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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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Fantasies & Delusions

What was farther out of the realm of possibility: that the Mets would make a stand against the Braves or that I’d be there to see them attempt it?

Not long ago both happenstances seemed reasonably reasonable. My part should have been a breeze: I made plans to see Friday night’s game with a friend who happens to possess one of the greatest Mets minds ever; I picked up the tickets the other night; we set a meeting time by the Apple; and…ohmigod I am in such pain.

My merry way to Citi Field was interrupted by the return of that early 2000s sensation, the cluster headache, something I used to contract all too regularly but in recent years has faded from my recurring concerns. For whatever reason, el diablo that used to periodically invade mi cabeza chose this afternoon to rematerialize — perhaps it knew Fiesta Latina was at hand.

I tried to delude myself that this wasn’t a cluster headache, a.k.a. a suicide headache. For all I know, it was something else altogether. It felt as if a nail was being drilled into my left sinus, it was accompanied by simmering nausea and, in an unprecedented twist, it came with a steady stream of perspiration dripping from my forehead (which was, for the record, as pale as any three members of ABBA). Yet I wasn’t fevered and I didn’t have any kind of stomach virus that I could detect. All told, it was awful, but I had those tickets, I was meeting my friend to go to a game with him for the first time all season, there was a Jose Reyes banner with my (or Jose Reyes’s) name on it, thus I went into self-delusion mode.

I’m fine…

I’ll be fine…

I’ll take a later train and maybe I’ll leave the game early if I absolutely have to…

I won’t eat anything, obviously…

And when I get home, I’ll take that special migraine pill my doctor gave me a sample of a few months ago if I’m still feeling in as much pain as I am right now and have been all day…

Yes, I’m fine. I can go to the game.

Suitably self-deluded, I stood up to leave for the LIRR — and I realized I had as much chance of getting to the Apple as the Mets did of getting back in the Wild Card race they were never really in. Hence, I communicated my regrets to my friend via voice mail, text message and e-mail and gave into reality.

I took the special pill.

Boy, was it special.

It, like LL Cool J’s mama, circa 1991, all but knocked me out from roughly the second to the seventh inning. I have to say “roughly” because I had no concept of time as expressed by innings. And I say “all but knocked me out” because I was intermittently alert enough to absorb three elements of the broadcast on my television:

1) The Los Mets uniform tops, which were a definite improvement over past editions but not necessarily something I want to see again, lest I recall the Friday evening my forehead was soaked and I had to place an unexpected call to Ralph Milliard on the big white phone.

2) “Major medical!” Oy, with the CGI duck and pigeons already. Like I didn’t already know from major medical in my state.

3) Constanza. I just kept hearing the name Constanza. Every time I managed to open one eye, I kept seeing Constanza. Thought about my friend Mark whom I left to his own devices at the Apple and how he more than anybody I know was likely making hay with Constanza. If we have to ditch the blue and orange softball tops, the Braves have to ditch Jose Constanza. He will also always remind me of how low I was feeling.

As will the final score, something I saw come together as I emerged from my vapors and comprehended what was and wasn’t going on.

What was going on was a Braves victory.

What wasn’t going on was the post-Beltran 2011 Mets, to whom I apologize for recently placing unrealistic if modest expectations upon as much as I apologize (again) to Mark for standing him up at the Apple. The Mets were fun while they lasted, but they stopped lasting once they noticed Carlos was missing from their ranks. I drank the same Alderson-enhanced Kool-Aid as everyone else and signed off on the deal for business reasons, yet as I made like a less Balabusta version of Johnny Cammareri’s mother in Moonstruck

The breath had almost totally left her body. She was as white as snow. And then she completely pulled back from death and stood up and put on her clothes and began to cook for everyone in the house. The mourners. And me. And herself! She ate a meal that would choke a pig!

…and focused on the potential rally in the bottom of the eighth rather than my rapidly receding headache, I couldn’t help but think a team with any kind of playoff aspiration doesn’t trade its veteran slugger who, his San Franciscan incarnation notwithstanding, can still slug. It keeps him and keeps going and gives you as a Mets fan something worth watching besides novelty jerseys and ubiquitous AFLAC commercials.

I know, I know, it had to be done, all hail Alderson and his forward-thinking genius, but damn I miss having an extraordinarily dangerous hitter in the middle of the lineup. My playoff fantasies were pretty limited to begin with, but now they’ve utterly vanished. When Murphy was on second and Wright was on first in the eighth, and Pagan flied out and Bay grounded out while Beltran was taking BP or stretching or whatever he was doing on the other side of the continent, I had my moments of clarity:

• Our season, save for 51 games in which baseball will be played — and will be kind of fun because it’s baseball but will be less fun because there will be less to play for — is over. (Throw the impending non-returns of Davis and Santana onto that conclusion as well.)

• I hope the Alderson-enhanced Kool-Aid is spiked with something as strong as Maxalt and that it’s time-released so that in a couple of Augusts, instead of congratulating our GM for cleverly giving up on a longshot season, we’re intensely invested in a contending team that includes Zack Wheeler pitching and Jose Reyes playing shortstop — and I also hope the proceeds from the crisp pair of bookmarks that my Friday night tickets became go to the Re-Sign Jose fund, no matter how many triples Jose Can’t-Stand-Ya robbed him of while I, if not my team, rallied from the depths of despair.

