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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.

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The Glorious Four

It doesn’t take a Richard Henry Lee galloping down to the House of Burgesses and back (stopping off in Stratford long enough to refresh the missus) to deliver a resolution that declares unequivoca-LEE that the four-game series the New York Mets just completed against the Chicago Cubs is and ought to be considered among the most glorious quartets of contests ever brought forth on this continent, or at least Flushing.

So help me Wilmer.

As great series go, this was about as good it gets. The mood beforehand was morose. The incoming opposition was assumed omnipotent. What could possibly go right?

Everything. Every little thing the Mets did at Citi Field in sweeping the four games winding down the season’s first half and leading up to this Fourth of July was magic. Two nailbiters; two blowouts; a dozen homers; thirty-two runs overall; and fourteen runs in the finale, fueled by twenty-two hits that included six in six at-bats from one third baseman whose jersey every July seems to tell us all we need to know.

At the end of last July, Wilmer Flores famously tugged at the “Mets” on his shirt as he crossed home plate in the twelfth inning so as to inform us what team he was about to spiritually lead on an uncharted adventure into autumn. At the beginning of this July, it was the number on his uniform top that accurately transmitted the weekend’s vital 411.

Wilmer wears 4.
The Mets just swept 4.
And what a 4 they were.

Seats that had never been touched were reached on Thursday. Players that had been barely seen became stars on Friday. Leads teetering on the brink of dissolution remained resolute on Saturday. And hits that just kept on coming just kept on coming and coming some more on Sunday, especially from Flores, he who homered and singled in the second, singled in the fourth, homered in the fifth, singled in the seventh and — batting against a catcher, which will happen when you’re poised for a sixth plate appearance — singled in the eighth.

Six hits in one game tied a Mets record, originally forged by the revered Edgardo Alfonzo in 1999. Like Wilmer, Fonzie hailed from Venezuela and got shifted around the infield quite a bit in his Mets career. Unlike Fonzie, Wilmer rarely receives the benefit of the doubt. Once Edgardo proved he could hit, a spot — some years at third, others at second — was found for him. The only place Wilmer ever seems guaranteed of having is in our hearts.

The diamond has proven a more tenuous setting for Flores. He was more or less the regular shortstop in 2015, but the Mets got amnesia and then Asdrubal. Lately Wilmer’s the stopgap third baseman, filling in for one sidelined franchise legend while seatwarming for another. That Jose Reyes (all not-so-ancillary issues aside) has never played third in the majors doesn’t seem to faze those who assign players their positions. Perhaps Reyes will be professionally reborn at David Wright’s corner. Perhaps Flores, on the heels of 6-for-6, will look pretty good by comparison.

He looked incomparable at the plate Sunday. So did the Mets as an entity. The 22 hits tied another team record: most in a home game, first set on September 20, 1981, which was no random affair. It was the third win of a three-game sweep of first-place St. Louis in the “second season” of that torn-asunder strike year. The Mets failed to hit with runners on for much of the day, which explains why a 22-hit attack produced only a 7-6 victory. Ah, but the twenty-second hit excavated from that Sunday at Shea is what made for the happiest of recaps, with Mookie Wilson ending the game via walkoff home run against future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.

Sweeping the Cardinals moved the Mets to within two-and-a-half games of first place with two weeks to go as New York improbably insinuated itself into a mini-pennant race. The particulars of what turned into a false alarm (the Mets fell out of contention almost as quickly as they’d catapulted into it) are broadly forgotten, but the emotions were timeless. Mookie, then 25, called it “the most exciting game of my life”. The fans, deprived of a semblance of September stimulation for so long, were on board with his sentiment. There was no Mr. Met Dash or sponsored postgame festivity, yet, as Bob Murphy described the euphoria over Channel 9, when he was still doing TV, “The crowd is just staying here. They don’t want to go home. It’s unbelievable!”

