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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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Hitting the Bump

Mets lost. Couldn’t seem to pick up the ball as it emerged from the collection of pointed extremities and slung arms that was Adam Conley, couldn’t lay off the high fastball, didn’t support Bartolo Colon, Colon and the bullpen didn’t give them much to support. That will suffice for summary purposes.

Here are three reasons not to panic, Mets fans. Because I can totally feel you panicking:

1) The Nationals’ biggest enemy at this point isn’t us, but math. If the Mets somehow go an all-time gag-worthy 0-16 the rest of the way (thus achieving the most disappointing 83-win season imaginable), the Nats have to go 8-9 to catch us. If the Mets go a putrid 4-12, the .517 team chasing us has to go a pretty damn good 12-5. If the Mets go a meh 9-7, the Nats have to win 17 straight (which would be 21 straight overall).

2) Plenty of teams hit a bump right about now, when the adrenaline has worn off and the finish line’s in sight but farther away than you’d like. The ’06 Mets sputtered and spun a bit before closing things out at Citi Field Shea (Good Lord, I was even there) with an impossibly young David Wright and Jose Reyes whooping it up. Even the mighty ’86 Mets scuffled on their way to the coronation. Yes, the ’07 Mets fell through the trap door, but I’ll refer you back to my point about seeing runners on first and second and none out and living in terror of the unassisted triple play. The bump, in fact, will probably get a bit bumpier over the weekend — not because It’s the Yankees Ugh Their Fans We’re Still the Little Brothers Castillo Dropped the Ball Wouldn’t It Be Great to Take Back New York Blah Blah Blah but because the Mets still have the best opponent left on the schedule while the Nats are facing teams with big forks in their backs. Well, with one possible exception.

3) We don’t have to play the Marlins anymore. Honestly, I’d be more worried if our final series was against them, because they’re the Marlins, put on Earth to defraud taxpayers, find new extremes of tastelessness and stomp on our dreams. I was startled to realize we finished this season 11-8 against Team Loria; I could swear we were 2-17. Every year feels like we’re 2-17 against them. But their spoiling is done; we don’t have to play them again until Monday, April 11, 2016, which is honestly too soon but more than acceptable right now. The Marlins, in fact, will now play the Nats, whom they’ve also given fits, taking two out of three from them last weekend.

You can’t predict baseball. The last time the Mets came off a dispiriting loss to the Marlins, they promptly kneecapped the Nationals in three straight games, then swept the Braves and took one more from the Marlins. The Mets, in fact, haven’t lost a game to a team that isn’t the Marlins since September 1st.

So take comfort in the math, which guarantees nothing but has a lot to say about likelihood. Take comfort in hitting the bump now instead of when the bunting’s hung and the klieg lights are powering up. (Ask the ’06 Tigers about that one.) And most of all, don’t try to predict baseball based on what your gut’s telling you. Because it lies, and if you listen to it you’ll just drive yourself crazy.

34 comments to Hitting the Bump

  • Matt in Woodside

    “We don’t have to play the Marlins anymore.”

    OMG, that team. They shuffle along and then go 10-4 in September so far. The Nationals lost to them 1-2 and got shut out 0-2 to lose a series just a few days ago.

    On the SNY broadcast, they showed Loria in the stands tonight, and I was surprised that they didn’t do a closeup of the “Nuke the Fanbase” button on his armrest. (Isn’t there one attached to every chair he ever sits in? Have I been misinformed?)

  • Eric

    The defining trait of this Mets team has been its resilience. It’s been a rollercoaster season from the beginning. They bounce back, the uglier the loss the bouncier, which bodes okay for the Yankees series.

    The interesting math is the Mets are in the same position right now, record-wise, as they were in 2007 after game 146: 83-63. The Nationals are a game behind the 2007 Phillies (76-69) after game 145: 75-70. That means if the Mets and Nationals duplicate the Mets and Phillies’ finishes in 2007, record-wise, then the Mets and Nationals will finish in a tie for 1st place.

    That shouldn’t happen. At least, the Mets should win better than the 2007 Mets’ 5-11 finish. The Nationals with their remaining schedule can match the 2007 Phillies’ 13-4 finish.

