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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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The Dark Knight and Other Caped Crusaders

A day after Bartolo Colon shocked and delighted the baseball world, it seemed somehow anticlimactic for the Mets to be expected to go out and do something as mundane as win a game.

It would have been fitting if Major League Baseball had declared Sunday a national holiday. It would have been fine — as I suggested in moderate jest — if the world’s nations had gone a step further and inaugurated a new calendar, with the year 0 beginning the moment when Colon’s home run nestled into the waiting hands of Mets fan Jimmy Zurn, who proved an exemplary role model by handing the now-sanctified sphere over without requesting any reward beyond having been a part of it.

Alas, we were back in the fallen world on Sunday, with the Mets and Padres wearing pink for Mother’s Day and Matt Harvey hoping to pitch more like Matt Harvey and less like whatever impostor has taken the mound the last couple of months.

Last September I grabbed a subscription to MLB.tv, which I somewhat predictably found myself unwilling to part with come springtime. So I spent the afternoon before our 4:40 pm start flipping around and seeing what various clubs had done to give their uniforms a pink overhaul. The Mets looked pretty much like the Nationals, Royals and other opposing teams, which was to say bland but not particularly terrible — and points to the team for turning the piping and names on the uniforms black, which gave them a bit more pop.

The skyline logo looked abominable, though — like discarded Jello or a nasty infection. Next time the Mets are the home team for Mother’s Day, here’s hoping they rethink that part, and opt for a black logo with pink lettering. There’s precedent for that combination: a couple of years back Todd Radom unearthed the forgotten factoid that pink and black was proposed as our original color scheme, after the silks worn by jockeys for the stable co-owned by Joan Payson and her brother John Hay Whitney. Revisiting that would make Mother’s Day at Citi Field simultaneously a thank you to moms and a nod to one of the lesser-known bits of team history.

(As for the Padres’ home unis, amnesia would be the best policy. Shockingly enough, blue camo does not go with pink. If asked, I’m confident each and every mother of a Padre would have responded with “You’re not really going to wear that to play baseball in public, are you?”)

Anyway, there was Harvey glowering above and below pink lettering as the Mets tried to salvage a split and we chewed our nails on the other side of the continent. The news, happily, was good: Harvey’s fastball had its old velocity, and while his other pitches were still works in progress, he used the fastball to set them up capably, escaped fatal trouble in the middle innings, and even came within a whisker of his own home run, this one to dead center.

Perhaps that point about escaping trouble ought to come with an asterisk: I have no idea what New York’s replay umps were looking at as Andrew Cashner slid on his belly across home plate ahead of or at least adjacent to Kevin Plawecki‘s tag. (It was a big 48 hours for starting-pitcher heroics.) But fair or not, the call went our way and kept Harvey on the right side of the W.

Keeping him there would require heroics from unlikely sources, though.

Emily, Joshua and I decamped in the eighth for a walk down to Red Hook, where a combined Mother’s Day/47th birthday celebration awaited us. It sure seemed like disaster would be along for the ride: the apparently unstoppable Jon Jay singled off Jerry Blevins, bringing on Addison Reed. Reed allowed a million-hopper to Wil Myers for an infield single, then a single of the more conventional variety to Matt Kemp, and was then excused for … Antonio Bastardo.

As a newly arrived Met, Bastardo’s still coming into focus for us — he pitches bravely but has a dispiriting tendency to lose the plate, which is a wordy way of saying he’s a middle reliever. Grabbing a bat to greet him was Derek Norris, a Padre who no longer needs an introduction beyond whatever sign you invoke to ward off evil.

Norris is hitting .173 for the year, which by my back-of-the-envelope calculations means he’s 0 for 600 against every team but us. Somewhere south of Atlantic Avenue, my wife and kid and I traded grim looks. The Dark Knight was gone and this was mid-Sixties Adam-West-as-Batman bad, with the caped crusaders dangling from a pulley and being lowered into a vat of boiling chewing gum or something equally ridiculous and likely to be fatal.

Bastardo, somehow, struck out Norris, with my phone practically levitating as Howie Rose bellowed out the news. That was still bad, but Batman had worked his hands a smidgen loose and maybe, just maybe, Robin could reach his utility belt if he kicked and wriggled enough.

