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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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Put It In d'Books

The Mets and the Marlins seemed destined for history. Dillon Gee and Tom Koehler scattered baserunners with alacrity. Daniel Murphy made terrible (bad flip), spectacular (heady assist) and terrible (dropped ball) fielding plays in rapid succession. Men entered from the pen and wrote off opposing batters. At the moment it seemed certain there was no way the Mets wouldn’t put this thing away in the twelfth, they appeared determined to resist victory. Oh, this budding marathon was picking up in intensity if not speed as Travis d’Arnaud came to bat. History, I tell you, was loosening up in the tunnel and planning on playing until dark.

History!

No history at Citi Field Sunday. Just satisfaction. Force of habit now compels me to root for the Mets and the Marlins to forge 20, 22, 24 innings every time they converge. But twelve was a decent day’s work, I guess. And winning was very good. Most outstanding was Travis d’Arnaud rescuing the Mets from a very silly continuation of what we’ll loosely call hostilities. They had gone from bases loaded and none out to bases loaded and two out as the score stayed stubbornly stuck on zero-zero and the clock prepared to strike inning thirteen. The Mets have done enough marathoning with the Marlins for one season. The kid showed impeccable timing in ending it when he did.

Travis isn’t hitting yet, or he wasn’t until he delivered the game-winning single just past the diving form of Adeiny Hechavarria. Maybe he’ll commence to building his major league offensive credentials from this moment forward. More likely he’ll struggle onward for a spell. Young Jerry Grote struggled. Young John Stearns struggled. Todd Hundley was a no-tool player in his early ups. They all came around. D’Arnaud, however infinitesimal his numbers a month or so in, deserves every chance to measure up to his scouting reports.

No surprise that a fourth-place team depleted by injuries and never all that stacked to begin with should find itself scuffling for runs and depending on unproven talent to create them. We get that. We’d prefer d’Arnaud had come out of the box like 2010 Buster Posey; Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker make like Fred Lynn and Jim Rice circa 1975; and Wilmer Flores be Scott Rolen from 1997 Jump Street. Yet we understand not all rookies are all-time rookies. It’s September and all that implies for a 67-82 outfit.

Terry Collins answers questions after games, even the wins, about how difficult all this must be. Yes, he says, it’s difficult. Gosh, he told a media inquisitor Sunday, we had to start four rookies today. He likes to say “nobody feels sorry for us,” all while strongly hinting that stinkin’ circumstances — injuries, weather, travel, whatever — are constantly conspiring against him and his team… him, most of all.

The “four rookies” aside would carry more weight if his rookies hadn’t been playing the Marlins, who’ve had four rookies in their lineup as a matter of course pretty much every other day since their founding. Again, it’s September. Everybody wants to see rookies if they can’t see a contender. Your rookies notched eight runs in four games against one of the few teams straggling to the finish line in worse shape than yours, yet still they and their handful of demi-veteran teammates eked out three wins. Say that, praise Gee, smile and enjoy the off day. Stop looking for pity while you’re insisting nobody pities you.

Collins will most likely return to manage the Mets again in 2014. I’m not exactly for it even if I’m not packing a great reason to oppose it. I can’t get excited about listening to his pregame or postgame comments and I don’t look forward to seeing him in the dugout. He’s steered three consecutive squads to losing records and might wind up bringing this one home with a lesser mark than the one before it, same as he did in his first two years. Yet I can’t really say he deserves to be let go. I’ve yet to read a single on-the-record, off-the-record, anonymous or deep-background sentiment from any Met since 2011 that finds fault with Terry Collins. Nobody who deals with him among the press corps has anything but glowing praise to offer regarding his performance and personality. His in-game management isn’t thrilling, but in my recollection, dating back to Gil Hodges, every manager has had a given moment or more of seeming to not know what they were doing, and that includes the great Davey Johnson and the great (if occasionally misguided) Bobby Valentine.

