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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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Boom Clap (Ouch)

This, I thought as I sat in Promenade Box 405 during the sun-soaked bottom of the fourth on Sunday, is where the dream has at last arrived to meet reality. All those computer-generated images of bustling new Mets Ballpark from 2006 tried to capture what the future would look like. It would have people and enthusiasm and, presumably, winning. It was what everything was leading up to.

There used to be the idea of a ballpark here. At last, it actually exists the way it oughta be.

There used to be the idea of a ballpark here. At last, it actually exists the way it oughta be.

The path, we know, went astray. But now, nine years after we were shown our first glimpse of the concept that would soon be dubbed Citi Field — and six since everything about the team and the facility it inhabits had begun to reliably disappoint us — the course corrected itself.

Met after Met was reaching base.

Run after run was crossing home plate.

Seat after seat was filled.

Cow-Bell Man, modeling the jersey of the day’s starting pitcher, was hustling from section to section and leading whole groups in chants of LET’S GO METS!

Whole groups were responding to his cue.

The Mets, in turn, were responding to them.

To us.

I wanted to freeze the moment. I have, I suppose. I will keep it with me for at least the rest of this season. The fourth inning on April 19 was the instant when either:

a) the Mets once and for all transcended the miasma that had defined them for more than a half-a-decade and elevated themselves onto a whole new level of competence, competitiveness and contention that would stoke our inner fires for the foreseeable future and make us proud for the rest of our days; or

b) the Mets experienced their high point of 2015, because it was all about to go achily downhill from there.

It was a fine half-inning, that bottom of the fourth. The Mets just kept coming against the Marlins until they couldn’t be held back. Singles and walks and singles and walks and a booming three-run double and the starting pitcher lining out and another walk and another single and when the dust cloud that had been hovering over the joint since 2009 evaporated, the Mets were leading the Marlins, 7-1.

They were in first place, they were undefeated at home, they were riding their longest winning streak in five years and they had their ace taking the ball to protect a six-run lead against an surprisingly inept and seemingly demoralized opponent. We, the fans, had found our voice in the preceding week, remembering what it was like to pour ourselves into baseball games again, taking our team seriously and blissfully.

Going to the fifth, how could it get better than that?

It couldn’t. It could only get worse.

The good news, when the afternoon was over, was that the Mets remained winners. They secured (barely) their eighth consecutive victory, matching two such spurts from 2010, a season nobody associates with uninterrupted winning, but it actually happened. It happened in the first half. The Mets went to hell in the second half. We weren’t surprised. Here, in 2015, we’ve seen the calendars and understood it was April, but we’ve proceed in the vein of “if April’s like this, we can’t way for May and June and everything that follows.”

And maybe we still will see it like that when our schedule resumes Tuesday night against second-place Atlanta. If you were in Promenade or anywhere at Citi Field on Sunday as I was, I suspect you maintained that vibe when Jeurys Familia was grounding out the perpetually looming Giancarlo Stanton to seal the four-game sweep and create the eight-game streak. You couldn’t have not been caught up in the momentum that was still in the air from the bottom of the fourth, when those seven runs scored and the ball was returned to Matt Harvey to make the rest of the affair academic.

At the same time, your life as a Mets fan had gone through myriad changes in the innings it took to complete the journey to eight straight.

First, there was the matter of Harvey himself, who it turned out was pitching under the influence of some horrible virus. Mind you, he wasn’t getting lit up by the Marlins the way had had been the last time I sat in Promenade to see him pitch. That was in 2013, against the Tigers, the day he didn’t have it, the day that led to the announcement he wouldn’t be on the mound again for an indeterminate period of eternal waiting. But the Marlins were getting hits, and I couldn’t help but think, “I sure hope the Mets add to this 7-1 lead.”

Second, there was the Mets lineup not adding to that 7-1 lead. Harvey got a hit. Juan Lagares got one later. That was it. The unstoppable Mets from the fourth went into sleep mode from the fifth onward.

Third, the effort to push Harvey through the seventh backfired. We didn’t know he’d been sick that morning. We just figured he ran out of gas. That’s OK. He is still technically coming back from an extended absence; it just seems like he’s been throwing shutouts without pause forever.

Fourth, after Harvey exited with two on, nobody out and his lead down to 7-3, Jerry Blevins entered to settle down our simmering nerves. He retired Ichiro Suzuki on a little line drive to first. He then induced a liner to the mound from Dee Gordon, and it, too, resulted in an out. Well, two outs, sort of. The ball bounced off some element of Blevins’s body and he was able to glove it and toss it to first to get the runner. So Gordon was out.

Fifth, Blevins was out. That liner fractured Jerry’s left forearm, the one he uses for pitching. We didn’t know that yet in Promenade. We just saw him leaving for what we decided were precautionary reasons. It had to be a precaution, right? You can’t be too careful with the newly obtained glue to your bullpen. Besides, it was still a four-run lead, we were still headed toward an eight-game streak and (for some of us) there was the added bonus of learning the Islanders had just defeated the Capitals in overtime. I was in YES YES YES mode. I did not want to insert an OUCH into the middle of my Sunday euphoria.

