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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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Guessing Games

I wasn’t watching the Tigers and Red Sox too closely Sunday night at first, but I did guess that Max Scherzer wasn’t going to throw a no-hitter despite carrying one into the sixth. Given the oodles of precedent at our disposal (Don Larsen, Roy Halladay and nobody else), not a tough guess to tender.

I figured, once the Tigers were up 5-0, that they were in pretty good shape to go up 2-0 in the series, but then I saw a comment on Twitter that suggested that with Scherzer striking out Sox at such a rapid pace, Detroit might as well be up 500-0. I suddenly had a weirdly foreboding feeling on behalf of the Tigers (for whom I’m nominally rooting since they’re the team without Shane Victorino). It’s been my experience that when a team seems completely in command of a given game but the scoreboard indicates they are not wholly out of reach of their opponent, the game isn’t over. Call it a wild guess.

I took in the sight of Scherzer accepting handshakes from his teammates when the seventh was over, his night apparently done with a 5-1 lead. He must’ve thrown more pitches than usual, I thought (I wasn’t paying a ton of attention by then), and Jim Leyland must be saving him for later in the ALCS. Winning this one first seemed paramount, but Leyland’s a universally acclaimed manager and he knows his pitchers better than I do. Maybe this wouldn’t matter; you never can tell if it will or if it won’t. I’d say I guessed wrong.

Not in front of the TV while the bottom of the eighth came together, I was surprised when I returned to realize the Red Sox had a genuine threat going. The bases were loaded and David Ortiz was coming up. I didn’t know which pitchers the Tigers’ bullpen carousel had dropped off on the Fenway mound or comprehended whether those were good or bad moves, but I was aware enough to think, hey, he could tie it up on one swing, as the cliché goes, but how likely is that? I should’ve guessed that it was very likely.

Now that it was 5-5 on Big Papi’s grand slam, I kind of figured this might go deep into the night if only because every playoff game at Fenway Park goes deep into the night. Nope, the iron-gloved Tigers couldn’t have been more helpful in helping the Red Sox score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. If I was conspiratorially minded, I would have guessed Detroit was on the take at Fox’s behest to make these playoffs more entertaining to a broader audience. That, by the way, wouldn’t be a serious guess…I don’t think.

Given how dramatically the Red Sox roared from behind, nobody wasn’t willing to call this game an all-time classic and declare it would be remembered forever. I’ll go with the classic part but I’m going to guess it gets forgotten more quickly than you’d guess. There are so many rounds and so many games and so many teams that the second game of a League Championship Series — no matter that it includes a phenomenal pitching performance trumped by a breathtaking comeback — is bound to get a little lost over time. Red Sox fans won’t forget it. Tigers fans won’t forget it. The rest of us are on our own. Just consider the note that emerged once Ortiz’s blast cleared the fence and eluded Torii Hunter’s tumbling reach. His grand slam was the third in the history of postseason play to tie a game, joining Ron Cey’s from the 1977 NLCS and Vladimir Guerrero’s from the 2004 ALDS. I ask you: when was the last time you heard anybody invoke those as classic and unforgettable? I don’t approve of popular amnesia, it just happens.

First guess. Second guess. Lucky guess. Baseball’s the ultimate guessing game. That’s what makes it so much fun to play along with at home.

8 comments to Guessing Games

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Vlad did pop in my head last night, to be honest, but it’s easy to forget considering the Angels didn’t even win the game.

    And I fully agree there’s too many playoff rounds to help classic moments live forever. Quick, how many people remember how incredible the Division Series between the Giants and Braves was in 2010? Anyone? Does the name Brooks Conrad come to mind?

    • The Guerrero mention rang a bell — Ortiz won the game and thus that series on a walkoff home run, putting him into what had been until then a club consisting of only Mazeroski, Chambliss, Carter, Pratt and (sigh) Boone. Its historical zip was paved over by the ALCS to come. Cey’s GS I probably watched but have no recollection of, though when I saw Michael Young wearing No. 10 in one of the Dodger games recently I thought, “He doesn’t run like a penguin.”

      I remember being mesmerized by the Braves-Giants series three years ago and I remember Conrad the Klutz but I retain few details without having to think about it.

  • DSC

    The only real series I remember a lot from was Texas/Tampa in 2010. Two great pitching performances anda record=setting performance by Andrus and Vlad, scoring from second on an infield out in the same game.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    As with previous years, I’ve been watching the games on and off. I did notice that the television ratings were higher than last year’s playoffs which is good for MLB but that the Sunday night NFL game still outdrew the ALCS game by a healthy margin. But then again, last year hit I think some sort of record low for viewer ship as well and this year there are three teams with a history of big followings involved along with Detroit.

    And it’s because as you said, one round goes into another and not like the old days of when the post season meant a battle of champions since this is now a tournament and if the Mets are not in it, it’s not so important to watch. Even now in the ninth inning when Detroit is trailing 1-0, I’m writing to FAFIF instead.

    Of course, why not? LOL

  • […] I’ll bet I watched it when it was happening. I’ll bet it seemed provisionally important. Maybe it was a classic. On this November Saturday, while the Red Sox enjoyed the confetti of their labor, I didn’t stick […]