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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 Circle is Unbroken

It’s early 2005 at something nobody’s ever heard of called Faith and Fear in Flushing. We’re blogging for the first time. We have Carlos Beltran coming to camp for the first time. We have the Washington Nationals coming to the National League East for the first time. Beltran was just an Astro. The Nationals were just the Expos. We were just e-mailing each other. Now we’re all starting new adventures.

Faith and Fear watches Carlos Beltran awkwardly approach a leadership role on his brand new team. He’s not an obvious fit as he gets himself acclimated to a new team, a new city, a new situation. The Washington Nationals, meanwhile, morph from their previous identity. They’re pretty good at first, then reverse course and descend into dreadful for several years that coincide with the establishment of a comfort zone for Beltran. He settles in. He hits. He hits with power. He runs. He fields. He throws. That’s the part we see with our own eyes. Whatever he does in the way of leading the team we can only imagine.

Carlos Beltran gets hurt and, as a result, the Mets aren’t very good. The Washington Nationals remain the one team in the NL East that’s worse, but things are about to change. They draft well. They cultivate talent. By the time Beltran heals and leaves, the Nats become good. Good enough to loathe. Not good enough to win it all, but certainly good enough to compete.

Beltran continues to excel as he ages. Wherever he goes, his team benefits. The Nationals stop and start. In 2015, it is the Mets who stop them. In 2016, it is a former Met teammate of Beltran’s, Daniel Murphy, who starts them up. We loathe them some more. Murph can’t lift the Nats all the way, though. Neither can Bryce Harper. Neither can Stephen Strasburg. Neither can anybody for what seems the longest time.

Carlos returns to Houston for one final go-round. He’s not an everyday superstar anymore, but he’s still got skills. He’s definitely a leader. Everybody’s sworn to it since he left the Mets. In 2017, on an Astros club said to be missing only a dash of veteran wisdom to complete its calculated journey from the bottom to the top, it is Beltran who everybody looks up to. With the twenty-year vet mostly sitting on the bench but definitely a factor in the clubhouse, the Houston Astros become world champions.

Two years later, the Astros are in the World Series again. Their opponent is the Washington Nationals. No more Murph. No more Bryce. But Strasburg’s around. And Ryan Zimmerman, who was a National in the first season there were Nationals, has never left. Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick, two wizened Nats, date their major league service to the previous decade. Scherzer pitched at Shea Stadium on June 11, 2008, in a game where Mike Pelfrey shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks into the ninth inning. The game got away when Willie Randolph took out Pelfrey in favor of Billy Wagner. In extras, the Mets won when Carlos Beltran homered. Five nights later, Pelfrey defeated the Angels in Anaheim. It was Randolph’s last game as Mets manager. His first was Beltran’s first. In the lineup on June 16, 2008, for the home team, batting seventh and playing second, was Kendrick.

It had been a while overall for Zimmerman; for Scherzer; for Kendrick; for Strasburg (he debuted in 2010 to a torrent of hype, yet was informed in 2013 he was not as good as Matt Harvey); for Davey Martinez, the Nationals manager. In his first year as a player, 1986, Martinez pinch-ran for the Cubs in the ninth inning on September 17 at Shea. A couple of outs later, the Mets clinched their most convincing division title. Fifteen years later, Martinez was a Brave, playing in what we’d remember as the second Brian Jordan Game, a game the Mets lost in horrifying fashion as they groped for an unlikely playoff berth. We’d remember it too much in 2019 when the Mets played another Brian Jordan Game in another futile grope. Jordan wasn’t involved this time. Martinez was. He was the Washington Nationals manager.

That was in early September. The 2019 Mets fell away from contention. The 2019 Nats pushed on. Into the Wild Card Game. Into the NLDS. Wondrously into the NLCS — wondrously because they’d never advanced beyond the NLDS as the Nationals. It had become an unwanted signature of their franchise, finally erased on their fifth try. Then they put the NLCS behind them with ease, and for the time, whether as Expos or Nats, they were in the World Series. The Astros had 107 regular-season wins, which earned them home field advantage, which earned them nothing. Six games were split, each in favor of the visitors. The seventh game was in Houston. The Nationals, behind Scherzer pitching five gutty innings after neck spasms shelved him three nights before, hung in against the Astros. They hung in until Zack Greinke, who the Mets and Murph had overcome in the 2015 NLDS to advance toward their own NLCS sweep, was removed in favor of Will Harris. Harris faced Kendrick with a runner on in the seventh. Kendrick made the last out for the Dodgers in 2015. In 2019, he hit a go-ahead home run for the Nats.

