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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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Not So, New York

To paraphrase the late, great Roger Angell (for neither the first nor last time in this space), specifically what he said about his presence in Boston during Game Six of the 1986 NLCS while the Mets were cheating death in Houston and baseball had “burst its seams and was wild in the streets” in New York, what I missed by not being awake for the Mets’ stunning comeback and subsequent backslide amid the wee, small hours of Tuesday night may have been less than what I gained from having absolutely no idea of what transpired at Oracle Park as I sawed wood. Drifting off with SNY on across the living room is nothing new, particularly when a continent separates us from our home team. But the 8-2 trailing of the Giants, combined with an overwhelming desire to visit dreamland, compelled me to smash the “off” button on the remote control, something I almost never do, regardless of hour, when the Mets are in progress. Zs sometimes win out, just as the Mets occasionally appear destined to take an L. “I just hope this” — Chris Bassitt’s 11.32 ERA in two starts versus San Francisco in 2022 — “isn’t a thing if we see these guys in the playoffs,” was my last waking baseball thought as I reluctantly silenced Gary and Keith.

Less than six hours later, I stirred to tentative life on the same couch where I conked out in the fifth. I discerned the time from the clock that has sat atop the Princes’ sturdy standard-definition TV since 2004, deduced that the game I slept on must be over by now, then reached for my modern phone in search of the final score. There was a notification of a text greeting me. Chances were it was either a marginally helpful automatic reminder (a prescription is ready, a payment is due) or it was Kevin. Some Metsian correspondents reliably email me. Some choose to DM or IM their LGMs. If this wasn’t a utility or a pharmacy — and it wasn’t — the medium was going to be the message. I instinctively knew the text was Kevin’s; Met-related; and potentially momentous. Kevin wouldn’t be texting me during a late night West Coast game on a whim.

“Holy shit,” is what Kevin needed to let me know at 12:42 AM. Three minutes after, he added, “It was 11-8 at the end of the 10 run 8th in 2000.”

YOU MEAN WE WON? That wasn’t my response via text. That was what I thought, because who invokes The Ten-Run Inning and all it implies on spec? Kevin, especially; he doesn’t mess around when it comes to Mike Piazza. It wasn’t yet 5:30, so I wasn’t fully unfuzzed from sleep. I needed further confirmation that sleep was a bad choice. I made my way to the MLB app. It would tell me what I needed to know — if not what I wanted to read.

The Giants, as you know by now, won, 13-12. There was indeed an 11-8 Mets lead, which didn’t jibe with the 8-2 deficit I shut my eyes on, but these Mets are regularly unimpressed with other teams’ advantages. It still looked too weird to be true. I picked up my iPad and hoped Baseball-Reference’s late city final had been delivered to my digital doorstep.

It had. The full box score with its line-by-line play-by-play was hot off the presses. The Mets had hopped from 8-2 to 8-4 on a Lindor homer in the seventh, BB-Ref explained, and then leapt the leap of a thousand Endys by scoring seven runs in the eighth. Seven-run innings have become to the 2022 New York Mets what portraits were to Felix Unger, commercial photographer: a specialty.

Mets magic greeted me in data detail. The bold type indicating run-scoring plays. The multiple Rs indicating multiple runs driven in. The pleasingly steep column of Met at-bats. A three-run triple from Lindor (six RBIs in all) catapulting the Mets above the apparently undaunting hills of San Francisco. The lead taken on a sac fly by Pete Alonso. Ohmigod, it really was 11-8, Mets.

So how did we lose, 13-12? I rode up and down the Baseball-Reference rollercoaster to piece together however many of the three hours and fifty minutes of highs and lows I missed in my misguided fit of drowsiness. Why do I keep seeing Joc Pederson’s name? And wait…we gave up the lead, got it back, and lost anyway? The penultimate Met lead was surrendered by Drew Smith, huh? All right, but what about Edwin Diaz?

Oh. Or, more accurately, oh, Edwin. For Diaz’s first three seasons in Queens, that would have been snarled. Here, it was offered with empathy. I felt bad for the closer who’d mostly slammed doors since April. Surely he’d done his best. They all had. They would have been forgiven by dawn’s early light for throwing in the towel as I had. It’s been too beautiful a season to date for serious recriminations. That they held that towel in abeyance with as much grip as they could manage instantly placed my gut reaction to this game in a special cupboard I keep for losses that are too gratifying in their feistiness to festoon with anger.

