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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 Road Goes Ever On

Your recapper will begin by confessing something usually kept discreetly behind the Faith & Fear curtain: his direct experience of tonight’s game was limited to the bottom of the ninth, watched while scowling/frowning at a phone in a friend’s living room north of Boston.

Well, fuck.

That bottom of the ninth was brief. Mercifully, one might say: at least Saturday night’s hopeless Mets loss was concluded in a tidy, sub-three-hour fashion. We’re into the philosophy of masochism now: Would you rather lose 8-7 in fury and indignation, or 2-0 while supine and helpless?

(What’s that? You’d rather win? Oh sweet summer child, get out while you can.)

I wasn’t wholly ignorant of the proceedings before that snoozy last half-inning, of course. I’m a Mets fan — if the game’s going on I do what I can even if life gets in the way. I’d registered that the Mets were behind 1-0 on a Nolan Arenado homer off Steven Matz — a first-inning blow, of course, as the Mets’ latest way of tormenting us is to fall behind early and then commence toying with our emotions.

On and on the game wound, with me checking in periodically to note that, hey, at least Matz hadn’t come apart like a cheap watch, as recent starters have done. There were no Met threats to note, but a 1-0 deficit doesn’t require much in the way of heroism — it can be undone by little more than a couple of well-placed accidents.

I registered that the Mets were a hit away from tying the game in the bottom of the 8th, and surreptitiously flipped over to GameDay to watch a static cartoon of Jay Bruce do whatever Jay Bruce was going to do.

Jay Bruce did … well, you probably saw it. Look up a bit to see what I saw. The placement of the pitch left me fuming about the outcome, and not at all comforted by my app’s note that Bruce had flied out sharply to left fielder Noel Cuevas, a player I’ve never heard of and could easily mistake for, say, a limited-edition Christmas tequila.

That was it. The Mets gave up another run shortly before I returned to the world of WiFi, pulled up SNY and watched three Mets do nothing, completing the loss. The trainwreck continues.

The trainwreck continues, and yet we hang around watching as brakes squeal and trailer cars jackknife and locomotives plummet into abysses. It’s what we do, out of habit and duty and most of all out of a desperate, apparently inextinguishable hope.

I knew I was a hopeless case years ago, when I refused to seek shelter from the days of Lorinda de Roulet and Mettle the Mule and the Mets beginning the free-agent era as baseball’s North Korea. (When the Mets grudgingly decided Gary Matthews Sr. might make sense as an acquisition, they sent him a telegram requesting he contact the club. It worked out pretty much as you expected.) I endured Vince Coleman reluctantly admitting that nearly blinding a child with a quarter-stick of dynamite wasn’t a good look. I lived through Jason Phillips and Vance Wilson and the terminally bored Shea scoreboard operators mixing them up, not that there was actually any appreciable difference between the two. I saw Kevin McReynolds and Bobby Bonilla return to teams that didn’t want them. I pretended that Victor Zambrano and Mike Pelfrey had brains. I knew Tommy Milone would pitch and Nori Aoki would play the outfield and still cleared my schedule to see what would happen.

Which is a long-winded way of saying I’m disappointed but not devastated by an 11-1 team turning into a 17-145 one, or however this ultimately turns out. (Probably not that bad, but you never know.) As proof of that, almost before I’d absorbed the news that the Mets had concluded someone might fix Matt Harvey but it wasn’t going to be them, I had a question: Who was being called up to take Harvey’s place?

I wanted to know, and it annoyed me that this piece of information wasn’t to be found amid seemingly infinite hot takes about grit and talent and blah blah blah. Who was the new Met? Was it … well, hell, I had no one in particular in mind, just someone we hadn’t seen before, who’d take his place in The Holy Books and — just maybe — our hearts.

Or not. I thought about Mac Scarce, whose Met identity was already hobbled by arriving in the Tug McGraw trade and whose one-game tenure consisting of coming into a tie game and giving up a walk-off single to Richie Hebner, of all people. I thought about Lino Urdaneta, whose Met tenure was a success only because he arrived with an ERA of infinity. (It’s now and forever will be a cool 63.00.) I thought about Garrett Olson, whose Met tenure passed unnoticed while I yapped happily with a friend during a blowout game. I thought about Akeel Morris, who came and went while I was on a family trip to Mexico but still got a share of pennant prize money for his minimal contributions. I thought about Gerson Bautista, the only Met missing from The Holy Books because I don’t yet have a minor-league card for him.

