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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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Dependence Day

It was one of those days: Emily's birthday (yes, she shares it with George Steinbrenner and the Republic), a friend in town, outings planned for the birthday girl and Joshua. Lots to do, in other words — and in the middle of it, a suddenly not-so-appealing date with the Washington Nationals, the who'da-thunk-it kings of the National League East, and practically unbeatable at home. Faced with a critical juncture of the puzzling 2005 season in the form of a battle with a team 10 games ahead of us, Emily and I tacitly agreed we'd do the smart thing: Today was not going to be held hostage by a sub-.500 team, not a day after we spent well over $100 and an entire afternoon watching said mediocre team get three hits off Dontrelle Willis.

Only. Well. Except. Walking across town to Shake Shack, I became acutely aware that it was game time. Game time, and I didn't know what was happening. I couldn't have brought a radio? A few Shackburgers and a caramel shake pushed the vague sense of guilt away, but then the 60-something woman at the table behind us started chatting with a couple in line about the Mets. “I can't stand that Offerman,” she brayed in that inimitable New Yawk way. “Why'd they bring him up?” The couple said they had a radio, and there was no score early. “That Ishii,” the woman said in disgust before swiftly moving on to Looper, who was “no good.” They should have stuck with Benitez, and look how we used to complain about him?

Clearly one of us.

“Benitez is hurt,” Emily interjected. We asked the couple what was the score again. Now out-fanatic'ed on two fronts, they had started to look vaguely panicky. It wasn't a debacle, at least not yet. We were able to determine that much.

On the subway, Joshua expressed his certainty that when we got home, he was going to further plumb the subtleties of “Maisy,” the vaguely British cartoon mouse whose cheerfully mundane doings rule our TiVo.

“Mommy and Daddy are watching the game,” he was told.

We tuned in to see the replay of Wright in a rundown, Reyes moving by fits and starts to third, and Woodward (initially almost unnoticed) doing something bad to his leg — far too much to take in at a glance, let alone when you've just arrived and are trying to get the basics of score and inning.

Washington 2, New York 1. Top of the seventh. First and third. One out. Not as promising as things had been a moment before we turned on the TV, but not hopeless by any means. Then Daubach strikes out. Groans. They've saved the worst for us, of course: We're just in time to see the team fold, to learn later what colossally typical blunder led to the rundown. Eleven out, what does it matter how many to play.

Only Cameron breaks his bat and drops a little flare behind second base. All tied up. Jubilation. “Did the man hit a home run?” asks Joshua. “No, but good enough,” I tell him. He tries on his storm-cloud face. Complicated, this baseball stuff.

Can Roberto hold it? He can. Then the ninth: Wright gets rung up on an evil Sunny Kim pitch, but Reyes beats out an infield hit — speed never goes into a slump and all that. Reyes obviously isn't leading off — what's up with that? He has to steal here. Can he? Kim is keeping him close. Can Gary Bennett throw? He wasn't a Met long enough for me to remember. Jose swipes the bag. Can the other Jose — the elderly, butterfingered one who shouldn't be on this team — bring him home? He can! Perhaps the woman from Shake Shack should think better of him, at least for today. Perhaps so should we.

But Looper awaits, so 3-2 Mets isn't going to cut it. We need some insurance — like, say, batting around a time or two. That doesn't happen, but Cameron doubles and the resurgent Beltran singles him home for a 5-2 lead. By now, a brief Emily errand has caused a TiVo pause of a few minutes' duration, so when Looper climbs the hill to face Vinny Castilla I'm hoping the game is, in fact, already over. (And baseball gods please note I don't mean in the Opening-Day-in-Cincy way.)

It is! We win! And immediately I'm swept up in all the usual Met madness I'd dammed away for six unseen innings: Back to .500. Hey, nine out. Sweep these damn Nats and we're six out, that's not so bad. Jose finally got dropped in the lineup, Willie's getting it. But Wright's still hitting behind Anderson, what's up with that? Ohhh, it's the L/R/L/R thing again. Can that really be more important than getting a high-value hitter like Wright more at-bats? Maybe some sabermetrics genius can take it apart and issue a ruling. What did those damn Braves, Phils and Marlins do today? And hey, when the heck is tomorrow's game….

Happy Dependence Day, everybody!

3 comments to Dependence Day

  • Anonymous

    With the exception of the result, the crowd size and the weather, it was a real Mets-Expos affair. I always have less hair and angrier neighbors after a Mets-Expos game. (I am amazed that Joshua does not have a more “advanced” vocabulary, living in a Mets-related household.)
    I still vote for contraction. Contract the **** out of them.

  • Anonymous

    Home for me is now the suburbs of Washington DC., so this was my chance to catch the boys in person. July 4 game, made a nice father's day gift to my dad, and at the same time my 10-month-old daughter's first baseball game. She didn't do too badly – a little antsy, but (very amusingly) only got really upset when I was cheering: she'd never seen her dad act like such a maniac I guess. made it through 7.5 – just long enough to see the tie, and avoid what I assumed would be Looper blowing it in the ninth. But lo and behold, some rare clutch hitting.
    The details are well-committed to memory for the day she asks…

  • Anonymous

    Maisy kicks ass.