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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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Baseball Like It Oughta Be Would Just Keep Going

June 12 to June 14, 2017, at Citi Field. September 12 to September 14, 2017, at Wrigley Field. I’ll go back to intensely disliking the Cubs then, on a need-to-spite basis. Maybe in between if our potential postseason fate seems to depend on it.

Until then, certainly for now, all hats off to the new world champions, same as the old world champions, and I mean really old world champions, as in an Old World that will no longer be reflexively referenced by everybody looking for a cheap laugh.

Rest easy, Teddy Roosevelt. Nobody will be writing any longer about teams that haven’t won since your administration. Bully for that. Bully for getting off the century-plus schneid. Bully for those who’ve never previously experienced the ultimate high experiencing it at last.

Bully for the world champion Chicago Cubs. Bully, too, for the National League, a circuit for which I stand tall and proud despite routinely detesting 14/15ths of its occupants as a matter of course.

Sorry, though, for the not quite world champion Cleveland Indians and their fans who, with a relative handful of elder exceptions, have never experienced the ultimate high. So close, yet so far. That proximity can’t help, yet it must be appreciated that for six games and nine-and-a-half innings, the title out of their grasp from 1949 forward was still within reach. The Tribe gave the members of their tribe a helluva ride. I hope it was enjoyed to its extreme until it could be relished no more.

And how about that baseball? Game Seven is listed until Game Six is decided fortuitously as “if necessary”. Gotta be a misnomer. Every baseball game is necessary. On Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, they were playing scintillating baseball in warm November weather in Northeast Ohio. Necessary? It should have been mandatory! Why is nobody making this an issue in the 2016 election? Why must baseball like this stop while the presidential campaign around it is allowed to continue?

Baseball and us: stronger together. I approve this message.

Cubs fans rooted for a Cubs win in Game Seven. Indians fans rooted for an Indians win in Game Seven. The rest of us, I’m pretty sure, were mostly rooting for Game Seven, both its arrival and its extension. Rajai Davis homering for the second and third of three runs in the bottom of the eighth to forge a 6-6 tie was, we hoped, only the beginning. Let’s keep this going. Let’s Go Game Seven! That was our team now.

Details, details. The blur was a blessing. Take out pitchers who don’t need to go. (Bye, Kyle Hendricks.) Bring in pitchers who’ve already thrown enough. (Oy, Aroldis Chapman.) Save the whole kit not to mention caboodle. (What a play, Francisco Lindor). Overmanage. OverMaddon, even. Bring out a tarp if you must, but make it snappy and roll it up just as fast. Bunt. No, actually, don’t bunt. Tag up (run, Albert Almora, run!). Fill the open base. (You sure about that, Tito?) Call a meeting. Say something inspirational. (You may not hit, Jason Heyward, but you sure can talk.) Send up somebody who knows how to double in World Series play. (But why must he be a certified Royal pain like Ben Zobrist?)

The Cubs go up, 7-6. The Cubs go up, 8-6. The Indians get a guy on. The guy runs unaccosted to second. The guy is driven in. It’s 8-7. It’s the bottom of the tenth with two out, Davis, who is why we still have baseball, is on first and, if somehow the next guy can do something, maybe we’ll never have to leave Game Seven.

But the next guy, Michael Martinez, only taps a ball to Kris Bryant, who picks it up and fires it to Anthony Rizzo, and it doesn’t fly down the line or anything suitably extraordinary like that. It’s an out. It’s the third out. It’s the end of the World Series and the baseball season.

Joy for the Cubs. Oof for the Indians. Nothing left for the rest of us. Can’t wring another inning out of If Necessary. Can’t convince the Dodgers and Blue Jays to throw down for a bronze medal, though maybe if we ask nicely…

Alas, away drifts baseball from 2016, following David Ross; and 108- if not 68-year droughts; and the certainty of what we shall occupy our minds with virtually every night. “The game is on,” we said for seven months, usually meaning the Mets, lately meaning the Series. We liked saying that. We can say it no more.