They’re all Mets, just like Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza and Yoenis Cespedes. Mets you might forget, granted, but Mets all the same.

The Mets didn’t call up a new player, alas: no Corey Taylor or P.J. Conlon or, I don’t know, Drew Smith. They called up Hansel Robles, Ol’ Point to the Sky, who’s a candidate for the Harvey treatment himself.

But my reflexive facepalm was somehow comforting. Hansel Robles, Jesus Christ, I thought, or something along those lines. But I’ve thought that before. Hey, maybe Robles figured something out during this stint in Las Vegas. I’ve thought that before too. Or if not, maybe this will be the end and we’ll see if Taylor or Conlon or Smith have something to offer. I haven’t thought any of those things yet, but I know the blueprint. When the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Maybe these Mets will start hitting again. Maybe the pitching will emerge from this rough patch — because, hey, wasn’t Matz pretty darn good tonight? Maybe they’ll look more like that 11-1 team than the 6-and-whatever-it-is-now mess they’ve become.

Or, if not, the 2019 Mets will give us hope. Or the 2020 Mets. Or some science-fiction version of the Mets who will be here before we know it. And we’ll go on. We always do.

14 comments to The Road Goes Ever On

  • Jacobs27

    “…I must follow if I can.”

  • LeClerc

    Mets offense offensive.

  • eric1973

    Hey Jason, if that was Jay Bruce you were watching, it probably was not a static cartoon, but the actual live action.

  • Curt

    My pitching candidate is Chris Flexen, just because I think he deserves to be called up in a situation where he has a chance to be successful. Unlike last year.

    Then after another start or two when we figure out that Vargas is destined for – someplace – he can take over for Lugo or Gsellman, whoever gets plugged in as a starter.

    What you really missed from the game was a guy pitching like Matt Harvey needs to learn to. (not Matz either)

    This was nice: “. . . Noel Cuevas, a player I’ve never heard of and could easily mistake for, say, a limited-edition Christmas tequila.” and on Cinco de Mayo no less.

    Also, anything Tolkienesque is always appreciated.

  • […] Choose your recap: Amazin’ Avenue short and long, NY Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, MLB.com, Bergen County Record, Faith and Fear in Flushing. […]

  • Shaking my head at this pitiful Mets offense. They can’t even hit mediocre pitching! What happened to the confident approach they were using in all those good at-bats they were grinding out early in the season? As with many Mets fans, superstitious thoughts and self-blame run through my mind at times, and it leaves me to wonder if I somehow had a part in this. Are they a train wreck now because I came up with the anagram “Avid Train Wreck” for Travin d’Arwecki? If so, I hereby denounce all negative ideological associations any of us have had, are having, or will have with the Mets! Only positive thoughts!

    There, that should help…we hope.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Keen insights, and this party never ends.

  • eric1973

    Hey Michael, I agree. I am getting a little tired of Mickey attributing every player’s underperformance, or slump, as some kind of mental issue, using ‘lack of confidence’ as a catch-all reason.

    This could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, as when someone tells you ‘you look tired,’ and suddenly your shoulders droop.

    Just say it’s no big deal, sometimes.

  • LeClerc

    And now DeGrom’s on the DL.

  • Bob

    Jason/Greg:
    This descent into the toilet reminds me of some other low points in my 55 years of being a Met Fan:
    Vince Coleman threw a firecracker into a bunch of fans @ Dodger Stadium.
    New Met pitcher Pete Harnish on opening day @ The Murph
    in 1997 when he gave up 3 back-back HRs and had a Nicotine withdrawal episode.
    In about 1992-93 after Mets let Mookie go…watching new Mets CF Juan Samuel perform on roller skates.
    The end of the 1998 season….
    Timo Perez not running in that WS game in the Bronx….
    And many more low lights–my mind has mercifully blacked out…….
    BUT keep the Faith–it’s a long 162 games season—gulp….
    Let’s Go Mets (Where is Marv Throneberry when we need him?)
    Bob—Met Fan since Polo Grounds–1963

