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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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'So I Ran Outside Into a Gully'

That was the highlight of Keith Hernandez's story of finding himself in his first tornado around 1974: He opened the windows because he'd heard somewhere that the pressure differential could destroy a cheap apartment building, only his new stereo was getting wet, so he closed the windows, but he was still worried about the pressure thing, so he “ran outside into a gully” — and, shockingly enough, quickly found himself chest-deep in water.

Definitely one for the Crazy Keith files — and I quietly filed away the information that if I'm in an emergency in the vicinity of Keith Hernandez, I should not assume his cerebral cool on the ballfield means he's going to have good ideas. But metaphorically, Keith's tale of bad ideas and compounding mistakes was an accurate enough description of Tuesday, May 20, 2008 in the annals of the New York Mets. Let me see if I've got this right:

* Willie Randolph, apparently having decided the Mets need more distractions, had to answer a bunch of questions about a racial conspiracy theory, and this one didn't have anything to do with Paul Lo Duca or Billy Wagner — he seems to have thought it up basically on his own.

* Off to an apparently roaring start, the Mets ground to a screeching halt against T#m Gl@v!ne and got manhandled.

* They then got their butts handed to them by some anonymous pitcher, dropping the second half of a double header in ignominious fashion.

* Ryan Church, the 53rd out of the day and a player who missed time with a concussion less than three months ago, wound up face-down and bleeding in the dirt when everything was over and needed to be helped off the field. (Postgame update: Mild concussion.)

Did that cover everything? Or have I forgotten something else awful because my neurons are overcrowded after an endless day of Met awfulness? It's quite possible. (Oh yeah, Mike Piazza retired. He was already retired, but having it be official still sucks.)

Assuming Church is OK (and Yunel Escobar too, because let's be decent about things), you have to give the 2008 Mets credit: No team does a better job confounding any attempt to figure out what they're really made of. The team's obviously terrible — can't do a damn thing against a horrible Nationals team that might actually recruit pitchers by taking the guys turned down by the Dallas police after responding to the ads above the urinals in the upper deck. Well, no — they beat the Yankees in convincing fashion, working counts, having smart at-bats and running up the score. So they're actually pretty darn good, right? No — after an off-day they come out and play 18 innings of prairie-flat baseball, marked by giveaway at-bats, dimwitted baserunning, indifferent fielding and lousy pitching.

It's easy to be average — just plod along and win some and lose some. But that's too simple for the Mets of late — they have to be average by yo-yoing from bad to good and bad again at a truly fearsome velocity. It's no easy thing to be at once fundamentally mediocre and completely exhausting, but they're managing it.

8 comments to 'So I Ran Outside Into a Gully'

  • Anonymous

    Lay off Mex man! He wound up with poison ivy after that tornado gully experience.
    I've been in a couple of tornadoes, and they are terrifying, but Hernandez was talking tornado terror and the concern about the 1970s stereo equipment then diving into a gully in his swimsuit and then getting poison ivy. Then, he just randomly wanders up to the uppermost corner of right field and hangs out for a couple of innings signing autographs. That was hilarious. He was cracking me up.
    Bad couple of games, but there was fun stuff to watch. And it's baseball. There's games every day for the next week and a half.

  • Anonymous

    Mets are an enigma wrapped in a riddle – Churchill. Too much talent to be .500. Too little discipline to be anything else.

  • Anonymous

    Jason- I just read the Willie article you refer us to in your post and it really didn't seem like too big a deal ..He definitely feels the heat theres no doubt about it..Bringing up the issue of race was not his doing-but his response tells me he is aware it..Lets hope we ALL don't go there and make following this team worse than it already is..
    In the end this man will be judged by his teams performance-and as they continue to fail our collective criticism will not…Rich

  • Anonymous

    He never did clear up whether his stereo set made it though the tornado intact.

  • Anonymous

    Keith is the best. Always makes it fun to listen to and is a nice guy. About 10 years ago, wife took me and my 3 year old daughter to an Alzheimers walk. And of course I got a picture of my wife and kid with him. He couldnt have been nicer. Believe me, that picture was the highlight of her “Bat Mitzvah Montage Video”
    I dont know who is watching the games for Willie. For the most part, Gary, Ron & Keith point out when he is talking to players and complimented him and the coaching staff.

  • Anonymous

    Keith's frightening experience also jarred his factual facilities when it comes to 70's stereo equipment – he said 8-track tapes had not yet come out in 1974, when they actually became popular as early as 1968. He was better off, anyway, because the mechanics were so poorly designed that either the alunimum tab would stick to the capstan (causing tape to get caught in the player) or the continuious loop became so tight that it caused massive wow and flutter (in other words, 8-tracks didn't play well consistently, either, just like the Mets.)

  • Anonymous

    He said poison oak (common in California, where he grew up, but rare in New York), not poison ivy (vice versa).
    In the Midwest, where I think the incident took place (I missed the start of his story), it could have been either plant (or poison sumac too for that matter), and he might have said oak simply out of habit. The poison is the same in all three cases, so you get the same rash.
    But I suspect he got it right, and it was oak.
    He said he got it all over his body. It musta took an ocean of Calomine lotion …

  • Anonymous

    Fun story from Keith and the funnest thing about watching the game, but it's pretty fucking sad when it's the highlight of the night.
    Willie can't say what he said to a respected journalist like O'Connor then the next day act like it's all nothing really and it's all about wins and losses , if only thin gs were that easy , preaching to his team about keeping stuff in house and not on the back pages is funny coming from Willie.