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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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Clip & Save The Bottom Of The Sixth

The bottom of the sixth Thursday night, which lifted the Mets from a desultory 6-1 deficit to a thrilling 7-6 lead, was one of the most precious half-innings you'll ever witness as a Mets fan. If it had been a ninth inning or an October inning, we'd be talking about it into eternity. If it had unfolded as part and parcel of a victory, it would be The Bottom Of The Sixth, assigned to a lower shelf among the family heirlooms, to be sure, but snug in the Upper-Case cabinet nonetheless.

I was at Shea for Buckner!

Well, I saw The Grand Slam Single!

Gosh, I didn't get to go to those, but I was at The Bottom Of The Sixth!

You were? Cool!

Within a couple of weeks, sadly, the bottom of the sixth — all lower-cased — will be mostly forgotten and it will require a detailed explanation as to what was so great about one half-inning in an aggravating extra-inning loss. To avoid the memory hole rush, clip and save the following:

The Mets were down 6-1 and it wasn't even that close.

Luis Castillo singled. Luis Castillo singled three different times. If he had singled four different times, specifically in the tenth with two on and two out and one behind, “Brother Louie” would replace “Lazy Mary” every night in the seventh, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Luis Castillo has been zipping the ball at bat and stopping the ball in the field. Without endorsing a three-year $22 million contract as a reward, he's proving the perfect addition for the final two months of a pennant drive.

David Wright reached via a lousy play by the Padre third baseman, which was appropriate because David Wright was playing goalie in an archery match at third all night.

Carlos Beltran walked. Earlier Carlos Beltran doubled in a run. The Padres wised up and fed him a ball, a strike, then three balls.

Carlos Delgado…sigh. If Carlos Delgado had been just a touch more his old self, even his old self from before he went out with the bum knee in Pittsburgh, this would have been a sweep of San Diego. Carlos Delgado didn't get a hit the entire series and we lost two of three. Still, it doesn't excuse a single boo from the heavily represented Moron Corps at Shea. In fact, there were so many morons who booed Mets that they could have been welcomed on the scoreboard. I hope they all got stuck on an escalator and nobody came to rescue them.

Moises Alou walked — with the bases loaded to make it 6-2. Could anybody have done that? From the mezzanine, I couldn't say, but I was firing aptly named throw pillows around the living room at the commencement of the season when Moises was swinging at first pitches as is apparently his wont. I thought he showed great control with the bases loaded (better control than Glavine had).

Shawn Green, spelling Milledge now that the kid has taken the vet's job, hung in there. Mock the cliché if you like, but he took good swings in his first two fruitless at-bats. This time, one great swing on the first pitch and he singled hard into right field, scoring Wright and Beltran, making it 6-4 suddenly. You could feel the momentum rising from nil to nitro the way you did if you were in this old ballpark on June 30, 2000 when the score was building from 8-1 Braves to 11-8 Mets. You could also feel so much naches for Shawn, lost in a bumpy, slumpy forest for almost three months, derided and dismissed by the Metsnoscenti and dislodged from his job for every good reason in the world. Shawn Green has taken his demotion like a pro, not even a hint of “I need ABs if I'm going to help the team” griping that many veterans would willingly let slip. Shawn knows he has sucked since June. Shawn knows he is not this team's future. Maybe Shawn knows he's no lock for this team's postseason roster if the compilation of one is required. If you have a heart, you felt just un pitsel bit good for a good guy when he singled in those two runs in the sixth.

Sandy Alomar, Jr. lined out hard to second. Didn't realize until the scoreboard mentioned it that this was Alomar's Shea debut. As a Met? No, ever. I just looked it up (in fact, I realized I almost forgot he batted in the sixth) and I see that in a Major League career that stretches back to 1988, he had played against the Mets only once, in three Interleague games in 2002 at Jacobs Field. I've got to give him and DiFelice all the credit in the world for playing the most interactive of positions on the field and handling it so well since Lo Duca and Castro went down. You've hardly caught or even faced the pitchers on what's now your staff, yet there you are, thrown into the fire. I don't know what the dynamic is (and maybe Glavine would have had a more characteristic night with a more familiar catcher), but it sure seems admirable. Though he didn't get a hit in the sixth, Sandy's foot-block of the plate in the third to deny Milton Bradley what appeared to be a sure run was one of the quieter outstanding defensive plays of the year.

