The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com. (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Our Brand Is Pennant

They played cricket at Citi Field on Saturday afternoon. I tuned in to ESPN3 to watch. It was only for a few minutes, but when I learned it was being aired somewhere, I had to look.

I had to look at something going on at Citi Field. It had been too long.

Nothing that isn’t the 2015 Mets is really doing it for me these days, and since the 2015 Mets aren’t doing anything anymore, I sit in a New York state of suspended animation. I’m not yet ready to turn my head to look out the window and wait for spring. The only qualifying offer that got my attention this week was learning losing the World Series qualified Modell’s to offer quite the discount on leftover merchandise related to winning the pennant.

Welcome to the t-shirt drawers, SYNDERGAARD 34 (25% off) and CESPEDES 52 (50%; we’ll always have August). Join the hoodie pile, RAISE THE PENNANT (marked down by two-thirds). And topping Cap Mountain is a newly acquired authentic fitted 7 7/8 model with the 2015 WORLD SERIES patch visible to whichever portion of humanity is standing to my left. That was discounted only a few bucks, but it will amortize itself by being worn clear into the decade after the next one if past performance is a guide and my head size stabilizes.

The spoils of defeat were bountiful. It didn’t feel like second-place gear and I didn’t mind the savings at all. Still would have preferred to have paid full price for newly issued shirts, hats and chazerai printed with the appropriate upgraded logo. Alas, only the children in Kansas City were granted that privilege.

Ah, the Royals. They won the World Series, you might have heard. Someday I won’t resent them. For now, the mere sight of their recent exploits harshes my buzz, but the buzz is outlasting the harsh as we drift from what is now last year to what is inevitably next year. The toughest day was Tuesday, which woulda/shoulda been Game Six. Some friends and I sought refuge in theatre of the mind and tweeted our reactions to the non-existent Mets 9-4 win we pretended we were watching. It was kind of fun. We did it again the next night for fictional Game Seven — Mets 5 Royals 4. It was less fun.

Losing in real life usually is.

I read one deep dive into how the Mets lost Game Five on Duda’s poor throw, another dealing with how the Mets lost Game One on Familia’s quick pitch. Really, they were about how the Royals won those games. The Royals remain the protagonists in most objective Fall Classic storytelling from here to eternity. I’ll watch the official highlight film whenever MLBN eventually airs it anyway. I’ll see the Mets in the background and be reminded they took part in a World Series not 15 or 29 or 42 or 46 years ago but practically in the last ten minutes. By then I won’t have it in my brain that the outcome can be changed or could have been changed.

It could have, but it won’t be.

My Jones is shifting from a desire to return to a Series whose results will never be undone to whatever regular-season Mets game comes along next (yeah, I know it’s against the Royals in April). Actually, I was overcome by an odd sensation on a few occasions during the postseason. I almost wanted to escape the boiling emotions of those games that meant everything and see if I could go watch a game that meant…well, no Mets game means nothing, but maybe one with a little less on the line. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if it’s May in one of the other sections. What is it with me and Mets games going on only in my head? I’d waited the same nine years as you to get back to October and my whole life to be at the World Series and it was almost too much to handle.

I wonder if that’s how the Mets felt. It would explain a lot.

Sunday I assume there will be some other sports on television, cricket or whatever. I’ll probably tune in out of habit and likely pay scant attention out of respect for baseball, because next to baseball there is no other sport worthy of our attention. Few teams were as worthy of lingering on as the 2015 Mets were.

We just came through one of the Top Five Mets Seasons of All-Time. There’s no secret formula to that ranking. Five Mets teams have won pennants. Those are the Top Five. You can calibrate and calculate all the WAR you want, but to my simple thinking we have (chronologically speaking) our two World Series winners from 1969 and 1986; our three World Series runners-up from 1973, 2000 and 2015; our three NLCS fall-shorters from 1988, 1999 and 2006; and, with very honorable mention, 1985, the best non-playoff campaign the Mets ever crafted. That’s nine. If you want a Top Ten, you have carte blanche to round it off as you see fit.