There was the third-ever Subway Series game, June 18, 1997, two days after Dave Mlicki pitched The Dave Mlicki Game. David Cone was no-hitting the Mets until the seventh. Trailing by one in the eighth, pinch-runner Steve Bieser, at third, teased a balk from the intermittently perturbable Cone and earned a free trip home to tie the game. That we lost it in ten almost didn’t bother me. We’d taken the first game, lost the second and spiritually rated a draw in the finale versus the big deal defending world champions across town. We’d done good, I told myself. It’s been too beautiful a season to be mad at coming close and falling short. We’re on our way up.

There was Game Six, the 1999 NLCS, Braves 10 Mets 9 in 11 innings, except it had been Braves 5 Mets 0 in the top of the first, and everything thereafter filled me with shock and pride (give or take a few balls out of the left hand of Kenny Rogers). That the pennant was lost that night at Turner Field is no small detail, but I can never really rile up over how the Mets ultimately fell. They were practically squashed from the outset yet somehow they almost won, almost forced Game Seven, almost went to the World Series and hypothetically almost won it all. We’d done good, I told myself again. It was too beautiful a season to be bad mad at coming close and falling short. We glimpsed the mountaintop.

That’s what Giants 13 Mets 12 felt like, especially since I didn’t live through its crushing conclusion in the conscious sense. On the iPad, via the team-friendly highlight montage and in the string of quotes testifying to the benefits of clean living and staunch determination — “Remarkable to watch them compete every night”; “The whole team did well”; “We came from behind, and they came back in the eighth”; “I’m super proud of everybody here” — the near-miss was a triumph in the soul if not the line score.

I love the feel of perspective in the morning. It feels like victory.


Cribbing Angell again, this time from his regretting wasting Memorial Day weekend in the country while the 1969 Mets found their footing at Shea…

MAY 25: Giants take third game of series while I stay awake for entire affair. Bad planning.

This one goes down as The Thomas Szapucki Game, a far cry from what it meant to be Mlicki a quarter-century ago. We last met Szapucki on a steamy night somewhere on the outskirts of Atlanta at the end of last June. The final then was 20-2. The final Wednesday afternoon was only 9-3. Neither could be processed as any kind of win, not for the Mets (who broke their heartening streak of wins following losses and finally dropped a series to a National League foe), not for the youngster whom we have to stop meeting like this. In 2021, Szapucki was one of a seasonlong long parade of relief cameoists. This time he was plucked from the bottom of the Mets’ starting pitching depth chart to fill an unforeseen hole in the schedule. Once you got past March’s projected rotation — it used to include Jacob deGrom — then the injuries that have occurred since (Megill, Scherzer), then dealt with the icy fallout from last Friday’s Denver snowfall, after which no starter on staff reached Wednesday with ample rest, you found yourself relying on your No. 9 option.

If you can’t get a few decent innings out of a pitcher you deem competent at Triple-A, you may want to drop him into double-digits as you rank future possibilities for a stray spot start. Young Thomas, bereft of command, rhythm and savvy, gave the Mets one-and-a-third frames of the most dreadful sort. Joc Pederson was still scalding the ball, as if rock ‘n’ rolling all night allowed him to party every day. Evan Longoria was at least as hot. Mike Yastrzemski warmed to Szapucki’s stuff, too. The San Francisco trio homered four times among them. Wilmer Flores doubled twice before Buck Showalter realized Szapucki shouldn’t be there for us. It was 9-0 and the second wasn’t done. Four relievers proceeded to hold San Fran at bay the rest of the way, but by the point Szapucki’s short stint served to instigate a full employment act for Williams, Holderman, Shreve and Lugo, the game was irredeemably all wet. Three Met runs crossed the plate between the third and the eighth, and we now cling semi-seriously to the notion that we’ve got them right where we want them whenever we’re way behind, yet there was no hint of the kind of comeback that roared while some of us slept. The spirit can only will so much in a single 24-hour period.

