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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 Strangest Dream

I came home from Closing Day today, still a little miffed that Jose Reyes pulled himself from the game the second he got to first. I didn’t mind the protecting of his .337 average. But he couldn’t have stayed on the bag another minute? Who pinch-runs for Jose Reyes if he’s not injured?

Teddy Ballgame, it is emphasized in some quarters, would not have sat himself when he was going for .400 in 1941. Fine. He wins the sportsmanship award from 70 years ago. Nevertheless, I looked forward to finding out if .337 would be enough to win a batting crown here in the present of 2011. Ryan Braun came into tonight batting .335 and could still steal this thing. Everybody else was worried about Wild Card races — the Cardinals having made up so much ground on the Braves, while the Rays are perhaps on the verge of taking down the Red Sox — but this was the one I was focused on.

Yet as I will when I go to day games, especially when I went the night before, I drifted off on the couch after Braun’s first at-bat, which was an out. Maybe I did more than drift off, because it feels like I was asleep for the longest time, during which I had the strangest dream.

First, Braun went 0-for-4 to finish .332. Reyes indeed won the batting title, the first any Met ever got. It should have been a bigger deal. It wasn’t. The choreography of exiting in the first inning seemed to be what got people’s attention. Next, he filed for free agency. The Mets didn’t make him an offer. Suddenly he was a Florida Marlin, the worst thing you can be. No, actually, they were called the Miami Marlins in my dream. They weren’t wearing teal anymore. They had a new stadium and a bunch of other free agents to go with Jose and that young slugger who kills the Mets, Mike Stanton. Except Mike Stanton was now Giancarlo Stanton.

I found myself at Citi Field in what I guess was the next season. Jose came up to bat for the Marlins. I stood and applauded. Not many did. Nobody had a memory. In my dream, it really bothered me. I couldn’t get used to him not being a Met. I couldn’t stand that the weird Marlin uniform he was wearing (black and orange and maybe two or three other colors) was all anybody saw. In my dream, Sandy Alderson said something about sending him a box of chocolates instead of possibly negotiating a contract. I think it was supposed to be a joke. I didn’t get it.

Ruben Tejada was the Mets’ shortstop in my dream. I found myself resenting the kid, which is too bad, because I really like him as a second baseman and still hold out hope that when the Mets do re-sign Reyes — they’re not gonna let him go, no way — Ruben will be Jose’s double play partner for years to come. David will be at third and Ike, once he’s over the mysterious injury he sustained in Colorado and the valley fever, will be at first. I don’t know what they’ll do with Daniel Murphy. He’s always getting hurt and, besides, he’s not really a second baseman. Maybe we could trade him to some American League team that could use him as a designated hitter and get bullpen help. Maybe somebody would take Manny Acosta as long as I’m dreaming.

Anyway, Reyes is a Marlin, and I keep showing up at Citi Field to applaud him even if nobody else does. This goes on for a season and then he’s a Blue Jay. I guess the Marlins had another fire sale. They kept Stanton and apparently nobody else. Reyes was in the other league and the Mets continued to suck. Tejada wasn’t that great a shortstop, it turned out. They couldn’t replace Jose. They even tried Omar Quintanilla, one of those names I think I saw in a box score once. It’s weird how stuff like that infiltrates your dreams.

Next thing I know, the Mets are really good. Reyes is a Rockie (traded for Troy Tulowitzki, who I wouldn’t mind never seeing at Citi Field again after what he did to us in April) and looks bored. I’m not sure what one thing had to do with the other, but I told you it was a strange dream. I’m at a game where we’re playing Colorado and think that it’s too bad he’s not the player he was when he was competing for the batting title for us, but time marches on and maybe I’m finally over him.

Here’s where it really gets bizarre. In the dream, Reyes is wearing a Brooklyn Cyclones uniform. Or was it a Binghamton uniform? Either way, he’s sort of back with the Mets. He’s older. He kind of looks like himself but not quite — you know, like the difference between Izzy when he came up and Izzy when he came back this year. They’re saying Jose’s going to be a Met again for real. They’re holding a press conference and he’s saying how happy he is to be home, but it doesn’t feel exactly like a homecoming. Somebody keeps interrupting to mention Reyes wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t thrown his wife into a glass door in Hawaii — Hawaii? — and he’s a bad guy and the Mets shouldn’t sign him. Then somebody else says he’s served his suspension, and the Mets could use him maybe.

