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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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Uprising!

Short of doing something that will get you arrested, you can’t affect the outcome of a baseball game. Your hooting and hollering does nothing. Neither does praying, cajoling or threatening. Baseball takes no notice of your swaggering overconfidence and ignores your pretend humility. It does not care that you care. It does not care that you don’t care. Your rally cap causes no butterfly effect. Neither do religious symbols, rituals or deciding to hide behind the couch. You are not playing, and therefore nothing you do matters.

And yet games like Thursday make a hash of all such rational thought. After such a victory, there are no baseball atheists in Mets hats.

Why do you watch dozens of dreary, lead-footed garbage-time affairs to the bitter end, even if your team enters the ninth down four runs with nothing discernible to play for? Because every now and then the karmic wheels you’ve kept so carefully spinning align, and your faith is rewarded. And then for the next 24 hours you get to walk the earth with a silly grin and a spring in your step — you’re one of the anointed, a believer, the orange and blue mark of favor shining on your brow. The next hundred games will likely bring failed rallies or no uprising whatsoever, but that 100th? It makes it all worth it.

In the early going against St. Louis, to say the Mets weren’t showing much would have been a kindness. Chris Capuano was down 2-0 before he recorded an out, and the Mets seemed determined to see as few pitches from Jake Westbrook as possible. They’d already done so much to help the Cardinals in the last week that I wondered sourly if they making sure they’d have enough time to skim Albert Pujols’s pool before catching their flight.

With the game having started late, I missed the middle innings picking up Joshua from school, then settled in with him for dinner at the Waterfront Ale House. We took a booth under one of the TVs, a booth I know from experience gives you an up-close view of the game provided you’re willing to crane your neck at an unnatural angle. While the kid slaughtered pixeled villains on the iPhone, I aimed my chin at the screen and watched the Mets continue to sleep-walk in announcer silence. I’ve sat in this booth during better games, I thought idly to myself, and was faintly annoyed that this wasn’t going to be one of them.

But, well, there’s a reason you play ‘em.

Down 6-2 in the ninth, with the Cardinals fans baying at the chance to move within a game of the Braves, Willie Harris (who’d had a two-run homer cruelly but correctly ruled foul by the umps upon video review) worked out a seemingly cosmetic walk. Nick Evans then promptly hit a sure double-play ball to old nemesis Rafael Furcal. Furcal took a step to flip it to Ryan Theriot, but lost the handle and wound up with the ball slithering uselessly up and down his forearm. By the time he corralled it and tromped on second, Harris was safe. After Josh Thole flied out, disappointing his local rooting section, Jason Pridie walked and then Justin Turner fought his way through a terrific, Dunstonesque at-bat, spoiling pitch after pitch from Jason Motte before finally letting the ninth offering go by for a bases-loaded walk. It was 6-3, with Jose Reyes given another chance in his batting race with Ryan Braun — and oh yeah, the tying run was at first. A lot had to go right, Reyes was hitting from his weaker side, but we were at least in Ya Never Know territory.

Tony La Russa excused Motte from further duty and handed the ball over to Marc Rzepczynski, who sawed off Reyes — but Reyes had just enough oomph behind his broken lumber to push the ball over Theriot’s head, making the score 6-4 with Ruben Tejada coming up against Fernando Salas. A couple of months ago I would have hoped that the overmatched Tejada struck out instead of giving the Cards a double-play grounder, but not any more: I was glad to see him coming to the plate, remembering that he’d turned in another fundamentally sound, smart game. Salas got two quick strikes, but Tejada coolly worked it to 3-2 and then laced a ball to deep left.

I have no doubt that in plenty of parallel universes Shane Robinson’s desperate dive towards the left-field corner ended with Tejada’s drive nestled in his glove as he skidded along the warning track, granting Robinson a place in Redbird lore and ensuring him at least a decade of free beers in a large swath of the Midwest. But in this universe the ball tipped off his glove, sending various Mets racing pell-mell for various bases and tying the game. Ruben Tejada is going to be a star, I tell you.

Not that stardom is a cure-all, or forever. The Cardinals then walked Angel Pagan to reload the bases for David Wright, a strategy that in 2008 would have qualified La Russa for psychiatric care. Now, though, it made perfect sense, and Wright turned in the kind of at-bat that explains why we worry so thoroughly about him. He didn’t hit a grand slam or a long double or a bloop single or even lift a fly ball to the outfield. He struck out, closing his eyes in familiar agony and trudging back to the dugout.

But enter Harris, again, and he delivered, again — a clean, two-run single for the lead. SNY’s cameras found La Russa in the dugout, stalking and stewing, and I reminded myself sternly that I was with my child and in public, and therefore not allowed to howl profane suggestions at La Russa. Instead I settled for pointing and cackling.

