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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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Unhappy Man Wins Baseball Game

The audience may have dwindled to diehards who think Citi Field is marvelous on a misty, unseasonably cool evening and we hardcore devotees on our couches, but the Mets rewarded that smaller population of interested parties with a hell of a ballgame. It had Met pluck and verve and some Marlin pluck and verve too, along with a much-appreciated helping of dopey baseball on the enemy side, a shocking reversal, a stirring comeback and a somewhat melancholy denouement. Not bad for whatever you paid out there in Flushing or the investment of your time in the living room or the car.

The Marlins played a strange, upside-down game, one that turned twice on misplays by Cameron Maybin. First came Angel Pagan’s fifth-inning smash to center, played into three bases by Maybin. That was forgivable considering the conditions, but the eighth inning wasn’t: With two outs, Pagan smacked what was clearly a single into center. Except it wasn’t — when Maybin went after it with a somewhat leisurely approach, Pagan pounced, streaking for second and arriving safely. Whereupon — as had happened in the fifth — Carlos Beltran drove him home to tie the game at 5.

Offsetting Maybin’s lack of hustle (and a certifiably lousy night for ace Josh Johnson) was a surprising dollop of it from Hanley Ramirez, who’s inherited Miguel Cabrera’s status as the Worst Great Player in Baseball. (For some reason this role is often filled by a Marlin.) Ramirez’s lack of interest in the game he’s so superb at is routine and deplorable, but something got into him tonight: He had a full head of steam heading for first with two on and nobody out in the top of the seventh, which allowed him to just beat Ruben Tejada’s relay and avoid being the back end of a double play, setting up the three-run homer by Gaby Sanchez that ruined R.A. Dickey’s night. (By the way, if you ever want to explain to someone why a knuckleball that does absolutely nothing is a bad thing, cue up the video of Sanchez’s blast.) As a baseball fan, I’d of course rather see Ramirez play full-throttle; as a Mets fan, I much prefer it when he’s going through the motions.

The bottom of the ninth was a great bit of theater: Ike Davis snuck a little worm-killer past Will Ohman, depositing it in one of the only places Ike Davis can place a ball to yield an infield hit — and even then he was nearly out on a superb, stuntman-quality midair heave by Dan Uggla. Ike moved to second on Josh Thole’s second hit of the night, but with two outs, all was left to Luis Castillo — who promptly slapped a single over Uggla’s head.

This didn’t ensure a happy ending, as the things you can do during the time it takes Ike to run from second to home include mowing a good-sized lawn, reading a couple of chapters of Tolstoy, and possibly growing a beard worthy of a Brooklyn bartender. But young Mike Stanton’s howitzer arm is not yet perfectly calibrated: He had Ike dead to rights, but made his second bad throw of the night, Ike arrived safely, and we’d won.

So where was the melancholy part? It came on the replay. I always enjoy watching the replay of the batter who drove in a walk-off run: He’ll round first, but the businesslike demeanor is already slipping, as what really matters is what’s going on with his teammate heading home. You see the batter turned brief runner applauding, or the pointing to God, or the fist pump, and the hug from the first-base coach, and then there’s the happy scrum of half a team delivering head pounds before escorting the hero to the celebratory postgame spread.

Except tonight Castillo rounded first, turned toward home, watched Ike score and barely reacted. He displayed all the satisfaction of a man who’d completed a transaction at an ATM. His teammates were happy for him, with Dickey speaking movingly and empathetically of what he’s gone through, but you could see quite clearly that Luis was not happy for himself, not even at the moment when he’d just won a baseball game. He is no longer capable of that happiness, as it doesn’t outweigh the reality of everything else: He’s no longer a starter, was never a fan favorite, and has become an uneasy mix of mentor and problem for an organization that wishes he belonged to someone else.

It was a marvelous game and a thrilling win, but that made for a bad aftertaste.

12 comments to Unhappy Man Wins Baseball Game

  • dgwphotography

    You put it perfectly, as usual. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that replay. He couldn’t even be happy for the moment – I acted as if he didn’t care one way or the other.

    It has been my belief that Castillo is a cancer in the clubhouse, and has sucked the life out of this team. I felt that way when the Mets went into the tailspin when he came back from the DL, and last night just confirmed that feeling.

  • No pie or interview with Kevin either. I even hung around an extra 2 minutes to see if it would happen.

    I do feel bad for Castillo. Tejada’s not ready, and while the Mets may be basically done, i still want them to win ballgames, and I think we’ve surpassed the point of evaluation for 2011 Tejada. He’s not ready. a month won’t change that. Play Castillo, get him back to his career norms, which he was starting to come around to when he was benched. He’s not a bad person, and he’s not a bad teammate for wanting to play every day. Will he be in there today?

    I had fun, despite finding no one to go to the game with me. I actually enjoyed the left field landing, spend a couple of innings in the farthest section, front row, taking pictures like I was the CF camera. Actually, I was close enough to _touch_ one of the CF cameras.

  • It was a marvelous game and a thrilling win, but that made for a bad aftertaste.

    A perfect summation of the 2010 season: even the good times end up unenjoyable.

  • metsadhd

    Castillo has feelings but I were to be paid a fortune to play a little boys’ game, I would not be pouting.
    Grow up Castillo, you hit the lottery.
    Get involved in a baseball charity.
    That will be your legacy.
    You are damn lucky that Omar fell in love with you.
    Of course, the Mets are fools, he should be showcased.
    Tejada is not ready for ml reps.
    If only the fo did the exact opposite of what they do, it would be sunny outside.

  • Misery even while winning that’s Mets baseball

  • Rob D.

    Wow, I made that comment to my son after wards, I was like “Castillo doesn;t even look happy”. I’m sure that was his eff you to the fans…I can still do it, I’m not the reason this team sucks….

  • […] Mets fans through this loveless marriage anymore. Let’s do it for the kids. By the way check out Greg Prince’ post on last night’s game at FFIF and tell me you don’t feel like crying. Misery in Winning, that’s Mets […]

  • metsadhd

    Maybe it is time for an intervention.
    We should just let it go.
    Nothing worse than unrequited love
    The Mets would be just as bad we a painted back drop.
    There is that eternal question to be answered.
    If the Mets stink but the park is empty, do they still stink?
    The players as a group should tithe their salaries to nyc charities as an act of repentance and contrition.
    Will is Cardinal Spellman now that we desperately need him?

  • metsadhd

    meant where is Cardinal Spellman? sorry see my name as the excuse.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Castillo is the victim in this case. He has had to endure booing by the fans, put downs by the media, lack of confidence from those in the organization, being designated as the symbol of the team’s incompetence and even insults from his own broadcasters (i.e., two weeks ago in Philadelphia Gary Cohen said that the Mets play with more confidence with Tejada at second, unnecessarily adding after a play the rookie made that Louie would not have been able to have made it).

    This would be too much for any individual to take and not be affected. He cannot be blamed for not trying nor not giving 100% and so his reaction was to be expected – he is a very unhappy individual due to circumstances that which all the money in the world couldn’t remedy.

  • […] Jason Fry of ‘Faith and Fear in Flushing’ summarized the reaction best in his post ‘Unhappy Man Wins Baseball Game’ when he said: ….Castillo rounded first, turned toward home, watched Ike score and barely […]

  • metsadhd

    On a side note, Omar the genius strikes again, Barajas given away for free except for salary pickup, hit a 3 run bomb yesterday.
    The play was to give up Blanco not Rod