Sixth, Alex Torres replaced Blevins in one of those “he’ll get all the time he needs to warm up” situations, which never sit well. Sure enough, Torres threw a wild pitch that made it 7-4 before striking out Christian Yelich.

Seventh, why didn’t Lucas Duda blast a three-run homer to cap the bottom of the fourth when he had he chance? Three innings had passed since he had the golden opportunity to put the game away (as if a six-run edge and Matt Harvey weren’t reassurance enough) and I was still desperately mentally seeking tack-on runs.

Eighth, Brad Hand started the bottom of the seventh hitting Travis d’Arnaud’s hand. I would’ve preferred Travis d’Arnaud had hit Brad Hand’s d’Arnaud. It doesn’t work that way. D’Arnaud was instantly removed. This didn’t look like a precaution. This looked like a truckload of trouble.

Ninth, Buddy Carlyle, the bullpen savior from Opening Day and Saturday night, had nothing in the eighth, but where was Terry Collins going to turn? He’d already used his top two lefties, he was saving his closer for an inning later and what happened to our overloaded eight-man bullpen anyway? Even our seven-man bullpen, now that Blevins was being examined somewhere in the stadium bowels, seemed amazingly inadequate to the task of extinguishing the Miami Marlins. Buddy, who’s been persevering in baseball since Dallas Green was making the calls to the Met bullpen, persevered to finish out the inning, which was great. Less great: It was now 7-6.

Tenth, my briefly recharged phone had enough juice left in it to bring me up to speed on the Mets missing in action. Blevins had suffered a fracture. D’Arnaud had suffered a fracture, too. His right hand was broken. Anybody within earshot of me who didn’t know this news knew it soon enough by my repeated use of a particular four-letter word. The Mets were going for eight wins in a row. I may have racked up a dozen consecutive expletives.

Eleventh, the Marlins got the tying run to second off Familia. It all came down to Stanton. It always comes down to Stanton. Fortunately, the final encounter in which he was involved came down on the side of Familia and the Mets. What was once a 7-1 romp ended a 7-6 nailbiter…with casualties.

A win being a win, I was more celebratory than mournful. I willfully ignored what happened to our budding star catcher and our essential lefty reliever. I tried to forget that d’Arnaud and Blevins had joined the unparticipating ranks of Edgin, Wheeler, Black, Mejia and Wright. I temporarily overcame my inevitable tetherance to the past and tamped down my impulse to invoke 1972, the year when a superb Met start (25-7) was obliterated by an outbreak of injuries. I wondered a little about what Kevin Plawecki would show as the new catcher and Hansel Robles would add to the bullpen, but neither of those pending callups would appear at Citi Field until Tuesday, and on Sunday that was a world away.

I wanted to stay in the world we’d been building since last Monday, when the Mets came home and took three of three from the Phillies and four of four from the Marlins while we urged them on with the kind of passion previously thought to have fallen victim to deep-seated cynicism and a diligent demolition crew. I wanted this week to go on forever, or at least into next week. I wanted the fourth inning to stay with me.

It did. It has. It will.

19 comments to Boom Clap (Ouch)

  • Daniel Hall

    10-3 is awesome, and if it weren’t for those Tigers, we’d be bestest in MLB. It was all awesome yesterday, Ruben’s double made me joyfully squeak, but we should have called it a day after six innings.

    Today is about licking wounds. Wounds that burn, and refuse to be soothed.

    Since I have declared myself the team’s good luck charm as they are 6-0 when I’m watching, I’m also not excited about the two upcoming night games, which I can’t catch and which Niese, Gee, and in the worst case Hansel Robles will pitch in. One could say I have a feeling about impending doom.

    But let’s look at the bright side: the Mets have more wins than players on the DL. Ha-hah. Ha-hah. Hum.

  • BlondiesJake

    Great post as usual, albeit not the greatest situation. HOWEVER, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and this time it’s not an oncoming train(wreck) for the Mets.

    For the first time in nearly a decade, I see this team finding a way to win games and believing in itself. With the starting staff and an offense still vastly better than last year’s squad, plus more arms and positional depth, I am optimistic the 2015 Mets will survive if not continue to thrive. Likely not 10-3 in the next 13 games, but at least 7-6 to keep themselves in the thick of things.

    If they can keep it together for the next two weeks, as C3PO once said, “The possibilities are endless R2.”

  • Lou from Brazil

    No worries. David Wright should be back in the lineup within a week or two. Sounds like his hamstring is getting better. I’m excited to see Plawecki. And his presence in the organization just reinforces the point that Sandy may have had a better offseason than many would care to admit now. Sometimes the best moves are the ones that weren’t made. Here’s to hoping Plaw comes up and contributes. If this happened a year or two ago, I’d be bothered by it all a lot more. But the team has depth and I’d rather see how it plays out than go into panic mode just yet. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Dave

    Well, we wondered a few days ago if the 1000th Met would emerge this year. Going to be 2 Mets closer to that milestone thanks to yesterday’s game.

