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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 Round Mound of Pound Is Chicago-Bound

It hasn't been a banner couple of years in Flushing where roster management is concerned, but the Mets moved with rather un-Metsian determination and dispatch tonight, sending Ramon Castro to the Chicago White Sox for 25-year-old pitcher Lance Broadway even as Omir Santos was still raising his fists toward the klieg lights.

Of course, Santos helped make their decision more straightforward, lining a home run into the left-field stands at Citi Field for the Mets' first run and driving in their second and final run six innings later. (Would someone explain to me why the Marlins didn't walk Santos to load the bases and pitch to the immortal Wilson Valdez?) That was enough to support Mike Pelfrey and a parade of lights-out relievers, with Gary Sheffield serving as young Omir's supporting cast on the offensive side. Who knows how Sheffield will hold up in the summer heat, but right now you'd think it was 1999 — balls are leaving his bat blue-shifted, prompting third basemen to call their insurance companies. The mortar shot Sheffield bounced off the Acela Club set the crowd murmuring even if it was just a strike with 410 feet of asterisk attached to it; the single he whistled to start the 11th was a lesser liner but ultimately of greater import. (And meanwhile, David Wright continues to grind his bat to sawdust with games on the line. Nice to have that particular worry be the parenthetical, isn't it?)

Emily and I took it in from the Excelsior level, in a section that had apparently been reserved for feral children. But being in a “Lord of the Flies” outtake was the lone blemish on the evening: The ominous weather forecast had left us agreeing that this time we might actually see quite a bit of the Caesar's Club, instead of looking around it in brief bemusement on the way to and from the bathroom, but the skies yielded a couple of spritzes of subway-time rain and then remained peaceable for the balance of a very nice late-spring night. Meanwhile, down there on the field, the Mets did their part, surviving a pretty good-looking young lefty in Sean West and dodging Met killers Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross and Hanley Ramirez (in an unasked-for cameo).

On the 7 train back, your bloggers were exchanging rapidfire SMSes, celebrating all things Omir. A sampling:

GP: Santos has Godlike tendencies.

JF: He is an LES Artiste. (Hipster ref?)

GP: Brian Schneider to the white courtesy phone, your bus out of town is waiting.

JF: If only. He has many more Toyotas to sell, I fear.

GP: So did Bill Sudakis and we chased his sorry ass out of here. Santos 4-Ever!

(You see, we can be brief.)

What we didn't expect was that the other catcher would be the one to be paged in the clubhouse.

Ah, Ramon. The Round Mound of Pound arrived as a nice surprise, a Marlin castaway with surprising pop and a light touch in a clubhouse that could alternate between deadly serious and snoozingly vanilla. (What will Saturday matinees be without the bubble-stuck-to-the-hat trick?) But he was given several chances to claim the catcher's job for his own, and flubbed all of them because he could never manage to stay on the field long enough to put minds at ease. Granted, I also just described Schneider — but the demand for catchers who are lead-pipe cinches for repeated trips to the DL is rather limited, Schneider was due $4 million this year compared with Castro's $2.5 million, and that was more or less that.

Santos? Yeah, I know he's 28 and now has exactly 86 big-league at-bats on his resume. But he's got a short, sharp swing (that pinch-hitting farce was ridiculous, but Jerry was on to something), a pretty fair arm and calls a good game. And, of course, he has the flair for the dramatic that's made him a cult hero, from his first career homer to his undressing of Jonathan Papelbon to his lightning-quick second tag to tonight. You know what? Let's go for it and see if he can also move a Toyota or two.

Wanna be treated like an All-Star? Then read Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

7 comments to The Round Mound of Pound Is Chicago-Bound

  • Anonymous

    I was there tonite as well.
    I remember seeing Santos 2001-2002 playing for the S.I. Skanks. For a young guy he definitely impressed. A rocket arm and a fearsome bat. So what happened ?
    A log jam behind Posada. A guy looking for a chance. Omar did his homework. Goodnight.

  • Anonymous

    It was a hipster reference, Jason. Your skinny-jeaned friends were basically calling Santos a poseur – someone who is “all about just being seen.”
    I tend to agree – Omar used a very small sample size on Omir to trade Ramon. What happens after pitchers see him for the second or third time and remember he can get around on the fastball?

  • Anonymous

    What happens then is Shneider's averageness goes back to being the everyday catcher..if Manuel notices that Santos isn't hitting any more. It's not like Santos is hitting .400 now, but he's doing what Castro did for us. Being Clutch. He's fine as the backup, and maybe he can do more, or maybe he can't. Luckily, the backup catcher doesn't make or break a team. usually.
    People give Schneider too much grief. I think Piazza spoiled us, but he's a perfectly acceptable catcher. We've got a good offense anyway, I just worry when the roster management comes back into play when the team is healthy. Will the right guys get the starts, or only the favorites?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Ceetar. Brian Schneider can call a game, is very good defensively, can get some hits and unlike Castro, blocks the plate instead of being perched in front or behind it.
    See what you two missed by going to the game instead of watching it on TV like most of us? We knew as early as the pre-game show that rumors were circulating that Omar was working out a deal with Chicago to send Castro to the Sox.

  • Anonymous

    I agree about people being too hard on Schneider. I think Minaya made a really good deal here. Broadway's numbers don't look that impressive right now, but he's only 25 and he's got the potential to be a starter. And, for Castro, he gets traded to a team that made the playoffs last year. It may seem like an impulsive move because Santos had an unbelievable week, but I think there's more to it.

  • Anonymous

    It's not just Piazza that spoiled us. For a club that hasn't exactly been laden with greatness at most positions, we've had Grote, Stearns, Carter, Hundley and Mike the Great, and some serviceable others. I know it's a defensive position, it's just hard to remember that when a guy is hitting .230.

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad you guys aren't doing the Amazin' Avenue trip about Castro. I'd never been over there before, and for some inexplicable reason did just this weekend. Holy shit. I'd never realized before now that Omir Santos had been caught pants-down with that many men's wives, girlfriends and underage daughters. The Omir-hate was just flabbergasting. And every time he drove in a run, they seemed to hate him more. These are Mets fans? Really?
    Yes, Santos is a scrub. It's likely he will turn back into a pumpkin eventually, given his history. But geez, the way they were carrying on about Castro, you'd think we'd sacrificed the 1999 edition of Mike Piazza, with the 1970-edition Johnny Bench's mitt and arm as a throw-in, for a bucket of month-old pizza crusts. All that puling over a backup catcher. A 34-year-old backup catcher. Who can't stay off the DL. One thing people who take statistics way too seriously can't seem to grasp is that getting lucky with your scrubs and the guys you picked up off the scrap heap means as much to winning as anything else.
    Also, I'm reasonably certain that Johan made his feelings about who he wanted to be catching him early and often, and if any one person's decision tipped the balance, it was probably his. If Johan ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, except maybe Yankees and Phillies fans.