We headed for home, iPhone held between us, the uncertain adventures of Bobby Parnell narrated by Howie Rose, whose voice rose and fell with our steps. For once, those adventures were not the stuff of particular drama: Parnell fanned Nick Punto, got Dennis Descalso to fly out and then faced the hated Yadier Molina, who could only wound us, not kill us. Molina tried, as he always does: He lifted a little parachute to right that Pridie dove underneath and caught with his glove held high for a thoroughly satisfying win and an equally satisfying gut shot for La Russa.

Remember this one the next time the Mets hit the ninth down four and do nothing whatsoever. And remember it the time after that, and the time after that, and so on. Karma demands such patience, and the next times the wheels align, you’ll be glad you showed it.

16 comments to Uprising!

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    You are indeed right about the lesson to be learned. My wife and I are feeling a bit under the weather so after the top of the eighth we both decided to take an early nap. It was only through a friend’s email that we got wind about the comeback hours after it occurred.

    Please forgive us.

  • Andrew

    From the recap:

    “Harris, who played for the Braves in 2007, said Atlanta coach Terry Pendleton texted him, ‘Way to go.’”

    Maybe Pendleton can replace Ron Darling’s windshield as a thank you.

  • My wife and I were watching the game at the Delta Grill (our own watering hole) and were pleasantly surprised that we weren’t the only ones cheering on the Mets in the ninth inning. A bunch of people at the bar had lifted their heads up from their po’ boy platters to let out hoots and hollers from their barbecue-slathered mouths. It was a fantastic comeback and one that I will fondly remember this offseason.

  • Joe D.

    Great comeback yes, but does it still leave a bit of a sour taste taking into consideration how poorly we have played the past two months and with more questions going into 2012 than we thought we had in July?

  • March'62

    David Wright – good player, no superstar.

  • BlackCountryMet

    This game has done nothing to dissuade me from the notion that I am somehow a curse for the Mets during weekly day games. Being in the UK, day games are generally perfect for me as they commence around 17 00/18 00 and I get to watch ‘em live. This season we seem(I know it’s not totally true) to have lost every one I watch live!! Last night, the delay meant I could only watch till the point where Albert homered, as I was knackered and needed to sleep. “No worries” i though, we ain’t coming back from this. Obviously my switching off somehow transformed the Mets and we go ond win!! I’m sorry but I will be watching the last game Sept 28 so the theory will undergo more scrutiny?

  • kd bart

    Only part of the game I saw was the ninth. If the Braves hold on and win the Wild Card by a game, they owe us compensation for this one. I believe a top pitching prospect is fair compensation.

  • Ken K. from NJ

    (The Cardinals then walked Angel Pagan to reload the bases for David Wright, a strategy that in 2008 would have qualified La Russa for psychiatric care)

    I disagree, I think Tony LaRussa would have done the same thing in 2008. Maybe not in 2006 or possibly 2007, but definately by 2008 he already knew what it took us mortals a couple extra years to know about Wright and clutch situations.

    Great writeup, I needed a good explanation as to why I keep watching these end-of-another-losing-season games.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Slowly and maybe surely, Ruben Tejada seems to be morphing into a young Edgardo Alfonzo for the 2010s. Mature beyond his years, steady fielder, and capable of delivering clutch hits. Here, brethren, is a young’un to watch.

    • I agree with the comparison. He’s learning fast, filling out, and building everything on impeccable instincts.

      I just hope to God he’s our 2B next year instead of our SS.

  • dmg

    aggrieved that this helps the braves, but hell, we have every reason to despise the cards too.

    fun fun fun win, against st. louis in their home ballpark. how many late-inning losses have the mets absorbed at home this year? more proof of baseball’s karmic pendulum: pridie’s catch to end the game was very nearly in the same spot that harris’s hit dropped in in the top of the ninth. (and how nice that it came off the bat of yadier effin molina.)

  • Schneck

    Amazingly, earlier in the day I was reading a chapter in the excellent, highly recommended book that you may have heard of, “Faith and Fear in Flushing,” about how the 1980 Mets were down 6 – 0 and managed to come back and win the game 7-6 with the help of newly acquired Claudell Washington and a walk off HR by Steve Henderson. Who would have thought that our Mets would mount a comeback that is equally meaningful on the same day that I read about this?

    edit: This game!… http://www.ultimatemets.com/gamedetail.php?gameno=2987&tabno=D

  • [...] in an echo of Thursday’s assumption-sundering turnaround, perceptions morphed slowly but surely. On Thursday, as the Cardinals began to have their way with [...]

  • Jimmy R

    Who else remembers the strange managerial moves by LaRussa very early in the season that allowed the Mets to win in extras? Seems like a pretty important blunder at this point. I bet they would love to have that game back.