Marlon Anderson pinch-hit a three-run homer. Wow…Wow…WOW! What a freaking GIFT this guy has been to the Mets since the Dodgers eschewed his services. He didn't hit home runs, at least the out-of-the-park kind, the first time he was here. He may not hit many or any more, but in this jewel of a sixth, he was the inning's platinum sheen.

Mets led 7-6. There was so much joy at Shea at that moment. After high-fiving my main man Mike, I just turned around at looked at everybody in my immediate vicinity. They were happy in ways you can forget being at a great game, or at least a great half-inning, can make you. I locked eyes with a woman behind me, off my left shoulder. I smiled widely. She smiled widely. I didn't need another high-five. Our smiles slapped palms.

What a goddamn shame we still had to get nine outs. A far bigger shame that we neglected to.

15 comments to Clip & Save The Bottom Of The Sixth

  • Anonymous

    I did witness( in person ) last nights proceedings at Shea. Despite that fun sixth inning I never thought they would win the game. I turned to the fellow I was with and dared him to bet me ten bucks that Heilman would give up a homer! For a second or two I thought I had hooked a live one, but he knew better as he follows this team closely..
    I have a question for you Greg. Who do you think is the Mets MVP at this point in the season? I ask because I got into a very heated discussion last night with a slightly intoxicated fellow who was not happy with me after booing Billy Wagner ( never one of my favorite Mets ) he said Wagner, with only 3 blown save conversions, was the reason the team was in first. I did not agree . Do you ?
    Bullpen looks like shit buddy..Keep in touch…..Rich

  • Anonymous

    Pcelli60 – Your drunken acquaintance may be right. Despite the BS last night, and the B.S. on Tuesday night, Wagner has fulfilled assigned closer duties flawlessly 95 percent of the time. Even the best of the rest of the Mets has gone through weeks-long dry patches. Imagine Wags being off his game for three weeks – we'd be in Marlins/Nats territory right now.
    Doesn't this race look like the line of Army grunts in front of the captain? He asks for a volunteer (“Which one of you maggots wants to win the NL East this year?”), and everyone takes a step back. Despite the fact that the Wild Card will now most definitely come from a different division, I have faith the Mets will suck less than the rest in the next five weeks.

  • Anonymous

    The bottom of the sixth was great, but the first thing I thought of after the anderson homer was “who's going to give it up?”
    The bullpen can't stay this bad… can it?

  • Anonymous

    Great game, lousy outcome…
    Frikken Heilman.
    I (almost) hate to say it, but last night & the night before both felt like extensions of Game 7.

  • Anonymous

    Wagner, until this very recent and very disturbing slump, has been the most dependable player on the Mets, and he's certainly kept them from having to worry about bottoms of the ninth for the most part (we sure know what it's like to do that), but I can't quite call him the most valuable Met of 2007 because he just hasn't been called on that often. Circumstances have made his appearances a little on the sporadic side. I don't normally take my cues from frothing callers to the FAN, but on the way home last night, somebody was complaining about closers in general: all that money, just one inning, what the hell? I was kind of agreeing with him.
    Sometimes I wonder whether this team has had an MVP this year. No regular has really had his best year in 2007. By default, to date, I'd probably go 1) Reyes 2) Wright 3) Beltran 4) Maine 5) Wagner. Wright hasn't completely busted out but he's also been pretty consistent. Reyes (steady, too, I suppose but not nearly as spectacular as last year) and Beltran (spectacular in short stretches) did such a great job early that they're probably most responsible for building the cushion this team kept falling back on in mid-summer. Maine, who was having a breakout year, falls into that category as well.
    I'm not inking in any ballot just yet, mind you. Besides, a couple of late-entry candidates burnished their credentials in a big way in the sixth last night.

  • Anonymous

    Someone else I compared notes with brought up Game Seven in that great game wrapped inside a lousy game model. It made me think of Game Six versus the Braves, albeit on a far more limited scale.
    Legitimate precedents both. Precedents I could have done without.

