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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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Roll With It, Baby

Hosmer the Cat (a.k.a. Hozzie) rightfully turns his back on Hosmer the first baseman (a.k.a. the enemy).

Hosmer the Cat (a.k.a. Hozzie) rightfully turns his back on Hosmer the first baseman (a.k.a. the enemy).

As we approach the never previously calculated New York Mets Championship Equinox — Saturday at 9:53 PM EDT is the moment between the final pitch of the pennant-clincher and the first pitch of the World Series — we inevitably shift from the portion of the postseason where we’re exceedingly happy to be where we are to the time when we dwell on whether we can climb that one final step higher.

I like where we are, but I really want to be up there. That’s been the goal all along, but peering looking too far ahead, never mind above, makes my baseball instincts dizzy. And though I never doubted the Mets could be here when this postseason commenced, it never quite occurred to me they would.

The Mets are in the World Series. I like to keep reminding myself. You don’t mind, do you? Perhaps you’ve been elbowing your brain in the ribs telling yourself the same thing since 11:39 PM EDT Wednesday. Perhaps you’ve got tendonitis and a headache from such unusual activity. That’s OK. We’re all out of practice at this and we have all these off days to root ourselves into World Series condition.

The Mets are in the World Series. Y’know what? That doesn’t hurt at all.

Not much about 2015 evokes 2000, but I do clearly remember my favorite part of winning the pennant then was early in the interregnum between the NLCS and the World Series, specifically that period when there was only one known component of the Fall Classic — us. I sort of hoped for a Players Association wildcat strike to materialize, because if the American League failed to send a representative, we’d be world champions by default.

The second that ALCS was over, the fun was curtailed. It wasn’t the impending matchup that bummed me out — I thought we’d beat the other team that year; it was how we had to share the municipal stage with two-time defending world champions and all the oxygen they sucked up in those days. The bulk of that week cast the Mets as visitors to New York. I felt more cheated by the city’s zeitgeist surrounding my team’s first World Series appearance in fourteen years than I did by pinstriped hotheads flinging bat barrels and not facing ejection.

This is so different. The distance from Flushing, Queens, to Kansas City, Missouri, is approximately 1,200 miles. I know of one Royals fan who lives in New Jersey. There may be another. Otherwise, the Mets being in the World Series overwhelms New York, just as it did during the three instances prior to 2000 when the Mets made it.

That’s what I’ve been waiting fifteen years for. I’ve been waiting to turn on the radio one of the mornings between the NLCS and the World Series and hear a well-produced if horribly conceived frontrunning song parody. In this case it was WCBS-FM recasting “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls as “We Love The Mets”.

How do you not go with “It’s Raining Mets”? Seriously? There was, however, a line in there that beseeched, “God bless Daniel Murphy,” so clearly it has redeeming features. Still, where was this “love” for the Mets when our fellas could have used a little extra affection? Why wasn’t 101.1 FM “Hungry Like The Murph” when he was throwing to the wrong base and not appearing nightly in a cluster of high-fives?

Ah, everybody loves a winner almost as much we love this winner. Thus, everything since Wednesday night has been raining Mets. The bandwagon is rolling, and I say hop on board. Apparel nobody has ever commented on in my neck of the woods has been attracting steady streams of enthusiastic approval. Local media that acted as if there was only one baseball team in town…well, they were right, weren’t they? It’s just that it’s a different baseball team than they had led themselves to believe. As Designated Mets Fan in certain spheres, I am congratulated and wished further luck constantly, not extended condolences and told not to take it so hard.

Every afternoon during this admittedly disturbingly lengthy layoff between Game Five and Game One, the Mets show up at Citi Field, put on fresh blue hooded sweatshirts and run around doing baseball stuff. They do this in late October and every move they make is reported on breathlessly. It’s like Spring Training that matters. It’s like baseball season never ended.

It didn’t. Not the Mets’ version.

Hockey crowds cheer them. Talk show crowds adore them. Sandwiches honor them. It’s as if those of us who act like this 24/7/365 (366 in leap years) wandered into a shampoo commercial and we told two friends, and they told two friends and now an entire region is friends with the Mets — and not just the Facebook kind.

This is a nice place to be, but I don’t want to live here. I want to live up there. Gotta take that extra step. It really hit me when I saw a picture of Citi Field with the 2015 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS logo plastered on its left field exterior. Very pretty. Not pretty enough.

That’s when the competitive clock was set earnestly in motion. Gotta upgrade that sign, I said. Gotta.

