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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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Hello, Hangman

The rain stayed away. It might have been better if it had come.

If it were May or June, this would be one of those drab, no-show games that you immediately toss down the memory hole. Being late September, it was like having cinder block after cinder block piled on top of you. Chris Volstad keeps going 2-1 and 3-1 and the Mets keep letting him escape. Oof! Third time through the lineup and now Volstad can get that curveball over. Ugh! Mike Pelfrey arguably had Josh Willingham struck out, Bruce Dreckman didn't call it and now Willingham has banged one off the orange plywood-and-chicken-wire foul-pole extension that amused me when I was reading Paul Lukas's take on it but now makes me want to cry. Ouch! Oh goodie, the bullpen is here for its usual slow-motion car wreck. Pedro Feliciano is hitting guys and Aaron Heilman is walking them. Gasp! And now Hanley Ramirez is on the warpath again. Jesus, Hanley, I've always thought you were a great player, so cut it out. Auggh! And now we have too far to go. [Death rattle]

So, one game behind Milwaukee with two to go. Johan Santana will pitch one of them, but which one? It's like some psychotic variation of the Lady or the Tiger: If you get the Lady you have to immediately pick from another set of doors, only this time there are many more of them, lots of Tigers and possibly no Lady behind any of them. But if you get the Tiger the first time, the Lady's appearance doesn't matter. Hell, that doesn't make any sense, but what does in a world where we don't convert a runner on third and nobody out one night, then get a miracle from Ramon Martinez and Robinson Cancel the next? If Jon Niese or Brandon Knight starts tomorrow and loses, the season is quite possibly over and everyone will wail and gnash forevermore about how we needed to pitch Santana. If Santana pitches and wins tomorrow, the season comes down to Niese or Knight, with Johan watching helplessly from behind the dugout railing. If Santana goes tomorrow and loses on three days' rest, a lot of stupid people will say a lot of stupid things about him. And no matter what, we need help from a Cub team that has its feet up.

I know, I know, Santana has to go tomorrow. But there's a military acronym for this situation — AOS. It stands for All Options Suck. And it's decisions like this that make me glad that while I'm an insane fan, I'm not a manager.

The worst thing of all? It's that I can feel myself sliding beyond this next logical stage of grief and working my way toward acceptance. No bullpen, half of a starting rotation, no natural left fielder, a concussed right fielder, no second baseman, a carousel of beat-up and suspect catchers — there's no possible shame in falling short with that, and no collapse involved. It's a goddamn miracle the team got this far, seeing where they were in mid-June. I know nothing is decided, and I'll be out there cheering my guts out for a team that's spent the year surprising me in ways both good and bad, and praying that somehow old Shea gets a stay of execution. But the hangman is here, and defiance feels very hard to muster.

9 comments to Hello, Hangman

  • Anonymous

    OK, Johan tomorrow. Sunday? What's Sunday?
    Greg, please dilute the fear with some faith.

  • Anonymous

    shea's never been easy on us. what made you think she'd change now?

  • Anonymous

    Tom Seaver was looking pretty spry in the pregame.

  • Anonymous

    Santana tomorrow, Ollie on short rest if we have a reason Sunday. This team has me so discombobulated I can't blog straight.

