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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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But Maybe It's Better Not to Burn the Barn in the First Place

This recap begins with a confession.

Emily and I had tickets for Thursday night’s game, obtained weeks ago in exchange for a smallish charitable contribution. My 2023 debut at Citi Field was nigh, and with it the chance to demonstrate that I was not, in fact, jinxed despite having gone 0 for 2022 as an attendee, with the last two losses against San Diego when losing a ballgame was a really bad idea.

But the seats were up in the rafters, and when I left work for a midafternoon walk I quickly retreated inside, because the outside world was terrible — a gray, clammy parody of Scotland invented by someone who wanted to show his disdain for the place. I thought about night coming, and how much colder it would be, and in the back of my mind I was also thinking about 2022 and how horrible the Mets had looked against the Nats of late.

I texted Emily, who didn’t need a lot of coaxing. We bailed, agreeing that if Joey Lucchesi threw a perfect game in his matchup with old friend Trevor Williams, we’d find a way to live with our shame.

Apologies if it’s a SPOILER, but Lucchesi did not throw a perfect game. In fact, very little that transpired Thursday night came anywhere close to perfection. The Mets coughed up 1-0, 4-1 and 7-3 leads, dissolving in a flurry of walks and hit batsmen and shoddy defense and plain old bad luck. Their salvation, if that’s the word, was that the ineptitude they set in motion spread like an oil slick of bad baseball, engulfing everything in its vicinity. Sure, Tommy Hunter hit two dudes and Brooks Raley gave up a horrific hairball of a grand slam, but the Nats sent out ex-Met Erasmo Ramirez to be a punching bag and then leaned too hard on an exhausted Mason Thompson, who got strafed. The slick o’ suck looked like it was going to coat David Robertson in ignominy as well, but our Plan B closer overcame an initial stagger to deny the Nats and send the Mets home triumphant, at least to the extent that pulling out a 9-8 win over the Nats to avert a sweep can be considered a triumph.

Really, they didn’t win so much as they survived. All wins count the same, but some come with mental asterisks. I tried to convince myself I regretted my unused ticket, but then I thought about what it would have been like high up in the Promenade, huddled in misery as C.J. Abrams skipped around the bases after a grand slam, instead of settling for muttering while sitting in the warmth of my mom’s living room. (She’s finishing up her first month as our neighbor in Brooklyn after leaving Virginia.) No, I decided, I’d made the right choice. Shivering in the LaGuardia flight path would have been terrible — and who knows, maybe the observer effect would have come into play, perhaps urging Lane Thomas along the proper route as Jeff McNeil‘s potential triple was still hanging in the air.

I know that’s insane, but when you go oh for a calendar year, you think about things like that.

It wasn’t all bad in Metdom, granted. Beyond the obvious fact that they won the damn thing, 9-8, Lucchesi looked useful if not as scintillating as he did in San Francisco; Brett Baty collected a homer among his three hits; and Starling Marte showed much-needed signs of life. Best of all, Pete Alonso — who’d spent Tuesday and Wednesday looking woebegone even by Unhappy Polar Bear standards — had a terrific at-bat in the eighth with Marte on third, one out and the Mets down by a run. Facing Thompson, Pete refused to go out of the strike zone when offered two very tempting sinkers, then got one over the plate and smacked it up the gap for a game-tying double. When out of sorts Alonso can be lured into slashing at balls he couldn’t hit with an oar, but that AB looked like the ones he’d been having before the team’s record scratch midway through the Giants series, and that’s a very good sign for Pete, the Mets and perhaps humanity.

I only wish I’d been there to … no, I actually don’t. Things turned out right with me a few miles away, I’m warm, and the Mets won. Good enough.

3 comments to But Maybe It’s Better Not to Burn the Barn in the First Place

  • Seth

    Even in April there are some games you just have to win. This was one of them, and the Mets just barely pulled it out.

  • open the gates

    There’s no such thing as a bad win. Period, full stop, end of story. Unless there’s an injury. Of course, some wins are less enjoyable than others, but I’ll take those wins too.

  • eric1973

    Stop the Presses!
    DeGrom pulled out of the game with an injury!

    On the otherhand, keep the presses going, and remove all exclamation points.
    Nothing to see here.