I feasted as best as I could off “National League Champions” post-2000. I still proudly display in my office the TD Waterhouse-sponsored mini-flag I was handed at the Home Opener in 2001. I was grateful the Mets accomplished that much the year before, but it was never fully satisfying. A pennant is something beautiful, but a world championship is simply gorgeous. “Hello, gorgeous,” I want to say at some point after the next four to seven games. I’ve been waiting 29 years to have that conversation. Some of you have been waiting longer than you’ve been alive. Whatever your age, you’ve waited long enough.

At last, we know our obstacle, our non-archrivals, the Kansas City Royals. There is lit’rally nothing relevant I can tell you about the Mets’ history with their fellow expansioneers the Royals that you don’t already know. There really is nothing relevant to know. There have been nine games total between them, which is about as close to a pure World Series as you can get amid the ongoing Interleague plague. Only three have taken place since this blog has existed and none of them lately. You’re no doubt familiar with Foy for Otis, Hearn for Cone, the Bret Saberhagen deal, maybe a few other players with shared affiliations.

None of it is relevant, but it’s fine to know. The Royals having valiantly filled the role of enemy-of-our-enemies versus the Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals eons ago is fine to know, but it’s not relevant, either, no more relevant than my lingering animus for the Cubs was going into the NLCS. For what little it’s worth, I’m no longer harboring Cubbie grudges from 1969, 1984, whenever. For what even less it’s worth, my second-hand fondness for the Royals and Don Denkinger sticking it to Whitey Herzog and St. Louis in 1985 doesn’t fill me with any conflicting emotions as Tuesday 8:07 PM EDT nears.

Good old Royals. They’re the enemy now. They have to be. If my cat Hosmer — a.k.a. Hozzie — didn’t have the beverage-inspired name way before I’d heard of the Kansas City first baseman Hosmer, I’d probably be tempted to change it to Murph (which, incidentally, was the runner-up feline name choice in 2002; for Bob, not Daniel). If I still had the Royals t-shirt I purchased at a Wichita-area Walmart in the late ’90s, I’d briefly consider defacing it. If the Royals live up to their billing, I’ll be mighty mopey.

As I would be if the Blue Jays had alighted in the World Series. They worried me. The Royals worry me. Of course they do. It’s how the postseason is supposed to work. Every opponent looms as trouble. The Cubs loomed as trouble. They were like one of those storms for which you lay in bottled water and flashlight batteries and brace for the worst until you hear on TV that Hurricane Schwarber has changed course and blown out to sea. It wasn’t a waste to worry then, though. Whatever typical playoff anxiety went unused in the last round will remain stockpiled and be reinforced for this one.

We dodged Irene where I live. We stayed alert for Sandy regardless. We’ll be ready for the Royals now. That’s we, as in the fans, who put on sometimes frightfully worn blue hooded sweatshirts and hum along to those awful retrofitted song parodies and decide if we’d rather try the Matz or the deGrom next time we find ourselves in East Setauket, which will likely be never, but you can’t be too careful. I know logically our thoughts do not influence the actions of the Mets, but what did I just say? You can’t be too careful.


Also, I can’t say “thank you” enough for the heartfelt wishes and generous sentiments expressed over the past couple of days regarding my dad. The stories you saw fit to share about your families and what the Mets have meant to you in that context touched me very deeply. Wherever your loved ones are in the games ahead, I’m glad that in some genuine sense they will be very much with you. We all deserve to take in a Mets World Series with those who mean the most to us.

22 comments to Roll With It, Baby

  • eric1973

    Greg, if you have come to the realization that the Mets are in the WS, you’re a better man than me. The suddenness of the whole thing, it being so easy and so effortless, LA series notwithstanding, still makes it hard to believe.

    Perhaps it was the 2-month regular season that virtually began on JUL31 with Flores’ homer against the Nats, and then the Nats providing no real competition at all down the stretch. This season was totally different from our pennant races of yore, vs. equally talented Cubs/Cards/Philly teams, or even the ’86 and ’88 teams, when we were stacked from Day One.

    Still wish the series was on a ‘major’ network, rather than Fox, which, for some reason, still has no gravitas and covers the WS like a minor league operation.

    • I agree that it does feel like a 2015 2.0 since July 31. The extended break between the NLCS and WS allows it to sink in thoroughly that this is the same team we’ve always rooted for. The same but different as it has to be.

      • Eric

        Reading Cubs-based coverage of the LCS helps place in context the steep climb the Mets have made in a short time.

        Though their team was swept out of the LCS, Cubs fans and media still marvel at the leaps made by the Cubs this season that far surpassed their expectations.

