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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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One Small Step for the Mets...

The Mets said all the right things after taking apart the Brewers Monday night — how they’d picked each other up all year, how it was a great bunch of guys, how this was just a first step, how they had other goals.

All the stuff a team that’s clinched October plans but nothing more specific in terms of a destination ought to say — not with the Braves staying stubbornly behind them, like the metaphor-freighted posse Butch and Sundance couldn’t seem to shake. Newman and Redford at least needed to peer into the distance to spot their pursuers; the Mets don’t have to look more than a length behind. (And we know “those guys” all too well.) The outcome of that particular pursuit will occupy our thoughts for another two weeks and change — the blink of an eye during the course of a baseball season but an eternity for an anxious fanbase.

But but but but.

This is what we’ve done all year — spend a remarkable season worrying about the gap between “really, really good” and “could be even better.” Well, until the Mets and Brewers go back into battle Tuesday night, we’re all relieved of that particular duty.

Max Scherzer faced 18 Brewers. Max Scherzer retired 18 Brewers. There’s one place where that Mets-fan gap — the one studded with but but buts — simply didn’t exist. Max literally couldn’t have been any better. He was electric, determined and everything we ever dared to hope he might be, collecting a richly deserved 200th career win.

Pete Alonso has worried us to no end of late, but it was Alonso who took Corbin Burnes deep, smashing a three-run homer into the upper reaches of Miller Park to give the good guys a heckuva jolt (and, by the way, to bring that club RBI record a little more easily in view). On the couch up here in Maine, I let out a primal scream and applauded so hard that my hands hurt for half an hour.

But the other Met bats contributed too, drilling ball after ball up the gaps, most dramatically with back-to-back triples from Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor, most emphatically when they answered a Rowdy Tellez two-run homer with an immediate two runs of “oh yeah?” — authored by Tyler Naquin and Tomas Nido, no less.

We have October plans, after a long stretch of accentuating the positive through gritted teeth, or sometimes just the gritted-teeth part. We’re back in the conversation we’ve been left out of for far too long, back in the fight that truly matters, back where we sometimes let ourselves stop imagining we belong.

The Mets took a small step Monday night, or at least that’s what they treated it as. But it was a giant leap for Metkind — whatever explorations lie ahead.

17 comments to One Small Step for the Mets…

  • eric1973

    So proud to be a Met fan, however this season turns out. Virtually everything they did this year was just so damn appropriate.

    From Steve Cohen, Buck Showalter, and Billy Eppler lending creedence and class to this organization.

    From a perfectly appropriate celebration after making the playoffs after all these years.

    From a perfectly planned and executed Old Timers Day, which John Stearns lived just long enough to see.

    And finally, Gil Hodges making the Hall of Fame, which Dame Joan Hodges lived just long enough to see.

    From the beginning up to now, like Timmy Trumpet, hitting all the right notes.

  • Curt Emanuel

    This is a team that has mostly played to its potential this year. Sure, there’s been a game here and there. But there haven’t been many players you could point to and say, “This person has really stunk.” Escobar for a chunk of the year, I suppose maybe McCann though as a 32-year-old catcher that shouldn’t surprise, but players have mostly come through. When I look at the players the Braves can put on the field compared with us, I’m thinking they should be up 10 games. They aren’t.

    We’ve had some injuries, including missing the best pitcher on the planet for more than half the year, but compared with some seasons, players have been able to take the field. Come back Sterling!

    And they’re good guys. There have been years where I’ve cheered for the Mets but I didn’t like the Mets, if you catch my meaning. This has been an easy team to follow. And even acquiring a bunch of 33-year-olds in the offseason has worked out, something I did not expect (Escobar’s 1st 100 or so games the exception). Though we shouldn’t talk trade deadline.

    Good to see them rewarded with some extra games.

    And when did Alonso decide to channel his inner Rickey Henderson? Two SBs in two games?

    • mikeL

      ha! i was thinking pete was channeling murph! but nice to see him steal those bags nonetheless.
      and yes, a very likeable – and when they play at the top of their game : very lovable team. they seem to genuinely appreciate eachother and are all pulling in the same direction (where have you gone javi baez?…)
      very nice win last night. hopefully the guys can stay loose, keep the braves in the rearview, and put the hammer down in atlanta (if not sooner).
      no more letdown, it’s time to line up the arms for the post-season!

    • Eric

      Channeling his inner Paul Goldschmidt, who’s Alonso’s role model, I suspect.

  • Paul from Brooklyn

    Add to the above list of appropriate things the Mets did this year…….retiring #24.