This week’s episode of National League Town pays its respects to both Roger Angell and Joe Pignatano, two figures who immeasurably enhanced the Mets-loving experience from 1962 forward. You can listen listen here or wherever you seek your podcast pleasures.

19 comments to Not So, New York

  • Jacobs27

    What a two games. I feel for Szapucki. Honestly his stuff looked pretty good, despite the nightmarish results. Definitely all over the place with his control, probably too amped up. I was surprised how much the ball was flying.

  • It is sad that the Mets,once known for developing pitchers, have nobody better than him to step in. As a matter of fact, their entire farm system (except for low A St. Lucie) is pretty bad and all their hot prospects and can’t miss players are performing badly. Case in point, Francisco Alvarez is hitting .239 in AA with 4 homers and he hasn’t hit one in over a month. His teammate, Baty is at .250. At horrid Syracuse, Vientos is struggling to stay above the Mendoza line. Pretty sad.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    ::nervously pulls at collar:: ::giggles:: sorry about that!

  • Peter Scarnati

    Ahhh. “Portraits a specialty.”

    Perfect Greg!!

  • Greg Mitchell

    As someone noted, Syracuse is pathetic with the worst hitting most days I’ve ever seen on a team in AAA–one game last week they didn’t have a single starter over .250 with 4 or 5 below .200. The ONE thing I’d be happy about–if briefly–is that we finally MAY have four young or youngish relievers on the shuttle who have shown a lot and may stick: Holderman, Nogosek, Reed and Medina. In typical Mets RP fashion, they will likely flame out or get seriously injured but at least some hope there…though none is the lefty we badly need…

  • Cobra Joe

    You just never know with young minor league prospects; I remember eagerly anticipating the arrival of “Baseball Digest’s” prospect issue every spring in the mail. There were brief profiles of such “can’t miss” Met prospects as Les Rohr, LeRoy Stanton, Dave Schneck and Tommy Moore. Later, I found out that it was actually the major league teams that supplied these brief scouting reports to the “Baseball Digest.”

    After the disastrous trades for Joe Foy and Jim Fregosi, I remember the late Dick Young and the late Jack Lang, two respected and veteran New York sports writers, writing articles about Roy Staiger, a promising young Met third baseman, playing for the Tidewater Tides in Virginia. In addition, the always upbeat and sanguine Bob Murphy excited Met fans one night on Channel 9, when Mr. Murphy related to his broadcasting partner, Ralph Kiner, how Mets catcher Ron Hodges had raved to him about what a tremendous glove man, Roy Staiger was at the hot corner. “He’s like a young Brooks Robinson,” Ron Hodges had told Bob Murphy. Alas, the slick-fielding Mr. Staiger was also like a young Phil Mankowski or Tucker Ashford at the plate.

    Howie Rose on WFAN would often sing the praises of young Met starting pitcher, Julio Valera. Sadly, Mr. Valera soon faded away into baseball obscurity, much like “promising,” fire-balling Met starting pitcher Juan Berenguer, the man Mets sports writers nicknamed the “Panamanian Nolan Ryan,” before Berenguer got lit up by Willie Stargell and the Pittsburgh Pirates, as young Met lefty Thomas Szapucki got lit up by Evan Longoria and the San Francisco Giants yesterday.

    So, you just can’t tell with Mets prospects. Rafael Montero and Tim Leary may have faltered, but Jacob deGrom came out of relative minor league obscurity to be compared with the major league greatness of fellow Mets Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden.

    I still have great faith in Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. But, then again, I also had “ great faith” in Benny Ayala, Ike Hampton and Shawn Abner.

  • Harvey

    Hey Cobra Joe don’t forget 5-tool players Alex Ochoa and Fernando Martinez. Of course, there was also Greg Goosen, of whom Casey said “he’s only 20 years old, in 10 years he has a chance to be 30”. At least he was more useful than Steve Chilcott.

  • Cobra Joea

    Harvey, oh yeah, Steve Chilcottt, that “once-in-a-generation” catching prospect, the Mets took as the first pick in the 1966 mlb draft over some Arizona State University outfielder, named Reggie Jackson. (Whatever happened to him? And, “thank you, very much” George Weiss, for taking Sreve Chilcott over “Mr. October.” At least, we can’t blame future Met COO Jeff Wilpon for that dumb-@SS move.)

