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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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Damn Good Days

Here’s a list of what I did Thursday during our week of vacation on Long Beach Island:

bike ride
hot dogs/beer
more beach
tuna steaks/prosecco
ice cream
end of a ballgame

That’s a pretty damn good day, one I felt absurdly lucky to get to enjoy. The ballgame was the last couple of innings of the Giants and the Cardinals at Birmingham’s Rickwood Field. Which I savored, from the Negro League throwback jerseys and the views of the field to Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick telling tales of Willie Mays and Satchel Paige. I missed both Reggie Jackson‘s searing account of being a young ballplayer in the Jim Crow south as well as FOX’s inning of retro play by play, but what I did see made for a lovely capper to the day.

The only flaw? No Mets game to watch. The team was off, traveling from Texas to Chicago to start a three-game set against the Cubs.

Enter Friday, which offered many of the same activities from Thursday’s list, but added an ingredient that will make any day better: first watching and then listening to the Mets beat the living shit out of the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Mets hadn’t enjoyed their first look at Shota Imanaga back on May 1, when he allowed them just three hits over seven innings at Citi Field. On Friday they had three runs against him before he recorded an out, thanks to a leadoff double by Francisco Lindor, a Brandon Nimmo walk and a J.D. Martinez home run.

Imanaga looked frankly shell-shocked, perhaps by his first experience of Wrigley on a summer day with the wind blowing out, though his fastball missing a couple of ticks on it was also probably part of the equation.

In the bottom of the first, a Mark Vientos error on a muffed double play let the Cubs get one of those runs back, and with Jose Quintana on the mound I braced myself for one of those 14-12 Wrigley slugfests. But Quintana pitched superbly, allowing nothing beyond that first-inning unearned run, while the Mets kept pummeling Imanaga, with Francisco Alvarez and Nimmo homering, J.D. doing more damage and Jose Iglesias winding up with four hits.

(In an odd turn of events, the game ended with Drew Smith fanning old friend and brand-new Cub Tomas Nido, while Joe Hudson was making his Mets debut behind the plate. Hudson was in there backing up Alvarez because Luis Torrens went on paternity leave; three weeks ago, if you’d given Nido a glimpse into this particular future … well, he would have had many questions.)

I greeted the pummeling of the Cubs with glee, which left my kid a little baffled and so required an explanation, namely that when I was a young baseball fan, the Mets’ primary rivals were the Cardinals and the Cubs, and of the two the Cubs were far more loathsome, which is probably something I picked up from having read every quickie paperback about the 1969 pennant race and World Series. All of them included Ron Santo‘s habit of clicking his heels, something nobody seems to do anymore but I have always deeply disapproved of as behavior only villains would indulge in.

It was the Cardinals and Cubs who left Young Jason frothing with rage, particularly the Cubs, and particularly the Cubs if the Mets were playing them at Wrigley. Few things were more painful than watching some luckless Met starter get strafed on a windy day before the baying Bleacher Creatures; few things were more delightful than watching the Mets administer a proper Wrigleyville beatdown to render those Bleacher Creatures first sullen and then absent.

Friday was a proper beatdown in every facet. And that made for a damn good day.

3 comments to Damn Good Days

  • Curt Emanuel

    “All of them included Ron Santo‘s habit of clicking his heels, something nobody seems to do anymore but I have always deeply disapproved of as behavior only villains would indulge in.”

    I remember Seaver’s book mentioning that and how he felt bad taking a pennant away from Ernie Banks, great about taking it from Santo.

    I was gonna run to Chicago and catch a game this weekend which I do most years when the Mets are in town. But most years it isn’t 95. Call me a weenie but 60+ year-old me’s gonna watch from my living room with AC. We’ll see what August is like when we play the White Sox.

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