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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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That’s The Ticket

Some days this year as a Mets fan, if you’re lucky (which you are if you’re a Mets fan this year), you feel a little like Tommy Flanagan — pronounced fluh-NAIG-un — Jon Lovitz’s truth-stretching character whose Saturday Night Live catchphrase “that’s the ticket” had the country in stitches for about a year in the mid-’80s. As with many of the decades-old popular culture references I’m compelled to invoke in this space, maybe you had to be there.

Flanagan was referred to as The Pathological Liar in deference to everything coming out of his mouth stretching credulity. That sort of behavior used to be considered universally antithetical to trustworthiness, thus it was considered hilarious rather than admirable that somebody would do nothing but lie to a mass audience. Another case, perhaps, of having had to have been there. Here and now, it could be that the hardest part of being a Mets fan is when you offer a factual account of their daily exploits, it’s almost impossible to have it sound believable.

Honestly, it’s the only hard part of being a Mets fan here and now.

“Yeah, I went to the Mets game today. They scored six, no eight, no TEN runs! Francisco Lindor — he’s our shortstop — scored one, no two, no THREE runs himself. He’s scored at least one run in five, no nine, no THIRTEEN games in a row. That’s a team record! Almost everybody, no EVERYBODY in the starting lineup was on base. Two, no four, no SIX of them scored runs. One of them leads the ENTIRE LEAGUE in runs batted in. The Mets won their third, no fourth, no SIXTH game in a row and have nearly as good a record as they did at this point in 2006, no 1988, no 1986! And this weekend we’re gonna have Max Scherzer starting for us on Friday night and Jacob deGrom on Saturday night because Max Scherzer is on our team and Jacob deGrom is healthy. And if we’re ahead by only a little in the ninth inning, we’re not gonna be the least bit nervous. No, we’re gonna clap along while somebody plays trumpets. Oh, and at today’s game, I sat in plush seats practically behind home plate next to a real Broadway singing star. Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Good bit. Except everything in the above paragraph is the emmis truth. It only sounds like a wild exaggeration if you’re not in the middle of it. It is our good fortune to be in the middle of all of it. The six in a row is our current roll, the last three of which came at the expense of the Reds, following three taken from the Braves, encompassing a 15-of-17 megaspurt that has taken down opponents of all competitive stripe. The Reds would be charitably described as middling. They weren’t too bad before playing us. A few innings versus the Mets seemed to have them checking to see if the jet whisking them to Iowa for the Field of Dreams game was fully fueled and ready to fly. They were in the midst of an afternoon nightmare Wednesday.

Lindor indeed continued to do Lindor things, which is the most convenient way to describe the tear he’s been on for more than a month. A couple hits, a couple ribbies, a walk, another three runs when just one was needed to tie David Wright’s consecutive games scoring mark. Francisco was hardly alone. National League RBI leader Pete Alonso — four shy of a hundred already — went three-for-five. Tyler Naquin, who’s probably happy to no longer be a Red and even happier to be a Met, homered and scored twice himself. Daniel Vogelbach brought his milkshake to the yard. And so on and so forth and what have you. Truly it was hard to keep up with the deluge of offense. Just ask Cincy, once you scrape them up from their 10-2 flattening.

The Mets’ pitching side, while not as spectacular (how could it be?) was sound, which itself was spectacular after last Friday when Taijuan Walker kinda blew up in the sole loss to date on this homestand. Plus there was something mumbled about a sore hip. Tai appeared ship shape and Bristol fashion over six innings, allowing only two runs to the Reds, and our modest anxiety to dissipate. Walker is a highly dependable No. 3 starter on this staff. So is Chris Bassitt. So is Carlos Carrasco. The Mets have five starters, all of whom I’d be OK with as Game One starters in a playoff series, all of whom I’d be comfortable with should they find themselves with the ball to start a decisive Game Five or Game Seven.

