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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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A Coat of Orange & Blue Primer

As the Long Island Rail Road was depositing me and several hundred like-minded individuals at what is still the Shea Stadium stop as far as I’m concerned late on Monday morning, I thought of all the metaphors suitable to occasions like Opening Day. A blank slate. A clean piece of paper. A coat of white primer, to borrow a phrase invoked during a wedding-centered episode of Six Feet Under in which an incredibly cynical character opines, “I love how weddings erase the past like a coat of white primer. Slap a veil on her and even the biggest slut bag becomes a fresh-faced ingénue.”

The 2017 Mets aren’t bothering with fresh faces, at least for now. The roster is populated exclusively by players experienced in the ways of the 2016 Mets, but they — and we — are granted a certifiable new start come Opening Day nonetheless. The slate is blank. The paper is clean. The primer is barely dry. We as fans don’t erase the past. We are enthused to add to it.

And so we did on April 3, continuing a story that began for each of us years ago and inking in the initial details of a year barely begun. Somebody was going to a Mets game for the first time on Monday, but most of us were doing again we’ve done enthusiastically and habitually forever.

I don’t know if I’ve ever slipped into an Opening Day that so fit like well-worn loafers. The season was new, but the feeling surrounding it was comfortingly familiar. The trains were the trains. The tailgates were precisely where I left them. Citi Field is so broken-in that nothing about it seems novel anymore, which is how I like my ballpark on a going basis. The pace and content of Howie Rose’s introductions and our responses to them were thrillingly predictable. Every single player on our foul line was an old friend, as were a few on the other side. The happiness and hopefulness attendant to the first game of a new year, sometimes a touch grating for its forcedness, struck exactly the right chord.

Of course we’re happy and hopeful. We’re here for more of the same and then some. Bring it on. Or bring it back and rev it up again.

Six-nothing over the Braves was a good way to do that. The pitching was like it oughta be if you know your Mets, Noah Syndergaard mowing down hitters until a blister nudged him aside. The hitting was like it’s been known to be, dormant in opposition to Julio Teheran, but counteracting his excellence is what Brave bullpens are for. The decisive rally was a perfectly Metsian thing, too, happening around the Mets more than having been caused by the Mets.

The least loved ex-Met among Braves amid the pregame pomp, when we looked past logos in order to heartily greet R.A. Dickey, Anthony Recker and especially Bartolo Colon, was Eric O’Flaherty. Probably most in attendance forgot his dismal detour through our environs in 2015. The rest of us held a muttering grudge from his pennant-race LOOGYness gone awry. Well, all is forgiven. O’Flaherty was awful against us instead of for us. So was the umpiring at home plate on what became the pivot point of the game, a blown call of out on speedless but safe Wilmer Flores.

What Flores was doing lumbering 180 feet is a matter to be settled between third base coach (and lone Opening Day 2017 possessor of a wholly new Mets uniform) Glenn Sherlock and his maker. Sherlock sent Molasses Council spokesman Flores from second to home on an Asdrubal Cabrera single to center. The center fielder firing the ball in was Ender Inciarte, last seen nearly extinguishing 2016’s playoff spurt. It was many bad ideas rolled into one cringe-inducing sequence, right up to Jeff Kellogg’s right arm raising skyward.

Then along came replay review. Replay review rocks when it doesn’t do the opposite. Another look was taken. Wilmer had somehow scooted from second to home safely. The Mets had a run and a rally. Flores also had a stolen base in the seventh and, because he entered as a pinch-hitter for Hansel Robles, served as a de facto designated hitter later in the inning by batting twice in a lineup that no longer included a pitcher. The Mets walked around more than they batted around. There were five bases on balls, three issued by O’Flaherty, who also unleashed a wild pitch and allowed a three-run double to Lucas Duda. When the seventh was over, the Mets were up by six and there was no doubt Opening Day was worth every bit of enthusiasm we’d consented to commit to it. The win gave me a record of 14-3 when I’ve been blessed enough to alight at Flushing lidlifter. Score another one for familiarity.

I was having a wonderful time even before the offensive onslaught poured forth because it would have taken a terribly troubled inner life to do otherwise. How could you not love a Monday in which a ballpark brimming with Mets baseball awaited? Winter didn’t have anything like that. A roll of the credits is necessary here: thank you to my sister (non-biological division) Jodie for inviting me to join her and the Agita clan out on the edge of forever, a.k.a. Section 538, where a brilliant sun outpointed the intermittent chill; thank you to my blog brother Jason for sitting in for Jodie, once she sadly realized she had to forego the trip, and engaging me in nine innings of discussion devoted to Metsiana so minute that it could fit on the head of a pin once touched by Al Schmelz; and thank you to all members of the extended family dotting the parking lot. Familiar faces make the slates that much more fun to fill in.

