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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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A New Standard

I straggled home from Game Four of the World Series Sunday at 2:00 AM EDT, which in the instant it took me to look up at the clock, became Sunday at 1:00 AM EST.

Standard Time had returned and the Mets were still playing baseball. Not very well on the eve of us gaining our wee small hour, but they were alive. The sun hadn’t officially set on their rapidly dimming postseason yet.

“Think about that,” I thought.

So I did. I thought it was remarkable. I thought it must be unprecedented. Not on the life-affirming side of the calendar, mind you — clocks didn’t used to be sprung ahead until late April, a.k.a. well after Opening Day — but here where autumn inevitably gives way to winter and we are dealt a single extra hour of sleep as scant compensation for being involuntarily shoved into month upon month of darkness. The Mets simply aren’t active when we as a nation fall back.

Except for this one instance, I realized. The date was October 27, 1986, one day after America grimly reclockened itself on the final Sunday of the month, as was the law of the land at the time. Their last moment in Daylight Savings involved a ground ball…trickling… It was a fair ball that got by Buckner. You’ve probably heard of it.

The Mets gave themselves an extra dose of daylight by beating the Red Sox in Game Six of that World Series and earned themselves a Game Seven, their only non-spring Standard Time affair ever, also their final home game of that particular year. With great help from a fellow known as Knight (he who rounded third on that trickling ground ball), it worked out pretty well for them. Ray Knight hit a tiebreaking homer in Game Seven and won the MVP award in recognition of his role in bringing the New York Mets the world championship.

Twenty-nine years later, it was still the most recent world championship the Mets could claim and remained the standard against which all subsequent Mets teams would be measured. No wonder, then, when I peered hard into that clock following Game Four, I saw a glimmer of 1986.

I saw the Mets would be playing their final home game of 2015 in Standard Time. And if they were going to have any chance of winning the current World Series and creating a new standard for future Mets teams to measure up to, they were going to have to rely heavily on a fellow known as the Dark Knight.

Which was perfect, considering it couldn’t have been much darker three hours before Game Five’s first pitch and it couldn’t have been much darker in the minutes that followed the final swings of Game Four.

I was at Citi Field when Daniel Murphy made the boot heard round the world. And Yoenis Cespedes was caught off first. And Tyler Clippard kept missing in agonizing fashion. And Jeurys Familia couldn’t quite slam shut the door marked ROYALS, which was built preternaturally ajar. And the Mets who weren’t Michael Conforto didn’t hit worth a damn anyway.

The team effort that undermined a Series-tying victory until it morphed into a brink-of-elimination loss was breathtaking in its scope and ineptitude. The game I watched get away convinced me there was not much point to getting my hopes up for Game Five. There was not much hope to raise. I had basically none. Thus, after the Mets lost Game Four and I made my quick trip to what was referred to in 1776 as the necessary, I did something I’d never done at Citi Field.

I went back to the stands, somewhere in Promenade. The season was about to end and this was my last in-person game. This was Ultimate Closing Day minus one, but the only version I was going to get. I knew I wasn’t coming back for the actual final home game of 2015. I had to have my moment.

I wasn’t the only one. There were probably more people lingering in Promenade long after Citi Field’s most crushing loss than there were for the playing of the dozens and dozens of ordinary defeats that dotted the Augusts and Septembers that directly preceded 2015. I was surprised security wasn’t bum-rushing everybody the hell out, but the staircases were jammed and the field was still buzzing with media and Royals. There was no need to rush.

There was, instead, a funeral. I conducted it privately, in my head. This was the best season we’d ever had here at Citi Field. It was the only good season to date. Even the crushing Game Four loss contained a faint silver lining. Murphy making that error was the first time I ever felt a genuine kick to the baseball gut — one that truly made me go OOF!!! — in that building. You have to have something on the line to ache that badly over a baseball game.

Congratulations ballpark. You graduated to another level. I shall lower my morale to half-staff in your honor.

I looked around a while. I remembered this or that day or night when things went swell or lousy. I eavesdropped on conversations that were either rich in blame or soberly philosophical. If there was a “we’ll get ’em tomorrow” in the crowd’s remainder, I didn’t hear it. I know I didn’t say it.

It took me until “tomorrow,” in the hours after the clock simultaneously struck two and one, to understand there was a tomorrow to these Mets. Game Five still had to be played. It wasn’t a formality. Not when we had a historically favorable time change on our side. Not when he had a Knight going for us.

As Sunday got going in earnest, I forgot I ever officiated at a private memorial for the 2015 Mets. Whatever life they had left in them was not to be taken lightly.

When it is in condition to be driven, I drive a very old car. It makes sense if you know me. I form attachments to objects animate and otherwise and strive to keep them running for as long as possible. For example, I’ve had the same baseball team since I was six, and it hasn’t always worked perfectly. The car — which has generally been far more dependable than the man who drives it and receives clean bills of health far more often — is undergoing a major repair job that is illogical when one takes into account its age and “value”. Before I signed off on it, my mechanic advised me frankly that this was a lot of trouble to go through to stick with a vehicle whose future isn’t exactly unlimited and maybe, despite its admirable decades of durability, it was time for me to let go.

