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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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Ollie the Untouchable

They pull a knife, you pull a gun.

He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.

They start Clemens, you start Perez.

That's the Met way.

In five games this season against the despised Braves and the detested Yankees — the intersection of haunting nightmares and the uncontrollable shakes — Ollie's ERA is 1.26. He's 5-0 against our most bitter rivals. If you need someone to take out a ghost or two, Ollie is obviously your man. Throw in his respectable work from seventh games of championship series and it appears this fellow might very well be a keeper.

Oliver Perez is clearly the most interesting starter on the active roster. It's no longer a question of not knowing what you're going to get. You know you're likely to get quality. You're just not sure how you're going to get it. Friday night I found it fascinating that both Billy Wagner and Jorge Posada, who presumably did not compare talking points, both called him effectively wild. That's a lot different from “oh dear, he's gone three and oh again.”

Of course he had help. It's about time somebody on the Mets helped somebody else on the Mets, each of them riding around the last road trip aimlessly, 25 Mets in 25 directionless cabs. Carlos Gomez certainly threaded the needle in left, the needle being morons with outstretched hands. There was a little pinch of Endy on display, though certainly not as polished. He does have that “Skates” quality in his stride; two or three times I was sure he pulled something he needed for running.

Back in the era of good feeling, I was ready to stamp Carlos the Third's ticket back to N'Awlins, having watched his average spiral and his savvy fail to sprout. Seasoning is why we relocated our triple-A operations to the home of Cajun cooking, right? But the Mets are in no position to send back a player, no matter how undercooked, who can create a run and save a couple more. And this unexpected accumulation of Major League service time might not be so bad. His career trajectory to date is a bit reminiscent of his big brother Jose Reyes. Jose was up too soon, it was said, and could have used a little more good Tideing. But between injuries and pervasive team lousiness in 2003, Reyes was never shuttled off to Virginia and, growing pains notwithstanding, I think it was to his benefit. We could see it with Gomez. Let the trial be by fire. But somebody make sure the kid stays on his feet.

Had to love the bunting on Clemens and his fatigued groin (boo frigging hoo). It's just smart baseball. You've got the tools, use them. Ron Darling noted fielding bunts is one of those disciplines drilled into you during Spring Training and hey, guess what, Clemens didn't bother with Spring Training. But he and his agent did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last month.

Six-and-a-third innings of two-run ball, as representative an outing as it was for (grumble, grumble) a Hall of Fame pitcher, rates a million bucks? Now that's smart baseball! Why bother with the fundamentals when all you have to do is show up in June, stick around the premises only as long as you feel necessary and not be expected to complete seven?

Apropos of nothing except my enjoyment of The Ballclub's recurring and regularly compelling Lost Classics feature, I found myself recalling the last two times the Mets faced the, oy, Rocket. He was an Astro and he was good.

May 16, 2004: 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 SO

April 13, 2005: 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 SO

Clemens as an Astro didn't pack quite the putrid punch as did and does Clemens the Yankee only because Strychnine presumably doesn't taste as bad as Drano. Don't get me wrong. I was steadfast in my desire to watch the mound open up and swallow him and his rapidly fatiguing groin with one enormous suck during his Houston hiatus, but I was willing, in the abstract, to grudgingly admire his pitching output if not the outputter himself. Mike Piazza's two-out, ninth-inning, game-tying home run off Octavio Dotel to cost Clemens a victory at Minute Maid in '04 (Jason Phillips getting his wallop on to win it in the 13th) and Kaz Ishii — remember him? — matching Clemens pitch for pitch the following April at Shea (Reyes singling home Victor Diaz in the eleventh for walkoff closure) positions each of these as Lost Classics candidates, but what seals their respective nominations is the fact that Roger Clemens started, Roger Clemens excelled and Roger Clemens was no-decisioned as the result of Met lightning striking.

I'd give Clemens plenty of credit for striking out eight Mets during his lucrative if abbreviated Friday night stay, but those of us who remained awake through the Los Angeles lossquake know that isn't terribly impressive (4 through 8 in the order: 0 for 19 with a walk), especially since three of those K's were Delgado, Delgado and Delgado, with more Delgado striking out a fourth time after Clemens left. CD really is in Montañez territory right now. Here's what I mean:

Wille Montañez 1978

First Met Year

Age: 30

Games: 159

HR: 17

RBI: 96

BA: .256

OPS: .712

Willie Montañez 1979

Second Met Year

Age: 31

Games: 109 (traded in August)

HR: 5

RBI: 47

BA: .234

OPS: .594

Or try this:

Bernard Gilkey 1996

First Met Year

Age: 29

Games: 153

HR: 30

RBI: 117

BA: .317

OPS: .955

Bernard Gilkey 1997

Second Met Year

Age: 30

Games: 145

HR: 18

RBI: 78

BA: .249

OPS: .755

As for the present:

Carlos Delgado 2006

First Met Year

Age: 33/34

Games: 144

HR: 38

RBI: 114

BA: .265

OPS: .909

Carlos Delgado 2007

Second Met Year

Age: 34/35

Games: 62

HR: 10

RBI: 39

BA: .221

OPS: .687

Delgado owns a deeper portfolio of accomplishment than Montañez or Gilkey, but he's also older as he teeters. His predecessors in disturbing falloff surprised the Mets with their acquisition-season productivity; Gilkey tied the team ribby record (in his walk year — also very smart) and Montañez's 96 runs batted in were actually third-most in Mets history at the time…and driving in nearly one hundred 1978 Mets was a feat of mind-boggling proportions considering how doubtful it is that one hundred Mets actually reached base in 1978.