You gotta believe nobody was in a rush to exit baseball nirvana, which is where we and our team currently reside after sweeping four from the Cubs. I don’t know if these four wins over Joe Maddon’s projected world champions (based on zero percent of October precincts reporting) will send us roaring into the second half on a runway of momentum, or if this was yet another of those spurts that will be answered with a spritz of 2016 reality, the kind that has thus far doused every encouraging burst of energy with a dose of lethargy. I also don’t much care after bearing witness to these four games, each and every one of them a beauty on its own terms. The Wild Card is still up for grabs and the division isn’t down the tubes. That’s all the context I need on this holiday Monday.

Sunday we had Flores and his six hits. We had Syndergaard and his untroubled seven innings. We had the Mets chasing Lester in the second after posting eight runs. We had Granderson, Rivera and Johnson each chipping in a homer, making it five Met bombs bursting in air on the day, matching the Citi Field team record established two whole nights earlier. We had basically every Met, compression-sleeved and otherwise, doing something marvelous to create the 14-3 punctuation that punted Chicago from the premises. We had four wins in a row against the Cubs in one series for the first time since, oh yeah, the 2015 NLCS, but also four wins in a row against the Cubs in one regular-season series for the first time since the Mets administered reprisal for 1984’s not-ready-for-prime-time shortfall by sweeping the defending divisional kings out of Queens in June of 1985. Those Sutcliffe-Sandberg Cubs were reeling when they dropped by Flushing and, soon after losing four of four to the rival Mets, dropped off the map for the rest of ’85. The Shea PA blasted “The Night Chicago Died” for emphasis when it was over. It was glorious.

As was this series, when the Mets went on a tear…a tear of joy.

Say, a friend of mine has a neat idea to commemorate a piece of Citi Field history. Check it out here and, if so inclined, please lend your support to the effort.

30 comments to The Glorious Four

  • eric1973

    If they would only leave Flores alone and give him a decent shot at third, he could be exactly what we need. I’ve always loved the guy, though he has certainly had his share of shortcomings. .

    No more injuries, no Reyes supplanting him, no more self-caused BS (inconsistency), like we’ve seen the past few years. He’s made all the plays over there. Maybe it took a game like this to finally open some eyes and get him a little organizationalrespect.

  • Dave

    Wilmer has never proven me right, but I have been saying that he could be a big time major league bat if given a chance to play on a regular basis. If you look at his age-24 numbers from last year, that’s pretty good. Keep him, he could be another Fonz, albeit with less of a glove than his fellow Venezuelan. Trade him, he’s another Amos Otis or Ken Singleton.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Actually the one who will suffer with Reyes coming back will be Reynolds, who will be sent down despite looking terrific in all phases. Or perhaps they will cut bait on D’Aza since Reynolds can play a little OF. Anyway, with Nimmo looking ready and Conforto due back that should be it for D’aza anyway. And then Duda will come back. Will be nice to have a roster crunch for a change.

    Hey, I see more “nonsense” from Terry–did NOT let Noah go for “milestone” complete game this time with 11-1 lead and low pitch count. What’s wrong with him depriving us and Noah that thrill? And also cost Thor an AB when maybe he could have hit another double and tested breaking his ankle again on another slide into second.

  • dmg

    after they won that nailbiter on thursday, i thought wouldn’t it be great if they stunned everyone and bounced back in this homestand?
    forget everyone else, they needed to do well against the cubs just to prove to themselves they can play against the best. now it’s time to get some separation against the marlins. and then, some payback for the nats.

  • eric1973

    Hey, and surprised to NOT see Familia in there in the 9th with a 10-run lead!

    After all, as we all know, closers pitch in the 9th and have to be able to pitch in non-save situations!

  • Paul Schwartz

    [Edited by management. That’s enough of this, all of you.]

  • Bob

    Odin is VERY pleased!
    Met fan since Polo Grounds–1963.

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Seth

    It was lots of fun, and your recap drives that home (so to speak). I still think the Mets would be wise to listen to the message delivered earlier in the week by the Washington Murphinals, as that message was delivered with gusto.

  • Daniel Hall

    Good for Wilmer!

    By Tuesday, he’ll be rotting on the bench while Jose Reyes bats .178 with four errors per week.

  • Greg Mitchell

    I was against the Reyes signing but still–one does have to keep in mind that Wilmer was hitting .228 until yesterday….

