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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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Nine Years Eve

Every day between October 20, 2006, and October 8, 2015, had something in common. For those 3,276 consecutive days spanning exactly 468 weeks, the New York Mets did not play a postseason baseball game. The total is a little misleading since the vast majority of those days featured no postseason baseball games, but enough of them did so that — at least to us — the Mets’ absence from them was as noticeable as it was vexing.

Vex no longer, calendar. On the 3,277th day, we have a Mets postseason baseball game. For the 75th time in franchise history. For the first time since October 19, 2006, which is a date that is about to stop taunting us from its perch in the ever-more distant past.

In case you’ve forgotten (it rarely gets mentioned anywhere), the most recent pitch a Met saw in postseason competition was taken for a strike. The next pitch a Met sees in postseason competition will probably be taken, too. Curtis Granderson almost always leads off and Curtis Granderson almost always takes the first pitch. Ball or strike, we will be underway in our eighth postseason.

Can you believe it?

Of course you can. You know the Mets won a division title this year. You saw it for yourself less than two weeks ago. You maybe fretted in its aftermath. And then you were inundated with reminders that it was real. The Mets logo pops up here and there within listings of postseason games to be played. It’s right there among the perennials and the similarly unfamiliars. You keep running across dispatches about who will and won’t be on the roster for games about to be played. You grasp that it’s October 9, 2015, and there is a Mets game to be played tonight in Los Angeles, then another there tomorrow, and then another on Monday, that one at Citi Field. The other day the Mets sent out a press release announcing cricket will be coming to their ballpark in November. Usually in the fall, the only sound you hear at Citi Field is crickets.

It will sound different Monday night. It will feel different all weekend. It feels different already and the feeling just keeps intensifying. My god, every baseball game that remains this year will go toward determining the world champion. Only eight teams are playing in them. And ours is one of them.

Can you believe it?

Thursday night I watched the Royals and Astros begin their Division Series. That would have sounded half-ridiculous a year ago, completely absurd a year before that. But things change in baseball. The Royals stand as defending American League champs and the Astros have definitively turned their fortunes around. On the mound after a rain delay at Kauffman Stadium were Collin McHugh for Houston, Chris Young for Kansas City. It made for an ad hoc 2012 Mets rotation reunion, bringing together two pitchers I saw start Met losses two days apart three years ago, two pitchers in whom the Mets saw no future, two pitchers now flourishing on the October stage for somebody else.

In an October as recent as 2014, that would have stung. On October 8, 2015, the last of those 3,276 days when the Mets weren’t playing a postseason game, it was fine. It was more than fine. It was evidence that the Mets have such an excess of talent that they can be generous in spreading it around.

No recriminations for trading Collin McHugh for Eric Young. No thoughts that Chris Young might have been handy to have kept around. No second thoughts that Carlos Gomez, who entered for the Astros as a pinch-runner in the top of the eighth, should have been a Met again as he was heavily rumored to already be this past July, no revisionist reconsideration that he never should have been traded in the first place in 2008. No hard feelings that when the Astros’ lefty specialist Oliver Perez — starting pitcher for the Mets in their last postseason game prior to tonight; immense implosion for the Mets somewhere in the middle of these past nine years — came on and retired his only batter in the bottom of the eighth.

As advertised, even if a little later than planned, David Wright will be a part of TBS's postseason coverage. (Image courtesy of Deadspin.)

As advertised, even if a little later than planned, David Wright will be a part of TBS’s postseason coverage. (Image courtesy of Deadspin.)

Live and let live when you’re a part of October. You might have forgotten, since it’s been so long. It wasn’t supposed to go on for nine years like this. TBS took on postseason baseball in 2007. They were excited to hype certain stars who they knew would be intrinsic to the action they were paying to broadcast. One of them was David Wright of the N.L. East-leading New York Mets. Somewhere I have a brochure with his picture on the cover touting TBS’s coming coverage. Somewhere a billboard was erected with his picture, signifying that he was going to be a key player on their air.

He will be. It just took a little longer than expected.

The Mets’ postseason highlights — despite what MLB erroneously advertised that November — were not embellished in 2007. They were not added to in 2008, either, despite the trade that sent Gomez and three others to Minnesota for Johan Santana, another pitcher from those 2012 Mets. Santana made 2012 worthwhile one June night in particular, but couldn’t singlehandedly shove the Mets into October in 2008. R.A. Dickey, the Most Valuable Met of 2012, is on a postseason roster of his own. He’ll start if-necessary Game Four against the Rangers on Monday for the Blue Jays, a team that’s waited about two-and-a-half times longer than the Mets to be in one of these series. R.A.’s been waiting his whole life for a moment like this. It will come two days after the pitching prospect for whom he was traded, Noah Syndergaard, makes his first postseason start.

