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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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Rather Be Us Than Them

For the second night in a row, the Mets lost a one-run game amid a relapse of Narcoleptic Offense Syndrome. On Saturday night the problem was compounded by Noah Syndergaard having an off-night; on Sunday Bartolo Colon was good enough to win, but the Mets’ attack against hyperactive Chris Archer (who must cover at least two miles a game scurrying around the rubber) consisted of a whole bunch of watching balls and a single swing by Daniel Murphy.

That was worrisome, and not just because I’d gotten used to enjoying winning baseball in a state of gentlemanly repose. But you know what? I’d still rather be us than the Nationals.

“I’d rather be us than them” is a mantra I use when things are threatening to get out of hand in the ninth and the closer’s hyperventilating. (For instance, that final game in Miami.) Sure, it’s runners on first and second and none out and the lead’s a lone run, but hey, the lead is still ours. The other guys still have to do something positive to draw even, so exhale, willya? It’s one of those things I tell myself that’s half superstition and half a reminder of how baseball works.

Sometimes it even makes me feel better.

I’m using it in a larger sense now, in sizing up the Mets and their pursuers, Bryce Harper & Co. (Not that the aforementioned gentleman gives a crap about what we’re doing, you understand.)

Why would I rather be us than them?

First, to state the obvious, we’re 1 1/2 games up.

Second, the Mets are going home while the Nats are about to hit the west coast, facing a buzzsaw of good pitchers in L.A. and San Francisco before swinging back through Colorado, which always seems to be a kick-us-when-we’re-down town for East Coast teams whose minds are on home. After that their schedule’s a lot softer, it’s true, but I keep eyeing that makeup game awaiting them in the final days when they’ll really want a breather. Plus they play six with us, which is no longer quite the source of optimism it once seemed to be. You never make assumptions based on opponents and road trips — the 2015 Mets have certainly taught me that — but the Mets’ schedule looks less daunting. (Though that Yankees series smack in the middle of September is an evil scheduling quirk.)

Third, the Mets could soon get some more reinforcements and a spiritual lift. David Wright is going to play a minor-league game tomorrow, and thinks he’ll need 20-odd at-bats to get ready, which is about a week’s worth. Granted, we have no idea if all or any of that go well, or what kind of player Wright will be when he returns. (That’s been a question since 2009, if we’re being honest about it.) But potentially it’s another big bat as well as the return of a clubhouse leader. Throw in the expected returns of Erik Goeddel to help a pen going through some issues and Steven Matz to provide another starting weapon and there’s reason for hope. Hell, even Michael Cuddyer may look a whole lot better once he’s in the complementary role envisioned for him.

Fourth, while this isn’t exactly science, the Nats don’t look right — and it’s not just Jayson Werth‘s usual ate-the-whole-lemon-tree demeanor that makes me say that. They look tight and tentative and demoralized, losing leads they ought to keep and watching comebacks wind up short. They have time to fix that, but every day they don’t is a day less in which to do it.

Fifth and finally, the Mets are playing with house money. They’re not the team everybody picked back in February to be last standing in October, but the one we all wrote off as fatally wounded by injuries/bad luck/financial constraints/being the Mets. Every time the Nats lose, it’s accompanied by muttering and questions about why they aren’t what people thought they would be. Every time the Mets win, it’s a pinch-me, do-you-believe-this moment — even now that the pursuer has become the pursued. The pressure’s on Bryce and his Not-So-Merry Band, not Murph’s Irregulars.

I don’t know how all this will end up — no one does. But I do know I’d rather be us than them.

31 comments to Rather Be Us Than Them

  • Eric

    It would be nice to be up 2.5 games with a win in either of the lost-lead weekend games, but it could have been worse. Still 1 up in the loss column.

    Strasburg was dominant in his return but Scherzer seems to be scuffling now.

  • LA Jake

    The fact the Mets didn’t lose ground to the Nats while playing a solid team on the road when Washington had the Rockies at home was huge. This week needs to be the week the Mets expand their lead and give themselves some cushion. I’ll be at Dodgers Stadium rooting for LA tonight against the Nats.

  • eric1973

    Greg, thanks for being honest regarding D. Wright and his mysterious disappearing skills since 2009. Water in the face to some here, but it needs to be said.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Eric, post 2009 he has batted over .300 three times with double digit hr and sb every year but 1. His one really bad year he still hit over .250 with 14hr. He’s done all this while playing above average defense and being the face of the franchise and mentor to young players. He’s suffered some injuries which have curbed his production, but this is not “mysterious” it happens to virtually every professional athlete. You can’t expect him to perform like 2005 DW. That being said, how many third baseman would the Mets have been better off with for the last 6 years?