The Nationals padded their lead and won the seventh game of the World Series, 6-2. The road team prevailed over and over. The Nationals, comprised of old guys, potential free agents and an impossibly young, impossibly good Juan Soto, became the eleventh National League East representative to win a World Series, marking the end of the fifteenth season and postseason of baseball we’ve blogged at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

As we look ahead to 2020 and our sixteenth season of blogging, we learn that the manager of our New York Mets will be Carlos Beltran, long removed from his playing days as a Met, not so long removed from playing in general. He is universally admired within the game, yet taking on a wholly new role. So are the Washington Nationals. They will be first-time defending world champions, charging out of the visitors dugout at Citi Field on March 26, taking on Carlos Beltran’s Mets.

That’ll be Opening Day, when everything old and new traditionally merge into something else altogether.

24 comments to The Circle is Unbroken

  • 9th String Catcher

    Why are we always the test subject? The breeding ground for new managerial experiments? We’re going to expect a former outfielder with no managing or coaching experience to know how to work a bullpen? Has he even sat in a dugout since he retired?

    This doesn’t strike me as a “win now” move. Can Beltran motivate players? Does he understand strategy? He was pretty standoffish as a player – is he different now?

    Ugh. It’s like the front office really listens to the fans, takes their frustrations into consideration, and works diligently to do the opposite of what they would like.

    The reality is, there’s no way to know what Beltran can do as a manager. But once again, we’ll have to find out in real time.

  • Greg Pattenaude

    I’m really not amused by this hire

  • Steve

    I would think a lot of readers of this blog would appreciate this for the narrative of nothing else. Carlos Beltran returns to the place he had some of his greatest success, wins the 2020-22 World Championships and enters the HOF in 2022 as a Met.

  • Great post 9th string. That is so true: It seems that Jeffy-Boy irritates his fanbase much of the time with preposterous moves. Oh, by the way, did anybody realize who the Red Sox just hired as GM? Chaim Bloom will go down as one of the greatest GMs in baseball history. You just watch how the Red Sox with a smaller payroll are going to rise to the top of the American League over the next 5-10 years.

    And the dumb-ass Mets FO (especially Jeffy-Boy) let Bloom slip right out of his fingers (last year).

  • This is not Pittsburgh. What, Carlos Beltran! I am out of patients with this ownership, after being a fan for 46 years,I am pretty much done. You just can`t get any more dumber than the Mets. Your answer was Joe G., not Carlos B. How can you forget the catch Endy Chavez made to save the season, and I think you know the rest.

  • Dak442

    Beltran has been a revered elder statesman and mentor for years on successful clubs. He knows how to play the game and he’ll have TC to help him.

    Not that it matters but he also might just be the best all-around position player we’ve ever had, who erred not on that unhittable strike 3, but by letting a meatball strike 1 by him when Wainwright was rattled.

    I don’t hate this hire. Let’s see how it goes.

  • Dave

    Let’s be honest. We have no idea how good a manager he’ll be. We have no way of knowing that any other legit candidate would’ve been better or worse. Beltran is well respected, one of the greatest players in Mets history, and baseball should hire more managers and coaches that reflect the players (ie, lots of Latino players, we should see more Latinos in charge). Time, as it always does, will tell, and LFGM.

  • Was Proxy

    My gut tells me … that this hire is a gutless diversity hire. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Steve D

    It NEVER ceases to amaze me how Carlos Beltran’s Mets tenure is remembered by so many as being a great success. He signed a 7 year contract and had 3 very good years. Maybe I am too demanding, but 3 out of 7 is not great. Most of his years were injury plagued and mainly disappointing.

    His tenure as a Met, IMHO was mediocre at best. Had he won a title, that would be a different story. We all know what may have prevented that.

    Sure I wanted Joe Girardi. Sure I think Jeffy is incompetent and since he had a hand in this it is probably going to fail. I will keep an open mind in that Beltran was a great mentor in his last few years as a player and maybe can be a good motivator. What choice do I have?

