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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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Time Is On Our Side

The Mets no longer require extra innings. They make the regulation amount go on forever. In their first two games coming out of the All-Star break — one a hopeless blowout loss, the other a relatively mundane win — they donated more than seven hours to the baseball-starved denizens of Queens inside a span of less than 22 hours overall.

Would it be impolite to let them know we’re full?

It’s not the number of games we mind. We missed them when we weren’t receiving our recommended dietary allowance of one a day, but maybe we can have something that takes fewer than three hours to consume? Overcooked baseball is like overcooked anything else. It tends to lose its zest after a while.

Besides, it’s confusing. I’m not sure exactly why a win that encompassed nine runs and eschewed a bottom of the ninth took eight minutes longer to complete than a combined 21-run salute in which the home team was compelled to bat last, but I’ll take the more pleasing result.

Friday night’s 3:27 slog couldn’t help but make Nas wait given the Phillies’ ungentlemanly scoring of eleven runs in the first two innings. When Gary Cohen is left to invoke Joe Sambito, you know you’re in for a night. Opinions can differ on whether the Mets fought back to make a game of it (Terry Collins actually called the five-run defeat “impressive” for not being worse) or whether garbage time is solely a basketball pejorative, but turning an 11-0 deficit into a 13-8 final proved more about endurance than encouragement. A Hefnerrible loss, no matter how extinct we thought they’d become, is still a Hefnerrible loss.

And Saturday afternoon’s 3:35 affair? Well, that wasn’t textbook either, except in remedial class, which is where Zack Wheeler remains enrolled until further notice. This time, the Mets scored early with their Byrderers Row lineup dicing and slicing the Phillies’ Hamels until he was Cole slaw. But Wheeler failed to pitch briskly once staked to a 3-1 advantage. No doubt the kid’s got some bulldog in him, yet it’s the chasing him around the yard that’s so far exhausting. Zack needed 106 pitches — seven of which went for hits, another two to certify walks — to find himself with two out in the fifth and the bases fully infected by the crimson plague. Somehow it was only 3-2 and somehow it stayed 3-2 after the increasingly legendary Gonzalez Germen struck out Delmon Young to unjam the situation.

By then, the game was taking the scenic route, destined to roll deep into a fourth hour. The Mets pieced together a pair of runs in the fifth and seventh; Germen, Scott Rice and LaTroy Hawkins went unscored upon; the ninth arrived wrapped in an innocent 5-2 lead; and it was still taking forever.

Should’ve known it would take a little longer from there. Bobby Parnell was Bachman and Turner but delayed Overdrive for an uncomfortable interval. Josh Satin was flummoxed by a hard two-out grounder and the Pepsi Porch was dented by a harder Chase Utley homer. It was 5-4 and, after Domonic Brown doubled, an overlong afternoon was in danger of extension.

But then Darin Ruf lined one low into Daniel Murphy’s glove — shades of Bobby Richardson snagging Willie McCovey’s last gasp in 1962 — and Parnell and his teammates could stop playing ball for their own good. Sunday, which we embrace as Harvey Day, also brings Smilin’ Cliff Lee to the mound, and the last time we saw him in action, Lee and his buddies were done toying with us in 2:29. So what I guess I’m saying is save some of that stamina for tomorrow, boys…you’re probably gonna need it.

***

You needed to know the All-Stars the Mets couldn’t wait to get rid of in order to win a valuable prize on Friday and two Faith and Fear readers sure did. Congratulations to Jonathan Weber (author of the sublime blog The Ballclub) and Mathias Kook for winning our MLB Productions quiz and each gaining a DVD copy of Johan Santana’s no-hitter. The answers to yesterday’s question regarding which All-Stars the Mets swapped in the same season they were Mets All-Stars:

1) David Cone, 1992, traded to Toronto for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson

2) Bobby Bonilla, 1995, traded to Baltimore for Alex Ochoa and Damon Buford

3) Rick Reed, 2001, traded to Minnesota for Matt Lawton

4) Armando Benitez, 2003, traded to a local American League franchise for Jason Anderson and assorted pinstriped paraphernalia

5) Carlos Beltran, 2011, traded to San Francisco for Saturday’s starting pitcher, Zack Wheeler

You know you’re having a great season when getting rid of one of your best players from the first half makes all the sense in the world. (Sounds like a setup to discuss Marlon Byrd, but we’ll save that for another time.) Anyway, two more quizzes to come imminently for more great prizes. Stay tuned!

