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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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Magic City

Your baseball instincts weren’t hopelessly off and you weren’t necessarily wrong. Well, for one night, yes, but don’t worry. There’s still plenty of time for what you were sure was going to happen to happen. It usually does — 24 separate occasions over the past 19 seasons are evidence that you weren’t concocting worst-case scenarios from thin, humid air.

In 2002, 2005 and 2011, the Mets visited the Marlins and didn’t lose a game in the bottom of the final inning played. In every season besides those three between 1996 and 2014, they did. How did it keep happening? By singles, doubles, homers, sac flies, a base on balls, even a couple of wild pitches. Your muscle memory shouldn’t be blamed for assuming that the first game the Mets played in Miami in 2015 would be the scene of a similar walkoff crime.

The game was just waiting to be lost. Or won, I suppose. But who in his Met mind is conditioned to think like that in South Florida?

Consider at the circumstances. For seven-and-a-half innings, there couldn’t have been less scoring. There couldn’t have been less anything, actually. Dillon Gee and Jarred Cosart swapped zeroes like kids frantically trading cards at recess, wary that the bell will ring them back to class before their transaction can conclude. Got it…got it…need it…no, got it…got it…c’mon, what else ya got?…got it…got it…

Both pitchers got everything they needed and didn’t much wait around to find out if they needed anything else. Neither hurler had a no-hitter going, but it was a perfect game if you’d made reservations for a not so late supper. Gee, in particular, found his groove and threatened to never leave it. No jams, few baserunners, hardly any pitches at all. Eight pitches in the first. Eight pitches in the second. A relatively mammoth eighteen in the third, but then six in the fourth, ten in the fifth, all of five in the sixth, only seven in the seventh.

A beautiful pace from a beautiful pitcher. Dillon Gee (ERA of 5.60 as he entered the fray) has the least impressive stuff in the New York Mets rotation, unless you count the stuff he’s made of, in which case, he’s every man’s equal. Sometimes he struggles. Monday night he did not. For seven innings, he was a clockwork orange and blue, a Metropolitan metronome who took the ball, threw the ball, got the batter, usually on the ground. Dillon stayed electric through two outs in the eighth.

Then he was unplugged just enough to remind you that when Dillon Gee works this deep into a game, something tends to go wrong. Granted, that’s mostly a symptom of Freddie Freeman in Atlanta two Junes ago, but we have long if selective memories. Thus, when Gee didn’t immediately nail down the third out of the eighth — Justin Bour dropped a single into a Lagares-free zone in center and Dee Gordon followed with a hit to left — the desire was to allow Dillon one more batter. The internal voice, however, was clearing its throat and grabbing a megaphone.


Gee stayed in. Martin Prado lined the third consecutive single of the inning into the outfield. Pinch-runner Reid Brignac raced home with the first Marlin run, which was a genuine problem, because it was also the first run of any kind Monday. By official pitch count, Gee was the more conservation-minded of the starters, underpitching Cosart 70 to 93, but Cosart had gotten through his eight scoreless. Gee had to give way, with two out and two on in the eighth, to Carlos Torres, who fortunately proved himself the new market efficiency. He threw one pitch to Giancarlo Stanton and secured one out, thereby preventing three runs from the one swing we assumed would produce them.

If we don’t expect the Mets to lose in the bottom of the ninth or later at Miami, we expect to lose between the first and eighth to Stanton. That didn’t happen here. But would anything happen in the top of the ninth? We still needed a run, y’know. Recent data in the form of all those zeroes presented grim precedent.

Cosart was done. Steve Cishek was on. Cishek must be good in that he’s remained the Marlins’ closer since they opened Marlins Park. That dates back to 2012, which isn’t all that long ago, but in the transient world of the Loriatorium, it’s practically a lifetime. The most solace to be taken by his appearing on the mound to start the ninth was at least he wasn’t the guy who’d stymied the Mets for eight.