2015 automatically outranks 49 of 54 Mets seasons. I’m not sure if I’d place it ahead of 2000 and/or 1973 just yet. I’ll need context and perspective, but I have to admit I was thinking about 2015’s historical slotting vis-à-vis its pennant predecessors almost as soon as they captured the flag. What didn’t occur to me whatsoever until after these Mets won a World Series game was that if they went on to win three more, I’d have to group the 2015 Mets not with the runners-up, but with the world champions.

In other words, we’d be talking about 2015 in the same breath as 1986 and 1969.

That, too, was almost too much to handle. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to having just those two at the undisputed top of our charts that I can’t imagine any Mets season deserves to be in the same conversation. I mean, my god, the 1969 Mets are “the 1969 Mets” and the 1986 Mets were and are epic. Had the 2015 Mets carried the same World Champion designation, they’d be immortal in our eyes. And if they rated immortality, wouldn’t they rate categorization alongside ’69 and ’86?

Yes.

But no.

And by no, I mean I can’t imagine it. Imagining the 2015 Mets beating the Royals wasn’t a stretch. Theoretically competing with the legacies of 1969 and 1986, however, seems absurdly out of 2015’s league. The 1969 Mets were a certifiable cultural moment. The 1986 Mets were large enough to dwarf life itself. The 2015 Mets might have won the same title those teams did, but I didn’t have to dive all that deep into my mind, heart and soul to realize they’d be destined to finish third in any discussion of the three.

A glorious third. A lovingly embraced third. But third. I can’t believe any Mets team will ever supplant 1986 or 1969 in the putting together of a Top Two. They are forever our Nos. 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 or 1 and 1A.

Caveat: I’d have been delighted to have realized I was mistaken. Maybe the purely hypothetical 2015 World Champion Mets would have resonated as the greatest Mets of them all. The offer to find out for sure remains valid for all future Met seasons.

While I was still in post-Series mourning, I guested on the Rising Apple Report’s autopsy of Games Four and Five and, I suppose, celebration of Game Three. Listen here, if you like, but be warned that through a podcasting glitch, I got cut off before I could properly finish. Sort of like the Mets.

28 comments to Our Brand Is Pennant

  • Steve D

    I am too young to fully remember 1969. All I remember was sitting on a concrete step and when the people around me started clapping and yelling (which was often), I joined in. It was Tom Seaver’s imperfect game.

    I remember 1973 vividly. The Mets were in last place and Duffy Dyer and Felix Milan visited my camp. We felt sorry for them…little did we know what was to occur. The sting of game 7 vs. Oakland lasted until the last out of the 1986 series.

    In 1986, the drama of the playoffs made up for a season that was a foregone conclusion.

    It really depends on your age how you would rank the pennant seasons. The Mets are pretty good spreading the pennants around…one in the sixties, seventies, eighties, very start of millennium and the 2010s. Let’s break that pattern and start winning more often. They got by this year on a shoestring budget…22nd highest payroll in baseball. By being a contender, they can easily make an additional 30 Million a year to invest in the team. The elephant in the room is what happens when the starting pitchers have to be paid what they are worth. It was not that long ago that the Mets would sign a Pedro Martinez, a Beltran and a Johan Santana, but it may as well be. It seems to me that the Mets have to find a happy medium and spend more then they are now to be a long term contender. Being the highest payroll never seems to work either, but being 22nd every year will not cut it.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Me, I’m already worrying about who on the Mets is going to get decked in 2016 Game One. If Murphy and Ces are gone, that would probably leave David Wright. But I think the Royals are actually too nice for that, Wright has already been thru so much. Duda? Nah, he didn’t really do much against them. Conclusion: Grandy, leadoff batter, watch out!

