The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com. (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Do Wild Mood Swings Count?

I had Pedro Martinez on my back Sunday as I visited the same summer place on Flushing Bay I’ve been frequenting since 2009. MARTINEZ 45 normally sits on my t-shirt retirement shelf, but it felt appropriate to unfold it and ceremonially reactivate it in honor of Pedro Martinez entering the Hall of Fame with a plaque that devoted one half of one line to his time pitching for NEW YORK, N.L. 2005-08. Those seasons coincided with the final years I spent at my previous summer place on Flushing Bay, the one I’d been visiting since 1973. Pedro was kind enough to drop by the current place my first summer there, though I’m compelled to note he was dressed all wrong for the occasion.

True to 2005-early 2006 form, Martinez as immortality inductee didn’t let us down. When it came time for him to mention the period when he sold mountains of merchandise to the likes of us, he embraced us from afar. “The Mets fans,” he said to the Cooperstown crowd, “well, if you look at me and you see me going wild, that’s a Mets fan.” He offered a happy little dance, evocative of the night he was accidentally spritzed by the Shea Stadium sprinklers so we’d know what he meant by “wild,” then concluded his brief explanation.

“That’s how we are. So Queens, I love you too!”

Sweet of Pedro to find a way to identify with his legion of mid-2000s acolytes. If that’s how he chooses to vaguely recall us — as soulmates under the 45s — that’s beautiful. It might not be wholly accurate, but I’ll take it.

By the top of the ninth Sunday, while Pedro, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz and Randy Johnson were soaking in their well-deserved adulation, I was decidedly going less than wild for what was becoming of a 2-0 Mets lead. It had been, to that moment, a beautiful day, the kind of day you tell people about down the road, that day Jacob deGrom not only outpitched his fellow All-Star Zack Greinke but personally drove in the run that halted Greinke’s consecutive scoreless innings streak. Usually “scoreless” and the Mets go hand-in-hand, but not like that.

If you wanted a fastball that could cut glass…“y’know, razor sharp,” as Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams turning into Dirk Diggler would’ve put it…Jacob deGrom was your man. He was so bright and so sharp and so powerful for seven-and-two-thirds innings. Greinke was mostly Greinke, but that didn’t mean so much when we had deGrom, even if deGrom wasn’t permitted to display quite the extraordinary length that made Dirk Diggler famous in Boogie Nights.

Jacob came out after his 113th pitch, following a performance that encompassed eight strikeouts, no runs, two hits and two walks. The only sign of trouble was the second walk came in the eighth inning, to Jimmy Rollins (who you’d rather see walk than do that thing he did over the right field fence in the previous three games). DeGrom retired Alberto Callaspo directly thereafter, but Joc Pederson was due up and you have Jeurys Familia and it was 113 pitches and pretty warm, so OK, you do what managers do in this era. It’s not like they weren’t doing in the latter stages of the days of Martinez, Johnson and Smoltz.

Familia gets out of the eighth and it’s fine. The Mets don’t increase their 2-0 lead in their half, and it’s all right, you guess. I mean, yeah, more runs is better than fewer runs — witness the joy of excess from Saturday night — but try not to be so prickly, you tell yourself. The Mets are up by two and they have their de facto All-Star closer on. He wasn’t named to the squad, but you know he should have been. Jeurys has got this.

You tell yourself that, but you’re not quite believing it.

What is making me uneasy? Is it the inability to cope with the Mets’ version of prosperity, which as of the top of the ninth Sunday is a one-game winning streak? Is it reflexive worry that accompanies the participation of every Met closer from Skip Lockwood forward? Is it Familia’s recent unsharpness, during which he seems to be cutting glass less automatically than he was in the first half?

Actually, it’s something happening in the stands, where Pedro Martinez would be moved to reappraise his assessment of Mets fans.

On this Family Sunday, as the marketing department insists on labeling it, there appears to a brood of relations sitting around me. It’s hard to say who exactly is doing the sitting, as I’m in one of those spots (Section 107) where people seem to be shifting their seats all day. At one point, a lady with two kids shows up and asks if the chairs to my right are taken. I have to confess to her that I really can’t tell. She plops down anyway.

By the ninth, a father and two kids perhaps attached to this woman (perhaps not) are in front of me, and in front of that guy is an older man. We’ll call him the grandfather. I can’t say this bunch was paying attention to the game all day. I’d been paying attention to the game all day, so they could’ve been distilling moonshine for all I knew. What suddenly matters is they’re not paying attention to the game at its most critical juncture.

