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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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Welcome, THB Class of 2014!

My goodness, is it really the 10th time we’ve done this?

Background: I have a trio of binders, long ago dubbed The Holy Books (THB) by Greg, that contain a baseball card for every Met on the all-time roster. They’re in order of matriculation: Tom Seaver is Class of ’67, Mike Piazza is Class of ’98, Jacob deGrom is Class of ’14, etc. There are extra pages for the rosters of the two World Series winners, the managers, and one for the 1961 Expansion Draft. That page begins with Hobie Landrith and ends with the infamous Lee Walls, the only THB resident who neither played for nor managed the Mets.

If a player gets a Topps card as a Met, I use it unless it’s truly horrible — Topps was here a decade before there were Mets, so they get to be the card of record. No Mets card by Topps? Then I look for a minor-league card, a non-Topps Mets card, a Topps non-Mets card, or anything else. Topps had a baseball-card monopoly until 1981, and minor-league cards only really began in the mid-1970s, so cup-of-coffee guys from before ’75 or so are tough. Companies such as TCMA and Renata Galasso made odd sets with players from the 1960s — the likes of Jim Bethke, Bob Moorhead and Dave Eilers are immortalized through their efforts. And a card dealer named Larry Fritsch put out sets of “One Year Winners” spotlighting blink-and-you-missed-them guys such as Ted Schreiber and Joe Moock.

The THB Class of 2014

Ooh, arty.

Then there are the legendary Lost Nine — guys who never got a regulation-sized, acceptable card from anybody. Brian Ostrosser got a 1975 minor-league card that looks like a bad Xerox. Leon Brown has a terrible 1975 minor-league card and an oversized Omaha Royals card put out as a promotional set by the police department. Tommy Moore got a 1990 Senior League card as a 42-year-old with the Bradenton Explorers. Then we have Al Schmelz, Francisco Estrada, Lute Barnes, Bob Rauch, Greg Harts and Rich Puig. They have no cards whatsoever — the oddball 1991 Nobody Beats the Wiz cards are too undersized to work. The Lost Nine are represented in THB by DIY cards I Photoshopped and had printed on cardstock, because I am insane.

During the season I scrutinize new card sets in hopes of finding a) better cards of established Mets; b) cards to stockpile for prospects who might make the Show; and most importantly c) a card for each new big-league Met. I also increasingly find new ways of spending money and making this insane pursuit more insane. A year ago I upped the insanity ante by acceding to Greg’s years of gentle campaigning and reworking The Holy Books so the players were in order of matriculation instead of alphabetical within the year of their debuts. This year I’ve started making sure the managers are all represented, including the interim guys. Anybody got a Salty Parker card?

(Apologies to everybody who’s read that a ton of times. Want to read it some more? Previous annals are herehereherehereherehereherehere and here.)

Anyway, enough yip-yap. Let’s get to welcoming:

Curtis Granderson: The big free-agent acquisition of the 2012-13 offseason, Granderson arrived to equal parts relief that the Mets were spending money and anxiety that the Mets might be spending money on the wrong player. (See Michael Cuddyer.) He then did little to decide the argument one way or the other, alternating productive stretches with periods as an instant out while remaining unflaggingly courteous and even kindly throughout all the questions that led to. Granderson should move to left field next year and will be taking aim at fences that are closer in right-center, though hitters not wearing Mets garb will be doing the same. Round and round we go. Granderson enters The Holy Books as a Topps Series 2 Met, which means he’s actually a digitally redressed Yankee. Sigh.

Jose Valverde: Relievers attending their last rodeo are interesting exhibits in the stats vs. intangibles debate. A couple of years ago Jason Isringhausen had a serviceable final year with the Mets, but was credited with teaching Bobby Parnell the knuckle-curve and life lessons about being a closer, both of which proved extremely valuable. This year Papa Grande pitched about as well as you’d expect a 36-year-old man with a giant fork sticking out of his back to pitch, but did take Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen and Rafael Montero under his wing as the leader of the “Dominican Mafia.” (Valverde’s term, not mine.) Germen’s year was wrecked by injuries, but all the others took small to large steps forward. So was acquiring Valverde a mistake by the Mets? That’s a more difficult question to answer than you thought a paragraph ago, isn’t it? Papa Grande will forever be a 2012 Tiger in The Holy Books, excitedly informing God that he’s just done another neat thing.

John Lannan: Lannan joined the team as one of those rotation-insurance guys, but was lit up and excused right after Tax Day. He then spent nearly two months away from Las Vegas, attending to what was described as personal/family stuff. It didn’t work out on the field; I hope it did off the field. 2013 Topps Update card on which he’s a Phillie.

Bartolo Colon: For all the complaining about Colon, he did win 15 games for a mediocre club, show every young pitcher who was paying attention that you don’t need to throw 95 to bedevil enemy batters, and give the rest of us that immortal belly-jiggle GIF. The Mets are now trying to send him elsewhere for the final year of his contract; here’s betting he winds up doing better than anyone would have thought for his new team, too. Topps Series 2 Met, which means he isn’t really a Met in his picture.

Chris Young: No, not the tall one who was hurt all the time (and had a great comeback campaign in Seattle in 2014). This Chris Young seemed like an interesting gamble to return to form after a poor run in Oakland. But he didn’t. Oh boy did he didn’t. Young dropped a ball Castillo-style to lose a game, couldn’t hit and then hung around on the roster forever, gamely answering reporters’ questions about his failures while fans lost their minds. He was finally dumped in August, hooked on with the Yankees, and of course immediately delivered a walk-off homer. The Yankees then resigned him for next year, which one imagines they’ll regret. Topps Team Set photo in which he’s a Photoshopped Oakland A. No, we still don’t have an honest-to-goodness Met photo on a card yet.