  • Anonymous

    One subtle cap tip to Scott Schoeneweis who not only is no longer the worst reliever on the premises thanks to the Guillermo Mota Experience but has come around of late. He pitched his inning quite effectively last night. And after the defense bailed out Feliciano (after bailing him in) in the seventh, he was his old Other Pedro self in the eighth. Even Heilman deserves a bit of credit for not completely melting down after the home run. Seemed from Section Four that The Amazing, Floating Strike Zone betrayed him after he had Gonzalez oh and two.
    All that said, I, neither, was brimming with confidence staring down those nine outs. I also would have liked to have seen better at-bats in the bottoms of the seventh and eighth than the Mets delivered with their slender one-run lead. A nice mini-Sixth in the ninth, especially Wright's drive to tie it, but we could have used a little more stepping on the Padres' throat when we weren't coming from behind. Kind of reminded me of another 9-8 game against the Padres we didn't win; two of them, in fact. That's three too many moral victories against the same franchise in a lifetime.
    Nowhere in the narrative for this, but Conine has come up three times as a Met and hit the ball hard on each occasion.

  • Anonymous

    I just penned these thoughts in an email, but I thought I'd share them here as well.
    I've been thinking about Wagner and his ability to “pick his spots.” I don't think there's ever a “right time” for a closer to blow a save, but Billy has sure found some beauties to ruin: from last year I'm thinking 2nd game of the year last year, ruining the chance at 162-0; Pedro vs. the Yanks; and the Reyes Cycle. The latter two were games which would've been terrific memories, but now the games bring back terribly different thoughts, which is a true shame. Upon further review, he did blow some games that you could live with – by most accounts the Bonds homer was just something that you have to live with. But this year? What do all 3 blown saves have in common? Two major details: 1) All 3 came after Met losses; thus he extended losing streaks, and 2) All 3 games featured the Mets down early, coming back to take a lead with varying levels of drama, all on home runs — in increasing dramatic order, Beltran's 3-run homer against the Marlins; Lo Duca capping back to back to backers, and then last night. Putting those two details together makes these 3 Wagner outings maddening. Yes, there's no good time to blow a save, but damned if there aren't some pretty bad spots to pick either.

  • Anonymous

    Dissecting blown saves was a core competency I was hoping we as Mets fans could completely forget how to do for a couple of years. We seemed pretty close there for a while.
    Wagner (like his save-crossed predecessors) isn't allowed a slump. But he's going to have them anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I have faith the Mets will suck less than the rest in the next five weeks.
    A more accurate slogan than Your Season Has Come.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you in principle — it's a pasttime we should try to put behind us. But I kept coming back to those 2 things and it blows (no pun intended) my mind. Of all the save opportunities this year, he picks 3 home games in which the Mets hit dramatic home runs to come from behind? I'm terribly sorry if this means that if the Mets are down 7-0 and hit two grand slams in the 8th to take the lead this is what you will be thinking about; still thought it was worth pointing out.

  • Anonymous

    Makes that wriggle-out of the bases-loaded situation against the Braves on the last homestand that much more remarkable because, in the vein of what you underscore, that game followed a loss and, by definition of playing Atlanta, would have snatched defeat from the jaws of Amazin' victory.

  • Anonymous

    Ehh, I'm sorry guys, I may have contributed a bit myself.
    I've been away in Scotland since the end of the last home-stand. Well, while I was cut off from the world of baseball entirely (cricket is such an absurd game) the Mets were rolling. But I finally got to a place with internet last night and I decided to follow the game on gameday…and well, you know the rest. Mea culpa. Sort of.
    I wish these heartwrenchers didn't seem to happen at home so much.
    But bless this blog for filling me in on all that I've been missing. I don't know what I'd do without it.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome back. Thanks for making us your second stop on the way home.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree that the Mets have no true MVP this season, so far..Your bad vibe on Wagner is completely justified to me..
    I feel that one blown save in August or September, in a pennant race, is roughly equal to six save conversions throughout the rest of the year for a big time closer like Wagner!