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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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Giddy Times for Small Sample Sizes

“Never once in his eight seasons of cheering for the Mets has he felt so good. For the first time, he doesn’t miss Willie Mays quite so much.”
—Regarding Joseph Ignac, The Year The Mets Lost Last Place, July 8, 1969

You couldn’t miss the chip on Megan Draper’s scantily clad shoulder as she briefly took her marital frustrations out on her penthouse apartment’s unclean white carpet. “You don’t get to have this,” she snarled at her husband, referring to neither her cleaning supplies nor the carpet. “Go sit over there. All you get to do is watch.”

What Don Draper heard in the premiere episode of Mad Men’s fifth season must be what the San Francisco Giants felt Wednesday as they ogled at someone young, attractive and, for the balance of their regret-tinged afternoon, incredibly hot.

All the Giants got to do was watch.

All the Giants got to do was watch.

Of course the Giants once had Zack Wheeler, but they relegated themselves to you can look, but you can’t touch territory when they shipped the talent-laden lad, then all of 21, to the Mets in exchange for two months of Carlos Beltran. The Jints had won a World Series the year before and they’d win a World Series the year after, but neither had anything to do with Carlos’s 2011 contributions. Beltran’s gone from San Francisco. Wheeler’s ensconced in New York. The Mets own a better record than the Giants as we speak. The Mets seem to own better starting pitching at the moment. Shoot, the Mets may even have a better starting outfield than the defending world champions.

These are giddy days for small sample sizes, though in the interest of full disclosure, the sample sizes have continued to grow bit by bit. After sweeping San Fran, the Mets are 40-48, but it’s a robust 40-48. Since June 16, they’re 16-9. Since May 27, they’re 23-19. Both marks are the best in the National League East during those spans. For the entirety of 2013, even including their miserable 17-29 start and the lapse that dumped them to 24-39, the Mets have tiptoed into sixth place among Wild Card pretenders. This doesn’t really mean anything in that they’re 9½ behind the Reds for said second postseason slot, but y’know, it wasn’t long ago that the Mets had only the Marlins behind them in the National League. Now they’re better than five whole teams.

Only a deranged soul would read a ton into any of this, but it sure beats being worse than the Cubs, Padres, Brewers, Giants and Marlins. Being one game behind the Phillies in the loss column is of no particular competitive consequence, but it’s undeniably better than a multiple-defeat deficit (and the Mets wish to apologize to Philadelphia for having absentmindedly scheduled Good and Decent People Night for when the Phillies visit Citi Field this month and certainly hope no offense is taken from the obvious snafu). Receiving far better than replacement-level production out of everyday right fielder Marlon Byrd…well, he might wind up being no more than quasi-Beltranian trade bait should this Amazin’ ride run off its rails sooner than later, but let’s just say that where right field is concerned, for the first time in my last several seasons of cheering for the Mets, I don’t miss Carlos Beltran so much.

You know what might really mean something, though? Zack Wheeler, when paired with Matt Harvey; and Harvey, Wheeler and a few other live arms currently in development someday consistently frustrating opposing lineups. That’s day’s not here yet. Wheeler may not be all the way here yet. Zack’s had five starts. The one versus San Francisco — a single run surrendered over seven dominant innings — was easily the best of them to date. It’s a template for what he’s supposed to be. It’s what you theoretically get for giving up Carlos Beltran when you know your star right fielder’s not returning. It’s a marker, if nothing more, in 2013, but it’s also a glimpse for what the future might involve, provided the sample sizes expand and the outbreaks of giddiness turn epidemic.

In the meantime, we get to sit over here and watch. Considering what we’ve been subjected to as Mets fans in this decade, that, not unlike Beltran for Wheeler, looms as potentially not such a bad deal.

17 comments to Giddy Times for Small Sample Sizes

  • ljcmets

    Like you Greg, I love Mad Men, but that was quite a metaphorical stretch to get that picture on the blog. I guess if we get Matt Harvey, you guys get to have Jessica Pare (lol).

    I didn’t see the game but it sounds like Wheeler pitched a gem, AND the Mets were able to give him substantial run support. This season that’s been as rare as two meteors colliding, but this latest stretch of fun-to-watch baseball has been making it a little more common. For the first time in a long while, it’s possible to see a ray of sunlight over the horizon. I still miss Carlos Beltran, however. I’m not sure if it’s Beltran or the glorious 2006 season I miss, but I have been enjoying the contributions of Marlon Byrd. And my husband is turning on the Mets games at night not only without complaint, but with interest. So there’s that to be thankful for!

    What an incredible shame about the A.I.C.H. and their appreciation night. This is so typical Mets…good intentions, terrible execution. Although I tend to agree that holding that event on a day when the Braves play is asking for a headache for both the team and the nonprofit, hadn’t the schedule been out for months when the A.I.C.H. proposed this date? Did NOBODY on the Mets crack PR team notice that jarring juxtaposition when the date was first proposed?