Terry will almost certainly be back. That’s not quite a torch-and-pitchfork situation, but I do wish he’d stop subtly dropping hints that when the Mets take a wrong turn, it isn’t quite his players’ fault and it’s definitely not his. In professional sports, the record tends to drown out interpretations when the record is attached to a winning percentage that permanently resides south of .500.

Twelve innings. One run. Hard to believe WFAN didn’t rush to sign up for another few years of this, eh?

Michael Malone loves his 1977 Mets clipboard, one of which I came to possess in 1979 but am pretty sure I dopily purged along the way. Read his tale of enduring promotional giveaway bliss, as published in the Times, here.

12 comments to Put It In d’Books

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    From the way it is written, it seems you were at home rather than at Citi Field. I certainly hope so for the real history being made was this being our last opportunity in 2013 to see Ralph Kiner in the broadcast booth and one story he had to tell us was certainly one for the ages.

    In case you were at the park, I’ll repeat it. Ralph was working with Ron Swoboda in the batting cage that night in St. Louis when Swoboda hit those two home runs off Steve Carlton. Ron Darling said whatever he told him must have worked but asked why Swoboda didn’t then continue hitting home runs in the games that followed. Kiner said he asked Swoboda what happened after the next game and Rocky said he forgot what Ralph had told him!

  • chuck

    ….isn’t thrilling, but I can’t remember any manager since Gil Hodges who didn’t seem, at a given moment, to not know what he was doing,….

    With all due respect, the multiple negatives in this sentence have completely concealed intent of meaning. I’m going to look at in the morning to see if i can make any sense of it.

  • metsfaninparadise

    The main problem with your thesis, and with the Mets manager, is that TC hasn’t had moments of seeming not to know what he’s doing, he’s had 3 solid years of it. They talk about managers who get the most out of their players or put them in situations where they can succeed. Unfortunately, I think Collins has consistently maneuvered his bullpen into performing below its capabilities.

  • open the gates

    I still think that a braver ownership/management would waive Terry goodbye and promote Wally Backman with his young studs, the way they did with Backman’s mentor, Davey Johnson.

  • chuck

    Yeah, that’s better, thanks.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Thanks for the clipboard article link, love that sort of stuff. I have a NYT online subscription, yet it seems every time someone gives me a link, it’s an article I somehow missed on my own.

    36 years with a clipboard, of the same type I was lucky if I got thru the first week of school with it intact.

  • Andee

    About Terry: He’s your basic dunderhead NL manager. Just about all of them do the same stupid shit, repeatedly (except possibly for Davey, who has his own brand of stupid shit). They all overmanage, they all waste countless outs on bunts, they toss one reliever after another into the fryer, they double-switch so they can feel clever and for no other reason, they shut out promising kids in favor of Proooven Veteranzzz who suck, and they mindlessly cleave to lefty-righty matchups even when it doesn’t apply to that particular player. Jerry did it, Willie did it, Terry does it, and Wally would probably do it given the chance, since he that’s what he did in AAA. Even BV did most of that stuff (like Terry with Lagares, he only gave Agbayani a chance because he had to). They ALL frigging do it. Beyond that, it’s a matter of style points and team politics, and nothing else.

    So if Sandy is going to take the next step and hire a manager who isn’t a clone of all the others, the next Joe Maddon — yay, bring it on. But I don’t see the point of hiring another Terry Collins with a different name and face, unless Terry has a total meltdown the last two weeks and shits in Zack Wheeler’s locker or something. Otherwise, who cares, really?

    • mikeski

      1) Well said.

      2) Proooven Veteranzzz sounds like one of those ’80s supergroups featuring a guy from Yes, a guy from Styx, a guy from Foreigner, etc. Damn Yankees, like that. Needs some umlauts, though.

    • Andee FTW.

      On-field strategizing and bullpen use are the last vestiges of Pleistocene baseball. Good luck getting rid of them. Given this, the only things I really look at are if the guys in the clubhouse seem to like the skipper, if they play hard for him, and if he’s a decent teacher of fundamentals. Terry seems to get uniformly high marks on all those points.