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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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Little Mets Sunshine

Go figure. After somehow overcoming their own lack of hitting and boneheadedness afield to take two from the Yankees at Citi Field, the Mets made the very short trip north to resume hostilities in the Bronx with the likable but generally luckless Jeremy Hefner on the mound. So of course they leaped on David Phelps like a psychotic jack-in-the-box, barraging him with hits and working walks and hitting balls at pinstriped infielders who booted them. Phelps got one out while surrendering five runs and slunk off to lie down in a dark room, wondering what the hell had just happened. On our couches and barstools and bits of enemy territory we were wondering the same thing, only we were happy and desperately wanted more.

I was still floating from the merry sucker punch Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda delivered to the immortal Mariano Rivera the night before. But this was equally fun — a five-spot to take the edge off immediately and leave Yankee fans practicing their October retreat to the Deegan. Why, even those Mets rumored for imminent visits to Vegas chipped in: Ruben Tejada began the night with a sharp single to left and Ike Davis worked a count and delivered two runs of his own. The infield wasn’t even drawn in.

The first two Subway Series crackled with tensions and subplots, even though the Mets’ happy double application of lipstick couldn’t hide the underlying pig and the current Yankees are a collection of understudies and temps. None of that matters, or ever will. The stadiums and uniforms are familiar and the fans and their dramas are the same: We hate them with the mostly impotent rage of little brothers pushed too far this time and they make a show of dismissing us as beneath their notice while constantly checking to make sure we’re registering their scorn. As long as these things are true, the Subway Series will be immune to fluctuations in attendance or either side’s protestations of being tired of it. The respite came, weirdly, from what actually happened on the field. With the Mets suddenly up 5-0 and then 6-0 and then 8-0 it was still a Subway Series game, but you could actually exhale a bit and just watch the thing instead of spending three hours clinging to the ceiling like an overly caffeinated Spider-Man or curled up in the fetal position.

It got scary of course — you knew it would. Hefner got scuffed up a bit, which is no crime given the Yankees’ assembly line of lefties and that ludicrously short porch in right. The Mets, apparently surprised by their own competence, returned to their normal catatonia with bats in hand for much of the game, allowing the Yankees to creep closer and closer, until you could hear the blue and orange muttering. Ike was striking out again and Tejada was doing lamebrained things and you could imagine all manner of awful hare-and-the-tortoise scenarios.

When I said something to this effect on Twitter, I wasn’t told I was insane despite the fact that the Yankees were mostly tired and wanted to get in their gigantic SUVs and sleep and come back and plot Dillon Gee’s demise, like sensible baseball teams do on the wrong side of a bad night.

No, my Mets tweeps promptly admitted that they too were worried. As a fanbase, we’re so out of practice when it comes to good fortune that we assume it’s a trick.

Scott Rice’s rather wonderful fort-holding pushed this paranoia back, as did Rick Ankiel’s RBI single. But even in a harmlessly weird ninth that saw Robinson Cano wander the bases unmolested and LaTroy Hawkins and John Buck both pursue a foul pop northwest of third base, I was trying to brew up my own little black cloud. When Tejada was mercifully removed before he could further injure himself or a teammate, I was briefly certain that Justin Turner would make 15 consecutive errors and the Mets would lose. Luis Castillo’s sins would be mostly forgotten, but it would be too late for me — I would forswear baseball and blogging, move to Mongolia and live in a yurt, defending its felty confines by hurling stones at anyone who dared approach.

This was of course ridiculous, even by melodramatic Mets standards. Hawkins tamped down a spot of Yankee bother and the Mets had won three straight against Them and four straight against Everybody. They’d won the Subway Series — done, put in books — and earned a chance to try for a four-game sweep.

They’ve done so despite ample evidence that their numerous problems are very far from fixed, but you know what? I’m not going to dwell on that. For the next 24 hours, let’s let that be fine. We can worry about demotions and regression by complementary players and lack of depth and hitting anemia and payrolls and all the rest on Friday. This has been fun, which is why we all started watching baseball in the first place, and more fun for being so totally unexpected. Let’s just enjoy it, whether it’s a sweep or merely a quite satisfying three of four. And let’s remember that sometimes the little black cloud is hovering over the other guys, not us — and if we’d just look up, we’d see a bit of sunshine.

10 comments to Little Mets Sunshine

  • dak442

    Finally got to se the new Yankee Stadium, and it is as most people say – very bland. Maybe the color scheme – all that gray and blue, it’s just blah. Carl’s cheesesteak was pretty tasty.