    • Eric 2

      Dude you’ve posted this fact like 6 times in the last 36 hours. Don’t worry, this is a completely different team and I think people’s worries will be put to rest after this weekend

      • Eric

        Jason kindly opened the door with his math point to reiterate the convergence that crystalizes our redemption of the 2007 Mets collapse and its progeny.

        I agree Mets fans should not fear the convergence. Embrace the redemption.

        We’ve been given the opportunity to fix right what we did wrong in 2007, especially our early hubris when we looked past the Phillies before the division was actually won.

        Coming back now to the same place record-wise we made our error in 2007, our atonement includes pointedly not looking past the Nationals prematurely.

        Neglecting to worry about the Phillies in 2007 was a mistake. Properly worrying this time about the Nationals until the Mets clinch the division is the right thing to do.

      • Eric

        I should add … in terms of relevance, highlighting the close similarity of the current Mets and Nationals team records to the 2007 Mets and Phillies team records at the same point in the season is directly relevant to Jason’s contention that the fear of losing the division is unfounded based on the current team records.

        While his math point correctly shows a Nationals comeback is unlikely, Jason’s contention that the fear of a Nationals comeback is unfounded is incorrect.

        The math for an equally unlikely Phillies comeback was essentially the same in 2007. The fear of a Nationals comeback is founded on the Mets actually losing the division in 2007 despite owning the same record with a closely similar lead over the Phillies.

        One may characterize the fear of a Nationals comeback as improbable based on the math with the current team records, but the fear is not unreasonable in light of contemporary Mets history involving closely similar team records.

  • Daniel Hall

    Not panicking. No, no. I’m not panicking.

    (eats pieces of his pillow)

  • “The Mets, in fact, haven’t lost a game to a team that isn’t the Marlins since September 1st.”

    This sums everything up.

  • Andrew

    Agree with all of this, especially the part about not having to play the Marlins (to be honest, I’m less worried about the Yankees than I was the Marlins; I think our bats will eat their pitching staff alive). But even though I’m not panicking, 2007 taught me never to play games with the record math. Before that infamous Phillies series, I thought, “We just have to win one and this is over.” Then when we got swept, I looked at the schedule and said, “Well, we’ll do no worse than 7-7 against Washington and Florida, so they’ll still need to go 10-3 to tie us, and that’s not happening.” And then we went 5-9, they went 9-4, and that whole miserable, frustrating, agonizingly awful season turned into something much much worse. 2015 is not 2007. TC has been resting the starters the past there days; you can be sure the team will be psyched up for the Yankees and back to their usual mashing selves.

  • Joenunz

    Small, but important edit…the ’06 team closed it out at Shea. I miss you Shea.

  • I’m only slightly uncomfortable.

  • kdbart

    From my vantage point, it looks like the Mets put a lot of energy into that Nats series and that since then, the energy has been slowly leaking out of their tank until it hit empty last night. As they were as lifeless last night as I’ve seen them in some time. Could get away with some bad play against the Braves because of the Braves current overall ineptness but the Marlins played quite well this series and didn’t hand anything to the Mets. The off day couldn’t have come at a better time after playing 26 of the previous 27 days. Lets hope the off day and playing the Yankees will refocus the team for the remainder of the season.

  • nestornajwa

    When we sip a little champagne later on, it’ll be a little sweeter.

    Oh, god. It’s happening again.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I agree about the Mets seeming to be 2-17 against the Marlins. Not only were they 11-8, but I think I heard Howie say that if they had won last night it would have been their most wins in one season against the Marlins ever. It seems like they are 2-17 against the Marlins EVERY year.

    I never thought it would wind up this way, but I’m more worried about the Mets Pitching in the Playoffs than anything else. At this point they’ve got nobody to match up against Kershaw and Greinke.

    And, how’s this for a stray thought…It suddenly occurred to me that Cespedes could be juiced up. I’m trying to suppress that thought, but it keeps popping into my head.

    • Eric 2

      I completely agree with you about the pitching. I’m very confident we will make the playoffs but our pitching has been wayyy less dominating over the last 1-1.5 months. We have really been relying on our offense and as we all know- pitching wins games in the playoffs.

      Im just hoping that the adrenaline of the playoffs will make these guys step up to the level they were at the first half of the year

  • Subie

    “seeing runners on first and second and none out and living in terror of the unassisted triple play.” What a great line. Describes so many Mets fans. Agree completely with this piece. People need to stop. It doesn’t make anything better and just makes you crazy.