    And who would have thought when the schedules came out that the opening series of 2016 would arouse any reaction other than WhyTF are they opening the season against The Royals.

  • Nick

    I can’t stand it.

    Greg, I was fully ready and resolved to invite the 2015 Mets into the Group of Three – they had as much magic during the regular season as ’69 or ’86 – maybe even more. The 11 game winning streak in April cemented it for me; nothing but a World Series Championship was going to satisfy. I know most Mets fans all acted like this was unexpected, but not to me. From the moment Harvey went down in August 2013, and I realized that 2015 would be his third year in the big leagues – and realized that 1969 was Seaver’s, and 1986 was Gooden’s – I knew that I was essentially counting down the days until the parade.

    The way it happened – the glorious regular season, with so many wonderful moments, and so many weird, bizarre twists and turns, from Wilmer’s tears to Murphy’s kick-save – the sweeps of the Nationals – all of it – it was simply wonderful in so many ways…

    But I can’t pretend that the sting of losing hasn’t knocked the wind completely out of my Mets sails… comparing this team to the 2000 Mets?! The 2006 group? Even the ’73 team? Are you kidding? I want to rebel so powerfully against the very idea…! But it can’t really be argued: they simply didn’t get there. It all went wrong in the end, and so they don’t join the club.

    And no, I don’t have that feeling I had after ’85 – that we’ll get there next year. The game is too different now, the playoffs too random, Terry Collins too iffy a strategist, and the Wilpons too horribly cheap and mercurial. We had 2015, and it was good, nearly great — but this group may never get so close again.

    It’s been almost seven full days since I slammed my Met cap down in fury at the CitiField seat in front of me as Duda’s throw home went horribly, freakishly, third -grader-picked-last-in-softball awry — and this isn’t getting any easier.

    But thanks for your blog, and the community it provides. I’d say ‘see you next year’ – but I doubt I’ll stay away. I have not come to terms with this one yet, and I’m not sure I ever will.

    • Lenny65

      See, for me it was the opposite. I assumed that they’d come crashing back down to earth during one of the series vs. the Nats and we’d be all “well, it was still a pretty decent year” and etc. I never expected it to last and I NEVER expected the playoff heroics, I still can’t believe it all really happened.

      IMO we’ll contend again, our SP is just so mighty right now, few teams (if any) can really compare. But yes, it’s baseball and you just never really know how or when we’ll reach such heights again. Like Felix Unger once helpfully explained, never assume.

      • Rob E.

        I’m with Lenny on this one. That “iffy strategist” got us into the World Series; those cheap and horrible owners took on the money that got the guys that helped us get there. Conforto and Herrera are better than you think. They’ve accomplished enough that we can start putting down some of this perpetual “woe is us” baggage.

        Yeah, we have a few holes to plug. So does EVERYBODY. The Nats have Desmond and Zimmerman that are free agents. The Phillies are miles away. That leaves the Braves and Marlins…are you worried about them? The Dodgers’ Greinke and Turner are free agents, as are the Royals Gordon and Cueto. EVERYONE is going through what we are….that is what baseball has become.

        This team, the GM, and yes, even the OWNERS have held up their end. They made incremental progress (with the fans bitching all the way), and when the prize was in sight, they went for it. They went through ALL of this so that when they finally got good, it WOULDN’T be a “one and done.” If all they had were those four starters, Familia, and a AAA team, this is a .500 team. And they’ve got significantly more than a AAA team. I understand the disappointment at not finishing the job this year, I don’t get the lack of faith moving forward. Barring something tragic (like in ’87 when every starter went down), this sure looks like a playoff team to me.

        • Dennis

          Agree with Lenny & Rob. I think they can be in contention for a while from here on out. Which is what we’ve always wanted…..to be in the playoff mix (hopefully) every year.

