he was sweating out during the previous few days.

I’m most impressed that he showed up for work on the heels of a reported 105-degree fever. Either impressed or horrified.

I don’t know if he showed his face Saturday, but I saw him on the bench Sunday and Monday. Maybe coming to Citi Field to take advantage of its convenient I.V. drips was better for him than turning up his bedroom AC to full blast and trying to forget how sick he was by seeking out reruns of Match Game ’75 on the Game Show Network, but geez: a 105-degree fever? In this heat? The players have a strong enough union so they get a couple of sick days, don’t they?

Carlos Beltran doesn’t take sick days, not willingly. Do you realize that with Josh Thole on paternity leave, the only Met position players to spend every moment of this season on the active roster are Beltran, Murphy and Scott Hairston? And as evidenced by his “oh, by the way” streak of reaching base in 25 consecutive games, I’d say Carlos is the leading candidate for Met Employee of the Month, no matter where he ends July.

This is who Carlos Beltran has been for the bulk of seven Met seasons, even the two that injuries curtailed into veritable half-years — even during the first one, back when he was still trying to dash to third while carrying the weight of outsized expectations on his shoulders. He didn’t meet them in 2005. He exceeded them in 2006. He stayed ahead of them in 2007 and 2008, for the most part. He did what he could with them as lack of physical well-being dictated in 2009 and 2010.

In 2011, at least now that July 31 is coming into view, the expectation is he’ll be traded sometime in the next eleven days. It’s one of the few expectations I’d prefer Carlos Beltran not meet. He shattered what little was thought in store for him this spring. Beltran was projected to be a part-timer and a fairly gimpy one at that. There’s no gimp in this man. There’s no quit in this man. What concerns me is there will be no Met in this man’s uniform when the Mets come home from Miami, Cincinnati and Washington.

I get it. I understand the financial realities. I see the benefit of getting something in a trade now as opposed to nothing when he leaves later, and I grudgingly accept there is no next year where this team and this increasingly pricey free agent to be are concerned. I also maintain no illusions that even as the Mets scrap and claw, their Wild Card chances are probably too remote for even Lance Berkman to reach on the fly. Beltran 2011 isn’t Reyes 2011 in terms of allocating future resources.

But Beltran 2011 is a joy in whatever’s left of the present. And the vision of Beltran in a Mets uniform, putting every one of his five or six tools to brilliant use, just keeps looking better and better in the rearview mirror of the mind. When I summon a mental highlight package of No. 15 for whatever reason I might in the coming years, I’ll make a note to ask the truck to include the night he went for 3-for-3, smacked two doubles, reached base five times and showed no ill effects from the flu he was sweating out during the previous few days. That what Carlos Beltran did on quite likely the second-to-last night I got to see him play in a Mets home uniform.

Why do we count off the days in winter until it’s spring? We do it so we have summer nights like this one, so we can watch players like that one.

16 comments to Last Train to Beltran

  • Nice words for Sweet Carlos. And for what it’s worth, David Freese became the 1,511th player to make it no Mets nohitter ever…

  • dmg

    this may have been the most enjoyable win of the season, easily among the top five. beltran and reyes both back, and both picked up where they’d left off. great defense by reyes in the eighth, when it could have all turned bad. gee pitched strong, and then parnell (he got the dp ball from pujols) and izzy pitched strong too.

    beltran? i hate the idea that he’s history: as you say, he’s capping a rock-solid career here with a beautiful season. i do get the financials, but they’re not of his making, not even minaya — this one, you lay on the owners. and now the talk is that he gets traded in the division? to the phillies or the braves? really? unthinkable.

    regardless of where beltran winds up, to quote that noted mets fan from hibbings, minn., he’s gonna make me lonesome when he goes.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Doubt Beltran’s fever actually went up as high as 105 for if that was the case he would have been totally dehydrated and in a hospital bed wih an i.v. needle stuck in him. Maybe Ed Norton held a match up to see what his temperature was?

    Regarding this being Carlos’ swan song in New York, I have mixed feelings. If the Mets concern is reducing payroll first that is no way to run a ballclub and the only way to help offset a mounting debt. If, on the other hand, if the Mets either perceive that at 34, this will be Carlos’s last real productive year or do want to re-sign him but are convinced he will most likely sign with another team, yes, from a baseball perspective it’s time to say farewell at this time when we at least will get something in return.

