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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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Not In It, But Never Out Of It

Something struck me while the Giants were being demolished by the Reds, 9-0, Sunday and the Nationals were getting stomped by Carlos Beltran’s Cardinals, 12-4, Monday: this never happens to us.

The Mets have never been truly blown out of a postseason game. They’ve never lost one by eight runs. They’ve never lost one by nine runs. They’ve never lost one by more than six runs, and in very few of the 31 postseason losses they’ve been dealt overall (against 43 postseason wins) have they felt hopelessly behind to the extent where you couldn’t take that “Miracle” stuff to heart.

We established a few Octobers ago that the Mets are, pound for pound, perhaps the most competitive postseason team that’s ever been among teams that have made more than the most token of appearances. We’ll establish now that the Mets, even when not succeeding in the worst way possible in these situations, just about always give us our angst’s worth.

If we define a blowout as a loss of seven or more runs, the Mets have never been blown out in a postseason game. If we define a blowout as a game in which you simply can’t imagine the team that’s behind rallying to at least get into a position to possibly come back — and then your lack of imagination is met by the prevailing reality — then the Mets have just about never been blown out. There have only been a relative handful of postseason innings when you could be absolutely certain the Mets were utterly doomed in a given game. Usually they win or sucker you into believing they will.

It may have only produced two World Series trophies instead of the seven for which they were eligible, but at least the Mets haven’t made you want to turn off your sets when it mattered most.

Faint praise, but it’s October and the Mets aren’t playing. Faint praise is sometimes the deepest kind one can muster on their behalf.

1969: The Mets lost only one game in two series, and that was by three runs. They fell behind, 4-0, at Baltimore after four innings of Game One of the World Series, but made it 4-1 in the seventh, and they got the tying run (Rod Gaspar) to the plate. The score stayed, 4-1, and the result was swept aside by the four succeeding Met victories.

1973: Both losses to Cincinnati in the five-game NLCS were one-run heartbreakers, as were the first two losses to Oakland in the World Series. Games Six and Seven, where it was all unfortunately decided, went against us, 3-1 and 5-2. The Mets were down by five after five in the final meeting, but being the Mets, they put a run up in the sixth, another in the ninth and brought the potential tying run up (Wayne Garrett) with two out before it was all over.

1986: Mike Scott may have muffled the Mets’ bats twice in the League Championship Series, but his opposite numbers (Doc Gooden in Game One, Sid Fernandez in Game Four) did all right, and the Mets lost those two dances by respectable scores of 1-0 and 3-1. Having squeezed past the ’Stros in six, the Mets succumbed, 1-0, in Game One of the World Series and didn’t fall hopelessly behind the Red Sox in Game Two — the much-hyped Gooden-Clemens matchup at Shea — until the seventh inning when the Red Sox tacked on a pair to go up on the Mets, 8-3. The final was 9-3. Not at all good, but not quite a blowout. The Mets’ final loss in the Fall Classic was lackluster Game Five, a 4-2 affair in which the Mets trailed, 4-0, after five but sort of fought back late. (The Mets charged from behind far more effectively in Games Six and Seven.)

1988: The most famous and horrible contest of the NLCS, Game Four, was a twelve-inning, 5-4 nailbiter won by the Dodgers to tie the series at two. The Mets’ first loss, set up when Bob Klapisch shot off David Cone’s mouth by proxy over how Jay Howell was little more than a “high school pitcher,” et al, was a 6-3 affair in which the Mets scored once in the ninth before loading the bases with two out for Gary Carter. Game Five, the Monday afternoon hangover that followed the unfortunate events of the fourth game, saw L.A. take a 6-0 lead, but the Mets roar back to within 6-3 in the fifth and 6-4 in the eighth before bowing, 7-4. Game Seven pushed the boundaries of blowout pretty hard, with Ron Darling and miserable defense digging a 6-0 hole in the second at Dodger Stadium. The game ended at that score. Not a classic blowout tally, but the Mets were out of ammunition early.

1999: Only one loss to the Diamondbacks in the Division Series, when the Mets fell behind, 5-1 in Game Two behind good old Kenny Rogers, but had runners on second and third in the seventh for Edgardo Alfonzo. Can’t say the Mets seemed out of it with Fonzie up in a clutch situation…but Edgardo grounded out, the D’Backs tacked on two in the bottom of the seventh and it wound up a 7-1 loss at the BOB. The Mets secured the NLDS at Shea and took on Atlanta in the closest postseason series ever, in which the scores were 4-2, 4-3, 1-0, 3-2, 4-3 (if 7-3 at heart) and 10-9.

2000: The only loss to the Giants was a listless Game One in which San Francisco took a 5-1 lead in the third and the scoring stopped from there. The only loss to the Cardinals was Game Three, in which the Mets trailed, 5-2, entering the fifth but then allowed three runs to St. Louis. Things got pretty quiet at 8-2: not quite a blowout, but not competitive, really. The World Series contained nothing but close games, no matter how they turned out.

2006: The Mets didn’t lose in the NLDS and didn’t taste adversity until Game Two of the NLCS, in which they yielded a 6-4 lead in the seventh and a 6-6 tie in the ninth. Game Three at St. Louis was blowoutesque, with Steve Trachsel permitting five runs in 1+ innings. Darren Oliver restored order on the Met side, but Jeff Suppan and friends never relinquished it on theirs; the Mets lost, 5-0. After tying the series in Game Four, the Mets lost a two-run affair in Game Five. After tying the series in Game Six, the Mets held the Cardinals to a stalemate through eight innings of Game Seven. No happy ending, but no blowout, either.

So we have that going for us.

6 comments to Not In It, But Never Out Of It

  • Andee

    This might be the most wackadoodle postseason I’ve ever seen, and it’s got some competition. The Giants on Tuesday got a total of one hit in the first nine innings, and didn’t so much win the game in extra innings as the Reds lost it, with a passed ball followed by their 8-time Gold Glove-winning 3B muffing an easy grounder. I think the Giants managed four baserunners the entire 10 innings and scored one earned run. I can’t remember the Mets having a postseason game quite like that one, where it was just handed to them. Can you?

  • Will in Central NJ

    It might not rank as a total giveaway, but when Paul LoDuca tagged out two sliding Dodgers at home plate in the 2006 NLDS, it must’ve seemed that way to the Dodgers.

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