“Look,” I replied after mulling it over. “I know it’s not going to last forever. But…” I trailed off because I had to grope for the words.

“Not like this…y’know?”

He did. And so did I as Sunday morning passed into afternoon. Not like this. Not down three games to one when it takes four to end the World Series.

No funerals. No memorials. No selling a pennant-winner short for scrap. One more game at home equaled one more chance to win. Win Game Five and have a Game Six. Win Game Six…well, play Game Five. Don’t give up on it before it starts.

So off I went, carless, to root my team on. When I left home to catch the first in a series of trains and taxis that would take me to watch Game Five with my dad, it wasn’t yet six o’clock yet it was already dark out. That was the downside of Standard Time. The upside was all that aforementioned juicy championship precedent I dared to see in the changing of the clocks. Frankly, I preferred it to the margins of Games One, Two and Three shadowing 1986’s. That was getting creepy.

I showed up at my father’s place, which will never be mistaken for McFadden’s, and watched Matt Harvey be Matt Harvey as we understood him to be when we first laid eyes on him. It was as if Scott Boras was never invented. The Royals, those masters of making contact, couldn’t touch him. Harvey was heavenly, striking out nine in eight innings and allowing zero runs. Talk about precedent. He was Johan Santana winning on one good knee and absolutely no bullpen from Game 161 in 2008. He was Curt Schilling keeping the Phillies afloat by shutout in World Series Game Five in 1993. He was anyone you wanted him to be.

He was Matt Harvey. That’s all we ever wanted him to be.

Though we also wanted some runs. Two was “some,” I guess, though as the Dark Knight battled on and the night got later, those two the Mets had totaled looked lonelier and lonelier. It wasn’t a lack of confidence in Harvey to think he would require a little extra cushion. It was recognizing how little the Mets had been scoring as a rule and how capable the Royals were of fast-forwarding their offense on demand and that the entire Met bullpen probably hadn’t been overhauled since Saturday night. No pen’s ever been a certainty, but our pen, particularly in a short series, has always been a crapshoot. Think back to the depth and talent and experience the Mets were packing in relief in 1999 and 2000 and 2006.

You can’t think of it, can you? It was there, but at some very critical juncture, it found a way to crack. That’s what pens do…Met pens, in particular.

Getting Harvey every shred of support as was possible would have diminished a fan’s anxieties. But after eight, Harvey led by the same 2-0 he’d been out in front by since the sixth. The Mets hadn’t done enough to yet another KC starter — Edinson Volquez in this case — and were doing nothing against the Royal bullpen.

But “so what?” you wanted to rhetorically ask. Harvey’s so clutch, so dominant. Can’t Harvey just finish off the Royals with a two-run lead?

Does anybody finish off anybody anymore? Johnny Cueto gave his reliefmates the night off in Game Two, but he was ahead by six and the Mets were, let’s face it, the Mets, at least the Mets of Game Two. The Royals, as much as the “relentless” theme was pounded to dust, truly never relented. Even in the one game they lost in the Series, they were relentless complainers regarding Noah Syndergaard pitching Alcides Escobar up and in.

All of which brought us to the highest drama of Game Five, the emergency board meeting among Harvey, Dan Warthen and Terry Collins aimed at deciding whether Harvey would pitch the ninth. This conversation simply didn’t happen in Jerry Koosman’s day, but baseball has changed forever. No starter throwing impenetrable four-hit ball across eight innings is automatically allowed to attempt to fully craft his masterpiece. Predictably, Warthen was ready to pull Harvey in favor of Familia. Just as predictably, Harvey resisted the pull.

Collins, whose call it was, went with his starter. It was the understandable call. When Harvey walked leadoff batter Lorenzo Cain, it might have been just as understandable if Collins went with his original plan and replaced his ace starter with his ace closer. But he didn’t. He gave Harvey one more batter and, as seems to have been the case through the regular season and postseason, it was one opposing batter too many for one Met pitcher too spent. Eric Hosmer lashed a double to left and Cain — who had Crunchwrapped the Royals’ 648th stolen base of the World Series — raced merrily home from second to halve the Mets’ lead.

It didn’t all have to go to hell from there. It would be disingenuous to insist I knew it would. I’d come a long way from de facto surrender almost 24 hours before and refused to intuitively sense that the Mets were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. How confident was I in the Mets’ ability to win this game that had been moving so swiftly and going so swimmingly? Confident enough in the bottom of the eighth to start checking LIRR timetable apps and gauge if maybe the Sunday night schedule was going to be kind enough to ping me from the North Shore to Jamaica to the South Shore in timely enough fashion to save me a pricey cab ride home.

I’ll take the blame for such an uncharacteristically cocksure gesture (and wound up with another hefty fare in practically the middle of the night). Everything else that went wrong for the Mets can be attributed to the figures on the hospice room television. That would include the Royals, who it must be stressed were the protagonists in this World Series in every way but parochial. We focus on the Mets because we’re Mets fans. The Royals, though, made things happen. They produced. They executed. The Mets, with a few notable exceptions, were mostly reacting to the Royals’ actions. Met defense in particular seemed to be played in the slowest of motion.

