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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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Marathon Men

“Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

You might know that as the U.S. Postal Service’s motto, though actually it just adorns one of their temple-like buildings here in New York City. (And is a translation of Herodotus, who was talking about messengers in ancient Persia. Anyway.)

But it would sure seem to describe this year’s Mets, who have specialized in rainouts, snowouts, delays and lengthy battles in the dead of night or dolor of hot afternoons.

Certainly it’s a good summation of last night’s game against the Giants, which started after 10 p.m. here in New York and threatened to carry on until dawn. It’s the fourth time this season that the Mets have gone 15 innings or more, and much as I love baseball that’s about enough of that, thank you.

Partially it’s that the Mets’ extra-inning affairs remind you more of Verdun than some ancient clash of daring scouts and speedy armies, with all involved waiting for a telegraph announcing that no exhausted troops remain to be felled. Last night ground on and on, and the oddity was that the Giants first let the Mets back into the game by playing stone-gloved defense, with old friend Andres Torres front and center on the list of offenders, then walled the Mets off from victory with terrific defense. (Tim Lincecum was probably not amused.) The Mets, meanwhile, followed up a merely good Matt Harvey start with smothering bullpen work, with temporary stalwarts Greg Burke and Josh Edgin particularly deserving of praise.

Harvey, by the way, has a blister problem, though since he’s Matt Harvey he has labeled it a trifling issue that should not distract anyone from the fact that he is not doing his job and is deeply dissatisfied with himself for not being perfect. On a team where plenty of players dream of an intrepid ascent up the slopes of Mount Adequate, this is yet another reason to love Matt Harvey. Let’s just hope the blister thing, however it’s labeled, doesn’t lead to brine being used as a dubious home remedy and Harvey being traded to the AL West for a hulking infielder who’s ready for the knacker’s yard.

While we’re on the subject of Harvey, it was somewhat odd (to say the least) to see him back out there in the bottom of the seventh having thrown 107 pitches.  (If you were scoring at home, first of all I’m sorry and second of all you already know that Pitch No. 108 was a Hunter Pence triple and Pitch No. 109 was a Brandon Crawford single.)

Terry Collins explained that Harvey’s final start might be skipped or abbreviated to prep him for the All-Star Game (and maybe take care of the blister thing), which would seem to make sense except that there’s already talk of Harvey facing the dreaded Innings Limit, so why not economize pitches wherever possible? We all might regret Harvey’s absence when the Mets are in the thick of the Little Playoffs, AKA the battle for fourth place. More seriously, come September Harvey could be in the hunt for a 20th win and/or a Cy Young award, and it would be a shame to see him frozen in place while others continue the hunt.

(At this point you should imagine Keith Hernandez sighing into the mic and then explaining, with increasing indignation, that in his day pitchers threw 300 pitches a game and then used their throw day to race steam engines through cliffsides.)

On the other hand, Terry also said that if Bobby Parnell hadn’t emerged victorious he probably would have turned to Jordany Valdespin, so perhaps he just had the vapors.

If so he’s excused, because by then we all were in a somewhat altered state. I was torn between worrying that the Mets and Giants would play on through the ages, eventually passing down their tasks to children and foolhardy volunteers, and fearing that both teams would be eaten by seagulls, turning Whatever They’re Calling It Now Park into a morbidly fascinating ossuary.

In the end neither of those things happened, though the game must have set a record for shots from the center-field camera rendered surreal by passing waterbirds. Crawford had tied the game in the seventh and kept the Mets from winning it with a nifty stop of an apparent go-ahead single for Marlon Byrd (who perhaps would have been spared avian gnawing) in the 11th, but ruined his own narrative of pluck and redemption with a misplay that turned out to be fatal.

The Mets have finally won a marathon. Alas, their appointed rounds involve 85 to 90 losses, which doesn’t seem like something to be immortalized in marble. But give it 2,000 years or so, and perhaps historians will be more forgiving.

15 comments to Marathon Men

  • March'62

    The Mets may not have quality but they make up for it in quantity. If you told me that on July 9th the Mets would be one game ahead of the Giants in the wildcard race, I would have been ecstatic. But alas….
    And I would absolutely bring out the brine to help Harvey out of this pickle.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    The thing I don’t understand at all about innings limits is it doesn’t take pitch counts into consideration (and in this age, you figure it would). 10 years ago you had Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux consistently getting through 7 innings on 80 or 90 pitches, while elsewhere Al Leiter and Victor Zambrano would routinely labor 120+ pitches through 5. Judging on innings pitched, you could easily get the wrong idea about how much a pitcher works over a season.

