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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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Don't Sleep on the Subway

Look, I’d be happier never playing the Yankees.

First off, I don’t like interleague play and wish they’d do away with it. But there’s having to play, say, the Angels and there’s having to play the Yankees. And with the latter, there’s just too much stress. One’s living room feels like a psychiatrist’s office; being at the stadium feels like being cooked in a cauldron.

I know baseball games can be stressful. Hell, that’s part of the fun. But the Subway Series is like dropping a chunk of the playoffs into July — and I like my October anxieties to stay in October. Even a barn-burner of a regular-season game against the Braves or Phillies has some fun involved in it, but playing the Yankees is no fun at all. The losses make you want to go outside and lie in the road. The wins feel less like victories than surviving. A lopsided defeat feels like a hanging; a laugher feels like a karmic IOU that will come due at the most devastating time.

(I’m aware all of the above is peak Old Man Yelling at Cloud. I know interleague play is here to stay and about to get supercharged and Mets-Yankees games will be red-letter events on the regular-season calendar forevermore. I know, but I don’t care. I’m 53, which isn’t quite old-man territory but sure isn’t the first flush of youth. And have you looked closely at the clouds? Because some of them are real assholes and could use a good talking to.)

Joe Torre, of all people, came the closest to how I feel about the Subway Series. It was Torre who famously remarked that “when we lose I can’t sleep at night. When we win I can’t sleep at night. But when we win I wake up feeling better.”

(I’m pretty sure he said that while managing the Yankees, but since he did manage both New York clubs, let’s claim it for his tenure with us.)

The beginning of Tuesday night’s game found Emily, Joshua and me in a loud, crowded pub in Portland, Maine. There were no Mets or Yankees on the TV — this is Red Sox country, after all — so we fired up on my phone and propped it on the table, only to watch Aaron Judge take Taijuan Walker over the fence for a first-inning homer, followed by Anthony Rizzo sending the very next pitch to the same fate.

Not exactly ideal — it looked to me like Walker was (understandably) overamped, which caused him to overthrow and deliver pitches that flattened out. But a baseball truism is that you never know how the other guy is going to look coming out of the gate, and Jordan Montgomery had immediate problems.

Those problems started with Brandon Nimmo, who harried Montgomery through a pesky nine-pitch at-bat — one that ended with an out, but forced Montgomery to dip into his reserves and show most of his arsenal to the Mets hitters. Starling Marte hit a line-drive homer to cut the deficit in half. Francisco Lindor doubled and Pete Alonso slapped a changeup at the bottom of the zone up the gap for another double, tying the game. Two batters later, Eduardo Escobar connected and the Mets were up — improbably and marvelously — were up 4-2.

They were up 5-2 after some Yankee misadventures in the field, with Walker in constant trouble but somehow surviving, while the Mets failed to break through against a parade of apparently untouchable Yankee relievers I’d never heard of. (Probably not news, but that’s a really good team over there.) We left the pub and got in our rental car as Rizzo batted with the bases loaded and the Yankees within two. Wayne Randazzo’s radio call sounded like doom until the second the ball nestled safely into Nimmo’s glove at the fence — and when I finally saw the replay, I held my breath all over again.

Walker settled in to give the Mets some length, and then Adam Ottavino got through the seventh in large part thanks to Tomas Nido throwing out Rizzo on the back half of a double steal. (Rizzo was somehow in pretty much every pivotal moment of the game.) Ottavino yielded to Edwin Diaz with two outs in the eighth and the tying run at the plate — feast-or-famine pinch-hitter Joey Gallo, whose presence had the Yankee fans at Citi Field muttering even before Diaz struck him out. Jeff McNeil chipped in a desperately needed insurance run to bring Diaz back on stage with a three-run lead; Diaz survived an infield hit and his own error before blowing away potential tying runs Rizzo and Gleyber Torres for the win.

The Mets won. I survived. And tomorrow we … have to do this all over again? I won’t sleep, but at least I’ll wake up feeling better.

