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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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Willie Harris Is Eternal

When my son was four years old, we went to Shea one horrifically hot day, watched the Mets fall behind, watched them try to catch up in the ninth, watched Carlos Delgado hit a long drive that was headed out of the park … and saw Willie Harris, that bringer of Metsian misery, leap impossibly high above the fence and turn it into an out. A cruel, crushing, crucifying out.

Willie Harris moved on to the Nats, where he continued taking balls away from Mets trying to win games. Then he became a Met himself, and of course his dives and leaps were suddenly a few inches short. Now he isn’t anything — he was last seen as a Red in June 2012.

But he lives on. Because damned if that wasn’t Willie Harris in center field when it really truly mattered last night, when Justin Turner arrived from the disabled list to face Craig Kimbrel and rain and pressure and seemed to get the better of all three, whacking a pitch to left-center that seemed destined to plop down a couple of steps from a despondent Jason Heyward as Andrew Brown scored. And then maybe since things are wet out there and Heyward is a newcomer to center field with a cranky leg Omar Quintanilla comes around third behind Brown, and something goes awry between the outfield and home plate and Q scores and the Mets have won and Turner, to borrow Ron Darling’s idea, is so giddy with happiness that he pies himself.

None of that happened. Because the spirit of Willie Harris animated Jason Heyward, propelling his limbs out and down and sending him sprawling across the grass Swoboda-like, with Turner’s ball vanishing into his mitt just before it and Heyward and the Harrisness he had riding shotgun hit the ground.

Reed Johnson’s arms shot skyward in exultation.

Craig Kimbrel’s arms shot skyward in grateful disbelief.

Justin Turner’s arms shot skyward in disappointed outrage.

My arms stayed crossed on my chest and I held very still to keep from screaming or throwing things.

Yeah, that kind of game. That kind of game played so often against these Braves since their arrival in our division back in the days of Smoltz and Gl@v!ne and Maddux, all gone now but somehow still looming over us, just like Millwood and Klesko and Rocker and Chipper and Prado and Tucker and a thousand other tomahawk-wielding tormentors.

Of course the game was really lost long before the manifestation of Willie Harris made it official. It was lost in the bottom of the eighth, when David Wright looked at strike three with Eric Young Jr. on third and one out and the Mets clinging to a 1-0 lead. Then, in the top of the ninth, Bobby Parnell came in to try and secure things for Dillon Gee (who was wonderful) and everything went wrong. A hit through the shift. Another hit dropped in front of Marlon Byrd when Parnell threw an 0-2 curve over the heart of the plate. After a welcome fielder’s choice erased the lead runner, Parnell and John Buck couldn’t get together and a passed ball moved the runners up. Then a grounder to short hit too slowly for Quintanilla to get the tying run at home. Then a flat fastball down the middle that Johnson smacked into center for a Braves lead.

Bad pitches + bad defense + bad luck = bad results, and the sneaking suspicion that Parnell is having one of those lousy stretches that afflict nearly all pitchers for a while each season, except for starters it means a couple of stinker outings but for closers it means two weeks of blown saves and fans howling for blood.

Which isn’t exactly what this team needs, particularly since the other guys have Willie Harris playing marionette when it really, truly matters.

21 comments to Willie Harris Is Eternal

  • Andee

    Travis D’Arnaud can’t get here fast enough for me. I don’t care whether he’s the next Piazza or not, I’d settle for anyone who isn’t a total tree stump catching for us. Lucky for Travis he has such tiny shoes to fill.

  • Les

    You know, if the Mets weren’t 8 games under .500 and going nowhere, seeing as how management really isn’t interested in doing anything to improve the product other than promote a couple of stars of tomorrow to tease us, this would have been considered a crushing loss, being first of 3 against hated rivals at home.

    Instead, it’s just another sigh in a year of Harvey.

    • Joe D.

      Hi Less,

      Actually, had we gone after a healthy starter instead of Marcum who was damaged goods I figured out there would have been a swing of seven games in which the Mets lost but could have won with just a decent pitching performance because they scored enough runs while Shaun was blasted. So last night’s loss could have been indeed devastating.

      We knew the Shaun Marcum we were getting was no longer the Shaun Marcum of the past. Marcum’s delivery was the cause of concern as to why he was passed on by others. It’s the feared inverted W. Attached is an article pointing out to the possible danger that presents:

      http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/no-swing-zone/2010/aug/28/stephen-strasburg-has-change-his-pitching-mechanic/

      And then an article which pointed out the Brewers concerns that Marcum was a “ticking timebomb, and a risk they’ve been unwilling to take.”
      as well:

      http://disciplesofuecker.com/brewers-shunning-shaun-marcum/7449

      A while ago I had looked into other free agent pitchers that the Mets could have pursued that fit into Marcum’s price range, age, past performance or potential. On the attached there are six that were alternative solutions – numbers 6, 19, 21, 24, 28, 30 (easier to type out numbers than names LOL). One of them (6) has been injured, however, the other five are performing quite well for their new (and in one case) even newer teams. The only difference with these pitchers and Marcum is that Sandy would have had to guarantee them up to $4 million more which were only incentives in Shaun’s case and perhaps for two years instead of one.

      http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions/free-agents/pitchers

      So in my view, because Sandy was looking for the cheapest starter he could find, and by wanting to save a few million, he put money ahead of the team once more.

