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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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Countdown to Ecstasy

One of the underrated facets of your team being in the postseason is the off day. Fans of the Nationals, the Braves and other N.L. East also-rans are long past the point of off days. Cardinals fans are plum out of them as are those who lived and, at last, died with the Rangers and the Astros.

We, by dint of the Mets staying busy, got to take advantage of an off day on Wednesday. We might not instinctively welcome the time away from the task at hand, but cooling our heels on an October off day is far better than being planted prematurely in the midst of an offseason.

When the Mets are playing playoff games, everything else is shunted to the side. When the Mets are traveling to their next playoff game, we live our lives for a few hours, cramming in all our secondary priorities, from breathing on down to sleeping — whatever gets us to the next game in one relatively sound piece.

My off day was spoken for several months in advance. In June, Stephanie and I bought tickets to see Steely Dan at the Beacon Theatre on October 14. It should have been an easy call. We love Steely Dan. Though we’ve caught Donald Fagen in other guises, we’d never seen Steely Dan. Of course this performance was an object of our desire. There were decent tickets available at a decent price, so what would stop us?

October. October made me hesitate to commit to something that wasn’t the Mets, even in June. I won’t say “I knew the Mets would be playing,” because every year I hesitate to commit to plans in October. Even if you basically know the Mets won’t be playing, you never know. Or you try not to admit to yourself that you know. This past June, the Mets were hanging tough near the top of their division. Never mind that we were conditioned to consider the idea of them still playing in October as likely a scenario as Fagen and Walter Becker going back to their old school.

The Mets might make the playoffs, therefore we can’t do anything else…no, you can’t think like that in June. You can and you do, but you can’t. It’s not healthy. Get the tickets for October 14, I told Stephanie. Let’s see what happens.

Luck happened. The Mets made the playoffs. Our show landed on an off day, the day between Game Four in New York and Game Five in Los Angeles. It would drag me away from two compelling ALDS finales, as it turned out, but you can’t have your Dan and eat it, too.

Due respect to the Jays and the Royals, this was the right decision. Steely Dan was everything I dreamed of live and then some. But I’m not here to give you a concert review, except for two highlights.

1) From the scalper outside the Beacon who proudly modeled his Mike Piazza giveaway tee from Closing Day 2013; to the unusually friendly and steadfastly supportive security personnel at the door; clear through to the postshow men’s room line, my Mets jacket elicited nothing but the most positive of reactions.

“Let me ask you one question” one of the theatre guards inquired theatrically. “Do you Believe?”

“I’ve Believed all my life,” I assured him.

Over and over, my fellow concertgoers tossed me stray Let’s Go Metses, and I responded enthusiastically in kind. You see someone in team garb when that team is fiercely competing for a championship, you figuratively (and sometimes literally) slap him on the back to signify we’re all in this together. I’ve been wearing that particular jacket as a matter of course since 1998 and generally it’s invisible to passersby — though occasionally it and its wearer are offered commentary indicating pity/derision.

Not this October.

2) The penultimate song of Steely Dan’s set was “My Old School,” which I’d been waiting for all night. Actually, I’d been waiting for it ever since I knew who the Mets would be playing in the National League Division Series, because when Fagen commenced the final verse with, “California/tumbles into the sea…” I shouted my approval and applauded wildly.

I’d love to tell you a “BEAT L.A.!” chant swept the Beacon balcony from there, but it was a primarily private moment, albeit shared implicitly with Stephanie on my left and our friend Mark on my right. They figured out what I was up to without requesting clarification. Anybody who knows a Mets fan who wears a seventeen-year-old Mets jacket everywhere — whether the Mets are in the playoffs or not — understands our kind might be granted an off day in the midst of the postseason, but we never really take days off from our Mets.

Especially in October. Especially in this October, which picks up again for us tonight at due-to-tumble Dodger Stadium before continuing over the weekend in Flushing.

What, you thought I was kidding around with the security guard? I have Believed all my life, so I’m sure as hell not going to stop now. We’ve got Jacob deGrom and one game to win. We’ve got every reason to Believe.

Oh no, negative thinking won’t do. And you know we’re going back to Citi Field.

