The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

One (Maybe) Gets Out of Here Alive

It took ten innings, but the Mets made the Padres look like the Mets while preventing the Padres from making the Mets look like the Padres. This is to say the East Coast version of the Padres beat the West Coast version of the Mets, 7-5, in extras.

If I wasn’t following one of these teams closely, I’d have a hard time telling them apart, save for the one I don’t follow closely dressing for Cinco de Mayo on the Seventh of July. The San Diego Padres have a lot of highly reputationed players who, together, I assume would be unstoppable, but have instead been quite halting. I recognize that formula. It’s the one executed to a tee until very recently by the New York Mets. To those with no particular stake in the success of either ballclub, the Padres and Mets are two overpriced peas in an underachieving pod.

On Friday night at Petco Park, they both met the enemy and, at various junctures, it was them. The Mets did their chances of extending their winning streak to six no favors early, playing shaky defense and undermining a not altogether sharp Justin Verlander. Verlander hung in there for six innings, and the Mets stayed close, despite adamantly keeping many of their own runners on base. A 3-1 deficit closed to 3-2 when would-be injury replacement All-Star reserve shortstop Francisco Lindor stayed scalding, homering off traditional Met tormentor Yu Darvish. In the fifth, more Lindor magic was at hand: a walk, a steal, an advance on a grounder, and a run when Daniel Vogelbach singled him in.

The game that bent but never broke maintained a sense of warpedness thereafter. A definitive breaking point was avoided in the home seventh when Ha-Seong Kim violated the cardinal rule of not making any of the outs of an inning at third. Tim McCarver drilled into me the verboten nature of first outs and third outs, but Kim, steaming past second on his ball down the left field line and then getting thrown out by a sneaky casual (or perhaps just casual yet lucky) Tommy Pham at third didn’t speak well for making the second out of an inning at third. When Brooks Raley gave up a bases-empty double to Juan Soto an instant later, one that theoretically would have scored Kim from second base had Kim stayed put, well, I kind of got what’s been plaguing the Padres all season.

They’ve been the Mets. Or what the Mets were some of April, much of May and all of June. It’s July. The Mets are something else this month.

Adam Ottavino, the personification of a green light, turned an eighth-inning two-out walk into a double when he didn’t hold Jake Cronenworth on first in the eighth. Cronenworth isn’t some privileged character in that regard. Otto holds no runner on, so against Adam, the cardinal rule is you won’t make any out of the inning at second. Old Fleeting Acquaintance™ Gary Sanchez proceeded to loft a fly ball to what appeared a little too deep left field, but instead of landing in the stands and unleashing countless “how did we ever let Gary Sanchez go?” recriminations, it fell into the glove of the proprietor of Pham’s Corner, no actual or narrative harm done.

The top of the ninth provided an opportunity for a continuation of elation or a resurgence in cynicism. Here came Lindor singling and stealing (with a little tag-averting flourish that would have made his buddy Javy Baez proud). Here came the Polar Bear walking, which in the city that houses the San Diego Zoo, probably didn’t seem too remarkable. Here came Vogey, who has been promoted back to his previous rank of endearing nickname based on his three hits — two of the infield variety — walking as well. Here came DJ Stewart to pinch-run for Vogey, because now the bases were loaded, and the Mets were grinding, and you knew they were ready to make things happen.

Too ready, apparently, was Starling Marte, who, rather than grind wild reliever Nick Martinez, tapped back to said pitcher, who began one of the most easily executed 1-2-3 DPs you’ll ever see. The Mets were very much the Padres in that moment, or just the Mets as we had known them for half-a-year. Visions of Drew Smith trudging off the mound after surrendering the game-losing home run in the bottom of the ninth filled my sleepy head, for a Met pitcher meeting misfortune in San Diego is inevitably typed onto the West Coast itinerary.

Good thing Drew packed an eraser. Not only did he not give up the run that would have called it a night, he got the last out versus Juan Soto, who must have been thinking, “Don’t I always beat these guys?” That meant extra innings were at hand, which meant Starling Marte would be granted second base to start, because the guy who kills a ninth-inning rally is on second to start the tenth in Rob Manfred’s sick, sad world. Sadder, still, is as soon as the ninth ended, I was totally aware Marte would be the automatic runner, maybe the first time since this abomination of a get-it-over-with rule was implemented in 2020 that I’ve factored the guy on second into my thinking rather than being surprised to spot a figure in the middle of the diamond who isn’t a fielder when the tenth dawns. I was proud of myself a few drowsy innings earlier when, during a Gary & Ron conversation about the Padres releasing Nelson Cruz, I thought, “maybe an American League team needs a DH,” before remembering, crap, that isn’t a thing anymore.

Just as I have reluctantly adapted to rooting for the Vogeys of the Mets to hit well when they’re so designated (and before they’re run for) rather than continually cursing out the existence of the Vogelbach role, I accept that there’s a man on second who shouldn’t be there and root for him to be a man crossing home plate. That rooting was rewarded in the top of the tenth when leadoff hitter and erstwhile champion of batting Jeff McNeil found Tom Cosgrove’s first pitch to his liking and swung. We were against first-pitch swinging when Marte did it in the ninth, and we are against Marte being on second to start the tenth on principle, but we do what we can to survive the late West Coast night and we cheer it when it happens. McNeil’s swing became a double. Marte’s phantom presence on second became a genuine run. Two pitches later, Francisco Alvarez — 4-for-5 — knocked in McNeil, and after a few more machinations that included the entry of Padre reliever Brent Honeywell (name presumably on loan from CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful), Francisco Lindor — 3-for-5 — accounted for two more RBIs.