He’s not the shortstop in my dream. He’s the third baseman. David Wright has a bandage on his neck and a beard. He doesn’t play anymore but he hangs around. Jose has a beard, too. Terry Collins is still the manager. Both he and David say nice things about Jose, though they, too, sort of reprimand his behavior. So does Alderson. Jose’s back but he’s not back. He’s wearing No. 7, except even that isn’t simple. He had to get it back from a catcher with an odd-looking last name that begins with a lower-case letter. The catcher switches to 18 in tribute to, get this, Peyton Manning.

Finally, after I don’t know how many years in the dream, Jose steps up to bat against the “Miami” Marlins. He gets a nice hand — a nicer hand than he got when he returned as a Marlin — but on TV it sounds a little more tentative than I would have imagined prior to this business about him being arrested in Hawaii, which even in this whole surreal scenario I can’t truly fathom. Gary and Ron (Keith isn’t there) take very measured tones. In the moment it takes me to absorb that my favorite player is a Met again and that it’s not the unalloyed restoration I had hoped for, because what he did was as bad as everybody was suggesting, he strikes out. In the rest of the game, he doesn’t get on base and the only fielding he does at third is take a throw from the catcher wearing 18 with the lower-case letter on a stolen base from one of the Marlins.

I also think I saw Ichiro Suzuki in the visitors’ dugout and Curtis Granderson in right field for the Mets. James Loney was on first base for us, the guy from the Dodgers; I don’t know what happened to Ike. And on TV they were saying something about who was on the All-Star team. Jose wasn’t. It was like all Cubs plus Daniel Murphy, except Murphy was a National and lost the starting spot at second by only 88 votes (yeah, right, Daniel Murphy an All-Star second baseman — I suppose Terry Collins is managing). The Mets had three All-Stars, or one more than we did this year when it was Reyes and Beltran before we traded him to the Giants. One of them was the minor league pitching prospect Familia, and don’t ask me why his name appeared in my subconscious. The other two were spelled funny. Yoendegaard something or somebody? I have no idea who they were or what they represented. Oh — Beltran was an All-Star again, but for the Yankees, for crissake.

The only part of the whole thing that felt real was Mike…I mean Giancarlo Stanton homering twice for the Marlins, one on a searing line drive above a bunch of seats Citi Field doesn’t actually have (there was a blue fence in front of the black wall), one on an absolute bomb where nobody except maybe Scott Hairston hits them. The Marlins won, ending a Mets winning streak in which they’d scored a ton of runs before Reyes reappeared, the implication being nothing in your dreams is ever quite or even close to how you want it.

Then I woke up. What did Braun do in his second at-bat?

35 comments to The Strangest Dream

  • Mikey

    i just love the way you frame things, Greg. really great story and a neat way to recap the game. and freaking Stanton making that catch in right field too….that was almost as annoying as the HRs.

    So I was trying to think last night about my hatred level of teams and how they rank. and I wondered if I hate the Marlins more than the Nats. I kinda think I do. how about you guys?

  • Gil

    I had a dream like that once and the Mets were wearing black jerseys.

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  • Stephen Kairys

    Thanks for your wonderfully unique take on last night’s game Greg. Well done!

    Now, getting to Reyes promotion and last night’s game. I’ll say right off that I did not want him here because of the domestic violence issue. That said, I’d say the below even if Reyes was a model citizen.

    I just don’t get it. The team was on a roll. Five straight wins, all of them with productive hitting. So, what do they do? Install a batter in the leadoff spot, (Reyes) who hit under .200 vs. minor league pitching, and who wasn’t exactly tearing it up last year? Change for the sake of change? Or to justify a signing that maybe should not have occurred in the first place?

    If you are going to play him (and I’m not convinced he’s an upgrade over Wilmer), shouldn’t he have to earn the privilege of batting leadoff? Let him hit 7th or 8th until he proves he can be productive.

    Way to suck the life out of the offense, Terry and Sandy.

    It’s inexplicable and counterproductive moves like this one that make it very hard at times to root for this team wholeheartedly.

    I welcome dissenting opinions. :)

    • Seth

      I’m pretty sure Reyes’ sudden insertion into the lineup was not the cause of last night’s offensive funk. This has been an ongoing problem (minus the last 5 games). I share your concerns, but I wouldn’t read too much into 1 game. No one was doing much last night…

  • Curt Emanuel

    I really would like Flores to get a full season so we can see what he is. It seems like he’s a .260 hitter who can hit 20 or so out of the park a year. But I also have shades of Kevin Mitchell and Jeff Kent where we trade him and he turns into an all-star. He’s only 24 – what is he?