    My own thoughts? At 34 and with new knees Beltran has a good year or two left. Feel him out to see if he would consider staying with the club (which also means making a judgement call between his agent being sincere or giving us lip service for negotiating advantage with other clubs). If Sandy thinks there is a chance, don’t trade him, make him a good offer after the season. If it doesn’t work out, that’s that.

    That’s from dealing with the situation from a baseball persepctive. If it’s purely financial all that results is holes in both outfield corners (don’t forget Jason isn’t hitting like Bay) and the immediate loss of that shot in the arm the team got last night upon his return and Jose’s. With Wright scheduled back this weekend, if nothing more, the continued good play of this season combined with the knowledge of next year fielding a lineup with Wright/Beltran/Davis/Murphy/Pagan/the Jasonless Bay/Polino hitting behind Reyes with the return of Santana can do a lot to carry confidence into next season.

  • gaeapez

    From our seats in the promenade last night, we saw Murphy yelling into his helmet. My son turned to me, amused, and I am sure correctly realized Murph was issuing a string of 4 letter words.

    And the whole evening really was an infomercial for baseball.

  • I’ll miss him. He’s been a great joy to watch all these years.

    He’s going to join the 300/300 club (only the 8th player in history), probably early next year. Shame he couldn’t get that done as a Met. would’ve been fun.

  • Rob D.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again to all the Beltran bashers. It’s kind of like the Knicks with Ewing. fans hated him because he never brought the Knicks a championship….but they sure missed him when he left.

    • March'62

      Actually, I don’t like the analogy at all. Ewing won a heck of a lot more than Beltran. The Mets made the playoffs just once during Beltran’s tenure and suffered through two consecutive horrific end-of-season meltdowns on his watch. Was it all his fault? Not at all. But you can’t compare his body of work with an all-time great basketball player who carried a team on his back to the playoffs every year. Beltran has been a solid #3 hitter and defensive centerfielder and it will be difficult to replace him. But it’s his age, not his salary requirements, that is ending his tour of duty. It’s only a matter of time before the knees start acting up again and if we could get some good prospects for him now, ya gotta move on.

      • Rob D.

        I guess my point was that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise…and put up Ebbets Field…..

  • LarryDC

    If I could go back and do childhood again, one of the many things I’d change (oh, that hair) would be to appreciate being on the Port Washington line. Geez. We’d catch a 12:49 from Great Neck and be in our seats at Shea for the national anthem before a 1:30 start.

  • […] Faith and Fear in Flushing savors the Mets’ win on Tuesday, and what may be the final days of Beltran’s career in Flushing. […]

  • BlackCountryMet

    All wise words and ones I can really add to. During my so far short tenure as a Mets fan, Carlos has been one of the highlights,solid and mostly productive. I’m gradually grasping the nuances of trade deadlines(not always liking it) and reluctantly accept this may be what we have to do. However, as it also makes me believe August and September will be fairly poor, it somewhat dampens my ardour for the remaining months of the season. Never mind, apparently “There’s Always Next Year”

  • Joe D.

    Decided to order a Carlos Beltran bobblehead in a Met uniform before there is a rush on them after he is gone. Thanks for the good memories, Carlos.

  • 9th string catcher

    I must be missing the value proposition of trading an expiring contract for some unproven minor leaguers. Everyone keeps saying Beltran’s going – he’s leaving next year anyway. Young players are crapshoots at best and the Mets are still capable of some exciting baseball down the stretch, even if the playoffs are out of reach. You add Beltran, Reyes, Wright and possibly Santana down the stretch and you’re talking about a team that’s not all that inferior to Pittsburgh, Arizona, St. Louis, even the Braves. I would hold on, or get a real ransom back, particularly if some idiot will take Bay off our hands (Hank, Hal? Interested…?)

  • Ken K. from NJ

    We got a taste of the Beltran-less and Reyes-less Mets on Sunday and Monday. In short, it’s not looking good at all for 2012 and maybe beyond.

    Oh yeah, I forgot, we’re getting the .226 hitting strikeout-prone Citiheadcase 3rd baseman back….

  • Lenny65

    Carlos has been a bit maddening at times and he had the misfortune of playing for some of the most maddening Mets teams ever, but if you’re putting together an all-time all-Mets team, he HAS to be starting in CF, no?