There’s something for everybody this October. There’s something for select 2007 Mets, a handful of 2012 Mets and, most gloriously, all of the 2015 Mets. Granderson Wright, Syndergaard, as many as 22 of their teammates, depending on how benches and bullpens are deployed — they’re here. They’re a part of this. Check your schedules. It’s October 9 and the Mets are still indelibly inked onto them.

With that first pitch from Clayton Kershaw to Curtis Granderson, we’ll pass the “here” stage and the happy-to-be-ness that accompanies it. Ball one or called strike one will mean it’s all business. Just the thought that Curtis might be down oh-and-one to Clayton makes me exceedingly nervous, and first pitch is twelve hours away as I write this.

But that’s all right. We’re supposed to be nervous when the Mets are in the postseason.

These games will go by far too fast and far too slow. If the Mets grab a lead, we’ll wish there was a clock to run out. If the Mets fall behind, we’ll be shaking trees for extra outs just to keep the whole thing going. If it’s tied, all bets are off. All bets are off anyway. Maybe you’ve read previews that the Mets are a sure thing to win or not win. I glance at them but don’t take them seriously. We are in true Nobody Knows Anything territory here. When the season commenced, nobody knew Kansas City would be back or that Houston and Toronto would arrive or that our Metsies would be snapping a string of 3,276 days without a postseason appearance. If forecasts were that easily translated to fact, Bryce Harper would be a bigger topic of conversation in Washington today than Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was yesterday.

There’ll be a new Speaker of the House before the Nationals are in the playoffs, and the Speaker of the House situation is in utter turmoil. McCarthy was a lock to get the gig on the Hill, almost as much as the Nats were guaranteed to win the division. Now his party has no clear successor to John Boehner and the Nationals have no party whatsoever. Like we said, nobody knows anything.

There are no 1-seeds vs. 8-seeds in baseball. There is no 7-9 fluke qualifier offered up as sacrificial snack for the 14-2 behemoth. Everybody who gets here after 162 games has a chance. Everybody who gets here is for real. We are for real. We are in the playoffs for real. Just like the Dodgers. Just like the Cubs and the Cardinals. Just like Dickey and Young and McHugh and Gomez and Oliver Freaking Perez.

Can you believe it? I can.

***

While you stand by (and hopefully stay fully awake) for first pitch, here are a few other items to occupy your stray attention.

• Andrew Wyeth produces a neat article in the Record of North Jersey about the wonders of #MetsTwitter. I’m quoted for more than 140 characters.

• W.M. Akers reflects wistfully on how the regular season ended last Sunday at Citi Field for Vice Sports. Something I wrote here is graciously mentioned in passing.

• Pete McCarthy had Mets fan and minority-owner Bill Maher on the WOR Sports Zone a couple of nights ago. You should listen to their conversation. Maher gives some pretty good insight on what it’s like to have a literal stake in the team he loves. (McCarthy, by the way, gives sports talk radio a good name and I recommend enjoying his show nightly on 710 AM or the iHeart radio app.)

• Michael Garry takes his Game Of My Life: New York Mets book tour to the beautiful Bergino Baseball Clubhouse (67 E. 11th St., in Manhattan, between Broadway and University Place) on Wednesday night, 7 o’clock, October 14. It’s an off night for potential NLDS activities, so your priorities are safe. Michael will be bringing Ed Charles with him. Any night spent in the company of the Glider is a championship experience. RSVP info is here.

• If you relish the journey as much as the destination, check out a book focused on what it’s like when the Mets don’t have an October appointments. It’s called The Seventh Year Stretch: New York Mets, 1977-1983 by Greg Prato. I haven’t read it yet, but I did read one of Prato’s previous works, Sack Exchange: The Definitive Oral History of the 1980s New York Jets, and devoured it like Joe Klecko used to devour quarterbacks.

• And, oh yeah, Let’s Go Mets! Can’t say that enough.

22 comments to Nine Years Eve

  • Art

    Greg, you and I are the same age. Probably share many of the same memories. Hopefully, we will create some grand new ones in the coming days. And, of course, Let’s Go Mets!

  • Tim H

    Let’s Go…y’know, Mets!!!

  • Dennis

    Trying to savor this week leading up to this series, but it seems like an eternity waiting for tonight’s game. LGM!!!!

  • wooferson

    Anticipation. Five whole days worth. May the injured be healed, the arms rested, the gloves oiled and
    every bat ready. Here’s wishing they come out of this “break” hungrified, the way they devoured late July and August.
    And that every die hard Met fan’s October dreams come true. PLAY BALL!

  • dmg

    breaking scheduling news!
    from mlb.com:
    • Dodgers-Mets Game 3 will be played at 8:30 p.m. ET if both the Royals-Astros and Jays-Rangers series are still being played. If one of those series is over, then Dodgers-Mets will play at 8 ET.

