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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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Longer Than The Norm

So I went to Saturday’s Mets baseball game — it was 1973 Playing Cards Day, for gosh sake, the Wilponian equivalent of 52 tiny old-timers shuffling out of a plastic-coated, Caesars-branded pack for our brief nostalgic reverence — and a marathon broke out. Yup, another long one from those wonderful folks who brought you the extended mix of Marlins 2 Mets 1 on June 8. Actually, do 12 innings and 3:46 count as long for us anymore? Only when matched against the games normal teams play.

Define normal. I’d say a normal team plays mostly nine-inning games, concludes them within approximately three hours of their starting times and includes among its batters one indisputable hitter. Not a guy having a pretty good year or a better year than expected or the year of his life or regressing to the mean from an atypically monstrous month, but “the guy you can’t let beat you”…whatever that means (why would you want to let anybody beat you?).

Our normal threat is David Wright. David Wright is the one who makes most every play and gets pitched around as much as possible when games march grimly into extra innings. David Wright is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. That probably puts him out of action until sometime in September. It ought to put him out of action until sometime in September. Anybody who lets David Wright hurry his hammy back to the basepaths should be sued for extreme superstar negligence.

In the meantime, the Mets play their daily 11 or 12 or 20 innings with a lineup that when you come up the Rotunda escalator and see it laid out in Topps form, you look away out of politeness. Alas, it also awaits you inside the seating bowl where it is incapable of doing much more than keeping you firmly seated. There’s not a lot to stand up and cheer when your No. 3 hitter is Josh Satin and your third baseman is Justin Turner. No offense, guys. No offense from any of you guys all the live long day.

The Mets managed to keep the Royals on the field for twelve innings nonetheless. Jeremy Hefner overcame his one weepy inning to toss several worth a hint of a grin. The bullpen — Germen to Feliciano to Atchison to Rice — provided a smooth ride from the sixth through the eleventh. I’m guessing they were outstanding, not that the Kansas City Royals were overtired. The Royals have a winning record but remain something of a mystery in that they’re the Kansas City Royals and I am rarely impelled to analyze their strengths, weaknesses or idiosyncrasies.

I can report they still have a player named Hosmer, which was cause for personal celebration in that I still have a cat named Hosmer. And they have a pitcher named Bruce Chen who appears to be the same fellow I saw start five games for the 2001 Mets. But that can’t be correct a dozen years later…can it?

Also not terribly likely: Royals fans at Citi Field. But I swear to Saberhagen, I saw a whole…I’m not sure what the group form of Royals fans is. A covey of Royals fans? A tower of Royals fans? Perhaps a rhumba of Royals fans? However they are termed, their species is generally considered quite exotic in the northern climes of Queens County. Saturday, however, there was practically an entire warren of them.

The Mets staged two successful rallies. One of them consisted solely of a second-inning solo home run from Daniel Murphy while it was still cold and rainy (there were also stretches of Saturday’s game that were hot and oppressive as well as breezy and pleasant — don’t tell me there’s no such thing as climate change). The other, emanating in the eighth inning, was from out of the ol’ earthball playbook, wherein everybody has to gather ’round and push an entire oversized sphere to its ultimate goal like something out of Sisyphus or maybe the Stonecutters. That’s how the Mets roll these days: slowly and clinging to each other for support. An Andrew Brown pinch-hit, a Salvador Perez passed ball, a Juan Lagares infield single, a Lagares stolen base and a Satin single…why, it was a trip to bountiful! Two whole runs! Tie game!

Extra innings were right around the corner. They had to be. The 2013 Mets refuse to release you on your own recognizance any sooner.

Sadly, the Wrightless Nine (which eventually included every position player Terry Collins could spell) was done creating bounties after the eighth. Also sadly, David Aardsma has stopped being Aawesome the way Don Aase ceased to Aalphabetically Aamaze in his one year out of nowhere as a Met, in 1989. Aardsma, as temporary replacement for Bobby Parnell, seemed to be heaving rather than throwing, just as Marlon Byrd is probably pressing as he attempts to fill the absent Captain’s Nikes. Justin Maxwell, of September 30, 2009 walkoff infamy, took Aardsma inside the left field foul pole in the top of the twelfth, and that would be all the pen would write on this day.

Not to be overlooked in the aftermath of the 4-3 loss was the ephemeral presence of Isaac Benjamin Davis. See, when I was coming up that Rotunda escalator and absorbing the majesty of the Mets lineup in the company of my pal Ben (who graciously invited me to join him for the afternoon), we audibly concurred that without Wright — or “him” — 40 miles of bad road probably awaited. Though we spoke to only each other, we were intruded upon by an unsolicited opinion, courtesy of an older, crustier lady Mets fan who saw fit to remind us that we weren’t doomed without David Wright because Ike Davis was coming around.