  • Steve D

    Can someone explain why the player with the worst slugging percentage in the NL must bat cleanup? Does this make any sense? I’m starting to think this organization is not that sharp.

    Said player is every bit as bad as when he went to Vegas…I said he needed to totally rebuild his swing from scratch and nothing remotely close to that happened. The race is on with BJ Upton for the worst BA for a full season in at least the last 10 years. I haven’t gone back further than that. This is historic ineptitude. At least he is consistent…he is under .200 against RHP, LHP, at home, away, in night games and day games. He can’t hit anybody, anywhere at anytime.

    • open the gates

      Well Steve, you know what’s going to happen. Three years from now, Davis and Duda will be out of baseball, and Josh Satin will be helping some other team reach the playoffs.

      Why the Mets even bother to hire scouts I’ll never know…

      • Steve D

        Sounds about right. Aside from scouts, this organization doesn’t seem to take someone with potential and help them fully realize it. Maybe most other teams are the same way and we are just Met myopic. Who knows? Bottom line…being in the New York market and having a franchise like this is inexcusable.

  • Dennis

    Last thing I remember before drifting off was Gary Cohen saying it was 2:24 on the East Coast as the Mets escaped the bottom of the 13th. I just looked and noticed since June 18, the Harvey-Wheeler double header in Atlanta, they’ve gone 13-8. Not too bad and could have been better with them suffering a few one run losses.

  • D.

    Heh. So I’m not the only codger remembering Nolan Ryan, the pickle juice, and the Stupid Trade?

    I remember the 7+ hour marathon in 1964 (which the Giants won), so turnabout is fair play.

    • March'62

      And with the ASG at the home of the Mets, it’s 1964 all over again. Let’s start a campaign to put Johnny Callison in the home run derby and to vote Goldwater.

      • Nestornajwa

        Caution in defense of Matt Harvey is no vice. Short-sighted exploitation in support of September ticket sales is no virtue.

        In your heart, you know he’s righthanded.

  • dmg

    among other wonderful touches, gary cohen noted that if a ball struck a seagull, the ball was in play. by the time he mentioned it, it seemed an absolute possibility, what with the park starting to look like a casting call for “the birds.”

  • TJHinNYC

    I woke up just in time to see the last two outs (around 3:30 am). At least, I think I saw the last two outs. With all those seagulls, who knows?

    Off-topic: Forty-four years ago today, during the Mets’ first pennant drive, I stopped selling peanuts in the mezzanine at Shea Stadium long enough to catch the last two innings of Tom Seaver’s near-perfect game versus the hated Cubbies.

    Pinch-hitter Jimmy Qualls hit a soft liner into left-center field and the rest is (a different kind of) history.

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • I’ve been to many games at PacBell/ATT/Enron/Rainbow Stadium over the years and that was the biggest rats with wings invasion I’ve ever witnessed. The scoreboard even pops up a graphic of two gull heads and prods the crowd to clap to shoo the feathered feeders away. The birds actually chase people out of the upper deck and bleachers before the game was over. Best part was when one pooped on the snooty Giants fan in front of us. DOH!

  • Andee

    Aaaaand the Giants today just signed…Jeff Francouer. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Right, I won’t be laughing when he hits a grand slam off of Wheeler, which of course he’ll do, because he’s always great the first few weeks he’s with a new team. But still…BAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    That sixth inning was hilarious. That security guard in the corner who had to do a pas de deux with Torres in fair territory (!!) so that Torres could get to the ball and throw it…Panda and Scut both throwing to the wrong bases on the same play…what’s gotten into these guys, anyway? This is almost the same team they had a year ago, minus Pagan, who’s not exactly Mike Trout. Could last year have been a 1973 Mets-style mirage for them? With all that young pitching?

    Well, if they prove anything, it’s that you can’t have too much young pitching, because you never know if the arms you have are gonna blow up on you all of a sudden. And that is why I am throwing hexes at TC for running Harvey out there an inning too long two starts in a row, when he KNEW Harv was pitching with a blister. Terry, I don’t care if Harvey’s only going to throw five pitches on Saturday; please, for the love of Dickey, knock it the hell off.

  • BlackCountryMet

    It was cold in the upper deck view box at 00 23 but there was a warm glow in this UK Mets fans heart!