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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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It's A Beautiful Noise

Before the manager had to deliver the news that something “major” had happened to his indispensable player’s hamstring…before a backup catcher presumably said a prayer that nothing be hit to him in his unforeseen debut as a third baseman…before baseballs brushed back batters hither and yon…before replays weren’t reviewed even though it sure as hell seemed like they were…before one piece of lumber in particular wasn’t interfered with even though the one person who mattered sure as hell seemed to think it was…before old nemeses, old friends and new dimensions launched five horsehide spheres bearing the new commissioner’s signature over pulled-in fences…before the man for whom the Night was named and a Dark Knight is namesaked could be alternately heroic, breathtaking and just plain plucky…before the Mets could make certain their six runs would withstand the five compiled by the Phillies…

Before all that, there was the noise. The noise of Citi Field. It’s the ballpark’s newest feature of all.

The Mets win in imperfect fashion. They likely lose David Wright for an undetermined period of time because the Captain slid awkwardly in stealing a base that he probably wishes he had left unpilfered. They find Matt Harvey’s comeback trail from Tommy John surgery might not be an uninterrupted march to Lower Broadway. They discover the Phillies may be dead, but there’s still no known cure for Chase Utley. They make nailbiters out of prospective romps. They burn through a short bench and reveal a startling lack of depth. They get by without their bantam rooster of a fearless leader who is never more popular than when he is being banished into the shadows by a numbskull umpire. They send you to your car or your train or whatever mode of transportation you chose wondering what the hell just happened.

But the uncertainty they tend to bring to bear couldn’t quiet the noise, at least not in my mind.

I want to say I went to Citi Field and Shea Stadium broke out, but that wouldn’t be wholly accurate. I’m not sure I ever heard Shea Stadium so determined to make polite conversation impossible. Oh, it was louder at Shea Stadium when the occasion warranted it. There were lots of occasions that warranted it. At Citi Field, there’s been mostly nothing to rev up the volume over. It’s been too quiet for six seasons.

At the outset of the second game of its seventh season, its inhabitants decided to change that. Why? Ostensibly because Matt Harvey was continuing his cinematic return — he cooperated with the preferred narrative, if not as neatly as he had the week before in Washington — but mostly, I suspect, because they could. Mets fans going to a Mets game decided they’d kept mum for too goddamn long.

So out came the sound that had been missing since Shea. We’re here, we cheer, get used to it.

I was happily perched behind home plate in the first row of Excelsior for my 2015 onsite debut, delighted to join my dear friends in the Spector family, and I heard things I had heard hardly at all through the Citi Field years. I heard “HARVEY! HARVEY!” I heard “LET’S GO HARVEY!” I heard “LET’S GO METS!” with no cue whatsoever from the 62%-larger scoreboard. I heard a general, recurring loudness that urged on nothing more than the idea of loudness for loudness’s potent sake. These were Mets fans — legitimately more than 35,000 of them, if not quite the almost 40,000 listed as the paid attendance — being Mets fans, tired of being something less. These were Mets fans buying into not only Harveysteria’s reboot and their team’s very recent winning ways but buying into themselves. If they’re gonna take back New York, they seemed to have figured out as one that they first need to take back Citi Field.

Not from the Phillies, but from inertia. The joint refused to jump for six years. It barely budged. Compared to its predecessor (and judging by the unsolicited opinion some dude offered me on the inbound 7, the comparisons won’t go away until there’s a September that supercedes the sadly established norm of the first half of the 2010s), Citi Field suffers from rigor mortis.

Or it did until Harvey took the mound and struck out his first, second and fourth hitters and the Mets, on Lucas Duda’s stinging three-run double, eventually took a lead that was continually challenged yet never overcome. The Phillies threw everything they had at Harvey, which is to say Utley and some dim officiating. Harvey lasted six innings. His eight strikeouts and zero walks were the stuff of a second win on the season. His determination to let one slip just enough to let Chase know he wasn’t dealing with a soft touch, though, became his UPS Delivery of the Game (I’m assuming some corporate entity sponsors something like that).

