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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 Time of Tim

Rickey Henderson is going to Cooperstown. Pedro Martinez might be going to Miami. Derek Lowe might be coming here — if he's not going to Atlanta. Oliver Perez? Nobody has ever been able to state with particular confidence where anything propelled by Oliver might be going. Billy Wagner might be coming to Citi Field in August.

And you know what? None of it particularly matters. This is the night of Tim Redding, starter 5a to Jon Niese's 5b, who passed his physical (throwing arm still attached, no signs of blindness or missing legs/feet, check) and is now officially a Met in Waiting.

I say this not to bury Rickey or Pedro or dismiss Billy or diminish Derek or Oliver. I say this because it's the offseason, and as I grow older offseason hypotheticals increasingly strike me as useless teases.

Rickey Henderson is going to Cooperstown, with Jim Rice joining him now that sentiment has battered down the sensibly constructed barriers of statistical comparisons in his case. (Which is not a particularly venal sin: The Hall of Fame is a museum, not a lifeboat, and there are about 14,000 vaguely talented old New York Giants clotting up the ranks thanks to buddies on the Veterans Committee.) My reaction — and maybe it was the jetlag and the winter — was underwhelming. Yes, Rickey Henderson lit up Queens briefly in 1999, stealing 37 bases at age 40 and momentarily turning Roger Cedeno into a competent baseball player. But his Met career took a hideous turn in Game 4 of the NLDS against Arizona: Bobby Valentine pulled him for defense (with Melvin Mora throwing out a runner at home about a nanosecond later, instantly and thoroughly proving Bobby had been right), and after that Rickey Henderson went instantly and irredeemably from Colorfully Wise Old Rogue to Gigantic Pain in the Ass. He whined about being lifted, played cards with Bobby Bonilla as a Cinderella season turned to rags, whined in spring training, then jogged to first on a non-home-run and got released. (For which various sins I consigned him to a lower rung of Met Hell.) Unless we hear Rickey will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mercury Mets cap and bearing a third eye, his ascension is at best a momentary diversion from snow and ice. It's Rickey's day, and that's well and good, but it's no longer Rickey's time.

Pedro might be a Marlin, we're told — except for the fact that everybody immediately started denying that Pedro would be anything of the sort. I felt a brief bit of wistfulness at the soon-to-be-debunked news, thinking of what a great teacher Pedro is, about his steely glare on the mound and how much fun it can be to think along with him as he concocts improv baseball jazz from his brain and the situation on the field and whatever he sees in the batter's eyes and whatever pitches he has in his arm that day. Remember that first afternoon as a Met regular, with him walking slowly and boldly past the Reds dugout, like an alley cat just out of reach atop a junkyard dog's fence? So do I. (I also remember fucking Looper blowing the fucking save.) But it was a long time ago: We have seen, in excruciating detail, that Pedro's battered body will no longer do what his crafty brain asks of it. There are no miracles left to invoke — only a slow decline into sepia and a last couple of lines in the record books that we'll tell our kids not to dwell on. Pedro's time, sad to say, has passed.

Derek Lowe? Oliver Perez? We know the situation by now — these are the Siamese Twins of the Scott Boras Traveling Circus, unhappily linked until some surgically minded GM comes up with $40 million to separate them. It's been fairly compelling free-agent kabuki, I'll admit, and so far well-played by both Boras and Omar Minaya, who still has all the reason in the world to be patient. This will work itself out whether or not I tie myself into a knot thinking about it in January. Someone's time will come, but it's not here yet.

Billy Wagner? A successful return in August would be a wonderful epilogue to a compelling story, but I've heard these kind of stories too many times before. Everyone is ahead of schedule in January, just as everyone reports to camp in the best shape of his life in February and everyone displays new reserves of grit and determination in March. (You just watch Luis Castillo follow this arc, showing up in St. Lucie slightly less pudding-bellied and coated with Dorito dust, saying all the right things and then collecting two extra-base hits through Memorial Day.) In August Billy Wagner will be 38 — finding that there are pitches left to coax out of that arm would be miracle enough, so let's not even daydream about his finding smoking fastballs and sly sliders in time for late-season games that matter. Billy's time is quite possibly over, and at best it's farther off than we should allow ourselves to believe.

