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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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Twice Upon a Time in Queens

Following Friday night’s 7-3 victory over the Angels, the 2022 Mets are 39-21 after sixty games. Here is a comprehensive list of every Mets team that had as good a record or better than the current edition at the same juncture in its season:

1. 1986: 44-16

That’s it. That’s the list.

It may not feel as if you’ve been watching the second-best Mets team ever through sixty games, whether on real TV or Apple TV+, because the late nights, the West Coast and the accumulated nicks, scrapes and bruises can take their toll on the psyche in a given week. It also bangs up momentum. The Mets have won four of eight in California with two to go. That also means they’ve lost four of eight. None of the four losses have felt straight out of 1986, let alone 2022. Yet here we are, 39-21, perhaps paused and refreshed to enjoy the surreal thing we’ve called this joyride most of this year.

Tylor Megill returned Friday night. He was gone a month. He’s back. He may not have been in ideal Friday night “Hey guys, let’s a bunch of us throw a no-hitter!” mode, but the Big Drip reinserted himself in the rotation and didn’t altogether droop. He was followed to the mound by David Peterson, who was more effective as a long reliever than he’s been lately as a starter. I’ll take my chances with these two finding their way, particularly if neither has to spend the rest of the year facing Brandon Marsh (who produced a homer off each of them and a beard that could eliminate Luis Guillorme’s in the hirsute semifinals).

Admit it: you figured Megill was out for the rest of the season. His return isn’t technically one of the 39 victories, but it all adds up.

We’ll overlook the encouraging reports on Scherzer and deGrom in the interest of seeing/believing and simply be happy Pete Alonso was among the Mets gripping a bat and participating in Buck Showalter’s lineup. Played the field, too. Got a base hit. Stole a base!

Admit it: you figured Alonso was out for the rest of the season.

Pete’s physically adequate. Starling Marte indicates he is, too, and when the Mets are on SNY again tonight, he should be playing. The team isn’t whole, but it’s close enough. On Friday night, it had Brandon Nimmo driving in three runs, Mark Canha driving in three runs, everybody getting on base at least once and Edwin Diaz closing out a non-save situation without incident. Last Sunday, it seemed paramount to preserve Diaz for his next save opportunity and not use him a second inning. Edwin hadn’t pitched since and the Mets still haven’t encountered a save situation since Sunday. Funny how that works.

Ups and downs. Ins and outs. Not much specific that can be predictable. Generally, though, you should have a handle on your team after sixty games. A lukewarm week shouldn’t preclude using a potholder when grabbing the 2022 Mets’ handle. On balance, they’re the second-hottest Met team ever.

A word on the 1986 Mets in this context. Their 44-16 mark remains burned in my memory. I couldn’t believe my team could play sixty games and lose only sixteen of them. When they won their 44th, they extended their lead over second-place Montreal (that night’s opponent) to 11½ games. The National League East race was over in the middle of June.

Then it wasn’t quite. The Expos won their next two games against the Mets at the Big O and their first two games against the Mets when they soon faced each other again. The Mets lost five of seven following the seven-game winning streak that catapulted them to 44-16. On June 25, the Expos carried a 2-0 lead over the Mets to the bottom of the fourth. Hold on in this series finale and they’d be seven out. Still a long swath of real estate between second place and first place, but noticeably shorter than what faced them in Quebec a little more than a week earlier. Those Expos refused to be pushed over. The mind conjured thoughts of a potentially stressful pennant race on the order of 1985. Wait a sec — baseball like it oughta be ought not be laced with this kind of angst.

Then the mind relaxed, because in the bottom of the fourth inning on June 25, 1986, Kevin Mitchell, Ray Knight, Sid Fernandez (!) and Lenny Dykstra each drove in a run; the Mets mounted a 4-2 lead; George Foster added a homer in the home sixth; Sid and Roger McDowell teamed to shut out the visitors to Shea the rest of the way; and following the Mets’ 5-2 win that put the Mets nine up over the Expos, two things happened.

