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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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The Tyranny of Since

Happy anniversary to the Mets’ most recent world championship. May we never commemorate it as such again.

I love the 1986 Mets. You love the 1986 Mets. We all love the 1986 Mets. But we need them to take a chronological back seat to a new driver of the Met historical narrative. Even the 1986 Mets think so.

It strikes me that the reaction to a sainted championship team (even one packed with alleged sinners) follows a cycle, particularly if you are not blessed with a satisfying sequel. I believe it’s applied to the 1986 Mets from the moment the confetti was cleared from Lower Broadway.

They are embraced in the immediate aftermath as if no one and nothing has ever been better.

An unconscious uncoupling occurs bit by bit in the years just ahead because you convince yourself resting on your laurels is counterproductive; looking ahead is paramount; and, no doubt, there are more titles to be won.

One day it hits everybody that those who achieved what turned out to be a lone championship have scattered from the scene, willingly or otherwise. Wistfulness infiltrates your thinking and fierce nostalgia for what you swore wasn’t all that long ago begins to set in.

You sense that your magnificent team of yore is no longer given its due, externally or internally, and you begin to take it personally. This team was the greatest — why aren’t they mentioned more?

You leap to your feet when anybody associated with that team starts showing his face in retirement. Somebody notices, so more of those faces become visible.

Ultimately, the franchise leans on the legend associated with that team probably a little too heavily, either as a distraction from how bad things are going or to convince the fans the current team is soon going to match their exploits.

With the passage of decades, that championship season is institutionalized, essentially frozen. The players and coaches went on to do other things in and out of the sport, but nobody much remembers or acknowledges that. Their seemingly singular accomplishment never fully fades into the background and thus sort of hovers in the collective consciousness. Usually this is a positive, because who doesn’t want to be reminded of the happiest of moments? Sometimes, though, it serves to numb the entire experience, because how many times can you hear the exact same stories and not feel your attention wander?

It felt this way as October 27, 1986, approached regarding the 1969 Mets. I loved (and love) the 1969 Mets, as did (and does) everybody who loves the Mets, but we needed a new precedent in our lives. We needed to stop saying some variation on “…since 1969,” just as we need to delete the “since” from 1986.

One championship every year would be fantastic, but nobody wants to sit next you if that’s what you expect.

One championship approximately every five years would keep you from ever legitimately complaining about anything ever again. But we’re born complainers, so such a bounty would probably be wasted on us.

One championship per generation sounds reasonable, though I’m not sure how to measure a baseball generation. If most of the key players from the last time your team won have vanished from your midst, you’re probably living in a new era. In the Met experience, that’s meant you have to wander through the desert for a spell before reaching the land of milk, honey and rally towels. I wish the desert wouldn’t inevitably wait at the end of our rainbows, but that’s apparently how our karmic topography is cobbled together.

The seventeen years between 1969 and 1986 were too long to wait through in real time, though for gathering-around-the-campfire purposes, it was just right. First 1969, then we were pretty good for a while after 1969, then no good whatsoever, then exponentially better…then 1986. It worked.

The third world championship in Met history should have taken place by now. It didn’t have to arrive on the nose in 2003 (and it sure as hell did not), but seventeen years would have been a fair enough neighborhood in which to unpack all our cares and woes. Seventeen is down the block from twenty, not far up the road from fourteen. 2006 and 2000 were prime opportunities to get what we needed. They got away.

After 29 years, all who have been touched by the 1986 Mets — including the “I wasn’t even alive then” fans who have only seen the footage and read the tales — are desperately yearning to be touched in the same way by the 2015 Mets. A similar pattern emerged between 1969 and 1986. You never stop revering your champions. You do grow weary of not having another champion to place on your pedestal. If there’s fatigue surrounding the primacy of 1986 in our shared story, it’s the “since” we’re sick of, as in, “The New York Mets have not won a World Series since 1986.” I imagine it’s the same in Kansas City for 1985 (and would love for it to remain an element of Royalspeak for at least another year).

You don’t realize it while you’re in the middle of a postseason run like this, but when you root your team toward a championship, you’re pre-ordering a mountain of nostalgia. You just don’t know when you’re going to break it out of its box or how it’s going to look to you every time you pause to examine it.

I couldn’t get enough of 1986 in 1986. On some level, I still can’t get enough of 1986. But I’ve had enough of how “since 1986” has endured. It’s lived long enough. “1986” will do just fine flourishing in a sinceless state.

Nevertheless, long live 1986. And 1969. And 2015 on the same plane, we really, really, really, really hope. That’s four reallys for the four victories we seek — but take them one game at a time, of course.

Also, happy birthday to Mets lefty specialist Jon Niese. He was born on the day the Mets won their last World Series, you might have heard, though “second-to-last” would be a much more desirable descriptor. Perhaps Jon and his teammates can do something about that very, very, very, very soon.