Despite now owning the dubious record for most saves blown in a single World Series (3), Familia shouldn’t be inordinately blamed for what was about to transpire. He threw a good pitch that retired Mike Moustakas for the ninth inning’s first out, yet moved Hosmer along to third. And Jeurys really can’t be blamed for Salvador Perez’s neither-fish-nor-fowl grounder to not quite short and not quite third. David Wright opted to field it before it could get to Wilmer Flores (aggressive is good, usually) while Hosmer danced further and further from third.

Wright threw to first. Had to, didn’t he? Had to get an out. Hosmer wasn’t that close to home when David made his peg. Then again, he was getting a little far from third.

Duda makes the putout.

Hosmer breaks for the plate.

Duda turns and fires.

Hosmer’s gonna be out based on geometry. The inning’s gonna be over. The Mets are gonna win, 2-1.

Hosmer’s gonna be safe based on everything you feel in your Mets fan bones. The game is gonna be tied at two.

Hosmer was safe. Duda flung the ball past Travis d’Arnaud and through the window of the Lemon Ice King of Corona. The game was indeed knotted.

The fifth game of the 2015 World Series was over in the twelfth if you’re a stickler for technicalities, but it was basically over when some combination of Familia, Wright, Flores, Duda and d’Arnaud failed to prevent that second Royal run. I told myself otherwise in the moment. In the moment — after I briefly roused my dozing father and half of his sleeping neighbors with the detonation of a phalanx of f-bombs — I rooted mightily for the Mets to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth. I did the same in the bottoms of the tenth and the eleventh. All it would have taken was one incredibly well struck fly ball or a reasonably sturdy chain of Met-friendly events.

But they weren’t coming and I wasn’t surprised, just as it was no shock when the final crack of the year showed in the top of the twelfth and everybody but Buddy Biancalana drove in a Royal run to break the tie and make the score 7-2. The bottom of the twelfth thus ballooned into the most inconsequential final home half-inning in Met postseason history among those that marked closure for a campaign. It wasn’t Mike Piazza taking Mariano Rivera deep to center but not deep enough as the potential tying run. It wasn’t Carlos Beltran taking strike three from Adam Wainwright as the potential winning run. It was Wilmer Flores, folk hero of July, frozen by Wade Davis. If only Flores had swung, it…

It wouldn’t have mattered. The Mets were down by five. Believe, Believe, Believe, yes, of course, always. But when You Gotta Accept, accept that baseball has its new world champion and it’s not the Mets.

The Kansas City Royals are to be congratulated. If you run into one, feel free to congratulate him.

The New York Mets? Our New York Mets? What do we do with them in the hours after they kept us up late for the last time in 2015?

My instinct is to go the route I distinctly recall carving out fifteen years ago under similar difficult circumstances. The 2000 World Series was also a five-game loss. When it ended undesirably, I remember writing and circulating an e-mail of the “buck up” nature. I was so proud of how hard those Mets fought to get as far as they did, never being out of any of their games against the hated crosstown rivals, making us Believe deep into October (albeit before the clocks needed changing). I bought that line a decade-and-a-half ago and I stand by it today.

The 2000 pennant has not aged well in the public Mets fan consciousness, which is a shame. I think one element that is forgotten is 2000 was the culmination of a four-year climb onto baseball’s ultimate stage. We got surprisingly close to the Wild Card in 1997, one game away from it in 1998, two games from the World Series in 1999 and, finally, three games from a world title in 2000. There was a 673-game buildup to Piazza flying out to end Game Five then. It was an exhausting, exhilarating rise, Timo or not.

This run was different. Many of these Mets bubbled under the Hot 100, so to speak, in the years prior to 2015, but the team we’d been making our cause in October didn’t exactly exist until the turn of August. There were great achievements from April to July, yet it’s almost as if they came from another season altogether.

As for how proud these Mets made me during this World Series…I wanna go there, I really do, but the video actualities are just too harsh. Balls thrown away. Balls kicked around. Batters who were rarely hitters. A bullpen that was Russian roulette at its riskiest. This was a thrilling Series only if you were a Royals fan, and that’s not an assessment based on who won. The 2000 World Series was a thrilling World Series, five games notwithstanding. The 1973 World Series was fascinating theater. We lost those, but I knew we competed to the bitter end of both. In 2015, the competition overwhelmed us when it counted most.

I also don’t know if there’s a “the future’s so bright” card to play here. The pitching is fantastic and that’s a spectacular platform on which to build. The everyday lineup…who knows? We didn’t have even a hint of what this one was until the season was about two-thirds over. I’m not up for a full dissection right now, but we know it’s unlikely Cespedes and Murphy are back (and we’re probably unsure how badly we’d want them to stay). We’re enamored of Conforto and feel generally sanguine about d’Arnaud despite his inability to throw anybody out. Everything else is more than a little underknown, whether it’s who’s gonna play where or what they’re capable of giving us in 2016. And that’s fine to a certain extent. Offseasons exist to reshape rosters and we have undeniably entered the offseason.

Honestly, I’m not “worried” about next year right now, but in the realm of trying to figure out if we can take solace in coming close this year as prelude to that which is bigger and better — as Royals fans must have or at least (in hindsight) should have when they lost Game Seven in 2014 — I just don’t know. I remember good, solid clubs and wonderfully appealing stories like the ’93 Phillies and ’07 Rockies warming their Octobers as much as they could and then essentially disappearing from contention after losing the World Series. Same for the 2000 Mets, come to think of it. Because of Harvey, Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, that’s probably not us. But ya never know.

