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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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Heart Attack Nights

The Mets, of late, play two kinds of games: ones in which they lose seemingly winnable affairs in horribly frustrating ways and ones in which they beat the absolute tar out of their opponents without breaking too much of a sweat. We’re a third of the way through September, and I’m not sure I can take a full slate of grinding torments and giddy laughers — it’s giving me a case of emotional whiplash when I’m a little raw already.

At least Saturday night’s tilt in Miami was one of the laughers. The Mets started off looking a lot like they did Friday night, turned aside by lousy sequencing and a double play en route to falling behind the Marlins. But all was not lost, even if it felt that way to all of us grinding our teeth on our couches. The Mets tied the game in the third on a Jeff McNeil RBI single, then unloaded on Pablo Lopez an inning later, with the knockout blow a Mark Canha grand slam that greeted Lopez’s replacement Andrew Nardi. Canha has been one of the abiding pleasures of a wonderful year, a professional hitter whose at-bats remind me of his antecedents in bat artistry, from Dave Magadan to John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo.

Canha’s blast gave the Mets sufficient margin for error to allow the rest of the game to drift along vaguely accompanied by an increasingly Dada broadcast from Gary, Keith and Ron. (That’s said with affection.) Eduardo Escobar and Francisco Lindor each homered on three-hit nights, Carlos Carrasco did his job on the mound and was backed up by JV relievers who didn’t do anything too terrible, and much-requested call-up Mark Vientos sparked his new teammates to an 11-run outburst without even needing to set foot on the field.

The mood swings of such nights are much harder on fans than on players — unable to affect the outcome on the field, we’re left to beg, plead, follow superstitious rituals and remind ourselves when nothing works that the wall would not, in fact, look better with a new hole in it the size and shape of the remote. That’s always true in a pennant race, but this recent stretch, I venture, has been a little harder still. The feast-or-famine games are a trial, as is trying to read the tea leaves of a single W or L each night, not to mention waiting grimly to hear that the Braves won again. It’s all too much, which is why we’re tying ourselves into knots about bullpen management, slumps and streaks, who’s trying too hard and who might not be trying hard enough, whether the trade deadline should be relitigated yet again, and a dozen or so other unhelpful pursuits.

Honestly, the Mets’ only real sin is not playing .700 ball, as the Braves have somehow done since the weather’s gotten warm. But that’s not a story, just math we don’t like. Like fans since time immemorial, we need a story, and so we construct any number of them to fill the gap. It’s what we do — baseball isn’t much fun if you turn off the set every night and are gently philosophical about what’s transpired — but it’s not good for our health. Probably not ever and certainly not now.

My advice is to at least try and pace yourself: The terrors and joys of October still await, in whatever measures they’re parcelled out to us. But our path there isn’t mapped yet, and the only way to find that path is to walk it along with the players whose successes and failures will dictate our happiness for the coming weeks. (Of which we devoutly hope there are eight that matter.) What I just outlined is good advice that I won’t be able to follow myself. More heart attack nights lie ahead.

15 comments to Heart Attack Nights

  • Jacobs27

    Today may frustrate and concern, again, but last night the grim waiting for the result of the Braves game was rewarded. With an assist from Paul Sewald — I thought Jason would appreciate that.

  • eric1973

    We are both making the playoffs, so the pennant race does not really exist, and the results are realistically accepted with a ho-hum attitude.

    Yes, rest vs. rust, and all that, but any nailbiting edge of your seat pre-Wilcard reactions are just not there anymore.

    So our guys will have 1 extra 6 inning start. They’ve been on the IL so many times that they should be fully rested, while analytics tell you that if you finish first, you have a .000000000000000001 better chance of winning the WS.

    So what?

    • Dave R.

      @eric1973: So what is the path to the World Series. Win the division, and they’ll play either the Dodgers or the Braves. Get the wildcard and they’ll likely play both. Also, for a team that will rely so heavily on its top pitchers, playing the wildcard series means they probably won’t be able to line up Scherzer and DeGrom for the division series. In my opinion, the Mets’ chances of winning the World Series are at least two or three times better if they win the division.

  • eric1973

    Aside from the obvious Anniversary, today is also the Anniversary of the 25 inning game at Shea against St. Louis in 1974.

    Does anyone know if this game was on Channel 9? I have vague recollections of a replay of Milner chasing Webb’s pickoff throw down the RF line, but that may just be my imagination.