        • Lenny65

          I mean with the SP the Mets have they have a shot, most teams would kill to have even one or two young aces and we have three certified and another who looks very promising and another young bull in the closer role. It’s a healthy leg up to have, at least in theory. It’s baseball, you never know, but my eternal optimist side just feels like the worst of the darkness has passed, at least for now. IMO they’ll be motivated to finish the job this time too. Reason for optimism is all I’m saying here. This team only began playing up to its touted “potential” this year and the result was a WS berth and IMO that says a lot.

          But 2015 will always be special to me, it isn’t often that you get to see your favorite baseball team (especially if it’s the Mets) come together and catch fire they way they did, it was magnificent. In fact it’s what the whole thing is all about, getting the opportunity to see something like that happen. The way they took the Nats apart, those insane games in Coors Field, eight HRs in Philly, that glorious clinch game, Daniel Murphy (!) going off on the greatest tear in post-season history and SWEEPING the Cubs in the NLCS…I don’t remember 69 or 73 but it was the wildest run I’ve ever seen out of the Mets, ever.

          If I had to rank it, I’d put it second.

          1986
          2015
          1999
          1985
          2000

          That’s my personal top five.

          • Nick

            I totally agree that it was an absolutely amazing year — I’d definitely put it third best for the Good Guys.

            But I’m not over the what-if’s from the Series, and as much as I’d love to agree with all the optimism here, I don’t share it – yet. It is just so damn hard to get to the Series nowadays – the playoffs seem like such a crapshoot, and as much as I love our pitching, I just don’t know that things will break our way next year.

            That said, I’d rank ’em:
            1969
            1986
            2015

            and then:
            1973
            1985
            1999
            2000

  • Dave

    Although it was painful to see the Mets only outdo 28 teams and not 29, I’ve been largely positive the past week. Not only because there’s a young core here that holds at least the potential and perhaps promise of several more very good seasons to come, but because I know that we just were treated to a roller coaster ride that will take its place forever in Mets history as unique and exciting. This team was very close to things turning out very differently – what if the trade for Carlos Gomez had happened? – and if anyone even tried to say that with Mayberry Jr and Campbell in the heart of the lineup, they foresaw a pennant, well, we’ll all laugh at them. The 2015 Mets defied logic and far exceeded expectations, and we usually only get the former, and not in a good way.

    Cor, wish I knew the cricket match was on the telly. I wasn’t going to pay $50 to be a punter in the upper deck to watch it, and besides, it was too soon to go back. But I would have fancied watching someone playing a nice silly mid-off or scoring a century, but blimey. Cheers then.

  • Stan

    Remember the “Sell the Team” billboards? That was this year. 2015 was in the words of the Florida theme parks “a high speed turbulent thrill ride”. At the end of the day we got off the ride and puked up our hot dog and cherry Icee. We slept in the back of the car on the way home. The next day we looked back on what a great time we had. We didn’t know that we’d be going there but we can’t wait until we go back.

  • DAK442

    I think I gotta go with ’84 to round out the top ten. Doc’s rookie year, Strawberry rising, the battle with the Cubs that fizzled a bit early but was a lot of fun… that was the summer before college and I went to a LOT of games and the sense that we might actually be good again was exhilarating. Truth be told, I thought 2015 was going to top out as ’84 redux. Instead we got to the WS, and I even made it to a game!

    • Jeff

      I was thinking the same thing — ’84 has to be #10. With Doc’s rookie year and the re-signing of Keith, you had a sense that the Mets were finally emerging from a dark decade.

  • Seth

    After the WS ended, I pulled out my DVDs of the 86 series and I’ve watched most of the first 2 games. 1986 has achieved legendary status among Mets fans (of course, the Mets WON), but man, those first two games at Shea were brutal. They very nearly didn’t win that series. Watching those first two games, I’m still wondering how they did win.

    Does anyone remember that the Mets hit something like .100 in the first 3 innings of 1986 postseason games? They lost the first 2 WS games at home and it really wasn’t looking good, but then —

    Well, there were still miracles to be had in those days. There were no miracles in 2015. We sure could have used a few. It’s fascinating to look back and see how close we came to 1986 NOT being one of the “big two.”