  • Matt in Richmond

    Of course, you’re the same person who wanted to be rid of Duda a few weeks ago. Why are you so consistently negative about the Mets most stand up players?

    • Dennis

      Matt……that’s just eric1973’s inane, irrational daily bashing of Wright. He must be jealous of him for some reason, how else can you explain such childish comments.

      • Jason Fry

        Folks, as we said last week, please don’t make it personal. It’s a drag to have to start deleting posts and giving people time-outs.

        • Dennis

          No problem Jason. I was only pointing out that the continuous criticism of Wright was getting to be a bit redundant. I’m done defending one of the greatest position players the Mets have ever had. I hope he (and his friend) come back healthy and productive to lead the Mets to the post season.

        • Matt in Richmond

          Thanks Jason. FAFIF is a jewel of a blog. It features great writing, humor, passion, and generally speaking, intelligent and loyal Mets fans voicing their opinions. It is a rare day that I don’t pay a visit.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I thought the days of being one run behind in the Top of the 9th and relying on a sequence of Flores, Lagares, and Plawecki to tie the game were over. But there they were, partying like it was mid-July.

    • Rochester John

      You’ve hit on my biggest fear for these guys, that the post-Uribe, Johnson, Cespedes acquisition week of glorious offense was an aberation, and that our bats will return to their natural, early July torpor. I know that Cespedes is the biggest-time hitter we’ve seen in these parts for a while, but he hasn’t hit a dinger yet, has he? I know that we’ve got guys coming off of injuries soon who should be able to contribute, but how’s that working for d’arnaud so far? And even Duda is growing fond of swinging at that low off-speed stuff again. I know we’re a game and a half ahead, and I truly am thrilled with that. Why, oh why can’t I be that glass half full guy?

      • Eric

        It’s been a rollercoaster all season.

        The hot streak is over. We’ll found out this week whether the 2 Ls are the start of another dip down to .500 and the 2015 Mets are basically the same even with Conforto and the trades.

        Duda the clean-up hitter still worries me. d’Arnaud’s bat needs to get going.

        The Nationals are struggling, but they’re still a dangerous team, more so with Strasburg back. It won’t take much for them to find their footing.

        The constant this season has been the strong starting pitching. deGrom getting by with his B game for 2 starts and Syndergaard’s bad game on Saturday are troubling signs, but don’t warrant too much concern yet. If the starting pitching slips for the stretch run, though, the Mets are in trouble. Big game by Niese tonight to choke off the losing streak.

  • Michael G.

    The last two games were odd for the 2015 Mets — scoring first and not protecting the lead. Especially the Thor game. That said, a 7-2 record in August (since acquiring Cespedes) and a 4-2 road trip are more than credible. I like our chances.

      • Rob E

        …against three starting pitchers cumulatively averaging more than 1 K/IP (and McGee and Boxberger averaging about 12 k/9). Other teams aren’t going to just get out of the way because we’re the Mets…the Rays are battling for a wild card themselves. Not every loss rings the death bell. Even if they lose tonight, the next three pitchers are Harvey, deGrom, and Thor. That will hopefully choke off losing streaks for years to come.

        And deGrom putting up two starts like that with his B stuff is a GOOD sign, not a troubling one. Greinke and Kershaw got pounded this week also, it happens to everybody. This team hasn’t folded all year, and I don’t see any signs that a fold is coming.

        • Eric

          They’ve been resilient and popped up whenever they’ve fallen down – hence the rollercoaster season – but the purpose of promoting Conforto early and the trades was raising their level for the pennant race. If they’re no better than their pre-trades resilience in hovering around .500, that’s not enough for the pennant race. If they’re only as resilient as before, then the Meisner/Clippard and Fulmer/Cespedes trades will have been a waste.

          Having come down from their high over the weekend, this week is the team’s first opportunity to show they’re contenders for real.

  • LA Jake

    Matt in Richmond, I’m with you 100% on Wright. I sure hope he returns to quality form on the field because he’s always been quality off the field.

    Rob E, totally agree, though I also understand the anxiety that sets in when this team stops scoring runs but we’ve seen such ugly stretches the past few years.

    Hoping the New Niese has another good outing and leads the Mets to victory while I cheer on the Nats to defeat in person at Chavez Ravine this evening.