    Sadly, it seems Herrera has been in month-long slump in Vegas, which isn’t easy to do…

  • Matt in Richmond

    Wilmer has actuall gotten a pretty extended look. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of his, but it’s stretching things quite a bit to say he’s made “all the plays”. Even yesterday he had a throwing error on a totally routine play. I’m not saying I’m convinced Reyes would be an upgrade, but it’s not crazy to mix things up a bit, particularly considering Wilmer was hitting in the .220s before yesterday. I think Wilmer should continue to get ABs, but the reality is he hasn’t earned an every day job at this point.

    Now, somewhat unelievably, I need to address the Familia stuff again. The times he pitched in the ninth with big leads was when he needed work having not pitched much if at all in 4-5 days. Yesterday he didn’t. He’d had saves in 2 of the last 3 days. [We were fine until here. Everyone needs to stop doing this. — Management]

  • mookie4ever

    So happy for Wilmer, he’s a great kid with a lot of heart and a good, well-timed bat. He somehow manages to do something incredible each July. Hopefully, 2016’s feat will still be spoken about in October and, baseball gods willing, November. I especially love that his 6-hit performance basically says, You want my job, Jose, you’ll have to pry it from me. He was marking his territory out there (without the mess for the groundskeepers to clean up). Honestly, I didn’t know Flo had that in him. Going to be very interesting month around here!

  • Pat

    And don’t forget another curiosity of Sunday’s game: With a Cubs catcher on the mound, we sent a starting pitcher out to pinch-hit.

    DeGrom put a good swing on the ball, too, though he got a little under it and flew out to left.

  • Dennis

    Great win on Sunday and a terrific sweep of the Cubs. Even with the 4 wins in a row, I still see there is a need to beat the dead horse on pitcher’s usage and managerial decisions. LGM!

  • Greg Mitchell

    “Dead horse”: yeah, see Harvey’s pitching line today. No connection to post-surgery innings last year. Not at all.

    • Dennis

      Since Syndergaard pitched, I was referring to his performance, but if you could prove definitively that Harvey’s line today relates to his innings usage from last season (and I’m not saying the innings he pitched last year doesn’t have an affect……I’m not an expert, so I don’t know for sure), then by all means you should bring it to the Mets attention, since they obviously have no idea on how to handle their pitchers. You would be doing them a great service Greg.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Matt gave up a ton of soft singles today. Ground balls that just had eyes. That second inning the Mets actually hit the ball harder than the goddam fish. Loney rocketed one to first, Wilmer blasted one to the track that might have gone out the way the ball was carrying yesterday. The fish just found holes. Sometimes that happens, and it’s nothing to do with phantom problems with a pitcher, just the breaks of the game. Matt threw a 98 mph fastball by Dietrich for strike 3 that was probably the best pitch I’ve seen him throw all year, so I know he’s got it in him. Just needs to find consistency and better luck.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Yeah, just tough luck on those 111 hits in 92 innings.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Actually, to a large extent, yes. His BABIP this year has been completely out of whack and unsustainably high, suggesting a disproportionate amount of soft hits finding holes. This isn’t an all or nothing proposition, of course he hasn’t performed at peak Harvey level. However, just as with Noah’s brief blip, there isn’t any direct evidence that his regression is due to overuse, and even if it was, I’m completely on board with many others in that I wouldn’t change anything anyway. You only get so many chances to go to the WS and he was clutch all the way through to the ninth inning of the last game of the year. History suggests that it’s normal for guys coming back from Tommy John to have some periodic dips in performance as they work their way back.

    • Jacobs27

      Harvey was unlucky yesterday, but he also lost his composure a bit. The throwing error on that would-be-double-play come-backer was pretty egregious. And I think it’s symptomatic of how Harvey’s had trouble executing things which are totally within his power when things start to unravel in an inning this year. Gotta be partly psychological. I don’t necessarily blame him. He’s had some bad lack and never gets any run support. That’ll get into anybody’s head.

      But in any case, he hasn’t really had that lock-down mentality this year. Things tend to spiral on him. (Like they used to on Niese). And that’s not just due to a high BABIP, as I see it.

