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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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Crazy Times

It should be said that for the first eight innings that was a dull, lousy game.

Seriously. It was like soccer — no action but solo homers, with the Rays seemingly hellbound to one-up us in the Department of Dingers. Grady Sizemore homered (and later took a cheapie away from Wilmer Flores), Juan Uribe matched him, but then James Loney led off the very next inning with a solo shot off Jacob deGrom. Daniel Murphy erased that deficit with a home run in the eighth, but then in the bottom of the inning Evan Longoria homered right back at him, launching a ball that kissed the top of the wall and skimmed over it, like some antimatter version of the ball off the wall.

It sure looked like the Mets were going to lose by one lousy skinny run, and I was philosophical about it. You can’t win every game, and a six-game winning streak was nothing to be sad about.

But there are nine innings to play. No really. You could look it up.

The top of the ninth came with blinking signs of disaster — but they were for Tampa Bay. Normally reliable Brad Boxberger threw away a ball, leaving Lucas Duda safe at first. Then a ball in the dirt ate up catcher Curt Casali (hey, that’s fun to type!) for a wild pitch that moved Duda to second.

Uribe fouled out, leaving Michael Conforto facing the biggest at-bat of his life. And the kid delivered, slicing a low outside pitch up the left-center alley, a ball that seemed to accelerate in flight. Duda rumbled home with the tying run and Conforto saw Kevin Kiermaier‘s momentum had taken him away from the field, and so alertly grabbed second. The Rays’ Logan Forsythe rescued Tampa by smothering Travis d’Arnaud‘s ball up the middle, a hit that stayed on the infield and so left runners at the corners. Then Kelly Johnson lashed a ball that nearly took off Asdrubel Cabrera’s head at short, but wound up in his glove. Fortunately, it was hit so hard that neither Conforto nor d’Arnaud could be doubled up — they’d barely strayed from their bases.

Two outs, tie game. Would we play until dawn?

Up stepped Flores, supported by baying Mets fans — the Trop felt like an asterisked home game all night, and at that moment it was loud for us. Flores blooped a ball to right, seemingly destined for Brandon Guyer‘s glove … but Guyer was scrambling and the ball was losing altitude quickly, and it touched down just in front of Guyer’s mitt for an RBI single.

I expected the Mets to immediately give back that one-run lead, which wasn’t lack of belief in Jeurys Familia and his still-absent sinker/slider combo but a grim certitude that the game would keep following the night’s script. But no, things were about to get even wackier.

I’ve been watching baseball for a long time. I’ve seen tons of batters hit potential double-play balls to the third baseman, only to have them called foul. I’ve seen the occasional instance where the play progresses only to have all involved realize the umpire is signaling that there’s no purpose to what they’re doing. I’ve seen managers miffed about whether the ball was really foul or not.

But for all those things to happen twice in a row? I don’t believe I’d ever seen that until tonight. Guyer was bound and determined to hit the ball to Uribe, and Uribe was bound and determined to extract two outs from it, and the umpires were bound and determined to tell all involved that they had to do it again. It was like the Tampa Bay player had saved the game before Guyer’s at-bat and kept hitting RESTORE in hopes of a better outcome.

Guyer hit a third grounder to Uribe, of course. This one was fair, and Uribe settled for a fielder’s choice that still sapped the Rays’ rally. Two outs later, Familia had struck out Casali to save it, the Mets had won seven in a row, and the Rockies — bless their little purple hearts, at least until next week — had come back to take the lead against the Nationals. (Bryce Harper struck out to end it, and yes, Bryce, we most certainly do give a crap what the Nationals are doing.)

Seven in a row. It won’t last — these things never do — but for now just enjoy the fact that a bizarre, utterly unpredictable season has turned our way again.

27 comments to Crazy Times

  • LA Jake

    Confident, streaking teams find ways to win. That’s the Mets these days.

    Panicked, struggling teams find ways to lose. That’s the Nats these days.

    May both trends continue.

