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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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The First 89% of the Offseason Isn't Always the Most Important Part

Johan Santana has a career record of 93-44. He has a career ERA of 3.22, amassed in a league where they ought to have a keg behind second base. He has struck out 1,381 guys in 1308.2 innings. He has two Cy Young awards on his shelf. He led the American League in strikeouts in 2004, 2005 and 2006. His arsenal consists of an 91-92 MPH fastball, a biting slider and one of the game's best changeups, which makes that fastball look like it's sporting an additional 3 to 4 MPH. He's a lifetime .258 hitter, for Pete's sake. He'll be 29 years old on Opening Day. He's left-handed.

And unless something so awful happens that this blog will immediately be renamed Fire and Famine in Flushing, he's about to be a New York Met.

Despite the press corps biting at his ankles and a traumatized fan base in open rebellion, Omar Minaya locked up a guy who could be the best pitcher in baseball for a stunningly reasonable price: Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra and Philip Humber. Fernando Martinez and Mike Pelfrey remain in our employ. I'd still like an explanation for Lastings Milledge's exile and the firehose of money blasted at Luis Castillo, but these now go in the “oh, by the way” file, to be brought up post-hosannas. Omar's got a lot of credit for being creative and for being persistent, but he pulled off this deal by showing patience that bordered on the superhuman.

We could regret the names of the departed, of course: Gomez held his own in a Shea Stadium trial when he should still have been in the minors, Humber put up not-bad PCL numbers while on the rebound from Tommy John surgery, Mulvey's been talked up as a blue-chipper and Guerra is a 19-year-old with an awesome arm. And, as always, there's the shadow of the past: We root for a team that traded Amos Otis, Jason Bay and Scott Kazmir, after all. On the other hand, we once wondered whether it was worth mortgaging the bright futures of Tim Foli, Floyd Youmans, David West and Alex Escobar for short-term gains. Anybody heard from Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall recently?

And we're talking about Johan Santana here, not Victor Zambrano or Kris Benson. Heck, Santana's barely the same species as those two.

What will happen with Santana at the top of the rotation? Can't tell you. How could I? OK, I can predict one bad thing: As you read this, some nitwit in the Met A/V department is excitedly putting Johan highlights to the tune of “Smooth.” (Because the kids today, they go crazy over that Santana.)

But that aside, I can tick off a long list of things that now won't happen:

* I will not stare numbly at Grapefruit League games listening to Rick Peterson telling me that Kyle Lohse has done a great job visualizing success or hearing Omar say that Livan Hernandez “knows how to pitch.” Hearing either of those two beater cars talked up like a vintage, low-mileage Ferrari would have been … well, not devastating, since that's for much greater things in life, such as seasons thrown down the toilet by choking loafers. But it sure would have been disappointing.

* My scenarios for the Mets making it back to the playoffs no longer begin with Pedro Martinez being sturdy, John Maine and Oliver Perez not regressing and El Duque's brittle bones surviving a full season intact. All of those things remain important, but they're no longer the foundation without which all higher aspirations crumble.

* I will not have to read Marty Noble wax eloquent about the inherent nobility and wise perspective of Tom Glavine, as prelude to pointing out (correctly) that the Mets never found a replacement for his innings.

* The inane chatter of pitchers and catchers will be about how Santana has changed the clubhouse dynamic (or whatever), instead of 63 billion questions about the worst collapse in baseball history.

And finally, there it is. For once, the talk-radio gasbags were right: If ever a club desperately needed a page turned, it was the current incarnation of the Mets. By collapsing on the final day of the season, there was no way to turn that page. With no next chapter, there was nothing to do but brood over what had happened. The collapse was destined to dominate February and March, to haunt April, and there was the very real danger of it shaping the narrative of late spring and summer. There was no escape.

But it turns out there was a way out. Omar found it, and he didn't even pay the king's ransom we would have forgiven as the price for the key. Here's to Omar. Here's to a clean getaway. Here's to 2008. Here's to Johan Santana.

15 comments to The First 89% of the Offseason Isn't Always the Most Important Part

  • Anonymous

    I have to say, Omar sure is making a reputation as a shark for himself. Soon GMs will be contacting either other, and one of the selling points for this nobody in the minors will be “Well Minaya's talking to us about him, he must be something!”
    I swear next he's going to pull off a three team swap where it looks like everyone's getting a fair deal and it's going to wind up just two teams giving players to the Mets.