  • Seth

    In 1985 the Mets won 98 games and still went home because the Cardinals were better. I know the Mets have had a good year, just haven’t played the same .700 ball as the Braves. But really, what does it tell you over the long haul of a season? Sure, anything can happen in October. It doesn’t detract from the frustration we fans are feeling.

  • […] Choose your recap: Amazin’ Avenue, NY Post, Daily News, Newsday,, North Jersey, ESPN, Faith and Fear in Flushing […]

  • open the gates

    Funny, I was also thinking about 1985. If today’s rules existed in ’85, the Mets would be playing October ball that year and may well have won the Series a year before they actually did. On the other hand, we would have been deprived of one of the all-time pennant races, with one of the all-time September photo finishes. Would a guaranteed postseason have been better for us? Of course it would, but somehow the purist in me is satisfied with the fact that there was real skin in the game that September, and that the Mets’ loss maybe pushed them to go all out in ’86. And maybe it would be better (purist here again) if the Mets were forced to battle the Braves to the bitter end, then to play in October or go home. Mano a mano, like the old days. I don’t know. I guess it’s good that it’s just a theoretical discussion at this point.

  • Eric

    And Canha has been versatile as far as where he bats in the order and plays in the outfield, performing well when he’s filled in at lead-off and CF, not to mention his emergency stint at 3B.

    Besides the achievement in its own right of winning the division, the Mets are better off skipping the risk of losing the wildcard series and adding the benefits of the bye week, namely extra rest and recuperation and arranging the rotation.

    That being said, plenty of MLB champions entered the postseason as a wildcard. Less rest and a scrambled rotation shouldn’t be tipping-point disadvantages. If a fragile key piece like Scherzer is going to break under post-season pressure (again), it’s going to happen sooner or later over the 3 main rounds anyway. If they’ve got what it takes to win the following 5 and 7 game series, they should win the 3 game series.

    Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Cardinals while racing the Braves. However unlikely, if the Cardinals finish with a better record than the Mets, the Mets will be playing a wildcard series regardless of the NL East division race.

  • Eric

    Alternating frustrating ugly losses with contender-quality wins against lesser teams makes me more sanguine about falling behind the Braves. Most importantly, a wildcard is more or less in the Mets’ pocket. With that confidence, the convincing wins show their contender quality is still in the team. Assuming fitness, it should still be in them when the playoffs start.

    Also, the Mets MO all season has been winning series and only rarely sweeping (or being swept). As long as they keep taking series against their lesser opponents, even if the losses are ugly, I don’t expect better.

  • mikeL

    well, the mets’ one day out of first in exactly 5 months begs the question of whether this team can pull away one more time.
    it’s now a sprint to the finish with a half game headstart.
    carrasco, and now walker – in both of whom i had lost all faith – have stepped up, bad team of not (the marlins lineup looked like the dodgers friday nite).
    as a fan, this half game ahead is appreciated more than ever. can we get a seattle win this afternoon?
    can the mets go on a statement sort of run?
    (can they hold the 7-1 lead they’re enjoying at the moment – i ask in effort to unjinx)
    may the pulling away proceed!

    • Eric

      Good point. This season, the Braves have pulled very close before, though not pulled ahead before. Yet when they got very close before, the Mets gained ground again before the Braves closed ground again.

      Even if the Mets go on a winning streak beyond their series winning pace, I expect the Braves to keep up. It’s easy to foresee that the Braves series will be big (though not as big as it would have been pre-1, 2, and now 3 wildcards) and the suddenly feisty Nationals will be eager to play spoiler on the back end.

      Braves lost and Mets won today. Yet another series win banked. Back up 1 in the loss column. The Braves are unrelenting … but the Mariners reminded us they’re not invincible nor inevitable. (I wonder how long Odorizzi’s leash is as a starter and, to a lesser extent, Jansen’s is as closer.) Thank you, Mariners.

  • eric1973

    Ray Rippelmeyer died a couple of days ago. He was on Danny Ozark’s coaching staff in the 70s. I was a bit too young to know what ‘ripple’ was, but had I known, I would have thought it hilarious that he was on the same coaching staff as Bobby Wine.

  • […] Column A, we record games like these, to quote some dumbass blogger: “ones in which they lose seemingly winnable affairs in horribly frustrating […]