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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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Happy Yo Year

Twelve! Twelve! Twelve! And so on.

Twelve! Twelve! Twelve! And so on.

You didn’t necessarily have to be there. You could glean just fine far from Citi Field what 12 runs in one inning looked like, felt like, even smelled like. It smelled like victory, of course.

But if you were fortunate enough to be at Citi Field on Friday night, you learned something that I doubt came through on television, radio or any outlet’s gamecast. You learned April 29 is the new New Year’s Eve.

What the hell am I talking about? Besides the fact that runs were streaming over Flushing like confetti above Times Square four months ago?

See, there was this between-innings timewaster that ran on the video board when the score was still all zeroes. The lovely Alexa of Branden & Alexa fame wrangled a seated fan to play Mets Jeopardy. She told the gentlemen that to win valuable prizes, he was going to have to answer a question, presumably in the form of a question, and that it had something to do with the letters “N” and “Y”. At this point, she promised, Neil Walker was going to come on the screen and help him out with a clue.

Onto the screen flashed no image whatsoever of Neil Walker. Instead, we saw this:

“WHAT IS NEW YEAR’S EVE?”

No clue. Just cluelessness. The contestant did not hide his confusion. The host, deprived of the clip that was supposed to get her from Point A to Point C, tried to plow ahead as if nothing was askew. Neil Walker, nine April home runs to his credit, had other fish to fry, perhaps a couple of pitchers to fillet; we can’t blame Neil Walker for anything these days. Nevertheless, the entire sponsored enterprise was in jeopardy of imploding.

Yet the show must go on. Somebody paid for it. Alexa kept calm and pretended this was the plan, asking the fellow to give his best guess despite not having been asked a specific question. Plainly befuddled, he went with, “Uh…what is New Year’s Eve?”

Yup, that was the answer. It was right there, displayed in dead-on balls accurate fashion that would have made Mona Lisa Vito proud. You couldn’t miss it, even if you couldn’t quite discern how it emerged without proper context. Maybe the Citi Field A/V squad decided cutting to the chase would guarantee a winning entrant. It reminded me of the time my seventh-grade English teacher was conducting a spelling test and, upon reading aloud a word, some wiseacre asked, “Can you spell it for us?” Reflexively, she did.

Everybody got that one right.

If you weren’t at Citi Field on Friday, you missed all this. But because I was there and my dear friend Jeff was there, and we tried and failed to comprehend how a simple game show conceit fell apart upon exposure to artificial light, a shtick was born. When Neil Walker came up in the bottom of the second and bunted for a base hit, we yelled, “NEW YEAR’S EVE!” And when Neil Walker batted again in the third, we repeated ourselves: “NEW YEAR’S EVE!”

When Walker missed a tenth April home run by a few eyelashes, settling for his first Met double and seventeenth Met RBI, we intensified the repetition of our catchphrase du nuit. “NEW YEAR’S EVE! NEW YEAR’S EVE!”

How perfect it would be, we decided, to make Neil Walker’s signature CitiVision graphic neither a cartoon ballplayer kneeling in prayer nor one going out for a stroll, but simply the “WHAT IS NEW YEAR’S EVE?” bullet that fired too soon. From now until whenever he leaves as a free agent, it would be his — and our — personal version of the Rally Monkey.

By this point it was Mets 4 Giants 0, what with Curtis Granderson and David Wright having started the bottom of the third with consecutive walks off Jake Peavy; Michael Conforto doubling in Grandy; and the presumably fit-as-a-fiddle Yoenis Cespedes returning from most of a week sidelined to single and bring home the Captain and the Prodigy. Lucas Duda walked directly thereafter — as did Bruce Bochy, albeit from the third base dugout to the mound.

Peavy pitched as if it really was New Year’s Eve, departing with the starter’s version of a blistering hangover, his ERA rising from 6.86 to 8.61. In came Mike Broadway and, with him, the hip hooray and ballyhoo of a New York Met rockin’ eve just gettin’ rollin’.

No lullaby for Broadway, only an extended nightmare that commenced with the third pitch he threw to Asdrubal Cabrera. It became a double, the inning’s third, and it plated Lucas and Neil. Five pitches later, Kevin Plawecki was walked. First and second, nobody out, a 6-0 lead, and it suddenly dawned on us there was more transpiring before us than just another Met offensive onslaught. Everybody had come up, one through eight, and everybody had gotten on. Steven Matz was about to bat. By any measure, the Mets were batting around and then some.

And they were still just getting rolling. Because Terry Collins veers toward being no fun, he ordered Matz to bunt, as if Matz can’t hit, as if Broadway couldn’t be hit. In any event, Matz couldn’t bunt and struck out. The party paused for an instant.