    • Lenny65

      Yes, this is sometimes forgotten in Mets lore but they were absolutely maddening during the 86 playoffs and series. After breezing through the season they took it to the absolute limit during the post-season. Losing that WS would have been devastating beyond belief, it was the sort of regular season you dream about your team having, 108-win years don’t come around all that frequently. During the bottom of the tenth in Game Six they were down by two and made two quick easy outs, you can’t cut it any closer than that.

      • Plitt

        Which is why part of me still feels resentful about the 1986 season in general and the post-season in particular (iconic moments notwithstanding). We were expecting a coronation akin to what the Yankees were awarded in ’98 and ’99—instead, we got agony. In terms of pure moments of unexpected joy, I’d rank 2015 second to 1969.

        • DAK442

          I disagree… I think ’86 is all the more special because of the spectacular nature of the playoffs and WS. The series against the Astros was epic and as far as I am concerned, Game 6 was an elimination game because Scott had them THAT spooked. And the Series – C’mon! Losing the first two at home, storming back, and being down to our last strike HOW MANY TIMES before pulling out a miracle to win Game 6, and then another comeback for Game 7? That was legendary!

          Two of the ’86 postseason games were in the MLB Network Top 5 ever, I think. No one gives a shit about those Yankee triumphs. Coronations are dull and unmemorable.

  • John

    Thanks for this post. I want to get over the WS but the truth is that it will hurt and linger for a long time. As amazing as this season was…probably my favorite since 1999, we really blew it. Game 1 and Game 4 are the most painful…the narrative with a mets win would have been so different. Familia was one of my favorite Mets this season yet bad luck. That quick pitch decision will haunt me for a long time. He didn’t need that gimmick. The game 4…biggest mistake is familia for 2 innings. Clip was a nightmare waiting to happen…that Cain ab to me was the killer. Oh man such a tragedy. I will get over it but it has not happened yet. The pain of being a Mets fan. Damn!I

  • Curt

    I rank this season 4th behind 1969, 1986, and 1973 – I was only 11 then but any team where Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose (and another 48 players) go at it in the playoffs – with Yogi as skipper – gets my vote.

    I nominate 2001 for 10th place for the September 21 Mike Piazza home run. That moment told me there would be hope and joy in the world after September 11. Up to then I wasn’t sure.

  • Eric

    Greg,

    Me, too. Last Tuesday, especially around 8-midnight, I was antsy and depressed with the repeating frustrated thought that the Mets should be playing game 6 in KC right now. I should be staring at deGrom on the screen pitching the bottom of the … right now.

    I’m a Knicks fan and usually enjoy watching the Giants and Jets, but I haven’t been able to muster much interest in them. (I have a vague notion the Porzingis kid is playing better than expected.) My mind is still with the Mets.

    With the exciting ways the climbing Mets had raised their level to win the division from the Nationals, the DS from the Dodgers, then the pennant from the Cubs going into the WS, the self-harming ways the Mets dropped the WS to the Royals, who to their credit took advantage of them, was a letdown.

    The WS was a disappointing dessert for an unexpected, surprising, and wonderful courses meal of a season.

    A week on, I try to think of the 2015 season like an uplifting baseball movie whose last scene is the pennant celebration and the WS defeat is shunted to a brief epilogue text before the closing credits. Since I actually watched them lose, the trick only works so much. I’m still depressed about the WS and haven’t let go of the 2015 Mets yet. I still want game 6. But I also appreciate they cleaned out the wounds from 2006 to 2014. And pitchers and catchers will be here again soon enough. Then the 2016 Mets will start the long climb back to the summit to win redemption at the peak.

  • eric1973

    Still can’t believe they made it, due to the suddeness of the roster changes beginning with the last week in July.

