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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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Harvey On The Hook

Three weeks ago, though it seems longer, I experienced one of the true highlights of the 2013 season at Citi Field when, with two outs and the Mets down a run, Rick Ankiel tripled Daniel Murphy home from first to tie the Reds at four in the bottom of the seventh. That Rick Ankiel actually tripled — literally his third-to-last hit as a Met — was inconsequential. That the Mets would go on to lose, 7-4 (booted along by Ike Davis choosing to analyze a fair ball rather than field it), was secondary to that moment of triumph, for as soon as Murphy crossed the plate, the true goal of the day had been achieved.

Matt Harvey was taken off the hook.

“Harvey’s off the hook!” we exulted to one another in Excelsior. It was a line I distinctly recall having articulated eleven days earlier in a Promenade Box, and it was one that would echo from Promenade Infield seats on a Saturday that eventually trudged twenty innings deep. In this season when we step right up to greet the Mets at our own peril, our near-term aspirations for this team remain fairly reasonable. We don’t expect wins. We don’t much ask for wins. All we want is for our one shining hope to not be sullied by words like “lose,” “lost,” “loss” or anything in the “L” family.

Yet on this gloomy Thursday afternoon, when only a fraction of the “25,741” in attendance weren’t scared off by definitive forecasts calling for biblical floods, the offensive famine that has starved Harvey across the unlucky ’13 desert could no longer sustain the plump, delectable zero in his right-hand column. That scintilla of dignity — the sure, they didn’t score for Harvey, but at least he didn’t get stuck with the loss caveat that would probably make a good name for the Mets’ season highlight film if they still produced them as they did when the Winik boys made futility sing — was at last snatched from us.

Matt Harvey went seven innings, gave up one run and it was far too much for his teammates to overcome on his behalf. Score a run while Matt Harvey pitches? Why not ask rain to hold off for three hours?

The rain held off, but the Mets held no thunder in their sticks. They completely succumbed to Adam Wainwright for seven innings, and by the time they rallied in the ninth to ever so gently attempt wrap their feeble fingers around the hook in Harvey’s back, they trailed by two enormous runs. With one out, Marlon Byrd homered and John Buck doubled. Reverse that sequence and we’re reveling in Harvey staying hookless, but the Mets have far too many conditions in need of reversal. Buck’s pinch-runner Collin Cowgill got to third when Kirk Nieuwenhuis almost singled (the Cardinals are rat bastards about letting balls through infields), which set it up for Josh Satin…

Oh, c’mon. Look at these names. Nieuwenhuis. Cowgill. Satin. The Mets didn’t tie the game. Harvey was not taken off the hook. The best pitcher in the world is 5-1 instead of 5-0-9. He’s pitched poorly enough to lose once or twice (at Miami, of course), but otherwise should be topping double-digits in wins. Instead, Matt Harvey hasn’t been party to a personal positive decision since May 17, and in that one he had to do the batting as well as the pitching. Harvey’s near-impenetrability in every stadium that isn’t Marlins Park is so pervasive that Mike Matheny didn’t mind walking the Mets’ No. 8 hitter, Nieuwenhuis, with two outs and a runner on second just to force Terry Collins’s pinch-hitting hand in the bottom of the seventh. Collins took the bait and removed Harvey in favor of Justin Turner, who grounded out to end what other teams might call the threat.

The only real surprise in any of that is realizing the Mets had a runner on second to begin with.

In other news, save the Mets from their better/baser instincts and vote 35 times for David Wright to start the All-Star Game. At least you’ll be doing it because you’re enamored of his hitting and fielding.

It’s tempting to pivot toward making this latest Met defeat and corresponding lapse in decorum a platform from which to decry all that makes our fandom frustrating. But for the hell of it, let’s steer clear of the rampaging cougars for a night and consider a few other things worth knowing:

• Earl Monroe’s new autobiography is a New York sports fan’s delight, harking back to a great era when certain teams won championships and others came damn close. If you love a little basketball on the side, Earl The Pearl is definitely something to pick up and roll with.