We know Carlos was extremely streaky in 2006. His April, however, set the tone for the new, improved lineup and when he faded for extended intervals, it barely mattered as everybody else was scorching. It felt like Delgado got back half his power numbers in about three weeks in August (a month when he swatted eight homers and drove in 26 runs), thereby piecing together one of the better slugging seasons we've ever seen in these parts. That batting average was eerily low, but he was getting on base and driving the ball enough to write off that .265. Now .265 is sadly aspirational.

Don't mean to take the edge off a sweet victory, considering the circumstances, the opponent and the opposing and losing pitcher, but I'll feel a lot better when Delgado is cleaning up something besides the dregs of what was a fabulous career.

15 comments to Ollie the Untouchable

  • Anonymous

    It pains me to say this, but it's time to stick a fork in Delgado. He's done.
    But what I really want to know is WTF is wrong with Beltran?????

  • Anonymous

    Delgado might do better to adopt the famed Montanez Home Run Trot.

  • Anonymous

    Just to add a little hope to the morning:
    2004 Pre- ASB numbers:
    .223/.325/.421, 10 2b, 10 hr, 36 rbi, 26 bb, 54 k's in 202 AB
    2004 Post-ASB numbers:
    .305/.408/.625, 16 2b, 22 hr, 63 rbi, 43 bb, 61 k in 256 AB
    Ya never know. He could do it again. It's not like with Our Most Holy Piazza where we could see his once lightning fast bat slowing through the zone. I've been spending my nights praying that Delgado isn't the new Vaughn. Those numbers gave me a faint hope.
    Love the Untouchable Ollie spin. I've been quoting it to myself all morning.

  • Anonymous

    I have not lost faith in C1, C2 OR C3. All hail The Carloses!
    As for Billy Wagner, I continue to worship the water he walks on, as I did before he got here. Ollie the Untouchable… despite a few bumps (bumps happen, boobirds!), all season he's been elevating himself beyond Not Xavier Nady, and I commend him.
    And the less said about Roger the Rat's groin, the better. Please.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting (by which I mean absurd) comments by Willie in today's Daily News column by Lisa Olson. Discussing Roidger Clemens' bat-throwing WS incident, Willie said “I would've thought Mike Piazza should've gone after him”. What, and get himself suspended for the WS? This coming from the manager whose team has backed down from every confrontation I can recall; whose RF allowed a pitcher to get all in his grille (as the kids say) with no consequence, who think nothing of rookie pitchers showboating after jacking HRs.
    Look, Willie, we love you, but don't talk smack about Met legends.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry dude, but I think you're dead wrong on the Piazza thing.
    Maybe Willie's being hypocritical but I'll go to my grave believing Mike should have run straight through Clemens and damn the consequences.
    Who could blame him? Especially given their history? Maybe he gets tossed from the game along with Roger, but Clemens would have gotten the worse end of any discipline. Maybe Mike would have had to sit out another game, but for throwing a bat? That would have shelved Clemens for the entire series.
    Of course all this logic needed to be evaluated in a split second in the heat of a WS game. But in that fight-or-flight instant, Mike chose to stand there with his arms out, asking “WTF?”
    I hate to besmirch a Met legend, but despite his awesomeness Mike always seemed to me to be kind of a wuss.
    But that's OK – Shawn Estes really threw a scare into him, didn't he?

  • Anonymous

    Deliciously angry post this morning, Greg. Absolutely love it.

  • Anonymous

    Mike had a brain. It's the World Series, not a dick-measuring bar brawl. Not the time for playing childish, macho games to show off your “manhood.” If having class and thinking of the good of the team over your own ego/temper makes someone a wuss, I'll take the wuss every time.
    Oh, and ask Guillermo Mota what a “wuss” Mike is. You don't run off the field pissing in your pants and cowering in the clubhouse like a little girl because a “wuss” is after you.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Piazza and Clemens would've both been ejected from the game, but the Mets would at least've gotten fired up a bit. Which we desperately needed.
    Piazza's a genuine Met legend, but he said he never wanted to be a leader and he wasn't one.

  • Anonymous

    They both get ejected from the game. Clemens likes leaving big games early (see Game 6, 1986) because he's a loathesome pantywaist. Mike does not. And maybe they both get suspended for a game or two. Big deal, Clemens is a starter. We lose our cleanup hitter. Late in the game, someone should have drilled a star Yankee. But really, if the umpires had any brains, they would have ejected Roidger right on the spot. Throwing a f*cking bat shard at someone? Are you kidding?
    Speaking of 'are you kidding', nice ballgame today. I'm not ashamed to say that I was so disgusted that at the rain delay I took the family to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. At least Norrin Radd has some heart.

  • Anonymous

    The way things were going back then, Piazza gets ejected and Clemens is awarded four outs. Seriously, I would have loved to have seen bat shard meet Roger's rectum, but the way it was set up, Clemens got a free pass to be an insane assface and with those lame warnings issued the next Met to do anything would have been thrown out of a World Series game.
    For the record, I wouldn't mind some retaliation tonight. Not retaliation for 2000, just retaliation for the hell of it.

  • Anonymous

    Guess I'm not the only one who can't sleep tonight. Though my insomnia is less Met-related than due to the pound or so of chocolate I ate in the movies.
    I hope El Duque has it tonight. Because – hello – we're only 1-1/2 games up right now!

  • Anonymous

    We do what we can for insomnia…cure it, cause it, continue it. It's all part of the package.

  • Anonymous

    They wouldn't have both been ejected. Mike would have been seen as starting it. Remember… Clemens thought it was the ball.

  • Anonymous

    Wonder what Mr. Montanez is doing these days ??……………………………..Anyone know?