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Every man who ever managed an MLB team was once a first year manager. You never know what’s going to happen. Beltran’s Mets may finish 10 games ahead of Girardi’s Phillies or Girardi’s Phillies may finish 10 games ahead of Beltran’s Mets. Either way, you heard it here first.

  • mikeL

    i’m disapointed the mets didn’t force *brodie* to expand his own comfort zone.
    he made many awful moves as a first-time GM.
    with an intelligent ownership group (and ASSUMING one such group would bring an agent in as GM) at the helm, the push might have been : hey rook, YOU have to learn some basebal too here. hire a proven manager and ride *his* coattails.

    all that said, i like everything about beltran the player/baseball guy/person except for what i always found to be a very wooden demeaner in front of the camera.

    if he doesn’t go into broadcasting first granderson looks to me like a shoe-in to manage before long.
    he seems to have the type of personality suited to the different aspects of the job.

    we’ll have to see, but see what greg did here with that wild ride through the last 15 years.
    an impressively weaved thread and congrats to greg and jason.

    and to carlos. may he impress us all and be that veteran presence to take *us* to the top!
    why not.
    will be most interesting to see who his bench coach will be…and so on.

    cheers! LGM

  • Has everyone forgotten that Aaron Boone never coached or managed anywhere before he got the Yankee job? He won 100 games and 103 this year with people like Gio Urschela and Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin batting 1041 times!
    Carlos Beltran played 2650 MLB games including 65 in the playoffs and World Series.
    Joe Girardi never managed or coached before getting the Marlins and was named Manager of the Year his first season.
    Seriously folks. Beltran is as prepared as anyone to take this job. Im all in #LFGM

  • eric1973

    Look, we all knew this kind of thing was going to happen. We knew we weren’t going to get a Buck or a Joe G., or even an experienced nobody like Mike Metheny, a someone who might backtalk the GM.

    So at first glance, we’ll think Beltran a dud, and then hope for the best. Maybe he’ll make the right pitching changes, the correct double switches, and won’t be so gosh darn annoying at press conferences, like the last guy.

    Hey, Dave Martinez won in his second year, so here we go, and LGM!

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    Everyone is a rookie once. Alex Cora, anyone?
    * Beltran earned $222 million playing. He has to be the wealthiest manager in the game. That means F-U money.
    * He has defied the Wilpons before. He knows the Wilpons, and his padrone – Minaya – is still here.
    * He speaks the language of the game: Spanish. What’s crazy is management who cannot talk to a $29 million a year Cespedes or a $557,000 rookie from Puerto Rico suddenly dropped into NYC. His experience will help with the rookies from Mansfield, Texas, too.
    * Beltran always had excellent fundies, so he values them. He played on way more winning teams than dogs, in dozens of playoff games, and won a World Series.
    * He wanted this job. Not any job. This job. He did last season under Cashman and wanted this job. He must see something.

  • 9th string catcher

    I’m hoping for the best. From a strategy side, it would be hard to do worse than Callaway. But it’s hard to be confident when you realize that Brodie was a lot more responsible for failures of last year’s team than Mickey was, and he just picked the manager.

  • eric1973

    If the rumors are true, and TC is in line to become CB’s Bench Coach, then heaven help us all. He was a horrid manager who knew absolutely nothing about in-game management.

    Some lowlights/flashbacks immediately come to mind:
    — Taking out an extremely effective Jacob deGrom (1 hitter against Atlanta) in the middle of the game, only to lose it immediately with his choice of relief pitcher.

    —- Putting in a then-highly effective Familia in the 9th inning with a 9 run lead, only to see him give up 5 runs and be unavailable the next day.

    Give me 5 more seconds and I can come up with 10 more examples.

  • Daniel Hall

    I didn’t *want* Joe Girardi. I would have begrudgingly accepted Girardi and his Yankee face for what he is, an old wise catcher with a decade or so of managerial experience in the most atrocious media market in the sport. There was no better match to make, Yankee face or not.

    But how General Management go out and, after just having canned their previous manager found guilty of serial cluelessness – the jury retired for a mere minute to count to 12 – who had never managed anything before, let alone the wet-cats-in-a-bag Mets bullpen, and didn’t learn the slightest thing in two years on the job, and hire the next former player, not an old wise catcher, and with no managerial experience, is absolutely beyond me.

