The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

The Usually Suspect Turn Trustworthy

“I don’t know. I’m open to new ideas.”
Mets fan Josh Lyman, “Stirred,” The West Wing

Of course I grew antsy as Eric O’Flaherty made his case for being Eric D’FAherty (I’ve also heard Eric D’OH!Flaherty and a less family-friendly version of Eric O’Dear.) Eric, who may be the salt of the earth in real life, has absolutely no currency with us. During our relatively brief exposure to his advertised skill set, he has shown himself to be the kind of pitcher who, when handed a six-run lead against a last-place team, you instinctively hold on for dear life.

Those instincts weren’t off Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Dude’s here to get out lefties and dude wasn’t getting out lefties. Thanks to his core competency being completely overstated, a snowball commenced to rolling downhill at the intersection of 11th and Pattison. 6-0 became 6-1, then 6-3 (the remaining Tsuris Brother, Carlos, carrying on in the spirit of his not-so-dear departed spiritual sibling, Hattie), then 6-4 (Wilmer Flores made an error, but who has the heart to blame Wilmer Flores for anything?). Meanwhile, in our nation’s capital, the Padres had just allowed their hosts to scooch comfortably back into their game, turning what had been a 6-2 cruise into a 6-5 frightfest.

Five-and-half, which was so close to expanding to 6½, was threatening to contract instead to 4½, and if the second-place Nationals could pick up ground on the first-place Mets, then who knew what might tumble down should the earth move under our feet?

The O’Flaherty inning — a.k.a. the jackpot frame as it’s known in bowling — was an unnerving disaster.

And then, with little more than a pause for station identification on the WOR Mets radio network, driven by your TriHonda dealer, everything was jam up and jelly tight. 6-4 became 7-, 8- and 9-4…and down in D.C. 6-5 stayed 6-5, permitting the Mets’ divisional lead to go up an entire shoe size. Tyler Clippard’s right arm may soon be long enough to unlace his spikes without him having to bend over, but on Wednesday night, it was exactly the proper length to finish what Bartolo Colon started and Michael Cuddyer (among others) bolstered.

Despite the benefits inherent in facing off against the old gray mares of the National League East — those Phillies ain’t what they used to be, ain’t what they used to be, ain’t what they used to be — Citizens Bank Park remains a Binkley-size closet of anxieties for any Mets fan with mental muscle memory, particularly at this time of year. It’s late August in Philadelphia. An entire era of Met dismay and disgust was foreshadowed in late August in Philadelphia eight late Augusts in Philadelphia ago. Back then, Mets were Mets until they all of a sudden weren’t. Then came the September that followed, followed by the year that followed that September, and down a hole we went. So you can understand the inclination to clutch your steering wheel, your rosary, your vintage Lady Met figurine or whatever it is that gives you comfort when you find yourself in times of trouble.

Except there’s this: We’re well out of the hole as this September approaches. It’s taking a stream of positive reinforcement to pound that message home for me. It’s taking a 6-0 lead in the middle of the eighth inning and a 9-4 decision after nine innings. It’s taking a lump or two with a lefty specialist whose specialness has failed to materialize and keeping calm/carrying on because he’s not alone out there.

These Mets take leads and proceed to insure them, which would explain the surfeit of Geico commercials. These Mets, at least not of late, don’t let their fate boil down to their obviously weakest link. And these Mets are loaded with players who’ve looked terrible for months only to turn it on when needed. I wouldn’t bet on Eric O’Flaherty making himself super useful (or making any roster that would need to be submitted for use after October 4), but I wouldn’t rule it out. Baseball players with track records have an odd way of eventually or at least occasionally living up to them.

How many days ago had we dismissed Cuddyer as dismal? How many hours ago did we decide Colon could be eased to the curb? Now we recognize them as charter members of the vaunted C&C Club, an elite organization whose ranks include Cespedes, Clippard, Conforto and, because we’re not sticklers, Curtis. Remember when this team was defined by its M&M&M Boys of Mayberry, Muno and Monell?

You do, don’t you? You remember believing the worst would inevitably trump the best the Mets could conjure. The foundational tenets of your convictions were strong. You experienced everything from a four-game sweep at the hands of Jimmy Rollins this week in 2007 to what happened at the end of the succeeding two Septembers to all the indignities foisted upon your franchise once its home ballpark changed but its bottom line barely budged. All that institutional memory certainly conditioned me to consider most any Met lead (in the standings, on the scoreboard) suspect until proven trustworthy.

I’m working on instilling some new memories into my consciousness. The ones generated by the Mets taking full advantage of the kindnesses offered them by the 2015 schedulemakers seem like they’ll be worth reflexively revisiting in the late Augusts ahead; I might as well enjoy them right now. Therefore, I’m going to try to see if these new memories condition me to adjust my instincts and point me on a path of confidence and assuredness and not expecting figurative roofs to metaphorically cave in just because that’s what figurative roofs used to do all over actual Mets. It may take a while for me to match my worldview to the world around us.

