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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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Pinch-Me Days

I’ve been thinking of this one game. I was in Connecticut. The Mets were in Atlanta. They were playing the Braves on a Saturday night and Dillon Gee wasn’t very good.

Since that game I’ve driven back to New York, worked my butt off for three days and nights, flown to California where I spent three days at a Star Wars convention, flown back and gotten un-jetlagged. I’ve done a lot of things. You have too. There are Mets fans who’ve come down with really nasty flus, been laid out, started feeling better and declared themselves fit for duty. Somewhere out there babies have been born, watched over in hospitals, sent home and their parents are getting the hang of this wonderful new thing. At least three big movie trailers have set the Internet a-flutter. I haven’t paid attention but I’m sure at least three eye-rolling political kerfuffles have done the same. Another Saturday night’s come and gone and now another one’s in view. The aforementioned Dillon Gee’s rested up, started another game, rested some more, had a heart-to-heart with his manager and started yet again.

You know what hasn’t happened during that time when lots of other stuff has happened?

The Mets haven’t lost.

Not once. Not at all. They’ve won 10 in a row. They’re playing .800 ball on the season. They’re in first place by a but-wait-it’s-April 3 1/2 games.

They’re playing nearly perfect baseball, and they’re doing it despite losing guys like it’s World War I.

These are pinch-me days and nights.

Last night was a perfect example. The Mets seemed flat after a half-hour’s rain delay, falling behind the Braves 1-0 and then 2-1. But they hung in there. And they kept making plays. And things kept happening that made you raise an eyebrow.

Like Ruben Tejada making a leaping catch at second that ended with the ball perched atop a waffle cone of glove. As he returned to Earth, Tejada snapped his mitt and the ball nestled itself obediently into the leather, because that’s what happens when you’re winning 10 in a row.

Or Gee facing trouble in the fourth, springing off the mound to seize a grounder, firing the ball to second base at an awkward angle, not taking off the umpire’s head and pumping his fist at the 1-6-3 double play.

Or Wilmer Flores looking brave afield and stalwart at the plate, rifling a home run into the party deck to draw the Mets even.

Or Juan Lagares making a catch for the ages, somehow looking behind him and tracking a ball cutting to his left and putting his glove in the perfect position to reel it in. “That’s over his head,” I said to Emily with the ball in flight. “The heck it is,” said Juan Lagares.

Or Sean Gilmartin running into trouble retiring lefties, which is the sum total of his job, and exiting to have Buddy Carlyle coolly dispatch Jonny Gomes. Carlyle would be rewarded with a W, and deservedly so.

Or Curtis Granderson getting his Eddie Gaedel on, crouching beneath a 3-2 pitch and completing the journey from 0-2 count to base on balls. (And, along the way, serving as Exhibit A if you need to explain to your kid why batting average is a dumb stat.) Of course Lagares then executed a perfect hit-and-run, with poor Jace Peterson reversing for the ball he could no longer reach, like an extra in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and Lucas Duda smacking the go-ahead single.

Trouble? Nah. Jeurys Familia dispatched the Braves with no drama in the ninth, and the good guys had won, again.

We’ll now to the obligatory cautions. This isn’t to avert the baleful eyes of the baseball gods, but because the only way to survive baseball is to remember it’s an unfair game.

The Mets aren’t going to win five out of six one-run games the rest of the year. They had a 10-game winning streak in 2008, a year that ended about as painfully as one might imagine. The 2010 Mets went 21-7 over one giddy stretch in a thoroughly ungiddy season. The ’72 Mets started out 30-11 and didn’t win a thing. There will be weeks where nothing goes right and you can feel doom tiptoeing closer with every ball booted and batter walked. The manager and the players will talk about grinding it out and being a little flat and we will scoff and mutter and call for heads to roll. When those days arrive — and arrive they will — remembering how we floated through April will be no comfort whatsoever. Keep that in mind now so you’re not so torn up by it later, even though you will be.