OK, so the World Series wasn’t a festival of Metropolitan excellence and the crystal ball clouds up if you fog your breath all over it. We led in all five Fall Classic games yet prevailed in just one of them. Our parade is taking an unexpected detour through Western Missouri. What is there to feel good about as Standard Time tightens its grip on our psyches and the sun goes down for good on the 2015 baseball season?

Are you kidding? What isn’t there to feel good about?

It’s November 2. We just finished playing.

We are the champions of the oldest professional baseball league in existence.

We posted our first winning record in seven years, secured our first division title in nine years and, as the t-shirts declare, earned the right to raise our first pennant in fifteen years.

We didn’t passively watch the Giants or Cardinals or whoever represent the senior circuit out there these last five games. That was us, not them, not the Nationals or Dodgers or Cubs. We beat all those clubs.

We outlasted everybody’s expectations, ours included.

We attracted everybody’s attention for the best reasons possible.

We hosted a bandwagon, for goodness sake. Some griped about frontrunners. I welcomed their presence, no matter how ephemeral. This is the idea of winning. You win and you excite the populace. It’s always going to mean more to the diehards. That’s why we’re so named. We take the death of a dream hard, but we are ready to report for duty again and again. This time the dream lived 176 games.

And it wasn’t a dream. It really happened.

We really did win eleven in a row in April.

We really did get Harvey back.

We really did see deGrom blossom.

We really did make room for Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

We really did find a closer, no matter what kind of luck eventually found him, in Familia.

We really did ride Yoenis Cespedes for six stunning weeks.

We really did witness David Wright defeat stenosis, or at least keep it at bay for the two months his entire career had been leading up to.

We really did witness a Murph miracle do in the Dodgers and club the Cubs.

We really did get to cheer countless times and open champagne bottles three times and buy commemorative apparel marking our accomplishments by association and luxuriate in a large lead in our division and withstand a scoring drought in June and persevere to beat St. Louis in eighteen innings and jump up and down when Juan Uribe delivered in late July and how about that kick save and a beauty between Murphy and Carlos Torres and don’t forget the night Bartolo flipped a no-look pass to first and need I remind you we hit eight homers in one night at Philly and we won consecutive 14-9 decisions in Denver and broke a seven-game losing streak in Milwaukee on the strength of deGrom’s pitching and hitting and hair and we applauded loudest when everybody everywhere saw just what a star Jacob really is when he struck out the side in the All-Star Game and we didn’t let that horrible loss to the Padres stop us and we didn’t trade Wilmer Flores and Flores couldn’t have paid us back any better and fuck Chase Utley because we love the stuffing out of Ruben Tejada and though neither of them was on the postseason roster don’t forget that Sunday when Darrell Ceciliani and Dilson Herrera homered in that enormous comeback over the Braves the day after we blew one and there was even a hit or two from John Mayberry at some point and a save from Buddy Carlyle on Opening Day and Alex Torres wore that weird cap and Logan Verrett kept coming through when asked and Kirk Nieuwenheis went deep three times at home after coming back from the Angels and we were no-hit twice and it didn’t matter a whit and Johnny Monell and Eric Campbell and Bobby Parnell a little and Jenrry Mejia for a minute and Duda with the enormous homers in two clinchers and Cespedes with the sleeve and the throw to nail Sean Rodriguez and Murphy stealing that uncovered base and David with the epic fist pump and fuck Scott Boras while we’re at it and two pitchers homered and Ruben hit one inside the park and he will play and hit again but he’ll never do anything better than come out with that cane and Matz’s grandpa cheered nearly as well as East Setauket Steve hit and pitched and…

Ohmigod, what a season and what a postseason and what an experience to be a part of it as a fan and a blogger. What a year to have it confirmed that you don’t give up on the baseball team you form an attachment to when you’re six, no matter how inanimate they can appear for years on end. Not that you were going to give up. It’s just nice when they give you a season full of all this. It’s confirmation that you’re not crazy to be crazy about the Mets. You’re crazy if you’re not crazy about the 2015 Mets.

If this is how it feels after losing the World Series, I can’t wait to see what winning one will mean.

If it means as much to you as co-authoring the most heartfelt Mets blog you’ll ever read means to me, then I will be incredibly happy for you.

Every season since 2005 has played out in these pages, this season a little more so. To every one of you who makes Faith and Fear a regular stop on your trip around the bases; to every one of you who takes the time to burnish what we write with what you write; to every one of you who seeks one or both of us out to extend your thoughts on baseball/life; and to every one of you with whom I’ve been honored to share a championship journey…I’d be at a loss for words to tell you what you mean to me if not for a phrase I’ve found to come in extraordinarily handy over the past month in particular.

Let’s Go Mets.

And thank you.

109 comments to A New Standard

  • Andy

    To me, the most amazing thing about Johan’s no-hitter was Duda was playing right that evening.

    Great year, and thanks for bringing some of it back. Maybe they will add some less streaky hitters and better defense. I have more faith and less fear about 2016 and beyond.