67 comments to Countdown to Ecstasy

  • Steve D

    I am also thinking very positively…I said on yesterday’s post I think Greinke will choke…maybe not a good choice of words, but I followed him very closely the last two years and I have a strong hunch he will not be “at his best” tonight. Plus we saw him last week. While the same is true of deGrom and the Dodgers, deGrom can rely on more heat than Greinke.

  • ljcmets

    I laughed when I read this, Greg, because we bought tickets months ago to a concert tonight, as an anniversary gift to ourselves, and we’re going, and I’m looking forward to it.

    Before you gasp, a few facts: starts at 7:30, we should be home no later than 10 ( among the many charms of living in Albany is that everything is only ten minutes from your house); I have MLB app on my phone, allowing me to sneak discreetly into the lobby for quick catch-ups; and most importantly, this history:

    In October 1986, I was at a family Bar Mitzvah on a Saturday night, left around 10:30 or so, drove an hour-plus, and walked into my living room just in time to see Mookie’s little grounder Get By Buckner. In October 1999, I accepted an early invitation to dinner on a Sunday night, lingered over dessert and coffee, and arrived home to catch 6 extra innings of scoreless baseball, ended by the Grand Slam Single.

    On the other hand, in October 2006, I left work early, turned off my phone, didn’t breathe for several hours, and caught every pitch right up until that last, devastating curveball froze Beltran. The following year, on a Sunday afternoon, I cleared my calendar, watched several hours of pre-game programming, and the game was essentially over when He Who Shall Not Be Named gave up those seven runs in the first fifteen minutes.

    Every October has its own rhythms and you can’t predict them in February, April or August. The Mets will be OK without me ( don’t know if I can say the same for me without the Mets ) for a few innings. I Believe in deGrom and this team. If there’s more Magic in our future, we’ll be there to see it, but I would also take a workmanlike, relatively uneventful win ( yeah, right, like that would ever happen with the Mets) and champagne before midnight. LGM!

  • Dave

    Funny how we’re not exactly trained to think, “no, can’t buy tickets to a concert in October, it’ll conflict with a Mets playoff game.” And so while deGrom was deGrominating the Dodgers in game 1 last Friday, I was catching the Zombies instead of the play by play (the Zombies were amazing though, fair trade-off) and then followed the later innings on my phone waiting in Penn Station and on the train home. Fortunately, the next show I have tickets to, Blur at the Garden, falls on the off day between games 5 and 6 of the NLCS.

    Because we’re gonna be there. We’re gonna be there.

    • The guy I mentioned sitting to my right saw the Zombies the other night, presumably the same show. Raved.

      As you know, they recorded this song on the eve of the current baseball season and dedicated it to the 2015 Mets.

    • DAK442

      I missed the Zombies last week (I plum forgot), but I have been to see them every time they come around these parts since they reunited and they are FANTASTIC! You made a good choice.

      The only thing I love with equal fervor to that for the Mets is Led Zeppelin. I faced quite the dilemma in October of ’99 when John Paul Jones played a solo show in NYC and then a few days later Jimmy Page came into town with the Black Crowes. I had never seen JPJ anywhere, and Jimmy Page… well, JIMMY PAGE. I went to both shows, reasoning that there will likely be many more opportunities to see Mets playoff games on TV than to see these guys live. I was right.

      • Dave

        Well not to make you feel worse for missing them, but this was not just the reunited Blunstone/Argent and some other guys…that lineup played the first set, followed by the reunited original lineup (minus deceased guitarist) playing Odessey & Oracle in its entirety, note for note perfect. They were even better than I had hoped for. There is no singer from that era whose voice has held up like Blunstone’s, and hearing Time of the Season when I was about 10 years old was what made me want to learn how to play keyboards.

        Sorry, off topic, but whatever. Music is my co-#1 passion too. And yes Greg, This Will Be Our Year…took a long time to come.

  • Sbrand

    i only just recently realized that my overseas vacation scheduled fro start Nov. 7 was perfectly timed. I guess my subconscious was working that day in July when I booked it.

  • Rob E

    I dodged one yesterday too, had tickets to see Joe Walsh. The penultimate song there was Life’s Been Good: Lucky we’re sane after all we’ve been through, We can’t complain but sometimes we still do, Life’s been good this year so far.

    May life stay good a while longer! Go Jake, LGM!

  • Whaties54321

    Let’s go Mets!!

