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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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Baby Mets Monitor

I was in Boston this weekend for my niece’s med-school graduation, which meant the Mets took a back seat to family doings. But not much of a back seat, seeing how it was me and all — the Mets went about their business in my ear, via GameDay and my watch face, on my phone in a ceremonial tent, and finally right there on an honest-to-goodness TV as I urged them to hurry.

Friday night’s game was the most catch as can catch — I was dining solo when a friend couldn’t make it last minute, and confined myself to a couple of peeks at the score while at the restaurant, with those couple of peeks suggesting I might have picked the right game to miss. But after dinner I put on MLB Audio and let Howie and Keith narrate for me from down around my hip. (Forgot my damn AirPods.) I heard Brett Baty homer to make things a little closer (following the lead of fellow Baby Met Francisco Alvarez), then heard Dominic Leone get into trouble and Stephen Nogosek seem to get out of it — except I’d turned off the game to catch up with my brother-in-law and his sister and when I looked at my phone again, the roof had caved in on Nogosek, with the Mets’ two-run deficit having doubled to four.

Except then the next peek showed that 7-3 had somehow become 7-7. For the 10th I propped my phone up and let GameDay do its thing, which was to bring grim and apparently fatal tidings, followed by miraculously good ones. Mark Vientos! Eduardo Escobar! Alvarez! Brandon Nimmo! And then Francisco Lindor, that former Cleveland baseball ambassador, now spreading the good news about the game in a new town. The Mets had won, I allowed myself a few boozy fist pumps, and then hoped I had enough battery life left to get a Lyft. (Nah, but it was a nice night, so I walked and thought good thoughts about the Mets.)

Saturday’s washout left me as your double chronicler for Sunday, an uncertain business given that Sunday was Graduation Day. The first half of the game went by largely without me, though a couple of phone peeks were enough to reveal the sigh-of-relief news that Max Scherzer was pitching well. I was sitting in the tent when GameDay offered grimmer tidings: Adam Ottavino had spat the bit, allowing a 3-0 Met lead to become a 4-3 grumblethon.

Which was when I remembered that I could watch since I was out of the Mets’ blackout zone. We were still in the milling around/parents awkwardly marking saved seats portion of Graduation Day, so why not? I was watching using my cell signal, so the video was variable to say the least: crystal-clear one moment, like looking through the murkiest pixel fog the next. (Plus I had no sound — forgot the damn AirPods again.) The video was in one of its fogged-in periods at the critical moment, but I’ve watched enough baseball to learn the visual language of production trucks: A blocky Starling Marte swung, the pitcher looked up through the blurriness, the camera switched to a wide shot of the outfield wall, and I stomped my feet happily in the grass. David Robertson came on, worked around a spot of bother and the game ended with a harmless fly to Marte — just in time, as it happened, for the pomp and circumstance to begin.

The second game begins with a confession: I don’t much like any of the changes to baseball instituted by Rob Manfred and his merry band of MBAs, ranking them somewhere on the spectrum between unnecessary and insulting to reason. But I was looking back and forth from the Mets’ scheduled start time to the 9:20 boarding time for my flight back to New York and wondering if I might be able to pull this off. The game wouldn’t be over by the time I got on the plane, but when you added the time needed for passengers to screw up stowing their luggage and get told to put away their laptops and if I accidentally on purpose ignored the Airplane Mode announcement … well, it was possible I’d hear the final out before wheels up and so not spend the flight in a state of anticipation and ridiculous hunting for auguries. (Do those scudding clouds look a little like Nimmo diving for a ball? What does that mean?)

I listened at first, feeling for Howie when the inevitable happened and he transposed the names belonging to Justin Verlander and Shane Bieber to suggest a certain pop star had a new career. (S. Bieber is certainly handsome enough to be a teen idol, so why not?) I heard the sound made by Jose Ramirez’s bat connecting with a ball in the first inning and so wasn’t particularly surprised by word that said ball had landed basically on Mars. But after that Verlander was brisk and relentless, sending Guardians away from the plate after the briefest of interactions.

The problem was that Bieber was also brisk and relentless — here was an old-fashioned duel of aces, and never mind the bigger bases and limited disengagements and not allowing fielders to play where charts tell them makes sense to play. The game was half-done by the time I settled into the Delta Sky Club and asked the bartender if he could turn on ESPN.

I was just in time to see Lindor get the Mets even with a golf shot of a homer, and from there I let the game unfold visually across the room without sound. The Mets had tied it, with Verlander going eight innings — a sight both wonderful and unexpected given his new team’s rotation woes.

Tied it, but my boarding time had gone from “still a ways away” to “awfully soon now.” Then Alvarez singled off Bieber — our fireplug catcher seems to be in the middle of everything, doesn’t he? — and turned into Marte, who in rapid succession survived a near-pickoff and then scampered to third on a little cue shot through the infield by Lindor. Jeff McNeil brought Marte home on a sac fly, with Brooks Raley coming in for the save — and my 9:20 boarding time now just a few minutes away.

Raley turned a nifty play to spoil Steven Kwan’s bunt attempt, and on just a single pitch, no less — I thanked him for both. But then he hit Amed Rosario, bringing up Ramirez and his by now lengthy track record of damage. It was 9:18. My boarding time was in peril, but larger things were too.

Ramirez hit the second pitch of the AB — and just the fifth of the inning — directly at Lindor for the old tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. The Mets had won in a little more than two hours, which I’ll grudgingly note might of had something to do with Manfredball. I grabbed my bags and walked downstairs and straight onto the plane with a certain spring in my step.

And why not? The Mets, seemingly dead after following their three-week brownout with an opening loss to the Rays, have now won five straight, all of them one-run decisions. They’ve done it thanks to precocious play from the celebrated Baby Mets but also with contributions from wise old heads — it was Alonso and Lindor and Marte and Scherzer and Verlander who came up big against the Guardians.

I don’t know what it portends — this season has been decidedly peculiar, with the Mets either looking unstoppable or unbearable. But all of a sudden they look once again like the team that was so much fun in the spring and summer of 2022. GameDay graphics, audio burbling away in my pocket, murky cell video, an actual television — if they keep playing like this, I’ll find a way to accompany them.

4 comments to Baby Mets Monitor

  • Bob

    It’s just the “Amazin’ (Baby) Mets!”

    By the way-you noted you “forgot ear buds..”several times.
    You’ll find as you age, the one thing you remember, is to forget.
    I’m sure Casey would have a better way to say that.
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Steve

    I really enjoy Jason’s recaps when he is on the road. We’ve all been there right, but it’s not a story that is ever told.

    I almost missed my flight out of LGA on Thursday because I was watching the game at home (should have just gone to Citi in retrospect) and spent the weekend catching bits and pieces of the series in various bars, restaurants, parks, cars, and even a bit from the comfort of my hotel room. Oy.

  • open the gates

    You guys are reminding me of when I was about to leave for Israel for my gap year. I was watching the Mets for the last time all year (no international cable access back then), and they were losing by four runs, and I was a little despondent. My dad told me to turn off the TV, we had to get to the airport. Just then, Kelvin Chapman of all people hit a grand slam to tie up the game. “OK,” I said, “now I can come.”