  • Eric

    Another painful moment to recall:

    Leading off the bottom of the 10th inning, in the midst of a lot of weak contact by his older teammates in the stunned aftermath of the top of the 9th inning, Conforto just missed a game-winning HR off of Hochevar.

  • Deb

    For decades I have paid no attention to baseball. Brother and father are life long Mets fans. Early October, I suddenlely engaged, maybe it was all the talk on my feed, Jim breuer, this blog, and a fascinating controversy like Utley’s dirty move. I have been sucked in, not as a fare weather fan, but more so I imagine this is how fandom begins. Something grabs you is and next thing you know you are watching games with your brother, (me 43 he 46) and not even arguing!, checking scores, watching on the ipad when forced to trick /treat, engaging in baseball talk bus drivers and friends who cant believe you have the fever. Your writing exemplifies the heart and soul of baseball that somehow I had always missed. I get it now, if even a little. It’s a beautiful thing. Thank you. Truly tearfully and in admiration.

    • Eric

      Caveat: the 2015 Mets season is unusual for baseball fandom even by the peculiar standards of Mets fandom.

      The dramatic analogy I like to describe this Mets season is the movie, Breakfast Club, which is about a gestalt. There’s no formula for Alderson to reproduce it. The Mets may reach the World Series again, perhaps even with many core pieces from the 2015 roster, but a season like this past one won’t happen again. The ending was a letdown but the story of the 2015 Mets was extraordinary.

  • Lenny65

    Hey, by the way, who WAS the least consequential Met of all time? Thanks to FAFIF for another great season, far away my favorite Mets-centric site. Anyone would be hard-pressed to match (let alone top) the degree of quality, dedication, knowledge, entertainment and civility you’ll find right here. It felt like “home” from my very first visit on, always a class act all the way. Here’s hoping for many more like 2015! Thanks Jason and Greg, for all that you do!

    • We’re entering the least consequential part of the calendar, so the time is about right to make the reveal. (Got kind of sidetracked by that whole run to the pennant thing.)

      • Lenny65

        LOL I remember that, all of a sudden things took a turn for the weird and wildly interesting right before the reveal. Do something like that again next season, please!

  • eric1973

    Every Met should have read this post before the Series —- It would have given them the inspiration they needed to win it all!

    Thanks, Greg and Jason. I know I am raring to go!

  • Amy

    I have lived my entire adult life in the Boston area, an orange and blue stranger in a red-socked land. Though I root for my adopted home team as a proximal fan, nothing can dislodge the Mets from my heart. Thank you Greg and Jason, (and thanks to my brother for introducing me to you) for capturing in beautiful prose and cogent insight what it means to be a Met fan: smart, insightful, and open, through baseball, to the full measure of what it means to be human. Win or lose, there’s nothing like it. Let’s go Mets! I can’t wait for 2016.

  • Mikey

    Greg, Jason and all of you impassioned fans who comment here, I discovered this fine blog after reading Greg’s book on vacation in June. And you all made the ride so much more enjoyable day after day, and I thank you for that.

    also, after the bitter taste is gone from my mouth, this is going to go down as my favorite Mets season ever, not just because we came within 3 wins of a title, but because of the ups and downs and outright magical nature of it all. I don’t know how a team can literally go from having Eric Campbell, John Mayberry Jr. and Johnny Monell in the starting lineup to the World Series a few months later. Great starting pitching aside, it kind of almost defies logic. There had to be just a bit of magic dust sprinkled on our team. But now that taste of winning will hopefully keep us coming back. Only now we will be expected to be good, like in ’86. That was an incredible run and two magical Game 6’s but we were expected to win and it makes that different from 2015.

    Finally, Greg….your heartwarming stories about going to watch the games with your dad were, well, heartwarming and also bittersweet. I lost my dad to cancer last year, and I can’t tell you how many times this season I looked skyward and asked him if he could believe what was happening here. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

    and I look forward to hanging with all of you for the hot stove league talk. thanks again!

  • dmg

    i’m late to the party on this only because i attended the parties on saturday and sunday nights and am still utterly spent. (it was wonderful to see you briefly before the start of game 4, greg. that you could write as well as you have here so soon after the season’s final out attests to your and jason’s status as most valuable bloggers.)

    at the outset of this series, i felt that it wasn’t enough to get there, that the mets had to win it — else the gains that the team had made organizationally, on the field and in the consciousness of new york baseball fans, would all recede and nothing would stick.

    i still fear that, but those concerns take a back seat right now. this season was extraordinary, this postseason was profoundly great. i’ll spend much of the offseason picking apart each error of pitching, hitting, fielding and judgment, and lament what could have been.

    but, crucially, not what should have been. because champions holds leads, and the mets didn’t.

    they were the best in the national league, though, and that pennant is a hard-won, hard-core joy. we can all savor what the mets gave us this year, and what you and jason chronicled. bravo, 2015.

    • Eric

      Indeed, winning a World Series makes a team immortal, perfected. Getting there but not winning the championship makes a team notable as a character in someone else’s story.

      Practically speaking, the silver lining of losing to the Royals is the Royals confronted the Mets with a model that makes better sense for the Mets than their current make-up. Losing the WS like they did, where every team vulnerability was (excruciatingly) highlighted by Royals exploitation, opens the way to remake the team.