We’ve got no baseball left to watch, but we will find baseball to think about. Because we need to fill our own open base, we will instinctively grope about in a morass of qualifying offers, sad court dates and, for those who are so moved, the state of knees in the Arizona Fall League. Because it won’t actually be baseball, it will be baseball without being baseball like it oughta be. Baseball like it oughta be was Game Seven. And Games One through Six. And all those games that decided who’d be in the World Series, including one that involved us, though it’s hard to recall four weeks later that we were one of the first links in this most recent championship-determining chain of events. Oh, and Games 1 to 162, a Sunday night in Kansas City to a Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, which is where we scooped out that Wild little prize rattling around the bottom of this Cracker Jack box of a season. I’ve still got it around here somewhere. That, too, was baseball like it oughta be.

It was all there, just like it is every year, just like it will be again. If it’s designed to break our hearts, we’ll forget all that because we’ll be so happy that it mended them in the first place. Cubs fans will be back looking for more. Indians fans will be back looking for solace. We’ll all be back because, despite what the void insists between now and April 3, 2017 — Braves at Mets, first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM — it never leaves us and we never leave it.

30 comments to Baseball Like It Oughta Be Would Just Keep Going

  • Pete In Iowa

    No doubt in my mind that the Cubs won game 7 despite Joe Maddon.
    Pulling Hendricks after only 4.2 IP while he’s mowing down the Tribe? Note, the Tribe promptly put up a deuce off of Lester with help from his caddy.
    Bringing on Chapman for in the 7th after he hurled too many innings in games five and six (the latter appearance a complete waste)? Note, he promptly allowed yet another inherited runner to score and then, just as quickly, gave up two more.
    Bunt on a 3-2 pitch with the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP run at third with one down in the ninth? Note, a foul ball strike three and no winning run.
    Yeah, he’s some genius alright.

    • Kevin From Flushing

      Maddon got them there, but I 100% agree with you: the Cubs won that series despite him.

      • Paul Schwartz

        Maddon got them there?
        Kevin — they won the division by 17 1/2 games. I think you or I would have a shot at getting them there. Baseball managers get entirely too much credit or blame. I think the strength of a manager is knowing his team and their strengths and weaknesses. There are no “trick” plays of note really — although the Cub genius sure thought so.
        The Cubs won essentially the same way the 1986 Mets and 1998 Yankees won — they were the best team all year and despite some hurdles for all three — they just outtalented their opponents and came through when it counted.
        This year’s Cubs group suffered few major injuries (except for Schwarber who can’t play the field anyway) and NONE to their pitching. If the Mets get that next year especially with their pitching, we might be celebrating too.
        Congrats to the Cubs.
        Now Let’s Go Mets! 150 days to Opening Day!
        P.S. sign Cespedes!!!!

    • Dennis

      Agree 100% Pete……some head scratching moves by Maddon. He’s being criticized today after winning, but would have been scorched today if they had lost. Nonetheless, he oversaw a championship that no on else has done in 108 years, and no one can take that way from him. Was rooting for Cleveland, but it was just some thrilling baseball.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Outcome aside (I was rooting for Cleveland), everything about the top of the 10th is why I love baseball.

    1. There’s no correct formula (part 1): should Shaw really have started that inning after the rain delay? Many will say with hindsight that he should not have, but don’t dismiss who the Cubs were sending up: Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo. You could have put Randy Johnson on the mound and the Cubs still could have found a way to score 2. Just because one pitcher didn’t succeed doesn’t mean another won will. And yet, Tribe fans will ponder it forever.

    2. There’s no correct formula (part 2): baseball is cruel in that sometimes the correct move still comes with an insanely high risk. See: putting the insurance run on intentionally. It was the right move, 100%, to walk the potential league MVP with the season on the line and a base open, but even then you KNEW it could be disastrous. And it did, in fact, end up being the difference.

