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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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It's the Little Things

Believe it or not, some baseball games aren’t hell-for-leather affairs won by furious rallies, lost by closer meltdowns or somehow turning on a dread manifestation of Willie Harris. Sometimes a game walks along a tightrope for a while and finally tips one way or the other because of some little thing. And eventually you come to appreciate those games — not because they’re particularly memorable, but because they’re quietly and unfussily fair. These fundamentally even, somewhat mundane contests are the foundation upon which extraordinary games are built.

Or maybe I’m just looking for something to say about this one.

Look, it was a close game, OK? Jonathon Niese and Bronson Arroyo were well-matched. Niese made a couple of mistakes, but two of them were to Brandon Phillips (home run and double), which hardly counts given that being victimized by Phillips is basically inevitable if you’re a member of the Mets and playing baseball against him. (Niese’s other mistake turned into a home run by Chris Heisey, who must frustrate his teammates by already having his own not particularly imaginative nickname as a last name. We’re a long way from the Sultan of Swat when the best we can do is stick a letter in front of “Rod.”) The other elements of Niese’s destruction were what can be technically termed garbage: a worm-killer by Drew Stubbs and a parachute bunt by Arroyo.

On the other side? Well, Angel Pagan matched Phillips with a first-inning home run. Then, the little difference: With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Jason Bay hit a screamer up the gap that would have scored David Wright from first — except that Heisey barely caught up with it. If Bay swings a split-second earlier or if Heisey is a split-second slower reading the ball off the bat, it’s 2-1 Mets. (The booing of Bay, by the way, is ridiculous. He’s consistently either driving in runs or hitting line drives that are just caught. Save it for Ollie. Or K-Rod.) But nope, Heisey had just enough time and/or Bay’s ball lacked just enough velocity, and that was that.

Things weren’t perfectly symmetrical: Niese helped short-circuit two rallies for his own cause, first by trying to cross to third on a grounder to the shortstop (convenient, as Joshua and I were discussing mental errors) and then by striking out with runners on second and third and one out. The latter will happen sometimes; he needs to stop doing the former. The Mets made some noise in the ninth, but Francisco Cordero smothered Alex Cora on the eighth pitch of a lively at-bat to end it. A remarkably even game, just one where a couple of things ticked the needle over from W to L. Little things happen. Sometimes in your favor, and sometimes not.

Monday, July 12 is AMAZIN’ ALL-STAR MONDAY, with Marty Noble and Howard Megdal. Come out to Two Boots Grand Central at 7 PM. It’s in the Lower Dining Concourse of Grand Central Terminal, 42nd Street and Park Avenue, accessible via Metro-North as well as the 4, 5, 6, Times Square Shuttle and, of course, the 7 train. Phone: 212/557-7992. Full details here.

11 comments to It’s the Little Things

  • kd bart

    Sometimes there is no cause for a loss. The opponent just plays a slightly better game than you and gets the one break that matters.

  • Andee

    If the Reds keep getting pitching anything like they got tonight, they’re going to win it all. Seriously. They are a run factory, and against some damn good pitchers too.

    Poor Niese. I kept thinking, it’s six million degrees out and his teammates aren’t giving him anything to work with…how long can he hold out? And the answer was, seven innings. A perfectly respectable showing for a 23-year-old. But it would be nice if, every once in a while, Bay could jack one out. He’s done it for everyone else he’s played for. (As ever, though, I draw the line at booing him, or any Met who’s not demonstrably a giant rusty tool. Save that for the firecracker-chuckers and bleach-squirters and non-hustlers, please.)

    Now let’s hope they can do to the Phillies what they did to us.

  • James Allen

    I wouldn’t boo Bay, but he doesn’t deserve a pass. 44 RBI’s is about what one would expect from a .270 hitter that has had 112 PA’s will RISP. RBI’s are team dependent, of course, so can we stop using them as a measuring stick? The stark numbers are his OBP is down 27 points from last year and his slugging down over 100. In other words, his offensive performance this year has been horrendously mediocre, and all the line drives he’s hit that were caught don’t mitigate that fact. And hey, how about a HR once in awhile? No one will catch those. He has all of 6, 1 every 50.5 AB’s. Johan has 1 in 33. (An unfair comparison, of course, but still mildly amusing.)

  • CharlieH

    I just hope “we’re” not 6 back come Monday…

  • Rob D.

    Bay is going to have a 2005 Beltran-type year (more Rib eye steaks, though) and then go nuts next year.

    • Dak442

      Eminently plausible – I’ve felt the same most of this year. The weird thing is, Beltran came from a baseball dead zone with a short stopover in hicktown (albeit a playoff run), so he sort of had an excuse for being overwhelmed by New York. Bay came from Boston – what’s bugging him?

  • Guy Kipp

    The Reds played like a championship team last night.
    I’m disappointed in Bay’s power numbers, but, given his overall hustle and attitude, I hardly put him in a class with the first Met seasons George Foster, Bobby Bonilla and Roberto Alomar had.
    Yes, kind of like Beltran in 2005.

  • NostraDennis

    Not for nothing, but Bronson Arroyo has the hairdo of a middle-aged woman.

  • vertigone

    Bay’s not having a career year, obviously, but he’s not having as bad a year as his paltry HR total might suggest. He’s hit his share of balls off the top of walls for doubles and triples. He’s already matched his career high in triples with six, and his 19 doubles through half a season are only 10 less than his total for all of last year. He’s second on the team in XBH and RBI, behind Wright in both cases.

    His play in LF has been much better than advertised. Besides the dunderheaded drop the other night during Johan’s start, he’s been sure-handed out there. He’s 10 for 10 in steals, and runs out every last 6-3 groundout. And he’s been durable, playing in all but 2 games so far.

    Anyone dumb enough to Boo bay now was probably dumb enough to boo Beltran in ’05. I wish they’d scram and take that act to the Bronx.