      The 2015 Mets season was unique. It was a magical gestalt. It can’t be repeated and Alderson shouldn’t try to reproduce it.

      Moving forward, the Mets are built on an elite rotation and an elite closer. Everyone else on the roster, including the promising rookie left-fielder, slugging catcher with the noodle arm, and the limited Captain, is replaceable.

      A boom-or-bust offense, Lucas Duda on a team scale, is fun when enough individual streaks converge to boom like in August-September, but the post-trades Mets offense also saw cold streaks against mediocre pitching before the play-offs.

      The Mets struggled to bunt runners over and seemed to specialize in shallow pop ups, weak grounders to the left side, and strike outs.

      The Mets’ elite pitchers ought to be supported by a dependable defense and an offense that can reliably manufacture league-average runs with the old-fashioned get’em on, move’em over, get’em in, you know, like the Royals.

      Of course, building a team like the Royals isn’t there for the asking, but they provide a model for the Mets to aspire to.

      • Rob E

        Except for the fact that they won, there’s NOTHING for the Mets to aspire to here. The Royals trailed for 25 innings and only led for 13. They were behind in the eighth inning in four games. They made errors that gave us runs in three games, and gave us a run because a guy forgot how many outs there were in another game. That’s nothing to aspire to. Unfortunately, we made mistakes too, and they capitalized.

        They are a very good team that played well in the late innings of a 5-game series. But THAT’S ALL. They deserved it, but let’s not glorify them as a team for the ages. The Mets are really good too, and if not for a few random at-bats, the parade could have easily been ours.

        • Eric

          That speaks to the Mets’ advantage in the World Series. I don’t want the Mets to trade away their strengths – the elite starting rotation and closer – to reach for the Royals model.

          Rather, the Mets ought to look to the Royals model to better support the Mets’ strengths.

          The up the middle defense needs to improve. A take-charge SS with the range to cover for Wright if he continues as the regular 3B would be useful.

  • Michael G.

    Thanks to the best Mets chroniclers in the universe for their irreplaceable contributions to our baseball lives.

    This was one of the great Mets seasons in their storied history. Putting aside Clippard’s two walks in Game 4, the Royals had to stage 9th-inning comebacks against one of the best closers in baseball (Familia in game 1) and one of the best starters in baseball (Harvey in game 5) to beat us. Not many other teams could have done that, if any. We met our match. If — and more likely, when — we return to the postseason, I like our chances to prevail in comparable circumstances. In this heroic season, the Mets have gone from afterthoughts to formidable competitors with a pitching staff that is the envy of baseball. And so I say, Let’s Go Mets!

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  • Maju Varghese

    After all the noise, I came to this site because like your book, you capture the true spirit of the Mets fan base. I was angry yesterday but along with some of my fellow die hard fans/friends, I am now looking forward to the future with this incredible pitching staff.

    This season was my favorite year since 86 because of all the twists and turns. The early season win streak, the Flores tears followed by the Flores walk off, the 2 sweeps of the Nats, the Cespedes show in August and the thrilling run to the series.

    Most importantly, I shared this season with my 9 year old son and we attended Game 4 along with my wife. He cried as the Mets fell apart in the 8th that night and again when he woke up on Monday to the news of the series being over. It hurt to see him cry but it sort of warmed my heart too: he is now one of us. He is hooked on the Mets. Looking forward to sharing a lifetime of Mets tears and cheers with him. Thanks, guys.

    • Eric

      Your son’s the right age to be hooked for life. I imagine the 2015 Mets provided you as his father plenty of teachable moments to talk about with your son.

    • dmg

      this happened to my son, at the last game at shea, in 2008. he started to sob as events turned sharply, from the mets winning the wildcard to losing out to the brewers, all in a matter of minutes. he started to sob then pulled himself together.
      at first i thought, well, you’re learning to suck it up.
      then i realized, no, the mets were stealing his childhood.

  • Will in Central NJ

    I had the great fortune to attend World Series games #3 and #5 at Citi Field. It was exhilarating yet exhausting, with the typical highs and lows associated with Met fandom, but with the much higher stakes of that WS trophy.

    Yes, in talking with fellow Met fans at work, via e-mail or listening to the airwaves, Greg nailed the postmortem rhetoric as “rich in blame or soberly philosophical”. I choose for myself to be ‘soberly philosophical’, since no one anticipated this wonderful ride from the 11-game win streak in April to the deadline trades to the successful battle march through Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. It was a great season and I choose to savor the highest of orange-and-blue highs I’ve felt in a long time. Thanks to Greg and Jason for being our field guides to the Mets for all these years. Let’s go Mets!

    • Eric

      The “rich in blame or soberly philosophical” oscillation is in part due to leading culprits of losing the World Series, eg, Murphy and Cespedes, were also shining heroes of the regular season and/or post-season who were main reasons the Mets improbably won their way to the WS in the 1st place.

      It’s like The Natural included an extra scene where Roy Hobbs lost the championship for his team with a slump and misplays in the field, perhaps due to playing hurt with his bleeding gut, after near-singlehandedly carrying the underdog NY Knights to the NL pennant.

