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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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Counting Down

The Twins, I read in passing elsewhere, have reduced their magic number to six.

The Mets have no magic number, just a day-at-a-time march through the rest of a shrinking schedule.

Which is OK.

Actually, it’s not OK. It’s more like its not-OK-ness doesn’t matter for the rest of September and the sliver of October that’s left to us. There will be time enough for recriminations and I-told-you-sos and fan-written plans and dire warnings and idle threats. Now there’s just a little bit of baseball left — and reminding ourselves that even baseball that doesn’t matter is better than its absence.

So Dillon Gee pitched well but proved mortal. It doesn’t particularly matter: Gee gave up a ton of home runs in the minors and you never trust September. Yet he looks like he knows what he’s doing out there, and that can make a guy with unimpressive stuff useful in the back end of a rotation. And it’s baseball. Pretty soon Dillon Gee will be sitting home like the rest of us.

So Lucas Duda keeps hitting. The monster’s out of the cage, delightfully free of the weight of the world and turning on balls and hitting them hard. Again, doesn’t particularly matter — Duda has a long way to go to escape the interstate, and looks lumbering and uncertain in left field. But it’s baseball. Pretty soon I’m going to miss Lucas Duda, feasts and famines and all.

Carlos Beltran made a splendid stumbling catch in short center. Didn’t save a game, let alone a season, but it was nice to see his old instincts and a touch more mobility. Given all the bad feeling of late, Carlos Beltran might be wearing another uniform come April, and looking dignified and faintly annoyed to be surrounded by New York reporters trying to get him to say the wrong thing, which will also be known as what he thinks of the Mets’ treatment of him. Still, it’s baseball. For now, he plays it for us, and I will miss him when he’s gone whether that refers to the offseason or the rest of his career.

Luis Hernandez broke a bone in his foot fouling a ball off. On the next Tim Hudson pitch he saw, he swung in a rather curious fashion, cringing and almost lifting his wounded front foot off the ground. The ball, somehow, left the park; the hitter, somehow, got around the bases. It was Kirk Gibson, except what Kirk Gibson did mattered. Still, it was an impressive display, and Hernandez earned well-deserved cheers as he limped to the dugout and likely to inactivity and some other team. I won’t particularly miss Luis Hernandez, as he was the kind of Quadruple-A player the Mets give too many at-bats to. Still, it’s baseball. I’ll miss seeing things like that, and marveling at them.

Tomorrow, given the way this series has gone, Billy Wagner will face the Mets for the final time. Bobby Cox will argue balls and strikes in a Mets game for the final time, and possibly be thrown out of a game against us for the final time. Chipper Jones won’t get on the field, but will make what could be his final visit to a Mets stadium in a baseball uniform. If all goes well for the Braves, I’ll see those three men on TV in October. If it doesn’t, I’ll never watch them on TV again. I’ll miss Billy, for his cussedness and sometimes ill-advised honesty and the way he willed a career for himself despite long odds and cruel luck. And I’ll miss Bobby too, for giving me all those years in which I hated him as an opponent and little by little came to respect him. (The same for Chipper, if his time has come.)

That’s baseball too: making enemies, and respecting them, and applauding them when they finally step aside.

8 comments to Counting Down

  • tim

    “Chipper Jones won’t get on the field, but will make what could be his final visit to a Mets stadium in a baseball uniform.”

    Just for old time’s sake…”Laaaaaarrrry!! Laaaaaarrrry! Laaaaaarrrry!”

  • Trump

    Total loser talk. Sorry, but lets get honest here. This is what we’ve been reduced to. “Meaningless baseball is better than no baseball!” – NO IT ISN’T. Meaningless baseball is just empty and sad and pathetic, a reminder of another wasted year. Meaningless baseball isn’t better than anything – it is UNACCEPTABLE.

    I’ve basically stopped watching. It’s all garbage time now and unless you have some self-respect, you turned away. Yes, I still check the recaps just to see what happened, but I really don’t care anymore.

    You’re sitting here writing that there’s anything redeeming about meaningless baseball? PURE LOSER TALK. Lets end this season and end the misery already

  • Jackabite

    Mr. Fry got it right: meaningless baseball is better than no baseball at all.
    The AAA team that we’re trotting out there is also better than the hopelessly under-achieving “pro” lineup that the Mets brought back from Port St. Lucie last March.
    I’ve been a Mets fans since ’62 – that’s a whole lot of losing. But I still watch; I’m a Mets fan after all. Loser talk? I don’t anything about that – we never were the Yankees or Notre Dame after all.
    As long as we aren’t subjected to Jeff Wilpon (who, prayerfully, will be long-gone by then) taking credit for the eventual turnaround, the inevitable ascension of the Mets will be every bit as sweet as the late 60’s, the early 80’s, or the Bobby V era. That’s why we watch.
    See ya’ all in PSL!

  • Rob D.

    I gotta agree with Trump and if the J-E-T-S lose this afternoon, I have my son’s fall ball to watch on the weekends, rooting against the vertical swastika, and then around Thanksgiving, counting the days until pitchers and catchers.

  • Dave D.

    Baseball is a beautiful game. I love the game, and miss it a great deal in the off-season. I agree with the assessment that the remainder of the Mets’ season is still better than having no baseball at all.

    Trump seems to have embraced his inner Steinbrenner. I think he enjoys baseball only for the glory that winning brings and not for the beauty of the game itself. If he hasn’t already, perhaps he might be more comfortable transferring his allegiance to that team whose fans absolutely revel in the glory of their team’s accomplishments, whose fans are obsessed with the size of their team’s jewelry collection. He’d fit right in.

    Since Trump feels so strongly that there is nothing redeeming about “meaningless” baseball, I would be happy to oblige him and have him banished from any and all activities related to Spring Training. I don’t want to hear a peep from him until the regular season begins, when the games are “meaningful” again. Let us “losers” enjoy that delightful time of year when winning and losing hardly matter yet as hope springs eternal for another season to come.

    Even though this past season has been disappointing, I won’t discard the diminished joy the remainder of the season still has to offer. There’s a long, cold off-season ahead, and I invariably will again miss seeing the daily box scores in the paper and hearing the announcers over the radio. I’ll take all the baseball I can get to make it through the coming winter.