9 comments to Don’t Sleep on the Subway

  • Rumble

    Great article
    Really enjoying the commentary

  • open the gates

    I hear what you’re saying. When it’s Subway Series time, every game is Game Seven. It’s fun when our guys prevail (hey, it’s the only reason I remember Dave Mlicki), but definitely emotionally exhausting. I kind of miss the old Mayor’s Trophy games, when the only thing on the line was bragging rights.

  • Steve

    Great read as always Jason.

    I was at last nights game and at Mlicki’s game and at least in Flushing, these games have gotten a lot chiller. There were a couple jerks spotted after the game and as much as I hate the Yankees, the Yankees Suck chants have gotten kind of boorish.

    Other than that, it was peaceful which was definitely not the case 25 years ago. It never felt that intense either. Nevertheless, I am not looking forward to going to the Bronx and would prefer not to see the Yanks in the series. That’s just agita on agita.

    • DAK442

      I have no interest in meeting the Yankees in the WS. The pain of losing and having to listen to their fans outweighs the joy a win would bring.

      Playing Houston would be fun. And probably the only way to get all of NY behind one team.

      • mikeski

        I remember walking out of Shea after Game 4 in 2000.

        It was the closest I’ve ever come to killing someone, and I’ve been married a long time. I was thisclose to tossing several Yankee fans off the ramps.

  • Eric

    Diaz is crafting a better regular season than Familia 2015, although we still need to see him match Familia’s very good 2015 post-season (marred by the grooved quick pitch).

    That said, Diaz’s strong recovery from the squib hit and his own error on what should have been an inning ending double play against 2 strong hitters showed how much better his mental game is this season. We won’t know until he pitches there, but his recovery after his error more than the Ks themselves make me confident that he’ll do the job down the stretch first against the Braves and then in the playoffs.

    Promising outing by Walker that he won’t repeat last season’s 2nd half dropoff. A strong 2nd half by Walker is deGrom insurance, and if deGrom comes back and stays plus Walker keeping up, the Mets will have as strong a rotation as anyone.

    Whoever the Mets pick up before the trade deadline, I hope they don’t compromise the defense, which was a big part of the Mets success last night and has been this season.

  • Dave

    At 63, I guess I’m farther past the flush of youth than you, therefore perhaps legit old man, yelling at the same clouds that just flat out piss me off. Wins are nice, but they can come at the expense of the Reds or the Diamondbacks or other nondescript teams that are impossible to have any actual feelings about. Subway Series games are way too much to be expected to have to deal with in freaking July. I could add 10 paragraphs explaining what sucks about them, but I’ll just hang up and not listen.

  • Dave R.

    “The losses make you want to go outside and lie in the road. The wins feel less like victories than surviving” is the absolute perfect description of how these games feel. On the one hand, I’m reasonably confident that with a healthy Scherzer and DeGrom, the Mets can beat the Yankees in the World Series, and I think that might feel a lot better than just surviving. On the other hand, I have no desire to see 2022’s version of the Paul O’Neill AB in Game 1 in 2000. I’m surprised more Mets fans don’t bring that up as one of the most-painful moments in team history.

    • Eric

      The Yankees are top-end elite, so surviving a series against them is the optimistic expectation. If Rizzo’s warning-track shot travels a few feet deeper in Tuesday’s game or several hard-hit balls off Scherzer with RISP sail a few feet left or right last night, the series is a different story. That’s baseball of course, but the Mets did not beat up the Yankees. Instead, They went toe to toe by defending and pitching well, got a few lucky breaks, didn’t give away lucky breaks, and delivered more clutch hits than the Yankees.

      The Mets offense and bullpen still has holes, so they’re not dominating most teams, let alone the Yankees. But the Mets’ strong starting pitching and defense, (for the moment) Ottavino, and Diaz mean they can overcome their glaring flaws and compete against any team, too.