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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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Charmed Life*

We’ll start with the asterisk: * means “for now.”

That’s not said with foreboding, just a veteran fan’s acceptance of baseball reality. There are no teams with .889 winning percentages, not even dynasties. There are only teams on .889 streaks. While you’re in one, enjoy the ride. It’ll end, but that’s no reason not to throw your hands up and whoop and laugh. The nagging certainty that this isn’t real life is all the more reason to do those things, in fact.

While on their .889 streak, the Mets are cheerfully thumbing their noses at all sorts of perceived baseball realities, such as the fact that nothing good ever happens to them at New Soilmaster Stadium, the lair of the municipal scam pretending to be a sports franchise known as the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are now majority-owned by Bruce Sherman, with Derek Jeter dispensing his usual blanditudes as front man, but they’re the same hustle they were under the loathsome likes of Wayne Huizenga and Jeffrey Loria, a scheme to bilk taxpayers and eliminate all but the most masochistic fans.

The Marlins dumped a 100+ homer outfield over the winter, trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in the kind of deals even a lapdog like Bowie Kuhn wouldn’t have countenanced, with Dee Gordon and his .300 average and 60 steals excised as an additional middle finger to whatever’s left of the fanbase. What’s left is an outfit that would be a stretch to be called a Triple-A team: there’s Justin Bour, singularly luckless newcomer Starlin Castro, and a bunch of cannon fodder.

Oh, but the roof’s open these days. Which I guess isn’t all bad, as it gives passing birds a chance to crap on that Red Grooms excrescence behind the outfield wall.

The Marlins being pitiable as opponents and contemptible as a business is nothing new: the first happens in grimly predictable cycles, while the second is a lead-pipe cinch regardless of what year it is. So too, unfortunately, is expecting the Marlins to give the Mets fits. Seriously, you could put 25 mischievous junior-high kids who didn’t much care for baseball in Marlins motley and odds are the Mets would at least have to navigate a save chance.

Monday night’s game was ominous the moment Sunday night’s game ended, with the Mets stuck showing up around dawn, looking at the possibility of a letdown game after an extra-inning triumph, and Yoenis Cespedes battling the flu. And as Monday night rolled on it sure had the aspect of one of those Objects in Rearview Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear contests. Noah Syndergaard looked sweaty and unhappy, continuing his successful but quietly perplexing early season; the Met bats went to sleep after some early noise; and whoever those guys were in orange and white and yellow and blue and several other clashing colors I can’t remember kept gnawing on the Mets’ ankles, until somehow a 3-0 lead had turned into a 3-2 frowner.

Games like that are New Soilmaster specialities, of course: if I close my eyes I get blurry images of teal, Billy the Marlin’s permanent nihilistic grin, and some slap-hitter bouncing a ball just over second, or a Met making a wild pitch, or a miscast left fielder looking up in sudden panic.

An Amed Rosario single in the seventh gave the good guys a sorely needed bit of insurance, though the worries staged a strategic retreat rather than abandoning the field: with the bases loaded, Kyle Barraclough opted for the unorthodox strategy of attacking Cespedes and Jay Bruce with changeups, his third-best pitch, which somehow worked. Then, in the ninth, Jeurys Familia needed to get two outs with the tying run on second, and oh boy. Would the Mets lose in regulation, or get walked off in the 14th on some high chopper that left Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez frowning at each other, Miami and the cosmos?

But hey, charmed life … for now. Familia struck out Miguel Rojas, caught Castro looking, and the asterisk remained the business for some other day.

8 comments to Charmed Life*

  • Bill Slocum

    Here’s how it went the only other two times the Mets tried to go 9-1.

    4/20/85 @ PHI – 6-7, L-Ed Lynch, W-John Denny, Save-Larry Andersen. Phils pull away with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, Mets mount 3-run 9th inning comeback finally snuffed out when Andersen consecutively Ks Mookie and Wally Backman.

    4/15/06 – @ NY hosting Brewers 2-8 – L-Steve Traschel, W-Tomo Ohka. Again breaking a tie in the fourth, Milwaukee goes ahead on a double by Ohka. The Brewers get 14 hits total, including homers by Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins, while limiting the Mets to six hits.

  • Pete In Iowa

    So Jason….. tell us how you REALLY feel about the franchise which plays in Miami.

  • Gil

    I’m pretty sure when baseball teams said guys had “flu like symptoms” in the past, they had been out the night before with Stormy and Jack Daniels. Dont think its the case with Cespy, so why not get Nimmo a few AB’s?

  • Dave

    Baseball has talked about contraction now and then, but it probably hasn’t happened for real since teams like, I don’t know, let’s say the Elizabeth Resolutes or the Worcester Huzzahs. But I think there’s a good candidate in Southern Florida. It’s not a franchise, it’s a money laundering scheme. They’re baseball’s equivalent of for-profit “colleges” in which one guy gets rich thanks to federal financial aid programs that fill his pockets, only in the Marlins’ case, it’s municipal handouts while they make believe they’re going to be a real baseball team. 29 teams would be plenty. And ban Jeter and everyone else involved from owning a franchise again.

    • If ever a franchise should be a candidate for forced relocation, it’s the Marlins. San Antonio? Portland? Montreal 2.0? Vancouver?

      • Daniel Hall

        Personally I’m a fan of Portland, but it doesn’t matter. A team could be in Rexburg, Idaho, and if they really tried, would still draw more of a crowd than the Marlins.

  • Jacobs27

    The Mets are building themselves a nice little cushion for when reality kicks in again. Gotta love* it.

  • eric1973

    Is it just me, or are an inordinate amount of balls being hit to Rosario. Except for the failed Spin-O-Rama, which never really works, the guy has been playing like a vacuum.

    He came up with what seemed like a dozen half hops the past 2 games.