    I wonder what kept the Girardi match from coming together. Did the Wilpons not want a manager with brains and an opinion, or did Girardi not want the Wilpons?

  • open the gates

    Hiring a first time manager is always kind of a crapshoot. Mickey Callaway was supposed to be the most highly touted future manager in baseball when the Mets hired him. Didn’t exactly turn out that way.

    I was kind of hoping the Mets would go with a different “blast from the past” – namely, Edgardo Alfonso – because he’s had some managerial experience and actually won a championship this year in that role. But let’s see what Beltran brings to the table. He’s always been a bright guy and a student of the game. And as has been pointed out, he has never hesitated to battle the front office when necessary – an important aspect of both the Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine regimes.

    Let’s see what happens. At the very least, he deserves to get a chance to manage a week or three before we start knocking him.

  • open the gates

    Re Alfonso – holy moly. I just wandered back into baseball news after my usual Jewish-holiday-related vacation from same. I read this post, responded to it, and then peeked back to the previous post. I was saying that Fonzie maybe should be managing the Mets this year, and it turns out they had fired him altogether. After him winning a championship. A guy who was one of the all time Met icons. The mind freaking boggles.

  • orange and blue through and through

    Well, another surprise (?) by the clueless Wilpons and their limelight seeking GM Bodie Van Wagenen. As a Mets fan of 56 years, the REAL surprise would have been if they actually hired Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter. But no, the “outside the box” thinking Mets hire a very questionable candidate. I by no means dislike Carlos Beltran, I just didn’t want him to manage our team so brimming with potential.
    (And roll this around your brains Mets fans; Sunday’s Daily News said that the Wilpons dined with Alex Rodriguez to gage his interest in potentially managing the club. Zoinks!!)
    The comparison to Aaron Boone, to me, is pointless. Boone works for a highly respected, veteran GM in Brian Cashman, with a stable ownership willing to spend money when necessary. Does that sound at all like the Mets? The Mets have a glory-hound novice GM and quite possibly the worst owners in baseball. Beltran may very well succeed in New York, but it will be in spite of BVW and the Wilpons.
    I’m simply perplexed by this hire. (As I was last year when the Wilpons let Chaim Bloom slip away in favor of BVW.) As a lifelong Mets fan, outside of the few moments of glory Nelson Doubleday brought us, I feel like we have always been stuck with piss poor upper management. George Weiss and M. Donald Grant were stingy, mean-spirited assholes. Weiss may have been good when he was with the Yankees, but he should have stayed retired. And I only have to mention two words to sum up Grant; traded Seaver.
    Even that bow tie wearing prima donna Frank Cashen lost Seaver as he closed in on his 300th career win, and stripped the Mets of their talent, if not character, because he simply didn’t like the players he traded. Upper management for this franchise has been our albatross.
    But like someone above me said, what choice do I (we) have? Hope Brodie doesn’t do anything egregiously stupid, and hope Beltran is a managerial savant. Perhaps CB can reach the enigmatic Cespedes, or more hopefully, restore Edwin Diaz’s confidence. I’m getting too old for hopes and wishing.

    Once again, with fingers crossed, LET’S GO METS!

  • chuck

    ***Please delete if this is a duplicate***

    I don’t get the infatuation with Girardi.

    I won’t repeat what I called him in a comment to a previous post (and am frankly surprised that Greg didn’t give it the boot for it), but I’ll say this: I wonder what the odds are that he and Harper get into a dugout fistfight before Memorial Day.

    As for managers who had success with The Team That Embodies Everything That Is Wrong With This Country And Why The Rest Of The World Hates Us, and subsequently managed the Mets, the track record isn’t that good, with the Sage Lawrence Peter Berra being the possible outlier.

    • chuck

      Oh, and I might as well put in a word about Beltran. Favorite game I saw him in was when he got a game winning hit over the first base line. On a rehab assignment as a Cyclone.

      Okay, but seriously, Jeffy and Brodie could have done worse.

  • LeClerc

    Have to wait and see about Beltran.

    The only real “feel good” scenario is the Mets making the playoffs.

  • eric1973

    You mean we lost out on Jayce Tingler?