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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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Let's Make Up

How many ways, exactly, can one game be a make-up date?

The obvious: the Mets and Yankees reported for duty in the Bronx to complete the July half of this year’s Subway Series, which had been erased by rain. Despite an extremely wet morning in New York and a brief in-game squall, the second try proceeded uninterrupted, under humid but relatively cool conditions.

ESPN was also in make-up mode, sending Keith Olbermann out to do play by play alongside Tim Kurkjian and Eduardo Perez. My first reaction wasn’t exactly positive, as Olbermann’s initial comparisons of the two franchises came across as smug and shallow. Which was odd: while there are plenty of people who think Olbermann’s smug (note from management: this is not the forum for your takes on his politics), even his detractors would admit his knowledge of baseball is deep enough to require an armored submersible. But another inning or two seemed to steady Olbermann’s nerves, Kurkjian found a groove playing sounding board for him, and I got used to an unconventional booth handling a game in an unconventional fashion.

And once I did … I kinda liked it. Not in an “I’d like to hear this every day” way, but as an occasional change of pace — it was more in the vein of a sudden yen for Sicilian pizza instead of the traditional. The biggest thing was that the booth essentially dispensed with play by play, instead using the game as raw material for a freewheeling baseball conversation. It was different, but it made me realize that a steady drumbeat of play by play isn’t all that necessary.

A lot’s changed since that became the model. The game’s right there in front of us, as always, but increasingly it’s in HD and on sets the size of a prize calf. Meanwhile, the score bug is constantly updating the situation — ESPN’s foie-gras goose version even kept us informed about the teams’ places in the standings and divisional affiliations. (Why, exactly? It’s not like I’m going to come back from the john to discover the Mets have been placed in the AL Central.)

With all that, I don’t need to be informed that a given pitch was a strike, let alone that the guy scooting around first and then heading back to it just hit a single. I’m not advocating a switch to this format — certainly not over the privilege of getting to hear Gary Cohen — but it worked a lot better than I would have guessed.

The Mets were in make-up mode too, smacking apology homers out of Yankee Stadium all night long as if to show Jacob deGrom that they are, in fact, a major-league baseball team capable of scoring runs when he starts. (For the record, I bet every homer except Jose Bautista‘s would have gone out of Citi Field.) Oh, they feinted at wrecking things with their usual bad habits: Jeff McNeil extended an inning by sailing the back end of a double play over Wilmer Flores‘s head after a hard but clean slide by Brett Gardner; Flores got away with an extemporaneous glove flip to deGrom; and Seth Lugo‘s appearance was more exacerbation than relief. But every time the Yankees tried to draw within biting range the Mets answered with the least Metsian retort of all: more runs.

And, as always, deGrom was the star attraction. He turned in his 21st straight start allowing three runs or less, which is getting into 1985 Dwight Gooden territory, and that’s sanctified ground. And while he didn’t look quite himself in the early going, he sure did by the end — in the late innings the Yankees were frankly helpless, perpetually off-balance while trying to contend with high fastballs, sharply spun curves and a slider that veered away from bats as if deGrom had pulled off some similar-magnetic-polarity trick. The last batter he faced was Austin Romine, and what deGrom did to him ought to be illegal: despite being north of 100 pitches, he froze Romine with a high fastball, just missed hitting the inside corner at the knee with another one, got him to foul off a change-up on the hands, and then threw a slider that swerved away and dirtward. Romine had no chance; no one would have.

Olbermann and Kurkjian had fun bantering about Cy Young candidates and wins; while they did, deGrom was out there as Exhibit A, making his case in impressive and emphatic fashion. And I didn’t need a steady stream of narration to assess the evidence.

10 comments to Let’s Make Up

  • Matt in DE

    ” ESPN’s foie-gras goose version even kept us informed about the teams’ places in the standings and divisional affiliations. (Why, exactly? It’s not like I’m going to come back from the john to discover the Mets have been placed in the AL Central.)” – that is awesome. Showing the standings once at the beginning of the game along side the starting lineups is sufficient. Actually got to watch most of the game down here in DE, which was a plus.

  • 9th string catcher

    So many complaints from the great unwashed on Twitter. I’m with you – it was nice to have announcers from ESPN that weren’t head over heels in love with the sound of their own voices. (I’m also talking about you, Wayne Randazzo).

  • LeClerc

    For NY sports coverage, Cohen and Darling are in a league of their own.

  • Nicholas Sinisi

    I’ll take Wayne Randazzo over Wayne “I’m Trying Way Too Hard To Be Witty” Hagen any day. The Superior Wayne in my book…

  • Daniel Hall

    “It’s not like I’m going to come back from the john to discover the Mets have been placed in the AL Central.” – Two things spring to mind.

    1) In the Rob Numbfred Era, you should not make these sort of statements lightly. I fully trust him with placing a third team in Florida. How about the Orlando Oligarchs?
    2) Would the Mets have a chance to finish a lofty – say – third place in the AL Central? Maybe reach for .500? No?

    Also, why exactly does ESPN carry a makeup game rather than, oh, SNY? … and then produce a lineup of announcers that could come straight from the bottom of the Mets’ lineup, you know, plucked from all over the place? Not that Son of Hall of Famer, Grumpy Old Man, and Slightly Too Much Yankees Guy were horrendous, they were quite amusing actually at times, but I prefer my Mets with Gary, Ron, and Keith, thank you.

    Well, at least it wasn’t F.P. Santangelo. Or that screaming Indians buffoon that always comes up between innings on MLB.tv… Can’t stand that guy either, but I really *detest* F.P. Santangelo.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Well, for the first time in all the years I’ve been following this blog, I have to say I’m disappointed. I was looking forward to a hatchet job, instead I got a “I kinda liked it”.

    OK, maybe I would have “kinda liked it” too, if it was, oh, the Mariners vs. the Angels where I didn’t really care about the outcome. But this probably was the last Mets game all year that had any significance at all, and instead of it being about the game, I got the Keith Olbermann Comedy Gong Show.

    ..and here’s my man-cave with the framed Babe Ruth 1925 used condom and Jose Canseco’s cap, oh, by the way, there’s Todd Frazier rounding the bases…

  • Steve in NY

    Worst broadcast of a sports game I’ve ever heard and I am a 47 year old life long sports fan. Complete garbage announcing totally 1 sided. All I heard was how bad the Mets are for 9 innings when they thorougly beat up on the Yankees, the game was never in jeopardy for the Mets, but you would never have known that by listening to Oberman,Tim Kurkjian, and Eduardo Perez. Did anyone notice the condencending attitude Olberman had when he was interviewing Syndergaard. I doubt he would act like that if he was face to face with him and his lap dog Kurkijan just laughed through it. Never going to watch these idiots again. Olberman makes Tim Buck sound like Vin Scully, thats how bad he is.

    • Orange and blue through and through

      Quite right Steve. Keith Olbermann needs a rabies shot and to be reminded he’s stunk up everything he’s ever done with his snide condescension. I didn’t watch the game once I saw the broadcasters, but I assure you, the only way I would watch Keith Olbermann is if he were being publicly flogged. The simpering Tim Kurkjan is equally unlistenable.

      Instead of the broadcasting greatness of Gary, Keith and Ron; we had to settle for scraps served on fine china.

  • Orange and blue through and through

    Jason, perhaps you were still torpid when you wrote Let’s Make Up.