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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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Exemplary Citizens

The Mets can’t beat the Dodgers, the best team in baseball. The Dodgers have been beating everybody regularly, though they’ve looked human against the Braves. The Braves can’t beat the Phillies. The Phillies, particularly at home, can’t beat the Mets.

Hey — did we just become the best team in baseball?

Pythagoras called and said I’m deriving a faulty conclusion from random quirks. I told him to not to be such a buzzkill. Mets Squared plus Phillies Squared divided by Citizens Bank Park equals an uncommonly satisfying result. Or a commonly satisfying result if we pretend we never play anywhere else.

Any way we can play 81 games there without becoming a Philadelphia team? Hell, can we play our entire schedule there? It’s the one place where the Mets are nearly infallible.

At some point during SNY’s telecast of Thursday night’s thoroughly enjoyable beatdown, a Reds-Padres score flitted across the bottom of the screen. “Wow,” I thought, “you’d really have to love baseball to want to watch the Reds and Padres.” I thought this while watching the Mets and Phillies, the kind of game people committedly watching the Reds and Padres would think, “Wow, you’d really have to love baseball to want to watch the Mets and Phillies.” Yet what’s not to love when the Mets play the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park?

You might not have dared venture such a thought ten years ago this month, but it ain’t ten years ago anymore, certainly not in Philadelphia. SNY ran a promotional spot hyping the next game between these fierce “rivals”. Geography aside, the Met-Phillie rivalry, which tilted mainly in the wrong direction at its brief peak, is a conceit more accurately consigned to the previous decade. We see the Mets enough to know their biggest rival/worst enemy is themselves. In glances at the Phillies, we see absolutely nothing reminiscent of their long-shattered National League East preeminence.

On August 24, 2011, in the last game they played at Citizens Bank Park that year, the visiting Mets defeated the Phillies, 7-2. It hardly mattered in the scheme of the season, which was running according to the era’s prevailing norms. The Phillies were 83-45, the Mets 61-68. The Phillies were cruising toward their fifth consecutive division title. Having fortified their rotation with every formidable Roy in sight — Halladay, Oswalt, Rogers probably — they were a lock to go to their third World Series in four years and parade another trophy through the City of Utleyish Love.

A funny thing happened on the way to Market Street. The Phillies were tripped up by the unlikely Wild Card club of 2011, the periodically animal-rallied Cardinals, and were eliminated from the NLDS in five games. The only parade route mapped for them since has been downward. Perhaps the harbinger of their fortunes was embedded in that innocent loss to the Mets on August 24 a half-dozen years ago. Mike Pelfrey went six innings, Nick Evans drove in four runs and the tables turned imperceptibly but definitively. Starting with that game, the Mets have won 38 of 52 in Philadelphia. Four of the fourteen losses came after the Mets had clinched playoff spots, which is the ultimate expression of dominance: winning so much that losing makes you no nevermind. Prorated to 162 games, the 38-14 stretch — added on to Thursday night when the Mets whomped the Phillies, 10-0 — translates to a full season’s record of 118-44, even better than the pace being set by the mostly unstoppable 2017 Dodgers.

Hold on…Pythagoras is texting me, telling me to knock it off. I’ll ignore him.

The commute would be a hassle, but “the New York Mets of South Philadelphia” might be worth considering for the greater good. The Mets play like champions adjacent to the intersection of Broad and Pattison. It doesn’t hurt that the 42-70 Phillies (31-68 when not mysteriously sticking it to the Braves) play like the Phillies, so we’d have to figure out a way to keep them on the payroll. The Mets are more about shedding payroll at the moment, so this away-from-home home park scheme is as full of holes as Swiss cheese, and almost everybody knows you don’t order a Philadelphia cheesesteak with Swiss

Let’s just stick with the current mode of scheduling and try to extend the good times at Citizens Bank for as long as we’re in residence. Jacob deGrom was having a very good time, sailing toward his thirteenth win with two out in the seventh when a Nick Williams liner Citizens Banked off his right triceps muscle. Out went deGrom, who would later insist he felt fine, contusion notwithstanding. Every Met starting pitcher feels fine until he disappears to Dr. James Andrews’s waiting room, but if we’re going to believe any Met starting pitcher, we’ll take the word of deGrom, who surely spoke the truth postgame when he said “trying to locate well” accounted for his six-and-two-third innings of four-hit shutout ball (9 SO, 0 BB). Jake knows there’s no better place for a Met to locate to for an evening than Citizens Bank Park.

The Phriendly Confines even encompassed a touch of tantalizing transactional news, as Sandy Alderson announced pregame that Dom Smith will join the crew on Friday night. To make room for the first baseman of tomorrow (technically today), Fernando Salas was DFA’d. Human decency won’t permit me to lump a person being disinvited from the ranks of his profession as a necessarily happy development, so let’s wish Fernando well and hope the Phillies pick him up ASAP.

When the Mets traded Jay Bruce, I was briefly disappointed in that he wouldn’t have an immediate opportunity to hit more home runs at Citizens Bank Park. In two series there as a Met, he went deep three times. Then I remembered every Met hits home runs at Citizens Bank Park, so what’s one slugger fewer? Sure enough, four Met bashers had no problem discovering the other side of the fence Thursday: Michael Conforto as newly anointed cleanup hitter; Wilmer Flores as first baseman of the transitory present; and Neil Walker (4-for-5) and Curtis Granderson as potential enhancers of trade value.

Wait a sec…we’re still in the business of looking to trade guys away? But we just won a ballgame ten-nothing! Oh yeah, that’s right, we’re not really a .731 juggernaut. Alas, we are moved to remember that for all the walloping the Mets do to the Phillies in this one particular phacility, the locationally invincible Mets remain the 51-61 Mets everywhere else.

But the Mets aren’t anywhere else this weekend. They’re at Citizens Bank Park. Hence, a small request to the Mets who are just arriving, the Mets who might soon be departing and the Mets who figure to stick around for a while: please keep taking advantage of that Philadelphia hospitality before it goes out of style.

Never out of style: the ALL-NEW Faith and Fear t-shirt, commemorating the retired numbers 31, 41, 14, 37 and 42. This blue baby is available in ladies’ sizes here and gentlemen’s sizes here. For more information on the fellow whose exploits made a revised edition of the classic FAFIF tee necessary, I humbly suggest this book here.

7 comments to Exemplary Citizens

  • Ken K. in NJ

    As if we didn’t need any more evidence that this is a truly F*cked up season, last night Gary Cohen informed us that the Mets had just set their all-time record low batting average for a home stand. He didn’t elaborate on how many games qualified as a Home Stand, but this was 10 games, and I think he said .133. No he couldn’t have said .133, could he??

    All that and the 2nd highest ERA in Baseball.

    Ten games under .500 is starting to look like an overachievement.

  • 9th string catcher

    Quick question – when does Spring Training end? It seems like it’s going extra long this year. Can’t wait ’til this season starts!

  • Eric

    Salas is an example of the limits of layman observation. His pitching looked a lot like Reed’s, and Salas was in fact better than Reed within the respective seasons they were acquired. Yet Reed was much better in his following season, while Salas dropped off a cliff in his following season (maybe due to the early over-use, maybe because NL hitters figured him out).

  • DAK442

    If anyone else, like me, had the takeaway from that game recap “Whatever happened to Nick Evans”, apparently he washed out of the Japanese League, as he is now playing in Korea!