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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Deep Breaths

Wednesday night’s win over the Marlins was full of encouraging signs for the Mets, and left me feeling something I’ve rarely felt in a tight race’s last few days: a sense of calm.

Seth Lugo looked shaky early, struggling to command his pitches and reminding us that for all his meritorious service, he’s written an out-of-nowhere story that makes Jacob deGrom‘s ascent look like a sure thing. Lugo didn’t pitch well in any role in Las Vegas (though, to be fair, that’s about the last place you want to depend on a curveball) and various metrics, most notably his FIP and home run rate, suggest an unwelcome regression to the mean lies ahead.

But you know what? Come April, Lugo can regress all the way back to the Pacific Coast League — what’s important is he didn’t do it Wednesday night. He got rocked by a Martin Prado homer in the bottom of the first for a 2-0 deficit, but fanned Jeff Mathis with two men on to limit the damage. The Mets responded immediately, with T.J. Rivera doubling and James Loney hitting a high arcing drive that came down just above Giancarlo Stanton‘s station craning his neck at the right-field fence.

Lugo was in trouble again in the third, facing Stanton with one out and runners on first and second. He got squeezed on a 1-2 curve, though the ball broke so sharply it seemed to fool Rene Rivera as well as home-plate ump Bill Welke. Unlucky, but then Lugo got lucky on 2-2, running a fastball just outside enough to sap Stanton’s power. He popped it up; Lugo went to a 3-1 count on hulking Met nemesis Justin Bour, but got him to ground to second for a fairly gigantic whew.

The Marlins seemed spent after that, for which no person with an ounce of compassion could blame them. Meanwhile, the Mets were getting in gear. Jose Reyes doubled Lugo in to take the lead in the fourth and then Jay Bruce — yes, that Jay Bruce — drove a ball over the wall for insurance. Lugo, Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia kept Miami at bay, and the Mets had won.

The Mets had won, and a little while later the Reds beat the Cardinals by a skinny run, surviving a leadoff triple in the ninth. And a little while after that the Rockies survived a scary ninth of their own to beat the Giants. Those aren’t the ingredients for a 163rd game quite yet, but the recipe’s become pretty simple: if the Mets win two in Philadelphia they’re guaranteed at least one night of extra baseball. (Yes, a three-way tie is still possible, but I’m not going to worry about it because my head would explode.)

I doubt I’ll be calm when I’m checking the out-of-town scores Thursday night, or while doing anything this weekend. But Wednesday night I was — I even lapsed into couchbound inattention for an inning or two, as if this were a pleasant evening in May. The difference: I was letting myself daydream about Lucas Duda looking revived and Curtis Granderson whacking balls from line to line and Bruce having escaped the back of the milk carton and T.J. Rivera continuing to get his Murph on and hey, if we get past next Wednesday maybe we could make some noise….

Normally I’d yank myself back to the beginning of that chain of hypotheticals, but this time, I let my mind keep wandering happily for a bit. I’ve lived through seasons in which magic numbers shrank to a certain point but no further, becoming tragic digits. I know that still might be. But, to steal a note from Mike Vaccaro, since their resurrection began on Aug. 20 the Mets have made up 8 games on St. Louis, 9 1/2 on San Francisco and 10 on the Pirates. And all that while pitchers and position players vanished from active duty at a rate normally seen in epidemics. Those are already pretty magic numbers, regardless of the outcome.

So I’ll sit back and enjoy it until the lights come up and it’s time to go, whether that’s after Game 162, 163 or — because you never know — Game 182. It’s part of being a fan to fret and sigh and see grim portents everywhere, but we have to also allow ourselves to imagine things going right.

42 comments to Deep Breaths

  • kdbart

    The Mets are 25-12 since August 20th despite having to endure 7 starts from the firm of Niese, Gilmartin, Ynoa and Montero. This is shaping up to being one of my favorite Met teams for the way they’ve persevered throughout all the injuries. Collins has done a tremendous job keeping them together.

  • The name has been thrown around without much cause in many a year but this year they might again deserve the word “Amazin’.”