Juan Lagares led off and lofted a double to deep center where Juan Lagares would have tracked it down, but happily that was a competitive impossibility. Marcell Ozuna’s not being Juan Lagares proved key here, lending credence to the sense that the only man who could’ve caught the ball that was in play was the man who put it in play. And that man wound up on second with a double.

The Mets were in motion. The 2015 Mets, that is, the fellas who maybe aren’t a sure thing to blow a blowable game to the Marlins in Miami, where, as noted earlier, games get blown practically every Met year.

This year is a different year, though, huh? It’s a year when after Lagares doubles, Lucas Duda walks. It’s a year when after Michael Cuddyer doesn’t come through, Daniel Murphy does.

Murphy launched a one-one pitch to right that carried and carried and carried some more and you thought to yourself as it carried, “You know, I do believe that thing’s gonna keep going, and when it crosses the airspace directly atop the outfield fence and remains on the fly…yes, I do believe that’s a three-run homer Daniel Murphy just struck.”

Your belief was highly accurate. Murph had crushed a three-run bomb. It was 3-1, Mets, despite it having one pitch earlier been 1-0, Marlins. You wouldn’t call it unfathomable, given the Mets’ position in first place and all, but after expecting something to inevitably go wrong because it was the Marlins and because it was Murph (.174/.247/.333, even including the home run), you were delighted to build a new set of expectations.

Like the Mets can come behind in 2015. Like the Mets can swat away an unpleasant annoyance like the Marlins in 2015. Like a little stumble that ruins a weekend in 2015 won’t necessarily augur ill tidings for the week ahead.

It was the Mets’ 20th game of the season. There are no must-wins 20 games in. But this was one definitely worth having. And the Mets were about to have it. It would require the services of Jeurys Familia and an enormous assist from the recently heroic Daniel Murphy — deep in the shifted hole, throwing as he spun like a December dreidel, retiring Michael Morse for the penultimate out — but they got it in the bottom of the ninth. They won, 3-1, and they did it in two minutes less than two hours. They had their first “WHOA!” win of 2015, not just a stingily pitched, tightly defended effort, but one you didn’t have to be a practiced fatalist to be pretty sure they were about to lose. Hell, you basically knew they were going to lose, but then…WHOA!

The fates can change in a New York minute, though sometimes you might require 118 to be fully certain.


My joy over the exploits of Gee and Murphy (plus the Nets’ sudden Lazarus act versus the Hawks) stands in compartmentalized contrast to having to say a definitive good night to the New York Islanders of Uniondale, permanently installed four miles up the road from me as my home team until the Washington Capitals altered Nassau County geography for good. The Caps changed the Isles’ address in an excruciating seventh game that evoked the sting of October 19, 2006, except without the saving grace of a redemptive illusion that it’ll be better next year. It may be on the ice, but it doesn’t figure to be anywhere near the same when the Islanders are working out of another rink in another jurisdiction. They’ll be reasonably close by and they’ll still be the ones I root for when I’m moved to involve myself in non-baseball activities, yet I’ll miss them, if mostly on local principle. I’m no hockey maven, but their revival truly brightened the winter in these parts. If the last band of Islanders from Long Island did not ultimately live up to the accomplishments of the perennial Cup winners of my younger days, I think they somehow meant more to me on their way to the exit.

18 comments to Magic City

  • Lou from Brazil

    And there I was, sitting with my torch and pitchfork at the ready… Nice work by Gee and Murph today. I’m sure they’ll be sold off at the deadline this year, with the odd caveat that the Mets will actually still be in playoff contention. I don’t see Sandy letting these guys walk for nothing is all, and what they end up getting in return fortifies other weaknesses. But for now, a terrific win.

    • Rob E

      Though I think there is zero chance he’ll be the Mets’ 2B in 2016, I don’t think Murphy is going anywhere this year unless the Mets seriously fall out of the race. There’s no financial reason to trade him, and given Murphy’s impending free agency, the only teams that would want him are other teams in contention, who the Mets won’t want to help. Plus, they’re not going to want to screw with the chemistry after the start they’ve had.