But that’s not to say you shouldn’t be enjoying what’s happening now. You should be enjoying it even more. Go outside and laugh into the blue sky. Grin at Yankee fans. Declare to everyone who asks and even those who don’t that you’re a fan of the best team in baseball. (Hey, you could look it up.) Suggest that hey, let’s play two. Take your broom to Citi Field.

Baseball’s an unfair game. Right now it’s being unfair to our opponents. Just enjoy the pinch-me days, however long they last.

11 comments to Pinch-Me Days

  • BlackCountryMet

    Every day(apart from day games and some weekend night games),the start of my day consists of turning on my phone to check the Mets result.Mainly this has been in hope rather than exspectation. Guess what, expectation and assumption have taken over. This has not been a smooth,plain sailing type of 10-0 streak, there’s been more than the odd stretch of choppy water and rogue large wave on deck. As Jason says, there will undoubtedly be a few bad days ahead but you know what, I believe in this team and it’s ability to steer through. Jump on board board the Good Ship Mets, we’re setting sail for The Promised Land and I reckon we’re right on course

  • rich porricelli

    The air is quite thin this high up.!Winning 9 in a row at home has never been done by far better Met teams than this..Its just one of those things a fan gets rarely treated too..
    Colon with the ball today- and a great shot at 11!! Amazing……….

  • Kevin From Flushing

    This is in my head this morning. Pinch me indeed.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Got my Mets gear on and heading to the sports bar today for lunch with another Mets fan! I am riding this wave and loving every minute of it!

    10 in a row is 10 in a row! I don’t care who they are playing! Not criticizing any moves, life is good in Metsville!

    Big BBQ watch party at the house Fri.night for Mets/Skanks game also.

    Waiter, give me “DOUBLE ONES” today!

  • Dave

    The bandwagon jumpers have already started…today I got one of those “oh, I like the Mets too” from a Yankees fan. No, sorry, you weren’t invited. We got this, you go watch your team.

    • Dennis

      As far as the bandwagon jumpers go…..that’s the price you pay as a longtime fan when your team becomes relevant again. It’s inevitable and it happens in all cities with all teams. I personally could care less. Bandwagon jumpers mean your team is doing well, and that’s ultimately what we should all want…..a good team. I’d rather have the Mets consistently great with fairweather fans flocking to them than the below average team we’ve seen over the last 6 seasons with no one caring about them. I’ll take that trade anytime.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Jason, I had the same thought you did on the Lagares play. I said to my sister-in-law, “He’ll never get this one.” And then, somehow he did. The more I see him, the more I realize what a Juan-derful fielder he is.

    • Dave

      He’s surreal. I’ve always said that Hernandez was the best defensive player I ever saw at any position, but Lagares may be starting to challenge that. Not that I necessarily wish I was older than I already am, but I regret not being able to see Mays until the end of his career. I’d like to hear someone who saw Willie roam CF at the Polo Grounds compare the two.

  • Dave

    Dennis – you’re absolutely right…nice problem to have. I remember being at the victory parade in 86 and suspecting that half the people there had probably become Mets “fans” within the previous 6 weeks, and 10 years later they were probably at the Yankees’ parade.

  • open the gates

    The thing with the bandwagoneers is that they expect not an 11 game win streak, but a 162 game win streak. I still remember attending a game in the late ’80’s. The guy in front of me was all over Strawberry for the mortal sin of looking at a third strike. “Buddy,” I said, ” We’re up by 8 runs, and Straw hit a 3 run homer last time up.” “I don’t care,” the guy said. “There’s never an excuse for striking out.” I always assumed that a few years later he was in Yankee Stadium, venting his spleen on Derek Jeter. I know the fair weather fans are a sign of success. Doesn’t mean I have to like them.

  • […] much for that unbeaten record at home — and for the giddiness of last week. I warned you it would happen, but it still hurts: That 11-game winning streak feels like something that […]