  • Matt in Richmond

    Very well said Greg Mitchell and kdbart. Who knows what will happen next, but I hope none of us take for granted how truly Amazin’ this is.

  • Dave

    Exactly, everyone. Who knew just 6 weeks ago that this would turn out to be as thrilling an end to a season as we’ve seen in a long, long time…those of us of a certain age are reminded of 1973. Now I’m looking forward to the hand wringing over Thor’s innings as we get deep into the postseason.

  • Mikey

    I had the same thought about the Marlins being spent after Bruce’s HR. An emotional few days punctuated by a feel-sort-of-good win over the Mets Monday night, but then once the Mets knocked them out for good Tuesday, and once Bruce’s bomb made it 5-2 Wednesday, you could see the air being let out of the Marlins’ balloon.

    what I truly didn’t expect was that the Giants and Cards would be so charitable down the stretch, or maybe I should say I am so happy teams like the Padres, Reds, Brewers and Rockies have decided to pummel the teams we are in contention with the way the D-backs pummeled us. when I woke up to see the Cards and Giants both lost, I admit I breathed a bit easier too. now we are 2.5 games up on the Cards and 1.5 up on the Giants. Pedal to the metal, LGM!!!

  • NostraDennis

    When all is said and done this season, someone should write a book. A sequel, maybe.

  • Mikey

    I’ve also (knock wood, literally) started thinking about who the 25 man roster might include. with Lagares back, do they leave Conforto off…or De Aza? I feel like it’s going to be Conforto, much to my dismay but based on what he did last postseason he should stay. or maybe we have 6 OF with Lagares being an excellent spare part.

    • Stuart Miller

      Same dilemma in the infield: if Duda keeps hitting, do you carry two first baseman; if by some miracle, Flores could be ready for the Cubs series, does he make the roster and in whose place?
      Four starting pitchers plus seven relievers (Familia, Reed, Salas, Robles, Blevins, Smoker and ????)
      Reyes, Cabrera, Cespedes, Granderson, Bruce, Rivera, Duda, Rivera
      d’Arnaud, Johnson, Loney, Conforto/Lagares/d’Aza (pick two or pick three and no Loney) and then Flores or Kelly/Reynolds

      • Left Coast Jerry

        Stuart, I’m inclined to agree with your 25 man roster. I believe Henderson or Goeddel would be the 7th reliever. I’m inclined to go with Goeddel since I think he has more ability to pitch more than 1 inning.

        Assuming the starting outfield is Cespedes, Granderson and Bruce, with Reyes, Cabrera, TJ Rivera, and Duda in the infield, and Rene Rivera as the starting catcher, we have 6 bench slots to fill.

        d’Arnaud is the backup catcher. I would go with Loney, Johnson, Conforto and Lagares on the bench, with the final slot reserved for Flores if he is ready. If not, I would add Ty Kelly, since he hits from both sides of the plate and can play both infield and outfield positions.

        I selected Lagares over De Aza or Nimmo, simply because it gives the team another right handed hitting outfielder. Although this roster doesn’t have a backup shortstop, Reyes can slide over there with Johnson or Flores/Kelly playing third.

        Of course, we need to see a couple of victories in Philly first.

        • Stuart Miller

          If Lagares can swing the bat then I think he and Kelly would really provide great and much needed balance.

        • 9th string catcher

          Very close to what I was thinking. Only difference is De Aza over Ty Kelly. De Aza can give you speed, defense and can hit for power off the bench. Of course, if Flores is available, I’d take him over De Aza. I like Goeddel for long man/mop up duty.

  • Since this is labeled a blog for people who “like to read,” I will dare add a link to my own new book (if Greg or Jason want to remove as off-topic that’s perfectly fine).

  • mookie4ever

    Nicely put, Jason, so that’s the unfamiliar sensation I had last night, huh? The game did feel the most matter of fact of any in the last week, especially 7th inning on. So glad to get out of Miami’s heavy atmosphere, now onto Philly, where they’ve declared out loud what we already knew. They’ll be out to ruin our season. So what? Good bulletin board stuff. Gotta stay strong to the end.