  • Dennis

    Great post Greg. I was lucky when I saw Cheap Trick September 23….well before any postseason schedule and didn’t interfere with the NL East clinching. Can’t wait for tonight and I have a good feeling we’re going back to Citi Field. LGM!!!!!

  • mikeski

    Heh. My wife and I were at the Beacon last night as well. Steely Dan are my musical Mets – my favorite band – and I’ve seen them, probably, 25 or so times since they resumed touring in ’93.

    She and I both looked at each other as we sang the line about California tumbling into the sea, smiled and high-fived.

    LGM.

  • Jason Fry

    Emily wanted to get married in October. I said it would interfere with playoff games. This being 1995, she said she didn’t think it would be a problem. I responded that I hoped we’d be married long enough that it would be one in the future. That made sense to her; we tied the knot on September 30.

    I’m not generally good at foresight, but I think I did well there.

    • mikeski

      That’s why we got married in November instead of October. This was in 1989, so it made sense then, and occasionally since then.

      • What Mets fan would get married in October?

        Not this one.

        • DAK442

          We got married on a Sunday in early October 1993, as it was the only opening at the catering hall Mrs. Dak had her heart set on. While planning I was concerned about missing the last day of the season, and when we were booking our honeymoon, an important issue came up: “Do they have, like, regular TV in Hawaii? So if the Mets are in the playoffs, we’ll be able to watch them?” Travel Agent: “Oh, you won’t want to watch TV in Hawaii” Mrs. Dak “Yes we will.” I married well.

          Of course that turned out not to be an issue. Though there were about 50 of us crammed into the mens room that night watching the end of the Giants game on a tiny TV the bathroom attendant had.

    • Dave

      Well, my wife and I not only got married in late September, it was in 1986. 10 days after we were at the eastern division clincher. Gooden pitched the day we were married, and any time I bring that up, my wife kind of rolls her eyes and says “yeah, you would remember that, wouldn’t you?” Because, well, why wouldn’t I, amirite?

  • Pat

    Let’s hope Mr. DeGrom can go back, Jac, and do it again.

  • Eric B.

    I’m off to see Public Image Ltd. on Nov. 5, but I did have a moment of panic that Game 7 of the WS might be on that night. Barring a rainout on Nov. 4, I should be ok.

    You’ve made me jealous about Steely Dan. They’ll be in my neck soon, so…

  • Eric

    With Syndergaard on regular rest and Harvey to a lesser extent ready in the bullpen, how quick is the hook on deGrom? Last night, Cueto gave up an early infield single followed by a 2-run HR against the Astros, but then gave up nothing else over 8 innings in the Royals win.

    If an otherwise strong deGrom slips a little, is he pulled right away or does Collins allow more rope like Yost gave Cueto?

    Against Greinke, a little slip is all it may take.

    I wonder whether Matt Reynolds will be thrust into a key spot.

  • Daniel Hall

    Nine hours. Anxiety.

    I wouldn’t yank deGrom early (before five) unless he’s REALLY bad, because Syndergaard and Harvey (2 days’ rest!) or not, the sooner you axe the starter, the earlier you get into the shallow end of the Mets’ pen, which can’t be a thing anybody longs for and should best be avoided altogether. To be honest, outside of deGrom and Familia, I don’t want to see anybody touching that mound.

    • Eric

      True. We can imagine Syndergaard as Chapman-plus and Harvey channeling Wade Davis, but we don’t know that Syndergaard and Harvey would be shutdown relievers. Last night, Keuchel was tasked with holding a 4-2 deficit out of the pen for the Astros and got lit up with a 3-run HR.

  • 9th string catcher

    Quite the connection between classic rock and the Mets. Interesting.

    For those of you who can’t wait for Steely Dan to come around, my friend has an amazing Steely Dan cover band: http://kingoftheworldband.com/index.html

    The trip we made in Hollywood
    Is etched upon my mind

  • mikeL

    happy to say that the GF’s birthday falls on the first travel day, this monday. may the mets be up 2-0 or at least even!

    let’s go jake!
    let’s go bats (you all know who you are!)
    let’s go mets!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Wow, that was a fortuitous turn of events for you! Great band, and very overlooked by my generation. As I’ve been running mundane errands today, trying to keep myself busy, avoid chain smoking, and basically do anything to pass the time, I’ve put my Pandora channel on Steely Dan. It’s definitely helped a bit. Thanks Greg!!

