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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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The Patron Saints of Pleasant Surprise

The Patron Saints of Pleasant Surprise smile down approvingly on what they’re seeing in the standings today, for the current Mets are, in a statistical sense, at one with them.

1969 Mets: 38-32
1984 Mets: 38-32
1997 Mets: 38-32
2012 Mets: 38-32

For those who haven’t been scoring at home for the past several decades (or those prone to forget what Jordany Valdespin had for dinner last night), those three Mets teams are the three Mets teams that shattered disturbingly low expectations and blasted a baseball-generation’s paradigms to pieces.

• The 1969 Mets’ credentials you probably need no introduction to, though it always merits mentioning they improved themselves by 27 games from 1968 en route to their Miracle of miracles.

• The 1984 Mets ushered in a new and successful era by ushering out an old and horribly futile era, topping the 1983 Mets by 22 wins.

• And the often overlooked — in their time as well as by conventional historical narrative — 1997 Mets rose to genuine contender status by winning 17 games more than had their 1996 predecessors.

Those were teams that finished, respectively, 100-62, 90-72 and 88-74, one with a World Championship, one with a strong second-place finish and one with a Wild Card bid that stayed aloft into mid-September. When each reached the same 70-game mark where our contemporary darlings sit, they had already definitively established themselves as breaks with the disappointing past. The 1969 Mets were a second-place club that had won eleven consecutive contests weeks earlier; the 1984 Mets were a game out of first, having already spent a few days at the top of their division already; and the 1997 Mets had emerged Mlicktorious in the first Subway Series showdown and were hanging tough in the emerging Wild Card scrum.

The ’97ers were about to take off on a six-game winning streak that proved they weren’t a fluke, and by late July would claim the Wild Card lead for a spell — after six years of sub-.500 baseball, their gallant striving for something approaching greatness was breathtaking and set the stage for Mets clubs that would endure well into October. The ’84 team was just heating up, and by the All-Star break they would take first place and build a modestly formidable lead — it didn’t last, but they left a calling card indicating they’d be back and boy would they be better come 1985 and, particularly, 1986. ’69…well, you know what happened in ’69.

My god, those were great years to be a Mets fan, and here we are, at the very same point on the schedule, with the very same record those worldbeaters rolled out after 70 games.

I don’t know that the 2012 Mets have what it takes to turn the pleasant surprises of April, May and most of June into a summer fling that will last a lifetime, let alone the kind of autumn they keep making movies about, but isn’t it fun, in this age of not one but two Wild Cards, just to have that option still realistically on the table with 92 games to go?

5 comments to The Patron Saints of Pleasant Surprise

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Ive felt 1997 this year, but hadn’t said anything because I think I felt that way last year too…

  • If you’d like an omen, we’re four games ahead of last year’s pace (34-36), which is exactly how far ahead of 1968 that 1969 was at this juncture. 1997 was running seven games ahead of 1996 (31-39), while 1984 was kicking 1983 into the dustbin of history by 11 games (27-43).

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg and Kevin,

    I believed in this team last season as well so am not surprised at how well they are doing again this year – though I was very much concerned that the front office throwing in the towel in 2011 would have a long-lasting affect on team morale.

    Fortunately, they are instead showing management it was wrong to give up on them last season when our closer and top hitter were sent packing. The problem is that this season, instead of shipping out a key player Sandy already has told us not to expect help as far as any signings during the summer.

    Just a credit to the character of these kids knowing they can’t look to the front office for help.

  • Rob D.

    I was talking at work today with a fellow Met fan and all we agreed upon was that “At least they are giving us a season”.

  • Buddy Harrelson is THE number 1 starting shortstop on my Mets all-time team…The panel got it wrong!!
    And why was Ron Hunt not even considered at second? I mean Doug Flynn??
    I ask you Greg, who do you think is the all time right handed reliver?
    All the other picks I have no problem with…

    Rich P