    And I can’t even with the poor treatment of the nonprofit, and by extension the Native American community. Of course they recognize that the event will be watered down to almost nothing compared to other ethnic appreciation events. WHY can’t the Mets just “man up” and tell the group the truth, that they don’t want to hold this event on that day and offer their deepest apologies and a make-up date of their choosing? Instead, the team tries to have it both ways and pretend that the thin gruel they’re offering is eggs and bacon.

    • open the gates

      Yup. The Mets PR keep fielding their position like Daniel Murphy in the outfield. Nope, make that Juan Samuel in the outfield.

      • Dave

        Mets PR? I’ll see your Juan Samuel in the OF and raise you a Todd Hundley.

        Yes, typically clumsy PR and oblivious, asleep-at-the-wheel planning by the Mets…Native American Day on a day where they’re playing the team whose fans still do the tomahawk chant. But “and the Mets wish to apologize to Philadelphia for having absentmindedly scheduled Good and Decent People Night for when the Phillies visit Citi Field this month and certainly hope no offense is taken from the obvious snafu” was so funny that I would have spit out my soup if I happened to have been eating soup when I read it.

        • March'62

          Thankfully, changes were made to some other promotional days that were initially proposed by the head of Mets PR, one A. Bunker.

          Irish Heritage Day when the Mets host the Brewers.
          All Star weekend when the Mets host the Astros.
          ‘Take-a-Senate-page to dinner’ night when the Mets host the Nats.
          Shirley MacLaine night when the Mets host the Reds.
          Somalia night when the Mets host the Pirates.

          (of course, Greg’s line about the Phillies is the best of the bunch)

    • Ljc,

      We all get Harvey. Some of us prefer him with his Mets uniform on is all.

      Come to think of it, we all prefer him with his Mets uniform on, though after hours is entirely up to you.

      • Ljcmets

        When you’re a woman who’s a serious sports fan, you have to put up with a million comments, some smart and funny, and some…not, about cheerleaders, the SI swimsuit issue and the like, none of which have any relationship to sports or competition at all. It’s just nice to be able to appreciate an athlete beyond the field, LOL.

  • Steve D

    Beltran played well at times…but an analysis of his whole Met career, considering all the injuries, lack of clutchness and lack of clutchness when it REALLY counted, leaves me disappointed. Sandy made a great deal there. Sandy reminds me of Beltran…spots of brilliance, but so far disappointing. We’ll see what happens this winter when he supposedly will have more resources to work with.

  • met5fan

    Nice try with the Megan analogy but Don badly mistreats her and in the end she leaves him. Hope you didn’t jinx Wheeler! But brilliant marketing, unlike the dopey Mets’ PR team!

  • kd bart

    I’m not going to be delusional and think that this team can compete for a playoff spot based on a month worth of good play. Still too many teams ahead of them and not enough talent on the field. My hope for this team this season, and it’s the same one I had a month ago, is that the team that they put out on the field in September is way more talented and entertaining than the team out on the field in April/May. Recent developments indicate they are on the way toward that hope.

  • open the gates

    So which Mets team will this be? Will it be the Mets team of the last 4 or 5 years that comes strong into the All-Star break, only to totally lose it thereafter? Or is it possibly time to invoke the ghost of ol’ Tug McGraw?

    • Dave

      I think the use of the phrase “small sample size” in the title answers that. Let’s be honest, people like Niewenhuis or Lagares, Buck, Quintanilla playing day in day out, cleanup hitter on the interstate and not particularly close to the exit ramp, Carlos Torres about to join the rotation, Josh Satin hitting like Ted Williams…let’s enjoy the small sample sizes. Tug’s ghost will get his chance someday, not just yet.

  • Tom

    The Buck-for-Dickey trade doesn’t seem like a complete bust.

    Weren’t there some other players involved in it, though?

  • BlackCountryMet

    What a trip! Arrived 2 days after setting off with the hope of 1 win from 3. Depart 3 days later with a sweep under my belt. Awesome ballpark, all 3 views I had were superb. LOTS of Mets in attendance and the Giants fans were very friendly. All in all, superb. Wish I was going to Pittsburgh now,

  • Andee

    But wasn’t Megan doing the “all you get to do is watch” thing as part of an S&M game she and Don were playing? In other words, she was doing it knowing she was turning him on and that hair-pulling sex with Don would be the result. They’d obviously done things like that before. It’s not like Don was going to have to wait six years before he could have sex with her again! This is more like what Ted did to Peggy this year, dangling a tantalizing future in front of her face and then yanking it away and telling her she could never have it, because he was committed to someone else. Only, I suppose, Ted felt guiltier about it than Wheeler does.

    • Considered the context of Don walking in on Megan and rewatched the scene last night (for, uh, research). I do believe there’s a moment of pure startle for Don before he catches on, just as there was for the Giants in the first inning yesterday. Except for the Giants, there was no fun in the game.

      Ted: more like either Wilpon, swearing it’s going to be all right, not realizing how incapable he is of not making it so.