      If they can get another Zack Wheeler-type back, that’s another story, but I don’t think Murphy brings that haul even in the best of times. With Campbell and Plawecki holding their own and Herrera ripping up AAA and Montero/Thor/Matz on the horizon, the Mets are going to have a good problem very shortly…a problem they haven’t had in a LONG LONG time.

      • Lou from Brazil

        You don’t see a reliever or outfield depth in the Mets future? The scenario I see is Murph to an AL club in contention. Perhaps a swap for a player of similar contract status. But then again, that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks to run a franchise.

        • Dave

          Could definitely use a better LH bat off the bench (sorry Kirk, you were good enough for a mediocre team, but not this one), and with Parnell and Black both responding slowly, along the apparent lack of enthusiasm about Mejia’s return, a solid 8th inning guy.

          • Rob E

            If you want a LH bat, why not just keep Murphy? Also, allowing that they are at least playing meaningful games in August, do you want to throw Herrera into the fire? I don’t think they’re going to do that (at Murphy’s expense) unless forced by circumstance.

            I think all the pitching they need is already in-house (Mejia & Blevins will be back, and Black and Parnell are still in the discussion…this is a lot of bodies — they have almost another complete bullpen on the DL). But let’s follow the trade to an AL contender thread. The best trade partner is the Yankees — they have the need at 2B, and a deep bullpen. You’re not going to get an elite guy like Betances, so would a Justin Wilson (or similar pitcher) for Murphy trade make the Mets better? I wouldn’t make a trade like that.

            A trade this year would be different than the Beltran or K-Rod deals (for Murphy, anyway)…they would need to get something back that would help this year, and also, you wouldn’t want to strengthen a team you might be playing down the road. Gee and Niese seem like more likely trade chips to get a return like you’re talking about (bench or bullpen help).

            If they fall out of contention BADLY, then all this changes. But I don’t think that’s going to happen to this team. You have a few key guys with health question marks (Wright, Cuddyer, Lagares)…I don’t think they mess with the depth, and hence, I think Murph stays.

          • Dave

            Murph isn’t the kind of LH bat I’m talking about. Whatever the means of acquiring such a player, I see a need for a lefty 4th OF’er/PH with power. As for returning relievers, the only one I think we can safely make an assumption about is Blevins. Alderson has all but said he doesn’t want Mejia back and his teammates seem angry at him, Black seems to be prone to nagging injuries, and let’s not forget that by now Parnell has pitched one regular season inning in the last 21 months. Not all TJ surgeries have that “good as new” result, and his was just a few months after surgery on his neck. I’m not confident that he’s coming back with any 100 MPH fastball.

            Could well be that Murph stays, although it may be in part due to not getting reasonable value in return. It would be nice for him to be part of the renaissance after being a good soldier for years, one of the last remaining Mets who played at Shea, but I suspect that 2016 sees him elsewhere.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    I know we still have over a dozen games left with the Marlins this year, and I’m not so naive to think there won’t be one of those games we were all dreading last night still in our fortunes, but no lie, when they showed Cishek warming up in the 8th, my mind flashed back to 4/25/14 at Citi Field. Last night proved just as glorious.

    Did we have some kind of collective bargaining agreement with Loria recently? I’m imagining him in a boardroom saying, “okay okay fine, we still get to be an annoying pest with magical powers against you, but you get ONE ‘get out of Miami free’ card every April. I’ll talk to Cishek and make sure he understands the arrangement.”

    Didnt we come back off Heath Bell before him? Maybe they’ll trade for Papelbon eventually and we can keep it going.