• Hubie Brooks, by then with Montreal, said of his club’s falling short of a sweep, “Nine out is so damn close to ten. Seven out is so damn close to five. I think we did good, but it’s too bad we couldn’t be better than nine out.” Hubie’s veritable waving of the white flag when the Mets went to 47-21 reinforced my notion of 44-16: it’s over.

• The Mets lit out on an eight-game winning streak, by the conclusion of which they held a 12½-game lead and it was still over, only more so. To paraphrase Tim McCarver from the height of the high summer fireworks in Queens, they were spreading the news that they couldn’t be beat.

For the record, the Mets also lost five of seven after streaking to 20-4 in May. There’d be a pair of three-game losing streaks in July and a 1-6 rough patch in August. You might remember a four-game skein in the wrong direction in the middle of September. You might remember it because the Mets were on the verge of clinching their division and the sudden spate of losses amounted to a nuisance en route to a celebration. The tad of pent-up frustration simply made the champagne-spraying that much more raucous (and, even better, transported it from the Vet to Shea), yet things inside the year of years could indeed get frustrating for a few days here and a few days there. The Mets of 1986 didn’t compile a 1.000 winning percentage. It only feels as if they did.

Too soon?

Comparing any subsequent Met year to 1986 with slightly more than 100 game to go may be akin to playing with karmic fire. There’s only one 1986. The Mets wound up winning two of every three games they played that regular season. Since 1986, the Mets have maintained a .667 pace no later than 57 games into a season. They did it when they reached 38-19 in 1988 and they did it again when they reached 38-19 this past Monday in San Diego. The 1988 Mets are a whole other story, but suffice it to say they fell off the two-of-every-three horse as the dog days nipped at their heels, yet they never fell apart. They won a hundred games and a division title.

Right now, these 2022 Mets are better than that team and every team that’s come before 2022, with the exception of one. Still a lot of real estate to cover. Still an opponent or two in the division that’s refused to definitively run into our brick wall. The Braves have been beyond hot, winning nine in a row. The Phillies, too, who shed themselves of Joe Girardi and gained eight consecutive wins as a result. Neither foe could be doing any better. Neither is within six games of the Mets. Those competitors will cool off from their current state of scalding. The Mets won’t be on the West Coast forever and are likely to heat up beyond this week’s lukewarm setting.

I’m a little grumpy from having to stay up late practically every night to watch my team. Wayne Randazzo’s welcome voice notwithstanding, I’d have preferred SNY to Apple TV+. The series split in L.A. and the loss of two of three in San Diego weren’t optimal and remain fresh in the current consciousness. Yet here we are in 2022 looking up only at 1986. Even in what passes for its doldrums, this team somehow manages to give us something unsurpassed to which to aspire.

The 2022 Mets are thus far super. So was the Mets’ premiere utility player of the 2000s. Listen to the current episode of National League Town to solve that Monday crossword of a puzzle.

9 comments to Twice Upon a Time In Queens

  • mikeL

    “A lukewarm week shouldn’t preclude using a potholder when grabbing the 2022 Mets’ handle. On balance, they’re the second-hottest Met team ever.”

    THE takeaway here.

    yes, so glad to see pete and tylor and brandon’s bat back.
    one more absurdly late game and we can get back into more of a glass not-quite-yet-full mindset and really take in what the numbers you presented demonstrate.

    and all of this dwodg. abbreviated to allude the attention of the baseball gods and their ‘funny ways’


  • ljcmets

    We gave up on Apple TV ( loved the picture on our plasma, but couldn’t take the insipid announcers) and I settled into radio mode (which I actually love especially on late night West Coast road trips because I can rest my eyes. It also brings me back to my childhood when I was allowed to listen to Lindsey, Ralph and Bob as I drifted off to sleep) when I noticed no Wayne! What had happened… had he been stricken suddenly? Eddie C was describing his red -eye in reverse flight while I searched for info. I was just getting accustomed to no Howie on this long road trip but no Wayne? Unacceptable!

