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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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Two Small Moments

As cool weather and tiny crowds herald the quiet of the offseason, rooting for the Mets threatens to become fun again, a story of kids trying to learn lessons and win jobs and make you eager for 2011. (Granted, playing the Pirates is an excellent recipe for feeling better about things.)

From tonight’s game, two moments that will stick with me long after the rest of this game has been forgotten.

The first was Angel Pagan going into a slide at the edge of the grass in right-center, his butt skidding across the grass as he flung one arm one way to steady himself and the other arm (the one with the glove) the other way, where it intersected the ball struck a moment before by John Bowker. Pagan caught the ball short of the 415 sign, rolled over on the warning track, sprang up (somehow in the right direction), fired to Ruben Tejada to start the double play, fell down again, then looked up wide-eyed and waved one hand in slightly woozy triumph. The Pirates’ relievers (soon to be employed for no particular reason by the unnecessarily thorough John Russell) gaped in amazement. Mike Pelfrey said wow. I did both.

It’s been a pleasure to watch Pagan go from prodigal son to slightly daffy semi-prospect to all-around star, but I can’t remember a moment for him quite like that one. That was a catch to rival Tommie Agee skidding on his belly at Shea, a grab that would adorn a gate if it had happened during the postseason. As it is, you should see it on replays for years. I’ve watched it about 12 times now and it still makes me laugh and shake my head in appreciation. Ain’t baseball wonderful?

The other moment belonged to Lucas Duda, the hulking rookie whose first big-league go-round has been beyond cruel, as in 1-for-33 beyond cruel. Duda got a hit in his third big-league game, in Chicago on Sept. 3, but hadn’t scratched anything in 23 at-bats since. That’s nearly two weeks without a hit, a solid 45 aggregate minutes or so of standing at the plate and watching pitches and swinging at them and getting nowhere while tens of thousands of people watch and wonder — as you must have once or twice — if you’re fated to ever get a hit.

Duda’s misery had become so pitiable that when he came up in the fourth I was thinking that something ought to be done. I’m all for the kids’ learning lessons, but one hit in the first 2 1/2 weeks of play is all stick and no carrot, and it seemed like a good idea for Duda to develop a mysterious minor ailment and be shut down for the year out of caution. A moment after I thought that, Duda ripped a Charlie Morton fastball down the right-field line for a double, scoring fellow Youts of America Ike Davis and Josh Thole. Standing on second, Duda looked carefully expressionless, but that was OK — I was smiling for both of us.

In his next at-bat, of course, Lucas Duda doubled again. Ain’t baseball wonderful?

9 comments to Two Small Moments

  • maryanne

    You are so right…baseball is so wonderful. I’m sure going to miss it in the off-season a whole lot. Let’s go, Mets!!!

  • kd bart

    Not saying Duda will be anywhere near him as a major leaguer but Willie Mays started 1 for 26 in the majors. You can come back from such an awful start to your career.

  • Dak442

    I find myself amazed at so-called fans (none found here, thankfully) who disgustedly proclaim how they can’t wait till the season ends. Really? I’ve taken no small pleasure from these last two games, and will be very sad on October 4.

  • Hookalakah Meshobbab

    These really are the most enjoyable weeks of the year (this year). I’ve long since given up on the Mets redeeming this season, and I can just relax and listen (I follow them on the radio exclusively) to the play-by-play and appreciate the games as individual dramas. I also get to spin impossible fantasies about next year, too, and that’s not so unpleasant, either.

  • Guy Kipp

    And Mike Pelfrey won his 15th game. Anybody remember the last time a Met pitcher was so maligned in the process of winning so many games?

  • kd bart

    They still have a chance to win more than they lose. The way they’re maligned by their fan base and the media, you would think they were headed for 95-100 losses.

    • Flip D.

      kd bart, you are so right. I’ve often thought that myself this year. Makes you shake your head. If there’s good-and-bad that comes with playing on a major NYC sports team, I guess that’s the bad. Win half your games and voila…. you’re nothing but bums! Or maybe it’s a product of playing in the same metropolis as the Yankees. Or both. Hmmmm, yet another reason to resent/hate the Yankees. I like it.

  • […] measure of it. I don’t know if we’ll ever hear from Lucas Duda again, but I’ll remember the story of his September for some time. He gets a horrible 2008 Bowman Chrome card for now; here’s […]