      Wright gets a pass this time because he’s the Captain with a compelling narrative, banked good will, and a few highlights to break up the silhouette of his poor post-season. But unless he picks up his production moving forward in spite of his years of wear and permanently debilitative back condition, I doubt Wright will get another get-out-of-jail-free card from the fans. Wright has had his WS now and the team can turn the page from the Wright era. If Wright becomes an albatross in the competitive window provided by the starting pitchers and closer, further tolerance for the diminished Wright will be limited. He’ll be pressured to move on like Mattingly left the game at the dawn of the 1990s Yankees dynasty.

  • Rocky

    Thanks again for what you do. You so often manage to capture my feelings perfectly, as you really did here with that rambling paragraph about all the awesomeness that was this season. I’m still getting over it, and I will…eventually. Your writing here brought tears to my eyes in that kind of way that you can only be thankful to be alive and a part of something so fun.

  • Mikey

    oh and I have two more parting thoughts

    1. Enough with Joe Buck doing these games. I had never heard Ernie Johnson call baseball until this postseason and he was far more enjoyable than Buck….yeah, I know, the results may have skewed my opinion, but baseball ears don’t lie. Buck is annoying doing football as well as baseball. He’s too much of a corporate shill trying to be cool, kind of like the Ryan Seacrest of sportscasting.

    2. I’m not sure if anyone picked up on this, but before Game 1 in the pregame, Pete Rose picked the Royals in 5. If I was a betting man….oh never mind!

    • Dennis

      Regarding point No. 1……..could not agree more! Buck is awful. The Ryan Seacrest of sportscasting was an accurate description. My son and I initially thought Ernie Johnson was a little rough, but I was wishing for him after experiencing Buck once again.

  • APV

    Been away a while. The first half of this season wasn’t much fun for me and I was getting tired of posting the same old negativity. Even winning didn’t help. So I took a break from this site around the time of the Dodger series at Citi in late July. When the Flores trade fell through, with him in tears, and they blew the next day’s game too after that horrible rain delay, I thought the absence was justified. Heck, I was probably a Nationals sweep away from starting football season. Then Wilmer homers in the 11th inning on July 31, the same day Cespedes arrives. Can you say new life?

    Yeah, the season ended with some LOLMets moments but so freaking what? This team overcame the usual injuries, its own offensive ineptitude, a shaky at best defense, a bullpen that aside from Familia really wasn’t all that good, a manager who meant well but got out-managed a lot of nights, and the Matt Harvey drama. This team also made me put my money where my mouth is. Once they reached 82 wins I knew I was coming back to Citi Field and was there on Oct. 3 for the first time in more than five years. I know, Scherzer’s no hitter and all that, and I joked it would be another five before I came back, but I returned the next day for the 1-0 win that gave us 90 for the year (1 year too early Sandy!). And I was there for Game 1 of the NLCS in the promenade by the leftfield foul pole and had an awesome view of Murph’s HR and the baserunning clinic versus the Cubs. Given how loud it was too, that was the night Citi Field FINALLY felt like the home of the New York Mets to me.

    There are many Mets who deserve kudos, even if they weren’t perfect. David Wright certainly has been through the most since 2006 and am so glad he can say he played in the Series and didn’t have to leave the Mets to do so. But I want to end the year with a thank you to a guy I put on blast a lot here, Jon Niese. His willingness to pitch in the bullpen during the postseason, and how effective he was for the most part, blew me away. Compound that with the fact that his heart was heavy after one of his grandparents died and it gave me a new appreciation of him. Sorry about all the crap I typed about you the last two years Jon; look forward to typing more positive things in 2016.

    Overall, I am proud to be a Mets fan again. It took me almost nine whole years, and admitted thought to jumping ship a few times, to feel that way but I’m here. Congratulations on a NL pennant-winning season boys and here’s to hopefully doing next year what KC did this year.

    Greg and Jason, thank you again for more championship caliber-writing this season. Let’s Go Mets!

    P.S. Still hate the Wilpons though, and I reserve the right to put them on blast again next year and going forward.

  • open the gates

    Greg and Jason –

    Now that it’s been a few days, I can look back and appreciate all the amazing things that happened in this amazing season. And included on the list was the constant presence of FaFiF. Whether the results were incredibly fantastic or incredibly painful – and I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced a Met season that included such heights and such depths – we could always rely on you guys to help us appreciate the goid stuff, and to talk us off the ledge after the bad stuff (this post being the ultimate example of the latter). After all the years of reading your blog through Mets mediocrity – well, let’s face it, worse than mediocrity – I always wondered what your blog would look like when the Mets finally rose to contention. And you didn’t disappoint. I always felt like I was hanging out with a couple of intelligent yet passionate fellow fans, who educated, entertained, and always put things in perspective. It was good sharing the ride with you guys. No – it was Amazin’.

    Here’s hoping that next year we get to hear FaFiF’s description of an orange and blue parade through the Canyon of Heroes. And won’t that just be something.

    Let’s Go Mets. And thank you.