        The Cubs fan base is not sated by a historically winning franchise. Yet their upbeat reaction to losing the LCS highlights the unexpected, rapid progress the Mets have made from a perennially downtrodden team like the Cubs to the league champion facing – to borrow from Howie Rose’s memorable call for another NY team – one more hill to climb.

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  • Lenny65

    2000 was so weird. We finally vanquished the hated Barves, the NLDS vs. S.F. was a mini-classic (Franco freezes Bonds, Benny Agbayani) and the NLCS was surprisingly easy. Then THEY came along and greedily sucked all the fun out of it. “I’m just so happy that both NY teams are in it”…blech. I’ve never forgiven the Mariners for that, BTW.

    But that was then and this is NOW! I’m going to be a nauseous ball of tension on Tuesday but I believe, after sweeping the Cubs there’s nothing these guys can’t do.

    • James

      Interesting that the 2000 NLCS was surprisingly easy and the 2006 NLCS was surprisingly hard. In both series there was one team that could pitch while the other could not. Actually quite logical that the winner both years could pitch.

      Shows also what a toss up the 5 game division series is…if anything the 2006 NLDS was surprisingly easy vs LA.

      The critical offensive moment in 2000 vs SFG was Alfonzo’s 2 out rbi double in the 8th inn of game 3 off Nen to tie it. After that we got lucky Benny turned on one before they did….Bobby J did the rest.

      When you look at the 3rd starter most teams throw out there, it’s no surprise the 2000 Mets were soooo close with Reed behind Hampton and Lieter. Game 1 vs the Yankees was more than win-able, it was won…until it wasn’t. Assuming a split on the road and Reed winning game 3 at shea- series could have been up for grabs.

      I hate how the 4 games to 1 line in the 2000 WS almost forces you to feel that the Mets were over matched. That is totally false- those mets would have wiped the floor with the 2006 team…Reed vs Trachsel and Hampton vs Maine HA!

      We were fools 9 years ago…but our future hopefully holds a “rotation of aces”…and we won’t get fooled again!! LG Mets!

      • Lenny65

        Another thing that stung so much about 2000 was how close we came the year before. It was like that after 1985…”OK, NEXT year we’re winning it all!”, nothing less would suffice. And they had a terrific memorable season full of amazing memories, only to have it snatched away by those greedy championship-hogging jerks. Let’s just say I was (am?) awfully bitter about that for a long time and leave it at that.

        One thing I especially love about our current NL CHAMPIONS is how unflappable they appear to be. Game Five in L.A., not becoming unglued by the Ut**y nonsense, going into Wrigley like it was no big thing and wrapping up the NLCS, they exude a certain coolness that is obviously serving them quite well. “Baseball confidence”, when you see a team come together and perform as one well-oiled unit, it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. The way it’s all snowballed since Wilmer Flores Night At Citi Field is going to be a memory I’ll always cherish and we’ll all be very fortunate if we ever see anything like it again.

        • Eric

          Yep. Soak in the season with the precious little of it that’s left. The Wilpons could give Alderson a Dodgers payroll budget, every current Met could be resigned, the young stud starters could fulfill their potential by becoming the best starting rotation ever, and the story of this season couldn’t be repeated.

          There’s no reproducible formula for the 2015 Mets. See the pre-season consensus favorite 2015 Nationals for the reliability of team-building formulas. Start by covering all the bases and then helplessly watch it all fall apart. Or, in the Mets case, start with a bundle of uncertainty, see it fall apart, and then watch it all come together gloriously beyond the most optimistic projection.

          Do the best you can, then hope for the best. Sometimes it even happens. It’s happened to the Mets in 2015 (nearly, anyway – 1 more thing left to do). That’s baseball.

          The likes of this Mets season won’t happen again unless by another highly improbable happy accident. When it’s over, and we’re almost there, the only way to relive it will be Greg’s book and every other book that Mets beat writers are probably already drafting.

      • In 2003, thoughtfully ranked every World Series, best to least best. 2000 was chosen second-best five-game series, not because of the outcome but because of how close/dramatic every game was. That’s a fair assessment. Best five-game series? 1969, of course.

        1986 ranked 8th overall, 1973 19th. We don’t win each of our World Series, but we haven’t played any clunkers.

        And let’s not this time (unless we’re planning on blowing out KC).

  • Lou from Brazil

    Here’s to hoping for a similar series as the NLCS- sweep, Mets jumping up and down only this time in New York. I don’t need drama. I just want the big trophy.

