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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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This Feels Different

Are you supposed to know when you’ve been born again? Because I’m pretty sure I have been, fanwise.

Somewhere between Thursday night, when I expected everything to go wrong but it didn’t, and Friday night, when it never occurred to me anything would go wrong and it didn’t, I underwent some kind of transformation.

Perhaps Bartolo Colon dunked me three times in a vat of Rheingold and performed a baseball baptism on me when I wasn’t paying attention. It’s totally plausible that he did. He does everything else.

Call it a spiritual rebirth, a renewal of faith, a state of enlightenment. Call it 8-3, six in a row, another day dawning with the Mets in first place. I’m calling it different from whatever directly preceded the way I’m feeling now. I’m calling it different from anything I’ve ever felt before in a lifetime’s devotion to the cause of the New York Mets.

Seriously. I’ve experienced better records, longer winning streaks, extended stays at the top of the division. But I’ve never quite experienced this sense of joyous calm about it. I’m excited and enthusiastic, yes, yet I’m not anxious about it. It simply feels right.

The Mets are winning game after game. I love it. I love them. I love us. I feel no ire as I usually do. In recent years I couldn’t even enjoy the intermittent bouts with victory because they felt almost pointless. I knew we’d go back to losing sooner rather than later and that the losing would never truly end.

I know no such thing right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen during the rest of 2015. I’m not worried about it. I do know nothing about the Mets bothers me at this moment.

For example, on Friday afternoon, I learned they assigned Danny Muno No. 16. Most days I believe No. 16 should receive reverential treatment; if they’re not going to retire it for Dwight Gooden, then hold it in reserve for a player of veteran distinction or particular promise. I still believe that. I don’t believe a random rookie utility infielder should be handed Dr. K’s number. But I can’t get riled up about it.

The Mets don’t rile me up in the present. All the peripheral issues that generally gnaw at me are on hiatus. The ballpark? It’s a gem. The manager? He’s a genius. The owners? I forget their names.

The team is good. How good? In the long run, I have no idea. In the near term, they are a pleasure to watch. I see them fall behind in the top of the first when Colon gives up a home run to Giancarlo Stanton and I’m unperturbed. Sure Stanton’s killed us with regularity. Sure he’ll have several more opportunities to continuing killing us tonight.

But so what? I’ve been born again. You’ll have to do better than Giancarlo Stanton and his lethal bat if you want to take me down.

The Mets were being no-hit through four? Also so what? Is David Phelps really going to throw a no-hitter tonight? There were Friday nights when I would have strongly considered the possibility. It never crossed my mind on this one.

Sure enough, the Mets started hitting in the fifth and they tied the score at one. Colon not only hadn’t give up anything else to Stanton or any Marlin, but he drove in that tying run with a well-struck sacrifice fly. I told you he does it all.

He and Gold Glover Juan Lagares, that is. Lagares accepted his 2014 award before the game and earned his 2015 award during the game via three catches that were progressively Juan, Juaner and Juanest. You know the old saying: Two-thirds of the earth is covered by Bartolo Colon — and Juan Lagares is a sensational center fielder.

The fifth was fun. The sixth was more fun. Two more Met runs crossed the plate. Colon pitched seven. Jerry Blevins replaced him and was perfect in the eighth. Then Daniel Murphy, one of the few Mets who hadn’t contributed much to the winning ways of 2015, got on board and drove in a fourth run. Then Jeurys Familia did the rest.

I enjoyed the 4-1 win fully and embraced the result without hesitation. I didn’t worry that it’s no more than a prelude to a regression toward the mean and I didn’t attempt to link it to any obvious April precedent. I couldn’t, because this is like nothing I’ve felt before. Forty-seven seasons into my Mets fandom, I’m learning I can feel them in unprecedented ways.

That, to me, is more amazing than an 8-3 start.

You can draw parallels and comparisons with previous seasons and their encouraging beginnings. You can project out from the best of the past anything you want. Yet I’m not tempted to. I’ve spent most of my existence keeping close tabs on this franchise and I’m telling you: this feels different.

