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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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 High Water Mark of Something

On Friday night, after getting to be part of a conversation with Dwight Gooden, Greg and I were in the right-field stands, watching Matt Harvey finish up his domination of the Nationals.

“How is it this team isn’t in first place?” I asked him. “Doesn’t it feel like they should be?”

That’s what a 7-4 road trip that could easily have been a 9-2 road trip will do to you. That’s what happens when you feel uplifted by the subtraction of guys who hadn’t been getting it done and the addition of guys who have yet to disappoint you. That’s what happens when the rest of your division is a morass of meh — two underwhelming contenders by default, a rebuilding project that hasn’t figured out that’s what it is, and a cynical fraud perpetrated by a shameless huckster. That’s what happens when it’s the 40th anniversary of a little team that could despite most of a year in which it couldn’t — an anniversary that we hold dear even if the people who run the Mets aren’t interested in giving it its due.

Greg didn’t gently suggest that I’d had a few shandys too many, or point out any of the approximately 75,000 flaws with my argument, starting with the standings. We chatted happily about the resurrected Mets, as David Aardsma (“first in the Baseball Encyclopedia and in our hearts”) retired a pair of Nats.

We were still chatting dreamily about what might be when Terry Collins strolled to the mound and signaled for Josh Edgin.

* * *

150 years ago next week, two massive armies met at Gettysburg, a little town smack-dab in the middle of territories now claimed by the Pirates, the Phillies and the Orioles. The Confederate army was led by Robert E. Lee; the Union army by George Meade. They fought for three days. On the third, in the mid-afternoon heat, some 12,500 Confederates assembled to attack Union positions across a thousand yards of open field. Their charge ended with a few soldiers in gray reaching a jog in a stone fence called the Angle before being thrown back by Union reinforcements. That place is known now as the High-water Mark of the Confederacy — the closest Lee’s troops came to forcing an ending to the war different from what actually occurred, and different from the ending that became inevitable when the assault on the Angle was thrown back, with nearly half the troops who set out across the field never making it back to their lines.

I’ve stood at the Angle. It’s a sobering place. But looking across the field, you realize that no sane person would call the High-water Mark of the Confederacy the high-water mark of anything. Rather, it’s apparent that it was the horrible culmination of miscalculations, mistakes and the delusion that beating long odds was a character trait instead of a brief-lived pattern. The men who made that crossing didn’t have a chance, and their commanders shouldn’t have sent them. The disaster was foreordained.

 * * *

I don’t know why I brought that up. Must just be that the anniversary’s near.

* * *

Anyway, the Mets lost on Friday night. They won today. Dillon Gee pitched well. Josh Satin looks good — amazing what young players can do when they actually get a chance to play. The Mets bullpen didn’t do anything that made you want to scream. Daniel Murphy had an adventurous, pratfall-rich trip from second to home that involved balls bouncing off infielders and caroming off Murph himself and rolling through the grass while umpires and coaches scattered. Until the play was finally over it was impossible to say with the slightest degree of certainty that Murphy would be out or safe; he was Schrodinger’s Baserunner.

It was fun. The Mets looked good. The Mets look better than they have in a while, in fact, and that’s a relief after the horrors of the spring.

They’re not going to be in first place or anywhere close to it at the end of the year, so let’s not throw anything valuable away on a lost cause. But it’s something.

8 comments to The High Water Mark of Something

  • I love these posts. Where else can you read about Gettysburg, Scrhoedinger and Daniel Murphy in one place? BTW, did you notice the amount of comic defensive miscues in Mets games the last 2 weeks? And that the Mets were the ones playing well, hustling, and taking advantage of the miscues? Maybe your next post should be about how Captain Kirk’s homer opened up a portal into an alternate universe.

  • Dave

    I am not as ready to give up on first place as you are. Rit now I feel like four of our five pitchers give us a solid chance to win, or better, with each start. Wheeler is the outlier right now, based on his lack of exposure. We finally have some team speed and solid defense across the board. Okay, the lineup is lacking in power and our RISP needs to improve, but the majority of the pieces are falling into place. A late charge is possible. Ya gotta believe. Always.

    • Steve D

      “How is it this team isn’t in first place?” I asked him. “Doesn’t it feel like they should be?”

      You were surely talking about the Nats??? Right???

  • Barry F.

    Terry Collins too often comes across as the Sickles of the Meta. Too bad the Wilpons are James Buchanan.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    I need a dose of what ever meds Dave is taking in the above post.

    “I am not as ready to give up on first place as you are”

    Is he watching the same team who may lose 100 games?

    • Patrick O'Hern

      But if every other team in NL East loses 101 we’re golden.

    • Dave

      I just don’t see a lot of giants to slay in the NL East. Teams have made up 7 games in the second half of September, I figure we can make up 12 in the second half of the season!

  • Mets won’t lose 100. But they probably won’t win 75 either.