      BTW – not to get anybody worried, but Wheeler also pitches using that inverted W motion…..

  • Kevin from Flushing

    We were all thinking of Willie Harris, weren’t we?

    I got the sinking feeling in the 7th, when Gee lost the no-no. You get snapped back to reality and realize, “shit, it’s only 1-0, we need some insurance,” y’know?

  • mikeski

    On another note, I really have had just about enough of the Noise Meter/Get Loud BS.

    2 on in the bottom of the 9th in a teeming rain against the Braves – do they really think that everyone/anyone left in the park needs to be prompted to cheer? Can we not have even 30 seconds of just ambient baseball sounds? A moment to appreciate the natural tempo of the game and react to it? Gah.

    • Dave

      They should make it a promotional day. No walk up music, no electric slide, no clap your hands….Old Time Baseball Day. I’d fly in for it.

      • open the gates

        Word.

      • mikeski

        Some sort of sponsored contest? “Organist For The Day”? All of the music at that game is played by the winner.

      • vin

        agree!

        Bring back a jane Jarvis type with music that relaxs, amuses,entertains…clever diddies if appropriate for a players at bat..not music to entertain immature players..try the paying fans..funny how almost every stadium plays the same same canned chants that annoy including annoying the likes of the Met broadcasters!

        • Dave

          (different Dave than the one who commented above) Yes, please!! Whenever I’m in Chicago I like to go to a game at Wrigley because the fans there refuse to get beaten down with scoreboard instructions to MAKE SOME NOIZE and the accompanying piped-in crowd noise. That crap is humiliating, and I’m also sick of everyone’s coming up to bat music, even Murph’s Dropkick Murphys (or whatever imitation Pogues that is when he comes up). Now, my undergrad degree is in music, and while I’m not exactly Rod Argent (for all you Zombies fans out there), and I could never even pretend to carry Jane Jarvis’ fake book, I can play a bit. So tell me when CitiField Organist For A Day auditions are going to be, and I’ll be there.

          Now, on another note, membership in the F*** You Hall of Fame to New York Magazine. I knew, knew, knew this crap would happen. In their weekly Approval Matrix, in the brilliant/lowbrow quadrant, there’s Mariano Rivera with the caption “that All-Star entrance.” Yep, Mets host the ASG, put on a great show, have 2 in the starting lineup including the stud who is becoming the next Joe Namath-style jock rock star, and the media IN THEIR OWN FREAKING CITY make it all about the *$#&@! Yankees. Damn damn damn.

          • dak442

            The Zombies RULE!!!

            Rod and Colin and the rest are supposedly coming back to the States in a few weeks. I think they may have played a NYC-area show this spring/early summer. If they did, it’s the first one I’ve missed since they got back together. They are fantastic.

          • open the gates

            Dave – to paraphrase an old Victor Borge joke –

            Q: What’s the difference between New York Magazine and The New Yorker Magazine?

            A: New York Magazine burns faster.

            IOW, did you really expect the snobs at NY Mag to notice any sports franchise in the universe other than the Yankees? Don’t waste your time. You’ll find more wisdom in Mad Magazine.

    • dak442

      Am I dreaming, or didn’t the Mets have a “silent” game like that once, about 10 years ago?

  • Steve D

    Imagine making that catch backhanded, with a WS game on the line…that was Swoboda.

  • Shawn Butler

    Last night hurt.

  • lmb

    I thought, for sure, that the title of this post would’ve been “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction From Watching the Mets”, “Sympathy for Gee” or “Look What You’ve Done, Justin Heyward”.

  • vin

    The reason the Braves are 10 = above the Mets is the cumulative effect/result of much better players on the team who make such plays throughout the year. The Braves are not great but Heyward has great ability and +potential. good teams win such games and devolving Heyward into Harris is a disservice to your otherwise interesting viewpoints. Because the Mets are playing a bit better than expected one should not delude themselves of thinking they will reach .500 and gain 10 in standings while all other teams stand in place..especially with Harvey being shut down or slowed down in September, getting nothing from D’arnot (he is a miss) and Alderson spinning his notingness as far as proactive GM skills with statrments such as ‘there is nothing much out there….it either happpens early or late we are in a middle zone so nothing is happening (trade deadline) oh really…7 days till 7/31and there are no actions to be taken no avenues to explore no way to get another piece like Young or Byrd etc…he extols holding on to Byrd to help this yeras results which is what they should of done with Beltran and others when they had chances of a winning record in past few years..the diff is money since Byrd makes a small amount he is a keeper…not a bad idea but a GM should be always be seeking continual improvements no matter how incrmentally small they may be..sometimes a player is out there under utilized and Young like Pastornicky and can be had…like the Sox took saltalamcchia a couple yeras age when they had catching but they got a good piece in a small side uner rader deal and now he is a starter and producing and any good baseball man could see he would produce from the time he was in camp with , you guessed ..the Braves! So enjoy Harvey, hope for Wheeler, appreciate middling pieces like Byrd, Yound et al and enjoy Parnell/Gee et al as home growns and hope something falls in the Mets lap this winter because proactive they are not (except in ticket prices)..only 65 games to go before winter and then we may have to to;erate the NFL a bad day on the diamond beats a day on the gridiron!

  • open the gates

    I hope the fans don’t turn on Bobby Parnell. He really has shown something this year. His only sin is that he’s not Mariano – but then again, neither is anyone else. This year’s version of Mariano included.

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