I feel equally untethered to the unrelenting sour times of the recent past and the occasionally glorious times of the distant past, and I don’t mind. I take comfort in knowing it’s all back there and that it all informs what we expect and how we react. Trust me, I know where to find it should I need it. This 2015 journey, though, is its own thing: kinda young, kinda now…kinda free, kinda wow.

That last part is from an old perfume commercial, but this spiritual or emotional or whatever it is rebirth that stems from the Mets winning the way they are is pretty sweet, so what the hell…y’know?

34 comments to This Feels Different

  • Kevin from Flushing

    This has been a fun month. I’m very curious to see how this team plays against the other divisions.

    And do we have to go to Miami? Can’t we just give the Marlins 2 wins, rest our pitchers, and save some headaches? Why ruin a good time?

  • Jesse

    I was there last night with my daughter and her friend, the latter of whom hadn’t been to a game since Shea. I loved the crowd. They were into it from the start, and the only thing that annoyed me was when the fake cheer machine interrupted a real, spontaneous, crowd-created chant a few times. I can’t remember that happening before. I didn’t even mind (too much) the guy in my section who kept starting the wave during a rally. Buddy, can’t you save that for when there’s nothing interesting on the field? But it was ok because the crowd loved it, loved the game, loved our team. It was just so much enthusiasm and joy. No clue whether it will survive the first 5 game losing streak, but wow it was fun for a night in April.

  • Lou from Brazil

    159-3?

    If/when Bartolo retires, can the Mets please hire him for the coaching staff? ‘Fun Coordinator’ sounds like a good title for him.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Ore word. Confidence. The players have confidence. The coaching staff has confidence. The fans have confidence. The team falls behind 3-0 like they did Thursday night. No problem. Stanton hits a homer in the 1st inning Friday night. No problem. A ball gets hit anywhere between Cuddyer and Granderson. Definitely no problem. I’m loving this team.

    I’ll be at the stadium tonight watching Jacob deGrominate the opposition. Let’s Go Mets!

  • Art Pesner

    Greg, once again you have captured how I am feeling. There will clearly be changes made during the season, but that looks like part of the journey. Have already been at 3 games, and the atmosphere and vibe is totally different. I still don’t know what I witnessed Tuesday night, but it was memorable.

  • 9th string catcher

    This has been the best week of Mets watching since the 80s. Perfect example – man on 2nd, Murphy up. I said out loud, wow, Murphy is going to drive the insurance run in. I was absolutely convinced – Murphy has always been the guy you want up in the late innings. Familia came in, completely drama-free unlike most of the closers we’ve had for the past 15 years and got the job done. People know their roles and they’re executing – Granderson IS the leadoff hitter. Lagares IS the center fielder. Duda IS the first baseman. The rotation is dominant. The bullpen is almost completely defined. No doubt that this is a good team. The challenge is whether or not the competition they play is better. Win or lose, this is a team you can root for.

  • Steady Eddie

    Their longest win streak in 4 long seasons does tend to make us gush. And why not? It’s good to have a little pride restored to our feelings after all the bitter disappointments. But getting too ecstatic this early just primes us for a bigger fall when things go a little sour. And go sour they must. In this age of instant gratification, the highs seem too high and the lows –oh, those lows– get waaaay too low. The team, while improved, still has areas which admit concern, not the least of which is the capability of Niese and Gee. The keystone combo also will cause angst — Murphy’s terrible throw to the plate on the Ichiro play was not atypical. Then there’s the Mets affinity for injury. I worried every step of the way when Cuddyer legged out his double last night. I worry ever time Harvey throws his upper 90s heater. And my worries about Wright and his recent propensity for injury were not unfounded. No; I’ll fully enjoy the Mets’ seeming resurgence, but with a dose of self-control. There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate when my dreams become a reality.

  • Michael G.

    The Mets have been historically undone by a lousy bullpen. Last year’s start would have been way better if the bullpen had performed. We all remember the historic bullpen meltdowns of late ’07 and ’08. Even without Mejia, this year’s pen has been stellar, holding leads late when we get them. Add to that Harvey, DeGrom and, yes, Bart, and we have every reason to believe this team can compete. Plus the maturation of Duda, d”Arnaud, Lagares and the apparent clutchness of Cuddyer. We have every reason to be optimistic!