    • Dennis

      Nice Jake….hope you bring the Mets some good luck tonight and help give the Nats a loss.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Have fun Jake. Boo lustily!

    • Rob E

      Understood, Jake. It’s going to be a LONG time before it sinks in that this team and this organization is not the same one we’ve had most of our lives. One of the most fun times of being a fan is when a team that has been bad for a long time turns the corner and starts giving it back to the teams that stomped them. We’re still in that phase where no one really believes it yet. I have no doubt that good times are ahead, but we’re only going to be in this “turning the corner” stage with this team this one time, so enjoy it.

      I hope Mr. Wright can make it back to be part of this.

      • Eric

        I hope Wright makes it back, too, even if he’s been reduced to late-career Mattingly with the same back condition. All the holdovers from the 2008 Mets, Wright, Murphy, Parnell, and Niese, who’ve toiled on some awful teams since then, deserve to experience the other side of it.

        The tough part is, if Wright comes back before rosters expand, Conforto has to go.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Me and my brother (who lives in D.C. but is a Mets fan like me) have decided to take a trip to NY to watch the last 2 games of the season. Embarrassingly, although I have been a fan since 1985 when I was 7, I have never been to a game. I’m so excited I can barely stand it. Anyone have any good hotel or restaurant suggestions near Citi?

    • DAK442

      You’ll be disappointed to find that there isn’t much of anything around CitiField. The best dining options are probably in the ballpark, though I am told there is a wealth of various cuisines one stop further out to the end of the 7 train in Flushing.

      Depending on where you’re staying, your best bat is probably to take the train into Manhattan after the game and do stuff.

    • mikeski

      If you can swing it, you should stay in Manhattan and take the 7 to the ballpark. Lots of hotels and restaurants near Grand Central.

    • Matt in Woodside

      The area around CitiField is still sort of weird. Not much retail or restaurants, other than the Holiday Inn and its restaurant/bar Pine across Grand Central Parkway. IDK for sure, but I think that hotel isn’t even that cheap during homestands, and other than CitiField and downtown Flushing (very much a Chinatown-type area one stop away from CitiField), that Holiday Inn is sort of isolated.

      If you don’t want to stay in midtown Manhattan, I’d suggest any of the hotels clustered around Queensboro Plaza From that station, you can catch the 7 express to and from the game, or head the other direction and take the 7 to midtown, or the N two stops to central park during the day. And there’s local attractions like the Museum of the Moving Image a short walk away in Astoria. Word to the wise, the Days Inn and La Quinta on that map (the ones farther East on Queens Boulevard) are RIGHT across from the 7 train tracks. Maybe they have soundproofing, but several rooms in those hotels must be super loud.

    • Eric

      I suggest asking Skid who’s probably an expert on your question by now.

      I’m partial to Asian cuisines, so I generally recommend Flushing, which is a few minutes from Willets Point at the end of the 7 line.

      For a specific recommendation, I’m a fan of this authentically flavored Taiwanese restaurant.

      Gu Shine
      135-38 39th Ave, Flushing 11354
      (Btwn Main & Prince St)
      (718) 888-8798

  • LA Jake

    Dennis, I will do my best. Saw the Mets win here in July, would be a great bookend to see Nats lose here in August.

    Matt in Richmond, that is going to be awesome. Can’t tell you where to stay and/or eat near Shea 2 but can tell you I’m jealous. And I will be booing plenty of Nats, especially Werth.

  • eric1973

    Proud of this franchise for doing the right thing and sending down Campbell. It looked like they were going to do the ‘expected’ thing, but apparently Sandy really wants to win.

    Love Murphy. What a pro. And great to see Niese get another hard-fought win. He has been terrific!

    • Eric

      I wonder what they’ll do with Conforto if/when fellow left-handed hitting outfielder Nieuwenhuis returns. If Wright returns before roster expansion, Conforto seems the likeliest candidate to go down, too, although exchanging an outfielder for an infielder with the full complement of infielders makes less sense for roster construction.

      Niese was a stopper after the two-game losing streak. Nice job working his way through the 4-hit 4th only allowing the 2-run home run and was lockdown the rest of the game.

      7-game hitting streak by Murphy.

  • eric1973

    Conforto seems to be on the bubble should anyone be allowed to return, ‘be allowed’ being the key phrase here. They may be ready, but…
    Too bad. He seems to be fitting in, but he may need to hit a bit better.

    Maybe they can send down one of these 1-batter pitchers. Legares is useless lately, but that’ll never happen.