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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 Ghost of Septembers Past

Oh, I remember games like these, Septembers like these.

The team has a playoff spot in its sights — and a pack of rivals that want the same prize. Your young hurler takes the hill; you know he’s good and can’t wait for the rest of the world to find that out. Your opponent is already beaten on paper, a collection of raw kids and vets playing out the string, with a journeyman on the mound.

The kid falters a little bit early on, and you worry about some awful blowout, some awful evidence that he isn’t ready. But he settles in and puts your worries to rest. Unfortunately, the journeyman isn’t pitching like one — and so on and on you go. It’s tied and it stays tied and you’re fretting, wondering why these palookas can’t just go down to defeat and not wanting to assume they will, because the baseball gods notice hubris like that and punish it. And as it stays tied the fear creeps in — maybe you’re not that good. Maybe that recent losing streak isn’t just a bump in the road, an enhancement of the ultimately joyous drama, or a test of character. Maybe it’s a true measure of what you are.

But then it comes together late. Their bullpen comes apart. The aging bat you brought up for the stretch drive, the one you thought empty of further hits, rifles one up the middle, just over their shortstop’s leap, and you have a lead. Then you’re running wild — the catcher stole a base, wasn’t that wonderful! — and you head for the ninth with a three-run lead. Nothing is assured, but it is three runs, and you just dropped a dead team walking with a hard shot between the eyes. Sure enough, they go down quietly in the ninth and you’ve won, taking another September step toward October.

Yes, I remember games like these and Septembers like these. Unfortunately, that was written from the point of view of the Colorado Rockies. I’m a New York Mets fan. And this September, the New York Mets suck.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

2 comments to The Ghost of Septembers Past

  • Anonymous

    I found this great post on the 20 reasons why mets fans have suffered more than anyone. It's a great read.

  • Anonymous

    Met fans have suffered more than anyone? Lucky you're not in the same league as the Cleveland Indians — or the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Year Angels of Anaheim. You want tragedy? They've had several players die on them. And the Indians would LOVE to have suffered as much as Met fans have: Since 1948, Met fans have won three World Series! 1986, 1969, and, depending on whether you rooted for the Giants or the Dodgers, 1954 (against the Indians) or 1955. The Indians have won none, and only five World Series games in those 61 years! To say nothing of Cub fans, as you guys well know! How about Expos fans: One postseason, a stadium that looked like a flying saucer, ridiculous uniforms, their greatest players are remembered with other teams (including Rusty Staub and Gary Carter), and now they don't even have a team anymore!
    And even with 2008, I think Phillies fans have suffered more. You ever visit Veterans Stadium for a Mets-Phillies game in July? I have. Hot. Brutally hot. An oven. (At least the team I was rooting for won. But then, I'm a Yankee Fan, so I was rooting for the Phils.) The Vet made Shea feel like Wrigley.
    Suffering? 2007 may be comparable to the Cubs' 1969 or the Phillies' 1964, and 2006 to the Cubs' 1984, but have you got anything like the Indians' 1997? Not really (as the A's pulled away early in Game 7 in 1973). And Tommie Agee and Tug McGraw both lived long enough to be sent away from the Mets and return to celebrate old championships; certain Indians and Angels did none of those things (win, live or come back).