Yeah, we nodded, maybe, but Ike’s not starting today and, you know, he’s still this year’s version of Ike, recent incremental steps forward notwithstanding.

“NO!” she interrupted. “YOU’RE NOT FUCKING LISTENING! HE HAD VALLEY FEVER! IT TAKES YEARS TO GET OVER THAT! SOMETIMES YOU NEVER GET OVER THAT!”

For good measure, she growled that precise sentiment two or three times more. Or as Ben, who’s spent far more time in the valley fever breeding ground of Arizona than most New Yorkers, put it later, “I was listening. I just didn’t agree.” And come to think of it, if Ike is still suffering from valley fever, which we sure hope he isn’t, how is that supposed to inspire confidence in his prospective performance?

We didn’t see her anymore during the game, but we did have a fellow sitting in front of us who (aside from informing us, apropos of absolutely nothing, that he once saw Sandy Koufax pitch) now and again turned around to let us know what the Mets had to do in any given inning. The gent’s solution to the offensive malaise was always the same, no matter which .164 hitter was due up next:

“Terry’s gotta pinch-hit Ike Davis here.”

I liked that strangers’ stray baseball thoughts were intermittently seeping into Ben’s and my conversation. That should be happening at Citi Field. It happened at Shea Stadium. But this guy’s entire philosophical oeuvre consisted of the absolute necessity of deploying Ike Davis to hit for Recker. Or Quintanilla. Or Turner. Or Satin. Or Hank Greenberg, Harmon Killebrew and Pablo Picasso if the game had gone on long enough.

Eventually Ike was double-switched into the game at first base…seconds after his patron departed (I guess he had to beat the traffic so he could tell a tolltaker about that time he saw Koufax). I was like, where’s the Ike Davis dude? Seriously, Ike Davis was playing! Ike Davis was looking past his valley fever and whatever other maladies may or may not be still affecting him and was in this very game! WHY WAS THIS MAN NOT FUCKING LISTENING?

Son of a gun, Ike never got to bat. He was left on deck when Quintanilla struck out to end the game in the bottom of the twelfth.

Gosh darn it all to heck.

20 comments to Longer Than The Norm

  • Ron Mazzola

    Great stuff as usual Greg! Nice running into you today!

  • Lenny65

    Sigh. Another one of those games we “coulda woulda shoulda” won, if only one of those guys could get a nice timely hit every once in a while. I usually refer to the Mets lineup as “those guys” because they really don’t merit individual recognition.

    And yeah, let’s not rush David back and sentence him to a few years of nagging hamstring injuries, please. We shouldn’t have to specifically ask for that but, you know, the Mets and all.

  • metsfaninparadise

    And anonymous reports come from the front office that they’re happy with Collins’ performance and expect him to be extended. What games have they been watching?

    Noteworthy: Flores played 3B tonight. Could it be “Wilmer Time?”

  • dmg

    these are the games that good teams win, and build their records and seasons on. and then there are the mets.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    “You look away out of politeness.” The throw away lines have been great lately.

  • Parth

    Loved the “look away” reference!- Has become our fantasy league default trash talk for a poor starting pitching performance- while most often used at crime scenes- the best “look away” was Seinfeld’s Kramer as in “look away, I’m hideous.”

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Yeah, I was watching on TV and heard a lot of cheering when KC scored it’s first 3 runs, couldn’t figure out WTF that was all about. NYC is diverse enough and big enough that I’ll bet there’s a bar somewhere in NY where displaced Royals fans gather a few times a year, like when they play at home against the Yankees. There’s got to be.

    • These interleague games must be godsends for expatriate Kansas City-zens, Detroiters, South Siders and so forth. They get to see their teams in a civilized atmosphere without having to enrich evil empires.

  • mikeski

    I hate those stupid commercials, only slightly less than 1-877-Kars-4-Kidz. My personal game is to see how few notes It takes me to change the station.

    It seems to me, Greg, that it would be a Court of Royals fans.

  • Gianni Privacio

    Another great piece.

    First I need to be honest and mention that I had written a rather positive (and glowing) outlook on the team in general as a response to your response to my response to the outfield piece. But something kept me from hitting the submit button. And that was Wright’s lingering hamstring issue, and more to the point, a growing incredulousness at why he continued to be in the lineup. Now, one can generally surmise that the Schmets are snakebitten (defined as bad luck), but as all grownups know there’s usually a responsibility factor involved (sometimes called prudent decision-making). So the major hamstring thing to me was obviously one attempt to beat out a single away. And that points out something important when assessing the team moving forward.

    Um, does anyone here in this little sliver of Metland where thought reigns over uninformed stupidity often wonder about who is currently on the roster and then on the field? I am assuming we are talking mostly about Collins here. Who was in charge of the Wright situation? Collins kept saying that “he believed him”. Hmm.

    During the year I’ve been questioning little decisions and considering his worth as manager. At this point I am befuddled by a variety of personnel choices.