Familiar reports regarding blisters and elbows make it less so, I guess, but we have 161 more games to figure all that stuff out. The Mets are 1-0. I have a bit of sunburn, but otherwise no complaints.

Hey, my book about Mike Piazza was mentioned in the Times. Check it out here. Also, Jason and I were asked to weigh in on the defensive miracle that was Rey Ordoñez by David Roth of VICE Sports. Read what we remember here.

15 comments to A Coat of Orange & Blue Primer

  • LeClerc

    Wonderful start to 2017.

    Syndergaard dominant(no stolen bases-thanks Rene)

    Asdrubal continues to shine

    Bruce disciplined at the plate.

    Duda with the one big extra-base hit

    Robles, Salas, Gsellman solid in relief

    Base-running magic from …, Wilmer !!!

    Mets win 6-0 despite Julio Tehran and Freddie F.

  • Gil

    There are green buds on my raspberry bushes and the Mets are 1-0. Life is good.

  • …and like you, my face is slightly more crimson than it was when we Met in said parking lot…

  • Dave

    That the Mets could score 6 runs without hitting a home run, which when examining the roster one might suspect would be impossible, was a very good sign. That the Braves’ lineup did less damage than a blister on one of Thor’s fingers, also a good sign. That Eric O’Flaherty continues to suck after not being a Met anymore, well, who cares in the long run, and just shows, Mom and Dad, teach your sons to be lefty relievers. But the best sign of all was being at (as Greg correctly calls it) our by now broken-in home, surrounded by fellow Mets fans. And glad that it was yesterday and not in today’s miserable weather.

    Let’s go Mets!

  • Art

    Sadly, a broken bone in my foot with all the attendant limping around, will keep me from CitiField for at least a few weeks, but hey it sure as heck beats winter!!

  • Chuck Schwartz

    The joy of opening day. The joy of a METS win. The joy of reading a “Faith and Fear” post. The trifecta of Spring!

  • Matt in Richmond

    This time of year always makes me happy, but a little extra excitement this year. Thrilled to have virtually everyone back from last year and the steady hand of TC manning the sails once more. I’m even sensing more faith than fear from my more pessimistic fellow fans. Here’s to a fun and exciting 2017!

  • APV

    While I’d like to go one day without hearing about an injury with this team, I’ll take 90-95 more games like yesterday’s — and hopefully 11 more like them beginning Oct. 5. :)

  • Eric

    It’s good to get opening day in the win column, but Syndergaard was the sure thing on the starting staff. (Assuming the little blood blister doesn’t evolve into a Matzian 1+ month stint on the DL.) Robles, Salas, and Gsellman doing their jobs was comforting. Now it gets interesting. deGrom, Harvey, and Wheeler are coming back to big league baseball from surgical repairs. Now we find out whether the Mets still have a staff of aces.

    Lugo has a partial UCL tear. Matz is Matz. Wheeler is on a pitch/innings limit regardless. One game into the season and the Mets’ cushion for the surgically repaired starting rotation is down to Montero already. Colon would look good in a Mets uniform right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the big questions on the starting rotation answered negative and the Mets traded significant prospects to get him back.

  • Lenny65

    My experience tells me that early season “narratives” are almost always wrong and the opposite will in fact occur. Therefore the pitching will be fine, the outfield defense will be, uh, adequate and everything will turn out great as soon as the wildly overrated Nats turn back into a pumpkin. 161 to go til playoffs, people.

  • eric1973

    After that ovation for Colon yesterday, tomorrow recalls shades of Seaver returning to Shea in ’77 to pitch against Koosman. Really looking forward to it.

    How can Flores be that slow? Maybe someone can teach him how to run. “Just move your arms and legs faster!”

  • Greg Mitchell

    That Flores was even near the plate on that play suggests maybe he is SLIGHTLY faster this year? Perhaps he’s been battling weak ankles for a couple of year? Or he lost ten pounds? Somehow he appears a little speedier, though that’s not saying much….

    Lugo wrecked his Cinderella by pitching in WBC. If you followed his pitching there he was way ahead of what his pitch count would have been in regular spring games–and three times the going-all-out pressure. File under “seemed like a good idea at that time.”

  • open the gates

    Welcome back, Eric O’Flaherty! May you always be a visitor.

  • […] to garner a decision. R.A. was followed to the mound by Eric O’Flaherty, whom we dared mock in the wake of Opening Day, when we fancied the Mets a rock-solid contender. O’Flaherty was a disaster against the Mets on […]