  • Anonymous

    I've become resolved to accepting that the Mets won't be playing in October, It is unsettling, but its probably true.
    Who to blame for this season of missed opportunity? I'd love to put it on Fred and Jeff Coupon (née Wilpon). I'd love to believe that the last two seasons are karmic retribution for making every effort to exclude the average fan from their bland re-creation of Ebbets Field (which should have been named in honor of Gil Hodges or Bob Murphy rather than a corporate entity that may not survive the current financial crisis) in favor of the investment bankers and executives. Oddly, enough they seem to be more of an endangered species than the average joe with the disposable income to attend a baseball game. But I'm not sure Karma exists.
    No the blame has to lie with Omar. In '07 the bullpen led to the collapse. Yes the lack of timely hitting contributed, but the bullpen couldn't hold a lead to save their lives. In '08 the bullpen leaves us out in the cold with 2 game to play. What did Omar do to improve the bullpen? Nothing. No we brought back Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoenweiss who seem to fail as often as they come into games. We trot out Feliciano and Joe Simth 80+ times and expect to succeed? We expect a guy acquired for cash, a fellow who pitched all of 2008 in the Mexican League and another after the trade deadline to pick up the slack? Chad Bradford ends up on waivers and we let him go. We leave spring training with Jorge Sosa and give Steve Register back to the Rockies. Matt Wise pitches in all of 5 games, if that many. Wagner is having elbow problems and no pickup is made in case he goes down (which inevitably he does). Oma this is your fault. Our Achilles the last year and a half has been the bullpen and you have done nothing to improve it.
    Instead of throwing all of our resources at our weakness you inexplicably sign Luis Castillo and his bad knees to a 4-year deal. Why? You exercise the option on Moises Alou, but have no reliable backup for an injury prone 40 year old, why? Thank heavens for the emergence of Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans, but I think thats luck rather than a coherent plan.
    Worst of all Omar is getting a 4-year extension, while Jerry Manuel, who probably managed to resurrect this team after Willie's disastorous reign earlier this year, will likely get shown the door. At the end if the day Jerry did everything he could with the flawed team Omar built. This wasn't Willie trotting out the same guy everyday. It was Jerry trying something different everyday and the guys failing. Its on Omar.
    I can't wait until next year. No Pedro, No Ollie (good or bad) A year older Delgado and Castillo. No Manuel? Will it be Oberkfell?
    I shouldn't care because the Mets no longer want me as a fan. I can't afford 81 games. But, I can't quit this. I'm not like the indiffernent millionaires who will get to fill seat or just make tickets unavailable next year.
    I want to not care, but I can't. I know I'm not alone.

  • Anonymous

    well Santana will pitch tomorrow and get us a much needed win with the Cubbies winning tomorrow and well lets face it the Phillies will win also. But what we need to do is pitch Ollie on 3 days rest. This guy has an affinity for big games…..So why not put him in the finale of Shea with the Mets fighting for their playoff chances. I think thats what it will come down and frankly I am willing to put faith in Ollie. Lets just hope that their can be postseason ball at Shea so that she may feel the playoff atmosphere before she goes down. I just want to be able to stick to the Stankees….thats its…
    J. Markus Franklin

  • Anonymous

    your last sentence put it perfectly. I want to not care. Too late for that.

  • Anonymous

    I actually think that pitching Santana on Saturday is the dumbest thing the Mets can possibly do. If this were a game 7, of course you pitch him. If all that mattered were today and tomorrow, then of course you pitch him then Ollie and hope that they can both do it on short rest. But with Sheets and Sabathia pitching for the Brewers, it's foolish to think that the Brewers will lose both and the best we can hope for is a Brewers-Cubs split. That means that the Mets need to win 3 in a row to make the playoffs. Manual MUST figure out which combination of pitchers can best win 3 in a row. Not 2, but 3.
    As he's going to do it, we have Santana on short rest today, Ollie on short rest tomorrow and then pot luck in a potential one game playoff against the great Brewers offense Monday if we get there. I can't imagine Pedro is an option on short rest (if he was, then it would be different). The dreadful bullpen will be leaned on very heavily all three days as a result.
    If you are looking at it in the context of having to win 3 games, it seems infinitely better to go with Niese against a weaker Florida lineup today, Santana on full rest tomorrow (when maybe he can go 8 or 9) and then Ollie on full rest in a one game playoff (maybe he'll rise to the occasion like in game 7 vs. St. Louis). It's a no brainer — get through today and you have real hope given who is pitching your next two and on full rest. But Manual is managing as if today is all that matters without regard for the need to win two more afterwards and he has really compromised the Mets for the next two.
    The parallels to last year are just getting worse and worse. A Friday loss to Florida to drop one back, maybe Santana will replicate Maine's Saturday performance from last year and then Ollie on short rest has the potential to bring back memories of Gl@v!ne's finale.
    I am now praying for a rainout to save Manual from himself today.

  • Anonymous

    If there's a Monday game, fuck it, start John Maine.