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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 Vision

Seeing baseball in person always reminds me that the game is really two different experiences. The view from your couch lets you play HD voyeur, seeing everything from the pitcher’s grip to how the catcher frames each pitch — and with stats and expert analysis handed to you, like a surgeon taking tools from an assistant. The view from, say, the Promenade is completely different — the players are down there doing something or other, the scoreboard tells you the outcome of the little things, and your eyes and the crowd’s reaction cover the big things.

I can’t tell you much about how Marcus Stroman or Kyle Muller or Bryse Wilson or a parade of Met relievers looked. I don’t know if they were hitting their spots, if their pitches had life, or any of that. I was busy or in transit for a big chunk of the first game and hundreds of feet away for the rest; I’d be better off asking someone who stayed home.

What I do know — or more precisely knew already but was happy to remember — is that it’s a very good thing to find yourself under the big night sky in the bowl of a stadium after the heat’s leached out of the day, surrounded by your fellow rooters, many of them living or dying alongside you about a thing as silly and beautiful as a baseball game. It’s fun to debate Mister Softee vs. that weird waffle thing that looked good on SNY the other night, to root for the random kid trying to whack wiffle balls over a miniature outfield wall, to vamp ironically or wholeheartedly to whatever music’s booming out of the PA, and to scream and yell and boo and don a rally cap and pursue whatever personal ritual will absolutely, positively affect events down there on the field, and even if that’s not true, well, it couldn’t hurt.

It’s also fun to ponder just how many threads connect players and plays, even in games not destined to be long remembered. The record will show that the Mets split a doubleheader with the Braves, losing the opener 2-0 on some untimely Atlanta doubles and winning the nightcap 1-0 on a timely double of their own; what will be forgotten is that the first game was a drumbeat of frustrations for us while the second game was the exact same thing for them.

I arrived at Citi Field in the bottom of the fifth of Game 1, just in time to slip into a standing room spot and watch Pete Alonso come to the plate with runners on first and second and one out. Oh, I thought, I’m a good-luck charm! Pete promptly chopped a high bouncer along the third-base line, a ball that could easily have hopped over Austin Riley‘s head to cut the Braves’ lead in half and put runners at second and third … except for the annoying detail that Riley snagged the ball, stepped on third and threw to first for a double play.

Oh, I’m not a good-luck charm.

Still, the Mets have had a flair for drama throughout this strange, bumpy season, so of course they got a runner on against Will Smith in the seventh for James McCann. McCann scorched a ball into the hole at short, Dansby Swanson made a stab that would have been envy of any matador, and the Mets had lost.

The Mets had lost, and played reliever roulette in Game 2, entrusting a split to Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Banda, Trevor May, Seth Lugo and finally Edwin Diaz. A dangerous game, but somehow it was the Braves who kept getting hurt. In the second, they put runners on first and second with none out thanks to a Riley pop-up that Alonso lost in the lights and a Swanson grounder off J.D. Davis‘s glove; Familia fanned Guillermo Heredia, Abraham Almonte and Kevan Smith┬áto put down the threat.

In the sixth, after Jeff McNeil‘s two-out double gave the Mets a 1-0 lead, Lugo came in and clearly wasn’t himself, or rather he was the himself who’s shown up too often recently. He surrendered a leadoff single to Joc Pederson and walked Ozzie Albies to bring up Freddie Freeman. Freeman slammed a ball to the left-field fence, where Kevin Pillar had just enough room to make the catch, but Pederson took third and the Mets’ lead was in serious jeopardy. So of course Riley hit a grounder to Luis Guillorme, who made a beautiful flip to Jonathan Villar, who threw to first for the double play.

Yeah, the same Riley whose nifty grab had turned a potential Alonso RBI into a double play a couple of hours earlier. Baseball pens these reversals of fortune so often that none of us should be surprised to encounter one, and yet we always are. The Mets failed to cash in any insurance, Diaz arrived to pursue the save, I assumed the fetal position because it’s Diaz, and so of course he erased Swanson, Heredia and Almonte on some of the more vicious fastballs and sliders he’s thrown all year.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’ll be in the fetal position next time he arrives too. Because you can’t outguess baseball. Not when you’re studying it up close on the TV, and not when you’re peering at it from your perch beneath the night sky. You can’t outguess it, but you can always appreciate it. Win or lose, a night at the park will remind you to do that.

6 comments to Double Vision

  • Seth

    1 run over 14 innings was, to say the least, extremely frustrating. I thought we’d moved on from that non hitting stuff.

  • Eric

    Jason, what did McNeil look like to you in person on the pop-up that flummoxed Alonso?

    On screen, it looked strange that McNeil stood still watching about 40 feet away, glove on hip, the whole time Alonso was obviously calling for help.

    As for the game 1 loss, I was more frustrated by Brad Hand blowing the save so that the imminent increase to a 4.5 game lead turned instantly into a decrease to a 3.5 game lead. The Phillies haven’t charged hard yet, but they aren’t going away either. They’re in arms reach and poised to close the gap with Wheeler, Nola, and trades.

    That said, I was frustrated by the offense going to sleep again and wasting a game that Stroman and Castro pitched well enough to win. I’m just used to it by now. Given the disintegrating state of Mets pitching, the team can’t afford to waste well pitched games.

    My relief over winning game 2 balances out my game 1 frustration, though: I thought Freeman’s ball was out. Kudos to the bullpen, especially Banda. In the end, the Mets did the minimum of what they needed to do for the day by splitting the doubleheader, notwithstanding the Phillies win.

    I hope McNeil’s fatigued leg is okay.

  • open the gates

    I do hope the Mets get some hitting tonight.

    In a couple of hours, my sons and I are heading over to Citi Field for our first Met game as a family in over three years. Last time out, the Mets crushed the Phillies. In that game, the opposing pitcher intentionally walked a guy, loading the bases for Todd Frazier, who proceeded to hit a grand slam. It was one of the sweeter moments of my Met games attended, made sweeter by the bunch of loud Phillies fans sitting behind us being totally silenced by that moment. (Yesss!!!) I know we’re opposing the Braves’ ace with the immortal TBA, but hope springs eternal, baby. LGM!

  • open the gates

    Jerad Eickhoff. No way. I thought he left as a free agent! Guy’s like a bad penny!

    Tell you what, Jer. Win tonight and all is forgiven.

  • open the gates

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.