Benches were warned? So was the National League.

Phillies starter David Buchanan, who entered with an ERA as high as Pennsylvania native James Buchanan’s ranking as a president is low, had plunked, accidentally or otherwise, Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer had to leave the game. Citi Field didn’t care for that. It already didn’t care for Utley, who — besides reminding us he was Adam LaRoche before shuddering at the sight of Adam LaRoche was cool — dared to ruin Harvey’s perfect game with two out in the first.

Yeah, we were getting ahead of ourselves, but what’s the fun of having a Matt Harvey if you’re not convinced that he’s going to retire every Phillie from here to Granny Hamner? And if the Dark Knight is compelled to put an opponent on base, why waste four intentional balls when one pitched purposefully at a certifiable demon can do the trick so much more efficiently?

That’s what Harvey did in the fifth when Buchanan, who had the nerve to double, was on third; there were two out; and Ryan Howard (one of the few troubled American financial institutions the government didn’t bother deeming too big to fail) was on deck. Whoops! Pitch musta got away…just like Buchanan’s did when he’d hit Flores and Cuddyer. Hitting Utley removed the threat of Utley hitting and it told Utley’s pitchers, you hit two of ours, we’ll hit essentially the only one you got.

Citi Field liked that and made plenty of noise.

Citi Field was less appreciative of the BS catcher’s interference call that followed as Howard got in the way of Travis d’Arnaud’s attempt to throw Utley out on a stolen base attempt. Collins came out to argue with Alfonso Marquez, having gained no satisfaction earlier when he requested a replay review after Harvey was ruled to have hit Freddy Galvis despite pretty clearly not hitting Freddy Galvis. It took five minutes for the umpires to review the situation and tell Terry, no, you can’t have a review.

First that, now this. Howard was on first. Collins was ejected and then, as the saying goes, got his money’s worth, which was pretty cool to witness since replay review has kind of killed that tradition. Citi Field was very supportive of the manager and his actions at that moment. I suspect more than half of the 35,000-plus would gladly usher Collins to a waiting cab out of general restlessness, but we do love when our skippers stand up for our interests. Add “TERRY! TERRY!” to the chants of the evening.

Meanwhile, Harvey waited to resume pitching. As he involuntarily cooled his heels, I wondered how many heads off of how many live animals he would’ve bitten off if given the option, but the man has composure along with several out pitches. With the bases now loaded and Bob Geren his temporary manager, Matt popped Carlos Ruiz — the last remaining Phillie position player anybody outside the Delaware Valley could guess is currently a Phillie — to third, where Wright caught it to end the threat.

How comforting to have Wright out there. Little could Citi Field imagine it would see David voluntarily leave the game during a prospective eighth-inning rally because he felt something. As Collins implied later, that’s a guy who only comes out if an appendix bursts…and then the Captain would probably tell Ray Ramirez to spray some Bactine on it. By then, the 4-3 lead he’d helped protect had grown to 5-3 when Duda proved the niftiest of baserunners, sliding home safely on a d’Arnaud single and then lunging to touch the plate a second time when Marquez was initially too busy updating his Facebook status (“At the Mets-Phillies game, y’all! Umpiring is hard! LOL!”) to make a call. It blossomed to 6-3 when Daniel Murphy became the fourth Met to homer in 2015’s first eight games. But then it shrunk to 6-4 as Utley wreaked more of his home run havoc on Sean Gilmartin, a reliever whose performance would have pleased neither Gil Hodges nor Billy Martin.

After David left the game and Recker became his pinch-running and defensive substitute — the Mets’ teeny-tiny four-man bench had plumb run out of players — the extant spirit of weird-ass Met-Phillie games past, Jeff Francoeur, came up and homered to make it 6-5 in the ninth. Frenchy’s a Phillie now if you hadn’t been keeping up on his whereabouts. The fellow who in Citi Field’s first campaign lined into that year’s Mets-in-a-microcosm offensive escapade, Eric Bruntlett’s notorious Unassisted Triple Play. It was to 2009 Met rallies what Luis Castillo’s one hand clapping was to 2009 Met lockdown ninth innings.