  • Bob

    Greg–How about Mets WIN tonight and California does NOT tumble into the Sea?–You don’t want my Met Flag getting all wet do you?

    From Met fan (now in LA) from Polo Grounds-1963

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Eric

    http://m.mets.mlb.com/nym/video/v522849783/grandpa-matz-on-his-grandson-pitching/?team_id=121

    Grandpa Matz (mom’s side, though, so technically not Grandpa Matz) is very much as you’d imagine him.

  • dmg

    one of my longtime favorite bands — saw them last year in port chester at the last show of their tour with my son. that would be my son who flew into laguardia monday at 6 to catch game 3 with me. we go to all the best shows.

    it’s a great omen to read steely dan lyrics today. any major dude will tell you.

  • Steve D

    My wedding night would have been game 7 of the 2000 Subway Series…poor planning, but the game was never played. I did run into Denny Neagle on my honeymoon…he pitched for NY (AL) in that series.

  • Gianni Privacio

    Apologies Greg for getting all nerdy on this topic, actually the penultimate song on Countdown is (or at least was in the original pressing, not sure about any re release) “Pearl of the Quarter”. The last song is “King of the World”, a tale about being the last man in a postapocalyptic American west. The final verse is:

    There’s no need to hide
    Taking things the easy way
    If I stay inside
    I might live till Saturday

    Hmmm. Perhaps could be vaguely interpreted as “watch from home”? However, heh, heh, we are from New York and everybody knows what the experience of winning tonight at some fine establishment will be like.

    BTW the song also features some of the band’s greatest guitar work, the solo at the end courtesy of vastly underappreciated original Steely Dan member and Long Island native Denny Dias. It’s mixed louder to the left for anyone interested. There’s also a ferocious live version on Youtube from a radio broadcast in 1974 featuring both Jim Hodder and Jeff Porcaro on drums.

    OK enough about the band and it’s tenacious commitment to excellence, a nice allegory for our 2015 hometown heroes. Great you finally got to catch them!

    The game, I dunno, I keep thinking about Duda. Thought that if he got hot in the playoffs we would coast. Hmmm.

    • Thanks for the background. “My Old School” was the penultimate song last night (not counting the encore) if not on the album itself.

      I remember delving into a detailed musical conversation with Jason and Rob E. in the middle of Game Five of the 2000 NLCS, which was when the Mets clinched that series, so this discussion can’t be anything but encouraging.

  • Gianni Privacio

    Appreciate your patience and sorry for misinterpreting. Got fired up seeing that headline then reading that you were actually referring to the that historic disc. Another example of tenacious commitment to excellence – you guys! Thanks again for making 2015 feel like ye olde great years by providing real journalism and this awesome community.

  • Jake

    Your old roommate from USF came into my job for lunch today in Tampa, saw my mets hat and told me to check out your blog. Good stuff. Been a believer since I was born in 91. I always said the 06 nlcs team was the best mets roster I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, but the pitching we have in 15 is just silly. Degrom goes 7 1/3 tonight with 7k’s 4H 1ER 0BB. We win 3-1 and bring the party back to flushing. LGM

  • Eric

    I just rewatched highlights of the Rangers’ 7th inning meltdown. They gave away 4 easy outs plus a possible 5th out on the dropped DP.

    Elimination game pressure can choke even a gold-glove-quality fielder like Andrus. Hamels pitched well enough to win. It would be a painful loss if deGrom did his job but the game was decided on a flub by Flores, Murphy, or someone else.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Greg, since I’m a little older than most of the commenters, my musical tastes run more to the Marv Throneberry era. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m down on Steely Dan. They are great. But my guys are the Fab Four, John, Paul, George, and Whats-his-face. Of course, with deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, and Matz, we have the Fabbest Four since the Beatles. You may be aware that both groups include one lefty.

    By the way, I got married on August 22, 1969. The Mets beat the Dodgers that night, the first of a 6-game-winning streak that brought the team from 7 games back to 2.5 games back, and we all know what happened the rest of that season.

  • sturock

    “Negative thinking won’t do” to the tune of “Guadalajara won’t do” in the Dan’s “My Old School.” Very clever, Greg!

    Let’s go Mets!