  • dmg

    i agree, the pennant is delightful, but the championship is essential. 1999-2000 was diminished unfairly by the lack of a championship, and we know too well what the years after 2006 have been like.

    all the great memories of this remarkable season, all the impressive strides the team has made — not only on the field but in the consciousness of the city and beyond — will be tainted if the mets fall short.

    i’m not sure which unnerves me more: the royals or the need to have the mets to win it all. lgm!!!

  • MetFanMac

    I wonder how many people realize that this was the longest gap in Mets history between World Series appearances? (Previous gaps being 7, 4, 13, 14)

  • Rand

    Great post. As a Mets fan living in Portland , Oregon, I’m excited every time I spot someone wearing a blue cap. And if it does happen to be a Mets cap I rush over with a smile and a “can you believe it?!”

    Since that day 46 years ago when my big brothers were jumping up and down in the living room, calling me over to see the replay of Ron Swaboda’s diving catch, I’ve been on this crazy ride. Any season that doesn’t end with a wait-till-next-year shrug is incredible special, and this one is shaping up to be the most special of all.

  • Dave

    Right now it seems everyone who is somehow anointed with “expert” status says the Mets have bitten off more than they can chew; the Royals are filled with excellent fastball hitters who make contact, their bullpen prevents any thoughts of come from behind wins, yada yada yada. It would also seem as though 28 teams would gladly trade places with the Mets. For now, I’m enjoying a few days of less stress and earlier bedtimes. Come Tuesday night, I want it all. I love that we have the city back, but I fear that coming up short will destroy much of that momentum and we’ll start hearing once again about x number of rings and start worrying ourselves sick about free agent signings or any anticipated lack thereof.

    You wanted the big stage, Dark Knight, now you’ve got it. Show us you’re ready to do this.

  • oldbat

    I was there for the 7th game but only because my son in law had season tickets and we got game 3 and game 7. My son said I will take game 7. 5 minutes later he appeared and said “Hey there might be a game 7”. In fact I never thought there would be a game 7 but Hey You Never Know so I hung in there and got to THE GAME.I used to go to the Dodger-Yankee World Series with my father but this was my favorite baseball memory.

  • Eric

    The Royals remind me of an AL version of the Pirates but arguably better. That team is full of baseball players, as Collins uses the term to praise. The Royals are, as Daniel Murphy said, relentless. And they’re hungry after fighting all the way back to the WS after losing a close WS last season.

    If the Mets are satisfied now and have lost their edge from being feted for sweeping the Cubs, then the Royals will grind them into the dirt.

    The two things I look forward to are the Mets starters each channeling MadBum in the battle of wills against the tough Royals line-up and the resilience that has characterized this Mets team even before the July trades. They bounce back.

    As much as has been said about a prolonged break between the LCS and WS dulling a team’s edge, the extra rest should help the young starters ward off Arrieta syndrome just enough for their final 1-2 starts of 2015.

    As well as deGrom has performed, his DS game 5 and LCS game 3 starts indicated fatigue. If he starts his game the same way against the Royals, he may not escape that line-up. Starting deGrom in game 2 gives him an extra day for his 1st start and then another extra day for a game 6 start. By starting game 1, Harvey will be on regular rest for a game 5 start, which he prefers as we know from the innings-limit contretemps.

    The more talk of advantage-Royals the better to trigger the Mets’ resilience. Being perceived as the underdog to Kershaw and Greinke for the DS and the Cubs’ dynamic young sluggers for the LCS suited the Mets fine.

    As a baseball fan, I think the Royals are the better team – on paper. As a Mets fan, set the bar above their heads and these Mets have reached it. I want them to go into the WS believing they’re the underdog. I’d be more worried about their approach if the sports talk favored the Mets over the Royals.

    • Rob E.

      If you had to take one of these teams to play one game against a random opponent, you would honestly take the Royals? Out of all the players in this series, the three guys most capable of taking over a game are Mets. And even if the Royals hitters solve all three of those guys, the Royals starters still have to shut down the Mets offense. It’s a tall order. If both teams are at the top of their game, I think the advantage goes to the Mets. Moreso since the Royals have never faced any of our guys, and we are familiar with all their guys except Ventura as they are all ex-NLers.

      Las Vegas has this as essentially a “pick ’em” series, and I think most of the country WANTS the Royals to win (you know, because us New York teams ALWAYS win). But the way these rosters are assembled, the Mets can win behind ONE GUY; the Royals need five or six. They are certainly good enough to pull that off (I love the way the Royals play), but to me it sure looks like the math is on the Mets’ side.

      • Eric

        In 1 game for the NL WC, Arrieta beat the Pirates, the NL version of the Royals.