Nevertheless, I’ll let you in on something I had to admit to myself while the worst possible outcome loomed as a legitimate possibility. I was worried when O’Flaherty was no more death on lefthanders than Gene Walter ever was. I was worried when the Mets saw their edge temporarily shrink from six runs to two in Philadelphia. I was worried when the Nationals were forging a comeback in Washington. Because I’ve been a Mets fan for so long, I was definitely worried.

But because I’m a Mets fan at the present time, I wasn’t that worried.

32 comments to The Usually Suspect Turn Trustworthy

  • Matt in Richmond

    Josh Lyman would have probably been my favorite character on my favorite show if he wasn’t a Mets fan, but that little detail certainly sealed the deal. I loved the scene where he was trying in vain to leave D.C. to get to spring training. His assistant Donna upon finding out the games didn’t count was totally perplexed as to why he would care so much. He couldn’t really explain himself, he just told her he wanted Piazza to look over at him and give him a nod.

  • Dave

    While being a 2015 Mets fan means less anxiety and what’s becoming a genuine belief that the offense can tack on more runs when needed, O’Flaherty…well, we may have well just kept the guy with the silly hat. So now he’s up to being limited to trust with a 7 run lead, see how he does with that.

  • eric b.

    Nice Bloom County reference!

  • Michael G.

    Your Faith is catching up to your Fear, Greg! This team is cultivating a toughness — and I don’t think it’s just against the bottom-feeders — that is a joy to behold.

  • 9th string catcher

    Um, I don’t need any further proof that dear Eric is a disaster and needs to go now. Gee couldn’t get it done – gone. Parnell – gone. Hatboy – gone. No time to screw around – get him out of here!

  • open the gates

    Nice to see Michael Cuddyer morph from Jason Bay to Ray Knight. Or, actually, from Ray Knight ’85 to Ray Knight ’86.

    As for O’Flaherty, he’s an annoyance, but I wouldn’t worry too much about him. Very soon, September roster expansion and (dare to dream) October roster contraction will make him irrelevant.

  • DAK442

    “Hattie” made me laugh audibly.

  • Matt

    Talk about little moments, Cespedes legging out a triple in the 9th with a 4-run lead and Tyler Clippard being a trooper and picking up a bat for the first time since….?

    I stopped on the way home just to catch the 9th, and even that little bit was eventful.

    • Eric

      The turn-the-corner part of Cespedes’s triple? Murphy’s following at-bat.

      He brought in the runner from 3rd with a sac fly to make the Mets lead grand-slam-proof. No Metsian K, harmless pop-up, or dribbler in front of the plate that freezes the runner at 3B. Instead, a nice small-ball run that is the hallmark of legitimate contenders.

  • mikeL

    well at 6.5 up we’re now at that point where, if we had just the 6 more to play against the nats, we’d have already clinched.
    now it’s all about holding and tacking-on.
    yes, scared but not THAT scared sums up the 8th perfectly.
    lately the season has been looking like matz’ debut, where the hitting overshadows the fine pitching – if only for its sheer novelty.
    and soon he’ll be back as well.
    a perfect roster swap for o’dear!

    • Eric

      The Mets are up 6 in the loss column so they haven’t outrun the 6 head-to-head games (nor 7 up with l7 left to play) just yet.

  • Tad

    Thanks for the memory of Binkley and Bloom County.

  • Eric

    The silver lining of Mejia’s suspension is that he wasn’t going to be on the post-season roster regardless.

    If he hadn’t been suspended again, Mejia would have strengthened the Mets bullpen in the regular season. But he also would have, at least partially, covered up holes in the Mets bullpen that might have been fully exposed for the first time in the play-offs with the Mejia Band-Aid removed.

    Instead, Mejia’s 2nd suspension exposed the bullpen holes with 2+ months left in the regular season, which has allowed Collins and Alderson to focus earlier on them to (hopefully) patch them before the play-offs.

    The magic number is 31, so there’s still a long way to go. The Nationals are too talented to make it easy. The weak links in the Mets bullpen may yet lose critical games in the regular season.

    Hypothetically looking ahead, though, bullpens are, of course, critical in the play-offs. Hyper-focused, hyper-prepared batters in the post-season exploit weak relievers.

    With that in mind, I wonder how well the Mets starters can pitch on 3 days rest, ie, normal rest for a 4-man rotation.

    The extra days off in the post-season allow the Mets to pare down to a 3-man rotation if the starters can go on 3 days rest.

    A post-season starting rotation of deGrom, Harvey, and Niese allows the Mets to use Syndergaard and Matz out of the bullpen. Middle-relief problem solved.

    • Dennis

      “If he hadn’t been suspended again, Mejia would have strengthened the Mets bullpen in the regular season. But he also would have, at least partially, covered up holes in the Mets bullpen that might have been fully exposed for the first time in the play-offs with the Mejia Band-Aid removed.