    And yeah, this year makes last year’s sudden climb to the top seem like a stroll in the park. Truly Amazin’ team to overcome all they have this year and classy all the way. ZERO clubhouse drama, heads up the whole way, no quitting, no bitching, no whining. Credit for that goes to their character and to their manager. I’m happy and really proud of our boys no matter how this ends up. LGM

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Allow me to let my mind happily wander as well… oh look! There’s the Mets winning the 2016 World Series!

    And there’s deGrom, Matz, Harvey, and Wheeler with rested arms, ready for 2017!

    Ahhh… that would be incredible.

    • I think having a contest is wonderful, however when you tell the artist what to inocaporrte into the project it takes away from his or her vision which in turn removes the validity and sincerity of the project, just another hollywood move. One day we won't need hollywood and then the real movie revolution can move forward!

  • sturock

    Not much to add except: this is fun! Even Jay Bruce is hitting, getting hot at just the right time.

  • GroteFan

    Wow, does that National League Stink!
    Your Metropolitans are gaining round despite being 5-5 in their last 10 games, while the RedBirds are 5-5 and the Giants are 4-6 and capping one of the great collapses in baseball history.
    Having said that, other than the Braves series the Mets are doing what the need to do, win 2-3 each series.
    While the Filthies want to trash our season, do we really think they have the horsepower to do it?
    I’ve certainly seen crazier things happen, like when I went down to the Vet on a Friday night in September of 1986 to watch the Mets clinch the division (pre-wildcards of course) and the Phils embarrassed us that night and ultimately swept the series…..But that was a pretty good Phils team, not this bunch of has beens.
    I think the Dodgers would like to torture the Giants this weekend, but are the Birds good enough to handle the Bucs?

  • Wondering if T.J. Rivera is answer at second base. Looks like possible .300 hitter, though not much HR power. Limited range, a la Murph but without Murph clunkers? Or Cecchini–doesn’t need another year at AAA, no room at SS, and could take over at SS after another year, assuming he can field. Re-sign Walker? He was headed for a too-big contract but perhaps that is muted now with injury–though probably not these days. If Cecchini/Rivera/Flores looks fine, then they can invest free agent money in, let’s say, a catcher.

    • 9th string catcher

      I think between Rivera and Flores, second base is covered. Cecchini could make the team as a utility guy, or maybe that’s Reyes’ role if Wright comes back (although not sure – is Reyes under contract for next year?). If the pitchers are healthy next year, this could be a pretty loaded team, especially if Lugo and Gsellman can fill out the 5/6 and 6/7 roles. But, of course, getting ahead of ourselves here.

      Speaking of getting ahead of oneself – Mikey – what do you think about carrying 11 pitchers and keeping both Conforto and Lagares on the roster? Mets only have 4 starters anyway, and if we have to go to Henderson, Edgin, Ynoa, Verrett or Gilmartin, the game’s probably out of reach anyway.

      • Cecchini is too good a prospect to be utility guy, needs to start or share or play fulltime for half a season in AAA. He could be a star. Nimmo projects more as a 4th OFer longerm so okay for him to just play now and then. Mets now have a LOT of options.

        I would definitely keep fewer relievers and more bench guys. The guys you mention are awful. Robles would be long man.

      • Mikey

        i like it. I guess in a strange way having a depleted starting staff is a bonus in this 25 man construction situation. and with many of our position players being dinged up, having extra bodies that aren’t pitchers does make sense.

    • Stuart Miller

      Those are the kind of problems that are nice to have. And the same goes for the outfield next year– presuming the Mets don’t foolishly lose Cespedes– with Cespedes in left and then Bruce, Granderson, Conforto and Lagares for just two positions. (And Nimmo goes where in that scenario?) It’s true for pitching too but obviously we’ve really learned this year that a five man rotation requires at least eight pitchers: Syndergaard, de Grom, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, Colon, Gsellman and Lugo.

      • Matt in Richmond

        Resigning Yo isn’t totally up to the Mets. He can walk if he chooses.