Melvin Upton Jr., nee B.J., took Norris’s place … and popped up, with the ball apparently going into orbit. Seriously, it took forever: we had time for nervous glances and a snatch of conversation while Howie assured us that the ball was up there above Petco Park. Sometime later on Mother’s Day it plopped into Lucas Duda‘s glove and somehow there were two out.

Now Batman and Robin were free of the pulley but still tied back to back and henchmen had rushed into the room. BAM! SOCK! POW! This was better than before, but third outs can be elusive. Standing at the plate was Alexei Ramirez, recently a White Sock and therefore a relatively unknown quantity … which meant he was the opponent that scares you the most in such a scenario, the henchman waiting in the shadows with a vase to crack over a bat-cowled cranium. Bastardo flung fastball after fastball his way, with Howie’s voice rising as each one arrived — it was a half-inning to remind you how good the man is — until Ramirez swung at one too high to reach and the Mets had come through unscathed.

We got to the restaurant and waited contentedly through a slight delay while Jeurys Familia went to work, with the last ball an excruciating-sounding grounder sent to third by Jose Pirela while Jay gathered his demon servants in the on-deck circle. Eric Campbell intercepted the ball — not always a given — and flung it to Duda, and the Mets had not only won but also ascended into first place.

Matt Harvey getting swings and misses! Antonio Bastardo saving himself and everybody else! Eric Campbell flashing leather! First place! We grinned and slapped hands and got called for our table and went in to celebrate, pleased with the day and our team and ourselves. As we sat down, I smiled to remember something Ralph Kiner may or may not have once said over the air, a greeting that on this day made perfect sense: “To all you moms out there, happy birthday.”

8 comments to The Dark Knight and Other Caped Crusaders

  • Eric

    Taking 3 of 4 from the Padres and leaving San Diego 1.5 games up on the Nationals would have been better. On the other hand, the Mets easily could have lost yesterday’s game (and the Nationals could won their game), so it evens out. Taking over sole possession of 1st place, even if it’s only by .5 game for one day, at least signifies the Mets’ slow start and the Nationals’ hot start to the season are done and the race is on.

    Henderson balking in a run with 2 outs in the 7th inning was frustrating and surprising for a veteran.

    Except for the 5th inning, that was (almost) Happy Harvey Day Harvey. Good sign. Now let’s get all-star game tracer-throwing deGrom back and revive Plan A of Cy Young-contending ace after ace (plus ageless solid Colon), each turn in the rotation better than the last. It also would be welcome for the starters to stretch out to 7 innings to cut down the wear on the bullpen, which has held up admirably so far under a heavy workload.

    Bastardo’s performance was impressive to watch on TV because he shut down the Padres 4-6 hitters with 90-MPH straight fastballs, most of them over the heart of the plate. The last pitch sequence to Ramirez was pro pitching, moving his fastball up and out until Ramirez swung through. In lolMets days, it was the Mets routinely loading the bases and then the hitting suddenly evaporating. The other side is more fun.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Ol’ Dirty (Stuff) Bastardo.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Not that there’s anything wrong with them wearing pink, but I can’t help wondering what Rogers Hornsby or somebody would have thought.

    • Matt in Woodside

      “Mr. Gossage, what do you think of the Cubs intentionally walking Bryce Harper six times on pink uniform day?”

  • Dave

    It’s been a while since we’ve seen a relief performance to match what Bastardo did. Coming out of the bullpen is a hell of a way to make a living, and we’ll be all over him when he proves he’s human, but yesterday’s outing was a masterpiece. Also shows how meaningless a statistic the save is…I don’t care that Familia pitched the 9th, it was Bastardo who saved the Mets yesterday.

  • skoonix

    Soup not only flashed leather he got 2 hits and drove in a run and scored a run. I love it when the subs come through. TC has to juggle things better to keep the bench fresh.

  • Jesse

    Ah, what a wonderful world we have lived long enough to see, where the most nail-biting part of that story was NOT “Emily, Joshua and I decamped in the eighth for a walk down to Red Hook.”

  • […] well into Monday. In between Colon going deep and the world remaining gaga, Matt Harvey slipped in his best start of 2016 versus the Padres, permitting the Mets to depart San Diego in first place for the first time all […]