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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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Working Overtime

Takin’ care of business for the 97th time in 162 attempts, the Mets ended their regular season.

Their next assignment is to turn the season into something extraordinary.

Even more so than it already is.

The television overlords have granted us a comfy interregnum, until Wednesday at 4:09 PM, to find out what awaits. For now, we know we disdain the Dodgers more than mosquitoes. They are our opponent, no thanks to the Diamondbacks whose comeback from down 7-1 stalled at 7-6 against Trevor Hoffman and the Padres. Yes, I’ll admit it now — I wanted San Diego in the first round, or at least I didn’t want Los Angeles. It’s no longer relevant, though. The Dodgers it is, the Dodgers, they will have to be beaten starting late Wednesday afternoon. The Padres will now go to St. Louis, where the Cardinals fans were shamelessly chopping their arms off to thank the Braves for eliminating the Astros and saving the Redbirds from themselves.

I guess we’ve seen Roger Clemens’ final start again…not counting when he takes the ball in the California Penal League.

Meanwhile, a moment to reflect on what ended today.

The New York Mets finished the regulation portion of their schedule with a 97-65 mark, the fifth-best in their history, trailing only 1986, 1988, 1969 and 1985 (whose dollar-short end Ron and Keith were Snighfully ruing Sunday, 21 years after the fact). The 2006 version of us outdid our 1999 predecessors by a half-game. These editions struck me as clearly the two best of the past 18 years, which tells you a couple of things:

1) The 1999 Mets really collapsed with a thud! before their amazin’, amazin’, amazin’ turnaround, because that was a wonderful team and it didn’t get to 100 wins.

2) 100 wins is hard to reach, especially if the 2006 Mets couldn’t get there. We were so good all year long, but all it took was two limp weeks to confine us to double-digits.

Doesn’t matter, I guess. Every team is 0-0 now. Twenty-two of them are 0-0 in 2007. Eight of us are 0-0, best of five. Still, I like that we have the best record in baseball. Perversely, I don’t mind that we share that distinction with the New York Yankees, partly because we were two down with two to go in that department but mostly because we don’t have to shoulder the “the team with the best record never wins the World Series” burden.

Was not thrilled with what I watched from Detroit, where the Tigers hissed away their divisional crown to Jeff Keppinger and the Royals. No great attachment to the Tigers here (none at all, actually), but I wanted Minnesota to take on the Skanks because I thought the Twins had a good shot in five games to take them out. Oh well, go Tigers, even Kenny Rogers (who walked in the other team’s tenth run in extra innings, geez Louise.)

This has nothing to do with me not wanting Us to play Them. Rooting against the Yankees is an independent pursuit. In our universe, they do not interest me. I simply don’t like them on merit, whereas the only team I have in it for in the context of what counts is the Dodgers. That’s the business to be taken care of next. Something tells me the American League playoffs will escape most of my notice as of Wednesday at 4:09 PM.

Watching and listening to out-of-town baseball over the last weekend of the season produces a window into the soul of clubs you don’t otherwise think about. Did you realize Tim Salmon was retiring from the Angels? That Geoff Jenkins will be leaving the Brewers? That Luis Gonzalez’s imminent departure from the Diamondbacks rated the painting of a purple “20” in left field in Phoenix? That there are still fans in this world who give Barry Bonds a curtain call without benefit of a home run?

That kind of private celebrating and mourning shouldn’t be surprising, particular to a devotee of Met finales. Last year at this time, it was us and Mike. The year before it was us and St. Todd Zeile (and to a lesser extent John Franco, Art Howe and the Montreal Expos). We were also the fans on last-Sundays-past to go koo-koo for the guy who collected his hundredth ribby or topped .280, stuff that followers of contenders would roll their eyes toward.