Then it was back to lampshades on heads. Curtis drove a ball to deep right that, like Walker’s, looked like it would be traveling over a fence. Instead, it descended in front of the No Zone (as in No Homers Allowed). Hunter Pence made a play on it.

A very bad play. The Giants’ Sign Man dropped a catchable ball. It was marked a single. Asdrubal scored, Kevin stopped at second. It was 7-0. Then David singled to load the bases and young Michael singled to push the margin to 8-0. The pace was a little too station-to-station for my tastes, to be honest. Then again, when it stayed 7-0 for more than a minute, I asked Jeff, in all seriousness, “How disappointing would it be if all we got out of this inning was seven runs?”

Man, these are some crazy times we live in.

Broadway was still pitching for San Francisco. Bochy didn’t guide his team to three world championships in five years rescuing lost causes. The reliever’s next task was to face Cespedes with the bases loaded. For anyone with a working knowledge of the Met record book, the setup was ideal. The most runs the Mets had ever scored in an inning was eleven. With one swing, that standard could be smashed, and who was more capable of swinging and smashing than Yoenis? I had seen it for myself three nights earlier when he came off the bench against Cincinnati after several days of inactivity and cranked a three-run pinch-homer to left to turn around a game, extend a winning streak and, for all we know, redefine a season.

At 8-0, there was no longer a remotely reasonable claim to be made on disappointment. And if you were gonna prevail upon the fates to give you exactly what you wanted, shouldn’t you save that sweetest taboo for a spot where you really need the biggest of bangs? To ask Yoenis Cespedes to do what I wanted him to do might have amounted to using up one of a limited quantity of karmic favors, and for what?

For a record?
For flair?
For fun?

It was raining just enough to be bothersome, but not so much that I had to be such a wet blanket about wanting what I could barely bring myself to utter out loud. Yoenis Cespedes didn’t re-sign with the Mets so we could dream medium. Besides, Bryce Harper insists baseball be made fun again. Who has been more fun since last August than Yo? What has been more fun since the middle of this month than rooting for these Mets?

Ah, screw it, I thought in silence. Hit a grand slam, Yoenis. Give us our record twelve-run inning.

“You got it, pal!” I’m pretty sure I heard him holler over the crack of his bat that sent Broadway’s first pitch in the general direction of the Great White Way. It was indeed a grand slam. It was indeed 12-0, Mets. All twelve had indeed scored in this, the longest third inning in the history of humankind.

Talk about your valuable prizes.

Yup, it was very New Year’s Evelike up in Promenade at this point, but I’d temporarily forgotten Jeff’s and my refrain from Mets Jeopardy and instead remembered all our old and new acquaintances down on the field with a single word…a single number, to be dead-on balls accurate about it.

“TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE! TWELVE!”

I typed it twelve times, but I might’ve shouted it twenty-four. I honestly couldn’t believe the Mets had just scored twelve runs in an inning for the first time in their history. It wasn’t as if I’d been dreaming since July 16, 2006, of surpassing the eleven runs that scored in the top of the sixth that night at Wrigley Field, just as the Mets tallying eleven within the span of three outs was a going concern once ten became the number to beat in the bottom of sixth at Shea Stadium on June 12, 1979. But when these milestones approach, the desire to reach out and grab them grows overwhelming.

Just as the Mets have, huh? Without Cespedes in the lineup, they kept winning and were plenty imposing. With Cespedes, where between one and eight in their standard lineup is the letup for the opposing pitcher? Mike Broadway picked a very bad night to be an understudy to Jake Peavy.

Cespedes, though…what a star. In a ten-pitch span dating to the previous Friday in Atlanta, Cespedes came to the plate five times, took six swings, delivered four hits, totaled twelve bases and drove in eleven runs. And that was all while letting a debilitating bruise heal. Amid the twelve-run inning and eventual 13-1 win, Yoenis set two Met records of his own: most RBIs by one batter in one inning (six); and most consecutive games with at least one extra-base hit (nine). The Mets he surpassed in these respective realms were Butch Huskey and Ty Wigginton. I liked Butch Huskey and Ty Wigginton just fine in their day. The days Yoenis Cespedes and these Mets are giving us, though?

Every day is Christmas. And every night is New Year’s Eve.

13 comments to Happy Yo Year

  • Bruce Smith

    I for one appreciate the fact that you stayed up all night to write this. Posted at 4:47 am. New Year’s Eve indeed.

  • Dave

    Forget New Year’s Eve, that felt like Christmas to me. Maybe another previous club record of 11 gets broken soon.

    When I saw Broadway warming up, I so wanted it to be Lance. But alas, just someone with similar stage presence. Maybe that plays in Peoria, kid, but it ain’t gonna cut it here.

