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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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Lightning Strikes…Not Once But Twice

Eeeek. But it all turned out OK.

I'm officially onboard with your psychological explanation of Carlos Beltran's strange double push bunt on Sunday. It's genius, it shows true leadership at work, and I very much want it to be true. And it's worked for two days, hasn't it? Perhaps Carlos is the Gen. Patton Mike always wanted to salute and follow. Stranger things have happened.

This was a scary one — our galling ineffectiveness early (we got effective late), the wait for Aaron Heilman to revert to the form from Heilman-Ramirez I (he didn't), Kaz Matsui continuing to bunt stupidly (but not fatally stupidly), Roberto Hernandez finally pitching poorly (but cleaning up his own mess), Braden Looper battling a tight strike zone and some bad luck (but not enough bad luck), David Wright booting a potential game-ending play (but…well, hang on), David Wright booting a second potential game-ending play (but not having the ball hit at him a third time), and realizing that it was over and we'd won the damn thing, 5-4. (But the Braves will be back tomorrow.)

Funny thing: Early on, I found it odd that the usual Met-Brave nerves weren't firing. Part of it is not being able to see the tomahawk and the familiar faces. But it's also that a lot of the familiar faces aren't around anymore. Chipper and Andruw remain, and Smoltz, and Brian Jordan returned to torment us, and Bobby Cox is still stamping around in the dugout whining and scowling, and Leo Mazzone is davening of course, but Maddux is gone and Glavine (where'd he get to, anyway?) and Eddie Perez and Javy and Rocker and Boone and Millwood and all the other guys who just killed us are no more. The only one of the new guys I've managed to truly loathe is Rafael Furcal — Julio Franco's too great a story, I wish Marcus Giles were on our team, and the rest of the guys are just too new to really register. This is a team in transition, and while I've gotten pretty good at rooting for laundry, with the exception of the Yankees it's just too taxing to stay good at hating laundry.

Heck, maybe the turnover on the Mets will have the same effect. What business do Beltran, Pedro and Minky have being terrified of the Braves? Nowadays it's just sportswriters and fans who get tight at the merest glimpse of them. I'm sure tomorrow the papers will say games like tonight's are the kind of early-season acid test the Mets used to fail and so things are looking up, but the truth is games like tonight's are the kind of early-season acid test 22 or 23 other guys wearing some bizarre concoction of blue, orange, white and black used to fail against 17 or 18 other guys wearing gray and red and navy blue.

Maybe I'm just not feeling mythic. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad Willie took Heilman out with a lot to feel good about. I'm glad Cliff looks like he's swapped legs with the 2001 model. (Frantic wood knocking.) I'm glad Mike may not be quite as old as I feared two days ago. I'm glad Wright's homer wasn't erased by those two ninth-inning botches. I'm glad Braden can go home hearing “Loo” instead of something similar. And I'm glad tomorrow's Pedro-Smoltz II: The Fury in Flushing. I'll be up for it. But mostly because it's Pedro-Smoltz, not because it's Mets-Braves. Not yet? Not anymore? Guess we'll find out.

Postscript: Will someone please, please, please explain to me how Looper wound up taking the mound to “Lightning Strikes”? For the uninitiated, “Lightning Strikes” is from “Rock and a Hard Place,” the dismal 1982 Aerosmith album recorded with a couple of studio nitwits standing in for Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, an album Aerosmith now basically pretends never existed. I don't think it's been heard in public since…well, since 1982, probably. It's like finding a Dylan fan who worships “Neighborhood Bully,” a Stones fan who's got “Indian Girl” on repeat, a Springsteen fan who won't stop going on about “Mary, Queen of Arkansas.” It's like finding a Met fan who lives in his 1993 uniform top with the hideous underscore tail. It's just deeply weird.

I know it's at least mildly insane to obsess over the musical choices made by/for a middling closer, but I can't help it. This stuff bothers me.

3 comments to Lightning Strikes…Not Once But Twice

  • Anonymous

    Let's hear it for Greg's theories. It's always been disturbing that Mike wanted Patton to lead him, rather than to lead, but now maybe he has his wish (and judging from Pedro's modest taking of credit for the Mets' entire season to date, perhaps he has two Pattons to follow).
    But Jace, you have always been a softie for the Braves. Let the record show that you rooted for them in the postseason in the early- to mid-90's, which still counts against you. It's ridiculous to say that you can root irrationally hard for a team even though all the guys have turned over, but you can't hate another team because all the guys have turned over. Particularly because on the Braves at least many of the people we've hated for years are still right there, sneering at the plate or frowning in the dugout. Get a grip and get some ice water in your veins!

  • Anonymous

    I stand with Jace in the dock. I also rooted for the pre-Chipper Braves. Post-Chipper, I rooted for them too, but never for him. Hated him from Day 1.Crowed when he broke his leg in that exhibition game against the Skanks in '94… I was listening on the radio and danced around the room. (See, in my fevered, sometimes reality-free brain, Jose Oliva, a big favorite of mine, would have inherited 3rd base from Terry Pendleton if not for f'ing Chipper. And naturally I later found some way to blame Chipper for Jose's untimely death. That's just how my mind works.)
    A lot of the time there was no conflict of interest. They were west, we were east. Or they were great, we sucked. You could root for them without hurting us. It's not like they were in our way. And I thoroughly enjoyed our manhandling of them in '95. Seemed they were the only team we could beat. At least that's how I remember it. But once we diverged–when they became east and we became something of a contendah–my loyalties (like Jace's, I have not a sliver of doubt) remained steadfastly with the orange and blue. Only when Greg Maddux–my own personal Jesus–was on the mound did I ever falter… on those occasions I just hoped we'd win 1-0. Still do.
    But as for the Braves, I freaking hate their guts now. I mean, what's to like? Yes, I still admire the organization, and how they continually manage to make silk purses out of sow's ear after sow's ear. Every worthless castoff imaginable has suddenly become Cy Young or Ted Williams upon donning that uniform. But generally, I hope they die. In the baseball sense, of course.

  • Anonymous

    It's true, I rooted for the Braves in '91 and '92. But they weren't disgusting yet, and most importantly, they didn't matter — they were doing something in October while we were huntin' and fishin' and hatin' our manager, so it was no skin off our collective ass. Once they moved into our division, I loathed them healthily.
    As for not loathing them now, that's not to say I don't hate them. It's just that hatred is my default condition, so it seems very mild in comparison.