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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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Welcome to the Broom Town

Sweeping the Phillies in Philadelphia sure is fun, isn’t it? Sweeping anybody anywhere is a fine half-week’s work, but taking it to this bunch — the portion of it presently standing, at any rate — in that place?

Sublime!

The Phillies aren’t quite what they’ve been in the era encompassing August 2007 and everything after. That, of course, is not our problem. Utley out? Howard out? Lee on a pitch count? The sound you hear in the distant southeastern sky, where the Mets charter has winged its way to its next date with potential destiny, is an orchestra comprised of our regular shortstop, our regular catcher, our regular left fielder and one-fifth of our starting rotation playing the world’s tiniest violins.

Boo-bleeping-hoo, in other well-chosen words. The schedule demands you show your depth. We showed Rob Johnson behind the plate, Vinny Rottino manning left, Scott Hairston around in right and second baseman Justin Turner playing short. We showed Ike Davis and the side of the barn he’d been toting around in perfectly pristine condition from not being able to hit it. Terry Collins presented to Ron Kulpa a lineup card as if it had been cobbled together on the bus trip to Clearwater.

We won anyway. We won despite Lee being Lee as long as he was medically permitted to be. We won despite a 4-2 deficit after six, not unlike how we won the night before despite trailing 4-1 after six and the night before that when we won after being down 2-0 through five.

The Mets are proving the season isn’t played by expectation or reputation. The Mets are proving themselves on the field of National League East play, sweeping three divisional rivals thus far, insinuating themselves a half-game from first place and at the head of the class for that perfectly viable if insultingly gimmicky second Wild Card berth. More proving remains ahead if this sublime sweep isn’t to be consigned to the broom closet of trivia (on the off chance the Mets wait another six years before they make like Dirt Devils at Citizens Bank Park). The 31-game season has been a smashing success, but those final 131 will count, too.

Maybe even a lot more.

But that’s OK. I love that the Mets approach every day — every inning, really — as another chance to prove they can play with anybody. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes they lose a doubleheader to the Giants or get swept themselves by Houston. Those unpleasant events occurred in the very same 31-game season we’re generally so giddy about, yet they haven’t defined it. Sweeps of the Braves and the Marlins and now the Phillies feel like a truer barometer of what the Mets have been and can be in 2012. Especially this Phillies series, probably a little because it was the Phillies, probably more because of all the coming from behind.

Wednesday night’s proof of the pudding, ladled out in the top of the seventh like a generous portion of Kozy Shack, took its place alongside the Nickeas-Valdespin Festival of the Unforeseen from Monday and the free skate portion of Tuesday’s competition, in which Pete Orr and Jimmy Rollins impressed judges with their daring interpretation of The Rundown. Let’s see, one minute it was 4-2, Phillies, the next minute, there was…

• One of those patented Met 97-pitch walks, this time worked by rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis appearing in a leadoff pinch-hitting role;

• Turner lining an apparent single to center that Shane Victorino’s Gold Glove judgment — which advised him to dive in front of the ball at such an angle so as to courteously ensure it a glide path to the expansive grass behind him — transformed into an RBI double, cutting the Phils’ lead to 4-3;

• Davis stroking a mighty fly to the base of the right field wall that fooled Hunter Pence a little and Turner a little more, providing Ike a desperately needed confidence-building double and Justin an absolutely unfathomable spot on third instead of a brisk trip across the plate;

• callup journeyman Johnson knowing enough not to swing at any of the four non-strikes Kyle Kendrick was dealing so he could load the bases;

• and Lucas Duda, another pinch-hitter, not getting out of the way even if he wanted to of yet another inaccurate Kendrick delivery, taking an RBI HBP in what Cole Hamels would laughably call the old-school way.

The Mets had just tied the game at four. It felt like they were ahead. They’d be in an instant, when incredibly valuable Andres Torres (sorry for kind of forgetting about you while you were out, amigo) made with the perfectly struck infield grounder to push the Mets ahead, 5-4. From there, it was a mix of competent relief pitching — envy it, crimson hordes — and cleverly tacked-on tallies (Ike and Andres each muscling up) en route to the 10-6 final.

It would be daft to declare I knew it was only a matter of time before the Mets broke through. While Lee was maintaining order, I was resigned to giving my team one of those reluctant dispensations a fan sometimes is forced to admit is due. You know, “well, they won the first two games in dramatic fashion and they’re up against a tough pitcher, and to go into that ballpark and just win the series is good enough — a sweep would have been asking an awful lot.” Reasonable, right?