• Once upon a time, there was a Met named Lastings Milledge, and in tribute, there was a blog called Blastings! Thrilledge. The Met left. The blog soldiered on. Then, like the 2013 Met offense, it more or less disappeared. Now it’s back, as Blastings! Trillage. It’s quite the lyric enterprise and heartily recommended for your perusing pleasure.

• I’ve never been a morning person, but mornings this season have brought the latest issue of The Slurve — Michael Dougherty’s sublime and comprehensive daily baseball newsletter — to Faith and Fear’s in-box, and we are better informed for having woken to receive it. Check out a sample after you’ve helped obliterate potential Panda sightings in Flushing this July 16.

12 comments to Harvey On The Hook

  • Ojeda's hedgeclippers

    Is Kevin Burkhardt on anyone’s nerves but mine? His bits during the game have nothing to do with the play going on at the time and ruin the flow. Of course, the flow for me is imagining the next three batters will be named Hernandez, Carter and Strawberry.

    • “Guys, here’s a story about how Matt Harvey is an American hero,” is swell. “Guys, here’s a no-talent comic doing an abysmal impression of Bob Murphy,” is an impediment to enjoyment. Burkhardt makes a lot out of a generally empty role but could be deployed more wisely.

      • Ojeda's hedgeclippers

        There’s times when Burkhardt is reading his script while the game is in progress and the camera is on him and not the field. I grab the tv and start shaking it whhile yelling, “Where’s the gane? Let me see if my fielders are going to crash into each other!”.

  • Joe D.

    It’s a shame that the only Met who could produce runs for Zack Wheeler when he comes up is the one he was traded for.

    Wheeler very impressive in his tune up for Atlanta, giving up just one home run in 5.1 innings but like the Mets, he left the game trailing 1-0.

  • Lenny65

    Sigh. Such a shame when a great pitching season goes to waste on a terrible team. Like with R.A. last season, imagine him having the same season but only in 2006. Would have been a real difference maker. A guy like Harvey breaking big in 2007, ditto. I dread losing this kid before they get good again, because he’s my favorite kind of pitcher. A classic, if you will, nothing flukish, peculiar or worrying about the way he pitches, just mastery. I mean obviously you never know but this guy could be absolute gold for this franchise going forward and I pray they don’t somehow f*ck it up.

  • Dave

    Harvey hasn’t won a game since the damn SI cover, has he? Just sayin’.

  • K. Lastima

    Harvey’s career arc is looking more and more Seaveresque, with his stellar outings having to overcome both the opposition and the putrid run support from his own team . . . and like Seaver, I fear he’ll leave us too soon . . . . the only difference being that it looks unlikely the Mets will win a championship before he departs.

  • Joe D.

    With all the talk about Sandy focusing on the future, why did that have to be at the expense of the past three seasons as well? Would we not have loved to have Carlos Beltran of 2011-2013 on our club, along with Reyes, Pagan, Krod as closer allowing for Parnell to be set-up plus a few key free agent signings to go along with that young pitching that we had last year as well as now?

    Again I must mention how well the Mets played in the first halves of the past two years DESPITE the measures Sandy took – and didn’t.

    At most, we would not have Zack Wheeler but would have still had the future that Sandy is counting on (pitching) while not only keeping the players we had but adding to them better than the Carascos, Youngs, Franciscos, Torreses, Capuanos, Boyers, Hu’s, Emuses, Beatos, etc.

    $140 million payroll not allowing him to add to what we had? If the Mets were a fiscally sound franchise the higher payroll would have been deemed as an extra investment to generate more revenue. This is a big market where lots of money is to be made, not San Diego or Kansas City. Even Sandy said he would not have accepted the job if he was brought in to play money ball – which was the first of his many deceptive statements.

    But as we know it was the Madoff situation that caused these lean years, not any long-term vision of our newly higher general manager. The three years going on five resulting in losing were not any less important than the five years of possible future winning – especially when we could have had with both. It wasn’t an either/or situation as far as baseball terminology was concerned or even baseball financial terminology minus Madoff.

    So when Madoff went bust in November of 2008, so did the Mets. The futility we have now wasn’t due to Omar anymore than it is now due to Sandy. It was due to Bud Selig helping his friends from declaring bankruptcy. Now, what we have is a big market club operating like the smallest market franchise around.

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