    3. Everyone gets a chance: to paraphrase something Bob Costas said during the 1999 GSS broadcast, baseball is different from other sports in that you can’t always rely on your best player to win the game; sometimes it’s rookies & journeymen who go down in the history books simply because it was their time. Last night was another great example, evident in the person who plated the insurance run: the third-string catcher.

    Baseball is the goddam best. I’m happy the nation got a little reminder of that last night.

    I’m sending sympathy hugs out there to all Cleveland fans, and soothing pats on the back to all the White Sox fans who won’t hear the end of this for a decade. Hang in there everyone.

  • Dave

    Nailed it, Greg. My love of baseball is very lopsided towards one team; there have been postseasons where maybe I’m watching, maybe not. Rooting for one of the teams not called the Mets is usually limited to rooting against the team I despise.

    But this was must-see TV, I was 100% rooting for the Cubs but would have appreciated the joy Cleveland would’ve felt otherwise. And watching the games – especially last night, despite being kept up much later than a man of my age and morning commute should be – was a thoroughly rewarding reminder of what makes baseball perfect.

    So we’ll worry about signing Cespedes and just how much tolerance the Wilpons have for men small enough to beat up women some other day. For now, the sun is shining brightly enough in Chicago that everyone can bask in a little bit of it.

  • Lenny65

    Enjoy it Cubs fans, sometimes you get right back there and (sigh) sometimes you don’t. Obviously I was pulling for Cleveland, as the Cubs are an enemy of ours, always have been. But hey, good for them I guess, anyone but the Yan***es and I can live with it. And man, if you’re an Indians fan that rain delay is going to haunt you, eh? That joint was rocking right before that.

    We’ll always have that magical NLCS against the Cubs though, IMO the most stunning outcome in Mets playoff series history. And for me there’s still only one Game Seven, a game that gets overshadowed a little by Game Six IMO but was a microcosm of that whole crazy season. They looked a little out of sorts for six innings, they weren’t hitting anything but you knew, you KNEW, it was coming. And it was wondrous when it did.

  • kdbart

    How in hell did Mike Martinez, the 25th Man on the Indian’s roster, end up in the game and your last hope, Tito?

  • BlackCountryMet

    Spot on Greg. This was a Game 7 for the ages. It had everything that made me fall in love with Baseball and was why I finished watching at 4 50am when I had to get up at 8am for work. I too feel that something is missing from my life when the season finishes, the World Series is such a double edged sword! I’m already thinking of roster moves, trades and pitchers being healthy for a complete season(how novel) See you next season and many more to follow

  • Mikey

    Damn greg what an exclamation point on the season. Really nice piece.
    A thrilling game we will always remember and kudos to the champs and runners up. My love for baseball was rekindled the last few years since i got mlb extra innings to watch the mets and now i cant turn games off the mets arent even in. See you guys throughout the offseason!

  • Chuck

    I know this is off topic, but Rumble Ponies? I can’t wait to see Paul Lukas’ take on their unis.

    • Eric

      I like localized, funny, even garish (not vulgar) names for minor league clubs. It adds distinctive character for each stop in what otherwise could be only a farm system.

  • eric1973

    I say don’t break the bank to sign Ces. He was a royal pain in the ass as it was. Imagine how it would be if he got a 5 year guaranteed contract. Sandy will think of something.

    • 9th string catcher

      How about Justin Turner? Either 1st or 2nd base unless Wright comes back (where you could put Wright at 1st and Turner at 3rd, Jose at 2nd). Right handed power hitter – something we could use even if Ces comes back.

  • eric1973

    They got rid of Turner for personal reasons, just like they did Murphy. Not baseball decisions.

  • Eric

    Good bye, Bartolo Colon, a productive and memorable Met, a wily vet who delivered what the team needed and exceeded expectations.

    I guess with Lugo and Gsellman doing well and presumably the other starters on the mend, Colon saw the writing on the wall. He signed a 1-year deal. Maybe a 45-year-old Colon will come back for 2018.

    His departure is one more reason to be frustrated by the WC loss; I would like to have seen Colon pitch at least once more for the Mets in the DS versus the Cubs.