Not to these Mets, baby.

15 comments to Welcome to the Broom Town

  • BlackCountryMet

    WOW!Every morning for the last 3 I’ve turned my phone on and pressed the at bat app trepidatiously and every day I’ve done a fist pump of joy. I LOVE the fact that the team appears to never know when it’s beaten,to fight to the last pitch and generally leave it all out there. However the season ends,as long as we continue to do this,I feel the team are doing the COLOURS proud

  • Andee

    So they have three great starting pitchers, and not a whole lot else, especially with their two best hitters injured. Sounds kind of like the Seaver-Koosman-Matlack Mets, doesn’t it? Those Mets lucked into one World Series appearance thanks to the rest of the division rolling over and playing dead for them at the last minute, and the rest? Bleh. I think one of the sports guides at the time described them thusly: “If pitching is 75% of the game, why don’t the Mets win 75% of theirs? They’re all pitching.” And back then, there wasn’t the heavy reliance on bullpen that there is now, either. Holy cats, that bullpen in Phiddy makes ours look like the pre-collapse 2010 Padres. Pee-yew.

  • Nice to see that you have to get ALL 27 outs against this group..They clearly are having fun and nothing motivates better than winning..So what if Philly sucks right now, or the Braves? Dont you think they took advantage of the less foutunate for years?..This is fun, I love it, lets keep this party going to Miami !!!

    Rich P

  • 9th string catcher

    How can you not love this team? They’re the freaking bad news bears and Rudy on a slapshot skate. (see valdispin’s ss debut for best current example) . This was the most unexpected sweep ive ever seen. I cant imagine the mets sustaining this much winning, but then who saw any of this coming to begin with?

  • open the gates

    I think that this season is so much fun because no one really expected anything at all from these guys – especially given the usual brutal rash of injuries. This is a really fun team to watch – brash and bold and patient at the plate (and it seems like we haven’t seen THAT since, oh, about 1986) and never willing to admit defeat until the very last out. And no one expects to see the postseason, so we can just enjoy every game on its own merit. (Which, BTW, is something that Yankee fans will never understand.)

    Let’s enjoy it while it lasts. And who knows – maybe it will last longer than we think.

  • Keith

    My wife, who barely pays attention during games, “they really left that pitcher in there after last inning?” referring to Kendrick of course. When you see charlie’s other options…. Well it still didn’t make any sense.

    Utley / Howard better be Barry bonds at the plate, and be able to pitch a scoreless eighth.

  • kd bart

    I’m sure no one in Philadelphia cried for the Mets back in 2009 when the Mets showed up for a Fourth of July Weekend series with the Phils with the likes of Alex Cora, Nick Evans, Fernando Tatis, Omir Santos, Gary Sheffield and Jeremy Reed in the starting lineup for the Mets that weekend. Delgado, Beltran and Reyes were all on the DL for the Mets back then.

  • March'62

    “We showed Ike Davis and the side of the barn he’d been toting around in perfectly pristine condition from not being able to hit it”. Boy oh boy Greg, that’s just great.

    I hate to use the word giddy because…well, you know…..(not that there’s anything wrong with that)….but darned if I don’t feel all giddy this morning. What makes it so fun is that it’s someone different every game. Raise your hand if you had Manny Acosta down for getting some important outs this week. Or Valdespin winning a game. Or Baxter. Or Nickeas. Or Gaspar. Or J.C. Martin. Wait! Sorry…..flashbacks.

  • Sam

    “One of those patented Met 97-pitch walks”

    This…this is just a beautiful phrase to see

  • Will in Central NJ

    The Mets should have the Phillie Phanatic polish and buff Gary Cohen’s head EVERY night, the way we saw on the broadcast last night!! Anything to keep the good karma going! Onward to Miami!!

  • Dave

    I keep coming back to the parade scene in Animal House, when Flounder sums it all up perfectly…”Oh boy! Is this great?!?”

    And the phools can whine about Howard and Utley all they want…can they honestly look at their team and think that those two are going to be able to turn the whole thing around? Phils were built to win now…if “now” means 2008. My wife had to go down to Philly today for a meeting and emailed me to say that she had a big smile on her face when she got to read the Inquirer sports section.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    I Broke a 28 year losing watching Mets games at the Phillies’ stadiums. Started in ’84 September when Gooden K’d 16 and lost on an 8th balk. Must have encompassed 20 games, including 3 game series in Sept ’86.

  • CptnSpldng

    Several years ago I stated on this site that this day would come. I’m here to take my lumps.

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Citizen’s Bank Park to sweep?