Kyle Farnsworth: If I’d told you in spring training that Farnsworth would a) be the Mets’ closer in late April and b) that he’d be the third Mets closer of the year, you’d have responded with a chorus of uh-ohs. Yeah, it was that kind of April. The Mets dumped Farnsworth in mid-May, which had less to do with his performance (he was OK and did some Valverdean mentoring in the pen) than with the “advance consent agreement” he’d signed going into the year — the Mets dropped him to avoid guaranteeing his 2014 salary. As is so often true in modern baseball, this was simultaneously a dick move and a wise one. Farnsworth, understandably furious, vowed revenge and signed on with the Astros. But his Inigo Montoya quest ended in frustration — Houston dropped him a little more than a month later, before he got a chance to face the Mets. 2013 Topps card with Tampa Bay.

Bobby Abreu: Trivia time: Abreu began his career playing for Terry Collins as an Astro facing the Mets and ended it playing for Terry Collins as a Met facing the Astros. The 40-year-old seemed like a veteran too many when he arrived in late April after not playing in 2013. But he won plaudits as a teammate and mentor — the Mets reportedly considered him when they went shopping for a new hitting coach — and as fans we gradually came around to appreciating that we were seeing the last go-round in an excellent career. Abreu exited the sport as a .291 hitter with 2,470 career hits, the last of them a single to left in the fifth inning on Closing Day. This one’s worth watching again — Abreu chugs into first then takes a couple of just-in-case steps towards second, but you can see in his face that he knows he’s never going to get there, and once he turns right instead of left that will be it. He knows it’s time, but a quarter-century of baseball still exerts a powerful pull. 2014 Topps Update card on which he is our first honest-to-goodness Met.

Eric Campbell: The inevitably nicknamed Soup followed a career path familiar to many unfortunate young Mets in recent years — get called up from the minors, hit well, get sat down by Terry Collins for an absurdly long time, hit poorly for some reason. Campbell survived this hazing to emerge as a useful contributor overall, but weren’t we just saying that about Josh Satin? Good luck, Soup. 2014 Las Vegas 51s card. (Update: Campbell got a Topps Heritage High Numbers card. Commence rejoicing.)

Rafael Montero: Montero got lost in the shuffle amid the unexpected emergence of Jacob deGrom, the waiting for Noah Syndegaard and talk-show jackals flopping onto their well-worn fainting couches whenever Matt Harvey dared to something besides sit in a dark room apologizing for having torn a ligament. (It’s fun playing in New York!) When Montero did arrive, he sometimes looked lost and sometimes looked like a world-beater — in other words, he looked like a typical starter in his first big-league go-round. Here’s hoping he isn’t a 2015 Cub or Mariner or D-back … well, unless his becoming one of those would help us by making a great shortstop into a 2015 Met. Fandom, sigh. (Really awesome) 2014 Topps Update card.

Jacob deGrom: Proof that the Mets are not, in fact, a perpetually unlucky franchise doomed to wander the Earth under a little rain cloud. Like everyone else, we’d barely heard of deGrom before this year — the first mention of him in these pages is from spring training and talks, inevitably, about his hair. So of course he wound up as the NL Rookie of the Year, seeming to get better with every start. Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom … it’s enough to make a guy go sit outside Citi Field and wait for April, after years in which attending a game was enough to make a guy go sit outside Citi Field and wait for October. 2014 Topps Update card.

Buddy Carlyle: Like pretty much everybody else, I scoffed when the Mets brought Carlyle in as the sacrificial lamb in a Verdun of a game on May 31 against the Phillies. Which didn’t seem crazy: Since posting an ERA of nearly 10 for the 2009 Braves, Carlyle had been employed by the Nippon Ham Fighters, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the New York Yankees (for 7 2/3 innings), the Gwinnett Braves, the Buffalo Bisons, and the Las Vegas 51s. Good times! But Carlyle didn’t instantly suck that day in Philadelphia. In fact, he got the win … and wound up posting a 1.45 ERA for the season. Guy even got a hit. Nobody knows anything, particularly when the subject is middle relievers. 2014 51s card.

Dana Eveland: See Buddy Carlyle, more or less.

Taylor Teagarden: Brought up when a struggling Travis d’Arnaud was sent to Las Vegas, the rather amazingly named career backup catcher crashed a grand slam in his third-ever Mets at-bat. Teagarden didn’t do much else in his 25 subsequent Mets at-bats and was gone after less than two weeks, but when you hit a grand slam in your first-ever game, you don’t have to do much else. 2014 51s card.

Dilson Herrera: A surprise call-up who began the year in St. Lucie, Herrera more than held his own in 66 Met ABs, showing power, speed and solid instincts. Not bad for a guy who still can’t buy a legal drink. (And points to Mr. Alderson, who got Herrera and Vic Black from the Pirates for a few weeks of Marlon Byrd and the decaying corpse of John Buck.) You never know, but here’s betting Herrera has supplanted Daniel Murphy by the All-Star Break and is a full-fledged star by 2017. 2014 Topps Pro Debut card on which he’s a Savannah Sand Gnat. It’s OK; he’ll have a better one soon.

Erik Goeddel: Who the hell is Erik Goeddel? He pitched in six games this year? If you say so. 2014 51s card.

Dario Alvarez: See Erik Goeddel. 2010 Brooklyn Cyclones card that needs to go back in its binder once Alvarez gets another card. For which a 13.50 ERA during a demitasse of cold coffee is no great guarantee.

5 comments to Welcome, THB Class of 2014!