***

Can’t wait for my Doc Gooden bobblehead, which you probably know is the Citi Field premium Sunday. But did you know that on Tuesday night, August 27, you can pick up a Gary, Keith and Ron bobblehead? It’s part of a special offer from the GKR Foundation, the community-minded organization operated by Lynn Cohen. Fifty-nine dollars gets you a limited-edition bobblehead of the greatest television broadcast team in captivity; a ticket for the Pepsi Porch for that night’s game against these very same Phillies; the nosh of your choice (hot dog, burger or pizza slice) plus soda; and, if experience is a guide, some great company. A portion of the proceeds will support GKR’s good works.

That’s the deal, and what a deal it is. More information is available here.

12 comments to Time Is On Our Side

  • AaronMo

    Gary informed us that before the 9th-inning damage inflicted by Chase Utley, the last time Parnell gave up a home run was almost a year ago to Chase Headley. I think Bobby should just stay away from Chase Blankleys in general.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Greg,

    Good story about an existing problem with baseball that can easily be fixed. The game takes way to long. I have started to almost wonder if they are doing it on purpose to increase in stadium vendor sales, except that they cut beer sales off.

    This is a major reason baseball is losing the younger generation-It takes to long and there is no sense of urgency to a game because there are 162 of them.

    I wish someone would write a story and ask for ways to speed up the game.

    I bet there would be hundreds of suggestions!

  • 9th string catcher

    A 24 second clock for pitchers would work for me. Or 40 seconds. Whatever. Limit trips to the mond from catchers and infielders. 24 second violation is an automatic ball. This would benefit pitchers who work fast and produce a more up tempo game.

  • Steve D

    I think the strike zone has gotten ridiculously small…reinstate the strike up to the letters. That would speed up the game, but reduce offense too. You would have to maybe lower the mound in conjunction, which might not be such a bad idea with guys throwing mid-90s all the time now. I remember when throwing 90 was a rarity.

  • kjs

    Good piece. NFL OT games are shorter now than a Cubs-Astros snoozer. It’s the longer tv commercial breaks. They’re also more numerous because of frequent use of relievers. The NHL has done one good thing–the game is done in 2:20. It’s been redesigned for the 21st century. Baseball will resist change. And future ratings will reflect that.

  • Time Out!
    Let’s just step out of the batter’s box, take a few practice swings, gaze at the 3rd base coach, hold up our hand to the ump for more time as we get settled back into the batter’s box and think for a minute. Is life too busy that we have to speed up the game of baseball?
    “… an existing problem with baseball that can easily be fixed.”
    Let’s go with 3 balls for a walk and 2 strikes your out. Mandatory removing your pitcher on the coach’s first visit. How about 7 innings instead of 9? Get rid of that annoying singing between innings …

    Come on. The games are long because it’s baseball. Sure, the Mets seem to have expanded the moments on the field more than usual but is it really like getting so much ice cream that you begin to hate it and not even want to look at it?

    Do you really think that the younger generation will put down their ipads, smartphones and playstations to watch baseball just because it’s faster and under 2:30? How about evading the ills of regular life and spending a long relaxing day at the ballpark (or parked in front of the TV) watching a non-timed event that always shows you something that you’ve never seen before every game!

    • kjs

      Nah. Active rosters are too small and the games throughout MLB are too damned long. 162 commercial-filled 3:30 baseball games can be torture. People work, too. The game’s pace can be improved. I don’t understand your rejectivism.

    • otb

      For me, the beauty of baseball is that there are no clocks. You think baseball drags? I think watching interminable fouls stopping every close basketball game in the final few minutes is a real drag. But then I think basketball is boring anyway. How about those huddles between every play in football? (OK, there’s a time limit on those, but even so). My problem with baseball today is that most of the games are at night. A leisurely afternoon at a ballpark is still a great way to spend one’s day. The main reason the games go on so long is the mandatory commercial breaks between innings. Television is doing what it can to ruin the game, and Bud Selig is finishing the job with wild cards, interleague play and entirely too many playoff games before the World Series which has become anticlimactic.

  • Dave

    If you watch an old game, you’ll notice that there were fewer throws to 1B to hold a runner in place, and batters stepped out of the box much less frequently. Add to that the fact that in a normal game both teams change pitchers about 4 times – if not 4 times in one inning – and although I’m not going to bother putting a stopwatch on pitching changes, I’m guessing that many games are a good 15 minutes longer thanks to the overspecialization of the bullpen.

    Heck, these guys aren’t even brought in in golf carts anymore. There’s the solution…bring back bullpen-mobiles.

  • kjs

    Nah. Only warmup pitches between innings. If you bring in a reliever, or two or three or four, he can’t warm up. No cutting to commercials during pitching changes too. That will cut about ten minutes off the average game.

    As for the Field of Dreams timeless romance, that is nice and twee, but ballparks today are artificial noize factories. At times, youcant even hear the person next to you because of the noise generated by the stadium dj.

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