    R.I.P. Mrs. Joan Hodges. Brooklyn weeps.A class act if ever there was one!

    Let’s Go Mets!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Eric

    Baseball is the same Mets offense shut down by who? pitchers on basement teams dismantling the reigning NL Cy Young winner on a team competing for a wildcard.

    I imagine Braves fans felt the same dismay last night as we did when the Braves beat Nola.

    I hoped for better from Megill. Double to break up Scherzer’s perfect game and 2-run home run aside, Megill’s stuff didn’t play up out of the bullpen as I had hoped. His last few minor-league relief outings were poor, too. That Showalter used Megill in that spot right away reflects how few games are left to prepare Megill and Peterson for their post-season relief roles. They haven’t assured yet they’ll be the in-house boost to the bullpen in lieu of a trade boost. Givens and Rodriguez may end up as the top middle-relief options after all.

    • Curt Emanuel

      Lucchesi has been effective out of the BP in the minors. And he’s a lefty.

      I suppose we shouldn’t write the obit on either Megill or Peterson after 1 try. But to me, Peterson’s propensity for walks does not make him a good BP prospect right now.

      • Eric

        Lucchesi hasn’t pitched much this season in the minors. Not much season left — I wonder what and how much he needs to show on rehab for the Mets to audition him in the majors for a playoff role.

  • eric1973

    Yes, retiring #24, adding that to the list. Perfect.

    I used to drive past Joan Hodges house on Bedford Ave. to try and get a glimpse of her, but no luck. Hodges is buried in the same Cemetery as some of my family, Holy Cross, so I go visit his gravesite as well. Now I will also visit hers.

    My Aunt, still alive at 95, worked with Joan when they were young.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Great win against top pitcher. Good to see Vogie hitting again but still no answer from right side yet. Re: Megill. People went nuts over him early last year–then he was horrid. This year the same, and got hurt. Started rehab in low minors good then blasted in AAA and last night. Folks, his fastball is very straight and other pitches not that great–and remember he was never a top prospect. I have higher hopes for Drew Smith who at least has pitched great in majors when healthy….Jeez, even Tommy Hunter with low ERA right now….

    • Eric

      I’m not as concerned about the right-handed side of the bullpen as the left assuming that Carrasco or Walker will join the bullpen in the playoffs, assuming all the starters stay healthy from here on out.

      Vientos is DH’ing today. The plan may be to give the rookie a full shot to catch fire as the righty DH. And if he doesn’t then default to Ruf for the playoffs and cross our fingers his analytics catch up to his bat. Or maybe, assuming Marte comes back for the playoffs, righty DH Escobar or Canha and fill in Guillorme at 3B or 2B.

  • dmg

    Agree – this season is a breakout year, no matter how it ends.

    So much good stuff. Standing on ceremonies alone, I attended three number retirements: Keith’s on his day, Willie’s at Old Timer’s Day – and Gil’s at Dodger Stadium (LA apparently requires its folks to be inducted into HOF for retirement.)
    What a season.

  • Bob

    No matter how it ends up, this is a very positive season for our Mets.
    Uncle Steve as new owner
    Buck as Manager
    1st Old Timers Day since 1994 and we got to see players from 1969-Cleon, Jerry Koosman, Ed Kranepool….and we saw John Stearns before he he went to Baseball Heaven..and we saw all our favorites from past–especially MOOKIE!
    AND The Mets retired Willie Mays # 24
    Gil Hodges finally in HOF and Joan lived to see that!
    And this team has surprised me a number of times when I
    feared doom was around the corner, they just turn it around and win more games–
    Why, it’s just Amazin’ I tell ya’!

    LET’S Go Mets!!!

  • This has been quite the year. Their best seasons:

    ’86 108 54
    ’88 100 60
    ’69 100 62
    ’99 97 66
    ’00 94 68

    Now you just know with 94 wins under their belt they will take at last another 4 mimimum and more probably 6 to 8 at least giving them their 4th or 2nd best season in their lifetime. What a great way for Showalter’s first year leading this talented group.
    A fan since ’63 (I was in HS ’62 & did not follow the sport)

    • Eric

      That’s the upside of being pushed by the Braves. With the team’s age and injuries and relatively short depth, if the division was all but wrapped up, the Mets might have gone into rest and recuperation mode already and allowed themselves to sacrifice a few wins in order to get ready for the playoffs.

      Instead, the Braves’ unrelenting chase has ensured the Mets will prioritize wins the rest of the regular season. So we can be confident the season record will be close to maximized potential.

  • Seth

    It has been a fun year, but it does matter how it ends. If the Mets don’t win the division, the season will be an abject failure.