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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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Parnell as Closer: No Bull

Your USF Bulls had just seen their hard-earned lead trimmed to three points in the final minute of the fourth quarter when Notre Dame attempted an onside kick. It was still a longshot, but if they recovered, then the Irish would have the ball around their own 45 and if everything were to go spookily right for them — and wrong for us — in the ensuing 21 seconds, they could have attempted to kick a tying field goal, and everything that had been good, green and gold about my alma mater’s first trip to South Bend for football would have gone instead to hell.

But Lindsey Lamar, junior wide receiver in on coverage as part of the hands team, expertly snatched Notre Dame’s last prayer out of the air on its luckiest bounce and Your USF Bulls held on to win a most gratifying season-opener, 23-20.

You might even say metaphorical lightning struck, considering this was hallowed Notre Dame, wake up the echoes and all that tripe (my cognitively dissonant love for Rudy notwithstanding), while we are USF, a school whose pigskin tradition dates back a solid fifteen seasons now. Actually, you’d definitely have to say lightning struck. It struck so much that officials halted the game twice, delaying it in progress for nearly three combined hours, necessitating the shifting of its conclusion from NBC to Versus. But that’s OK. Your USF Bulls hail from Tampa, where we would get lightning like the British took tea: every afternoon by four.

I began attending the University of South Florida thirty years ago this week. We had no football then. We had intramural softball. I went out for it, and then came back from it, realizing how overmatched I was by the proliferation of athletic specimens populating my dorm. But I was always willing to lend out my glove to one guy or another on whatever floor I lived for four years. And I went to a few basketball games, so don’t say I didn’t — or don’t — have school spirit.

Yes indeed, I’d been looking forward to this game ever since I discovered it on the USF schedule. I mean little old USF (not so little, with more than 45,000 students, and not so old, with its charter dating to 1956 and its football team kicking off in 1997) versus vaunted Notre Dame! Vaunted despite producing Aaron Heilman! Best of all, it was penciled in perfectly for optimal Saturday viewing. Watch the Bulls stampede the Irish at 3:30, engage in a triumphant round of “The Bull” when it was over, and then mentally change out of my gridiron gear for my usual psychological ensemble of blue and orange at seven.

Timeless 2008 advice from Metstradamus, offered here to Bobby Parnell in 2011.

But then, like I said, lightning struck, and football bled into baseball, and the Bulls and Mets kind of morphed into one big home team for me, with B.J. Daniels directing the offense and Manny Acosta heading up special teams and Jason Bay finding himself in the unfamiliar position of being untouched in the end zone for a tying score.

It was all going to work, too, Indiana weather or not. The Bulls took care of business by not blowing a lead and the Mets were on the verge of the same by overcoming a harrowing deficit. All I needed for a perfect Saturday was one inning — three outs — from Bobby Parnell.

I still need a couple of those outs.

And I still need the Nationals stopped on their final desperation drive.

And I still need Coach Collins to not employ the prevent defense because, as the habitually quoted Warner Wolf made clear, all it does is prevent you from winning.

The blur crystallized clearly in the bottom of the ninth. The Bulls’ marvelous Saturday was not transferable to the Mets. The Nationals read Collins’s intentional bases-loading scheme expertly. Lucas Duda could not snatch the Nats’ last prayer out of the air. And Parnell proved once more that his are not yet the hands in which you wish to place a tenuous lead late in a game.

We win, 23-20. We lose, 8-7. At least one of my teams knows how to close out an opponent.

The above image, concocted in Heilemanesque times, was borrowed from the mighty, mighty Metstradamus. Always treat yourself to his game stories, particularly after bullpen meltdowns like Saturday’s.

7 comments to Parnell as Closer: No Bull

  • Matt from Woodside

    I was too busy staring at a 37-inch LCD screen full of University of Georgia bulldog butthole. How terrible could an SEC team possibly look on opening day? I think I just answered my own question.

  • Andee

    I have to believe that Parnell will eventually get better (unlike everyone else in that pen, he at least has the potential to do so).

    But after the first two batters of the inning, the latter of whom was something like 0-for-the-last-half- of-his-life as a pinch hitter, it was pretty obvious he didn’t have much of anything today. And if managers are gonna overmanage, they might as well do it when the situation calls for it; it’s a one-run game, Terry, your guys have busted their butts to come from behind, get him the hell out of there. There’s no way in the world that Parnell should have been called upon to walk a crap-ass hitter to load the bases when he was desperate for an out, and then have to face Ryan Freaking Zimmerman with the bags juiced. This one’s on TC and Warthen, depending on whose brilliant ideas all of those were.

    Yeah, I know some people would say, “But how’s he gonna learn to be a closer if he can’t get himself out of a jam like that?” Say I: “How’s Parnell getting his brains beaten in like that supposed to teach him a damn thing other than that he sucks, which he very well might not?” There are days when even the best pitchers don’t have squat; a raw kid like Parnell is going to have a LOT of those. He needs a backup.

  • Is it too late to trade him for a dirty jockstrap?

  • Pat O"Hern

    Andee, I dont see it with him.
    Don’t care that the games mean nothing. I cannot take Parnell any longer. You either have a “pair” or you don’t, and he doesn’t. Seen enough of guys who throw 95 straight. Allow me to be immature, He blows. Tyler fucking Yates all over. Greg, why am I so pisssed about a team 13.5 out in September? I’m
    watching Elton John mail it in last night @ Bethel Woods and I get the result and wondering why I still care so much?

  • mikeL

    parnell has for some time been mets pitchers i care not to see – along with pelfrey. i’m dumbfounded that there’s talk of grooming this guy for the closer roll. like pelfrey, he’ll get rocked and then tell the press that he had good stuff. if they hit it – or if you can’t find the plate how the hell can it be good stuff? it’s the equivalent saying “it wasn’t my fault”. it was telling that he admitted to having no game plan, and it was great to see bob O. call him out for it.
    i’m glad to finally hear some talk of acosta’s worthiness for consideration. he throws strikes, plays with passion, has a badass body language on the mound – and is smart. please sandy and co, groom bobby to be a set-up or 7th inning guy, and if he can’t hack it, let him be another team’s project.

  • Joe D.

    Think you got it tough? My Fordham Rams (I’ve been an administrator there for over 20 years) lost to the Connecticut Huskies 35-3 then another great comeback goes by the books in Washington.

    I wasn’t expecting a miracle upset (already had one in 1969) but was hoping Fordham would at least make a respectable showing of itself facing this powerhouse in defeat.

    Then, after another comeback, the Mets lose it again in the ninth.

    Sports wise, it wasn’t such a great day.

    • Matt from Woodside

      College football-wise, I have to admit that I have nothing to complain about as a UGA alumnus. But man have they looked terrible every game I’ve watched during the past two years. God-awful. Lately, I don’t know how they still get ranked in the top 20 to start every year. This game, they couldn’t get a third down conversion to save their lives. Their only scores came on an 80 yard touchdown run by some new prodigy, and a 50 yard kickoff return by the same kid that turned into a touchdown, and then I turned it off because their defense was just getting hammered over and over and over on every single play. Who but the Internet knows how they scored that last touchdown. That kid was probably doing double duty as cornerback and intercepted something. They looked horrible! 35-21 doesn’t look bad in the papers, but I bet Fordham made more stops.