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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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Friday Night Lightning

Choose one from among the applicable Met narratives:

a) the Mets can never do anything right;

b) the Mets rarely lose in Philadelphia.

The latter is more universally pleasing. Maybe not among the regulars at Citizens Bank Park, but that, unlike everything else lately, is not our problem. A typical for lately game, in which the Mets were going down to 1-0 defeat was interrupted by not one but two bolts of ninth-inning lightning Friday night, delivered consecutively by Michael Conforto and Devin Mesoraco, only one of whom you had in your Potential Met Heroics pool entering the week.

You might not have had Conforto, either, considering how Charlie Brownish he’d consistently looked swinging and missing last weekend against Colorado. Perhaps he’s finding his groove. Not only did his two-run homer off Hector Neris push the Mets from behind to ahead with one out in the ninth (two pitches after he sent one similarly far if a little foul), it elevated his road trip track record to 5-for-16. On the Mets’ most recent homestand, Conforto went 0-for-13. There was nowhere to go but up, and maybe Michael is heading there.

Mesoraco could have only wished to have been as lukewarm as Conforto was going into his Friday at-bat versus Neris. Devin, with whom we are now on a first-name basis, hadn’t gotten on base in eight at-bats as a Met and hadn’t taken part in a win at all for anybody in 2018. He’d played in eighteen games as a Red; the Reds lost all eighteen. The Mets lost the first two games in which Mesoraco had a hand. Meanwhile, Cincinnati took off on a winning streak without him (and with Matt Harvey, incidentally). Was the Mesoraco Effect gonna be a thing?

In one sense, it already was. Zack Wheeler threw his best start in ages on Wednesday with Mesoraco catching. Nobody much noticed since lineup card follies overshadowed everything in Metsopotamia, yet the only reason Mickey Callaway could fret that his D’OH! pas “probably cost us a game” was that Wheeler so effectively kept the Mets in that 2-1 ten-inning loss. The offense certainly didn’t. Asdrubal Cabrera’s first-inning double may have been wiped away by a clerical error, but all the “who bats third?” escapade likely deprived the Mets of was an additional LOB.

Mesoraco caught Wheeler for six uncharacteristically solid innings, which, unlike Cabrera’s double, did show up in the box score. Zack raved about Devin afterward, hinting perhaps that it does matter who does catch a pitcher. Maybe the chronically befuddled Steven Matz would have followed Wheeler’s effort with five fine innings sans Mesoraco (he was on his game in his previous start a week ago), but every little bit helps, and it now appears Devin is helping talented Met starters whose performance wasn’t living up to their curdled hype.

That, like the Mets’ near-invincibility in Philly, is a narrative we can deal with until it’s proven otherwise inoperative. We can also handle a touch of offense from our new catching savior, which he gave us in his ninth Met at-bat, the one in which he directly succeeded Conforto’s blast to right with one that rocketed to left. Suddenly, instead of moping over getting shut out at Citizens Bank, we were en route to a rousing 3-1 win.

Every postgame question I heard wondered of the Mets manager and his players what effect winning had on the outlook of the team. See, the Mets looked unhappy when they were behind and appeared happy when they surged ahead. Callaway, Conforto, Mesoraco, Matz and everybody else polled said yes, the scoring and winning represented a positive development. Good thing the Mets have a pack of intrepid journalists tailing them to discern their ever changing moods.

Like the Mets, I turned my frown upside down as results dictated. Not that I need a steady barrage of victories to love the Mets, but it certainly makes loving fun. I, like every sentient human, have no way of knowing whether prevailing dramatically one night will lead to more success, either immediately in Philadelphia (where the Mets are 42-17 since August 24, 2011) or in the ongoing season (in which the Mets are 19-17 since March 29, 2018). I do know it’s nice to get a break from all of us telling one another what a dumb, dopey franchise we root for and having that line of thinking repeatedly reinforced by those who don’t share in our emotional investment.

Losing happens. Sometimes more than winning, but even in and around winning. Gremlins once in a great while mysteriously move hitters’ names to unintended slots on lineup cards. Overly ambitious runners take one too many steps from first base and don’t dive back into the bag ahead of a pickoff attempt. Light towers shine menacingly in center fielders’ eyes. Pitchers who couldn’t get outs for us get outs for somebody else. Yet not everything is this week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon us. I understand concern. I understand a low hum of stress that can be construed as panic. I understand panic. A month or three from now, panic may retroactively seem an irresponsibly tepid reaction to all that was going wrong for the Mets in May and we never should have been fooled by that night in Philly when a couple of home runs turned out to be aberrations from doom rather than harbingers of delight.

But, for now, we have won a game we were all but slated to lose. Michael Conforto is Michael En Fuego. Citi Field is renaming its second-highest level The Meszanine. Nobody batted out of order. Our runner who got picked off did not cost us a game. Our center fielder who almost lost a ball in the glare recovered and caught it. Thor and Jake have the next two starts. Eleven of fifteen National League teams have attained between nineteen and twenty-four wins, and ours is among them.

Cheer up, fellow Mets fans. Friday Night Lightning might keep us electrified all the way to Monday. Clear eyes, full hearts, we didn’t lose.

4 comments to Friday Night Lightning

  • LeClerc

    Yes.

    Dead Calm.

    Then two bolts of lightning.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    “Eleven of sixteen National League teams have attained between nineteen and twenty-four wins, and ours is among them.”

    Greg, did the NL add another team since the Astros moved to the American League?

  • HM from the MezzRez

    Re: aging, LEG-endary LFer…. his legs were fixed then they weren’t. He plays on them only to start to suck and eventually get hurt worse and spend 2 mos on DL… he plays golf; he doesn’t play golf; he hits only in the clutch early; then hits a lot but no one else does… then pfffft. Key query: HOW many seasons do we have to see this before we Bobby Bonilla him? Or at least send him to the best medical and rehab team available (once someone thinks to find them) and he goes because if he doesn’t we can void his contract? Aargh!