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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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The One That Didn’t Get Away

In most parallel universes, the Mets lost Thursday night. They had to.

They were playing the Marlins.

Giancarlo Stanton went traditionally deep.

They were playing the Marlins.

Martin Prado added his own four cents.

They were playing the Marlins.

Dillon Gee pitched gamefully but not quite well enough to fully extricate himself from his last tangle of trouble.

They were playing the Marlins.

Rafael Montero’s control deserted him at a most inopportune juncture.

They were playing the Marlins.

Twice deficits were overcome only to have go-ahead or tying runs registered in immediate response.

They were playing the Marlins.

Ichiro Suzuki was disinterred from the great beyond to a) triple and b) score in time-lapse fashion.

Did I mention they were playing the Marlins?

This was so a Mets game waiting to be lost — and it was.

It was lost by the Marlins — because they were playing the Mets.

Welcome to the only universe that counts, the universe in which it’s 2015 and the Mets win games like Thursday night’s, 7-5, to take sole possession of first place.

You say it’s early? I say the Mets are in first place. I also say we’re both right. I will add that if you take out your pocket schedule and carefully apply an X-Acto knife to each and every box printed, you will wind up with a pile of 162 boxes representing 162 games and they will each weigh the same: the boxes from the first weeks of the season; the boxes from the last weeks of the season; the boxes from everywhere in between.

Now line them up sequentially. Onto the box marked April 16, scrawl a W. It will look perfectly in place alongside the W’s you can also legitimately enter onto the preceding four boxes, just as the Mets look perfectly in place in first, thanks to winning games that are as important to win now as they’ll be important to win later.

Five wins in a row. Seven wins out of ten overall. A half-game lead over idle Atlanta. A three game lead over consensus favorite Washington. One-hundred fifty-two games to go, to anticipate, to wonder what wonders they’ll bring.

Or, y’know, just one game that didn’t get away the way you’ve come to expect games like Thursday’s against the Marlins to get away because Stanton and Prado and Suzuki did the kind of stuff that usually dooms the Mets in these matchups.

What you might not have expected prior to extremely recent developments also happened, though.

You might not have expected Gee to recover from his gopher lapses and strike out seven in five and two-thirds.

You might not have expected Lucas Duda’s emergence (.395/.439/.632) as a five-tool badass.

You might not have expected Wilmer Flores (three-run homer) to have remembered he’s in there for his bat.

You might not have expected Eric Campbell to replace David Wright so seamlessly that the promotions people are calling the printers to find out if they can airbrush him into Sunday’s giveaway posters.

You might not have expected the truncated right field dimensions to hold J.T. Realmuto’s obvious sixth-inning grand slam off Montero or Curtis Granderson to Lagareshly track it down and turn it into a crucial third out.

You might not have expected a sequence of daggers — Ichiro’s matter-of-fact pinch-triple, Daniel Murphy’s amazingly awful throw home on Dee Gordon’s grounder, the agonizingly slow replay review process that reversed the Ancient Mariner’s out at the plate into Miami’s tying tally — to not completely maim the Mets’ momentum.

You might not have expected Jerry Blevins to exemplify grace under pressure, throw a double play ball and decisively stanch Marlin momentum.

You might not have expected John Mayberry to rather routinely steal a crucial base to set up the ultimate go-ahead run.

You might not have expected Michael Cuddyer to be earning his “this guy is totally clutch” bonuses so soon.

You might not have expected Jeurys Familia to take without trauma to the ninth inning, but take it he did. In conjunction with his teammates, Familia took down the Marlins, the Mets took over first and Ace Frehley took care of business in the New York Groove.

The Mets are 7-3 against National League opponents this year and overwhelming against expectations to date.

On a personal level, I was delighted to exceed expectations when I got to meet FAFIF reader and commenter Left Coast Jerry last night. As the name implies, Jerry lives across the continent but happens to be visiting this side of the map this week. He had contacted me with the idea we go to a game while he’s in his own New York groove and that sounded so splendid, we actually did it. I expected it would be a good time. It was that and then some. I thank Jerry for his company, his rental car’s passenger seat, his instructive stories of scholastic umpiring somewhere east of L.A., his fond memories of his very much with us in spirit late brother Louis, his eyewitness account of the unparalleled Met debut of Dick Rusteck and his perfect perspective when an edgy squabble broke out in our section between one of New York’s three Marlins fans and a presumed Mets loyalist who, judging by his LUNDQUIST 30 garb and demeanor, took a wrong turn on his way to ineffectively taunting Sidney Crosby at Madison Square Garden.

The Marlins guy was annoyingly giddy over the tide briefly turning in his team’s favor. The Mets/Lundquist guy tried to bring him down by informing him there were more people at Citi Field this evening than he’d see at Marlins Park all year…and there was basically nobody at Citi Field. The Marlins guy responded with his version of it’s all about the rings (baby), which is pretty sad, considering the Marlins have two and the Mets have two and none of them has been awarded for more than a decade.

I suggested to Jerry that somewhere Cardinals and Giants fans must be laughing their heads off at this exchange. Yes, Jerry said, but fans of the Cubs — a team whose last World Series was won so long ago that rings weren’t yet awarded to champions — would probably be jealous of all of us.

Hostilities simmered down as quickly as they’d been inflamed. Neither of our ammunition-deprived combatants stuck it out to the end. But we did. And the Mets did. And they gave us the idea they might continue to do so.

Better reattach those boxes to those pocket schedules. We might actually need all 162 of them this year.

5 comments to The One That Didn’t Get Away

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Greg, it was my pleasure meeting you last night. And the evening turned out so well. The Camptown ladies were singing and the Fish were fried. If the Mets have a season that’s nearly as good as good as your and Jason’s ability with the written word, our team will undoubtedly win their third ring. Thank you again for all the great stuff you write, and for the great company last night.

  • 9th string catcher

    Team just seems a little different the last few games. Might be projecting, but it just seemed like “yeah, we got this” kind of post game attitude rather than “holy shit, I can’t believe we actually won one” vibe from the last 8 years or so. I know having Harvey around is part of it, Granderson as well. Here’s a guy with 4 Ks through yesterday’s game. He usually reached that total by game 2.

    I’m seeing more buy-in to fundamental baseball – walks, moving runners over, strategic baserunning. Also, pitchers bearing down and not folding, like Torres did after walking the first two batters or Gee after being down 3 runs. Again, maybe it’s a mirage, but they seem a little different.

  • dmg

    duda going to left-center against the shift has been a delight. hope it’s catching.

  • Baseball Oogie

    It’s April. I know. I *know*.

    But is it a little fun to watch this team play this season?

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