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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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Farewell, Phils -- and Nyaah-Nyaah

The Mets would be better off continuing to lose — if they finish in the bottom third of teams record-wise, they can sign a free agent who’s received a qualifying offer without surrendering their first-round draft pick. (This is, of course, assuming the team will sign decent free agents this winter, which I’ll believe when I see somebody awkwardly button a jersey over a dress shirt.) Right now the Mets are in a three-way tie for the ninth-worst record with the Phillies and the Blue Jays, with the Padres and Giants within a game futility-wise. It’s gonna be close. We should be hoping for a string of Ls.

No, really — strip away the caveats about ownership and draft picks working out and everything else, and it’s simple: If we stay bad, we can spend money and still keep a high-value draft pick. That will do far more for the long-term interests of the ballclub and our sanity than the rosy afterglow of winning 75 games instead of 73.

I kept reminding myself of this during the afternoon, but it didn’t matter. Because there were the Phillies, before a packed house on their final home date of the year, and there we were poised to sweep them, take the season series by a skimpy 10-9 and move into a tie for third place. I wanted the Mets to win, and I wanted it badly.

The thing is, I’ve never really disliked the Phillies that much. This is mostly because I grew up being tortured by Yankees fans instead of Phillies rooters. (See this post before the World Series From Hell, still our recordholder for comments.) It’s also that for most of my life as a Mets fan, the Phils didn’t matter — as a team they could be relied upon to tune out their manager and fold every summer, and their stadium was hideous but accessible provided you didn’t rile up the surlier denizens, the ones for whom an on-site jail had been built. There wasn’t much point to wasting hate on the Phillies, because they were never really in our way — if we were good they were bad and vice versa.

Things changed with the coming of Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels and Chase Utley and Shane Victorino, and the change has been good — franchises a mere 100 miles apart should feel more for each other than a vague shrugging dislike. But I’m still getting used to it, just as the Phils are facing another long stretch of irrelevance. This is a rusted and broken team, locked into crummy long-term contracts — in 2015 the Phils will owe $25 million to Cliff Lee, $25 million to Ryan Howard, $23.5 million to Hamels and $13 million to Jonathan Papelbon. The Mets may be cash-strapped, but they should volunteer to pay Ruben Amaro Jr.’s salary as Phils GM for life.

Anyway, it was sweet denying Lee the win and denying those Phils fans a last hurrah. It was fun watching Carlos Torres battle his way past Rollins and Utley and Chooch Ruiz and other guys whom I haven’t managed to classify as Phillies quite yet. (Where did Roger Bernadina come from?) It was great watching Juan Lagares continue to hit, and give us some hope that the Great Outfield Puzzle might be solvable after all. It was heartening watching Anthony Recker soldier on with a season that’s quietly gone from a debacle to not really so bad. And best of all, it was a blast seeing Wilfredo Tovar — the first No. 70 in Mets history — collecting his first big-league hit with a liner over short that scored two runs, giving the Mets the lead back for keeps. (Though boo to SNY for missing the ritual of the precious ball being tracked down and removed for safekeeping — they apparently covered it entirely with replays.) Tovar would follow with another hit, steal a base, and he looks better than you’d expect when crammed into a little black dress.

Was that all worth a draft pick? In the chill of January I’m sure the answer will be no. But it’s not January — not quite yet. It’s still September, and winning was wonderful.

I’m off to California for a week — see you for Piazza Day. Will leave you in the capable hands of Mr. Prince. May all your recaps be happy … and if not, think of the draft pick.

11 comments to Farewell, Phils — and Nyaah-Nyaah

  • Nice piece. I’ve never succeeded in rooting for my team to lose, not even in the NFL with the #1 pick on the line. I just can’t do it. And then after the game I hate myself, like rooting for my team caused the victory that lost the draft pick for Mets fans everywhere.

  • joenunz

    Screw the draft pick. I have over 75 wins. 4-3 gets me a push and 5-2 will make #DoSomethingElseThisSummer an overreaction.

