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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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The Times That Try Fans’ Souls

JOSH: Sixty-eight percent think we give too much in foreign aid, and 59% think it should be cut.
WILL: You like that stat?
JOSH: I do.
WILL: Why?
—The West Wing, “Guns Not Butter”

Saturday’s game really did put me to sleep. I nodded off with Jon Niese’s second or third pitch and wasn’t fully alert until LaTroy Hawkins was working out of a jam in the seventh. By then, the Mets were down an insurmountable 2-1, though there were a couple of moments late when — as I did the night before — I believed a rally could very well spark because these were the Cubs the Mets were playing, and somewhere deep down in the 1969 of my soul, the Mets can never not beat the Cubs when they really have to.

But that was probably the grogginess of a sleepy Saturday afternoon speaking. Besides, the Mets didn’t really have to beat the Cubs except that it would have been nominally preferable to the alternative. It’s difficult to get worked up over your favorite team failing to seize an opportunity to improve to 25-38 from 24-38 and instead plunge to 24-39.

As if their no-frills won-lost record doesn’t already illustrate what they’ve been down to, our 24-39 Mets have lost 10 of 12; 35 of 52; and, dating back to July 8, 2012 (spanning two seasons, but what the hell, we’re the ones who are in it for the long term), 88 of their last 140. That last trajectory translates to a full baseball year of 60-102 under the management of Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and, most critically, Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

When I go to a Mets game, as I did Friday night, and they lose — which has been the case on my last seven visits to Citi Field — it’s a bummer in the moment. When I’m lollygagging and merely absorbing the result via television these days, unless the circumstances are particularly grating, it’s become just one of those unpleasantnesses with which you put up now and then, like rain or traffic. Into every fan’s life, a little Mets must fall, except since last July the defeats are bumper-to-bumper and the ground sure has grown soggy.

Yet I’m left not feeling all that badly that the Mets bow in matter-of-fact fashion to the Cubs by scores of 6-3 and 5-2, even though the Cubs are considered a crummy team and I’ve truly disliked them all my rooting life. I follow the trend lines of 2-10, 17-35 and 52-88, and the clarity they present may not be comforting, but it sure is clarifying. The Mets of Collins, Alderson, Wilpon and Wilpon are a disaster. There’s no more reason to accept at face value their outright deceptions, their crafted nuances or even their sincere miscalculations. The general manager can trade studied reserve for stated passion all he wants, but it’s all talk until the numbers say something else.

The manager is haplessly caretaking a vapid collection of the mostly talentless; the owners are undermining our confidence by their continued presence; and Alderson and his fellas…I get the hole they were asked to dig out from and I get the mix of financial constraints and time-lapse cleverness that’s somehow supposed to pan out in eventual competence en route to consistent contention. Yet there comes a point in a fan’s life when he’s got to see more than one great pitcher establish himself and a potential second one prepare for his debut. There comes a point when watching .371 ball played over a period of more than eleven months obscures your tendency to be the slightest bit reasonable about the vague outlines of a rumored improved future.

All who are emotionally invested in the well-being of this franchise are entitled to their talking points, whether it’s patronizingly informing the impatient that these things can’t get done right away (cue the overwrought Cashen 2.0 comparisons) or relentlessly recounting every crime against humanity and good sense committed by venal ownership and its clueless California stooge (cue the equally overwrought reminders of what the Madoff cloud hath wrought). Honestly, I sit in the Met-aphorical middle, whether at the ballpark or on the couch.

Things haven’t worked so far.
Things might someday.
Things might not.
I’d like them to.
I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t.
But I’d really like them to.

None of this is a surprise or a solution. Sometimes a fan just wants to vent without being told much beyond, “Yeah, I know.” Sometimes a fan just wants to find a given 6-3 or 5-2 loss to be a relative pain unto itself, not another symptom of something devastatingly insidious and ultimately chronic. In the interim, when your team is collecting losses at such a prodigious pace, what’s one or two more to toss on the pile?

12 comments to The Times That Try Fans’ Souls

  • Chris Galligan

    “Yeah, I know.”

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Sandy would have better success trying to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge than trying to get fans buying into this being the third season of his five year vision.

    Since I’ve hogged up so much space on FAFIF with my thoughts in the past that could rival it’s bloggers, I’ll keep it at that. LOL

  • nestornajwa

    June 15 is my birthday and, ever since the ineption of interleague play, the Mets have played against an AL team on this date nearly every season. I loathe interleague (which diminishes the unique qualities of the Series and All Star game) so losing baseball on my birthday has been unpleasant. These are the days when the sun lingers into the middle innings of night games and the weather is usually of the “Goldilocks” variety. Before 1997, I NEVER missed a June 15 home game. This year, my wife offered to fly me from DC for the weekend since, bless her, she checks the schedule every year to see if the Mets are at home and playing another Senior Circuit team. Fortunately, a particularly demanding work week and the depressing state of team affairs inspired me to stay local and take in Man of Steel with my 14 year old son instead. It was a good choice, despite getting snookered into blowing an extra few bucks on the hazy, darkened 3D version (don’t do this — it adds NOTHING to a pretty good movie).

