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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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I’ve Got Pieces of April

If you’re a sports fan, the best Aprils are the most stressful Aprils. In competitive context, such Aprils are the least cruellest of months, but they can play on your nerves.

The two teams I root for in winter, the Nets and the Islanders, have made it to spring’s playoffs. It beats their having to go home with the Philadelphia hoi polloi — which is often on their respective agendas this time of year — but their graduation to postseason doesn’t come without a cost. Every inbounds pass, every puck not cleared, every turn of momentum is a potential killer. One too many wrong moves and their Aprils are suddenly over. For that matter, any given right move is tricky to emotionally handle. When the Islanders grab a one-goal lead or the Nets improbably slice a lead to a single bucket, I just assume everything’s going to be French fries and gravy from here on out. They’ll win this game, they’ll win this series, I wonder how much I should put aside for commemorative t-shirts. I simply can’t envision anything going awry, so when the slightest thing inevitably does go off course, I am practically shattered inside.

And that’s just hockey and basketball, which are mere diversions from my true fan calling.

The Mets on a nine-game winning streak in April is approximately nine kajillion times better than the Mets on a nine-game losing streak in April. That’s probably understating the difference given the time of the season we’re in currently. You get this hot this early then you’re atop the heap from practically the get-go (for proof, please examine this morning’s edition of the 2015 National League East standings). On the other hand, a nine-game winning streak that plops itself down toward the tail end of a campaign that’s already been spayed or neutered serves mostly to stick its tongue out at you. Where, I can remember asking myself as the Mets went on hollow win binges in the latter stages of 1992 and 2002, was this when we needed it?

To approach the kind of finish for which the Nets (unlikely) and the Islanders (who knows?) are angling, you need to have a massive rollout. The proportions of the Met start to date are positively and historically ginormous. Everything’s coming up Howie Roses, you may have noticed.

At Citi Field against the second-place Braves Tuesday night, the night when the first-place Mets won their ninth game in a row, 7-1, and extended their record to a nearly unprecedented 11-3 — a standard happily shared with 1986 — they were their typical unstoppable selves. Jon Niese (6.1 IP, 1 ER) was smooth enough to pass for silk. Curtis Granderson remembered to retrieve his bat from cold storage and drove in four runs, thus increasing his season total to exactly four. Kevin Plawecki…well, what can you say about a major league debut that includes two hits, a bullet of a throw to second and the handling of five pitchers who gave up five hits among them?

We already had a fairly state-of-the-art catcher, yet you know how it is when they release the sleeker, shinier model, especially when the not so old one gets a little dinged around the edges and needs to be reset; it’s just hard to resist such an enticing upgrade. Right now you can’t blame us for being mesmerized by the Plawecki demo. Might we still come across some bugs that will impede its apps? Ah, ring it up and we’ll figure that out once we get it home.

Transfer the rate at which the Mets are going to a participant in the NBA or NHL playoffs and you’d have a team legitimately on the verge of a championship. But April in baseball is only the beginning, and that beginning, no matter how it sizzles, leads to a whole lot of middle that isn’t nearly as neat to forecast. I can’t imagine the Mets will maintain their 9-0 or even their lesser 11-3 pace forever, but the thing is, when they’re going this well, I can’t imagine they won’t.

That’s a scary way to think. Fun, but scary.

11 comments to I’ve Got Pieces of April

  • Matthew in Buffalo

    I’m heading down to the Bronx on Friday to watch the team I’ve loved my whole life play the hated Yankees. I’m hoping to be able to root for 13-3. Well said. You can’t contend in September without April.

  • 9th string catcher

    Winning begets winning, regardless of the calendar. This team has had some convincing wins with contributions from the entire team. The person that isn’t playing well gets picked up by someone else, either in the lineup or the bullpen. It seems like these guys really expect to win every time out; another commonality with the ’86 team.

    No one has a crystal ball, but this is a team that’s fun to watch. And when the inevitable cold streak comes in, it will be a great test of the players to see how they respond. That’s when we’ll know if this team is for real.