Yeah, I know we have deGrom and Scherzer. Yeah, I know we have two months to go. But I also know that at 73-39, the 2022 Mets are inhabiting rare air. How rare? Wrap your mind around this: should the Mets win three of their next five games, albeit against Philadelphia and Atlanta (who, conversely, have to play us), they will be 76-41 after 117 games.

The only Mets team that’s ever been 76-41 after 117 games is the 1986 edition, and they had to go into a slump to dip to 76-41. No Mets team that isn’t the 1986 Mets ever shows up in the “best record after ‘x’ games” conversation once the season passes the one-third mark. Yet the 2022 Mets are on the cusp of matching the 1986 Mets, even if it’s for one fleeting juncture.

Dude, that’s Amazin’.

Liz Callaway, surrounded by admirers.

Also Amazin’: that kicker slipped in earlier about me taking in Wednesday’s game in the company of a real Broadway singing star. That’s no prevarication. Through the machinations of online Mets fandom, social media bonhomie and another kindred spirit with access to really fine (that’s the) tickets, I absolutely found myself sitting practically behind home plate next to Liz Callaway, star of stage and song and, especially, Sondheim. Stephen Sondheim is the nexus where we bonded virtually a few years ago. Sondheim and the Mets, of course. Liz is a serious fan with a voice serious enough to have tamed the national anthem on multiple occasions at Shea Stadium and Citi Field. She recently played a series of shows in Manhattan dedicated to her friend and inspiration Mr. Sondheim, or “Steve” as she honestly comes by calling him. She was acclaimed as sensational. I sure thought so. So did my pals Brian and Mitch, whose feel for vocal artistry is clearly as impeccable as their taste in baseball teams. Brian’s the one who had the bright idea to bring us all together for a game and made it happen.

The Mets, meanwhile, continue to make it happen every day. No lie.

The 1986/2022 comparison, with a touch of 1973, gets a longer look on this week’s National League Town. You oughta listen here.

11 comments to That’s The Ticket

  • Ken


    As always, a wonderful piece. One thing I’d add to the “That’s the Ticket” string: We were without Max for seven weeks, Jake rejoined the team four months in. Who’d thunk we’d be in first the whole way despite that?

    This season has been so fun so far, not just b/c of the winning, but how they’re doing it. Solid team baseball right across the roster. The offseason adds and the new guys at the deadline tell me Billy Eppler knows how to build a full roster, not just grab the shiny ornament off the tree. Good times indeed.


  • eric1973

    Well, if you ‘had to be there’ in the 80s, I was, and Lovitz was hilarious as that character.

    And Liz Callaway was sensational singing TO Sondheim on TV, oh, maybe 20-30 years ago.

    Top 3 Sondheim:
    Sweeney Todd
    Merrily We Roll Along

    And those trumpets when Diaz comes in are just the coolest!

  • Curt Emanuel

    And now comes the fun stretch. 12 days. 13 games, last 10 on the road. Phillies-Braves-Phillies-Yankees.

    Been eying this, along with last weekend’s series, since the AS break. But as mentioned, when you look at our rotation, I wouldn’t want to be the other team.

    And I’m so used to trade deadline deals not working that I almost can’t believe how well Ruf, Naquin and Vogelbach have done.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Like most recurring SNL sketches over the past 40 years, I found “That’s the Ticket” funny for about 15 minutes, certainly not almost a year.

    Nice work getting thru a post that highlights Liz Callaway while resisting the temptation to mention any other person named Callaway.

  • Eric

    I enjoyed the Mets dominating the Reds. The 1st game of the series felt like a letdown game and the Mets won it anyway. The main takeaway from the Reds series was no injury and a rested bullpen.

    Otherwise, the Reds were no basis to judge this Mets season. The 2022 Mets, their regular season anyway, will be judged by the stretch of games that begins tomorrow.

    In my memory as a Mets fan, I don’t recall a regular season stretch as testing as this 12-day, 13-game gauntlet. And that’s setting aside the Dodgers to close the month.

