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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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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Lucas Duda’s second home run had just left the building and perhaps the solar system. The Mets’ seventh run of the evening was crossing the plate, their lead over the Pirates was reaching three and it was only the fifth inning. My good friend Jeff, once he was done jumping up and down like the kid a long Lucas Duda home run will turn an adult Mets fan into, draped his right arm around my shoulders and grabbed me as good friends will when they want to share with you something they’ve decided you need to hear.

“Guys like us,” Jeff declared amid the cheers — “this is what we dream of. Other guys may dream of sleeping with supermodels. Not us.” He made a sweeping motion with his left hand to encompass the pulsating scoreboard, the forlorn visitors hanging their heads all over the field, the giddy occupants of the first base dugout and our neighbors whooping it up around us in Promenade. “This is our dream.”

That was in the bottom of the fifth. We woke up in the top of the sixth. No dream. No supermodels. Just Pirates running round and round.

The Mets had led the Pirates, 7-4, when the fifth ended. Before they batted again, they trailed, 11-7. Prospective winning pitcher Matt Harvey gave way to presumptive savior Paul Sewald. Between them, they gave up as many runs as they possibly could. Neil Ramirez came on to…well, Neil Ramirez came on. Tells you pretty much what you need to know.

What had been the stuff that dreams are made of dissipated into a 12-7 drubbing. Five Met runs in the fifth weren’t nearly enough. Seven Met runs overall — generated primarily by Duda (3 RBIs on two stratospheric blasts), Michael Conforto (his own two-run homer) and Neil Walker (a run-scoring triple facilitated by a stumbling Gregory Polanco) — also weren’t nearly enough. The Mets could have loaded the bases in the ninth, produced a grand slam and still trailed by one.

For the record, the Mets didn’t load the bases in the ninth. They barely tickled the bases after Lucas went extraordinarily deep a second time, and left them completely unoccupied during the final inning. But let’s not make this about offense that levels off too soon. The Mets scored seven runs in the first five innings, which constitutes a dreamy amount, provided your pitchers don’t proceed to give up eight.

The Mets’ pitchers didn’t give up eight. They gave up twelve, a quantity certain to shred your win probability to a fine mist unless you score thirteen. So that part, the part where the Mets went from winning by three to losing by five, was not a highlight. Nor was the Free Shirt Friday t-shirt, judged by Jeff as “hideous,” though, with apologies to Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz and his six RBIs, the giveaway garment earned player of the game honors. You had to give it to either the shirt or this guy CitiVision kept showing us, a guy who pulled one Free Shirt Friday t-shirt after another over his head until he was wearing so many of them that he could have been moonlighting as the Michelin Man. I don’t know how many shirts (or beers) that took. Guys like him are in their own league.

Also not in the box score, yet not to be overlooked: a guy named RALLYMAN. I couldn’t overlook him. He was in my line of sight. Have you seen RALLYMAN? RALLYMAN wears a custom jersey identifying him as RALLYMAN and adorns it with a cape (given the whipping winds, I thought he might take flight à la Sister Bertrille). Then, if you’re situated in just the wrong seat, he enthusiastically blocks your view. RALLYMAN, to be fair, played ball while the Mets played ball, moving his act slightly to his right at my request so I could see batters and the pitches they scalded.

RALLYMAN, incidentally, was trying to rally the Mets, not the Pirates. Like Harvey, I’m willing to give him a no-decision.

Jeff and I converge at Citi Field once a year, save for the years he can’t make it up from his home in the Washington area, where he curses out every move the Nationals make, every breath the Nationals take. There were also a couple of years between 2012 and 2016 when he copped to being too disgusted to deal with the Mets, except at relatively nearby Nationals Park. Some years, guys like us have all the luck. In 2016, our game featured a twelve-run inning, all of it belonging to the Mets. In 2017, we got twelve runs spread out disproportionately over two consecutive half-innings. Guys like us, we win some; we lose some; we examine the team museum with a veritable jeweler’s loupe; we faint from the prices in the team store; we just miss a Mr. Met photo opportunity (with him, not against him); we devour a mess of Blue Smoke; we analyze Jay Bruce’s true self with scant evidence to support our respective assertions; we critique where our 23-30 ballclub’s construction went awry; we wonder why the Pirates continue hold on Met runners who are no threat to run; we save our souvenir cups; we grab our pocket schedules; we board the 7 Super Express; and at Woodside we say see ya later until next time, probably next year.

