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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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Leaders of the Midnight Baseball League

Nine innings? Three hours and twenty-three minutes? What a gyp! What kind of Mets game is that in the middle of the night? Surely it was only the opener of a twidawn doubleheader. Surely they had to replay the sixth to the thirteenth from the night before in deference to Bruce Bochy attempting to make an illegal pitching change. Surely there had to be more nocturnal shenanigans than a relatively simple, only moderately schleppy Mets victory.

Apparently we’ll have to settle for a 10-6 win whose inevitable tie was decisively broken in the eighth inning, thus leaving us shy of more records and more weirdness if not more grogginess (West Coast’s still the West Coast). Dillon Gee bulling his way through 108 pitches, Marlon Byrd hatching four runs on one swing, Anthony Recker bucking up at and just in front of the plate, Omar Quintanilla, Andrew Brown and Daniel Murphy all doing what had to be done…sorry, that’s all we got Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Just a hard-fought victory that was closer than the final score would indicate yet plenty resounding just the same.

The Mets have won 15 of their last 24 games. If they hadn’t lost 39 of their first 63, that would be really exciting. If they weren’t ruggedly outlasting opponents who have been mostly playing like they were for the bulk of April, May and early June, that would be incredibly encouraging. If their manager would leave the litany of bizarre circumstances to interested observers instead of frightfully reciting the circumstances that have failed to daunt his recently indefatigable team, I wouldn’t be left with the nagging feeling that there’s a built-in excuse brewing here for the Mets’ traditional second-half descent. (To be fair, time-lapse exhaustion figures to make for a more valid alibi than, “There was no way we could ever recover after being deprived of Shaun Marcum’s services.”)

Yet all that stated, these are some unexpectedly good times in Metsopotamia. And if anybody understands that good times can emerge at literally any time, it ought to be Mets fans, because we have a team that’s played literally at most every hour of the day or night.

Good luck with that, Mets fans.

Good luck with that, Mets fans.

You’re familiar, I trust, with games from San Francisco that end at 3:42 AM in New York. Damn thing about Monday night’s/Tuesday morning’s seagull-infested festivities was those sixteen innings didn’t come close to setting the predawn TV and radio standard for endurance. For that, you have to go back 40 years, to May 24, 1973, when the Mets and Dodgers kept New Yorkers up for nineteen innings that didn’t conclude until 4:47 AM Eastern, or 52 minutes later than the only other nineteen-inning game in the Metropolitan annals. Historical recognition of the Mets’ 7-3 triumph from L.A. has been obscured by its more famous nineteen-inning successor that hatched all manner of wildness and wackiness in Atlanta, but May 24-25, 1973, was the moral equivalent of July 4-5, 1985, even if it lacked precipitation, explosives and homering relievers, among other outsize memorable elements.

OK, so we know the Mets have provided baseball entertainment for their hometown viewers until thirteen minutes before five o’clock ante meridiem. That means there’s no more than a Rosemary Woods-style eighteen-minute gap on our perpetual tape near sunrise because we also know that in the year 2000, on March 29 and 30, the Mets played the Cubs in Tokyo in games that started locally at 7:05 PM but were beamed to New York at 5:05 AM. The second of those contests — the good one — climaxed on Benny Agbayani’s eleventh-inning grand slam and ended at precisely 9 AM in favor of the Mets, 5-1. Thus, we also know the Mets have played pretty close to around the clock.

Pretty close? Try closer than you realize. On July 4, 1969, the Pirates hosted the Mets for an Independence Day doubleheader. And y’know what time they started holiday twinbills at Forbes Field? Why, at 10:35 AM. The opener of that affair, won 11-6 by the eventual world champions, took a not-so-crisp (for the era) 2:57 to complete. By the time it was over, the Mets and Bucs were headed for a “normal” afternoon start time for the nightcap. Common experience tells us anything from 12:05 PM on constitutes the norm when it comes to a first pitch.

To review, the Mets have never played ball between 4:47 AM and 5:05 AM Eastern Time. And they’ve never played ball between 9 AM and 10:35 AM Eastern Time. And that’s it. Otherwise, you might say, the Mets have always played ball…or been capable of playing ball always for the folks back home. All day and all of the night, just about. There are 1,440 minutes in a given day. The Mets, at some point in their life, have plied their craft during approximately 1,357 of them. What we’ve witnessed lately may represent aberrant behavior but it’s not completely without precedent. The travel, the delays, the concentration of games that almost routinely wend their way into a sixth hour…all of that certainly adds a layer of novelty and sleepiness to the proceedings, but by playing until literally all hours, the Mets are just doing what the Mets always do.