  • dmg

    at the start of the season i figured on 70 wins. hell, 10 days ago i thought that, with the lineup they were fielding, it was possible for them to lose the rest of the schedule.

    number 71 was as good a win as this year provides. (it’s weird how, draft picks aside, i was invested in a sweep. if you go to school in philly, beating their teams never gets old.) and i’m still rooting for the skanks to miss the wild card by no more than 4 games.

  • vin

    Phillies organization is far superior to Mets and has been for some time.(looking at the sick picture of the Mets in wedding drag is enough to justify this thought) The Vet was a joyous place to watch baseball for several years but also very hot in summer…Leave the Phillies alone as well as the Yankee hating of last week ….Its great to love the Mets but always discrediting and hating other franchises is not becoming or good sportsmanship which is what sports is about. A realistic view of the Mets is they have been treading water for years are extremely injury prone and have a do nothing front office , basically clueless…The Phillies will win the NL east before the Mets do. Sorry for the honesty!
    All the talk about keeping the 1st round pick is also a sad baseball situation, devolving it closer to the lessor team sports now in vouge. However the loss of a draft pick for a well choosen free agent that can help for the next few years is well worth it….assuming a 1st rounder well make it as well as assuming Mets will make a competent selection is a long shot. This obsession with certain organizational cultures of sacricficing today for wishful tommorows is usually frustrating..look at Cubs, Indians, Mets, mariners et al…it took Tribe 12 years after blowing up their great team to have 1 playoff team and cusp of WC now..losing 75% of fan base in between! Mets are on their way to this as well if they do not retain/acquire better players.

    • metsfaninparadise

      To paraphrase Captain Kirk (the original one): I’m LAUGHING at the superior organization. This from a guy whose team has a GM nicknamed “Ruin Tomorrow Jr.” If you really think you have a superior organization and you’re closer to meaningful September games than we are you’re either a shill for the team or a casual fan who has no idea how to evaluate a farm system. Sorry for the honesty.

      • 9th string catcher

        I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I will leave you as you left me. Trapped in the center of a dead organization. Buried alive…..buried alive.

        • nestornajwa

          To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!

          THIS IS CITI ALPHA FIVE!!

          Mets… out of danger?

      • vin

        a casual observer who has watched daily since 1967, attended more than 1500 games live, worked for 3 organizations including the Mets. Has signed several major league players as a font office person etc. Knows how to realistically evalute an organization competitively and financially, working directly for Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Dolan in Cleveland, and Mr Howard and Mr Horowitz in NY/
        What are your credentials that give such insight to the Phillies and mets farm systems?

    • Andee

      I can only hope Ruben Amaro Jr. thinks exactly like you do.

  • Will in Central NJ

    I ventured with my son to yesterday’s game in Philly, for my first visit since 2006. A handful of fellow Met fans were present, but it might be the first time ever (with me present) that a near sellout crowd in that ballpark appeared so resigned to their Phillies’ lackadaisical play. Many present were families and pensioners; maybe that had something to do with it.

    No red-clad fan bothered to taunt us in our Met gear, and my snappy Joe Carter comeback went unused yesterday. By the seventh inning, many Phillie fans in the upper deck were seemingly texting or checking NFL scores on their I-phones.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Have a good time on the west coast.

    Yes, it is sad as to what this organization has become when we joke about not winning games so not to lose a guaranteed first round draft pick in order to sign a free agent. That’s what happens when they had no intention of signing anyone last winter but go through the motions of appearing so and not fooling anybody by using the CBA as their excuse – when they never bothered trying to get the issue resolved because if it worked out in their favor then their bluff would have had to been called.

    But what this weekend in Philly has again taught us is that right field was designed a lot better for the Phillies than was right field for us – even after the fences were brought in. Ask David Wright. Why was the distance so deep to begin with? If I recall correctly, Jeff Wilpon said it was for the excitement of seeing Jose Reyes running out a possible triple or inside the park home run. Well, Jose isn’t with us anymore and David is sick of so much of his opposite field power being wasted.

    Not saying we need a band box, but perhaps bring the fences in a little bit more so just to make it fairer – perhaps that will help us to have a winning record at home as well as on the road?