  • Daniel Hall

    “Funny” thing on baseball-reference.com I stumbled over. They have that “top 12 by WAR” thing on that side, and the 2016 Mets top 12 by WAR shows pretty much what’s been wrong with the team all year. The top 5 include four starting pitchers (sans Harvey) and Yo Knows Beisbol. Then it’s three relievers including Blevins (!), a guy in a Braves cap (!!), and only then come two more regulars (Walker and Cabrera), completed by semi-regular, semi-healthy Lagares in #12.

    I do like Jerry Blevins, but if your LOOGY and a utility player washed ashore a couple of months into the season have more WAR than your leadoff man, something’s off.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Yes Daniel, it’s not much of a news flash to say the Mets offense has underperformed so far. There are numerous mitigating factors that one can choose to ignore or not. But bottom line, WAR & other stats are fairly meaningless relative to W/L and that being the case, any Mets fan should be pretty happy right now. And hello, look at the last 5 days. While we won’t continue to get 15-20 hits game after game, those results are more indicative of what this team is capable of than the prior month.

  • Harvey looks disinterested , and has no finish to his pitches. Something is not right.
    I think he is not handling not being “the man ” , actually can’t fathom he is 4-10 ,
    A complete NON factor on this team. His lifestyle depends on his celebrity status ,
    and now he’s almost a nobody , barely a fifth starter. I say put him in the bullpen
    start Verrett for at least a few weeks or more depending upon when Wheeler returns.
    His ego is shot and something is not right. Watching the game it was obvious from
    second inning. I hope I’m wrong , but he looks awful.

  • open the gates

    Wilmer looked great the other day, and now has a share of the Mets record book, at least until the unlikely scenario of someone getting seven hits in a game. But one game, even a game like that, is an awfully small sample size. Flores was given a good shot at establishing himself at third after the Wright injury, and he couldn’t seal the deal. Yes, he still may be a diamond in the rough, but he’s no Otis or Singleton. Maybe the names we’re looking at are Melvin Mora and Justin Turner. Or maybe not even.

  • Jacobs27

    “It will be a triumph, a triumph, I tell you! If I was ever sure of anything, I’m sure of that… A triumph! (pause) And if it isn’t, we still have four days left to think of something else.”

    I think John Adams may have been referring to the 2016 New York Mets.

  • Stephen Kairys

    A few points from one of the most satisfying wins of the year:

    1. Top 4th: With one out, Yelich singles for Miami to pad their lead to 6-0 and KO Harvey. However, d’Arnaud throws out Martin Prado trying to advance third. Absent that play, Miami had 1st and 3rd one out; instead, they had only a runner on 1st and two out. Who knows how that inning ends up in that case?

    2. Bottom 7th: Great situational hitting by Loney and Flores to tie the game: Loney’s grounder to the right side to score Walker and move Ces to 3rd. Wilmer follows with a great AB, resulting in the game-tying sac fly.

    3. Top 8th: Loney starting that DP on the bunt with 2nd and 3rd, none out. The Mets defense is becoming a pleasure to watch.

    4. The last six Mets’ runs came WITHOUT a HR.

    I have to admit I turned off the game at 0-6. Glad I came back to it at 3-6. After the game, I could not resist winding down the evening by watching a good portion on the replay on SNY. This game was one to savor!

  • Dennis

    For all of the negative whining about this team and manager, the Mets are 45-37, 3 out in the loss column. At this exact point last season they were 41-41, 5 games out. I’ll take where they’re at considering the performance of Harvey, loss of Wright for the entire season and the other injuries that have occurred.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Dennis, how dare you use rational thought and logic when it’s so much more fun to complain about leaving the starter in too long, or taking him out too soon, or bringing the closer into a non-save situation or complaining about the style with which Cespedes wears his compression sleeve.

    I’m still waiting for a comment complaining about how the players wives are attired while attending the games.

    Seriously, keep up the good work.

  • open the gates

    Mets wives haven’t been part of the conversation since the departure of Kris Benson.

  • eric1973

    I do miss those softball games between the Mets wives and Phillies wives.

    Mrs. Christiansen wore it well, as I recall.