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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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As Wheel As Wheel Gets

In tribute to those wonderful people who show up to share the 7 train with us Mets fans for two glorious weeks every August and September, let’s just say the Mets lost in straight sets to the Marlins Tuesday night, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 5-0, 0-0, 1-0.

Apparently you can only volley with Javier Vazquez for so long.

And how did the Mets gets bested in this match? By getting tangled in the net, though since there’s no net in baseball, let’s use the wheel as our excuse.

Oddly enough, the wheel came up in casual conversation between me and my BFF, Chuck, the other day. You know somebody’s your BFF if your casual conversation includes the wheel, though in our case “the wheel” rarely arises as part of an intense strategy session. It’s more like this:

HIM: What’s wrong with your Mets?
ME: I don’t know.
HIM: Maybe they’re not putting on the wheel enough.

I no longer remember why the wheel is funny to us. I’m not sure it was ever funny to me, but it cracks up Chuck in the same way football announcers invoking some receiver’s “explosive first step” tickles me every time.

HIM: We’re getting old.
ME: I know.
HIM: But don’t worry, we’ve still got that explosive first step.

Chuck and I have known each other for 27 years, and this stuff (unlike us) never gets old.

So where was I? Oh yeah, the wheel, and how it came off on the Mets last night.

Here’s how it went, according to the best of my recollection, which is a bit fuzzy now considering I fell asleep at the end of the postgame show, woke up with a nagging headache and hate the Marlins:

It was nothing-nothing (or love-love) in the seventh. Mike Cameron, whose Met tenure struck me as distant and brief even while it was in progress for 216 games across two seasons, doubled. John Buck walked. Vazquez — the last of the red, hot Expos as far as it pertains to tormenting the Mets — bunted.

And everything went to hell.

Vazquez didn’t bunt one of those bunts that gets through the infield for a Little League home run. Nor did he land his bunt on the square that qualified the Marlins for a triple run score. It was a bunt David Wright charged and had to eat because throwing to third didn’t strike him as an attractive option; and because Justin Turner had a notion about setting up a pickoff play on Cameron so he wasn’t covering first; and because Mike “They Have My Number” Pelfrey didn’t think (what a surprise) to pick up on Turner’s pickoff signal and throw over or at least step off

Quite a supercharged bunt: the Marlins went from two on and nobody out in a scoreless game to three on and nobody out in a scoreless game, yet a ball tapped no more than twenty feet from home plate was fingered for allowing five runs in the ensuing five minutes.

Sure. Blame the faulty spokes in the wheel. Blame Canada for not supporting the Expos and allowing Vazquez to pitch for Florida. Blame Pelfrey for being Pelfrey (I always find that handy). Blame one loused-up bunt for the Mets not doing a damn thing offensively. That’s the problem with sending plays like the wheel to the forensics lab for intense investigation. You wind up with evidence, but you don’t necessarily catch the culprit.

It’s no mystery why the Mets lost. They didn’t touch Vazquez, and Pelfrey — who tips his hat to the Marlins and calls them his daddy — was sooner or later going to crack. The wheel was just a convenient alibi.

7 comments to As Wheel As Wheel Gets

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Wild night for me at the game last night. First, the bizarre: it was the first time I have ever seen Pelfrey start a game at Citi Field, and I was there for the 25th time. How does one NOT see Pelfrey at least once (without actively trying to avoid him) over the first 24?

    Second, the once-in-a-lifetime moment: our fantastic 6th row seats in the Pepsi Porch were good for 8 innings, but my girlfriend and I decided to move down to the front row for the 9th in a losing 5-0 affair. First batter up, Stanton launches one right at us. We give the ball its space and it hits square into the seat where my girlfriend was sitting, making it the first opposite field home run in Pepsi Porch history. I reached down, picked it up, and raised it in the air with a smile on my face as I’d now experienced something I’d always wondered if I’d ever get a chance to do: “catch” a home run ball.

    And then I remembered whose home run ball it was so I promptly threw it right back onto the field. No regrets.

    • Congratulations on your catch-like grab and, I guess, the courage of your convictions.

      The run stayed on the board, though, right?

    • joenunz

      Kevin – Since you read this blog, I’m sure you are a real Mets fan, so I won’t repeat what I called the person who threw Stanton’s HR back when it happened. (I was across the field in section 528)

      As far as I know, that “tradition” started in the Wrigley Field Bleachers and considering the history of that spot and those fans in the baseball-time-space continuum, I understand why it’s acceptable there.

      But tossing an opponent’s homerun back to the field in Shea/Citi is just as bad as (if not worse than) Jeff Wilpon’s idiotic decision a few years back to copy “Sweet Caroline” from the RedSox.

      And to answer the obvious question…yes, if I catch a Derek Jeter home run in Citi Field, I’m keeping it. No regrets.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    I can’t count that high to determine how many things went wrong on the dreaded “Wheel Play”

    Of course if Pelf doesn’t walk the eighth guy, the play never happens!

  • Pat O"Hern

    Bought your book in case of cablt tv outage during Hurricane. Looking forward to reading it in silence during the Yankee Philly World Series.