  • dmg

    i was watching the start of the inning from my office, and when it hit 6-0 and plawicki was up i said, kevin, you’re on your own. by the time i got to my car and turn on the radio, i could not believe the inning was still going.
    josh levin’s call was fantastic stuff — he called the shot, saying that if cespedes hit a grand slam it would be the mets’ biggest inning, and right after that, yo enissed!

    am going to the game today — not just for my gaarden gnome, but also to enjoy new year’s day.

  • Eric

    Sadly, the HR killed the rally. Given the imbalanced reliance on HRs and too many RISP LOB otherwise, I appreciated the 1st 8 runs were batted in inside the park more than the grand slam.

    In related news, young Michael Fulmer won his MLB debut with the Tigers last night with only 1 walk and Carlos Gomez is batting .213/.241/.275 with 5 runs scored and 2! RBI.

    The 3rd inning cascade flexed the depth of the line-up. Cabrera and Walker are legitimate 2-hitters batting 6th and 7th. I hope Plawecki hits enough to keep his glove and arm on the field.

    Fine work by Matz against a quality line-up. The bullpen had to work a little harder than usual but held up against the Giants line-up, too. Last year, this kind of game, an early blow-out, too often became stressful, had us wondering whether Collins could have squeezed out another inning from the starter, and forced Familia to at least warm up.

    Harvey’s fastball made a comeback. Now It’s deGrom’s fastball’s turn to wake up.

  • Ray

    Does this count as a Unicorn, or is that reserved for final scores?

    If it qualifies, that would set us up for a Twonicorn today, right?

    • Forgot to mention that this was a Uniclone, derived from the DNA of the 13-1 win of September 7, 1989, notable in Met lore for having been the debut game of Julio Machado, who announced his presence with authority by backing his first batter, Tom Pagnozzi, the hell off the plate with his very first pitch. Sixty feet, six inches indeed.

      Gregg Jefferies played the role of Yoenis Cespedes that afternoon: 4-for-5, two homers, five ribbies and, presumably, the ire of Randy Myers just because.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    I left work late, was pulling onto 95 in Stamford when the Bottom of the 3rd commenced. I was at a stoplight in Whitestone when Cespy went deep. Easily the most fun commute I’ve ever had and the loudest I’ve ever screamed in the car (no easy feat when you live in Queens).

    Everyone felt the presence of Piazza when Cespedes hit the 3-run pinch hit job on Tuesday. After last night though? Is it safe to say we haven’t had a hitter like Yo since Mike? Beltran and Delgado were close, but no cigar. I know there’s a long, long season to go and Yoenis may be as streaky and frustrating as Duda, but perhaps that cigar does indeed go to the Cuban.

  • Jack St. Lucie

    Being a Met lifer, I am trying to stay contained about this squad. We all know how easy the wheels come off a fully loaded bandwagon.
    But, like true love, you know it when you feel it – and this feels a lot like I did in the heady days of 1986. You just come to the park as I did then (or tune in to MLB.TV as I do now) and you wait for the big hit, the big K, the big defensive play that seem to show up on regular basis. Last night we got all three.
    A week or so into this season, we were stuck in the “it’s still early” mode. Now at the dawn of the merriest month, I’m still saying “it’s still early”, but the phrase has taken on a whole different context.
    What a team!

  • Stearnsdude

    First of all, most of us don’t need to entertained between half innings… Or between pitches but I guess I’m the old guy telling the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn. Secondly, you can’t just run out these garbage pitchers at the Mets anymore. There is just not a lot breathing room in that line up. I hadn’t seen Peavey in a while and was shocked at how little he had. For us though, another day another ace. Go get’em Guts deGrom.

  • Lenny65

    The exciting thing is that it doesn’t really feel like they’ve truly put it all together yet. Once our aces start to really roll (and I do believe they will), look out Gnats, watch out Dirgers, take cover Flubbies and Pie-rats.

    • Jeff G.

      I’d have to agree with that assessment. As good as things have gone, I get a real sense that we haven’t yet peaked, and that’s such an exhilarating concept!

      As long as the Mets stay relatively healthy, we may begin to see their pure dominance when the weather gets warmer. That’s when many of these long doubles become homers, and when 6 innings pitched becomes 7 or 8.

      The early part of a baseball season notoriously favors pitchers. That’s one of the main reasons our aces have been able to dominate the boxscores, despite the command issues that have plagued most of the staff. It’s safe to say, you do NOT want to be an opposing hitter once they put it all together!

      Happy New Years everybody :)

  • open the gates

    And of course it all went down on the eighth night of Passover, a Friday night to boot. So all of us Orthodox Jews missed the whole show. Dammit.

    While we’re on the subject, a bit of trivia. That night almost thirty years ago, when Mookie hit the ball through Billy Buckner’s aging wickets, was Simchat Torah. No yarmulkes in the stands that night, either.