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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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Sometimes You Ride the Cycle, and Sometimes the Cycle Rides You

I’ve had a ball helping my co-blogger moderating panels at Hofstra’s New York Mets Conference over the last day and a half, as well as sitting and listening to smart Mets fans, former players and baseball historians amateur and professional discuss all things blue and orange. On Friday, for instance, I a) heard a great Craig Glaser presentation breaking down the odds of the Mets’ having no no-hitters; b) had fun shooting the bull at a lunchtime panel with blog colleagues and Mets fans; c) posed for pictures with Mr. Met; d) heard Art Shamsky, Bud Harrelson, and Ed Kranepool discuss their time in blue and orange; and e) chatted with John Thorn. That’s a pretty good day, and I had to go home before the evening sessions and the banquet.

But my favorite moment from the conference wasn’t academic at all — it was the roar from a nearby lounge as Kirk Nieuwenhuis drove the ball over Giancarlo Stanton’s head, sweeping the Marlins out of Citi Field. While I’d been sitting at a table with one earphone on, feeling simultaneously bad that I was listening to the game instead of chatting with some very interesting folks and insisting to myself that one could and should keep apprised of Mets doings at a Mets conference, other attendees had found a big HD set and tuned it to SNY, with the Mets obliging us by providing a scrappy classic. I like my Mets discourse academic and analytical and historically minded and literary and delivered in innumerable other high-falutin’ ways, but this was simple and transcendent: Mets win, that was awesome, we’re happy.

As for tonight, well … did anyone mention how great Nieuwenhuis’s hit was? Greg did? And then I just did again?

Oh. Well then.

Tonight’s game wound up being one of those spottily attended to semi-West Coast messes, seen in fragmented glimpses so that it seems halfway to a dream.

I watched the first few innings on Gameday while attending a gala raising money for my kid’s school, during which I drank blue martinis, the exact number of which can now only be approximated. (This is known in storytelling as foreshadowing.) Those innings were mildly worrisome but not the stuff of disaster: The Mets trailed the Rockies, and Gameday hinted pretty strongly that Lucas Duda was doing ill-advised things in the outfield, but it was only 2-1.

Emily and I got home, relieved the babysitter, and took in the next couple of innings from the couch. These were terrific. Scott Hairston clubbed a home run to tie the game, while fill-in starter Chris Schwinden — the lumpy pitcher with the graceless mechanics whom I’ve struggled to abide — seemed to have settled in. Then the Mets ambushed the Rockies in rousing fashion: Hairston tripled to pull within a double of the cycle, and the Mets strung together four more singles (including Zach Lutz’s first big-league hit and Schwinden’s second) for a 6-2 lead. It looked like a rout was in the offing, one I was thoroughly prepared to enjoy.

Well, I got the rout part right.

Emily went to bed; within a few minutes the Mets were playing like they were half-asleep. It began so innocently, as it always does. Schwinden fielded an Eric Young Jr. comebacker, lollipopped it to Lutz at first, Young slid in headfirst, Lutz didn’t bend down quite far enough to tag him. Then Young stole second, taking third on a high Mike Nickeas throw that Daniel Murphy muffed. Then Marco Scutaro walked and Jonathan Herrera singled to make it 6-3.

Not good, but I figured Schwinden would gather himself and escape the inning at 6-4 or so. Instead, he promptly served up a Carlos Gonzalez homer to tie the score. Exit Schwinden, enter Manny Acosta … and somewhere between Acosta leaving the bullpen and toeing the rubber against Troy Tulowitzki those martinis had their say and closing my eyes seemed like an excellent idea.

When I woke up Scott Hairston was being roundly congratulated and Gary Cohen sounded excited. Ah, I realized: He’d hit for the cycle, becoming the 10th Met to do so. This is what we do instead of throwing no-hitters — how weird is it that the Padres have never done either? That was great, but there were other things to process, and I was having trouble. The Mets had nine runs, but the Rockies had … 13?

What the hell?

Such evidence of Acostalyptic doings proved too much for my foggy brain; I hit my own personal snooze alarm, during which time passed and events occurred. When I came to again, Ruben Tejada was at the plate, the Mets still had nine runs, and that number by COL was still large and dramatic.

Still 13, though.

No, wait. It looked like a 13, but it was … an 18?

Jesus.

Tejada struck out, the ballgame was over, and of course I was awake.

4 comments to Sometimes You Ride the Cycle, and Sometimes the Cycle Rides You

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Shortly after you dozed off, as the Rockies amazingly kept hitting, it occurred to me that the worst inning in Mets history might be unfolding before my eyes. Every error, every run, every goof “I’VE NEVER SEEN THAT HAPPEN, EVER” play compounded on my theory. When Keith asked Gary, “has a team ever batted around twice in one inning?” I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking it.

    Gary didnt proclaim it in the 6th, but he dropped 2 factoids pretty much confirmed my hypothesis: it tied the record for most runs given up in an inning by the Mets, and it tied a record for most errors committed in an inning by the Mets. The fact that they converged shouldn’t be surprising, but still there I was, dumbfounded and laughing on the couch. As bad as it was, it’s not too often that you get to witness a 50+ year old franchise reach new heights in futility. It’ll now share space in my brain with the likes of 0-for-August.

    Perversely, it was a fun game to watch in that I saw SEVERAL things i’d never seen before. Sometimes you get one, RARELY do you get more. I mean, a catchers interference call ON A PITCHOUT?! You can’t make it up!!

  • Dave

    Moral of the story is to listen to your body’s natural rhythms. When you’re tired, go to bed. Especially during the first game of a road trip in a Western Division city; I’d like to see the Mets’ all-time record in 1st games of road trips out west. My guess is that it’s about 3-861.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Not long ago SNY broadcast the 1985 yearbook (thanks to FAFIF for the heads-up, weeks ago). There was mention of the 26-7 shellacking that our orange and blue heroes sustained at Veterans Stadium in that show. “I hope we don’t see anything like that anytime soon,” I muttered to myself. Sure enough….Friday happens in Denver.

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