    The Mets lead isn’t so great that they can’t be dragged back down.

    The improved, surging Phillies, 9 back in the loss column, know that their 7 games and the tough overall stretch for the Mets are their best shot — and last realistic shot if they miss — at the division. At the same time, failing versus the Mets means not only the division pulled out of reach but likely losing their hold on a wildcard slot to the 2nd place Central team.

    The Phillies come back a lot and just beat Alcantara late, which is a warning to Scherzer and deGrom and the Mets bullpen.

    Same for the Braves other than that they’re 7 back and their hold on a wildcard slot is more secure.

    Then, after 11 games over 10 games versus division rivals and 3rd and 4th best teams in the league who are taking their best shot of the season at the division, which will realistically be their last shot if they fail, with still no day off, the slumping-but-still-best-in-the-AL Yankees at Yankees stadium to finish the stretch.

    At least in the playoffs there are days off. At about 11 pm on Tuesday, August 23rd, we’ll know who the 2022 Mets are.

  • open the gates

    It’s good for our team to be so much in pinch-me-I’m-dreaming mode that we need to invoke Jon “That’s The Ticket” Lovitz. Not long ago, if I had to think of an SNL skit describing Met fan reaction, I’d have to go with The Whiners. (Not that the whining was unjustified.) And the Mets PR folks would be Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella: “OK, so Cespedes is back on the team, and will carry us all the way to the playoffs, and… wait, he’s back on the DL…? Forever…? Oh… Nevermind!”

    One of the many great things about this Met team is how every single player is contributing. This is the first Met team since Davey Johnson that is using the platoon system to such a devastating affect. Non-contributers like Robinson Cano and JD Davis have been sent away, and Dom Smith has basically been downgraded to Quad-A. I love the newcomers – I look at Vogelbach and can’t help being reminded of Rusty Staub. A great big guy, but his swing is a thing of beauty. Naquin and Ruf are also the exact kind of role players that are perfect for Showalter’s system. And remember, even with the Mets’ great-to-legendary pitching staff, it was a sixth pitcher, Tylor Megill, who started Opening Day, as well as initiating the no-hitter. When pitchers as good as Megill and David Peterson are unable to crack the starting rotation, you know you’re in damn good shape.

  • Seth

    FOR SNL, I was thinking more along the lines of Chico Esquela — “baseball been bery, bery good to me!” But, I’m an old timer…

  • eric1973

    Loved the Chico Esquela bit, from 1979, I believe, which was one of THE worst seasons in Mets modern history. (Well, modern to me, at least.)

    Best part was Kranepool, can’t remember whether he was complimentary or grousing, as is his wont.

    I got Kranepool’s autograph in 1998, I believe it was, at the 25th reunion of the 1973 team, the one where a cancer-ridden McGraw came out of the bullpen in the old golf cart, and walked with a cane out to the mound.

    Anyway, Krane was the old loveable Krane, telling me, “They only call me when they need me.”

  • Eric

    Phillies are now a neat 10 games behind in the loss column. The loss didn’t come against Alcantara, surprisingly, but 1 loss in the Marlins series was as much as I hoped for.

    As for Walker, his line against the Reds was a big improvement over his Braves start, but I’m still wary. A number of his pitches were up and hit hard. 3 walks is only a bit more than usual but his control still seemed off. The improvement over his Braves loss may have had as much to do with the weaker opponent.

    91 pitches and an extra day off will mean he’s as rested as he can be at this point of the season for his next start against the Braves. Then the Phillies after that. If Walker pitches credibly against those 2 line-ups, then I’ll be convinced he’s overcome his 2nd half drop-off last year.

  • […] in the National League East another game, but tie the 2022 Mets with the 1986 Mets after 116 games, a race that’s existed in my Metsian mind and its diligently tended computer files for months. That race will have to wait another […]