This was one of those headaches (and then some) from which you’re sure you’ll never recover. That’s why they’re known as suicide headaches. But hours later, I’m feeling better physically if not Met-aphysically. I really couldn’t have gone to this game, no matter how much I wanted. I wondered if it was a postseason game if I could have or would have pushed myself to the train no matter the headache, the sweating, the nausea and the paleness. How sick would a Mets fan have to be to miss a playoff game?

Then I stopped wondering about it because, in 2011, that’s a purely hypothetical problem.

11 comments to Fantasies & Delusions

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    At least we can all stop pretending!

    191 “Whining Days” till “Pitchers and Catchers Report”!

  • Inside Pitcher

    I hope you’re feeling better today!

  • 9th string catcher

    Hey, now. August is tough on any Mets fan. But they still have some surprises in them. They will win the next two games against the Braves, bringing them to 1 game over .500. They, they’ll win 1 out of the next 3. That’s just what this team does.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    ^ 9th string catcher – and I also have Pigs flying over my house!…

    This team is heading for a nosedive to the NL basement!!

    August is never tough on any Mets fan recently as we are usually out of it and playing meaningless games as we will this year!

    LETS GO METS!

  • Brian Lennon

    Dear Greg,

    I know that frequent and painful headaches can sometimes be the symptoms of an aneurysm. Please get that checked.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Sorry to learn your cluster headaches have returned. Here’s hoping you feel better.

    But don’t count on the Mets to help you achieve that. The Wilpons are similar to those in Washington, and I don’t mean the Nationals. They demand budget cuts more than the Tea Party along with no revenue increases, just like the Tea Party does. Politics aside, Fred and Jeff achieved their goals – they saved a little bit of Beltran’s salary for the rest of the year, saved a lot more by not having to worry about that $17 million bonus to Krod and therefore decreased their debt ceiling without having to increase revenue.

    In other words, less contractual obligations and many more empty seats for a Friday night game against Atlanta for what otherwise could have been a near full house had there not been a sudden gaping hole in the lineup cutting off any illusions we all shared of an outside shot at the wild card.

    The Wilpons got an unexpected financial shot in the arm in attendance by being in a wild card hunt nobody thought would happen.

    Baseball wise, was dumping Beltran now for a promising prospect worth it when we were in that wild card hunt?

    Business wise, are empty seats caused by no longer having any illusion of being in a wild card hunt (even for just a few more weeks) worth the obtaining of Zach Wheeler?

    Keep in mind anything that leads to increased debt also leads to more budget cuts. So How can the Wilpons hope to stabilize the club financially by further cutting off sources of revenue? How can they tell us the money they are saving on contracts will enable them to go get other players when the money being saved is being off-set much more by the money they aren’t making?

    No wonder your cluster headaches returned! Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Andee

      Joe, Beltran was worth maybe 1.5 to 2 WAR, at most, for the remainder of the season. So even if the Mets could have closed to within 3 or 4 of the Braves with Beltran on board, which is being generous, what’s that worth? Basically nothing, if Beltran decides to walk at the end of the year (and with Boras repping him, who the hell knows what he’s planning to do). No prospects, zippo. It had to be done, painful as it was.

      I’d have hung on to the guy if not for the stupid-ass “no arbitration” clause, because at least they’d get one draft pick out of it (two picks is debatable because they grade FAs by two-year stretches). But players don’t have Scott Bora$$$$ as their agent by accident. Boras wanted that clause in there because he didn’t want there to be any delay in starting up the next bidding war.

      • Joe D.

        Hi Andee,

        Even though he would walk at the end of the season, business wise how much more could the Wilpons have made if the Mets were six out in a wild card hunt going into the weekend? Close to a full house the last three games instead of nearly 30,000 empty seats? More than enough to have paid the remainder of Beltran’s contract. Instead we’ve just about given up and what happens with revenue dropping even more the remainder of the season? Even less spent on players and player development.

        Beltran was worth more than a run a game during the season. We could have used that extra run for the two games we lost after tying the score with two out in the ninth, not to mention the one we blew having led going into the ninth. Instead of .500, we would be six games over and these games would still have a semblance of importance.

        If Zach Wheeler becomes an important cog in the future I agree, sacrifice this season. It’s just that one great pitcher does not a team make. Just ask the 1972 Phillies or 2010 Nationals.

        It just would have been fun having some games to dream about, even if the wild card in itself was indeed a far fetched dream.
        BTW – after a slow start where his batting average for the Giants was below .200, Carlos has now raised it to above .270. There is no way we can say we are

  • as a Naturopath, I would recommend and Herb called Butterburr that is available over the counter or on the net…you can take it safely as a prophylaxis versus migraine/cluster headaches …cuts down incidents remarkably….ask me questions if you like

  • Andee

    Oh, and about migraines: I used to get those all the time. Then I got put on Mircette, and now they’re gone. Too bad they don’t give that one to boys.