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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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Sweating It Out With Frank Frank

If the Mets need a new midseason slogan, how about this one:

THE MOST EXCITING .500 TEAM ON EARTH!

Splattered by the Yankees in three straight at Leni Riefenstahl Stadium, the Mets then rose up in indignation and savaged the Rays on the road, sweeping a three-game set. They then strutted home from that encounter and sleptwalk through three straight losses to the Reds. So of course they welcomed in the Orioles and stomped them, with R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana authoring 5-0 masterpieces, after which Dillon Gee was merely superb in completing the three-game sweep.

Swept, sweep, swept, sweep. Since the Yankees arrive Friday night, following Thursday’s pause to enjoy the All-Time Mets Team, let’s hope this particular pattern doesn’t hold. The Mets are 6-6 over their last 12, and the highs and lows of emotions have been enough to produce altitude sickness.

As for the conclusion of the first sweep of the O’s in New York since Cleon Jones settled to one grateful knee, for seven innings it looked like Gee had taken a page from the Dickey/Santana playbook, baffling the listless-looking Orioles. (It didn’t help that Baltimore seemed alternately befuddled and not particularly engaged afield.) But then the tropical-aquarium conditions seemed to catch up with Gee in the eighth, a decline heralded by Wilson Betemit’s ¬†exclamatory drive into and out of seats nearly all the way to the top of the Pepsi Porch. The Orioles had closed within 4-2, and two uncashed Met runs (one on David Wright being uncharacteristically poky on the bases, the other on a ground-rule double) threatened to loom large.

Oh, uncashed runs. To quote Monty Python:

Every run is sacred
Every run is great
If a run is wasted
God gets quite irate

Or at least I think those are the words. Close enough anyway.

The Orioles nearly took the lead on a long Chris Davis drive, one that backed Scott Hairston all the way to the left-field fence and had Bobby Parnell bent over at the knees as prelude to penitence and grief before turning into an out. (The same hairy half-inning saw J.J. Hardy called out for tapping a ball into fair territory then somehow managing to hit it again with his bat, a play I don’t recall ever seeing before.)

And then the ninth. Oh boy, the ninth.

I started saying “Come on Frank Frank” before Frank Francisco’s first pitch, which means I can barely estimate how many times I said “Frank” before the Mets escaped. (It wasn’t 66 times, because I varied the number of Franks, let pitches be thrown in silence and doubled up in trying to steer the luck.) And that’s not considering how many ways I said “Frank.” Urgently. Pleadingly. Angrily. Soothingly. Desperately. Despairingly. Raggedly. Defiantly. Beseechingly.

Having slept through 25 innings without disturbing anybody, the Orioles were suddenly awake and snarlingly alive, with Nick Johnson and Betemit battling Frank Frank through two tough at-bats and then Mark Reynolds and Steve Pearce drawing walks, before Brian Roberts rolled one to Jordany Valdespin and we were safe. Whereupon the game turned back into how great Gee was, and the substitute running stories and despairing blog posts about Frank Frank’s meltdown got fed to the DELETE key.

A far better storyline, wouldn’t you agree?

7 comments to Sweating It Out With Frank Frank

  • Eric

    You have to give credit to Betemit. He fouled off like 4 or 5 really good splitters. That got Frankies pitch count up and on top of the heat, he got a little tired. He’s been surprisingly and pleasantly effective lately, so I’m willing to overlook this one. Now if he has the same issues again the next time or two and looks like he’s going into a funk….it would be a shame. Starting pitching has the 3rd best stats in baseball.

  • Andee

    “Leni Riefenstahl Stadium”…BWAH! (FWIW, Riefanstahl always claimed she didn’t have any idea what He Who Can’t Be Named was really up to. And I don’t think she was lying either, I think she really was that art-focused that she didn’t see — or want to see — anything else. So maybe Joseph Goebbels Stadium?)

    Jeebus, what a rollercoaster. Get swept, sweep, get swept, sweep. And this bullpen, they’re gonna give me a stroke. (Francovision had nothing on Franciscovision.) I gotta hand it to them, though, they just refuse to die, no matter how many times they get the dirt kicked on their heads.

  • neoncleon

    I don’t know about you, but I was absolutely convinced that ‘Spin was going to boo the Roberts grounder. That 9th inning seemed so much like a prelude to a blown save/sweep, but the Baseball Gods were evidently just trolling us.

    If Dickey continues to be virtually unhittable, and Niese is as effective as he was against the Yanks last time, AND the BP doesn’t shit the be, I think we can take 2 of 3 against them. At least these 3 games will be played at Citi, not at the Little League Stadium That Steinbrenner Built.

  • neoncleon

    ugh…BOOT the Roberts grounder….shit the BED.

  • damrat

    I actually remained calm in the 9th last night and commended Frank Frank out loud for walking in that run. I kept saying during that at-bat “Don’t give in, Frankie! Walking in a run doesn’t lose us the game, giving up a base hit will! If you have to walk him, walk him! Get the next guy out!” .. and he did just that. I was proud of him for doing the smart thing in that situation and concentrating on the next guy. I thought, the last two batters he faced anyways, was excellent baseball.

  • March'62

    I was a bit surprised by the Mets’ radio announcers last night. They are always a great listen and always very astute. But last night they made two rule-interpretation mistakes:
    1. when it was ruled that the ball hit the bat a 2nd time, the announcers claimed that the batter was still in the batters box so it should have been a foul ball. But the rule is based on where the ball is, not where the feet are.
    2. In the 9th when Ike Davis caught a popup in foul territory, Howie Rose said that the batter was called out already because of the infield fly rule. But the batter is only out if it’s a fair ball.

    Very Sterling-esque.

  • growler

    Ha. I’ve been calling it Leni Riefenstahl Stadium since I first went there the year it opened (a friend who turned his back on the Mets when they traded Seaver became a Yankee fan and gets tickets. As the huge crowd herded toward the entrances, I actually said, “I feel like I’m an extra in Triumph of the Will.