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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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Helping Out the Mets

In the top of the first inning on Sunday afternoon, the Mets scored four runs, with Tyrone Taylor driving in two and Harrison Bader driving in two more. As soon as the third out was made, I called the visitors’ dugout in Miami. Bench coach John Gibbons answered. Gibby, I said, it’s Greg. Hi Greg, Gibby said, whatcha want, we’re kinda busy right now playing a ballgame. Yeah, Gibby, I said, that’s what this call is about. I know you guys have a nice lead and all, but you had a nice lead and all yesterday, on Saturday, and when the game was through nine, you didn’t have a lead, and when the game was over, you had a loss. So if you could tell the team to do more than just let these four runs sit alone on the scoreboard, I’d really appreciate it. Gibby said he’d see what he could do, he had to go, bye.

In the bottom of the first inning on Sunday afternoon, Sean Manaea took the hill, gave up a two-out double, but then got a grounder to end the inning. I called the visitors’ dugout again. Gibby answered. I asked him to put Sean on the phone. Gibby handed Sean the receiver. Hey Sean, I said, you don’t know me, but I watched yesterday’s game, with the lead getting away and everything, and I wanted to thank you for setting a tone in the bottom of the first by not giving up a run, please keep doing that, and also, as long as you don’t have to think about hitting, maybe remind your teammates to keep scoring runs, just to be on the safe side. Sean graciously thanked me for both my appreciation and my concern and said he would pass along my sentiments about further scoring. I have no reason to believe he didn’t, but the Mets didn’t score in the top of the second.

In the bottom of the second inning, Manaea allowed a two-run home run to Dane Myers, immediately halving the Mets’ lead to 4-2. I could see where this might be going, so I changed strategy and called the visitors’ bullpen in Miami and asked for Adam Ottavino. Otto, I said, this is Greg. What’s up, Greg, Otto asked me. Well, I told him, I know you’re generally not busy in the early innings so maybe you could get a message to Sean to settle down — I didn’t want to bother Sean anymore — and maybe tell the batters fans like me would be a lot calmer after Saturday if they could pour it on some more Sunday. Even though pouring it on didn’t ultimately help on Saturday, I explained, the more Met runs, the better, right Otto? Otto agreed, reminding me that he, too, has always valued certainty, and he’d certainly get right on it.

The Mets didn’t score in the top of the third, but Manaea didn’t give up another run. The same story for the top of the fourth, except with a couple of Marlin baserunners in the bottom of the fourth. As the fifth approached, I realized the Mets might need my help, so I called the dugout and asked for Brandon Nimmo. Brandon, I said, I know you’re about to lead off the inning, so I’ll be brief. I don’t like the pattern thus far: scoring in the first inning, then going silent, maybe you could do something about it, you and DJ and Tyrone, all due up here in the fifth. Brandon was brief but reassuring.

Nimmo, Stewart and Taylor all made outs, and the score remained Mets 4 Marlins 2 heading to the bottom of the fifth. I’m not sure Brandon totally got the gist of my meaning, so after Manaea got through the bottom of the fifth, I thought it best I go right to the manager. I called the visitors’ dugout, told Gibby I needed to talk to Mendy, and when Mendy got on, I was direct. Look, Mendy, I said, you can’t have two consecutive losses where you blow big leads, do something about it. Sean’s been OK through five, but he’s thrown 95 pitches, so I hope you have another pitcher ready for the bottom of the sixth. Also, please inform the lower portion of your order, all of whom are due up here in the top of the sixth, to make like they’re capable of hitting in the top of the order. Mendy told me he’s still kind of new at this, but he’ll try to process all this advice and have the team execute it. I said, Mendy, all I can do is ask. It was a pleasant conversation, even if only one single came out of it.

After Sean Reid-Foley pitched the bottom of the sixth, I figured I’d call the visitors’ dugout and congratulate him. I was surprised when Sean Manaea answered the phone. What’s up with that, I asked Manaea, I wanted Reid-Foley. Sean Manaea laughed and said this sometimes happens, what with two Seans on the team, and then you throw in that there’s a J.D. and a DJ, and a Bader and a Baty and a stream of Syracuse guys who come up for barely more than one game. Anyway, he went on, he was on his way to the shower and happened to be passing the phone, and when he heard it ring, he thought it might be important and, oh, the top of the seventh is about to start and he’s late for his shower and besides, they don’t really love us chatting away while the game is going on, thanks for calling, bye. I guess Sean Manaea really unwinds once he’s out of the game. I never got a chance to tell the other Sean he’d done well nor nudge the batters to put another run on the board. I worried that my lack of input might have an adverse effect on the remaining three innings.

Despite Francisco Lindor singling to begin the seventh, the Mets didn’t add to their total. Then Jake Diekman came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and gave up an immediate home run to Christian Bethancourt to make it 4-3. Once Diekman escaped the inning, I figured I needed to have a word with him, but in my dialing haste, I got the home dugout in Miami instead. Hi, I said, who’s this? Bethancourt here, the voice said. This was awkward. Oh, yeah, you…hey, that was quite a shot you hit there, um, try not to damage any palm trees the rest of the way. I chuckled and hung up. Talking to a Marlin can be a bit disconcerting, especially when it isn’t your intention. I didn’t tell him to do more damage, did I?

As I settled in to watch the eighth, there was a knock at my door. It was John Franco. John, I asked, what are you doing here? Franco said as an official Mets Ambassador, one of his duties is to visit nervous fans and try to get them to relax when those fans seem as if they could use a little soothing. He’d gotten word from Miami that I seemed particularly anxious and they sent him over. I said why you, John? I mean, no offense, but you’re the last person I could picture representing relaxation in the late innings of a Mets game. Franco kind of stared at me and said I had to be kidding, didn’t I know he held the all-time Mets saves record, that nobody ended more Met games ensuring a win than he did? Gosh, John, I said, I’d never thought of it that way.

John Franco and I watched the eighth and ninth together. We watched the Mets not score in top of the eighth and Reed Garrett not give up anything in the bottom of the eighth. When I instinctively picked up my phone to contact Garrett — I was gonna ask Reed to put Lindor on after — John gently removed it from my hand. Greg, he said, the guys know you want them to win. More importantly, they want to win. It might be most helpful if you could channel your encouragement to general enthusiastic cheers, whether at the ballpark or following from home. It really helps them concentrate if you aren’t spreading your anxiety the way fans like you tend to do. You recognize my voice from me yelling at you, John, don’t you? Franco laughed. I’m just glad you didn’t have a cell phone in 1998, he said.

In the top of the ninth, the Mets finally added more runs to the four they scored in the first inning. Brandon whacked a two-run homer to make it 6-3. Hey, John, I said, I basically told Brandon to do that, many innings ago. That’s great, Greg, John said. Brett Baty added an RBI single. I hadn’t spoken to Brett. I kept that to myself.

In the bottom of the ninth, with a four-run lead of 7-3, I can’t say I totally relaxed, but I decided to trust Garrett and the defense. Sure enough, the Marlins went down without much of a fight and the Mets won. John Franco shook my hand and departed. I was glad I could be of so much help.

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