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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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Madness, Collective and Otherwise

As I was heading down to tuck the kid into bed, Jose Altuve hit a little squibber in front of the plate, a play that ended with me looking back from the stairs to see Josh Thole and R.A. Dickey standing in annoyed proximity and Altuve far away on first.

Another day without a no-hitter, I thought reflexively, allowing myself the tiniest of sighs.

But no — I returned to discover it had been an error. The no-hit bid was still alive, and between Dickey’s knuckler and the Astros fielding a lineup of junior auxiliaries, why not dare to dream? And to my surprise, Twitter was full of Mets fans on no-hit patrol very, very early. Greg — no stranger to superstition — was noting innings pitched without hits allowed. The blogerati and digitally minded fans were tweeting and retweeting no-hit possibilities. Even Adam Rubin was marking milestones that were too early to be milestones.

You’ve all gone insane, I thought to myself — and then happily plunged in.

The Mets have been no-hit-free for 50 seasons, so it’s not like any of us can claim our carefully held superstitions have been the least bit effective — whatever we do to keep no-hit bids alive ought to be collected and passed around to other teams’ fans as what never to do when your pitcher has a zero in the relevant column.

For a while, it looked like this collective decision to spit in the eye of the baseball gods might actually work. Perhaps our merry thumbing of noses at karma would carry Dickey past the perils of bleeders and bloopers and things that go plunk into right, and wouldn’t that be something? He was 15 batters away, which in my experience is when Mets fans start to fantasize, and then he was within 12, which is when the rest of the world becomes at least minorly curious. On the Houston side, journeyman Bud Norris was making the most of a diving slider and the somewhat elastic edges of Gary Cederstrom’s strike zone, but that was cause for no particular alarm: The Mets were playing well, showing resilience, and who would be so uncouth as to stand between R.A. Dickey and history?

And then, pfft. With the speed of a plunging elevator, the game became a tragedy and then a goofy farce.

The tragedy was personified by Jordan Schafer, who opened the sixth by serving a soft single into left, untouchable. After a sacrifice, Jed Lowrie plopped one between an uncertain Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a scrambling Ruben Tejada for a single that shouldn’t have landed. Travis Buck spun Daniel Murphy around with a hard grounder that Murphy got one out on, but the run came home. And then Dickey threw his only bad pitch of the night, one Matt Downs slammed into the Crawford boxes for a sudden, shocking 3-0 Astros lead.

The Mets fought back, helped by some addlebrained Houston play. With two on and one out, Downs scrambled in front of his second baseman to give the Mets a gift runner and run. Lucas Duda, ill with the flu and looking sleepy and unhappy, somehow worked a walk. Houston manager Brad Mills remained glued to the dugout bench, convinced Norris could persevere. He couldn’t — Nieuwenhuis smacked a single into right to tie the score.

With Norris finally out of the game a little too late, Mills went into managing overdrive, using six relievers to face the next six batters. (Hey, when you average things out, he stuck with each pitcher for a reasonable amount of time.) Terry Collins, meanwhile, got an impressive seventh inning out of Manny Acosta, then a less-than-impressive inning out of Manny Acosta, which is about what one expects from that particular reliever. It was 4-3 Houston, magic seeping out of the night. The goateed, felonious Brett Myers arrived where he wasn’t wanted, and smothered the Mets on two groundouts and a fly ball. Having gone in rapid succession from half-convinced R.A. Dickey would throw a no-hitter to bummed to amused by the horrible baseball on display, I started at the TV in mild disbelief, out of things to feel. Game over; good guys lose.

I was honestly surprised they’d lost. Aside from that mess at Coors Field (what’s an 11-run inning between friends?), the Mets have been playing well of late. I was bummed but not particularly worried when Todd Helton buried one in the stands to erase a 4-0 lead, and so I was bummed but not particularly worried when Dickey’s masterpiece fell off the wall. It’s fun when your ballclub’s playing that way, when missteps and reversals seem like plot devices instead of fatal flaws. Of course, one game’s surprise can turn into two games’ disquiet and three games’ despair, but that’s life as a fan. Here’s hoping this one’s a bump — and that we’re all on Twitter tomorrow, gleefully noting that hey, Jon Niese only has 24 batters to get. Ya gotta believe, right?

If you’d like to second-screen it with us during games (which sounds vaguely dirty but isn’t), you can follow me at jasoncfry and Greg at greg_prince. Seriously, it’s fun.

8 comments to Madness, Collective and Otherwise

  • Lenny65

    Imagine what it’ll be like if and when a Met ever takes a no-hitter into the 9th? I think Seaver did it at least twice if I’m not mistaken. The last time I seriously got caught up in it was the Maine game, of course. What a cruel weekend THAT was. But still, if I’m out and about and check the score on my phone and see zero runs allowed in the 5th or 6th (OK, even as early as the 4th), I gotta know…any hits?

    I assume that when it does happen, it’ll either a) be pitched by an emergency spot-start Triple A call-up during a Wednesday night, late August game that’s delayed by rain and doesn’t end until 1:53AM, or b) be pitched on a big stage like a playoff game and somehow be marred by some weird incident, like a man parachuting onto the field or a pine tar controversy or something.

  • All I ask is that our first no-no not be a combined one. Those are lame. I’d rather be oh-for-a-half-century than that.

    • Lenny65

      “And tonight history was made as seven Mets hurlers combined for the club’s first-ever no-hitter. Unfortunately for the Mets, it came in a losing effort as the eleven walks, three HBP’s and two 8th inning balks put the Mets into a 3-0 hole their anemic bats couldn’t overcome”. Yes, I could totally see that happening.

  • Not worth cataloguing them now, but I had about 18 reasons last night was going to be The Night, starting with R.A.’s knuckleball and the low profile of the competition. As for declaring last night’s The Nightness, well, dancing around it hasn’t helped any for 50 years, has it?

    If (if?) the count hits 8,000 I have some very interesting data to share courtesy of one of our obsessive readers…or should I say courtesy of one of our readers.

  • joenunz

    “(If?)”…indeed…

    Friday, May 11.

    Reyes leadoff triple.

    Book it.

  • I’ll say again, though, the count’s already over 8,000. If Tom Seaver had pitched a postseason no-hitter, no way we’d say the Mets had never had one.

    • I agree we’d count the Bobby Jones no-hitter from the 2000 NLDS if Robin Ventura was a couple of inches taller and we wouldn’t be counting games at all in this context. It would be a mere curiosity that our only no-hitter came in the postseason.

      But schlepping postseason statistics into regular season conversation just gets you “they won 125 games in 1998!” type mutations, so no thank you.

      • Rob D.

        I was at that game..Also Gooden’s game where Knight could have been given an error. Best game I ever saw pitched was Pedro’s 2 hitter vs the Astros….some Astro (just googled it Chris Burke) hit a homer, but there was no doubt Petey was going to win that game.