    Dickey and Colon, two of the most interesting Mets of the past several seasons, pitch for the Braves now. Watching them pitch for the Braves against the Mets will be strange.

    I re-watched the WC game. Regarding Bumgarner’s early pitch count, I can’t fault the team for swinging early. MadBum worked over Cespedes. But with everyone else, location wise, the pitches that were popped up looked to be in hittable areas of the strike zone. The Mets just popped them up instead of getting hits or fouling them off. Later in the game, the Mets were still swinging early. The difference is they fouled off more pitches to drive up MadBum’s pitch count.

  • LeClerc

    A great shame they let Colon get away.

    With the exception of Syndergaard, the young guns finished 2016 like water pistols. Colon was the rock that didn’t crumble.

    I look forward to Bartolo passing Marichal and Martinez on the all-time wins list.

    Muy Bien Gracias Big Sexy.

  • Nossinuke

    No love for the world baseball championship currently live on YouTube? It fills a small void if nothing else. Korea vs Italy, etc?

    That’ll do for me.

  • Paul Schwartz

    I’ll miss Bartolo too but 12.5 too much. but the Braves?
    is jamie Moyer coming back to pitch for them too?

  • Pete In Iowa

    Colon proved to be one of the best free agent signings the Mets have ever made. And he was signed twice!!

  • 9th string catcher

    Welcome back Neil Walker!

    • Eric

      Reyes, Cabrera, Walker, Rivera, Flores, Duda, maybe Wright, and the kids banging on the door (Reynolds, Cecchini, Smith, Rosario?) – there’s decent (mostly slow-footed) depth in the infield right now, excepting catcher. And that’s not including a possible move to 1B for Conforto and a possible return by Kelly Johnson.

      Plus, I wonder if there’s anything to the trade rumor about Bruce. As is, Granderson, Lagares, Nimmo, Conforto, Bruce isn’t exciting. Maybe they’ll wait to see how Cespedes’s free agency plays out. I don’t mind if Bruce is traded, hopefully for a prospect as good or better than Dilson Herrera, but I also don’t mind if he stays for next season.

  • Pete In Iowa

    Great move by Walker for himself and the Mets as well. He proved to be a great pick up last season — solid all the way around.
    Too bad Murphy didn’t make the same choice last year at this time. Not only would we have had an MVP caliber player, but Murphy would be in line for probably close to $100 million right now. Too bad he didn’t take a chance on himself (for almost $16 million!!!) — he cost himself tens of millions in the long run.

  • Martin Dickson

    This game confirmed to me what you all already knew baseball is a great game and game 7 had everything for me. I was rooting for the Cubs as I am a sucker for ending long droughts and there’s took the cake! I am happy for Cub fans but we all want the Mets pitchers back healthy and dealing, and some consistency with the bats. The Royals thought they were on a roll and by half way through 2016 they were not returning to the World Series. The Cubs are young so maybe but here’s to a much better season for the Mets to go all the way in 2017!

  • chuck

    Pleas excuse this other O/T: I was surprised that Terry Collins was not a finalist for MOY. That the Mets managed to make postseason the with their walking infirmary should say something. It’s possible Roberts may have had similar adversity, but Maddon and Baker certainly didn’t.

    • Dennis

      I agree 100% Chuck…….I expected Roberts to win, but I was really surprised Terry didn’t receive as many votes as I think he should have. Considering the amount of injuries the Mets had (losing 3/5 of their starting rotation, Wright & Duda for almost the entire season, Walker for the last 1/3 of the season to mention just a few), I thought Terry did a remarkable job at getting the team to the postseason.

      • Eric

        Especially since Mets made a run to the WC after making it to the WS the year before. I thought Collins’s achievements over 2 years would weigh in his favor.

  • eric1973

    I think it’s too bad Walker accepted the 17 mil, coming off back surgery.
    I hope I’m wrong, but this cannot turn out well.

    And glad Noah turned down the WBC. He knows where his bread is buttered.

  • That’s a creative answer to a difuicflt question