If our Franciscos hit so well in San Diego, imagine what the Mets could have done in San Francisco had they ever had Diego Segui.

The 7-3 lead entrusted to David Robertson in the bottom of the tenth wasn’t a save situation statistically. Spiritually, classic closing was in order once his second batter, Manny Machado, socked a two-run homer; one was out, but Soto was on second base for the same dim reason Marte was on second base in the top of the tenth. Robbie, still worthy of his endearing nickname, bore down to get the next two outs, make for a festive Siete de Julio and preserve the 7-5 win in the opener of a series that has me thinking of the Repus Bowl. Unless you were living in Tampa in the fall of 1983, you wouldn’t recognize that appellation. See, Tampa was getting Super Bowl XVIII in January of 1984, and there was unhinged preseason speculation in the Bay Area that the hometown Buccaneers might not just host but play. Except the Bucs, who’d actually been pretty good for a few years, completely fell apart, and were 1-11 heading into a late-November Tampa Stadium showdown versus the similarly dreadful 1-11 Houston Oilers. The Tampa Tribune took great delight in referring to the matchup as Repus Bowl I.

Repus. Opposite of Super. For Tampa, it was hilarious.

The Mets taking on the Padres doesn’t exactly constitute a replay of 1983 Bucs vs. 1983 Oilers, and one shouldn’t mistake it for the next Royals-A’s tilt, yet this best-of-three series below the surface of obvious contention does feel as if it carries an elimination component to it. It’s less another rematch of last fall’s dratted NLWCS than a potential last chance for the winner to maintain, at the very least, false hope in the second half. By virtue of winning six straight, the Mets have bolted to the top of the pretenders’ section of the Wild Card standings. We’re actually ahead of some teams for a change. We’re not really close to the cadre of clubs that a nonaligned observer would believe are the only National League teams legitimately angling for playoff positioning, but for the first time in a while, we’re not behind practically everybody who isn’t absolutely awful. Escaping San Diego with that kind of edge allows us to string ourselves along for the four off-days that follow Sunday’s series finale and anticipate the Mets’ next set of games somewhat seriously. In the realm of there being no “must” wins in early July, nothing could be less must than Game 88 when you’re a bunch of games under .500 and your opponent is a bunch of games under .500, and neither you nor your opponent is situated in the American League Central.

Yet Friday night in San Diego was a game the Mets absolutely could not lose. Nor could the Padres. But the Padres did and are materially worse off for it, meaning the Mets are materially better off for it. It could all amount to a hill of beans for both teams by the time either of them plays a hundredth game. It probably will.

But the East Coast version of them did indeed defeat the West Coast version of us, which is to say if we can win another game today or tomorrow, we can kind of put them behind us and entertain ourselves with notions of making up ground on the next tier of teams. It’s not much, but after the way our team has played for so long, it wouldn’t be repus.

8 comments to One (Maybe) Gets Out of Here Alive

  • Guy K

    The top of the 10th inning confirmed one thing last night: Gary Sanchez is still the worst receiver of pitches (i.e., “catcher”) in baseball. Both of the “wild pitches” in the 10th should have been scored passed balls, and Sanchez, as Yankees fans know all too well, really showed only a cursory interest in keeping them from skittering to the backstop.

    I will never regret the Mets not holding on to him.

  • Seth

    It’s true, the Mets aren’t the only team that’s disappointed this year. Then there are a few teams that have exceeded expectations. An interesting year. Unfortunately it’s too late for the Mets’ division hopes, so it’s now just a wildcard race. Hope they can keep it up. Despite the winning streak, they’ve made no gains in the division standings.

  • Joe D

    It is cringeworthy having Gary Sánchez on your roster.

    I’m embarrassed we signed him, but thankfully it was 3 downs and punt.

  • eric1973

    Boy oh boy, did Pham get lucky, dithering with the ball until he finally decided to throw it in.
    The runner would have been safe if he did not come off the base and then SD had challenged.

    And nothing more annoying than the announcers saying, after the following guy gets a hit, boy was that previously play important. Truth is, the entire next at-bat, regarding pitches called and pitch location, would have been entirely different.

    In other words, what happened directly after would not have happened directly after.

    Got that, insufferable Gary Cohen?

  • Bruce From Forest Hills

    50 years ago today —

    The 1973 Mets were 8 games under .500. 12 1/2 games behind their only possible playoff spot. 5 teams were ahead of them.

    The 2023 Mets are 4 games under .500. 6 games behind their only viable playoff spot. 3 teams are ahead of them.

    If the 2023 Mets continue to oscillate this way all summer, I can send you e-mails like this all summer. But I’ll leave that to others.

    For all the number crunching. For all the comparables in both time and players. For the torrent of words from you that I have cheerfully consumed for all these years — it all comes down to this.

    They’re the Amazin’ Mets. Ya Gotta Believe.

  • […] One (Maybe) Gets Out of Here Alive »    […]

  • […] you were beginning to worry that the All-Star break would impede the Mets’ gathering momentum for a push toward playoff contention, rest easy this week. There is no momentum. There will be no […]

  • I will try to believe in the 2nd half. But the 82 wins in ’73 ain’t gonna cut it now. Can they go 46-26 to get to 88 wins for the last wild card? 23-13 twice in a row? With 7 games left vs the Braves? While everyone ahead of them plays each other, so someone else always wins? Just hoping for some thrills from the baby Mets along the way.