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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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Schmelz in Your Hands, Not in Your Mouth

Don't let Time Warner and Jim Dolan and Fran Healy bring you down on your first day of spring-training watching. You did something Harvey Haddix couldn't do in 1967: You made Al Schmelz into something resembling a Major League pitcher.

I hope Leiter, Delgado and the agent who came in through the bathroom window are very happy together at Pro Pimp True Playa Dolphins Stadium Park, the only place where they leave gigantic sacks of fertilizer in the dugouts, which themselves appear to be tiled like men's rooms. The whole lot of them deserve each other. They talk more than Omar, which we didn't think was possible five months ago.

Hey, we won another pretend game. We're still oh and oh. But with Carlos Beltran providing Leadership in the form of a home run and Willie Randolph having his eyes opened by Heath Roller Bell (then Fran corrected himself: “Willie always has his eyes open”), it's better than being labeled $100 MILLION BUSTS on an inside page of the News tomorrow. Not the back page. That's for GIAMBI USES Q-TIP or something similarly Newsworthy.

Howie Rose says the Mets were “phenomenal” in the bullpen Saturday. Maybe, but bullpens are tricky to gauge anytime. We're all gonna be down on Bell or Fortunato or whichever sap is lucky enough to earn sixth- and seventh-inning duty as soon as he coughs up a tie. There is nothing more thankless is this man's game than middle relief. Nobody's very good at it for very long. If you are, you become a setup man or a closer and you're replaced by lesser pitchers. Even the relatively effective ones, like Turk back in the day, get used to death and are bound to have a bad outing at the wrong time.

Y'know what's phenomenal? That the 1986 Mets carried nine pitchers through the post-season on a 24-man roster (remember those?) and two of them, Sisk and Niemann, only made token appearances, thank goodness. This was with three extra-inning games all won by the good guys. Last I read, Willie was going to take 11 pitchers north. That sounds light by today's standards but it would be refreshing.

Along those lines, did I hear Ted Robinson right at the end of the cablecast, that in 2005, for the first time since 1964, the Mets will play no games on artificial turf? You mean if you wait long enough, some injustices are corrected? Imagine if artificial turf were never invented. Imagine Vince Coleman was forced to stick to his punting career and thus never able to do damage to us from within and without. It's easy if you try.

Imagine Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame. That's what I'll do from now on. It's a shame our manager of record can't catch a break no matter how they adjust the voting and it's a shame for Joan Hodges who seems to be waiting on her late husband's induction. But I take comfort in an idea that caught fire among my e-mail pals back in January: Let's just build our own wing in our own minds for who we want honored. Guys who made a difference and guys who made us happy. Gil Hodges is in the charter class.

Since it's my Hall, Ron Hodges won't be far behind. Talk about your very model of a modern backup catcher. He peaked as a rookie (laying the tag on Richie Zisk to end the Ball Off the Wall play and then driving in the winning run in the bottom of the inning to win that must-win game against the Pirates) and then hung around like crazy for another 11 years. Never had more than 250 ABs. Had a lifetime BA of .240. Came up a Met, went away a Met. Spanned Yogi to Davey. Spent considerable time on the DL in 1980, when after maybe a month, I ran into a guy who asked me, “Whatever happened to Ron Hodges?”

I think I just wrote his plaque.

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