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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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Some Games

Once in a while, particularly in a season that’s wandered dutifully into its gone-to-hell portion, the Mets will play a game that, like a piece of black, volcanic glass in Andy Dufresne’s favorite Maine hayfield, has no earthly business on their ledger. It will be tense, it will be tight, it will be gripping…even if ultimately it will be lost.

And you almost knew, as a Mets fan, that the Mets would lose Tuesday night in Cincinnati. You knew it for certain by the middle of the ninth if you couldn’t figure it out earlier. Some games are just like that: more fun than you imagine for a while, then teasingly cruel in their suspense, then just plain mean as they reach their pedestrian, predictable conclusion.

If the Mets could have pushed this thing into extra innings, lightning could have been reset in order to strike. You never know what will happen when you take a scoreless game beyond nine. On April 17, 2010, Pedro Feliciano threw a ground ball double play that preserved a nothing-nothing game through nine and next thing you knew (or, more accurately, next several-dozen things you knew), the Mets were 2-1 winners in 20.

But the key was getting out of the ninth. The Mets and Reds had farcically charged that far with no runs apiece. If it was a pitchers’ duel, it was conducted with banana cream pies at ten paces. Gentlemen, turn around and…SPLAT! Chris Young wasn’t sharp but persevered. Mat Latos wasn’t sharp but persevered. Or did the batters they faced aid the appearance of perseverance? Neither Young nor Latos nor their many successors could have been mound magician enough to have escaped more kinds of jams had they been accidentally locked inside the Welch’s plant past closing.

Leadoff hitters keep reaching? Catcher’s interference called? Runners confidently taking off from first? Pitchers cracking bases-loaded line drives? Pinch-hitters whacking balls to the wall? Doubles abounding? Wild pitches? Control problems? Deep flies? Sinking liners? Perfectly executed sacrifice bunts?

They were all there, yet they didn’t add up to bupkes. No Met could drive in any other Met for nine innings. No Red could drive in any other Red for eight innings, and their were loads of Red chances to do so. At first it seemed Young would snap like an 83-inch twig. Then he shape-shifted into a bendy straw. Then the journey from bending to breaking was imminent. Then he was replaced by Ramon Ramirez, who rescued him, which seemed novel. Then Ramirez was replaced by Bobby Parnell, who dug a customary hole but also tunneled out of it; more novelty. Then Jon Rauch came along and took no mess whatsoever.

While it was true the Mets did nothing of substance to Latos, Sean Marshall and Jose Arredondo despite six hits, four walks, Young’s sizzling liner that landed in Brandon Phillips’s glove, the Scott Hairston rope that reached the left field corner too fast for it to be good for more than one base and the catcher’s interference charged to Ryan Hannigan (shortly after Jordany Valdespin drove Latos to snorting distraction by repeatedly asking for and receiving time), it was truer that the Reds did the exact same amount of damage to Young, Ramirez, Parnell and Rauch despite five singles, four doubles, six walks and the sense of doom that will logically impend when you’re playing a first-place ballclub in their ballpark and your notoriously flammable bullpen is all that separates you from extinction.

Which, of course, is what came to in the bottom of the ninth. It came to Manny Acosta (Frank Francisco — no bargain but technically the best we got — was presumably being saved for the nineteenth and twentieth) walking Phillips and giving up a single to Ryan Ludwick to assure trouble, and Josh Edgin, Terry Collins’s not so new toy, ending it with a mighty assist from Jay Bruce.

The intrigue of 0-0 was over. The 14 Reds left on across eight innings were immaterial. Three Cincinnatians survived to cross the plate on one Bruce swing. The ten men the Mets got as far as first, second or third proved lethal in their failure to gain admission home. The team in first place did what it felt like they were going to do in the middle of the ninth. They won.

The other team…our team…also did what you inevitably discerned they would do. But they made it interesting without being unforgivably aggravating for a while.

So that was different.

6 comments to Some Games

  • neoncleon

    As usual, you captured the spirit of this furshlugginer (potrzebie) game perfectly. The sense of doom impended as soon as Acosta and his dreadlocks mounted the mound, and when Edgin absolutely GROOVED that 1-2 pitch down the middle of the plate, I reached for the remote. Seconds later, I turned off the TV in disgust. Another 3.5 hours of my life gone in a puff of failure.

  • RUMan79

    Cleon – I give you credit. I have been a Mets fan since 64 – have seen it all, lovable losers, Miracle Mets, you gotta believe, the DeRoulet dark years, the resurgence under Cashen and Doubleday, the blown seasons of recent lore and now the Cheapsters. What I find sad is that ownership is making the fans pay for their screw-ups; with 2nd and 3rd rate scrap heap pariahs and pitchers with reconstructed arms; while they charge you mammoth prices to park, for a ticket and what is oh so disconcerting is what they charge for a specialty burger, shake or other crap; so that you can experience games like we have this season, especially the 2nd half.

    Well now the cards are on the table – the franchise has demanded action this off season; will the Cheapsters (aka Madoff’s Marvels)invest in their product? Will they continue to regress and remain a small market team in the #1 media market in the world?

    I have yet to step foot in Citi Field and refuse to until ownership starts to conduct themselves like a major league franchise; if Mets fans want to do what is right (or Wright) they will do the same!

    0-6 Road Trip

    • Steve D

      Well said…though as I commented a few days ago, I broke down last Saturday night and took the family to a game. While the game was effectively over after 1 1/3 innings, I had fun, mostly by making jokes and reliving the past. I have no plans to attend another game this year, unless tickets are given to me.

      It is hard to reconcile being a lifelong Met fan with the intense desire to root against this ownership. As a kid, you don’t care if Attila the Hun owned the team…but as an adult who can make more rational decisions, I would never decide to be a Met fan if the past were taken out of it. It’s not about needing to win all the time…if that was it, I would be a Yankee fan by now. It is about having smart, dynamic owners…look what Magic Johnson has already done in LA. He is a winner for sure. I am reduced to living in the past…1969, 1973, 1986. Why did Nelson Doubleday do this to us?

  • Hey, if you liked offense, you’d be a yankees fan. Other than a couple years in the 80s, the Mets would rather drop dead than score runs.

  • Dak442

    Last night proved to be that point in the season where a loss elicits nothing more than “Oh well”. No anger, no sadness – I just watch the games now almost as much out of habit as for rooting. If they win, swell. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter. Shrug, and we watch Louie on DVR.

    I’m not going anywhere, but this doesn’t seem an effective way to build loyalty among future customers.