    These are the times that try Mets fans’ souls. Not the first, won’t be the last.

  • JB

    Quick correction: As anti-poetic as it sounds, Hand didn’t hit d’Arnaud. It was Ramos.

  • Dennis

    What a great day. Doing yardwork on a beautiful day and listening to Howie & Josh call another Mets win. Just a tremendous start to the season….excluding the injuries of course.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Definitely a bit double edged sword that win yesterday. However, I’m with Lou from Brazil,I belive in this team, this year. We’ll come through this, probably not with the same run of wins as currently but enough that we’ll be OK when the injured return. This team has more resilience, more spirit and are flat out better than teams of recent vintage

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Why is this all beginning to remind me of 1972, which I’m old enough to be reminded of.

  • Rochester John

    I must have missed something. Who is Erik Goeddel and why is he in the bullpen if he’s not going to be used? Is he hurt? In the doghouse? WHIP of zip in an inning and a third and he doesn’t pitch for nine days?

    • argman

      I think Goeddel had been sent down to LV for a few days in the middle of last week, which explains part of the situation. And maybe yesterday Terry just trusted Carlyle to battle through. And maybe, just maybe, he was thinking ahead enough that if the game went into extras he would still have Goeddel to eat innings then. I know that doesn’t sound like the Collins we know and tolerate, but could be.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Granderson and Murphy will have to start hitting. Terry will have to start relying on Goeddel, Gilmartin and Robles to avoid burning out Familia, Carlyle and the Torres boys. It doesn’t look like Black or Parnell will be back any time soon. You go with the hand you’re dealt and hope the magic continues.

  • open the gates

    I wasn’t following baseball yet in ’72, but my thought was that way be seeing ’86 quickly morphing into ’87. A better team on paper than the ’86 team, got decimated by injuries – and a substance abuse issue with a prominent pitcher – yet stayed in the race all year. Guess we’ll see. Remember, a few months ago we’d have settled for an over-.500 season. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    • Len

      good reference…only that team was expected to storm thru the league…this team is just growing …playing without Wright has not hurt yet…its a learning curve for Sandy…..look out in 2016

  • Dave

    Last night someone tweeted that Granderson missed about 10 weeks a couple of years ago with a broken forearm…and of course, Granderson does not make his living pitching, in a typical game an OF’er might have to make about 5 throws, several of them not even very hard. So while I’m no doctor, this doesn’t sound promising for Blevins. But at least he’s found a way to avoid that most dangerous of ailments for lefty relievers, Being Managed by Terry Collins-itis, also known as Feliciano-Byrdak-Rice Syndrome.

    • Gary

      A broken forearm is worse for hitting than throwing. Watch when they show a swing in slow motion and the amount of strain that is put on the forearm. The contact pulsates all the way through the bat into the hands and forearms.

  • Art Pesner

    Greg, I was kind of your reverse yesterday. I was at the Islanders game and was in YES YES YES mode, until I got in the car turned on Howie and Josh, and the 4 letter words started in private.

  • Len

    Greg..i have never read a word of your writing prior to this, but seeing you invoke the ’72 Mets ( and indeed it was a broken hand, Rusty’s, that destroyed them) made me fully aware of your legitimacy as a Met commenter…..I admit I am somewhat of a snob,,,,,Mets life did did not begin with the WIlpons, nor, Keith, Dwight and Darrell…not even Seaver, and newer fans, and MOST bloggers have no real feel of the history, what it meant to lose and still have fun. This team, with homegrown young pitching abound is much like the 1968 team….too early to expect them to win, but signs that its getting there, They will need their Donn Clendenon,,,the leader isnt in uniform yet, but these injuries may actually serve to keep expectations where they belong fro this year,, the 10-3 start has some people too giddy…the injuries remind that its a long long summer and it takes more like 30 men when all is told, not just the 25 who break who camp, to come out on top in September.

    Great job, and remember 1973 , (once everyone got healthy)

  • mikeL

    this truly sucks, without a doubt – but until i see otherwise i’m going to believe in this team, and whatever mojo is at work rhat has gotten them here.
    they remind me of the mets after the arrivsl of keith, and than gary – when it seemed like they always got the big hits.
    time will tell whether it will be possible to keep bringing up those guys next in line to fill big shoes.
    cambe has done it. i believe plawecki can excel. i don’t know who will pick up blevins but i hope that someone emerges. and yes the still quiet bats need to get going. i still believe…
    wishing fast and full recoveries for travis and jerry
    and heaps and heaps of losses for those marlins!

  • mikeL

    sorry for all the typos. small screen plus broken reading specs. campbell is the example i had in mind. we’ll see about hansel soon enough.