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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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Classic Move

On Thanksgiving, SNY ran three of its most classic Mets Classics: the 1986, 1988 and 2006 division-clinchers. They’re all worthy choices and they’ve all been shown so often that I should know them by heart, but it never hurts to take a second (or second-hundredth) look at the Mets earning a playoff spot. Bud only knows when it will happen again.

I DVR’d the ’86 clincher with the intention of transferring it to a disc, which I haven’t gotten around to yet. So it’s been sitting on the recorded list for a month and last night I decided to visit it for an inning. Doc Gooden got through the top half of the first OK, though Ryne Sandberg punched a double down the right field line, thereby prompting a chant of “We Want Keith!” in the direction of first-time first base fill-in Dave Magadan, playing in place of an ailing Hernandez. The Mets came up in the bottom of the first, and after two quick outs, Magadan — batting in Mex’s spot, which seems pretty bold, now that I’m thinking about it — uncoiled and stroked a single to the outfield. That got him cheered.

Gary Carter was up next and lofted a fly ball to leftish-center. It appeared destined to be caught, at which point I heard myself thinking the following:

“Fuck, Carter’s gonna leave another runner on. He’s always doing this.”

The ball fell in and sent Magadan to third on what was ruled a double. Ralph Kiner admonished young Dave for initially stopping at second and thus not scoring, while Tim McCarver forgave the raw rookie, considering he’d never been on third base in the big leagues before…to which Ralph replied third base is in the same spot in the majors as it is in the minors. That exchange reminded me how good those two were together (and why McCarver was well on his way to the Ford C. Frick Award). Still, I was more interested at this moment in what I was saying in 2011 than what they were saying in 1986.

Let’s review the facts:

• I know, as I watch this, that this is a clincher. The Mets will win the game and the National League East by the end of the evening.
• I know the Mets will win much more than that in the weeks ahead.
• I know the Mets will win the biggest game of their collective life because Gary Carter will spark a two-out, tenth-inning rally with a base hit.
• I know Gary Carter drove in 100 runs on shaky knees in 1985 and would drive in 105 before 1986 would be over.
• I know future Hall of Famer Gary Carter was the reason the Mets stepped up in class from spunky upstarts in 1984 to serious championship contenders over the next two years.
• I know, to bring it back to September 17, 1986, that the New York Mets have been the best they’ve ever been for nearly six months and have given me, in real time, no cause to be upset with anything about them.

Yet as there’s a runner on first and two out and I see Carter swing and it seems certain the ball will be caught and the Mets won’t score, I am absolutely in the moment of watching not the greatest Mets team ever comprised preparing to secure a milestone victory, but just some Met not driving some other Met in, just as Mets “always” do in my mind when fly balls hang up a second or two too long.

And this was somehow comforting. It reminded me, in living 1986 color, how embedded this stuff is within my soul. This wasn’t another off-the-field contretemps. This was a game in front of me, albeit on quarter-century tape delay. It mattered to me whether a 25-year-old fly ball might fall in. Seeing it take flight and start to descend awoke in me the ancient spirit of living and dying with my baseball team, an instinct stuck to my being from way before 1986. In the course of a season or a lifetime, I temper it, I moderate it, I don’t overdo my reaction to every ball hit in the air…but when I draw a bead on one, even via a contraption that didn’t exist when the ball was first struck, well, fuck, it better fall in.

This one did. Then Straw came up and flied out to end the first, and I was pissed off all over again.

3 comments to Classic Move

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Every October 17 when I watch Game 5 of the 99 NLCS, I yell at the TV in the 15th when Dunston goes to steal second. I’m positive he’s going to get thrown out and ruin our season. Every time.

  • We need every affirmation we can get with this team. Just like your 1977 self couldn’t believe that a year like 1986 would ever happen, your 2011 self probably has a hard time believing that 1986 will ever happen again. There was no real way for people like us to communicate these thoughts at the time, but there will be another 1986. Whether it’s 2086 I don’t know, but there will be better teams, better days, better owners. And I’ve still never seen that ’86 game you speak of, did they rally after their frustrating start?

  • Jim

    I of course have watched the 1986 clincher and playoffs and World Series and when those moments come it is not the same as it was then of course but I feel that moment of victory.For some reason that I can’t explain I also watch moments of pain (1988 NLCS, 2000 World Series) I get an ache feeling when I see Leiter walk Posada and I get a little excited for a second when Piazza hits that blast in the bottom of the ninth. But for some reason I have not been able to bring myself to watch Game 7 against the Cards. (I was there) and For some reason even though we lost I love watching 1999. The last game vs Pitt, The series vs Arizona and even the Brave Series. Yes we lost but that was John Rocker and he may be an a hole and what not but with that Scooby DOO face he was fun to hate!! and Games 4 and 5 and even though we fell short in Game 6 are some of my greatest Mets memories!!! and I love reliving memories good or bad!