    So, longwinded as it is, here’s a combo diatribe of WTF and my thoughts on how to best utilize the last two months of the season.

    Back to Davis. Now that Wright is out…and Satin is still managing to get clutch hits…and is a natural third baseman…and you need to find out what Ike has to offer…most specifically if he can ever hit left handers…geez, is there any question about how to handle the Wright injury? Unless one wants to “think outside the box”, throw in the towel on Ike and give Wilmer a shot.

    Terry? “I think Murphy is the best option to fill in at third and move Young to second”. Great idea, let’s take our best remaining hitter and throw him into a defense-induced funk by switching him to yet another position he can’t play. I mean really. Is there anyone that thinks he has any chance of being functional at the hot corner? And in the process let’s convert our pretty useful leadoff hitter back into a terrible second basement just for good measure.

    Voice of reason: 1B Davis (or Flores), 2B Murphy, 3B Satin, all spelled by Turner, who’s very comfortable moving around.

    Anyone wanting to make a case for 3B Murphy, 2B Young, LF Duda I say Marv Throneberry to ya. Dave Kingman! Bernard Gilkey in Men in Black.

    I’m also wondering why Tejada and Valdespin are still in Vegas. Of course you have to like Quintanilla’s steadiness, but he’s headed for the Mendoza line and aren’t we supposed to be finding out which pieces fit for next year? And maybe winning a couple games with what other teams know as “timely hits”? Presumably they have effectively given up on both?

    Terry? Heeeere’s Mike Baxter.

    Voice of reason: I dunno, maybe at least platoon Tejada and Q for the rest of the season. And put Valdy on the bench to pinch hit. Of course he continues to be a knucklehead, but at this point I’d suspect anyone still paying to see the games wouldn’t mind a little JV1 homer pimping followed by a bench clearing brawl to break up the deadly silence of one, two, three innings.

    Choices when using relief pitchers are naturally informed by the talent therein. And this year’s edition is pretty much like the last two. So it’s a bit harder to place blame. But yet another sparkler from Gee and here we are in extra innings again courtesy of the pen. So when your closer is out naturally you might look to someone with a bit of life on the ball.

    Terry? I read somewhere that Aardsma was once a closer.

    Voice of reason: Is it not obvious that you now have Torres back in the pen?

    Terry: But Carlos is a natural long man and has been “stretched out”.

    Voice of reason: Wh, Whatever.

    In summation, I think they should give Collins the rest of the year to take the talent currently in Flushing and Vegas, assemble the best squad and make a serious push for .500. Within reason, by which I mean don’t play injured players. While that may be theoretically unrealistic, a quick look around the league implies that there are only a few teams with more talent (not on the injured list) than they can cull from their 40 or so top guys.

    I’m also not saying that he would deserve an outright heave ho, if they move on to another manager I hope they keep him in some capacity and pay him well. He has earned that respect. I just think he needs to prove he can squeeze more juice out of this lemon.

    • Trenchant analysis, though I got a strange thrill out of seeing Dave Kingman try third.

      • Gianni Privacio

        Wow. I forgot that he had ever played third. And I muffed on the reference to Throneberry, should have invoked Dick “Stonefingers” Stuart there.

        Also wanted to mention that one of the great things about experiencing the (couple of) greatest Mets’ seasons was the excellent journalism of the writers then, esp. 1969 where they made you feel like you were right there, the garbage swirling around in the late innings of Shea. Right now that would be you guys. ESPN, if you’re listening. And kill the Facecrook-required login. Or both!

        Keep up the great work.

        • metsfaninparadise

          A minor quibble, but Dick Stuart’s nickname was “Dr. Strangeglove.”

          • Gianni Privacio

            Actually according to Wikipedia both were used. I remembered it because my pop loved “Stonefingers” and would remind me of it whenever I botched a play in little league.

            But I demur. Apparently (based on today’s news) I spoke out of turn on Valdespin. Apologies to Collins, and looking forward to reading Greg’s piece on the suspensions. I guess if you include Fernando looks like the extended Mets family leads the league in Biogenesis-related suspensions.

            Well, at least instead of ARod we’ll…always…have…Wright…

            Doh!

  • vin

    In Philly 4 hours 10 minutes for 12 after 9 ended in 2.53!

    braves are underwhelming but they win in weakened division

    thrw in a massive 2 hour traffic jam/accident on 95 south and same weather! ugh! Games to long way too many pitching changes

    Dinner plans in Princeton Kaput since i went against the rule that game timing will run counter to any post game plans you have!

    same boat in Phila as in Queens!

    • I now realize why it was long without seeming uber long: The Mets walked no Royals, marking the lengthiest game in Mets history in which they issued no free passes.

      Yet they still lost.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Crap Greg – as if that jingle wasn’t ubiquitous enough….