      Instead, Mejia’s 2nd suspension exposed the bullpen holes with 2+ months left in the regular season, which has allowed Collins and Alderson to focus earlier on them to (hopefully) patch them before the play-offs.”

      Interesting point Eric. Hadn’t looked at it that way. If Mejia had been lights out great for the remainder of the season, which would certainly have helped, there would be a big hole there in the post season if the Mets were needed to rely on him.

      • Rob E

        Mejia was good last year, but he wasn’t as good as you first think (I know his numbers are skewed a little since he started a few games). Robles has better numbers across the board this year (k/9, BB/9, h/9, and a significantly better WHIP) than Mejia did last year. It would be great to have an extra arm of that caliber in the pen, but I don’t know what Mejia would give us that Robles isn’t giving us.

        The bullpen isn’t as big a mess as people think. In a post-season series, part of the gap would be covered by the extra bodies (high-quality bodies) we’d be able to move there, and any other gaps would be covered because Collins would be able to ride Clippard and Familia harder than he can now.

        They have to sort all that out over the next 36 games, but the pieces of a lockdown post-season bullpen are here.

    • mikeski

      I would think that they’d keep Thor in the rotation as opposed to the returning-from-surgery Harvey..

  • Eric

    Consider: Verrett and Colon – not Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, or even Niese – have pitched the best games during the winning streak in 2 series where every other starting pitcher on both teams has been touched up. Although both Verrett and Colon escaped early difficulties that could have knocked them out in the 1st inning before pitching stronger as they moved deeper into their games.

    • Guy K.

      Although he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, Anthony Recker was the catcher for both Verrett and Colon this week. That may account for something.

      • Dave

        I think Recker really knows what he’s doing behind the plate. Just not at the plate. Mets have the luxury right now of being able to hold on to him.

        • Eric

          Earlier in the season, Recker striking out with 1 out and the bases loaded batting in front of Colon instead of at least driving in a run with a productive out would have warranted greater scrutiny.

          Now? Hardly a notice with 1-7 in the order raking.

      • Eric

        Good point.

        With all the talk about Syndergaard’s pitch selection, I wonder about the C calling his games. Ultimately, the pitches are on the pitcher, but a C should be able to check a young pitcher getting fastball happy and it doesn’t appear d’Arnaud is doing that for Syndergaard.

  • Adam

    I am awaiting the DFA tag for O’Flaherty. As you said, if you are a lefty reliever, you have to get lefties out. O’Flaherty can’t do that. It seems that we can expect one of the Mets 4 young pitchers to be sent to the bullpen if there is a need to play October games (I am choosing my words carefully). My personal choice would be to have Thor pitch out of the pen. He has electric stuff, but he has the least big league experience of the bunch. And he has generally been less reliable than Harvey or DeGrom. He could play something like a Wainwright 2006 role, or even serve as a 7th-8th inning guy. It would be great if the Mets could reduce the games to 6 inning affairs the way the Yankees did in 1996.

  • wooferson

    I like that Recker is now an affordable luxury. Pitchers more than seem to like him. Like all the other upturns, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his bat make a difference when no one expects it. LOVE THE DEPTH ON THIS TEAM, and the added spice of personality. “SezPAYDAY’S locked-in strut adds to the pleasure of every game. What a month. May it sustain.

  • James

    I admit, this series had me anxious for all the factors mentioned: first place, late August, the Phillies, Citizens Bank Park, and a recent history (that is, within the past decade) of late collapses. I was anticipating, at least to some degree, the Phillies turning on the wayback machine to play spoilers. Thankfully, in spite of last night’s interjection from O’Flaherty and DeGrom’s uncharacteristic hiccup in the first game, things have panned out as one would otherwise expect of a division-leading team facing off against their cellar-dwelling counterparts.

    That said, I don’t think the dual demons of 2007 and 2008 will be vanquished until the Mets officially raise up the divisional banner. But this team is shaping up to be the right one for the job. Once Matz returns and the rosters expand, they only stand to get better, one game at a time. Then we can get to work on cleaning out the bitter taste left from ’06.

    • Eric

      Me, too. The Phillies have beaten good teams since the all-star break. To their credit, they showed right away how they’ve been winning when they jumped on deGrom. They jumped on Syndergaard, too.

      A month ago, if the Mets had given up 7, 5, and 4 runs, they’d likely be 3 games down, at least 1-2, in the series. Not on this streak.

  • eric1973

    I agree with Dennis, kinda think Harvey might be one of the starters if the Mets make the playoffs.

    All O’Flaherty needs to do is have 2 scoreless appearances in a row, and some here will demand they retire his number.

  • Just sitting back and enjoying this run. I just want to keep going 6-4 and 7-3 every ten games until we meet the Nats. Then I’ll settle for 1 of 3 which allows Washington to pick up one game. This is an entirely different team from a month ago. The Mets know it, the Nats know it, and we fans know it.,As long as Washington doesn’t sweep, we are in good shape. Go Mets.