  • Steve D

    “That last trajectory translates to a full baseball year of 60-102 under the management of Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and, most critically, Fred and Jeff Wilpon.”

    Well said. The math kind of supports my argument that this team is probably worse than the 1979 team. In general, since I highly doubt the Mets will win a World Series by 2020, the franchise is at a fresh all-time nadir.

    Did you catch the SNY promo of this upcoming critical double header against the Braves Tuesday with our ace Harvey and his newly minted mound mate Wheeler pitching both ends? We are going to see a lot of this marketing the rest of the year…remember Generation K? Just hope Wheeler can stay up here and both remain healthy…and sane.

    • Joe D.

      Hi Steve,

      That’s all it is – hype. Wheeler could become the next Jerry Koozman with Matt Harvey the next Seaver and it still won’t change matters. Remember when we had that great pitching in the early seventies? After the miracle year, despite that great weapon we never managed to be as many as four games above .500 in any one season.

      At least we tried in those times. We got Staub, Fregosi (don’t forget at the time he was an all-star shortstop), Millan, etc. whom I think run circles around the bargain basement players this front office has provided us.

      Sandy’s vision from day one was to keep the franchise afloat fiscally so the Wilpons would not have to sell it – steps had already been taken by Bud Selig to prevent that and that included the commissioner’s urging of a non-interested Sandy Alderson to apply for the position.

      There was no other reason to get rid of two all-star outfielders if we did not have the talent ready to replace them (and according to Sandy, we still don’t) with “what outfield”, not to try and re-sign one of the best shortstops in the game who gave us speed and intimidation at the top of the lineup for one who was not considered part of the “future core” and a top reliever which has in turn led to our bullpen being the worse in the league for now going on three seasons.

      One could replenish the minor league system and keep the productive veterans at the same time and by obtaining the missing ingredients can turn the current 81 game winner into a 91 game winner while still having a vision for the future. In fact, that is the way most clubs do it – even Omar (since so much of that young pitching talent we our counting on comes from under his regime).

      • Steve D

        Joe,

        Am I wrong to wish this gets so bad that the Wilpons are forced to sell and we can have a proud franchise again? I don’t think I can live the rest of my life with Jeff Wilpon as owner. Mike Repole and Jerry Seinfeld have the means and interest to maybe buy the team…maybe Einhorn.

  • K. Lastima

    Was at yesterday’s mess . . . watched in disbelief as our “power hitting” left fielder squared to bunt in a 2-1 game (thankfully fouling it off), . . . when he then persisted in his effort to bunt against the shift and proceeded to ground it right back to the pitcher, my wife and I left our seats and wandered around the ballpark the rest of the afternoon . . . then, the final insult this morning, is reading TC actually defend Duda’s effort. Bleh.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Might be 2075 before there’s enough wins to write another chapter in your book series.

  • 9th string catcher

    Can we offically stop talking about re-signing Reyes and trading Beltran? Firstly, it’s water under the bridge at this point, second,ask Toronto how happy they are to pay huge bucks for a guy who ALWAYS gets injured. Everyone is teeing off on Alderson – fact is if Duda, Ike and Tejada do what they did last year the team would be in the wold card hunt. SA is charisma free, but he’s had a tough deck dealt to him replete with horrifying contracts and inept ownership. We all knew 2013 would be rough, just not this bad. Screw it – pass on this year and see what happens next with Wally in place. And please, no more Frank Franciscos, k?

    • open the gates

      Well,we all know what’s going to happen. Francisco will be handed back the closer job as soon as he returns, no matter how well Parnell does. Bobby will be relegated to 8th-inning purgatory, and will be traded at the deadline to Kansas City for a 42-year-old first baseman who will promptly injure himself while lacing his spikes and will never be heard from again. Meanwhile, Parnell will find himself within two years in the Bronx, where his career will eclipse Mariano’s.

      Back at the ranch, Francisco will struggle for a month or two – long enough to blow the save for the Mets’ hundredth loss of the season. At which point he will re-injure himself, this time ending his career for good. At which point the Mets will introduce the pitcher they always had in mind as Closer Of The Future. Chris Schwinden.

      Sorry. Venting. Over it.