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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 Way We Imagined It

God bless Johan Santana.

In the beginning he didn't look particularly on his game — the Cubs were getting pretty fair swings against him, and I was more than a little sick to my stomach thinking of finding Johan on the wrong end of a 3-1 or 4-2 score, the recipient of stoic attaboys and brave shrugs. Even Seaver couldn't shut the other guy down every night. Can't kill the guy for losing once every three months. But Santana seemed to gather himself in the fifth, disarming the pointy part of the Cubs order with just six pitches. And then the nuttiness began. After Sean Marshall erased Ryan Church on three pitches, Nick Evans got hit by a riding fastball and Santana launched a little roller and half of a baseball bat in the general direction of Mark DeRosa. The bat overtook the ball and tapped it once again, shades of Mike Sharperson scoring Stan Javier a million years ago for the Dodgers against the Giants, and all hands were safe. (If you click through that link, don't miss the stated reason for Tommy Lasorda's ejection. I love Retrosheet.) Marshall spread his arms in disbelief and dismay, and a wild hope sprang into being in orange-and-blue hearts everywhere. Jose Reyes struck out, but Luis Castillo managed a walk (I still blame him for everything, so don't even start) and up came David Wright. David Wright who, for all his heroics and all our adoration, tends to squeeze bats into sawdust with the bases loaded, feeling it's his solemn duty to hit five-run homers. Not this time — Wright shortened up his swing and poked one over the infield to get us even.

Santana survived his personal Tommy Hutton, the otherwise-not-particularly-immortal Reed Johnson (now 12 for 22 against His Johanness), and next inning the Mets jumped all over Chad Gaudin, with Jose Jose Jose Jose's 200th hit the triple-in-the-corner exclamation point, complete with Jose all but turning a celebratory cartwheel at third. If Miguel Oliva felt a twinge of annoyance somewhere, fuck him — that was one of those baseball moments where all the accumulated disappointment and doubt of a team's struggles explode and dissipate in a second of release, transmuting agony into joy. (I'll always think of John Olerud blasting a grand slam off Greg Maddux after the Mets' near-death experience back in 1999 — I have the vertical jump of a box turtle, but that night I leapt into the air as the ball sizzled over the infielders' heads and I didn't come down until an inning later.)

Santana, Wright and Reyes. Not a bad blueprint.

The rest? Well, I'm now on a first-name basis with Phil Cuzzi, whose strike zone was apparently determined by some permutation of the Zodiac, a mood ring and whatever he divined from pawing through the entrails of a spring lamb. (“PHIL!” I bayed at Cuzzi in the eighth, after his determined refusal to ring up Mark DeRosa ran Johan's pitch count higher and higher. Mild to the point of invisibility for me, but I was too frightened for a decent show of profanity.) Pedro Feliciano provided the usual Met-reliever nausea, but Luis Ayala looked better than he has in some time (possibly helped, it must be admitted, by Lou Piniella sticking with the JV) and we were home.

The Phillies have lost. While I've been writing this, the Pirates have given up a lead against the Brewers, taken it back (against Guillermo Mota, no less), and allowed the Brewers to tie. Final score to be determined. Whatever happens there, even Santana's arm can't be reloaded until this weekend at the earliest — Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden await against the enigmatic Oliver Perez and the faded Pedro Martinez. So be it. We'll worry about tomorrow when it becomes today. Even when the news is the happiest, there's only so much a Met fan's heart can take.

P.S. Happy Yankee Elimination Day, everybody!

4 comments to The Way We Imagined It

  • Anonymous

    “Happy Yankee Elimination Day, everybody!”
    One of my favorite days of the year!

  • Anonymous

    But this takes away the joy of seeing them look so bad and eliminated in the first round of the ALDS. Not to mention all the finger pointing and ascertions of being just a marquee-quality ball club which can't come through in the clutch that follow.

  • Anonymous

    Assuming we can hold on, it'll be nice to have October to ourselves. The sports pages will be especially comical, reading all the features the Daily News is still running about the Yankees instead of us. Y'know, a little sidebar “Mets Beat Cubs; Advance to NLDS” next to the full-page headlines like “A-Rod: We'll Win Next Year” and “Hank Leads Effort To Eliminate Divisions”.

  • Anonymous

    All of the above are excellent points regarding the MFY's. If we are so lucky as to make th Playoffs then we can look forward to the likes of John Harper and the worse still Filip Bondy covering the Mets.They just happen to be two of the biggest MFY hacks in print.
    Of course I don't have to read it.