        Then Arrieta ran out of the stuff that fueled his Cy Young award-quality season. In hindsight, Maddon perhaps accepts the 2nd WC and, like Mets management, tolerates the cost-of-business loss of a few games in the standings as a trade-off for better rested ace(s) for the post-season.

        Which segues to the question of whether the Mets young starters have enough high-octane gas left in the tank to channel 2014 Bumgarner for their final 1-2 starts of 2015. At some point, even careful management can no longer conserve gas with an empty tank.

        Sure – if they’re at the top of their games, then they are capable of pitching enough like WC-game Arrieta 4 times to be their own bridge to Familia. That’s the winning formula.

        But fall short of WC-game Arrieta vs the Pirates or 2014 MadBum vs the Royals – show that tough Royals line-up a crack – they can drive in a wedge and break a game or a series that had looked to be in hand.

        Scoring is important, too, because if the starters pitch well enough to win yet the games go extra innings, that turns into advantage Royals. Extra-innings games would likely look like the August series with the Pirates.

        Mets hitters, with the exception of Granderson, are streaky. So far, enough of them have been hot at the same time to score enough to win. Hopefully that continues. Maybe Murphy cools off over the inter-series break, but Cespedes heats up again. Maybe Duda’s hot streak only lasts the 1 game, but d’Arnaud heats up again.

        If the Royals were playing anyone else in the World Series, I’d want the Royals to win because I’m a fan of the way they play the game.

        I’ll take the Mets for a non-paper reason: the faith that they’re here because they’ve overcome challenge after challenge this season. The hungry, relentless, all-around capable, athletic, ready-to-win Royals are the Mets’ final challenge of the season.

  • Paul Schwartz

    Until this year I think my favorite Met year was 1984. 1969 came as I was spending my first year in college and working full time for,the,first time during the summer forced me to share attention to my job (camp counselor for little kids) as I did to my team.
    September and October saw me away in DC for school but encamped early each afternoon for the NLCS and world series grabbing the best chair in the dorm lounge where the tv set was with ny set of Bill Gallo drawings of each Met and with a flourish holding them up as each batter appeared.
    I had tickets for game 7 in Baltimore but was thrilled to cash them in when we won in 5. (College students need the $10)!
    1973 I was in new York for first year of law school and would watch the games in a third yyear’s room on a crappy b and w set (saw,the dave augustine play with wavy lines) and then was in left f ield stands about 5 rows above,where the garbage was tossed at pete rose in the playoffs that year.
    The next 10 year’s were hard at times but we rushed to the park to be at Darryl ‘ s first game and then bought Tuesday Friday tickets from 84 to 90. Loved 84 team that you saw growing up before your,eyes.
    85 was fun and 86 a dream . Was lucky enuf to be in the building for game 6 but that team was the best I’ve ever seen — the only met team that made met fans arrogant like yankee fans always are.
    After 90 continued to be a huge fan but business and family limited my time out at the ball park and the last few years were tough as we all know.
    Watched every game at home all those years and loved to watch SNY’S replays at night when we won in the afternoon. Joy without agita.
    But this years group was fun from day 1.
    The unexpected early season streak…the key trip out west before the ASG. ..the lack of hitting and yet we were still right there.
    I was able to go just once this year. And it was July 29 with our annual group trip to Shea and now Citi Field. More than 60 of us sat in the Pepsi Porch watching Colon get pounded hearing the news of the Gomez “trade” and watching Lucas hit three bombs at us.
    Didn’t know about Flores crying until the post game but hated the trade on every level. Flores had been a brand new Met when we made our 2013 outing and I really liked his play,and guts.
    I was happy to learn that there was no trade but like most of us (admit it almost all of us did) thought the season was over the next day.
    But here we are 12 weeks later with a chance to play meaningful NOVEMBER baseball!
    I love this team!
    Let’s go Mets!

  • open the gates

    Of all people, Joel Sherman cams up with a good omen about the forthcoming WS. To wit: The Mets have a former Yankees coach – Kevin Long. The Royals have a former Yankees coach – Dave Eiland. Put ’em both together, and whattaya got? Long Eiland!

    Silly? You bet. But the “days between” are the ultimate silly season for those of us who are not actually Mets or Royals. And given how good those Royals are, I’ll take every good omen I can.

    • Left Coast Jerry

      Didn’t John Donne write “No man is an Eiland.” I wonder how he would predict the winner of the series.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Only you can come up with something as nerdy as the midpoint between the end of the NLCS and the start of the World Series, and make good reading out of it.

    The next 7 to 10 days are going to be a lot of fun and I will be looking forward to your and Jason’s takes on each game.

    Thank you both for making this wonderful season even more enjoyable.