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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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Double Shifts at the Superlative Factory

The rocket ride, amazingly, continues.

In front of a packed, delirious house, the Mets kept on playing baseball with verve and swagger and a talent for the impossible whenever it was necessary. From Noah Syndergaard shaking off some early stumbles (though Juan Soto will make even a sure-footed pitcher miss a step or two) to home-run heroics from J.D. Davis, Wilson Ramos and Luis Guillorme (yes, Luis Guillorme) and clutch relief from Seth Lugo. Heck, even Mickey Callaway has showed some welcome flexibility.

I’m in Gettysburg, Pa., for a family reunion that distant cousins very kindly invited me to. Did you know Gettysburg is within the Nationals’ blackout territory? Neither did I. That’s meant the last two nights have been a Howie-and-Wayne affair — which has been about the best Plan B one could imagine. Howie’s been terrific, fully present in the drama and determined to make you love what’s happening as much as he’s loving it.

On Friday I was in a Greek restaurant as the game began and contented myself with Gameday until I got out to the car and joined the radio feed. But not Saturday night. On Saturday night I was nervous, obsessively checking whether it was game time yet and making sure I was in position to hear every word.

I was also thinking about Emily and Joshua, who were at Citi Field. They’d gone in part because I’d pleaded for a Hawaiian shirt but also because Joshua has been as caught up as anyone in the Mets’ unlikely ascent to relevance and beyond. My kid’s relationship with baseball and the Mets has ebbed and flowed over the years; on Friday, he persuaded his mother to walk for a while before getting on the subway so he wouldn’t lose the audio feed — a show of faith that was rewarded. But he’d never been to Citi Field when it was packed with fans roaring and baying and trying to conjure their desires into reality through sheer will and maximum volume.

I’ve been to plenty of big games that fizzled, which is an occupational hazard of letting yourself get excited, but I had an additional reason to hope Saturday night’s game wouldn’t be one of those. For a little while it looked like that would indeed happen, but Syndergaard steadied himself and the Mets were lurking against Patrick Corbin. Davis and Ramos together equaled one Soto, and I thrilled both to Howie’s call of the back-to-back shots and to the replay, once I got to see it. Davis’s bat flip was a thing of beauty; so was the pose struck by Ramos, a split-second after hammering a ball out of sight.

And when Soto struck again, there was Guillorme, of all people, to get us even. Guillorme has long been one of my favorite Mets, with sure hands and superlative instincts — he always knows what he wants to do if the ball comes to him, and the game never speeds up on him when the unexpected happens. I grumbled and groaned when Adeiny Hechavarria got the call instead of Guillorme, just as I muttered and moaned when the Mets refused to give him a long enough stretch of playing time to show what he could do.

Well, now he has — just ask Fernando Rodney, who spread his arms in disbelief and despair as Guillorme’s first big-league homer sailed into the right-field seats. It got no easier for Rodney: Joe Panik reached on an error and Jeff McNeil singled. Against Daniel Hudson, Amed Rosario came within a whisper of slamming a ball into center (and, OK, also within a whisper of hitting into a double play), moving the runners. to second and third. Dave Martinez opted to abracadabra Pete Alonso to first, loading the bases with one out, and up came Davis.

An 0-2 count, but Davis has made immense strides this year (funny what happens when you let young players play), and he drove Hudson’s fourth pitch to Adam Eaton in right, deep enough to score Panik, then gave the universe a satisfied nod and a raised fist: mission accomplished.

Through it all, the fans were roaring — Emily and Joshua among them. You could hear them on the radio, a welcome addition to the soundscape; you could practically feel them making the screen shake on the highlights. As for me, I was wearing out the carpet in a two-foot path, back and forth across my hotel room, cajoling and begging and exulting and worrying.

The Mets being the Mets and baseball being baseball, there was still the ninth to be navigated, a journey that’s been treacherous, to say the least. Callaway opted for Lugo instead of Edwin Diaz, and Lugo (with perhaps a little help from a tall strike zone) dispensed with further drama. Which was fine; the game had delivered plenty.

(And even then, it all came down to a 3-2 pitch, because of course it did.)

Then it was time to monitor scores and check standings and worry — happily — about Sunday. And in the middle of it, a welcome text from Emily: “Guess who really enjoyed his first experience at a playoff-feel game?”

Can Sunday compete with what’s come before? Hell if I know — this all stopped making sense about a week ago. We’re in a strange country, a land of dreams, and I don’t want to wake up and I don’t want to go home.

10 comments to Double Shifts at the Superlative Factory

  • Since64

    This all started at the All-Star break. Peter Alonso won the homerun derby. That was great for Mets pride. The next day during the game our guys all performed marvelously. DeGrom was spotless, Alonso got a hit and drove in runs, what more could you ask for.
    Thanx to a schedule that had us face weak teams we could direct these newly found energies toward our opponents. And that we did.
    Another great shot in the arm, the trade deadline. When we got Stroman we all knew that it was to replace Zack or Noah or both! When 4PM had passed, and our duo was still here, gave a great boost to us all, especially the team. Now we have, Jake, Noah, Stro, Matz and Zack! WOW!
    Without any further adieu we present our new and improved 2019 NY Mets.
    Still doesn’t quite make sense… Where’s Cespedes, anyone seen Lowrie, Nimmo… and we we have an extra 1st baseman who can also hit… What is this???

  • 9th string catcher

    “funny what happens when you let young players play”. I think you could apply that thought towards managing. Giving the FO rare credit for being patient with Calloway – he is still not a great manager, but he’s inproving and always seems to believe in his guys who now believe in themselves. I definitely didn’t like Ramos startibg, but it paid off. And loved the Lugo move.

    Some commenter on Deadspin said it best: 90% of the time it sucks to be a Mets fan. But the other 10%? Heaven.

  • Michael in CT

    When Soto hit the homer in the 8th, I said to myself, OK, they’ve still got two innings to at least get one run to tie. (I might not have said that so confidently a month ago.) So the Gnats stupidly bring in the ineffective Rodney, and the Mets reward my faith. Guillorme, a modern-day Al Weis.

  • sturock

    One day at a time, one game at a time, one win at a time. LFGM!

  • mikeL

    if they were sleepwalking they’d have woken up by now…
    recording sesh during game.
    hoping for cell service…

  • LeClerc

    Luis F. Guillorme

  • eric1973

    We have the best pitching of all the NL teams, and they are playing up to their capabilities, so the sky is now the limit. Very reminiscent of 2015, when we were the best after getting Ces, as Matz came into his own.

    LGM, and Ya Gotta Believe!

    And thanks to you, Ed Kranepool, for the rousing speech on 1969 Weekend, exhorting the troops to always believe in themselves!

  • JerseyJack

    15 of out 16 !! Has there ever been such a streak in Mets history ?

  • Daniel Hall

    Say, Gen. Lee, you sort of fell short of taking Washington because Gen. Heth got himself into a premature tussle in this nowhere place in the middle of nothing in Pennsylvania, but did you know you came close enough to be in the Washington Baseball Club’s blackout territory?

    – Well, it is sort of like a fortification, but it only means you can’t stream their ballgames on your favorite of any of 400 devices.

    – I see. I think I have to start further back. There is no radio, either, in 1863, I guess?

    – Hot air balloons?

    – Yes, baseball is this game the wicked Yankees play…!