  • dmg

    faith: this isn’t 2007.
    fear: really don’t need to play the yankees just now.

    • Rob E

      The Yankees don’t need to be playing US! They’re fighting for a playoff spot and they have to face Matz, Syndergaard, and Harvey without their two biggest bats and with the pitcher hitting.

      Ric Flair (one of my all-time guilty pleasure favorites) used to say “to BE the man, you gotta BEAT the man.” If the Mets are going to own this town, they have to TAKE it. And if they’re going to own the division, they have to take that, too. And both are there for the taking. All you can hope for is the opportunity to control your destiny, and the Mets have that. No fear, no excuses.

      That being said, this team has answered every challenge thrown in front of them. Put me down for “faith”! Woooooooooooo!!!

  • blackCountryMet

    Jason – thanks for those calming words, I feel reassured.

    Never just gonna be a smooth serene journey was it, we’re The Mets! Lets get 2/3 from the Other Team and keep chipping away.

  • wooferson

    Ahh, we’re mere mortals. Dang Newton’s law! You can’t snuff the baseball gods forever. It’s the 162 marathon grind with nary a breather–even when you’re going good. Nothing a little sauna, steam, whirlpool, deep massage, home cooking and a crisp wake up slap on both cheeks with Mennen Skin Bracer to turn the tide for the final lap. LGM.

  • Jacobs27

    Agreed. If the Mets can take it to the Yankees this weekend, I think a lot of people will stop worrying so much.

  • mikeL

    the ‘meh’ scenario best puts things in perspective.

    the marlins continue to be supremely detestable. yes, glad we don’t face them to close out the season. THAT would be too creepy!

  • Michael G.

    I think the Mets will make the playoffs. That said, I want them to clinch before the final 3 games of the season against the Nats. If, say, we’re 3 up with 3 games to play, the Nats would have an opportunity to sweep us and win a play-in game, all at Citi Field. I don’t think they would do that, but I don’t want that scenario to present itself. So I think the math should be adjusted to eliminate the last 3 games.

    • Eric

      If the final series is meaningful, it will be scary because to get to that point from where we are now, the Mets will need to have tripped down the stretch just like 2007, 2008 and the Nationals will need to have sustained hot for the next 2 weeks.

      There isn’t a comfortable margin for error to begin with. The Mets have won 6 straight against the Nationals, but they were all close with a lot of comebacks.

  • Indeed, these games didn’t matter.

    though they did make the chances of the Marlins getting a better pick worse. So screw them.

  • 9th string catcher

    to paraphrase fafif – rather be us than them. Extremely blah game last night – I think everyone’s gearing up for the Yankees. I pretty much expected this to be the toughest week to deal with. Glad we came into it with a good lead.

  • open the gates

    I’m slightly concerned about the Mets – but only because all fans of contending teams are concerned about their team at this point of the season. The only seasons I wasn’t concerned about the Mets were 1986 (because they were ridiculous that year), and, um, all those losing seasons. A few Septembers ago, my biggest concern was that I never wanted to see Chris Schwinden start a major league game for the Mets again ever, even in an irretrievably lost season. I’ll take this year’s concerns, thank you ever so.

    • Eric

      Good point.

      For fans of any contending team, let alone notoriously critical Mets fans in the best of times, fretting about setbacks prior to clinching and/or impacting the play-offs is normal.

      In contrast, some Mets fans’ marked insistence that there is nothing to worry about speaks to the extraordinary significance of the 2007 Mets collapse and subsequent benighted era to our psyches. That they object to even normal fan concerns about a contender speaks to their appreciation of our collective 2007-induced anxiety.

      Better to seize the fear than to run away from it.

  • sturock

    I’m a little worried about the pitching conking out. All these guys look tired, especially deGrom. Would like to see Jason, Matt, and Noah skip a start or two down the stretch. Meanwhile, Cespedes has been out of his mind and is due to cool off. Let’s see the rest of the bats pick him up for a bit. Clinching this thing before the final weekend is key.

  • kdbart

    You’re right. The 2006 Mets loss 3 in a row in Pittsburgh to a dreadful 67 win Pirate team before coming home and clinching. They had a 15 game lead at the time.

  • Les

    Thanks! I really needed that. And yes, I was panicking.