    Yes, Alex Ochoa and Fernando “F-Mart” Martinez rate right “up-there” with Alex Escobar. But, at least, the Mets were able to palm off Esdcobar on the Cleveland Guardians (formerly the Cleveland Indians for many years) for the ever-hustling, and ever-hitting yH H “Reluctant” Roberto Alomar. He was almost as “good” as Juan Samuel, part of one of former Met GM Joe McIlvaine’s rare lousy trades.

    With the terrific news that Darryl Strawberry will be appearing at the Mets’ first old timer’s game since 1994, I’m extremely grateful that we have “Uncle” Steve Cohen as Met team owner and no longer have to experience repeated “agita” with the Mets being run by the likes of ol’ M. Donald Grant, “Feckless” Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff “Shemp” Wilpon, Steve “The Boy Blunder” Phillips, Brodie Van Wagenen/“Woeful” and Mets manager Mickey “Love Can Make You Happy” Callaway.

    PS Now, if only Sandy “Mr. Harvard Law School” Alderson will take a much-deserved and long-overdue retirement in his home state of California.

  • Seth

    Oh, Edwin. Please don’t make us change your name to No-win Diaz.

  • Eric

    The David Cone-Ryan Thompson trade where Jeff Kent was the 2nd prospect.

  • open the gates

    Paul Wilson. Bill Pulsipher. David West. Rick Ownbey (although we got a pretty good exchange on him). Jorge Toca. Eric Hillman. Wally Whitehurst. I could go on, but why?

    A note on Steve Chilcott. His career was ended by injury early in his first year of pro ball, so we will never know what could have been. Also, supposedly Oakland wanted him above Reggie as well. It’s still a travesty, but a little perspective is helpful.

    One other thing – I used to have a Mets yearbook from the late ’70’s, and one of the never-would-make-it prospects they were touting was a young pitcher named Billy Smith. Hilariously, the bio begins, “We realize that Billy Smith is not yet a household name…” This as the other bearer of that name was in the process of backstopping multiple Stanley Cups for one of the local hockey franchises. I guess that’s the famous cluelessness of the M. Donald regime that I’ve heard so much about.

  • eric1973

    Hey Gates:
    M. Donald Grant wasn’t really clueless. He was actually just very mean, cheap, and vindictive.

    And Billy Smith had not won any Stanley Cups by the late 70’s, so maybe the org had a point.

  • […] to administer in kind. They were taking one on Tuesday night. They overcame it like crazy (if not quite enough). They’ve been hitting the hell out of the ball since right about the minute Max Scherzer left […]

  • Cobra Joe

    In “defense” of M. Donald Grant, I think he was just following Mrs. Joan Payson’s wishes when it came to NOT signing top level free agents during the early 1970s. Unfortunately, while George Steinbrenner was signing the extremely talented likes of Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield, the Mets (as usual) were shopping for free agent “bargains,” like Mike Cubbage, slick-fielding, light-hitting Elliot Maddox and Tom “The Marlboro Man” Housman.

    And, let’s not forget Met trade acquisition Mark “The Boomer” Bombsck, who pitched for the Joe Torre-led Mets, several years before Torre became a baseball “genius” with the New York Yankees.

  • eric1973

    Hey Cobra,

    Mrs. Joan Payson was always a beloved figure, and still is to this day.

    She died near the end of the 1975 season, before free agency was a glimmer in anybody’s eye, so she had nothing to do with any of that. She had a great hand in creating the NY METS, along with Bill Shea, and then brought Willie Mays back home in 1972.

    It was after she died that her daughters (DeRoulet) took over the team and ran it into the ground, along with Grant.

  • Cobra Joe


    What was the first year for free agency in mlb, 1973? In addition, to “Catfish” Hunter, I believe that Bobby Grich of the Orioles, Gary Matthews of the Giants and, perhaps, old NL rival Oscar Gamble were also available. I don’t remember who was available in 1974, when Mrs. Payson was still calling the shots, instead of the “slightly” imperious M. Donald Grant. But, evidently, Mrs. Payson and ol’ M. Donald were continuing to pass on the big name free agents prior to her death in 1975.

