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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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Now The Fun Stops?

Vast stretches of the current season could have served nicely as an All-Star break. Four days? The Mets could’ve taken off almost any four weeks there for a while and not have been much missed. But now? Now that we’ve decided we love them again? Now that they’ve decided to express their affection for us by elegantly executing baseball like it oughta be?

Guys! Guys!

Don’t go! Stay!

And keep the Marlins here with you!

A lovely weekend sweep capped off a ten-game homestand that grew — to use a highly technical term not normally applied to this franchise’s actions — funner and funner as it went along. Sunday couldn’t have been much more fun, what with nine runs scoring and just one being allowed and the fourth-place Mets becoming the third-place Mets and a tangible sense materializing that this is no passing fancy, that this is…

Well, who the hell knows what it is? It might have been a matter of catching the historically bad Rangers, the due-to-go-flat Braves and the not-so-hot Marlins at consecutive fortuitous junctures, but the prosecution wishes to direct the court’s attention to Exhibit Cubs, a.k.a. the series we were swept at Wrigley in June at the hands of an allegedly inferior opponent. The Mets play lousy teams and listless teams throughout the season. They have a way of propping them up.

That didn’t happen on this homestand, did it? They beat their lessers from Texas, their betters from Atlanta and their peers from Miami. Boy did they beat Miami on Sunday. And Friday. And in between, they snatched Saturday away from them late and clutch. Good teams find an array of ways to win. Coincidentally, that’s what the Mets did against the Marlins.

Not that we’d ever want to mistake these guys for a good team. Start doing that and you let yourself in for grave disappointment. Or so it has seemed since [use any instance you like from this or the previous century]. Then again, with an All-Star break that looms as long as Jacob deGrom’s tresses, permit yourself a flight of fancy if you like. Allow yourself to believe that the Mets won’t spend their upcoming trip to San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee making you regret what you believed on the heels of that last 9-1 thumping of the Fish.

Go ahead. Believe, if you so choose. You don’t gotta. Not yet anyway. But maybe you can.

Sixty-seven games remain (interesting MLB math that reserves 41.4% of the schedule for the so-called second half). I don’t necessarily believe that the 45-50 Mets are going to storm the Bastille clear through to September 28; or double their win total per certain misguided preseason projections; or relentlessly ratchet up the passion factor from the Field Level to the Promenade the way they did over the past week. What I want to believe is that they won’t totally disintegrate on contact upon their West Coast swing and that they won’t limp deep into the heart of oblivion on their succeeding homestand.

Met postbreak records of recent vintage are not suitable for framing. So don’t produce another performance along those lines, OK? As you’re playing ’em one game at a time, maybe think to win more than you lose. That would be a sweet prize at the bottom of the “second-half” Cracker Jack box. Win no fewer than 34; lose no more than 33.

You do better than that, outstanding.

You do worse than that, then, god, Mets, I don’t even want to know you.

All the stuff about developing the young pitchers and d’Arnaud and Lagares still stands, but for the ongoing tease party to show signs of a truly happy ending, let’s get some over-.500 up in here. Not necessarily for the entire season. That would take 37-30. They haven’t cultivated that kind of faith in me, not after just these three series, invigorating as they were. No, I’ll take one more win than loss and call it victory.

Though it wouldn’t snap the sub-.500 string that extends back to 2009, 34-33 would indicate genuine accomplishment is legitimately in progress. It would be the step in the direction that we desire. It would echo resonantly the final two months of 1983, when a dismal start of 37-65 could be immediately consigned to the past because the 31-29 finish that followed foreshadowed the brighter future we so very badly craved. Thirty-one and twenty-nine to close out ’83 was when I knew in my heart the Mets were on the verge of escaping the mine shaft in which they’d been trapped since 1977.

History can’t be asked to repeat itself on demand, but after so much lousy baseball over so many lousy years, is it too much to ask of precedent, “yo, a little help here?”

That’s my Christmas In July wish. Not an extrapolation of the .875 winning percentage of the past eight games; not 1973 reincarnated; not 1984 2.0 on the fly; not every cylinder firing to unreasonably enhanced expectation. Simply win more than you lose over an extended period. And no losing 33 straight after winning 34 in a row. Keep us reasonably engaged to the end of the campaign. Don’t make September at Citi Field so lonely. Don’t leave each of us to assume we’re the only ones still watching. Hover above awfulness for the remainder of 2014.

Ya think ya could do that? Because if you could, it would be really great.

Also great: this extremely flattering shoutout from a couple of extraordinary voices. Thanks to Jason Bornstein of Remembering Shea for providing the audio.

33 comments to Now The Fun Stops?

  • Harvey

    36-31 would mean a .500 year. That’s real progress, after the past 5 losing seasons. Anything above .500 is gravy, but at least that!

    • FIVE games above .500 over the final 67? Whoa there! Let’s not strain a tendon reaching so high.

      Actually, if they come out of the gate in something less than a state of disarray, maybe it can happen. Not ruling anything out, which may be the most optimistic thing I’ve said since “Hey, look, Endy thinks he might catch it…”

  • mikeski

    The

    Tortured
    Enough
    Already,
    Sandy
    Et.al.

    Party.

  • Harvey

    Hey Greg,

    Remember 1973. Mets were 58-70 and looking lifeless on August 26th. They went 24-9 from then on to finish 82-79 and win the division. So 36-31 might be a walk in the park.

    • March'62

      Ummmm……. Seaver, Koosman, Matlack in their primes vs. Wheeler, Niese, Gee? But what the heck. LGM!!!!

  • Harvey

    You Gotta Believe!!!!

  • Lenny65

    Hitting the blue and orange nail squarely on the head as usual. This pitching staff is right on the cusp of being something special and wasting good pitching is the worst of all baseball tragedies.