  • Wright Said Fred

    It’s 12:30 here in North Idaho. I can’t seem to concentrate any more. I haven’t been this jumpy and anxious about a ballgame for a long time. I agree with something I read earlier on the Bleacher Report. I think the Dodger bullpen will let them down tonight and Grenkie won’t go more than 5 innings. Jacob will be solid. But we will get to the Dodgers late in the game and everyone in Dodger Stadium without orange to go with their blue will go home disappointed…..

    Ah to hell with it! I’m going home to decide which Mets Jersey to wear. It’s gonna be epic!

  • Daniel Hall

    Doomsayer Daniel was born in ’86 (yes, actually!) and has no clue whatsoever about most of the music written about in this article and comments. Worse, ever since coming home from work today I’m strolling around nervously, and – of all the wicked things in there! – the chorus to Diet Mountain Dew by Lana del Rey keeps running in my head. At first I thought I’m just weird like that, but no, there’s actually more to that.

    Diet Mountain Dew, baby, New York City,
    never was there ever a girl so pretty;
    do you think we’ll be in love forever,
    do you think we’ll be in love?

    and

    You’re no good for me, you’re no good for me,
    but baby I want you, I want you.

    CLEARLY, that song is about that prettiest girl, that will drive you nuts at times: the Mets! CLEARLY. I’m not the only one to see that, right? Right?

    Ah!! Three more hours till the madness stops! Or begins. Or whatever. Maybe I’ll snap before. It’s my first time pulling for a team in the playoffs. I’m still learning.

  • eric1973

    We’re not favored, for sure, but Ya Gotta Believe!

  • eric1973

    With you, Eric B.

    I never take vacations in OCT, so this year we are leaving the nite of NOV05. Combination of shock and luckiness that Game 7 is the night before.

  • Mikey

    I should tell you guys music is a passion of mine too….in fact i am a publicist in the biz. My roster is diverse but i work with poco, pure prairie league and firefall among others. Amazing how all of them keep going. Anyway lets go mets!!

  • Eric

    Kershaw and Greinke on the road. They can have their Cy Young awards. Jacob deGrom is the ace. Arrieta, you’re next.

  • 9th string catcher

    Avatar of Chaos!!!

  • Daniel Hall

    I love MurphVP! And I just woke the entire building!

  • eric1973

    Love Murph!!

    Shoved those words down Gary Cohen’s and all his doubter’s throats!

    NET PLUS!

  • Steve D

    Game 1: Harvey vs. Arrieta, I assume. That one sets the tone. It will be HUGE. Harvey has to pitch twice in the series.

  • Eric

    Familia set down Rollins and Utley for the final nail in the coffin of the 2007 collapse. Embrace the redemption.

    Oh yeah – Familia is beast closer.

  • Eric

    Credit to d’Arnaud for the sac fly on Greinke when Murphy stole 3B.

  • Eric

    Credit to Collins for managing this game to the win. Stuck with deGrom. Syndergaard. 2 innings for Familia.

    Mets have HFA for the NLCS.

  • Steve D

    Lester pitches game one. They are out to avenge 1969. Good luck with that.

  • mikeL

    that was STEELY DAN MURPHY!
    Such a sinking feeling in the bottom of the first.
    murph carried the day so BIG TIME!
    synergaard was monster
    and familia indeed counted us down to ecstasy:
    6-5-4-3-2-1-0!!

    and yes ao sweet to retire both rollins and ugly in the final frames.

    good bye phillie dodgers.
    good bye dodger dodgers.

    hellloooo cubs!

    yes a game for the ages!

    HAPPY FRIDAY.

    another game tomorrow!

    cheers!

  • Eric

    deGrom > Kershaw+Greinke

  • Lenny65

    Kershaw + Greinke = the last I wanna hear about them. And let’s hear it for TC. IMO going with Thor there was a ballsy move that worked big-time. Remember when we were all worried about having too many good pitchers??

    • Eric

      I was a bit disappointed that Syndergaard’s fastball didn’t jump to 102-105 MPH out of the pen.

      If Familia had stumbled on his way to 6 outs, Collins would have been raked over for not having Syndergaard pitch the 8th inning.

      Sticking with deGrom to grind through trouble with Syndergaard ready to go was a big-time gut call by Collins. As well as he pitched in the 7th, who knows whether Syndergaard would have stopped the inherited runners from scoring.

  • Eric

    Mets vs Cubs for the league championship is a head on collision of two teams of destiny. Karma hurricane.