  • Shawn B

    “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by Bartolo Colon . . .” Win or lose, but especially win, these blog entries are the best way to start a day.

  • About that old perfume commercial? You’re playing my song…

  • Matthew in Buffalo

    I so cannot wait to get to Yankee Stadium on Friday night. It’s going to be LOUD.

  • Rob

    Just don’t forget what a bad decision it was to start Colon on Opening Day and what an idiot Terry Collins is. ;-)

    • metsfaninparadise

      Terry is still an idiot

      • Rob

        Yep. To hear the newspapers and sports talk tell it, they’re 0-3 in games influenced by the manager, 8-0 in the other games.

        • Just don’t forget what a bad decision it was to start Colon on Opening Day

          Theoretically, I stand by my objection for the reasons stated at the time. In all practicality, I was completely wrong in my assessment. Next year, after Colon has accepted his second Cy Young Award, I will be disappointed if a) he’s not the Opening Day starter and b) leading an expedition to Mars where he shall discover new life forms, for as I have learned, Bartolo Colon can do anything.

          • Rob

            It worked out, but your reasons were valid (and they could have easily lost that game). They couldn’t say it publicly, but I’m sure nobody gave them much of a chance against Scherzer on Opening Day on the road against a team that owned them. Maybe they figured if you’re going to be 0-1, would you rather have deGrom & Harvey up next or deGrom & Colon? Considering what the “Met psyche” was on Opening Day (and it’s very different now only 11 games later), the hedge kind of made sense to me. They probably would have been thrilled just to take one game at that point.

      • Dennis

        Yeah…..Terry’s such an idiot he’s been able to have a career coaching and managing in minor and MLB since 1981. I’ll gladly take that career while being called an idiot by those who’s extent of baseball experience is playing wiffleball in their backyard.

  • Alfred

    As a Met fan since 1962, season ticket holder for years, 3rd and 4th place Banner Day winner I couldn’t agree more. I’ve read a lot of blogs, comments, nonsense and prose about “MY” Mets BUT the quality of writing on this site is first class. There is content, there is insight but when there is artful prose it is a true pleasure. Thank you

  • Jason Powery

    You’ve managed to capture the emotion that I’m feeling right now. A revelation after long years of numbness and anxiety. But, perhaps this is the calm before the storm. It would be just like the Mets to give us a tease and then to yank the carpet right out from under us. And from this high up, I can almost guarantee not everyone will survive the fall.

  • Dave

    Not much I can add to the comments already made about how much fun this is and how things are really starting to gel. I know it’s only April, but 1st place Mets (and last place for the Philly Phools and the team in the Bronx) brings a smile to my face. And are the Mets now negotiating a longer suspension for Mejia? I mean, who needs him, especially if he comes back, interrupts other pitchers’ roles, and then if all goes right and the Mets are playing in October, the postseason portion of the suspension kicks in and roles have to be reshuffled?

    About Muno’s uniform number…the Mets don’t do uniform number honors very well. Obviously now #17 is in the awkward state of not retired but kind of in mothballs, which might be nice had a long parade of absolute schlubs not worn it in the interim. I mean, go to Mets By The Numbers and look at the post-Hernandez collection of largely forgotten players issued #17. And as far as Doc’s #16, how much reverence can a number be held in if Rick Ankiel wore it?

    • They seem to have put 17 in mothballs since Tatis left.

      Ankiel was given a selection of numbers and when he saw 16 was available, he jumped precisely because he grew up idolizing Doc. I’m cool with that. Ditto Bell and Cone wearing it in tribute, same for the Mientkiewiczes, Nomos, Dice-Ks, Lo Ducas and Pagans who all wore it elsewhere (if it’s not going to be retired). It’s when they slap 16 on Rob Johnson and Danny Muno that my ire (even its reduced state as I luxuriate in total Met bliss) rises.

      Of course Muno is welcome to take the league by storm and make 16 his number fully. That would be swell, actually.