But unlike last week, they’re winning while doing it, so that’s refreshingly different.

18 comments to Leaders of the Midnight Baseball League

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Wow, what a great showing of all your research! Twisted But True indeed!

  • Dennis

    Stay Awake…..I used to have that on vinyl. Bought it for The Replacements doing a great version of “Cruella De Ville”.

  • March'62

    True the Mets have taken 4 of 5 on this road trip, but they ALWAYS do well on their Milwaukee-San Francisco-Pittsburgh road trips. Now if they could only make it carry over to the rest of the season…..

    And thanks Greg. Now you have me rooting for a 2PM start to a game the Mets will play in London in a few years to close the circle even tighter. As for the 4:47 – 5:05AM hole – the Mets probably put a fence around not playing during the 18 minutes.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I remember listening to the Tokyo games on the 6:38 from Westfield. Even 13 years ago it was much better than listening to Imus. Now, anything is better than listening to Imus.

    I love the trivia about what hours the Mets have never played, Nice.

  • Steve D

    Collins just said on WFAN that Ike is now platooning with Satin. This is good news…Ike is hitting .177 vs. righties and has no more excuses.

    • Dennis

      Is bashing Ike Davis your obsession?

      • Steve D

        I’m not sure…I think I’m obsessed with guys who can’t hit over .180 batting cleanup. I do remember you were the guy last year who mocked my talent evaluation of Ike…turns out I was pretty spot on. Is bashing me your obsession?

        • Dennis

          Nope. You may be right about him….and maybe not. I just don’t post about him everyday. But, to each his own.

          • Steve D

            Point taken…it’s like a train wreck I can’t turn away from. I will leave with one more point then drop it for awhile…Rob Deer’s .179 BA in 1991 was the lowest for a qualified batter in MLB history and Ike is likely to challenge it.

  • Joe D.

    Though Terry Collins said the Mets decided to skip Matt Harvey’s scheduled start on Saturday due to the blister and the accumulated innings, though those concerns present no problem with him possibly starting the All-Star game on Tuesday.

    I think it shows a sense of priorities when interrupting one’s schedule which could put him off rhythm is determined less important than exploiting the possibility of Matt starting the All Star game at home for the publicity it would get.

    Matt should take his regular turn, pitch an inning or so on Tuesday and then resume his regular schedule.

  • open the gates

    Now that we’re off topic anyway, I just want to say for the record that I am sick of hearing about how Marlon Byrd won’t be finishing the season with the Mets, as if it were a foregone conclusion.

    The guy is having a dream season out of nowhere, is leading the team in a bunch of offensive categories, fields his position well, and by all accounts is a great influence in the clubhouse, especially with the younger players. Plus he’s 35 years old, which means that he is automatically more valuable to the Mets now than to any other team trading for down the road, and he’s not the sort of player that teams look to trade their best prospects for a short-term rental. So OF COURSE all the pundits assume that the Mets are dying to get rid of him. For goodness sake, why?

    And I’m sick of hearing about how old he is. There’s no reason that in the next few seasons he can’t be eased into an elder statesman role that would be good for him and the team. And besides, 35 ain’t so old. He sure didn’t look old last night.

    • O My My

      Byrd? No one cares about him. He’s the nadir.

      He’s on HGH.

      He’ll spend the latter part of the 2013 season serving his second steroid suspension, albeit he never served his first 50-game suspension due to a technicality.

      • open the gates

        And you know for a fact that he’s still juicing?

        I remember another fellow who came to the Mets for a song as a result of substance abuse. Fellow named Keith Hernandez. I don’t hear too many Met fans who ever referred to him as a “nadir” of anything.

        Have some faith in humanity. A guy can turn over a new leaf.

        • O My My

          You’re correct. My cynicism is shameful. As Terry Collins said: “I believe Marlon has just changed his swing over the past two years.” And no doubt that’s true. The steroid incident was perhaps a simple FedEx mistake.

          And O my cynicism!I mean, Dykstra was just working out with those new-fangled Nautilus machiney things, right? No one’s ever caught Barry Bonds, so we can safely assume now that humans can experience growth periods in their life TWICE- Amazin’!

          Wow! Byrd just whacked his 15th on the SNY replay. No doubt it’s the swing, right? My faith in human redemption is restored!

          • open the gates

            OK, I get it. You don’t like Marlon Byrd. Hey, it’s a free country.

            But at least be honest about this. In your world, Marlon is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

            If he stinks, we need to get rid of him. If he’s doing well, it must be because he’s juicing, so we need to get rid of him.

            Doesn’t really give him lots of wiggle room, does it?

  • mikeski

    “Rosemary Woods” tag?

    “Rosemary Woods” tag.