    Then I heard the new guy ( Jake? ) explain that Wayne was working Apple TV. So I am wondering if he was a last-minute fill-in or if Apple had caught wise and is now using home team announcers either instead or with their regular crew? If so, the picture quality is so breathtaking it might be worth tuning in for another try.

    The game never felt secure until the last out, which was entirely too late in my day and too early in my morning, but from what I gathered. In between snoozes was that Nimmo and Canha were the hitting stars, Megill looked pretty good shaking off a month’s rust and so did the pen, and Pete stole a base. I was sorry no Mike Trout (but not that sorry). When is first pitch tonight? I will need a nap, LOL.

    • Wayne was subbing as a late replacement. He did great. Hunter Pence wasn’t bad in his role. Katie Nolan is miscast.

      • Jacobs27

        Wayne did do a great job filling in. Amazing what having a play-by-play announcer who actually knows and follows the team can do… I’m sorry to learn it was not deliberate on the part of fruit-TV-whatever.

        I thought Pence seemed pretty green as an announcer, but occasionally entertaining.

        Katie Nolan’s role doesn’t seem well-defined. But that’s pretty much definitional of these streaming-service drop-in national broadcasts.

        Agree that Josh Lewin was also a standout radio man for the Mets.

  • ljcmets

    Thanks for confirming what I thought must have happened, as otherwise I think they would have flown Coleman out earlier.

    Well now that Wayne has had national exposure we may lose him a la Kevin, but good for him. Took advantage of an opportunity and may Wally Pip whoever was a late no-show. He is excellent, although I still miss Josh Lewin. After the Original Three, Howie and Gary, Bob and Gary, and Howie and Josh were and remain my Mets radio all-star teams!

  • Bruce from Forest Hills

    The 2022 Mets have 15 games left with the Braves. IMHO, the pennant will be decided during those 15 games. I don’t think the GB means anything, except during those 15 games.

    It’s astounding — the hi-def picture quality that Apple TV is providing, similar to the camera work used in last year’s Field of Dreams game. And the probability graphics in the corner of the screen are interesting enough, some of the time. Hopefully, Apple TV will be more creative about the numbers as the season goes on.

    But it doesn’t sound as if any of the announcers, including, I am afraid to say, Wayne Randazzo and Hunter Pence, have ever been to a Major League Baseball game before. I think it would help the broadcast enormously to have an announcer who is more familiar with Pence’s career, in the way Gary knows everything about Keith and Ron.

    I spent a lost weekend in Philly in September 1986, guest of die-hard Phillies fans who took me to all 3 games at the Vet, and had a great time making fun of me as the Mets lost each game. But I was also at Shea the next night to see Dave Magadan and the Mets clinch the pennant. 1986 was a great year.

    Maybe 2022 will be like that, too.

  • Seth

    Yes it’s all been fun, but the problem is that the Braves and Phillies aren’t going to lose for the rest of the season, so it’s going to be a tough road ahead.

  • Eric

    Kinda depressing that the season is almost down to double digit games.

    Braves now a fair margin above .500. Phillies at .500 and winning today’s game. Marlins closing in on .500. The division race is on.

    Canha has been a valuable Met. Capable glove at all 3 outfield positions. Steady and clutch bat. Oddly freezes while running the bases sometimes, but that negative hasn’t been too costly yet.

    If the pitchers we have stay healthy and Scherzer and deGrom come back as we hope, the 2 pitchers that get pushed to bullpen, plus a rehabilitated May, may be enough to fix the bullpen down the stretch. Still, even in that case, adding a closer-level reliever to go with Diaz would be useful.

    I’m waiting for Lagares to come up clutch at some point this series like other ex-Mets. Lagares reminds me that I’m not looking for Guillorme to win a batting title, just to get on base enough to keep his glove on the field where it belongs, which Lagares failed to do.

  • Dak442

    I was in college in Pa in 86. We chartered a bus trip to see the Mets clinch at the Vet. Suffice to say the Phillies fans among us had fun on the ride home.