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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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The Sidearmer Sleeps Tonight

Friday night, as I was watching the Nets lose — an activity surely signifying the depths of winter for both me and the team to which I’ve clung through four post-Julius Erving decades as if I’m convinced the Doctor will be coming out of the locker room shortly to start the second half — we lucky viewers were enticed with the promise of even more Nets basketball, Nets and Sixers, at a special start time of noon on Sunday. I was thinking how that sounds awfully early for a basketball game, though I reasoned that once in a great while the Mets will play a makeup doubleheader on a Sunday starting at noon, and that would sound great right about now.

But there was to be no Mets baseball on Sunday, only more Nets basketball (another loss, which I forgot was in progress until the third quarter) and Giants football. There will be more Nets basketball imminently; January is lousy with the stuff. The Giants, having lost their playoff game in Green Bay later in the day, find themselves on hiatus sooner than desired, though it does clear their schedule for sailing and other tropical pursuits.

The Mets, meanwhile, are nowhere to be found.

The last we heard from them, the Mets were signing righthanded relief pitchers Ben Rowen and Cory Burns to minor league contracts. Ben Rowen is a submariner. Cory Burns is said to have a deceptive delivery. Actual submarines are supposed to be deceptive, but you can tell a submariner from a mile away. If only we were a mile from baseball season. Instead, it sits an eternity up the road.

Ben Rowen and Cory Burns, however they contort their arms in service to pitching, are nowhere in sight. Nor are any Mets doing any actual Met thing. Bring on the sidearming reliever. Bring on the unconventional reliever. Bring on somebody who can get somebody out. Bring on loaded bases and something to get out of.

This winter is endless. The next Met season’s gestation period is endless. It snowed on Saturday. There was no sense of baseball being blanketed. The Mets weren’t trading for George Foster or Johan Santana as they sometimes used to in the dead of winter. They weren’t even inviting Ben Rowen to camp. They already did that, just as they already preemptively directed Cory Burns to frolic among the minor leaguers. We got our big name taken care of weeks or maybe months ago. It’s hard to remember anymore. Yoenis Cespedes is in the fold, which is splendid. Everybody else who’s contractually bound to the Mets is very familiar. Nothing wrong with that. Cuts down on the awkward introductory phases.

Then there’s Ben Rowen, the submariner with twelve games as a Ranger and Brewer to his credit. Should he make the Mets, he might come through in the seventh inning and we will praise Ben Rowen. Or he might implode in the sixth inning and we will condemn Ben Rowen. We will have our Ben Rowen plot points on the graph of perception and adjust accordingly. But I’d love a look at Ben Rowen warming up about now. Or Cory Burns, who’s been a Padre and a Blue Jay, though neither lately. Last year Cory was a Lancaster Barnstormer, which is not to say he couldn’t make a fine New York Met if given the chance. Or a terrible New York Met if given the same chance. You know how relievers are, in that you never know how relievers are. Every member of your bullpen should sign the Hippocratic oath: first do no harm. Then have a colorful delivery, a colorful shtick, a colorful backstory of how you chilled on Justin Bieber’s yacht on your off day before entering the frozen tundra and not dropping the ball…I mean striking out Bryce Harper.

You remember relievers, don’t you? And starters? And baseball in general? This past weekend I’d have given all the Nets basketball (of which there’s a surfeit) and all the Giants football (of which there is none any longer) for a 12:10 doubleheader, or even a 1:10 single game.

Same deal all week. Go ahead, make me an offer.

16 comments to The Sidearmer Sleeps Tonight

  • Jason Fry

    I just ordered my Topps Series 1 complete set, to feature an unknown quantity of Mets, possibly including some never captured in orange and blue card form and certainly including some ruined by horizontal cards.

    A small beacon of calendar hope. We take what we can get, right?

  • mookie4ever

    Yes, this winter is interminable. I’m not sure I can survive it to even get to spring training, much less Opening Day. So how is it possible that just yesterday one of you was opining on how unlikeable our Mets seemed in the dark depths of June, or was it July? How we didn’t even know half these guys, and didn’t want to, either. How does time do that, go so fast and so slow all at the same time? In a flash, it seemed, the new guys like Asdrubal and Neil, Rene and, yes, even James, plus an old new guy, won our hearts with so much heart of their own. In a millisecond, we recognized our beloved boys again and were thrilled by their gutsy play. Before we knew it, pitchers were dropping like flies and young ones kept coming off the minor league assembly line to step up without missing a beat. How can all that go by in a heartbeat and yet here we are stuck in a cold stove nightmare? No Mets news, temps in the teens, and spring is an eternity away. Please, Greg, just make up some Mets news and at the end you can say, never mind! It would keep us a little sane at least.

  • I like Ben Rowen. He’s been lights out in the minors. His lifetime minor league ERA is 1.85 (0.69 in 2013). Hasn’t translated that to the majors as yet. And he’s a legitimate submariner, no sidearmer he. His hand practically touches the dirt when he throws and his follow-through is more bowler than pitcher. Sure, he’s a longshot at best. So was R.A. Dickey when the Mets signed him. And that turned out pretty well for us, as I recall.

  • Dave

    There’s been some mistake Greg, sorry. I checked in Newark, the Nets don’t exist anymore. You must be having some kind of recurring dream.

    As far as what’s his name and that other guy are concerned, I’m sure they’ll work out just as well as that pitcher they had for a while a few years back. You know who I’m talking about, right?

  • Pete In Iowa

    Out here in the Midwest, noon Mets games on Sunday are routine. I especially like the 6:10 week nighters…. Gets this old man to bed at a decent hour!

  • eric1973

    For those of us who live on the East Coast, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a Met fan and a baseball fan.

    Many people with jobs would get home at 7pm, and miss most weeknight games.

    And no 10p games at all, which have always been a particular favorite. As a kid, you would look forward all day to the 1030p Mets-Giants games, and then fall asleep sometimes at 1035p. But that anticipation all day just felt great.

    • Dennis

      Better yet was when I was in high school…..those 10:00 – 10:30 starts in the summer were no problem to stay up for!