  • otb

    I’m a little late with this, but I want to echo the comments I’ve read to Greg’s marvelous post. One of them said the last few paragraphs brought tears to his eyes. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    My baseball fandom goes all the way back to 1947, rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After the O’Malley betrayal in 1957, it took me a while to latch onto the Mets, even though I had a brief fling with them from 1969 through the Seaver trade. I became hooked toward the end of the 1983 season, when I stumbled on a game on television, and liked what I saw, particularly that first baseman, now color commenter extraordinaire. Anyway, this season has been, perhaps, the most fun of all, made more so by reading Faith and Fear after each game, stirring victory or comic disaster. Thanks, Jason and Greg, for making it so.

    • Eric

      Thanks.

      Rose was a true ‘voice of the Mets’ this season and he was spot on calling the play-offs. Murphy’s comforting voice of summer “painting the word picture” will always set the bar for me and Cohen was an excellent successor, but Rose honored the tradition. His 2015 play-by-play is fit for the historical archives of a team that has been blessed with elite announcers.

      Good job by Rose on making sure to use “pennant” in his LCS-winning call. It’s an evocative baseball word. Listening to him, it seemed like Rose put extra forethought into his calls for the Mets’ pennant drive.

      Unmentioned in the article, but noteworthy was his call on the Duda misplay in WS game 5. As Wright was making his play on the ball, Rose stayed with his call like the veteran pro he is while his voice rose as Hosmer broke for home. His tone expressed the disbelief and agony of all Mets fans when Duda threw the ball away.

      • Lenny65

        I listened to Howie and Josh throughout the entire playoff run, the network announcers just drive me insane during playoff games. They both did a fantastic job IMO, Howie isn’t merely “the voice of the Mets” and as even-keeled and descriptive a play-by-play man there is, he’s one of us and has already forgotten more about Mets baseball than most of us will ever know. There were moments when he was echoing my thoughts about parallels between 2015 and playoff seasons past to a tee. He understands our weird history and he loves it as much as any of us do.

        • Dennis

          I tried to listen to Howie and Josh a bit more, but their broadcast was 15 seconds or so (about one pitch) ahead of the TV feed on my cable provider. I did make sure to listen to him call the 9th inning of the NLCS, which of course I had to do.

  • open the gates

    I kept hoping for a “d’Arnaud! d’Arnaud! d’Arnaud!” call. Alas, it was not meant to be.

    • Eric

      There’s an extra syllable, but the last syllable is right – the call could have been refitted for Conforto if the rookie had hit the HR he just missed in the 10th inning and sent the series back to KC for “one more hill to climb”.

      If Conforto had hit the HR instead of a high fly ball, I think the Mets would have won the series.

  • eric1973

    HEY TONITE’S GAME 7 OF THE…..!!!

    OH SHIT!!

  • Dennis

    Nice to see Terry Collins get an extension today…..he did a great job this season and certainly deserved it.

  • Lenny65

    It’ll be a bummer to see guys like Murphy, El Barto, Cespedes and Uribe go (assuming they do, of course) but hey, it’s nothing new. I know the Mets released Ed Charles right after the 69 series, Ray Knight never played for the Mets again after Game Seven, Mike Hampton was a one year rental and so forth.

    And just because I miss them already, my three high points of the season:

    The three-homer inning vs. Washington on Sunday night, when the Mets formally announced that the future was right now. That was the most cathartic evening in quite a long time and the first time I really heard Citi Field roar like Shea.

    Beating Zack Greinke in game five in LA. IMO the way they handled and overcame the whole Utley thing was inspirational, IMO a sign of real maturity and growth as a ballclub. And the first playoff series win in nine years!!

    And of course, the NLCS. I’m a born and bred Mets fan and while I haven’t seen them all, I’ve seen a pretty fair percentage of them and I’ve never been as totally stunned by an outcome as I was by that one. I never doubted that we’d win, of course, but I expected a wild, long series marked by all sorts of angst and anxiety. Then the Mets just absolutely dispatched the Cubs, I still cannot believe it really happened. It’s one we can always look back on with pride, as impressive as anything I’ve ever seen them do, as was Murphy’s run which IMO isn’t diminished by his poor WS showing.

  • eric1973

    Sandy collapsed after making the announcement that TC was coming back for 2 more years.

    So did millions of Met fans :)

    TC is a good sort, just manage the games a little bit better’s all I ask.

  • BlackCountryMet

    What an incredible season, what an AMAZIN few weeks! Being at Cit for games 1 & 2 of NLCS and then experiencing games 3 & 4 with “The Army” in Playwrights 35th and then the begging for more time off from work and the realisation that I was coming back for Games 4 & 5 of the World Series involving The Mets(The World Freaking Series!!) something that will live with me forever. Yeah we came up short, yeah there’s a piece of me that thinks “we should’ve done this, if only that” but you know what, whatever we go on to achieve in subsequent seasons, this one will always be special, the one where we kicked, nay, smashed down the door and came through to a brighter future with a SWAGGER and STYLE. We’re the New York Mets and we’re in the business of WINNING and LOTS ;-) God Bless 2015 Mets, what a ride, WHAT A RIDE!

  • […] to be a stickler for the hour we lose on March 13 not being offset by the fall-back hour we gained before the World Series was over). First pitch on Opening Night is at ESPN’s discretion, and between […]

  • […] Update I used to think it would be a very long time before we got to blog a season that was better than 2006. And it was. It was nine years. But 2015 set a new standard. […]