  • Daniel Hall

    I suffered some badly strained nerves in that most wonderous ninth inning and while the Mets pretend it’s not bad and I will only need a day of rest, I fear I will end up on the crowded 60-day fatality list before long.

    Nah, kidding. Noah’s up at six today. How could I miss that?

  • 9th string mobilr

    Mets + 4 runs = win.

  • Steve D

    I never thought for a second that Flores’ bloop was going to fall…it looked like it had way too much hang time. Things are just going right for the Mets, the changes have infused the right blood…a mix of veterans and Conforto who seem to be having fun and playing with no fear and nothing to lose. It must be infectious. One more hurdle to overcome…will Wright’s return ruin this delicate chemistry? Will he play tight and affect the others? Someone on the radio reminded me when Beltran came back once from one of his many season killing injuries and the Mets fell apart.

    It’s been three seasons so far…initial euphoria and 11 game win streak…middle doldrums…August surge. Hmmm…haven’t had that spirit here since…1969.

    • Dennis

      “I never thought for a second that Flores’ bloop was going to fall…it looked like it had way too much hang time.”

      Same thing I was thinking as I was watching it Steve. Great game. Nice to see that some things are going the Mets way for a change.

  • Lou from Brazil

    This may have been the best game I’ve watched all season. It was like boxers trading body blows, and I simply could not turn away from this slugfest. The Rays are a good team, even if their record has fallen a bit the last two months. So there’s no discounting the quality of this win. I’m just amazed how cohesive and excited the Mets look right now, and it has been a blast watching and knowing they haven’t been out of a game lately.

  • dmg

    shirley, you jest. that was as great a win as they’ve had this season.

    and the quick swing in fortunes between the mets and the nats — looking for sure like the mets would lose a full game when the nats were up 4-1 in the eighth — reminded me more than a little of the last game of 2008. mets were tied in the eighth with marlins; brewers tied in the eighth with cubs. then in the span of about 10 minutes, brewers went ahead by 2 and the mets gave up 2 to the marlins.

    all that did was lose the wildcard. it’s nice to be on the right side of that equation for once.

    • Eric

      The Mets coming back (and again and again) at the same time that Storen spit the bit must have been fun in real time.

      I went out with the Mets down and Nationals up. I expected the Mets’ division lead to be knocked down to half a game and the teams to be tied again in the all-important loss column by the time I could check later. It was a pleasant surprise when I looked up the final scores and watched the highlights.

      5.5 game swing in 1 week.

      Uribe has cranked some bombs. I didn’t expect that.

      Murphy, Uribe, Conforto, and Flores with the RBIs. There’s hitting throughout the Mets line-up now. If I was Collins I’d be tempted to bat Conforto 9th in interleague games just to brag.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Heading over to “The Trop” to see the Met game and Bartolo on Sunday afternoon.

    If there was ever going to be an argument against the DH this would be it. I am going to a game and won’t see “Bartolo at the Bat”

    LGM

  • Firstly, this site is so enjoyable, especially when the magic is back…this team reminds of the 69 Mets, lots of pieces fitting together along with great pitching and well, magic! Usually, by this time of summer the Mediocre Mets have lost my attention, so I can move on to other pursuits…now, there is too much fun watching the Magic Mets, to spend the dog days of summer anywhere else…ps. read the Washington Post story on the Nats game last night…seems that Jose Jose helped us out big time with the Rockies rally.

  • LA Jake

    For those concerned about Wright and Cuddyer’s returns hurting the mojo…Wright just spent a week with them as the mojo gathered in this perfect storm. The vets no doubt are buddies of his and the youngsters no doubt respect him. I can’t see an issue developing. And since Cuddyer was with them at the start of the year and will likely play against lefties while Conforto plays against righties (assuming they send Campbell down because how can you not) there shouldn’t be much of a problem there either. And oh by the way, the bench gets MUCH better when they are both back.

    • Dennis

      Great point about Wright being around the team. I agree that it’s a positive and with Cuddyer returning it gives them a much deeper bench.