  • mikeL

    yes, so many former mets out there in this post-season, and for a change, i don’t need to root for a single one of them – not this year!
    i remember popping into a bar in the village with the gf in to watch the first post-season home game in ’86, and remember it finally sinking in with the sight of garlands lining the tiers at old shea. it had been a long time coming. once again that moment is here.
    i haven’t been counting the days like some people, but yea, that’s a lot of days.
    the weather on the east is cold and crap.
    i’m glad our guys didn’t get HFA. the warm weather and change of scenery should do the bats and the arms wonders, like a soak in a hot tub.
    it just means we’ll all hope for a win in 4 games not 5, so we can see citi REALLY go off!
    let’s go mets!

  • Jesse

    I think the number of former Mets out there yesterday is a credit to Minaya’s scouting and development talents.

    I was randomly paired with Pete McCarthy playing golf at Forest Park last summer, and can confirm that he’s bright, knowledgeable about baseball and the Mets and just a nice guy. Too bad I can’t sit through bad callers long enough to enjoy his show.

  • 9th string catcher

    Not complaining, but does anyone else think they should have added Eric Young to the roster?

    • Dave

      No. A 25-man roster can’t afford to have a guy whose only role is pinch-runner. That’s a September thing. Especially with Kirk on the roster because Uribe is hurt, they have plenty of OF defense, so Young’s other potential role is negated.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Any other year if the Mets and Dodgers were in the playoffs, I would try to find tickets to at least one game in LA, as much as I hate everything about Dodger Stadium. This year, since I’m recovering from an autologous stem cell transplant, my immune system is practically non-existent and I must avoid crowds. I’ll be sitting back tonight watching the game on TV, and hoping that, whatever the result of the first pitch, Granderson gets on base and starts a huge rally.

    As far as what happens down the line, I’m hoping that the Mets and Blue Jays meet in the World Series, only because I umpired a few of Aaron Sanchez’s games when he was in high school.

    • Tim H

      Yes, Left Coast Jerry, a Mets-Blue Jays World Series sounds a lot better than, say, another I-70 World Series between the Cardinals and the Royals.

      And, next year, when the World Champion New York Mets make their way to Chavez Ravine, I hope you have a nice front row seat behind home plate to root on the Amazins.

      • Left Coast Jerry

        Thanks,Tim. Right now things don’t look good for the Blue Jays. I’ll be at Dodger Stadium next year if the Mets and Dodgers meet in the post season. During the season, the wife and I will spend 3 or 4 days in beautiful San Diego and attend 3 Mets-Padres games. Much better ingress and egress within the stadium and the parking lots.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    LET’S GO METS!

  • Dave

    This is what we’ve been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen. I suspect that come what may, we will look back at 2015 as a great year, but hopefully it’s extra special. And if you’ll excuse me, those of us of a certain age need to load up on extra caffeine.

  • mikeL

    mets – jays would be poetic given the shared lineages… as would be mets -‘stros – the birthmates, the rematch of the NLCS for the ages…

    but first things first.

    may the mighty mets show kershaw once again to be the picture of human fallability in the post-season. may degrom channel his all-star game mojo…and may the warm temps make the mets bats think it’s august again!

    LCJ – wishing you a strong recovery!

    just a few hours til the butteflies!

    let’s go mets!!

  • ljcmets

    Fighting a sinus infection….on antibiotics…trying to rest so I can stay awake. Thank you, three-day weekend. Rest during the day tomorrow.

  • rich porricelli

    speculate, plan, dream, hope , wonder and even pray all you want..Once that first pitch is thrown anything can happen..so take a deep breath , buckle up and LGM!

  • Steve D

    I am one who doesn’t say Let’s Go Mets unless I’m at Shea, yelling it during a rally…and I hate LGM…but I’ll make an exception for today

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Eric

    deGrom to Syndergaard to Harvey to (if necessary) Matz – with Familia on the back end.

    Even if they don’t win, the series will provide valuable play-off reps for the young stud starters and young stud closer.

    Beating Kershaw and Greinke will be tough. But if the Dodgers can beat the Mets young stud starters, they’ll have earned the NLCS.

    I would rather Lagares in CF with Cespedes in LF than Cuddyer in the Kershaw-hitting line-up for better defense and speed, but I’ll trust the Matrix I guess.

    Niese out of the bullpen makes me nervous. But then, every Mets reliever who’s not Familia makes me nervous.

    I think starting on the road, meaning deGrom has to wait and watch Kershaw pitch the top of the 1st inning, will help settle deGrom’s nerves before he takes the mound for his play-off introduction.

  • mikeL

    thank you, thank you, yes my pre-game wish came true.

    ” may the mighty mets show kershaw once again to be the picture of human fallability in the post-season. may degrom channel his all-star game mojo…and may the warm temps make the mets bats think it’s august again!”

    sweet murph swing, clutch david wright.
    cudyer in left not so good…clippard worrisome too.
    conforto/reed in the wings, so not so worried.

    awesome start!
    lets get two!!

  • Meticated

    To left coast jerry…use the whole food…spirulina. ..it will support you remarkably. ..powder style in large doses like it is food. ..which it is!