I suppose I’m too new at haught and arrogance to do that. The Nationals’ goodbye to Frank Robinson moved me beyond anything I thought possible. Good for the Washingtonians who have had only two years with him and good for Frank, whose hardwired crankiness and surliness, it turns out, was just a façade. He’s a sweetheart! I’ve always admired him (what’s not to admire?) without being particularly fond of him; he was a ’69 Oriole, for cryin’ out loud. Maybe it was the enormity of his career or his thoughtfulness in congratulating the Mets, but I was touched by his pregame remarks. I can’t think of another immortal in his position — taking off the uniform long after stopping playing — embracing the game so lovingly upon his farewell from it.

Finally, there were the Mets, the first-place Mets on the last day of the season, scoring six in the second and winning one more. We clinched our division 13 days ago. Since then we’ve had the slump, the calf, the cuff, the personal reasons and another dozen distractions and/or pressing questions. But y’know what? We just won four in a row and we have at least three games ahead of us. To borrow from Steve Zabriskie, this particular dream season is not over.

Just one more note. There’s something I like to say every chance I get, but at this particular juncture in the calendar, it almost never comes up. Huzzah, it does this year:

Let’s Go Mets.

10 comments to Working Overtime

  • Anonymous

    I guess we've seen Roger Clemens' final start again…not counting when he takes the ball in the California Penal League.
    the Cardinals fans were shamelessly chopping their arms off
    What an unpleasant mental image that is, all those poor armless Cardinals fans.
    Unlike you, I was so thrilled with what I witnessed in Detroit that I nearly cried. What the Twins have accomplished this year is truly magical. It's been an amazing ride, and with Game 1 on Tuesday at 1:00, the SNY Mets rally will now have one less rallier (rallyer?), I'm afraid. Win Twins!!
    (Geoff Jenkins is leaving the Brewers?! There is a God after all.)
    LET'S GO METS!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Lie down with Tomahawks, risk your limbs.

  • Anonymous

    I can attest to that, from personal experience… ;-)

  • Anonymous

    “Maybe it was the enormity of his career …”
    Ty Cobb, Albert Belle, Chipper Jones, maybe John Rocker if you want to dignify his fifteen minutes of fame with the word '”career.” But there was no enormity about Frank Robinson's 51 years of excellence, passion and professionalism in baseball.
    Maybe you meant to say “enormousness?”

  • Anonymous

    You learn something new every day.

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone read Peter King's Monday Morning QB article? The guy is always wrong in football, which is supposedly his area of expertise, yet he feels the need to comment on baseball. First he declares Jeter deserves the MVP (no way, Morneau or Mauer), and that the Mets wont make it out of the NL playoffs unless they score 7 runs a game. He needs to stick to his over-hyperbolyzed, way off base football analysis and leave our sport alone.

  • Anonymous

    Here's a prediction: The winner of the Mets-Dodgers series will win the NL pennant.
    Either it will be (as I expect and hope) the all-devouring Mets, or it will be the team that miraculously upset the all-devouring Mets. But neither the Padres nor the Cards, both just a step up from mediocrity, stands a chance against either one.
    Here's another prediction: Neither the Yankees nor the Tigers will win the AL pennant.
    The ancient-mariner Yankees are going to have to spend it all in this series against a Tigers team that were world-beaters early but stumbled badly late, and bring a psychic stormcloud with them along with their talent, much like the 1988 Mets. Whichever squad emerges from this series will be primed to be upset by fresher, hungrier meat from the West.

  • Anonymous

    Justin Morneau or in a pinch, Jermaine Dye. Mauer, like Jeter, has a nice average but, er, average productivity in other categories. Jeter's “intangibles” are basically phantom qualities people fall back on when they have no logical basis for their choice, they just like the guy for whatever reason and want him to win.
    But Jeter will win because he's a Yankee. I think we all know that by now.

  • Anonymous

    No need to worry about this Dodgers series gang, we have the one ingredient in our favor: The Grady Little Factor
    Watch Grady try to make up for his inaction in 2003 by removing his starter after 5 innings and going to his atrocious bullpen over and over again.
    The Grady Little Factor = Mets in 3

  • Anonymous

    Let's have another strike-em-out-throw-em-out-game-ending-DP to seal a sweep…