    In fact, I recall reading an article by the late, great Jack Lang (the Mets’ finest beat reporter of all time, imo) on Tom Seaver’s on-going contract negotiations with the Mets. Mr. Lang pointed out that when Grant informed Mrs. Payson of Tom Seaver’s salary demands, she reportedly said to the Met chairman of the board, “No way.” Of course, we’ll never know if Mrs. Payson ever said that to M. Donald Grant. But, two years after her death, Tom “Terrific” got shlepped of to the Reds in exchange for four relative baseball nonentities, making apparently only Grant’s stalwart defender, Dick Young, happy.

    One last thing, I remember watching a Monday Night Football game in ABC sometime in the mid-1970s with my late father, and Howard Cosell came on and dramatically announced that the baseball commissioner had voided free agent Gary Matthews contract with a new team (the Braves?). Anyway, my father said to me, that maybe the Mets would now sign the former Giant left fielder. Well, we all know how “well” that worked out for hopeful Mets fans, as the team’s brought in other outfield “stars” like Jose Cardenal, who only led the NL in hair, Jesus Alou (the least talented of the three Alou brothers) and the truly “immortal” Gil Flores, the Don Bosch of the 1970s.

    Well, at least, Lorinda de Roulet, Mrs. Payson’s daughter, finally did the kind and merciful thing for both Mets fans and her longtime and doddering employee, by giving the pink slip to the haughty and supercilious M. Donald Grant in 1978. Although, just before it Mrs. de Roulet eventually sold the team to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon, the indefatigable M. Donald Grant attempted to put in a bid for the Mets with a group of investors. Thankfully, Mrs. de Roulet opted for the Doubleday/Wilpon offer over the Grant offer.

    I don’t know if Jeff Wilpon was aware of baseball management back then, when he was still a gleam in his proud and overly-doting father’s eyes, but, perhaps, Jeff might not have turned out to be such a big league “Jerome from Manhattan,” if he’d paid any attention to M. Donald Grant’s many mishaps, faux pas and blunders as Mets chairman of the board.

  • Free agency was instituted after Mrs. Payson’s death. The first class, the one with Grich, Matthews and an array of former A’s, was on the market in the offseason following 1976.

    Catfish Hunter was a free agent under special circumstances in the winter of 1974-75, but that was a one-off. Otherwise, there was no free agency as we know it during Mrs. Payson’s lifetime.

  • Cobra Joe

    It really is something to speculate what might have happened (or, more importantly, not have happened) if Mrs.Joan Payson were still alive during the months leading up to Tom Seaver’s trade to the Cincinnati Reds on June 15, 1977. Would she have privately and firmly reprimanded M. Donald Grant and vetoed any possible Tom Seaver trade? Or, would Mrs. Ppayson have given her approval of the trade with the Reds?

    I already pointed out that Jack Lang had reported that Mrs. Payson thought Tom Seaver’s salary demands were unreasonable. I recall that other respected New York Mets sports writers, such as Red Foley, Maury Allen and Phil Pepe, also wrote about Joan Payson’s seeming frugality when it came to Mets players’ salaries.

    Recently, I heard WFAN sports talk show host and avid Mets fan, Evan Roberts, opine on the air, that he would rather see the great Jacob deGrom re-sign with the Mets, and, then, suffer a career-ending injury with the Mets and retire, rather than seeing deGrom leave the Mets to sign with another team (God forbid, the Yankees) and either flourish or continue on with a series of injury-plagued seasons elsewhere. Would Joan Payson have felt that same way about Tom Seaver? We’ll never know, just like we’ll never know would have happened if Met manager Yogi Berra had started George Stone in the World Series against the Oakland A’s and saved Tom Seaver on full rest for the last WS game in 1973. According to former NY Daily News sports writer Bill Madden, in his excellent book, “Tom Seaver, A Terrific Life,” Oakland manager Dick Williams related, that “Yogi Berra let us off the hook by not starting Tom Seaver on his full rest in the World Series.”