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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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You Might Miss Something

Missing a ballgame because you’re in Cooperstown is a pretty acceptable excuse — this weekend, for the second year in a row, my wife’s family gathered there and prowled the Hall of Fame. (Foreshadowing: Last year I was in the plaque gallery, headphones in ears, when Kirk Nieuwenhuis collected his first big-league hit.)

The 2013 Mets aren’t likely to contribute much to Cooperstown, though Matt Harvey Lego-style figurines were in evidence in the sublime and dangerous gift shop. But I kept track of the Mets nonetheless. I heard Thursday’s comeback effort against the Cardinals come to naught in the car on the way up, checked in briefly after dinner Friday as the Mets stumbled through a disaster, and heard most of Saturday’s horror show poolside. Nice surroundings, but I still gotthree straight games that were by turns frustrating and horrifying — your basic 2013 Mets fare, in other words.

Sunday’s game against the Cubs coincided with the drive back to the city, and Emily and I tuned in somewhat reluctantly, switching to yawing, warbling, sighing AM radio after At Bat fell victim to insufficient cell service. (If you’ve never been, Cooperstown is wonderful but far from … well, it’s far from everything.) This was baseball like it used to be, with a fan’s finely tuned ears able to pick the baseball signal out of the atmospheric noise, assembling the narrative of the game from some combination of the pace, the announcers’ tone and pitch, and multiple other clues assembled over years of listening to play by play.

With two on and two out in the fifth, David Wright snared Alfonso Soriano’s hot shot, leapt to his feet, and the horror began. Wright fired the ball over Daniel Murphy’s head at first, it caromed off the dugout railing, Murph fired it past John Buck, it caromed off the wall behind home plate, Omar Quintanilla fired it past Buck again, to be retrieved by Murph while everyone stood around unable to look at each other. (Even weirder: When you look at the replay, there’s a second ball sitting on the chalk of the batter’s box, apparently after it fell out of Lance Barrett’s bag. If some Met had picked up that ball and heaved it somewhere unwise, they might still be trying to sort things out.)

Disgusted, I almost declared Met Amnesty and switched the game off right then and there. And I wouldn’t have been the least bit embarrassed. This is as bad a Mets team as I’ve seen in a decade: unable offensively, inept in the field and often unplugged mentally. For the listener, they provide long lacunae of boredom shattered by occasional fusillades of anger. Baseball is supposed to be fun, or at least engaging, and the 2013 Mets are generally neither.

But we were still two hours or so from home, and we’re Mets fans. So we stuck grimly with the game, as the Mets swung and missed and popped balls up and offered not the slightest inkling that they’d succeed in moving runners over, let alone doing something as less-than-earthshaking as salvaging one game in three from the Chicago Cubs, that well-known baseball juggernaut.

Marlon Byrd’s blast into the second deck to lead off the ninth against closer-in-exile Carlos Marmol did little to cool my anger. “There’s some lipstick for this pig,” I muttered to Emily, and went back to pondering recap narratives: a) Swiftian essay proposing that contraction was inadequate for these Mets and the franchise should instead be expunged from the record books; b) a single line of profanity; c) just reusing last month’s jokey exchange of tweets.

I didn’t brighten when Lucas Duda walked, though that was the perfect spot for our theoretical power-hitter to content himself with 90 feet worth of offense. But when John Buck got a hit, as he largely hasn’t since Tax Day, I began to think the Mets might at least provide some extra baseball for the car ride, even though I was pretty certain that extra baseball would just lead to disaster and make me wish they’d expired in regulation. Quintanilla bunted, which seemed like the right call for once, and up came the star-crossed Nieuwenhuis, his average below .100 and his strikeout totals astronomical.

God, I muttered, at least send up Lagares.

But no, it was Nieuwenhuis. So be it.

“Save your career,” I said out loud in the car, with equal parts belligerence and hope. “This is the first day of the rest of your baseball life.”

OK, maybe it was more like 90% belligerence and 10% hope.

Of course Nieuwenhuis whacked Marmol’s first pitch off the facing of the Pepsi Porch.

It wasn’t exactly Howie Rose’s greatest call ever — he was yelling about way back, then that the game would be over — but events did unfold awfully fast, and the import was clear even if the narrative was cloudy. The Mets, somehow had won. The first two hours and forty-five minutes of Sunday baseball, accounting for 97% of the game, had been stupefyingly awful, but the last five minutes had redeemed everything.

I’ve said several times that you should do something else with your summer, and it’s still good advice. But even the worst teams are going to win 60 or so games a year. And a few of those games are going to be thrillers. Do something with your summer, yes. But every so often, you might miss something.

13 comments to You Might Miss Something

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Just shows what can happen against a reliever entering the game with a 4.78 ERA and 21 walks in 26 innings – even when facing the Mets. Too bad this was our last appearance against the Cubs for I doubt they will meet again in post-season.

