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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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Perfect Alignment (for Now)

It’s an axiomatic to what we do here at Faith and Fear that the Mets are front and center in life for at least six months a year, with 1:10 pm and 7:05 pm the times around which calendars get constructed, not to mention all the oddball 10s and 05s on the clock necessitated by road trips, holidays and television-partner arrangements.

But “front and center” doesn’t always mean “to the exclusion of all else.” Sometimes the rest of life gets in the way, even at 7:05 pm and even when there’s yet another prized new starting pitcher to be formally introduced.

Saturday night was the Mets debut of Chris Bassitt, recently arrived from the Oakland A’s and having introduced himself to me with an endearingly blunt assessment of why he pays an agent. But when 7:05 pm came, my phone — now the key to all Mets interactions if I can’t be in front of a TV or in a stadium seat — had been pressed into service to play music for a fundraiser at a distillery up here in Connecticut.

It was spoken for and so was I, making conversation and being pleasant company. If this sounds like a hardship, sign me up for more of them — I was at a distillery and had all the fancy bourbon I wanted, not to mention enough cheeses, meats and miscellaneous dainties to supply an army. But after some conversation and listening to a couple of speeches, I noted that the room where my phone was playing music had emptied out and most everyone in the room with me had chosen their conversational partners.

So could I … I decided I could.

Technology’s march isn’t always a succession of triumphs — witness the mixed reviews for baseball on Apple TV+. (Personally, I liked the crisp graphics, disliked the dopey parade of probabilities and thought the announcers were pleasant enough but excessively gabby.) But SNY’s new app is a very good thing. Once you’ve verified you give money to a sanctioned TV provider, you can watch it wherever you like — even, Heaven forfend, within the holy blackout zones that reduce largely to a vehicle for late-night baseball tourism. The SNY app includes the Channel 11 games, and if you leave the area, you can watch for a month before it requires you to toe-tap back into your home turf.

All very reasonable, particularly given the usual draconian nonsense of blackouts and exclusive territories. Pair it with a modern iPhone and well, then you’re really cooking.

I turned off the music, flipped over to the SNY app and there were the Mets, in miniature but perfect HD. (On a phone! I felt like George Jetson!) It was the fifth inning, there was no score, and Francisco Lindor — who’d subtracted a bit of tooth enamel but added a newfound regard for his teammates — had just worked out a walk to load the bases. Up stepped Pete Alonso, whose propensity for long balls has made him an All-Star Derby icon nationwide and a rewriter of record books here at home, but whose resume was missing a grand slam — an oddity akin to, I don’t know, being a traveling magician who’s somehow never extracted a bunny from a hat.

As I and a couple of interested onlookers peered down at my phone, Pete connected off Joan Adon, about whom I knew nothing except that he must have done something right given the score. It wasn’t a majestic blast, attended immediately by disconsolate outfielders or souvenir seekers in distant precincts. Still, Pete seemed pretty pleased with himself, flipping his bat away as he departed for first and hopefully beyond.

Had he? I recalled Gary Sanchez flipping his bat away as a Twin newcomer, leaving home a self-anointed hero only to discover that Target Field’s dimensions aren’t quite as laughable as those of new Yankee Stadium, which meant he was the game’s final out. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to recall, but the mind of a worried Met fan specializes in such associations.

Not to worry. The ball plopped down over the fence, beyond Lane Thomas‘s ability to have a say in the matter. Alonso had his first grand slam and the Mets and Bassitt had a 4-0 lead.

Here, we’ll add an additional bit of spice. I was watching without sound, as the best way to get to keep flouting convention is to do so in moderation. But I’d forgotten that my phone was still in music mode, supplying audio to a Bluetooth speaker in the other room.

In that room was a teenaged kid who’d been pressed into service handing out goody bags to departing fundraiser guests. Said kid, it turned out, was a Mets fan, and had been following the game on his phone as best he could. So imagine his reaction when some bearded old guy shut off the old-people music and took his phone away, only to have Gary, Keith and Ron materialize out of the aether and begin describing wonderful things to an audience of one.

I saw a little of Bassitt, with my three-minute scouting report consisting of “about a million different pitches and a peculiar arm angle that looks like mechanical hell but apparently works.” I saw Met relievers including newcomer Joely Rodriguez comport themselves blamelessly after Bassitt’s departure. I saw Brandon Nimmo do some ninth-inning hitting and scampering to tack on an additional run. I did not see Met batters lying in the dirt or having to provide up-close negative reviews about stuff vs. pitchability to a Nationals audience.

And I saw the Mets win — for the third time in the new year and the Buck Showalter era. Or the Chris Bassitt era, the Joely Rodriguez era, the Travis Jankowski era, or the Wayne Kirby coaching first while presumably unaware that I own the Mets uniform pants he wore as a lithe big-league player decades ago era.

Define this era however you like. Celebrate it while it’s the stuff of perfection. That won’t last — it never does. I’ve learned that about baseball. But I’ve also learned that means you should bask in these stretches when all is in perfect alignment and as it should be. This is the good stuff, necessarily finite and perhaps all the more enjoyable for that.

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