With one out in the ninth and me trying to focus on Familia, my trance was interrupted by the grandfather figure. He wanted his son and grandsons to pose for a photo. His back was to the part of the stadium where the featured match was still very much in progress; dad and the boys were facing forward, but not looking in on the action. Adrian Gonzalez and his .900 OPS were up.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I screamed in my head at the amateur shutterbug was who was turned the wrong way at a potential turning point of this ballgame we were all ostensibly here to see. “TAKE THE PICTURE LATER! TAKE IT WHEN THE GAME IS OVER! WAIT A FEW MINUTES AND SET IT AGAINST THE FIELD! IT’LL MAKE A BETTER PICTURE ANYWAY!”

I didn’t say any of that out loud. I didn’t have to. Adrian Gonzalez’s big stick did all the speaking. He doubled off the wall, bringing up slugging sensation Justin Turner, formerly a lightly regarded Met utilityman, you might have heard. Natch, Turner doubles and Gonzalez scores and if a picture is taken of the dad and his sons in the row in front of me, I’d hate to see the face I was making in the background.

It is a matter of public record that Yasmani Grandal shot the game-tying single down the third base line past Juan Uribe, which is just cruel, and it was now 2-2. What was being said in my head once the score was knotted isn’t fit for the Off Day Monday after Family Sunday.

Familia then gathers the two outs that had to wait just long enough to trash deGrom’s decision. The Mets can win it in the bottom of the ninth, but they’re not going to. I know it. Everybody knows it. Nobody is going wild. That’s what got me later about Pedro’s portrait of us. Perhaps we should have been willing our team toward the tiebreaker, letting them know it was just one of those half-innings, they happen, and now we’re gonna go get ’em, LET’S GO METS!!!!!!!

That would have been wild. Instead we went mild. Michael Conforto — Mr. 1,000 — walked to start the bottom of the ninth, but then Kirk Nieuwehnhuis was ordered to attempt a silly bunt, which wound up in J.P. Howell’s glove before it could ever touch the ground. Kirk has worked his ’Heis off to get his average to Mendoza levels and this is what you do with one of your hot hitters? So he becomes an out and Citi Field grows eerily quiet. You’d never have guessed the potential winning run was on base. You’d never have guessed a team that recently scored fifteen runs in a single game was batting.

I exhorted nobody, not even in my head. Everything had been so pleasant. Now it was just miserable. These were the Mets being the Mets of too many ninth innings past. I was attending my 600th regular-season home game, both Queens summer places combined, and this felt so familiar. It was that game against the Braves in 2001. It was that game against the Brewers in 2011. There was an Expos game from 1998 mixed in there, too, I’m pretty sure.

The game against the Dodgers from 2015 was joining the ugly crowd. And, as if to accent the awfulness of the affair as the bottom of the ninth was expiring without success, it was starting to rain.

This was not only my second consecutive game, it was my wife’s. Stephanie isn’t quite as committed to the completion of every contest as I am, but if she can be comfortable and have a sense that it will eventually end, she’s good to stay. But make it rain, close off the escalators that take a ticketholder to air-conditioned refuge on Excelsior and estimate the time of departure as “whenever,” then it’s not so good.

Not that she said anything, other than “where to now?” as it rained just hard enough to chase us into the Field Level concourse. We camped out somewhere a bit beyond first base, peering and (personally, seething) among others who sought dryness. Jenrry Mejia let Rollins roam as far as third base, but no further. The Mets could win this in the bottom of the tenth. Or the bottom of the tenth could merely preface more innings that would — as the previous Sunday’s encounter with the Cardinals did — expand beyond the orange and blue horizon.

I wasn’t going to do that to Stephanie. I wasn’t going to do that to myself. I wasn’t going to put up with it from the Mets. I can’t hit for them, I can’t pitch for them, I can only cheer so much for them. But I can now and then vote with my feet. I said, “If they don’t score in the tenth, we can go.”

That’s as close to a nuclear option as I carry to the ballpark (I hope security doesn’t read that literally). I don’t believe I’ve walked out of Citi Field before a non-suspended conclusion all year. Why would I? In my previous fifteen games at Citi Field, the Mets were 11-4. Losing is rarely an impediment to endurance. Rain, within reason, isn’t a dealbreaker. And I’m only so chivalrous toward my wife. This was essentially a protest. You’re going to blow an almost-sure win just as I was beginning to take you seriously? Then you’re going to have to do it without me watching.

Heckuva protest, huh? But it’s all I had. Exit velocity would be my version of turning my back to the field.

The bottom of the tenth did turn out to be our final half-inning, but for the surprisingly right reason: Granderson slashing and zipping until he was at second; Granderson not getting doubled off (though not advancing) on another inane bunt attempt; Daniel Murphy walking via the intentions of Don Mattingly; and Juan Uribe — who I’d already decided might wind up being more Tony Phillips than Donn Clendenon in the pantheon of midrace acquisitions — shooing away the last of the passing shower’s raindrops with a double that rang off the wall and into the books…the history books!