  • Jestaplero

    I haven’t been this elated as a Mets fan since 6/1/12.

  • BlondiesJake

    Forgive me for picking on a comment, but we already know this team is for real. This 11-3 start buoyed by a 9-game win streak including a record 8 straight at home to start the year is proof because of what it is lacking.

    Besides Blevins going unblemished out of the pen, no other Mets besides deGrom and Familia are off to unreal starts that we know will regress to the mean. In fact, three key bats, Granderson, Flores and Murphy, have been greatly below the mean and likely to improve.

    As to pitchers, Harvey has been good, but not the Harvey I think we all think will be better. Niese, who has allowed a ton of baserunners but not a ton of runs, will of course allow more to score, but he’s been a good pitcher previously. Colon and Gee have resembled Colon and Gee.

    With replacement parts like Campbell and Plawecki filling in and bats like Herrera and Reynolds waiting in the wings, just as there are more arms getting additional seasoning in the minors, this team is equipped to handle some injuries, though it would be nice if they stopped occurring.

    (Sorry for such a long post to say I agree with Greg)

    • 9th string catcher

      Lot of depth on this team. A starting rotation that Syndergaard and Montero haven’t been able to crack, even with Wheeler on the shelf. And a lot of relief pitchers on the sideline as well.

  • MetsGirl

    I know nothing about basketball and hockey but more about baseball than any other woman I know and this is one hellava start to a season for the Metropolitans. What a joy to watch them out there with everyone contributing. Guess that’s why they call it a TEAM SPORT. It will be quite a soap opera as we head into the summer but hey let’s first get past The House of Pain and shut Frank Sinatra up for good. One more rendition of “New York New York” and I just might get sick. Another great post. Glad my husband turned me on to your site.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    I had the first week free from cable and we get the Marlins broadcast for those four games here in Florida.

    Last night was the first night that I went out to a sports bar to watch a Met game because I could not get it at home.

    I can’t remember the last time I even thought about doing that! I would go again tonight, but I drank to much celebrating last nights 9 game win streak.

  • Dave

    I have yet to stop loathing the concept of interleague regular season games, but of course I have had a few isolated occasions when I’ve liked it just fine based on the outcomes. And with games coming up against baseball’s answer to the Golden Girls in the Bronx while the Mets are on a roll…could be very nice timing.

    And Greg, good luck to the Islanders, because as a Rangers fan, it would be fun to go out to the Island and knock them out of the playoffs one last time. As I’m from Jersey, the hell with the Nets.

  • “Everything’s coming up Howie Roses” may be the greatest thing I’ve ever read on FAFIF, and I’ve read A LOT over the years. Bravo.

    • Inside Pitcher

      One of the great things about watching the Islanders is hearing Howie call the games on TV. He and Butch Goring are wonderful together!

  • Lenny65

    I’ve seen some comparisons to 1986 but this is different. That team was expected to win and win big, anything less that winning it all would have been a crushing disappointment. No one expected the regular season to turn into a curb-stomp, but the expectations were very high going in that year.

    This year, though, I think we were guardedly optimistic and hoping to achieve contender status, or at least flirt with it for a significant period of time. What I’m seeing now reminds me very much of the 1984 season, when a formerly downtrodden team began to gel into a cohesive unit where everyone contributed regularly. I know, it’s impossible to quantify and the various statistical formulas largely debunk what baseball fans think they know and feel about the game, but nonetheless. I’ve watched plenty of Mets baseball in my day and what I’m seeing so far this April is a team without any dead wood anchoring it down. There seems to be an infectious confidence building with these guys, a sense that they’re not going to be pushed around and beaten up anymore, that they mean business to a man.

    And 1984 was the year when Shea finally at long last came alive again. Packed houses roaring as Doc hung up sixteen K’s and Keith roped bases-loaded doubles through the gap. This pitching staff is just simply marvelous so far, it’s been a long time since we’ve been this pitching wealthy. Team record in our sights tomorrow…ya gotta believe!