    Based on Reyes’ recent career track I expect him to bat .250-.260, have an OBP around .300 and steal 10-15 bases over the rest of the season. Is that better than Wilmer who should bat .250-.260, hit 10 or so out of the park and so far as we know has never committed an act of violence against a woman?

    Last year at this time Wilmer desperately wanted to be a Met. I wonder if he’s reached the point where he’d welcome a trade.

  • argman

    There was an interesting article in the Times last week about Reyes and whether what the Mets were doing is the right thing –
    You have to scroll down a bit, but a domestic abuse advocate basically says that you don’t want to take away someone’s ability to earn a living because that becomes a disincentive for a victim to call the police. I don’t know if that is right, but it’s what she says.
    Anyway, I think Stephen Kairys makes excellent points about not messing with the team’s karma, and about players having to earn their way into the lineup and into key spots in it. Reyes last year seemed to be a player in decline. He needs to prove he isn’t.

  • sturock

    I agree with all above. If Jose must be back, his role should be utility infielder. Why is he the starting 3B, especially when Flores is finally getting going. Since we all know how streaky Wilmer can be, this is not the time to mess with his starting spot. Reyes is (maybe) a step up on Matt Reynolds, not a key cog in the offense.

    Plus I feel like the next couple of weeks are going to be all about Jose and not about the team which had been clicking since the start of the homestand. Is Jose over the hill? Can Jose find it again? Can Jose adjust to third base? Can Jose fit in with this new Mets team?

    That last question is most important to me. Does Jose Reyes have a place on the 2016 Mets? Or is he part of the past, part of the Mets of ten years ago?

    The Mets need to give Wilmer Flores a real opportunity to show what he’s got. If not, make a trade for a real third baseman and don’t try and shoehorn an old favorite into a new position. If we must have Jose Reyes back, let him be a veteran bat off the bench and not this returning prodigal with a false sense of entitlement.

    Oh, and wearing d’Arnaud’s #7 is a cheesy move too.

    • Matt in Woodside

      During last night’s broadcast, either Steve Gelbs or Gary Cohen said that Kelly Johnson had compared this to the pickup of Juan Uribe last season. And that sounds about right. He’s a proven veteran who adds depth to the bench.

      I’m nostalgic about the player he once was, too. I used to love the way he would make opposing pitchers nervous wrecks when he got on base. But he’s not 2011 Reyes, and he most definitely is not 2006 Reyes anymore. I really hope they don’t try to shoehorn him into the lineup every night if he’s not producing.

      • Who the bleep knows from a distance, but watching Reyes interact today with his colleagues gives some credence to Johnson’s thought. He may be the most awful cretin to come down the pike ever this week, but he appears to be a good teammate, and in the insular world of sports, that probably counts for something.

  • Dave

    You nailed it, Greg. Sometimes being a Mets fan just means dealing in surrealism. Fact can be stranger than fiction.

    I’m with sturock on the uni # thing too. Sorry, this isn’t bringing Seaver back or something…you’re returning with a wee bit of a dark cloud hanging over your head, Jose, and there’s no concrete evidence that any other team was even willing to give you a job. If the Mets said, here’s your uniform, hope you like #65, you should have said thank you and left it at that.

    • Seth

      I agree, and I was thinking that since this is a new beginning for Jose, maybe he should start with a new number.

    • If handing 7 was over was cool by Travis, it’s fine with me. Once a guy’s on the team, making him feel less welcome doesn’t help anybody.

  • joenunz

    I think it’s a new job and with a new job, you lose your seniority.

    You should start with a new number, no vacation days and you have to wait 6 months before you re-join the 401k plan.

  • APV

    I think Jose’s return is a byproduct of Jeff Wilpon being Jeff Wilpon. So I wouldn’t put last night on Terry and Sandy, even though the frustration is understandable. What I would say is maybe wait until after the first post-ASB road trip to Chicago, Philly, and (Miami?) ends before bringing him back to the big club. Not because of how other teams’ fans would react (well they hate him in Philly anyway), but to give him more time in the minors to get his bat going. The way this has been handled smells of a need to bring in more fans to Citi Field and money as quickly as possible. Remember who owns this team folks!

