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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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It's Not Other People's Years Either

Trevor Rosenthal’s been a pitcher for nine professional seasons. (I’d throw in college and high school, but turns out he’s a converted shortstop.) I’m not sure how many times that means he’s practiced covering first, but let’s just say it’s a lot. After all PFP — that’s pitcher’s fielding practice — is part of the grind in pregame workouts and spring training.

It’s much-loathed, but that’s the point — the deadening repetition is designed to excise the decision-making part of the brain from the equation. The ball is hit to the right side and the pitcher breaks for first, ready to either take the throw at the bag or back up the play. You do it until it becomes muscle memory.

But even muscle memory can stumble. That’s what happened to Rosenthal today, at the worst possible time imaginable — if you’re a Cardinal or a Cardinals fan, that is. If you’re not, well, hope you enjoyed an unexpected and thoroughly delightful present.

But let’s back up a bit, to the stuff that happened before all that.

I wrote last night about being adrift in the agate type of a lost season, but that’s not to say nothing in these remaining games will matter. The next great Mets story will build on lessons learned by young players during overlooked games on hot summer afternoons like this one — players such as Seth Lugo.

Lugo has a chance to become the Bartolo Colon of curveballs someday — not because his curve is terrific (though it is) but because he uses it the way Colon uses his fastball. By adjusting the spin and the break Lugo can make his curve serve as a range of pitches, even before adding location as a variable. That was the plan today, and he and Rene Rivera executed it beautifully — Lugo didn’t allow a hit until the fifth or a run until the sixth, when Tommy Pham drove home Matt Carpenter to tie things at 1-1.

Things got untied when Erik Goeddel served up a homer to Pham in relief, then tied again when Wilmer Flores hit a Brett Cecil curveball not up to Lugo’s standards for a pinch-hit homer. And that set the stage for the ninth, and Jose Reyes slapping a ball over the first-base bag with the winning run on third and two out.

Carpenter, properly playing back, made a nice snag and his momentum carried him across the foul line. He stopped himself, whirled to look back and wound up pacing first-base ump back Alfonso Marquez into fair territory — one step, then two, and then it was time to throw to Rosenthal and send the game to extra innings.

But Rosenthal wasn’t there. He’d been caught spectating, just long enough so he had no chance at Reyes. After his second step Carpenter brought his hand up, a product of his own muscle memory. But there was no one to throw to, and nothing Carpenter could do except watch the game go down the drain and then make his way — with his emotional temperature now matching that of the stadium — into the clubhouse.

Fundies, Keith would have squawked if it hadn’t been one of his days off. (And he probably would have added a whole lot after that, for all you kids out there and on general principles.) In Keith’s absence, though, old pal Tim McCarver’s commentary for the Cards will provide an apt summation — as well as a reminder that it’s not the Cardinals’ year either.

“Oh boy,” McCarver mutters as Reyes skids across the bag and the game is lost. That seems to be it, but a moment later, overcome, he yelps that “he didn’t COVER!” He stews for a few moments, then cries out that “you gotta get over there!” Another pause to contemplate the wretchedness of modern-day life and then Tim turns mournfully reflective: “a hesitation by Rosenthal and there goes the game.”

And then, finally, a last muttered syllable: “Man.”

Heads-up: Greg’s talking Piazza in two locations and two media for your listening pleasure! Tonight at 6 pm, tune in to The 7 Line’s show, Orange and Blue Thing. Then Monday night brings Varsity Letters, also featuring our pal Jay Jaffe, Ron Kaplan and Mark Feinsand. Details here.

8 comments to It’s Not Other People’s Years Either

  • greensleeves

    Missouri loves company.

  • Bob

    Game ending brain cramp by the OTHER team–what a concept!
    Bad Fundies indeed!
    Too bad–we’ll take it.

    Let’s Go Mets

  • Eric

    That was not the Cardinal Way.

    Yet they’re only 4.5 games back of the Brewers.

  • MetFanMac

    The strange thing is that Rosenthal already pulled this sort of shtick earlier this month. As noted in an article, he was late in covering first vs. the Nationals on July 1, costing him an inning-ending double play and forcing him to be bailed out by another pitcher after allowing a run and loading the bases.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Let’s give some props to Lucas Duda. A home run in the 2nd and saving TJ twice in the 6th, or the walk off in the 9th never would have happened.

    This may be the last time the Camptown Ladies get to sing for him in a Mets uniform.

  • 9th string catcher

    I think he’s another guy who will benefit from a change of scenery, particularly if he moves to the AL. He’s been a good Met, but I’ve always had trouble rooting for him.

    If we do get rid of all the power bats, he will be missed.

  • Gil

    We’ll take em any way we can get em. Matheny must have been very, very hot.

    Let’s go get those Athletics. I wonder if YC has had this series circled on his calendar.

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