    Hope you had a nice visit at Cooperstown.

  • open the gates

    I dunno – over the years, I’m sure I missed a few game-winning homers by the various Tim Bogars, Daryl Bostons and Bruce Boisclairs who populated our dry seasons. Somehow, my life remained anchored firmly on its foundation.

    Cooperstown is awesome. Even though baseball was actually born in Hoboken, in the great state of New Jersey. Never forget – the original Field of Dreams was Elysian.

  • Steve D

    Steve Henderson hit the all-time walkoff HR with a bad Met team…it’s been talked about many times here.

    Stumbled onto a great website that chronicles the Mets Minor leagues…you guys should add it to your list of blogs…alas, Ike is still on the interstate…hitting .174.

    http://metsminors.net/51s-cant-complete-comeback-in-9-7-loss/

    • open the gates

      Plus, words to strike fear in Met fans’ hearts – even in this season of horrors –

      “Chris Schwinden took the hill…”

      NOOOOOO!!

  • Dave

    Got to tack my first Cooperstown trip since I was about 12 onto a college visit with my daughter last fall. I think even she and my wife liked the HOF better than the college we looked at.

    Is Carlos Marmol really Armando Benitez using an assumed name?

  • dmg

    though i had no real desire to attend, i went to the game with ash, who wanted to go since we always try to go to a game on father’s day. we were in our usual section of choice, 301 out in right field, surrounded by other families also enjoying a day at the ballpark and the sunny weather, if not particularly tuned in to the nominal object of our attentions.

    the game was rushing by, matt garza was throwing a two-hitter, and then that horrible play, and the crowd, and there was a decent one, briefly vocalized its displeasure. that was as clownish a performance as I’ve ever seen on a major league diamond. the dad sitting next to me said the little league team he coaches would have handled it better.

    but the anger subsided because, you know, it’s the mets. and why spoil a beautiful day at the park?

    Folks started streaming out after the sixth. the only real reason any crowd was left at all in the ninth was because of the families whose kids wanted to run the diamond dash after the game.

    thank god marmol was brought in for the ninth, and that he was left in. when the stars aligned and nieuwenhuis, he of the .097 average, hit that monster shot that no one thought he had in him, it hit the subway sign right over where ash and i were sitting. we were wearing our rally caps, and slapping high fives with everyone and the cubs right fielder nate schierholtz disgustedly walked past the ball rolling back onto the field.

    a splendid moment, and of course memorable — ash and i will always refer to it. such a moment is about all you could hope for this year, anyway. but the organized ineptness masquerading as the mets had made us all wade through baseball sewage to get there. with the all-star game a month away, that’s just sad.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    My first order of business after I retired a couple of years ago was a solo trip to Cooperstown so I could spend a full uninterrupted day at the museum. Not with my future wife like 30 years ago (respectful but bored after a couple of hours), or with 2 little kids in tow like 20 years ago (enough said..)

    I paid less attention to yesterday’s game than probably any game all year (those 2 little kids mentioned above visited for Father’s day). A few middle innings listening to Howie and Josh kvetching about the state of Met affairs, and the last inning on TV, as an old Ray Stevens record went, Not expectin’ nothin’.

    Truth be told, my first reaction was, Oh crap, now we’re stuck with Niewenhuis in the lineup for at least two more weeks.

    Still, a win is a win.

  • Karol Dondero

    Hi Jason,
    Your title reminded me of the reason diehard Mets fans will continue to watch, no matter what.
    Years ago, my husband and I were watching the game on TV- Mets vs Braves. The Mets were losing, big time. My husband( a true blue fan!) had had enough, and went to bed, grousing about Mets futility and the @&$”ing Braves, et al. I chose to stay up and watch the game. Many Mets rally runs later, including my guy Mikey blasting the go ahead run( oh, my, god!) I started to scream, then checked myself. No, I thought, let him sleep. And wake up tomorrow to find out what he missed!!
    He has never done this again…….

    • Lenny65

      My father, rest his soul, fell asleep in disgust right after Dave Henderson’s HR in the top of the 10th, missed the whole thing. I never let him live it down, either.

  • Rob D.

    and of course, Bob Costas had to ruin it all.

  • Steve D

    And you might miss something you didn’t want to see…like last night. So it balances out.

    • open the gates

      Actually, it more than balances out, as the things you don’t want to see grossly outnumber the things you want to see.

      I’m just not emotionally invested enough in this team to spend hours of my life waiting around for what will probably be yet another dull, dispiriting loss.

      And honestly – say David Wright hits a walk-off home run. So it brings the Mets record to, what? Say, thirty games under .500 instead of thirty-one?

      Yay.

  • […] It was a twice-as-nice flashback to better Mets days, as has been this whole week. From the burst of Nieuwenheis last Sunday through the awareness of Lagares this Sunday, the Mets have won six of nine. Even the […]