        • Stuart Miller

          Right but he has made clear he wants to stay. He wants to get paid too, of course. I know he will want more years and more dollars then statistics would dictate but I think the Mets have to do this– they have not had someone in the middle of the lineup like that since Beltran, Delgado and Wright circa 2006-2008. He makes Reyes, Cabrera and Granderson all much better in terms of pitches they will see and without him there the pressure on Bruce would probably crush him. So give him four more years at some astronomical cost and know that year four will be a disappointment but that the next three years should make it worth it.

  • Gil


  • Eric

    Another series where the Mets got down to business and checked off what they needed to qualify for the WC race. With class and character given the circumstances.

    Magic number now 2 against the Giants with the tie breaker and the Cardinals, respectively.

    The Cardinals-Giants race is interesting. Both have 4 to play. Cardinals are a game back but hold the tie breaker over the Giants and, presumably, the Pirates will be an easier opponent than the Dodgers, especially if the Dodgers are in reach of HFA for their DS. Dodgers are 2 behind the Nationals and each have 4 to play.

    As frustrating as the Giants loss must have been for their fans, the Cardinals loss must have been a blow. Runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 8th inning and runner on 3rd with no one out in the 9th inning. None score and they lose the game 2-1.

    Kudos to the Yankees for disallowing the Red Sox from celebrating on the field in Yankees stadium and staving off elimination for pride’s sake.

    • Jacobs27

      “Kudos to the Yankees” Let’s not get carried away with our magnanimity, here. I say here’s to impending Elimination Day!

  • eric b

    I was at this game and also was surprisingly calm, particularly after the surprising Loney home run. The Mets seem to be taking care of business… a strange idea given where we were 6-7 weeks ago. No doubt anxiety/disgust/fear will return, but I’m feeling a little faith at the moment.

  • Eric

    Good Jon Heyman line with Joe and Evan:
    [On Lugo and Gsellman] “They couldn’t pitch the Las Vegas 51s into the play-offs, but they’re pitching the Mets into the play-offs”.

  • Pete In Iowa

    Friends and fellow Met fans… I am at peace.
    Planning an epic camping trip in the wilds of heaven… err, Iowa … several weeks ago (in the midst of this epic run), I pointed out to the wife that this weekend was closing weekend. She left the plans totally up to me.
    I am happy to announce the chariot pulls out at 1:00pm (Central) today. Won’t be back till Sunday nite. No TV, no radio — hopefully we can raise a signal for the interwebs out in the wilds. For sure — one way or the other — we’ll keep updated. Appropriate libations are in tow for when the moment requires them.
    Stayed up to watch the end of the Cardinals and Giants last nite. It was pure beauty!! Magic number is 2, three games to play in Philly.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  • LeClerc

    Over-think alert !

    The Mets’ brain trust is considering the idea of starting Colon on short rest on Friday. The reasoning is that this will allow Colon to start the WC game on full rest if Syndergaard is unavailable.

    Starting Gsellman on Friday, and Colon on Saturday gives the Mets an excellent chance of entering Sunday being no worse than one game up on the Giants and two games up on the Cardinals. And that would mean you could start the bat boy on Sunday and still have Syndergaard start the WC game at Citi Field.

    If they make it to the NLDS, the Mets have a legitimate fighting chance against Chicago.

  • Chim Richalds

    I fucking love this blog. It’s so good. Thanks.

  • eric1973

    All this discussion about who to put on the roster tells me one thing. We’ve got a pretty good team, and deserve to be where we are.

  • Mets screwed by inept Cincy mgr Price–who waits until umps have left the field to protest that Molina’s game-winning double was actually a ground rule double. Asleep at the wheel and could be a key game in win column for Cards.

  • Paul Schwartz

    home from Italy. win today and tomorrow and get ready to host the WC game. LGM.

  • Mikey

    yep, the race has tightened a bit since Wednesday. buckle up folks…this should be interesting. I hope we hit our usual allotment of home runs in Philly and don’t throw any meatballs to Franco or Howard.