Maybe not what guys like us dream of, exactly, but the Jeff game is always a highlight of my season. Except for the losing by five. That part was as hideous as the Free Shirt Friday t-shirt. The guy on the video screen probably had so many to put on because nobody around him wanted theirs.

11 comments to The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

  • Dave

    Hey, going by what I’ve read lately, no supermodels for anyone involved in any way with the Mets. The ladies like guys who can go 7+ innings.

    • Eric

      If it was just 1 starting pitcher who regularly didn’t go deep into games, it’d be a strain on the bullpen to be managed with care. When all of the starting pitchers regularly go as deep as a reliever making an emergency spot start, that’s the kind of structural flaw that collapses buildings.

      Even if the Mets had started off with an elite bullpen top to bottom, which they didn’t, it’d wear out under this kind of steady heavy load over a full season.

  • LeClerc

    The offense showed up – but the pitching staff took the night off.

    “Not tonight Terry – we have a headache.”

    • Brad

      That is typical of a bad team. One night the pitching is on but the hitting is not and the next night it’s vice versa.

      Cabrera looks lifeless as does Reyes. If we have the same state of affairs by the trading deadline, they should start jettisoning some of this dead wood and there is quite a bit on this team.

  • Eric

    The bold face of the Pirates comeback was they did it in their next turn at bat after the Mets comeback. It’s a no-no to give up 1 run to chip away in the next half inning, let alone all the runs+2 so they add to their lead, after your team has just mounted a comeback to take the lead. If the Pirates had done the same damage in the 7th or 8th inning, it still would have been a painful loss, but a less demoralizing one.

    Robles was supposed to be the middle-innings stopper. Has he recovered in AAA rehab yet? I imagine Alderson and Collins are counting the days until Matz and Lugo are back so Gsellman can plug the hole in the bullpen. Though Gsellman isn’t enough to fix the Mets pitching and he’ll be worn out, too, soon enough.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Robles still awful in AAA. I am guessing arm shot. Way beyond “every reliever has a few bad days.”

    • skoonix

      Of course his arm is shot – thats what Terry is known for – finds a reliever who is sharp and uses him like a rented mule – Scott Rice, Byrdak, Feliciano, etc. He has chewed up and spit out so many relievers who leave her with dead arms it’s unsettling. Terry’s complete lack of in-game instincts for the bench and bullpen are staggering. I was bummed when they signed TC seven years ago and I cannot wait till he leaves

  • Curt

    I turned it off at 9-7. Decided it was time for something light and cheerful so I watched a few episodes of House of Cards.

    I know it’s early in the season and there are a lot of teams – including Mets of recent vintage – that have turned things around after looking awful for a while. Each of the last two years I was hopeful throughout the season. But this team doesn’t have that sort of feel to it. It’s like the pitchers have been overcome by some sort of mass hysteria, “Fear of the Strike Zone.”

    At least these aren’t boring losses.

  • eric1973

    JF, Reed, Blevins, Salas, Robles….. We had an amazing bullpen once, and the two Joshes were ok, too.

    Turning all their arms into mush would have been acceptable if the overuse was committed in the appropriate situations. But it wasn’t, as we all know by now, and that’s what makes this all the more tragic.

    Edited by moderator.

  • Greg Mitchell

    One other thing. Last year Cabrera had no range but “made the routine play” and made few errors. This year he has even less range and has already made as many errors as all of last year. You do the math. Next to him on left side of infield: Reyes also with zero range, ditto for Flores (who at least hits). Finally: Walker, like Cabrera, had good defensive year last year, albeit again with little range. This year he seems to have the yips on half the balls hit to him, though most converted to outs. So: pitchers not helped by lack of defense behind them. As the Mets announcers said the other night–they’ve never seen so many hits in hole between SS and 3rd. There’s a reason for that that doesn’t show up in box score.

  • eric1973

    Flores will now be the starter for a while, and Reyes is benched. Finally. Just hope it is not too late to help save the season.