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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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Hapless Fifth Anniversary

Crazy how the baseball schedule sometimes does this:

On Thursday afternoon, August 30, 2012, the New York Mets finished a series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

On Thursday afternoon, August 30, 2007, the New York Mets finished a series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The circumstances surrounding the respective one-run losses that resulted from these coincidentally slated finales couldn’t have been more different, yet my mind shot directly back five years as I paid half-attention to this year’s model, a 3-2 defeat that prevented a Mets sweep and leaves the Mets one game behind the Phillies in the nonexistent race for third place in the N.L. East. Jon Niese pitched OK, but not as well as Kyle Kendrick. Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston flashed some power but the bigger hits were spun by Kevin Frandsen and endless Ty Wigginton. Jimmy Rollins…

Well, Jimmy Rollins has been around a while now, hasn’t he? Five years earlier to the day, Jimmy Rollins was rolling up MVP points as part of the 17-hit attack that effected the harrowing 11-10 Mets loss of that final Thursday afternoon in August, which ended a four-game series that gone 100% in Philadelphia’s direction. By slapping the Mets every which way but loose between August 27 and August 30, the Phillies pulled to within two games of the first-place Mets, scaring the complacency out of a fan base that snickered the previous winter when Rollins had the temerity to announce his team — and not our team — was the team to beat in our division. Rollins backed up his insouciance with a 9-for-19 series and, along with a raging hot band of Phillie teammates, seemed to knock the “in” clear out of the Mets’ inevitability.

Then, for two blissful weeks, it was as if it had never happened. The 2007 Mets, so prone to lethargy since the end of May, got their act together and swept Atlanta in Atlanta, took two of three in Cincinnati, swept the Astros at Shea and then won two of three at home from the Braves. The New York lead returned to a rightful bulge of seven games with seventeen to play.

We know what happened directly thereafter and what hasn’t happened since. The Mets became distressingly and perennially evitable, the Phillies won the division and the Phillies kept winning divisions. Though there was a gap between the August 27-30 sweep and the collapse that commenced in earnest the weekend of September 14-16, when the Phillies came to Shea (accompanied for the very first time by their fans) and swept three more, I think it’s fair to say our world changed five years ago today. Or at least it offered evidence it was about to change for the much, much worse.

As for Rollins and the Phillies, five division titles, two pennants and a world championship is a pretty good half-decade’s work. That’s all ending for them now, as they, like us, are light years removed from the 2012 pennant race and it would take about six Worst Collapses Ever to catapult them into contention at this late stage of the season. Rollins could do no wrong five years ago at this time; he left that to the likes of Billy Wagner, who blew the save that would have salvaged the series for the Mets and maybe held off history for one more year or, if you’re a baseball romantic, forever. If the Mets emerge from that Thursday, August 30, with a win, it’s as possible as it’s not that they repeat as N.L. East champs in 2007, go to the postseason and who knows? Instead, we do know.

Jimmy, by the way, isn’t contending for MVP honors this year. As he’s gotten older, he’s somehow grown less mature. On this Thursday, August 30, he loafed to first base on an embarrassing dropped infield popup in the sixth and kept his head hidden well up his rear as he got tagged out in a rundown between second and third in the same inning. Charlie Manuel reintroduced his veteran shortstop to the bench shortly thereafter.

None of which helped the Mets in 2012 and none of which reverses the fortunes from 2007. But strange that the same teams were playing on the same day of the week at the same time of day on the same date on the calendar in the same ballpark so close in the same standings, and that Jimmy Rollins was once more at the heart of the story.

11 comments to Hapless Fifth Anniversary

  • Metsfaninparadise

    Rollins wasn’t at the heart of the story today, only at the heart of the previous paragraph. And considering that his play didn’t even affect the outcome of the game, I think your poetic license should be suspended for a few days. A minor quibble, but there are some things I don’t like to be reminded of, no matter how eloquently expressed.

  • Metsfaninparadise

    OK, I have to amend that. Each run has an effect on the outcome, but his didn’t seem significant at the time.

  • High-profile star player, ostensibly one of your veteran leaders, dogs it to the point his manager takes him out in an otherwise consequence-free game between two non-contenders late in the season, one of the non-contenders being the team that’s fallen from grace at long last…to me that’s the heart of the story.

  • Andee

    …b-b-b-but the Phillies play with such grit and passion! They’re proven winnahs! The Mets lose because they don’t care and never have!

    Really, the most satisfying thing for me this year is seeing all those douchecanoes finally put a sock in it about the Phillies willing themselves to win. Doesn’t mean much when you get all old and busted, does it?

  • Dave

    I’m with Andee 110%…only silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud of a season is seeing that bunch age faster than Dorian Gray overnight and shutting up what have to be the most obnoxious, vile, just barely multi-celled fans in all of sports.

  • Rich

    I loved it when Manuel pulled Rollins. That’s the way is hould be, and if I were TC, I would have pulled Toores after some of his abundant bone-head moves this year. Send a damn message.

    • mikeL

      he’d have to have pulled more than toores out then.
      several pitchers who throw to the plate 100 times a game and then aim for the good seats when a runner approaches…or worst yet fails to cover the plate.
      all for it though.
      i still wish terry had pulled pelf and the back-up catcher whose name escapes me for doing nothing and letting wright and davis collide last may! that’s where last season effectively ended in my mind.

      all said, it is good to see the philly dynasty succumb to old age so quickly. ditto for the poor showing by reyes’ new team.

      hopefully tonite begins the next (and longer) win streak…

      • Will in Central NJ

        AMEN to the bit about Pelfrey and catcher (Blanco? Paulino? Barajas?) who were MERE SPECTATORS while Wright and Davis collided, resulting in injury and impact to the team that lasted months. I cannot imagine a Tom Seaver being a slackjawed spectator the way Pelfrey was on that costly play.

        • mikeL

          …paulino it was! (blanco was a professional catcher, i *know* he would have called one of those guys off the play and i give the benefit of the doubt to barajas).
          without that awful miscue, davis gets a chance to continue on his very hot start of the season. ike wasn’t right for over a year.
          if it was my team and i just lost my two corner infielders like that i’d have released paulino and pelf outright. and soon thereafter the medical staff that botched the treatment of ike’s ankle!

          • mikeL

            …and yes, seaver – and any battery with their heads properly in the game should have prevented that. fundamental baseball.
            terry’s supposed strong suit.

  • Rob D.

    I was at that 11-10 game. I believe El Duque spit the bit, the Mets rallied, took the lead and Wagner was asked to get a 2 inning save. That wasn’t happening. The Jets played the Eagles in a preseason game the same night and after the game, my friends and I walked across the street to Lincoln Financial and continued to get hammered.