  • Dave

    Perhaps stranger things have happened than this team getting hot and finding themselves in a race, but that would require just about everything going right, and we know how often that happens. I’d settle for the season ending with clear evidence that they’re a better team than they were last year and likely to continue improving.

  • GaryMac

    So sad that all of the expectations are another terrible start after the break and that everyone is just rooting for us not to be terrible the second half. our first 3 series are against teams that have gone a combined 9-21 in their last 10 games. he have showed signs of hitting and hitting in big spots. our pitching has continued to be very good and our bullpen is better than its been in a while. i know as a Mets fan we are all cautious to let them get us thinking about a good season, but i dont think we necessarily have to wait for 2015, there could be plenty of good days left in 2014. i wouldnt mortage the future on it but the depth at pitching should be able to get us another bat before the deadline and maybe we have a second half to look forward to.

  • Chuck

    http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/11213746/new-york-mets-make-bartolo-colon-available-trade-talks

    In other surprising news, water is wet and puppies are cute. What should the Mets try to get for him, and what should they reasonably expect?

    • dmg

      colon for mccann. discuss.

      • vertigone

        No thanks. McCann is not having a good season, even in that little league park he plays in, and is owed a lot of money over 4.5 more years.

        Between d’Arnaud and Plawecki, the Mets have not 1, but 2 of the best Catcher prospects in baseball.

        • dmg

          the fact that mccann is having a bad year is exactly why he’d be available. colon knows american league hitters; mccann knows national league pitchers. i think he’d revive returning to the nl.
          yes he costs more — $17 mill instead of colon’s $10 mill. but they’d have to pay a premium to any big bat. and we know they’ve gotten so much from chris young for his $7 mill.
          since gary carter, mets have always needed their catcher to play big in the lineup, at least giving the other hitters some support. d’arnaud is never going to be that guy. mccann, at 29, could be.
          i know i’m not convincing anyone. but this is a crosstown trade that wouldn’t displace the players, and would help out both teams.

          • Chuck

            Help the Yankees? This was precisely why I scoured the Orioles and Blue Jays rosters and came up with Delmon Young.

          • 9th string catcher

            With the Mets’ payroll problems? No thanks. I’d rather get a prospect.

    • Lenny65

      I don’t know how desperate a pitching-starved team might get but I can’t imagine they’re going to be offered some huge haul for Colon. A solid hitting corner outfield or SS prospect not too far from the bigs would obviously be ideal. I can’t imagine they’d get an actual current starter for him, seems far-fetched to me.

  • Andy C

    Reasons for optimism:
    Their home record now better than road
    They’ve won their last 3 one-run games
    They’ve scored 5 or more runs in 6 of last 10
    Lucas > Ike
    No more Valverde and Farnsworth
    I think 40 wins are attainable.

  • March'62

    Oh and BTW, my post didn’t go thru last week so I’ll just mention the ‘Rick Camp’ game and the ‘Mike Andrews’ game as Met victories that were named for opposing players.

  • Michael G.

    Greg–Well deserved praise from Howie and Josh. Not the first time they’ve called out F&F. No surprise that these guys would be able to recognize the quality of the writing, and I’m glad they did.

  • GaryMac

    So I came across a guy that i read is on the market that intrigued me, Marcell Ozuna. I know the big piece people keep talking out of Florida is Stanton but it will take a King’s ransom to bring him in and i dont think that’s the right way to go. Ozuna on the other hand might be a good fit. He’s 23, 15 HRs, 53 RBIs, .275/.323/.463 all in a big park thats hard to hit HRs in. Think we could get away without having to give up Syndegard? I would go Montero and Herrera or Cecchini or Rosario, whichever they like more.

    Thoughts?

    • 9th string catcher

      Intriguing. I like Ozuna’s game, and has a cannon for an arm. Didn’t look so great on Sunday, but then, not many people did.

  • open the gates

    Yeah, a post-break winning record would be nice. But it seems that, no matter how bad the Mets teams have been the last few years, they always seem to have a nice little run just before the All-Star break, then come back flatter than Flat Stanley. I’d love if they break that precedent, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • 9th string catcher

    I would sacrifice progress for wins. In other words, keep playing loose, and play the guys that have a chance to stick around. Would be happy never to see Chris Young in the lineup again if we could get an idea of what Nieunheis could provide. Would like to see a whole lot more of Campbell, though not sure where. And keep deGrom in until his innings limit is up, regardless of the standings.

  • nestornajwa

    …And appearing in his 15th and final All Star Game, Mets Shortstop Rey Ordonez!!! A consummate professional with a glove of 24-karat gold, Ordonez won four World Series, three NL MVP awards and an unbelievable 17 consecutive Gold Gloves over his illustrious career in NY. Ordonez famously led his team in the 1999 NLCS, where his expert bunt in Game 5 prevented the game from going into extra innings, and he put on a hitting display in Game Six, going 5 for 5 and wrapping up the pennant for the Metropolitans. Then, in two consecutive World Series in 1999 and 2000, Ordonez was the Series Most Valuable Player in two tilts against the Mets crosstown rivals. Stealing Yankee runs with his glove and manufacturing them with his bat and his baserunning, Rey secured the Mets’ position as New York’s preeminent sports franchise. Rey helped the Mets to two more titles in 2006 and 2007. And his contributions weren’t limited to what he did on the field. Rey helped convince fellow All Stars Vladimir Guererro, Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton, among others, to sign long-term deals in NY, ensuring the future of the Mets franchise even after his retirement at the end of this season.

    Hard to believe he was once compared to an obscure one-time Yankee prospect at shortstop who had neither Rey’s defensive range nor his staying power. See you in Cooperstown, Rey Ordonez!!

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