25 comments to The Tyranny of Since

  • 9th string catcher

    Imagine how old you’ll be if you have to wait another 29 years…

  • Kevin From Flushing


  • Dave

    Before the regular season was over, I would have been content to see them make the playoffs and then que sera, sera. I’m not que sera seraing anymore. We have waited more than long enough, and no offense to the Royals’ fans, their loyalty can’t be questioned, but I want to play the rude New Yorker stereotype (even if I’m from Jersey) and push in front of them and grab it before they can get it. They had their chance last year. The Mets are The Story this year, next flag that goes up in Flushing needs to be 2015 World Champions.

  • Eric

    “With the passage of decades, that championship season is institutionalized, essentially frozen.”

    Immortality is 1st prize reserved for World Series winners.

    2nd prize is being recalled fondly, sometimes.

  • Rusty

    How about we replace “second-to-last” with “most recent?”

  • open the gates

    So we haven’t had a Met World Champion in a Jon Neise lifetime. Now that’s a sobering thought. Hope our boys in orange and blue will change that real soon.

    On a slightly unrelated note, the Mets got two presents before tonight’s game: the return of Juan Uribe, and the awarding of Manager of the Year to Terry Collins. The former means that poor Matt Reynolds won’t be forced to make his major league debut in a World Series game. As for the latter, I will eat humble pie and admit it. Terry Collins deserved it. Sorry, Wally. Loved ya in ’86.

  • Steve D

    Leadoff HR on road Game 1…just like Seaver.

  • eric1973

    The last person I want to see resolve anything is joe Torre. He’s already made a mess of the regular season, the All-Star Game, and the WS. There’s nothing left.

    BTW, who cares if they never get back to Joe Buck, et al.

  • Steve D

    Harvey has not broken 90 MPH in about 20 pitches.

  • Daniel Hall

    I’ve been numb ever SINCE Alex Gordon’s homer left in the general direction of Minnesota about eight hours ago.

  • 9th string catcher

    Epic game. Should be a good series! Kudos to Niese holding down the fort and the boys playing tough ball in hostile territory. I think last night was a good example of the advantage of having played in the series before. Butterflies are out of the system. On to game 2!

  • Mikey

    Im with Daniel Hall…numb. hard to not like our chances with familia protecting a lead…he picked the wrong time to blow a save. I was sick to my stomach when flores bunted lagares to second only to have the human strikeout come up. Ugg. But we will win tonite

  • Steve D

    The Mets have never won game one of a world series. This year is most like 1969, so I expect to win the next 4. Harvey looked impaired to me last night. He was throwing mostly 88-89 for the last couple of innings and those were not breaking balls, or at least they did not break much. He did get a couple up to 95, but this is troubling. They claim he only threw 38% fastballs and that was a career low.

  • open the gates

    You may be on to something, Steve D. I know no one wants to hear this, but what if the docs and the agent were right all along? I think the trainers need to keep a sharp eye on Matt Harvey the next few days.

    • Rob E

      Harvey didn’t pitch a bad game, especially considering that Escobar’s HR should have been an out. All we heard all week was what great fastball hitters the Royals are, I can understand him not just throwing fastballs. It would have been nice if he could have become the Dark Knight in that sixth inning (that was the kind of inning deGrom has risen to in his starts), and he clearly didn’t have his great stuff, but I didn’t see anything alarming physically. The Royals did what they do, they deserve some credit, and Harvey wasn’t getting any close pitches early in the count. Just one of those games.

      • Dennis

        Yeah…it was a tough one, but you move on. I feel real good about tonight. We definitely have a big edge in the starting pitching. I’m confident we go back to NY at 1-1.

  • […] the bloggers. … Faith and Fear wishes 1986 soon stops being the most recent Mets world championship. […]

  • dmg

    niese did his part. and no, i didn’t get why you’d sacbunt and lose an out when cuddyer — who has demonstrated his lack of ability at the plate the rest of the game — is coming up. i’d rather have flores swing away.
    confession: when the mets were up 3-1, i thought they had it. i’m not used to them giving back the lead (or other teams taking it back). i won’t underestimate the royals again.

  • Matt

    My one fear is the Mets used everything they had last night – starting pitching, bullpen, late game defense, their bench. No more tricks up their sleeve. The Royals on the other hand look like they’re full of nothing but surprises.

    • Rob E

      Well, the Royals still have not ever faced deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz, and they used their game 4 starter for three innings last night. They got the win, but they expended a few of their own bullets in the process. I’ll still take our starters over their surprises.

  • Time for deGrom to do what all Aces do – be the stopper. I have absolute faith he will come through, so long as his first inning woes don’t persist. I stopped underestimating this team after the epic Nats series and won’t start it now.

    Bigger worry is the pen tonight – if deGrom exits we might be seeing Robles et al.

  • For years, I’ve had Yankee fan “friends” reassure me — with typical sneering condescension — “You’ll always have ’86…”

  • […] It, too, is sick of being the most recent Met world championship. “Dude,” the Spirit told me, “it’s about bleeping time we can give it a […]