  • Lenny65

    What I like is that these aren’t fluky “lucky” wins, they’re playing quality baseball here. When Dillon and that lefty guy who’s always around are your worst starters, that ain’t bad at all.

  • Metsfansantamonica

    My favorite play last night was Bartolo fielding the weak grounder and firing to first to end the inning. In years past that would have been an adventure. Last night it was assertive, confident, boss. And the way Duda caught it at first – cocky and in charge. It was a drop the mic moment. The players on the this team are saying collectively, “we got this.”

    What’s equally exciting to me as the anticipation building for the rest of this season, is looking forward to following this blog throughout the year. Of all the Mets blogs out there – you guys best capture the heart and emotion of the fans experience and it isn’t close. It’s going to be quite a diary come October.

  • Gerard

    Very good piece, feel the same and agree on almost everything…almost. As a lifelong (at least since 9 or so)lover and student of the game any my team, numbers 16 and 18 hurt so much it felt personal. What could have, what should have been, but sadly never was
    Several numbers not issued, given that reverential treatment, but 16 doesn’t belong in that group

  • Elliot Chester

    I think the best part, from my perspective, is that these wins aren’t based on insane early-season performances from the “John Buck hitting like Johnny Bench” vault. Yes, Lucas Duda isn’t going to hit .380 and Bartolo’s not going to knock in 15 runs and Cuddyer is going to get hurt in June. But on the flip side you figure Murphy, Granderson and Flores will all mosey past Mendoza sooner or later. Vic Black will come back. David Wright will come back. Montero and Syndergaard and Matz will get starts; presumably at least one will be rotation-worthy by the break. This doesn’t feel unsustainable. It feels like scratching the surface.

    Of course, it helps that the rest of the NL East sucks right now.

  • I have been in journalism for 35 years and if you don’t already know it — YOU’RE A VERY GOOD WRITER! Keep up the good work.

    P.S. If you’re born again you’ll know it! Keep the faith.

  • Original Met

    This feels somewhat like the 1997-98 teams, when we were able to believe and enjoy again after 6 years on the backside of the desert – yet unburdened by the kind of high expectations that invariably produce disappointment – see 2007/08. Only those teams didn”t have Harvey and deGrom!

  • open the gates

    Excellent article, and it sums up a lot of what I’ve been thinking. The one name I haven’t been hearing much recently has been Kevin Long. The professional approach to hitting, the clutchness, is something new across the board. How many of these games would last year’s Mets have lost due to batting woes? Long may turn out to be the Mets’ best offseason acquisition.

  • i_am_a_time_bomb

    It’s great, isn’t it? You totally summed up my feeling about the season so far. Two of my 3 kiddos are old enough to be appreciating this and they really are loving it, waking up every morning to hear about the final line on the Mets’ victory, and to watch the highlights, and my attitude about it is just like yours: very zen, very embracing of the now. It’s just fun, right? It’s baseball; it’s a game; and all is well.

    And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is Harvey Day. And everybody loves Harvey Day. 2015. What a joy to be alive, and to be young? Well, for my 4-year-old, it’s very heaven.

  • Daniel Hall

    I’m embracing, but I’m not confident. Seven innings of deGromination last night – how can the Mets possibly lose this? And then the bullpen enters and oh, there, a hit, and oh, there, another hit, and WHOAH, he almost took his head off!!

    I was sure it was going to blow right up there in the ninth. Somehow it didn’t. Mets still undefeated in games I’m watching (5-0). Somehow.

  • […] in April I thought we were in another one of those years, with another one of those teams. Maybe we were then. Maybe we will be again. We are decidedly not […]

  • Nick

    Oh ye of little faith. I still believe every word Greg wrote here. Right now, we’re 25 and 21 – and with the big Three (if we can include a man with One Major League Win along with the guys who are each nearing Twenty in that group) coming up, there is still plenty of room for revived optimism in a year when 89 wins ought to get us into that second wild card slot….

  • […] lost on Sunday, on Monday and on Tuesday. The Mets lost on none of those days. It’s not so much, per the middle of April, that this feels different. This feels warmly familiar to the way it was when the way it was was […]