    Was nice to see one of the good guys finally take advantage of that ridiculous short porch.

    I was surprised to see everyone getting along, with nary a cross word from Yankee fans (the Subway Series really has lost its juice – their park looked as half-full as ours), until one goon restored my faith in Yankee fan inhumanity. Drunk guy in his 40s showed up mid-game and screamed at his team for a while. Then out of the blue, turned to the Met fan family behind him and with rage in his eyes yelled at the 8-year-old boy “You’ll always be second-best in this town!!!” They were more amused than anything. I was amused when he slunk out a few innings later, not having the dedication to stay till the end.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    “they make a show of dismissing us as beneath their notice while constantly checking to make sure we’re registering their scorn.”

    Beautiful.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Don’t care that we are facing a skeleton of a team in pinstripes at this moment – this is so great, even for my own self, who is just about as down with most everything associated with the orange and blue at this point than one could be. We have too many holes for this to realistically be considered a possible jump start that might put us back in the running for that second playoff spot for as mentioned, we have to be honest with ourselves that this is not the Yankee team we’ve loved to hate over the years.

    Yet, this is what baseball is all about – the need to dream the impossible if given a glimmer of a chance.

    We still have a few things going for us – there are very few strong teams in this league and being just six games out at this point there is still lots of time to make up. Should we still be within that distance in a month and a half from now please, no more repeats of the last two seasons when the players felt the front office having no faith in them was hard to swallow and the team was kicked in the teeth. Who knows, it could happen again after Jeff Wilpon’s ““I wish we could see you in the World Series, but I don’t think it will happen.” remark (thanks Greg) to Mariano Riveria.

    Despite closing in on the wild card, the rationale in 2011 was that the team wasn’t close enough and should thus concentrate on the future, so there went Beltran and KRod. On that note, Joe Namath was interviewed this morning and when it was mentioned the Jets will be looking toward the future and past this season, Joe Willie got hot under the collar, saying no athlete should ever go into a season thinking his team can’t win.

    I doubt it will get to being as close as we were the past two seasons but that glimpse of irrational hope is also what baseball – indeed all athletic competition – is all about.

    I think that in many ways that virtue has been lost by this organization.

  • mikeL

    great writeup as always.
    yes, hawkins had me scared too… but with a strange sense of comfort with parnell warming up in the pen…weird. word!

  • Dennis

    In spite of the constant moaning about management and what has turned out to be a poor season so far (for all of you glass half empty folks ….there are still 112 games left), if you can’t get pumped up about the last 4 wins in a row, then you have no pulse. Hope Gee and company can drive the stake in tonight….then 6 of the next 9 against the Marlins. LGM!

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Hawkins amazed me, actually. He basically ran faster and farther than both his catcher and his shortstop (who may have been looking for another play at the plate) to chase after that pop foul. Gary Cohen even commented that he didn’t think he’d ever seen a pitcher run so far to try to catch a ball. At which point, I said to myself, “Well, he’s gassed now, he’s going to give up a clean single now at best, and we’ll see Parnell and hold our breath”.

    But no. On the very next pitch the 40 year old Hawkins bascially blows one by Travis Hafner. Game Over. Nice.

  • 9th string catcher

    Still feels like an 80 win team, especially if Wheeler gives you anything. I mean, this team has almost no one hitting over .220 and they’re hanging in there.

    The Mets have got to stop acting happy to stand in other teams’ shadows. Wilpon’s comment speaks volumes – the organization doesn’t act like a winner. Too many references to Brooklyn, too many tributes to non-Mets (Mariano, Jones, Reyes) and not enough committment to being better than others. Complacency is a disease, and the Mets are riddled with it.

  • metsfaninparadise

    The Mets actually DIDN’T return to their normal catatonia. They tacked on 4 more runs after the 1st, which usually seems to be beyond them. If they’re fortunate to put up an early 3-spot, say, those are usually the games in which they DON’T tack on any more runs (no solo homers, you see) and either Gee falls apart in the 5th inning or the bullpen does their thing. This was one of the few games in which the offense subsequently pushed the game out of reach of a bullpen meltdown (barring one of historic proportions, which is always possible with the Mets).

  • I’m not sure what has stunned me more: winning four straight against good teams or actually being excited by anything non Harvey like in 2013. Fun couple days.

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