Well, my history books, in that I don’t remember ever before traveling from gloom and doom to boom and zoom while courting so much emotional whiplash. There was an extended episode of jumping up and down in the concourse and enough yelling to maybe require a stash of Sucrets be kept on hand for future euphoric outbursts. I thought we were good going into the ninth; I assumed we were crushed going into the tenth; I discovered a heretofore untapped vertical leap once it was confirmed there was no need to storm out prior to the eleventh. There was no eleventh inning. There was a 3-2 win in ten, a two-game winning streak, Greinke conquered, nearby Dodgers fans not so smug and a 4:57 at Woodside in case flying without wings was technically impossible.

If you go to a Broadway show, I suggested to Stephanie on the way home, you probably know not long after the curtain goes up whether or not you like it, whereas this baseball game was for the longest stretch terrific, then briefly horrific, yet ultimately life-affirming. After three disparate acts on top of a ceaselessly rousing production the night before, she who got her 19 innings’ worth over the previous 24 hours was compelled to agree.

Before Pedro Martinez spoke on Sunday afternoon, Craig Biggio delivered a decidedly lower-key Hall of Fame induction speech (no dancing whatsoever). “Tomorrow,” the eternal Astro from out east said, “is not guaranteed.” Biggio was talking about always playing hard, but his words also provide a useful lesson for general managers who have waited several years to be one hyperactive trading deadline from lunging for an eminently lungeable playoff spot. But what Craig might have missed is that for the fans, there is pretty much always tomorrow. We hang on to tomorrow as long as the schedule says we have a tomorrow. When Pedro was first a Met, I distinctly remember us giving up on him and his teammates right around this time of year…and circling directly back into their corner when their pulse beat just fast enough to get us going again.

I was ready to give up on the Mets in the tenth inning Sunday. I was ready to get the hell away from them. I was also ready to pull my old-fashioned transistor-type radio out of my schlep bag and tune it to 710 AM because I vote more with heart than my feet, no matter how much ire is racing through my brain.

That, too, is a Mets fan. That, too, is how we are.

13 comments to Do Wild Mood Swings Count?

  • Inside Pitcher

    Remember that 14-inning game we attended at Shea in 2008 and the idiots who were taking pictures during the 10th inning?

    How do we find these people?

    At least you can say all’s well that ends well about this one.

    • Thought of that twice this weekend — once for the reason you stated (though at least they knew a good backdrop when they saw it) and once because it was a get home late (no extra innings, but the concert this time) and turn right around for another game in the morning situation.

      • Inside Pitcher

        That was also when I was introduced to “The Place That Greg Showed Me That Night,” which is still how we describe it.

        • The Place might be in danger, given Penn Station management’s designs on high-ending that retail area. Sure hope not.

          • Inside Pitcher

            I’m optimistic about it, especially that now it has auxiliary locations (but only one original location that you showed me that night).

  • Kevin From Flushing

    I’ve said it many many times in these here comment sections, but the silver lining to an awful Mets season is finding yourself sharing an entire section with only 5 or 6 people come August and stretching your legs, free of the nonsense that comes with winning baseball crowds. It’s only you and the other like-minded maniacs who actually want to be there.

    I haven’t seen much of the Mets-sanctioned photographers in the crowd this season (though that doesn’t mean they aren’t there). They drive me absolutely insane. In front of the park or around the concourse is one thing, it’s another for the Wilpons send out people into the crowd to SPECIFICALLY distract fans from the game they paid to watch in person. It’s just disrespectful to the game. I guess I’m an old coot, but my point is: I hear you, Greg.

    Along that notion: having a Diamondvision graphic to urge the crowd to “DO THE WAVE” is fucking pure Mets on a number of levels.

  • Matt

    We just picked up Clippard. Should make for a pretty formidable back end to the bullpen. I’ve been fearing becoming too dependent on Mejia since he wouldn’t be available for the postseason, but Parnell, Mejia, Clippard, Familia sounds pretty good to me. The only thing missing is a lefty specialist. Anyone have any news on Blevins?

  • Steve D

    For someone who wasn’t born here, if you ever listen to Pedro closely, he speaks picture perfect English. That tells me a lot about him.

    • His memoir — albeit ghostwritten — actually sounds like Pedro. I know he didn’t sit there at a word processor and decide to describe Manny Ramirez (I think it was) as mercurial, but it captures his tone and is wonderfully readable.

  • Daniel Hall

    I, too, mentally collapsed in that top 9th right along with deGrom’s W. It was a bit too much then. A wonderful game through eight, and then Familia just doesn’t get it done and it all goes into the bin.

    I didn’t even go all “Wheeeeeee!!!” when they walked off, still numb then…