    Also, how quickly did the outrage die down after the Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman in the wake of allegedly firing a gun at his significant other? That’s a rhetorical question, as the answer was almost immediately. I’m not saying what Jose did to his wife was right, it’s very wrong, what I am saying is shouldn’t there be some consistency? Maybe I should be aiming this rant at the media. Doesn’t sound like Met fans at the game last night really cared about what Jose did; they were just glad to see him back.

    My only hopes for all of this is that Jose learned his lesson off the field and doesn’t turn into 2002 Roger Cedeno on it.

  • mikeL

    jose 2.0 is feeling very forced.

    this reminds me of fonzi being moved to 3B to make way for a much-diminished roberto alomar…
    i too would like to see flores get another chance to hold down one position on the field.
    when he’s in a groove his swing is short, quick and effortless.

    jose might have made a more impressive debut 2.0 pinch running in a key situation…a few days from now.

  • Reyes-Flores seemed to work well together today.

    The bad karma or whatever is in Harvey’s court now. DL trip for shoulder discomfort.

    • mikeL

      haha seems they did, and had by the time i posted this!
      the monday off still throwing me off, i had no idea yesterday’s game was by day!
      tried to watch the encore but after long day at work, slept through it!

      time to give it back to the nats…LGM!

  • Greg Mitchell

    Yeah, so much for the claim that Harvey has no physical issues, was just dealing with “lost confidence,” and “not being the man.”

  • eric1973

    3 points:
    —- I love Wilmer Flores
    —- I love Wilmer Flores
    —- I love Wilmer Flores

    Also, if Reyes had been caught on video, he would have gotten the Ray Rice treatment. Human nature is funny, ain’t it?

    I wanted to let sleeping dogs lie, but I’m rooting for him, though, now that he’s here.

    Very bush PRE-PLANNED move by Gary, illustrating Reyes crime, at length, during his first AB last nite, in all his self-righteousness. Certainly, the crime was hideous, just don’t like that Gary pre-planned it to show what a great guy he is. We all know what happened —- just seemed like overkill ‘for the record.’

    • Dennis

      “I wanted to let sleeping dogs lie, but I’m rooting for him, though, now that he’s here.”

      Same here. He’s wearing the uniform…..I mean, do we really want him to hit .170 while he’s here?

  • Matt in Richmond

    I love Flores as well. Funny thing I’ve been thinking about recently is how much he has in common with Duda. To begin with, he’s a guy they’ve never known quite what to do with. Moved him all over the field, sporadic playing time etc. Remember when they tried to have Duda play the outfield? Then when given playing time they show flashes of plus offensive potential, combined with frustrating cold stretches which makes their full potential somewhat unknown. As Gary pointed out today, Wilmer has gotten about half his total hits for the year in like 6 games. The pop and potential is clearly there, hopefully the consistency will come, for both of them.

  • eric1973

    RE: Matt Harvey:
    Think he — and WE —- need a 2-week breather from this saga.

    Give him 2 weeks off, perhaps a rehab start, if he’s allowed, and then (hopefully) a Brand New Day awaits!

  • sturock

    Wow. What did Gary say?

    Meanwhile, a nice win today with Jose and Wilmer co-existing in the batting order. I hope the Mets don’t give up on Mr. Flores.

    • Curt

      Easy solution today. Loney’s played 16 straight days. Give him a day off and play Flores at first.

  • eric1973

    It wasn’t horrible, but it just seemed that Gary went out of his way to embarrass Reyes. It was like he was practically reading a speech. He recited the facts of the case, finishing his remarks way after Reyes’ quick AB was over.

    • Interesting. I didn’t take it that way at all. One of the problems contributing to domestic violence being chronic is when sports people talk about it it too often gets euphemized as “baggage,” “his past,” etc. I thought Gary was consciously making sure that didn’t happen here. I agreed with him and was glad to see it.

      • sturock

        Good for Gary. The whole Reyes return is just a bad look for the Mets as this story is not going to go away. Why exactly did we need him again?

  • ljcmets

    Greg….I hope you didn’t wake up before Johann’s no-hitter, R.A.’s Cy Young, Happy Harvey Day, or the 2015 NLCS.

  • […] It was stranger to see than Jose rocketing one to the erstwhile porch, maybe even stranger than seeing Jose at all. That sort of baserunning derring-do has probably occurred since the former and since-restored No. […]

  • […] team we watched Sunday needs a break. It scored two runs on solo home runs (both off the bat of the guy it’s still weird to see here) and nothing else. The team it faced won primarily because it has the guy it’s still weird to see […]