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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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Charmed Life (for Now)

Let’s go back to the top of the sixth Monday night, with the Mets facing the eternally irritating Marlins at a cheerfully rambunctious Citi Field. With the game tied at 1-1, two outs and runners on first and third, Derek Dietrich popped up a 1-1 pitch from Sean Gilmartin. It drifted over the Marlins’ dugout, where David Wright was pressed against the railing, glove seeking ball.

If Wright had been a couple of inches taller, or a bit more of whatever the measurement is for stretchier, he would have caught the ball. Instead, it just eluded his glove for a foul ball and strike two. Dietrich singled on the next pitch and the Marlins led 2-1. Then J. T. Realmuto floated one over a leaping Wilmer Flores and it was 3-1.

Worried? Pshaw. These are the 2015 Mets 2.0. With two out in the bottom of the frame, Juan Uribe doubled. Three pitches later, Travis d’Arnaud blasted a home run into the first row in right-center. The Marlins had led for all of 11 pitches. In the bottom of the seventh, with two men on, Wright recreated his long-ago hit over Johnny Damon‘s head at Shea for a double. It scored Eric Young Jr. (who now has four at-bats as a ’15 Met, six runs scored and no hits — pretty much the way one should use Eric Young Jr. in baseball games) and it would have scored Curtis Granderson except it hopped into the stands.

That’s a stupid rule — anyone who’s watched more than a week of baseball knows Granderson would have scored even if he’d been helping a pal move a sofa around the bases — but never mind that now. The 4-3 lead was enough for a Mets win and a sudden urge to salute Hot Rod Kanehl, Duffy Dyer and Rusty Staub.

This is one of the sweetest stretches of baseball you can watch — the mid-September variety that doesn’t have particular urgency because things are going really well. (Goodness knows we’ve seen plenty of sour stretches that lacked urgency because things had gone fatally badly.) For Terry Collins, these games are testbeds for specific relief roles and opportunities for the strategic resting of veterans; for us, they’re sandboxes for reviving one’s dormant sense of Mets optimism. The Mets haven’t been in this position since 2006, except they’re playing better now than they were back then.

Enjoy it. Enjoy being cheerful about a two-run deficit, about pondering which uniform-related salute to break out next, about spending more time eyeing the Dodgers’ doings than the Nationals’ results. Because soon, very soon, this will be over. This string of crazy, Midas-touch games will end, as all such things must, and you will have doubts and worries again. And then those doubts and worries will be hugely magnified overnight. Every pitch will be life and death, joy or agony. Which will be awesome, of course, even as you’re certain it will kill you whatever the outcome.

You’ll enjoy that too. But it’ll be different. So savor this.

* * *

Well, wouldja look at this? Amazin’!

28 comments to Charmed Life (for Now)

  • Matt in Richmond

    TDA has been awesome. I’d assumed he would be a potent hitter once healthy and regularly in the lineup, but I didn’t anticipate him having this much power.

  • Dave

    Looking forward to going from Shingo Takatsu to George Theodore or even Desi Relaford tonight. Because we’re in a position to be silly right now. As Jason says, things are going to get more stressful soon enough and we won’t have brain space to be digging up uniform numbers of the forgotten or forgettable to match the magic number.

    Well, I shouldn’t say that. I’ll never forget George Theodore, none of us should.

  • eric1973

    “Every pitch will be life and death, joy or agony.”

    Totally get where you’re coming from, Jason. 1985 and 1987 were two of the most miserable, though awesome (and fun), seasons in history.

  • mikeL

    well put jason, this IS the fun part, and we know we’re on our way to just the first milestone.

    and yes a stupid rule. if there was to be another clock in the game (like the current invisible pitch clock??) how about one that factors an outfielder’s location and best throw (exit belocity) to determine the time it would take to reach the plate. let the clock count down when the ball clears the fence. if the runner scores before clock runs out, he’s safe. like a tag play with a clock…that would bd exciting to watch, with fans counting down in the stands.
    just a not-yet-out-of-bed musing.
    lets go mets…

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Game winning extra base hit notwithstanding, David Wright now has all of 6 extra base hits in 102 at bats and still isn’t getting to hot grounders he used to eat up. Plus I don’t like the way he throws to first base these days.

    Just sayin’

    • Eric

      Better batting 2nd than clean-up, though the way Mets are getting on base up and down the line-up, every spot is an RBI spot.

      • Dave

        Yeah, or better batting 7th or 8th than 2nd. Hoping that this is just rust, but I fear that it’s more like diminishing skills.

        • Eric

          Wright is past 30 with a lot of mileage, diminishing production prior, and he now has the back condition that reduced Mattingly from a future Hall of Famer to a role player.

          Ken K. in NJ’s point about Wright’s reduced range in the field worries me more than reduced range in his hitting.

          As long as Wright can keep the line moving in small ball fashion, there’s enough pop around him in the line-up. But fielding range is short everywhere on the infield except 1B. The Mets could use a ground-eating SS.

          • Matt in Richmond

            Anyone expecting to see Wright circa 2008 is setting themselves up for disappointment. As a veteran leader in a stacked lineup he fits in just fine. He gets his share of hits and walks, shows some occasional power and from what I’ve seen can still play a more than adequate 3rd base, if not quite the gold glove caliber of his younger days.

  • mikeL

    “Well, wouldja look at this? Amazin’!”

    that’s a nice piece – i especially like the contrast between the packed stands at Citi and YS looking like a funeral – and congrats on appearing in the Times Jason!

  • Eric

    It’s beyond resilience at this point. It’s like this team plays better from behind and they wait for the other shoe to drop in order to charge to a comeback win.