    • Eric

      When Cuddyer comes back on Monday, I favor sending down Campbell instead of Conforto. Cuddyer slots easily into Campbell’s remaining role as a righty bat off the bench. Johnson has taken Campbell’s utilityman role already. Cuddyer can play 1B or even 3B in a pinch as well.

      That one’s easy.

      For the regular season, bringing back Wright when the roster expands is easy.

      But if the Mets make the play-offs, who’s left off of the 25-man roster to make room for Wright? That’s not so easy.

      After Campbell, there aren’t any other obvious cuts from the 25-man roster. Tejada needs to stay as the only true SS. The veterans are staying.

      That leaves Flores or Conforto.

      If the Mets make the play-offs, Flores seems like the likeliest cut in order for Wright to make the post-season 25-man roster.

  • Harvey

    Great story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution How Braves fans (and some team execs) are rooting for the Mets and how they detest the arrogant Nats.

    • Lou from Brazil

      I can attest to that. When I lived in Georgia, many of my friends were obviously Braves fans and we could always agree to hate the Nats together.

  • Bob

    Why—-It’s just AMAZING!

    Met fan in LA–

  • eric1973

    When D. Wright comes back, in order to keep him from complaining, maybe they can just move the fences in for him like they did those other 3 times.

    And keep Conforto when D. Wright’s friend gets back. Conforto is a part of the feel-good story this season has become.

    • Eric

      It may not help. Wright has what Mattingly had.

      It’s easier to fit Cuddyer back in than it will be to fit Wright back into the 25-man roster.

      Campbell should be sent down when Cuddyer comes back. Easy.

      However, the current 25-man roster has been constructed to compensate for Wright not coming back this season.

      If the Mets make the play-offs, then Conforto or Flores will be the top candidates to be left off the post-season roster to make room for Wright.

      However, what if Wright is healthy enough to play in the post-season but the Captain is no longer the same player he was before the spinal stenosis? The Mets may be confronted with leaving off the roster a more useful player than Wright while also being obligated to play Wright at 3rd base over objectively more productive players on the roster.

      • DAK442

        Wouldn’t we carry at least one fewer pitcher in the playoffs than right now? There should be room for Wilmer and Conforto, because why on earth would Gilmartin be on the postseason roster? Heck – if everyone’s healthy, does Colon make the roster?

        • Eric

          Don’t forget Matz.

          You think the Met would go 11/14 if they go to the post-season? Although rotations usually cut down to 4 for the post-season, the usual roster mix is still 12 pitchers, 13 position players. 11/14 isn’t unheard of, though.

          • DAK442

            I think it would be worth considering. Is that 12th pitcher really gonna provide anything? Drop Gilmartin, swap Matz for Bart if the kid is healthy, and have at it!

            Oh, these are fun things to mull over.

    • Dennis

      It just wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t some idiotic bashing of Wright by eric1973.

  • Mikey

    I’m going to be really angry if they keep Campbell and send Conforto down….I could see them doing that because they are still the Mets. However, the fact that they did something finally about Alex Torres gives me hope that Sandy really doesnt want to mess this up

    • Eric

      I was pleased that Torres cleared waivers.

      He’s a southpaw with a good arm that might still be useful. Hopefully, Viola can work with him and perform some makeover magic.

  • Eric

    Big game psychologically today for the Nationals with Strasburg starting.

    The Nationals’ fallback position has been they’ll play up to their league-leading expectations once all their marquee players are active. The only 2 left to activate from the DL are Strasburg and Span.

    Between Strasburg and Span, I think Strasburg coming back strong means more to the Nationals because he counters the main advantage of their rivals, the Mets’ starting rotation.

    Scherzer, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Gonzalez, and Ross can match up well with the Mets’ 3 aces plus Colon and Niese.

    But if Strasburg falls flat at home tonight at the same time that Syndergaard pitches well on the road where he’s struggled so far, panic will start to percolate.

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