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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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Through Gritted Teeth

The Mets are now 1-5 on a West Coast trip against crappy teams. Tonight they got beat by Max Scherzer, he of the David Bowie eyes, and Trent Oeltjen, a young Aussie who really ought to retire the moment the Mets leave town. (Trust me, Trent — baseball isn't this easy.) They got beat because they sent out a lineup composed of guys who couldn't make the Junior Varsity, because they were unlucky, and because at various points they played flat, indifferent and frankly lazy baseball for the second night in a row.

One more final game in the desert and it's back home for 11 against the Giants, Braves and Phillies, all considerably tougher competition than the Padres and Diamondbacks. Barring a jaw-droppingly unlikely series of events, that homestand will be the final Waterloo, the stretch after which even the true believers will have given up.

The hope here is that it doesn't mark the season going from unfortunate to ugly. Because it's looking like it sure could.

It's been clear for some time that 2009 was going to be a harvest eaten by locusts, a famine year that reminds you baseball is fickle. Which is taxing to live through, but part of being a fan. But a sour spring has turned into a nauseating summer, with mutterings about subpar medical care and willful front-office blindness, the drip-drip of revelations about Tony Bernazard's reign of terror and Omar's self-immolation at the podium. That wasn't enough to necessarily turn the fans against a wounded team, but now the effort on the field has to be called into question, too. It was bad enough that Livan Hernandez showed up Alex Cora and Luis Castillo half-assed a throw to Daniel Murphy; it was worse that these misdeeds came a night after Jerry Manuel's made his displeasure with Angel Pagan, Fernando Tatis, Mike Pelfrey, Anderson Hernandez and Murphy evident.

Omar Minaya, for all his many faults, was probably going to get a pass for 2009 because his team got hit by lightning. Then he had to pick an embarrassingly public feud with a reporter, and now his future seems very much in doubt. Jerry Manuel, for all his many faults, was probably going to get a pass for 2009 because his team got hit by lightning. But now his charges are playing like a team that's stopped listening to its manager — and much more of that could put his future in doubt.

I've been more than clear that I think Omar should go, and I think as a strategist Jerry is a pretty good player's manager. So what's wrong with a purge of the ranks? Nothing in the long term, I suppose. But purges are generally the culmination of ugly, bloody times. Citi Field has flaws that good conscience demands the Mets address before 2010, but so far it's been a relatively bright spot in an otherwise horrible year. That can change quickly, however, and it will if the Mets come home and play the kind of indifferent garbage-time baseball they've shown us on this road trip. The Wilpons are already staring at the likelihood of inaugurating their new park with 90 losses, which is bad enough; having the Mets slump across the wire pelted by well-earned boos would be a whole lot worse.

Say “boo” and you're three-quarters of the way to saying “book.” Take your mind off the carnage with 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.

6 comments to Through Gritted Teeth

  • Anonymous

    I think it's sad that a scorched-earth type finish like the one you allude to will be the only way change will be made. Unfortunately, you can't fire the owner or his son…

  • Anonymous

    While I see little point in defending Jerry Manuel and even less in defending Omar Minaya, I can't get too excited by the prospect of a purge of the ranks. I just don't see the difference it will make.
    The Marlins will win a World Series, dismantle the team, and then build another contender before the Mets even make the post season again.
    And the Marlins do it without a new stadium or their own network.
    Heck, imagine what they could accomplish if they had fans.

  • Anonymous

    Omar should have been let go after last year, when he built a team so top-heavy that a SINGLE injury (Wagner) derailed an otherwise-certain division title (at least). And that was in the pre-Madoff salad days when only the BlowSox and Yank-mes could outspend the Mets. Jerry did a pretty good job juggling his limited bullpen options for most of his 2008 tenure, but we all know what happened down the stretch, capping the 2 ugliest consecutive 2d place finishes since Germany lost World War 2. Now the team looks like it's quit on him, and his occasional clownish antics don't wear well on a team struggling with a badly damaged public image in the toughest media market in the country. If any team ever needed to clean house, it's these Mets. We can only hope that ownership is also willing to patch the gaping holes on the field before the Santana-Wright-Beltran-Reyes window closes. Otherwise the dawn of the 2010s will look an awful lot like the dawn of the 1990s.

  • Anonymous

    I think Jerry has skated on a lot of horrendous decisions – by-the-book managing, bullpen inconsistency, lineup follies, poor use of role players – long before the injury situation became a farce, due to his engaging personality and deft handling of the media. How many times did he pull a starter prematurely, leave a reliever in too long, misuse Loogys, bench guys who shouldn't, bury players he didn't care for? I think he needs to go as much or more than does Omar, but they're a package deal, I think.
    It's going to be a depressing autumn with angry fans (or no fans) at the ballpark. Distressingly, the Yankees are rolling to a championship or two, which means another generation of young fans lost to the dark side, leading to lower TV ratings and ticket revenue.
    I hope Madoff's cellmate kicks him in the nuts (or worse) every day.

  • Anonymous

    The question of the moment, as related in several print articles and umpteen blogs is whether the Wilpons eat contracts and clean house, or, cosmetically shift Omar and Ricco.
    Shift Omar and Ricco ? Is the big problem that Omar should not be before a camera ? That's all that a shift solves. Are the Wilpons so cost conscious that they can't or won't clean house ?

  • Anonymous

    I do believe the Mets have more players on the DL than the Marlin's have fans.
    But my good friend is one of the few and she's been making fun of us all season. I can't really blame her.