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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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A Good Game Won

Sometimes it’s great when the Mets make a hash of my plans.

Getting ready for today’s game, I had a promising albeit rather sorrowful blog post mapped out — it was going to deal with the Cyclones, the Sand Gnats, childhood and the inescapability of Chipper Jones. And that plan held after Chipper doubled in the third to put the Braves on top.

But then things changed, and I wound up happily balling up my plan and pitching it, as the Mets came out on top in a taut, entertaining game, one of my favorites of the year. It was one of those Just When I Thought I Was Out They Pull Me Back In games, which exactly what’s needed as an also-ran season gets down to the dregs.

Even nicer was finding Ruben Tejada front and center, with four RBIs and even a steal. (Tejada is one of those guys you assume is fast and eventually realize is anything but.) Joshua and I have talked a lot about Tejada in the last month: how a lot of guys his age are still Cyclones, how you have to accept that players that age make doofy errors of omission and commission, and how he has baseball instincts that no one can teach. Yes, his swing has gotten a bit long in recent weeks, and yes, he made an error today. But he also delivered twice, and was his usual precocious self out there at most other times. We saw it in the third: On second with two out, Tejada slowed up on David Wright’s grounder to Chipper, forcing Chipper to make the throw to first instead of giving him the easy tag play, and trying to get close enough to bother him on that throw. Joshua wasn’t interested at first, but perked up when I noted that you do that for the one play in 30 or 50 or 100 where it pushes an opponent into an error, and Tejada had known to do it. I love this kid; I can’t wait to see what kind of player he is in three or four years.

Tejada wasn’t alone in nice moments. There was Ronny Paulino, motionless at the plate in the top of the eighth like an especially contemplative Buddha as Jonny Venters threw balls five, six, seven and eight. There was Lucas Duda, taking the un-  off the untouchable Craig Kimbrel for some much needed insurance. There was Manny Acosta, cleaning up yet another Bobby Parnell mess in relatively orderly fashion. (Lest we be too hard on poor Parnell, remember that a month ago any of us would have gladly swapped Acosta for moving up three or four places in the Shake Shack line.)

I don’t care about the Mets getting to play spoiler; that always seemed like second-division stuff to me. Spoiler talk just reminded me of how few days are left on the calendar — we’re down to rookie hazing and picking bandwagon teams and planning that last visit to Citi Field. It’ll be winter all too soon, which makes every game precious and every victory even more so — and a game to put aside and think about happily in the off-season is a very fine thing indeed.

9 comments to A Good Game Won

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    This were also a lot of ugly moments and indeed the Mets were lucky not to have given this one away (not that I care as long as it’s a W). Turner made consecutive fielding goofs which went for hits that should have gone for outs. This enabled Atlanta to get back into the game quick. And how high did Dillon Gee’s WHIPS go up after all the hits and walks he allowed?

    But you are right – it will be winter before we know it so every game and victory is precious – but they can’t be played like today’s was and be put aside for happier thoughts for 2012. Some of it, yes (especially Duda’s dramatic home run in the ninth) but not all of it. Dillon Gee’s futility has me worried tremendously.

  • So let me ask you – do you think that a lineup of Reyes, Tejada, Wright, Davis, Duda, Pagan, Bay and Thole could win 88 games? Assuming a rotation of Santana, Niese, Dickey, Gee and some #5 starter? Seems to me that Tejada and Duda have taken good steps forward, Pagan and Thole have gone backwards and Bay is about the same.

    • Guy Kipp

      His lack of range in RF notwithstanding, Lucas Duda has been the MVP of the team since the All-Star break.
      How does Daniel Murphy fit into that 2012 lineup?

      • Great question. Been trying to figure that one out myself. The best I could come up with is getting him 4-5 games a week backing up 1B, 3B and LF, preferably spelling Bay 2-3 times a week if he can’t start hitting again. I really don’t want to see him in the OF, but I hate the thought of him at 2B a lot more. If he can learn to play LF (a better chance now that he has a lot more confidence as an offensive player and wouldn’t have to learn both sides of the game at the same time), I would even put him in a full time platoon with Bay (with defensive replacement from the 7th on).

  • Ken K. from NJ

    (I don’t care about the Mets getting to play spoiler)

    Except for 1964, when playing spoiler actually meant something, and “the future” seemed years and years away.

    Re: Tejada. I’m now around 40/60 in thinking maybe they don’t have to go crazy trying to keep Reyes, especially now that Reyes has more or less settled back to his career norms, plus he and his legs are not getting any younger. Tejada’s 16(?) pitch at bat a few months ago was when I first gave the idea any thought at all. At that point I went to about 15/85. And he’s only 21, plenty of room for growth, as we say at work. On the other hand, why Gary and Keith seem to think he’s going to steal 20 bases someday is beyond me.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Haven’t the Mets beem playing spoiler for most of the year?