Good times.

What was supposed to be Harvey Night and nothing but Harvey Night had subtly shifted to hang on for who knows what’s going to happen next, with Anthony Recker as your third baseman, Chase Utley in the on-deck circle and Jeurys Familia morphing from trusted setup man to Not Another Mets Closer. But then Familia struck out Galvis and the Mets of this year edged the Phillies of some other year but definitely not this one.

At which juncture Citi Field made more beautiful noise. It’s apparently what we do there now.

11 comments to It’s A Beautiful Noise

  • dmg

    granted, it’s early in the season. but a bar i hit near grand central that has always been a yankees stronghold had their game with baltimore on only one screen last night. the other six? the mets vs. the phillies, and folks were cheering every harvey strikeout.

  • Dave

    By the 5th inning I was considering looking for an emergency number for my doctor, anticipating the need for a dosage increase on my blood pressure meds. I was also hoping that the subsequent 4 innings would be dull, but no such luck there. Glad Niese is pitching today, because even when he’s good he’s dull. An easy, uneventful win tonight would be nice.

    But to think that there’d be this level of intensity and excitement for a Mets game in April…I think we’re finally back to relevance. Been a longer time coming than it should have been, but even the most cynical among us (which often includes me) have to be fully prepared to take back the city now.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    What a day to be on an airplane and miss most of the game. I drove off in my rental car as the bottom of the 8th was beginning, and heard the remainder of the game, with the last out coming just before I reached my destination. Just from the sustained excitement or amazement in Howie’s voice, I could tell I missed one hell of a game. Let’s hope the excitement continues when the ballpark is only half full for Niese Dat.

  • 9th string catcher

    Going tonight! I’ll let you know if the 80% dropoff in attendance makes for a large noise reduction.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Seriously, some friends and I couldn’t recall it: when was the last time a Mets pitcher retaliated with a beanball (and actually connected with it)? I have vague recollections of it happening once recently by Colon or Capuano or someone, but I could be making it up. If someone told me no Mets pitcher had done it in the 21st century, I’d believe it.

    Regardless, it got a standing ovation from me.

  • That was sweet music from the crowd last night, just electric! I’d never heard that before in person and was proud to be a part of it.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Why are we carrying 8 pitchers in the pen? This makes no sense! You have a four man bench, which is actually three because you never play the back up catcher, unless he plays 3rd base.

    At the start of the season you get extra days off, rain outs, bad weather etc. Why go with a short bench?

    Can somebody please explain!

    • Dave

      Yeah, apparently Eric Goedel is just too good not to have on the staff. I’m disappointed to see that today’s player move was only to replace DWright with Campbell. I would have sent Goedel down too and also brought up Muno or Reynolds or even Puello.

      What baseball really needs is a slightly expanded roster with healthy scratches, a la hockey and football. You suit up 25 guys each game, but maybe carry 27. You’re never going to use any of your other starting pitchers unless a game goes 20 innings or something, so yesterday’s and tomorrow’s starters don’t suit up. That way you can have a deep pen and a reasonable size bench, even perhaps with that dinosaur from years gone by, a 3rd catcher.

  • Paul from Brooklyn

    Welcome back lads! This will be a very happy year for all of us! One of the New York papers had the nerve to call Lagares a player who could one day be an every day player.That was only last month! The tide is turning here and now our glorious team will be the one with the clip on the 11 O’clock news while the evil empire will garner only a mention after the Mets are recapped.
    How sweet it is! Now if only Rock,Seinfeld and Maher could buy the team and get us away from those owners who don’t see a great chance in the greatest city of the world with the greatest baseball team.Opening day made us all very proud to be part of the momentum. THe short bench has to change,less pitchers and more fielders.

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