    On the other hand, they DO have the best SP and Closer, and were the best team in baseball at the end, so really should not have been a surprise.

    I have faith in Sandy and the owners to do the right thing.

    Ya Gotta Believe keen in 2016!

  • Lenny65

    So let’s say you held a mythical tournament where the eight Mets playoff teams faced off in a format just like the playoffs are now. Five game series, seven game and seven again. How would you seed it? Who would win? Someone with one of those simulator games has to make this happen.

    I’d seed it like this, based roughly on how far those teams advanced:

    1. 1969
    2. 1986
    3. 1973
    4. 2015
    5. 2000
    6. 2006
    7. 1999
    8. 1988

  • open the gates

    Interesting idea, Lenny. The only problem is that you need to take into account the abilities of the Mets opponents as well. For example, an argument could be made that the ’86 Red Sox, while an excellent team, were not quite as dominant as the ’69 Orioles, the ’73 A’s, the 2000 Yankees, or the 2015 Royals, and still the Mets barely pulled out the ’86 Series in seven games. Maybe Wade Davis gets Mookie Wilson to strike out. Or maybe not, which is what makes these conversations so much fun.

    • Lenny65

      I can see that, I was just going by how far the teams advanced. I put 2015 over 2000 because the 2015 team did not lose to the Y*****s. Likewise, the 1988 team gets the eight slot as they’re the only Mets playoff team not to win a series (although the format was different then) even though they did have a hell of a regular season. And the rosters would have to be accurate too, no slipping Ojeda in there for the 88s.

      • Dennis

        Great idea Lenny. When the 2015 Stratomatic baseball cards are released early next year, I might have to try this tournament!

  • nestornajwa

    I am a glass-half-empty guy, so I tend to rank seasons in terms of agony and frustration. 2015 ranks pretty low in those categories. I attended Game 4 (and I waited until the day of the game before succumbing to temptation and buying a pair of truly magnificent seats in the first row of Section 18 — the most comfortable seat with the best legroom of any MLB game I’ve ever attended. If I were a rich man…) and I took my 16 year old son who really hasn’t bonded with the Game or the team yet. Despite the awful, slowly excruciating loss, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had at a Mets game. Yet I left the ballpark knowing that the Mets had just lost any realistic chance of winning a championship. I met Hank Aaron! Also Mookie and Franco. So my rankings of agonizing Mets seasons goes:
    1988 — the most talented Mets team there ever was! At least we’ve gotten some revenge against the Dodgers — twice! But I loved that team.
    2006
    1985/1987 — we were better than the Cardinals! I still hate Luis Aguayo and Terry Pendleton.
    1999
    2007
    2000
    1973 — should be higher, but I was only 8 years old that June
    2008 — I walked out in disgust during the Shea Goodbye ceremony, and I will NEVER love a building more than Shea.
    1998 — vastly underrated in terms of agony & frustration. Just win ONE of those last five games…
    1984 — in college, rooming with my best friend, who is from Chicago
    2015 — may rise in a few years if the Mets stand pat — or even lose talent — this offseason, which looks very likely at this point.

    • Nick

      this is a terrific way of looking at it — and yet, I think we should already out 2015 higher on the list. Yes they were seriously outplayed in the World Series – but the 2015 Kansas City Royals are hardly the 1927 Yankees, or even the 1973 A’s. In fact they struck me as being quite a lot like the 2011 Texas Rangers, an American League team that was pretty good in a lot of areas of the game but with a pretty questionable rotation, a poorly thought of (strategy-wise) manager, and a lot of holes. A team, let’s face it, that was perfectly primed to lose two World Series in a row.

      To have come so close – regardless of expectations – and not made it that final step – I’d definitely rank these guys ‘above’ 1984 and 1985 –

  • Gil

    If you told me in march we’d win the pennant I would have touched the money.
    2016, boys. Enjoy some football and snow in the meantime.