  • Anonymous

    IF this gets done (IF, IF, IF…too many Never Mets too recently documented to believe anything before it's something), it turns what was going to be the memo about the cover sheets on all TPS reports doldrums part of Spring Training into the triumphant penultimate scene of Office Space:
    This isn't so bad, huh? Making bucks, getting exercise, working outside.
    Fuckin' A.
    Fuckin' A…
    Really, all that is to say, Fuckin' A.
    IF it happens.

  • Anonymous

    As you read this, some nitwit in the Met A/V department is excitedly putting Johan highlights to the tune of “Smooth.”
    IF applicable, how about we phone in one suitable Santana dedication to 718/507-METS?
    One day, I was on the ground
    When I needed a hand and it couldn’t be found
    I was so far down that I couldn’t get up
    You know and one day I was one of life’s losers
    Even my friends were my accusers
    And in my head, I’d lost before I began
    I had a dream, but it turned to dust
    What I thought was love; that must’ve been lust
    I was living in style when the walls fell in
    When I played my hand, it looked like a joker
    It turned around – fate must’ve woke her,
    ‘Cause Lady Luck was waitin’ outside the door
    I’m winning!
    I’m winning!
    I’m winning!
    I’m winning!
    I’m winning, and I don't intend
    On losin’ again!
    Too bad, it belonged to me.
    I picked the wrong time – it’s not meant to be.
    Took a long time, but I knew growing up,
    I could see the day that I’d be
    A boy lookin’ to be
    Yes, indeed, to play the game
    And to win again

  • Anonymous

    What a week! Super Bowl and Santana! Holy shit- things can really start to get interesting now…
    Go Football Giants.

  • Anonymous

    The Mets AV dept would be better served by making a video with a song closer to the youth generation of today, like Juelz Santana's “Oh Yes”. Aye!

  • Anonymous

    (cue vintage Carlos Santana tune…)
    Got a black Cy Young winner
    Got a black Cy Young winner
    We got a black Cy Young winner
    Got him for four of our kids
    We got a black Cy Young winner
    In October, we'll see how we did.
    (Actually, we have TWO black Cy Young winners. Now, if one of them could win one for US…)

  • Anonymous

    Next week will be a gem:
    Giant VICTORY parade on Tuesday, Johan presser with #57 Met uni top on Wednesday.

  • Anonymous

    One may look at the number 57 and think, “Wright and Reyes! It's like Johan is coming with the foundation of this club and putting it all together!” I'll take it one step further.
    I'm not implying anything here, and I'm not putting Johan above Seaver or Doc, I'm just sayin: 41+16=57.

  • Anonymous

    Before someone rebuts with “Eric Valent wore 57,” remember that he hit for the cycle. The cycle is the offensive equivalent of a no-hitter (in terms of frequency). There could be magic in that number.
    Or you could bring up #57 Jason Roach. Uh… em… he struck out Shane Reynolds once. AND he struck out Javy Lopez–looking! God, how are players not clawing at eachother to wear number 57?!
    Or I could just be crazy. In all likelihood, that's the case.
    Hey, if we don't get Johan, can all these posts be deleted?

  • Anonymous

    If we don't get Johan, I might delete myself with a swan dive off the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff and I laughed out loud(LOL for those not in the know) thinking yeah that's exactly what Peterson would be saying about Loshe and Hernandez, might still be even, now I can look forward to Rick gushing over Sandy Koufax chatting to Santana.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking more along the lines of “Oye Como Va” myself.

  • Anonymous

    I've been making the “oye como va” joke since last summer.
    I just hope the people who put together the music at Shea REALIZE THERE IS ANOTHER SANTANA SONG BESIDES “SMOOTH”?! OMG!
    I thanked the deities when SNY at least pulled out something live from the Woodstock album. At least! some imagination! some ability to think a tiny bit outside of dead f'in center.
    i know, i should worry about other things. but i cannot. as far as I'm concerned, johan santana is the reason it has been sunny for the past few days.
    i see a “johan santana facts” web site coming soon.

  • Anonymous

    as far as I'm concerned, johan santana is the reason it has been sunny for the past few days
    Oof. I hope it's not horrible foreshadowing that on the deadline day it's no longer sunny.