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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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Old Fires Still Burn

We’re stuck in a season that’s either overdue to be part of a transition or is just a discouraging checkpoint amid an ongoing demolition. (Perhaps you’ve noticed.) It’s been wearying, and after watching the Mets get swept by the Reds and mostly missing them nearly getting swept by the Braves, the last thing I wanted to see on the calendar was what awaited us all tonight: Mets vs. Yankees.

Particularly since this year’s Yankees squad is what we deluded ourselves into thinking the 2013 Mets might be — a scrappy bunch of Plan B players sent into battle to hold the line, only to outperform all expectations. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have yet to play a regular-season game, while Curtis Granderson’s 2013 has consisted of little more than a cameo. And yet the Yankees of Jayson Nix and Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells have been more than up to the challenge.

I told Joshua I figured we’d get swept. I braced myself for the disaster. And I convinced myself that it didn’t really matter, that I was not going to let the braying mooks of Yankeedom make a lousy season feel worse.

That lasted until Brett Gardner leapt high over the Citi Field wall to take a home run away from Daniel Murphy, turning an ephemeral 2-1 Mets lead back into a 1-0 Yankees advantage. That Yankee run had come courtesy of a Mets misplay and a play not made — the former a Lucas Duda special in which poor Lucas dove gallantly but unwisely for a little parachute off Gardner’s bat, turning a single into a triple; the latter a Nix floater that you couldn’t blame Mike Baxter for not catching but also couldn’t help thinking he should have. That was all Jon Niese gave up, but for a while it looked like it would be enough to beat him, an all-too-familiar fate for Mets starters of late.

(By the way, this was Joshua’s reaction to Gardner’s triple: “That’s the kind of play Yankees fans think their guy earned.” I’ve spent thousands of words trying to capture the unique loathsomeness of Yankees fans, but my kid only needed 11 to nail it and them. Raising his allowance.)

Anyway, when Gardner leapt high and came down with Murph’s homer in his mitt, I screamed a versatile bad word loud enough for the kid to hear it in the shower and know something had gone very wrong. And then I stared at the TV and fumed, remembering Paul O’Neill robbing Derek Bell above the right-field fence of now-vanished Shea in 2000. In that game, I was sitting a row behind a Yankees fan in one of their hideous top hats, sandwiched by two Met fan friends. When O’Neill robbed Bell, one of the Mets fans snatched the top hat from his pal’s head and hurled it out of the mezzanine.

It wasn’t worth it.

But the Mets, for once, were not inclined to go quietly. Gardner’s grab — accompanied by a few too many Kevin Burkhardt hosannas for a Mets fan’s taste — ended the bottom of the sixth, but David Wright led off the bottom of the seventh. Wright promptly redirected a Phil Hughes pitch on a high arc, safely beyond the reach of Gardner or any Yankee not flying a helicopter. Wright helped keep the Yankees at bay in the eighth with a nifty stab of a Wells grounder he converted into a double play, setting the stage for some Mets heroics punctuated by a ringing single and celebratory bat slam from Murph.

God only knows what awaits us tomorrow, when I will already be challenged to remain civil and decent in the face of a Mets presentation to Mariano Rivera. (Every team’s having one, he typed while gritting his teeth.) But at least for one night the good guys won, as I’d almost forgotten the good guys sometimes do.

15 comments to Old Fires Still Burn

  • Andee

    The Yankees are winning with smoke and mirrors. No, excuse me, Yankee magic (vomitus). When Gardner made that catch, I was muttering, “They get every !$@%^ break, don’t they?” No, actually, they don’t. It just seems like it when your team gets almost none of them. But we did the last two days. And now it’s Harvey time.

  • Happy Harvey Day! May the force be with him…

  • Got to give Niese credit for pitching through some jams that would have broken the game open other nights. Plus, two hits on the night, can he play first?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    “…accompanied by a few too many Kevin Burkhardt hosannas for a Mets fan’s taste”

    Yeah, what was with that, he didn’t stop. Enough, Kevin, great catch, next batter.

    The “Bat Slam” (nicely put) was the game highlight for me. Murph’s intense, we all know that, but this was visibly demonstrative. Usually Murph seems to be simmering just below the surface.

    Which brings up the question, what if it was Valdespino doing that?

  • 5w30

    Maybe Andy Martino, he of the race-card playing, Wilpon-influenced lily-white New York Daily News sports section and the more-or-less Caucasian SportsNet New York can give Mets fans the definitive analysis of Murphy vs. Valdespin bat-slamming.

    • Welllll … I do think Martino is occasionally happy to troll the fanbase, granted. But for the most part I think the things he’s delved into have been the opposite of what you suggest would be the dominant narrative. For instance, I thought he did very good work after the Walter Reed mess, when Beltran, Castillo and Perez were the targets of a Met-orchestrated smear campaign.

  • Will in Central NJ

    “Braying Mooks”….there were more than a few of them trotting on the wooden boardwalk between the LIRR and the #7 Station. All they needed were bags of oats lashed to their snouts!

  • Karol Dondero

    I love knicknames, particularly in sports. Could we start calling Matt Harvey ” Batman”?

  • George

    Or Bruce Wayne when he’s in the dugout just watching. – The Dark Knight when he’s pitching.

  • mikeL

    yea, nice win and moral victory last nite…i was waiting for niese to meltdown and good thing i didn’t hold my breath!
    if the mets had more reasons to slam their bats valdespin would just be one of the guys…

    so jason, what exactly happened to make tossing the tophat not worth it??

    (it sounded, in concept, like a worthwhile thing to do :o)

  • vertigone

    Of those “braying mooks”, this is an actual tweet I read last night from one of them…

    “#Yankees have to win just so that young #Mets fan behind home plate who’s been singling strikes all game goes home sad.”


  • Dave

    Braying mooks, like that. Been calling them Dementors lately, but braying mooks works too.

    And no more YES auditions please, KB. Captain’s postgame moment was very sweet too.

  • Steve D

    Glad Ike is batting 8th…his slugging reminds me of Buddy Harrelson. He’ll be in Vegas by Monday. He blinks so much, he probably also needs glasses.

  • Barry F.

    Yeah Tejada needs to go. At least Davis is a power threat. A bad one, mind you. But this toasted Ruben needs to try a deli elsewhere.