    • Kevin From Flushing

      I’m not crazy!
      4/27/2015 @ Cishek
      4/25/2014 v Cishek
      4/07/2013 v Cishek
      4/26/2012 v Bell
      4/02/2011 @ Oviedo/Webb (partial credit)

      The last one may or may not count, but we can definitely say that we get one feel good win from the Miami Marlins every April. You are now free to dread the remainder of our schedule with them.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Alas, my trip to the right coast is just about over. I am at the airport now and will be landing in Los Angeles about 1 hour before the first pitch. In the last two days we’ve seen Murphy reach the highest of heights and the depths of the abyss. That’s what makes watching him so infuriating. We know he can hit, his .174 average notwithstanding. And he will occasionally make a play like he did in the 9th inning, but more often we see a bonehead play in the field or on the bases. I guess we have to take the good with the bad.

    On a personal note, Greg, it was a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope we can do it again next year.

  • Dave

    This entry is pure poetry, Greg. I could copy and paste a dozen passages that, or in the immortal words of a previous beloved Murph (one not prone to defensive or baserunning lapses), paint the word picture for you. I hope the papers my English major daughter is submitting to end the semester are this good (although to play proud Dad, she’s a real good writer).

    I also anticipated your Icelanders sendoff. As a Rangers fan who got over his jealousy of the Lawn Guyland upstarts a lawn gtime ago, I was hoping for the next round to be one last run for old time sake with games in Hempstead or Islip or wherever your arena is (my apologies for the disrespectful lack of knowledge of Nassau/Suffolk, but of course I’m from Jersey, and many LI folks don’t know Hoboken from Hackensack either). And of course, there’s the strong Nets/Islanders connection, going back to their days as bunkmates at the Coliseum and now cohabitating once more in Hipsterville. And there’s the “we’re out of here…in a couple of years” parallel. I was at best a casual Nets fan during even their most successful 15 minutes in Jersey but felt very dissed by their “we can’t wait to leave” announcement. I hope Islander fans, for their sake and the team’s, have a little more connection and forgiveness than the quasi-Nets fans in Jersey had.

  • BlondiesJake

    Unlike most years, our fear of the 9th inning rally resulting in frustration was unfounded. Unlike most years, we were rewarded for our faith. It is indeed a New year and a New era for the New York Mets.***

    We bash Murphy and he responds with a game-saving/winning home run and subsequent defensive gem. I wonder what brilliance Niese will produce after we busted out the pitchforks for him.

    ***If this all goes south in a hurry, it’s not our fault as fans.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Did I see the following graphic on the post game or did I dream it? Seems it was only there for a blink of an eye and wasn’t otherwise mentioned:

    Most Consecutive Starts 5 or more innings, Mets All Time.

    Gooden/Gee(current) 50.

    I wonder if Gee has a “marketing opportunity” clause in his contract…

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Really happy for Daniel Murphy as it was really easy to beat up on him the last few games.

    Whats more important, it’s a different Met now contributing to the cause that hasn’t so much recently. Good teams have different players constantly stepping up and I think this team is beginning to do this.

    Finally as Met fan living in Florida, it’s great to be beating up on the fish for the first five games against them.

    If we can sneak a win tonight, we are back to the top of the rotation and maybe at the start of another win streak. LETS GO METS

  • mikeL

    yea a WHOA! game indeed.
    great to see Gee pitch so well -and yea quite the surprise that he’s now found himself tying dwight in his minimum 5-inning starts streak.
    the guy deserves success and it was fitting that the defense was back to playing crisp ball, and that murph would make the play he did to help seal the deal -to say nothing of that shot over stanton’s head!
    an inspiring way to get another streak underway.
    i don’t see murph or gee likely sticking around for the ’16 campain, but wish them both great seasons and world series rings to show off wherever they play next.
    let’s go bart!

  • Lenny65

    A very “86-ish” sort of win. You know, where they go quietly until all hope appears lost, then a three run dinger, like they were just waiting for the most dramatic moment.

  • Incredible coincidence… the Bridgeport Bluefish,of the Indy Atlantic League, have reinvented themselves, as of April 2015, and now wear “Magic City” uniforms for all of their Sunday home games!!

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