  • Take a deep breath and count to ten. It is but May 6. We’re going to win this division this year and we would do well to put that kind of positive energy into the universe. Instead, we have two main groups of Mets fans. We have those suffering from battered spouse syndrome who just know that, no matter how good it gets, we’re going to lose and lose badly in the end. And then we have the Mets fans who are actually Mets haters for whom there is nothing the Mets could do that would please them. One bad outing by a pitcher or a week long slump from a batter and the first group curls up into a ball and the second group calls for the players’ heads, the manager’s head, and (of course) Alderson and the Wilpons’ heads. What we lack are a group of fans who believe–nay, KNOW–that the Mets will win in the end, no matter how long and bumpy the road, no matter how fraught the journey.

    The negativity is damaging and contagious. If you don’t think it seeps into the consciousness of the players, then you don’t know much about human nature. Once the players begin to think “we can’t win”, they can’t. And don’t give me that “they’re professionals and millionaires” crap; they’re human beings subject to all the same failings as the rest of us.

    Now Mets fans do have an abundance of “hope”. While that’s a good thing, it isn’t enough. We need hope that’s accompanied by belief in a positive outcome. Belief, if it’s big enough and strong enough and resolute enough, creates reality. We need the belief in ultimate victory to create an unstoppable tsunami of positive energy to wash away the years of negative vibes the fans have been feeding this team.

    We’re a month into the season. We’ve seen what this team is capable of–the good, the bad and the ugly. If you step back a bit… I mean, damn, I’m even more convinced the Mets are the team to beat than I was at the start. I don’t see anybody in this division as good as us. Are you really worried about the Braves and Phillies? Pfft. Strip the reflexive negativity away and you can’t be. There’s only one team in our division that could beat us and we’re just better than they are this year–not because it says so in the standings on May 6, but because the play on the field says so. And how ’bout cutting Matt Harvey? Would the “old Mets” have done that? I doubt Jose has much of a leash left, either.

    I have been a Mets fan since 1962, but I wasn’t a big fan of the ’86 team. I get why others were. We were dominant, wire-to-wire. There was never any doubt. Well, where’s the fun in that? To me, that’s like a roller coaster that just goes straight. I want some chills and thrills along the way. I want a few of those big drops and maybe a dizzying spin around upside down and back or two. That’s what makes it fun. But I remain secure in the knowledge that I’ll be delivered safely to the finish at the end of the ride.

    We’ve played 31 games. We have 131 to go. Lose the FEAR and keep the FAITH. YA GOTTA BELIEVE! Have no doubt. We’re gonna win this thing.

    • Bob

      Stubby-
      Met Fan since 62?–GOOD ON YA!-not many of the originals left.
      In truth, there have been very Happy moments–1969 when a yankee fan bet against the Mets in WS in High School and made a big deal about it. I got the last laugh on that one!
      2000 WS-Game 3 when I flew back to NY from LA for 1 game
      (could only get tickets for 1 game).
      John Franco got W and Aramndo got save 4-2 Mets if I recall.
      I recall walking out of Shea with the place shaking as we chanted “skankees suck” and “Let’s Go Mets” It was a few hours of pure Orange & Blue Heaven!
      And Mookie will live forever!
      So, Ya’ never know and we’ll see…
      Let’s Go Mets!

    • Thanks for this Stubby. I do think there is a 3rd type of Met’s fan, ones like yourself. I include myself in that group, although by temperament, I don’t think I’m as optimistic as you (in general). With that, I trust that the long season ahead will bring more joy than the last 2 weeks. And maybe we will clinch the division. I also have a suggestion for the Met’s haters/fans: take the subway to that borough furthest north and have a blast. There are lots of Met’s haters that’ll be happy to keep you company (a.k.a. Yankees fans).

  • Daniel Hall

    The good thing about any Mets loss, no matter how excoriating, is that I can come here and find at least one side swipe that makes me at least smile again.

    I am very thankful for that.

    Besides, in a way, bad pitching and losing 8-7 is preferable to dead hitting and losing 2-0 to me. With an offense that still has a pulse, you can always claim that you can come from behind. With the Mets’ lineup right now… one run and you’re done.