    They’ve inverted LOLMets. Instead, big wins and winning streaks are now being triggered by the same kind of ugly gut-punch losses that defined the 2007 Mets collapse era. Comebacks from deficits, including self-induced deficits like in the Sunday game, with 2 outs and 2 strikes in late innings seem routine for this team.

    These days, I’m more nervous when the Mets take the lead early, like last night, because they seem more likely to lose an early lead than to win a game coming from behind.

  • 9th string catcher

    Two outs, two strikes, down more than two runs. Mets have them right where they want them…

  • Eric

    I agree. We’re arguably in the best spot to be as fans right now: looking up with a newly, better yet unexpectedly exciting, eminently likeable team on the rise, shaking off a long drought of losing, confidently climbing to the top of the mountain, and filled with fresh hope and pristine expectation. The other candidate for best spot for fans is a newly exciting team winning its first championship, but after that’s done, there’s no peak to look forward to anymore – only plateau (eg, resigning Cespedes) or descent.

    Live in the moment. Soak and drink in the rest of this season to its fullest. It’s a fine time right now, the finest time to be a Mets fan.

  • sturock

    Of course, the Times has to conclude with this:

    >>Before that can happen, the two teams will play each other this weekend for the first time since April, when the Yankees took two of three games.

    They may want to remind the Mets again of who has been boss for so many years.<<

    Because the Times always seems happier when the Yankees are "boss." Which makes it doubly bad for the Times, because now the Red Sox aren't all that important either. No one cares about preppy teams? OMG, NYT!

    • mikeL

      if the yanks weren’t appearing so dull and irrelevant these days the Times wouldn’t have felt the need to add that.

      I was unfazed; whatever the outcome of the series, remember those words : “…has been…”

      would a (very unlikely) yanks sweep make anyone here jealous of yankee fans??

      exactly.

  • Eric

    Not mentioned in your game recap because it picked up in the 6th inning, but credit to Verrett for a 2nd well-pitched game in the 1st five innings substituting for Harvey.

    Amazin’ thought: The Mets are only 7 games behind the Cardinals, 5 behind the Pirates, and 1 behind the Cubs and Dodgers in the loss column.

    If the Mets stay hot – and their remaining schedule suggests they can stay hot while also setting up for the NLDS – they have a chance to finish with the best record in the NL.

    It’s not (yet) a big enough chance for the Mets to deviate from their play-off prep, but it can happen if the Central leaders pick off each other while losing enough games to everyone else.

    • LAJake

      The Cardinals play 3 vs the Cubs and 3 vs the Pirates. The rest of their sked is 6 games vs the Brewers, 3 vs the Reds and 3 vs the Braves. It seems unlikely they will lose a 7-game lead with 18 to play against that sked. Even if they lost all 6 games against the Central teams (highly unlikely) and go only 8-4 (win each series 2 out of 3) vs the garbage teams, they would be 8-10 and the Mets would have to go 16-2 to pass them because Cardinals hold the tiebreaker from season series.

      • Eric

        It’s not a possibility to count on. But the Cardinals are coming off 3-7 against the Cubs, Pirates, and Reds. I think they’ll recover, too, but if the Cardinals struggle against the Brewers next and the Pirates overtake them, the free fall is on.

        In terms of HFA, I want it over the Dodgers to not face Greinke and Kershaw in twilight at Dodgers stadium. Of the Central contenders, I want it over the Pirates because I think they’re the toughest of the three teams.

  • eric1973

    Just put a fedora on Wright, and he’s just another Cuddyer. At this point, no team would even take on his contract for free.

    And he’s not going anywhere, either, as he gets around 20 mil per, through 2020, so we all just better get used to it.

    I’m trying to, really…

    • Rob E

      The guy is hitting .294 with a .360 OBP, and even if he’s not likely to return to his past glory, he’s also likely not 100% now. Timing-wise and “playing shape”-wise he’s where a player might be toward the end of spring training.

      It’s not a good contract, there was no way for the Mets to avoid that, and almost every team has a contract like that. But the guy is hardly a sinkhole on either side of the ball. I don’t understand the continued negativity.

      • LAJake

        What’s funny is not only am I fine with Wright but I’m fine with Cuddyer as well. I’m willing to bet both come up with some big hits in the playoffs.

      • 9th string catcher

        Agreed. He’s getting hits and playing a decent 3rd base – he snagged bullet last night. If he bats in the 2 hole in front of Cespedes, he should be able to get some choice pitches to swing at. Or perhaps you put him 5th in front of TDA.

  • NostraDennis

    Jason – Am I just not a faithful enough FAFIF reader, or have you been too modest to mention your soon-to-be blockbuster Star Wars tome? In either case, y’all should check out this one, in case you’re waiting, like me, for that next movie to finally get here:
    https://www.yahoo.com/movies/journey-to-the-force-awakens-meet-the-authors-128923154202.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma

  • eric1973

    There was plenty they could have done to avoid that.

    Exhibit A is Jose Reyes.

  • eric1973

    BTW, I’m fine with everybody, too, now that we’re 9 1/2 games ahead. Not gonna be like this forever.

  • Leiter22

    I read this tonight, Sept. 16th, post game and think how prescient it was. I know the actors are different, directors have been changed, but I can’t shake the feeling the script is the same. The spectre of 07′ haunts me like a phantom pain. There is no panic yet, no hatred, no impending doom, but a fear is lurking, deep-seeded and dull. I pray this is just a fear, but until the ghost of failures past is vanguished, I can’t be hopeful. Not yet. Mets, please save us and prove these musings false.