Which brings us to Tim Redding, a 31-year-old journeyman with a 4.92 ERA and two seasons in which he's won 10 games. Which description isn't meant to discount him or predict, with that irritating certainty of the offseason, that he has nothing to offer the 2009 Mets. Rather, it's to be realistic about what news we actually have and what it actually may mean. There's some decent competition for the fifth starter's slot, no more and no less. Miracle returns? They're nice to imagine, as are big, game-changing checks written by other people. And yes, it's nice to remember past glories — so long as we repress less-glorious days. But when thinking of the 2009 Mets and their certainties, none of that will do us much good this night. For better, for worse or for unsurprising portions of both, it's the time of Tim.

11 comments to The Time of Tim

  • Anonymous

    Derek Lowe? Oliver Perez? We know the situation by now — these are the Siamese Twins of the Scott Boras Traveling Circus, unhappily linked until some surgically minded GM comes up with $40 million to separate them.
    This line is making me snortlaugh uncontrollably.
    And making me want your book. I hate January.

  • Anonymous

    That is, if you have a book. (My snortlaughs apparently blinded me to the author's name; my apologies for thinking it was Greg.)

  • Anonymous

    2010: Roberto Alomar's on the ballot. Let's do all we can to keep the “how many Mets players are in the Hall of Fame?” trivia answer limited to Ashburn, Snider, Berra, Spahn, Ryan, Seaver, Mays, Carter, Murray and Henderson.
    Robbie Alomar was the first Met I ever rooted against in All-Star voting and he'll be the first Met I ever root against for Cooperstown (as inane a destination as it has become in its “Yea O'Malley/Nay Hodges” incarnation).
    Alomar already has the only honor he deserves. He earned that one, he did.
    I find the self-righteous arguments made to keep out pretty great players like Rice (and Murphy) rather tiresome, but I'll be happy to present Alomar's 2002-03 credentials to any BBWAA member who is willing to be so enlightened on why this man with so many stats in his favor was anything but a Hall of Famer when it wasn't worth his trouble to conduct himself as one.

  • Anonymous

    No worries — when Greg's book comes out, bring it my way at the signing and I'll scribble random weird similes and assaults on Luis Castillo in the margins. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I vote for enshrining Robbie in the Hague.

  • Anonymous

    Alomar's stint in NY was such an epic failure that I could hardly believe it actually happened as it did. He was one of my favorite players and I was thrilled when we brought him on board. I thought he was about as much a slam-dunk pickup as could be – a high average, gap hitter with excellent defense and a little pop. And we got none of it.
    As for Pedro, common sense and better judgement tells me that he should move along, but the fan (not the GM) in me wants him back. If we can get him for a low risk, low dollar 1yr contract I would do it. If i'm going to root for a 5th starter not to suck, I'd much rather it be Pedro than Redding.

  • Anonymous

    The trade of Robbie Alomar to the White Sox brought upon the first (and perhaps only) time I ever heard Gary Cohen berate a player on-air. It was Gary, so it was still toned down, but man you could tell he was disgusted with Alomar. And deservedly so.

  • Anonymous

    We don't want Wagner back this year. What are we looking at here after surgery, an 85 mph slider and a 91 mph fastball? No thanks. We already had Scott Strickland once, we don't need him again.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to the Braves, Derek Lowe.
    I'm not sure if I'm pissed or not…

  • Anonymous

    Four years and $60 million is WAY too much for Lowe at his age. He's a really good pitcher, but the Braves really overspent, IMO. I mean, four years ago, Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets for four years and $53 million when he was 33 and the U.S. wasn't facing a massive economic meltdown. Inflation (and hindsight regarding his injuries during couple of years) notwithstanding, Lowe is no Pedro Martinez. I'm really glad Minaya didn't try to top that deal.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to the Braves, Derek Lowe. I'm not sure if I'm pissed or not…
    I'm not. This is another one of those Barry Zito are-you-f*ing-kidding-me deals for a very middling arm. The Braves probably paid through el schnozzola to keep him away from the Mets. Oh, please keep doing that, Braves! (At least the Mets were paying not just for a diminished Pedro Martinez but to lure other players to New York in his wake. Who's going to follow Derek Lowe to f*ing Atlanta?)