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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
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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If you’re a fan of a bad football team, it’s possible that you’ll spend an entire season of Sundays without a win — an entire season without a single day of smiling or feeling a spring in your step.

Happily, that can’t happen in baseball. Even if your team is awful, you’re guaranteed 50 or so days of joy. And a least a few of those wins will be the happiest variety of all. They’ll be laughers.

When things are going well, a laugher is like a benediction from the baseball gods: Yes, you really are that good. When things are going so-so, a laugher suggests the great possibilities inherent in your team, if only the players would bear down or fortune would smile. When things are going badly, a laugher is a respite from the dismay — a day in which you can exhale and not take it all so hard.

It’s not clear whether the Mets are one of the so-so teams or one of the bad ones, but they pretty obviously needed a laugher, and Steven Matz and the Dodgers delivered, supplying an 8-0 victory and a series win. A series win on the road, in fact. On the road and on the other side of the world, in fact. Will wonders never cease?

Young Matz doesn’t know anything except laughers. He’s never appeared in a game he hasn’t won. He’s never appeared in a game in which the Mets have scored less than seven runs. He’s never appeared in a game and failed to collect an RBI. He’s never appeared in a game that wasn’t worthy of paroxysms of joy from his grandfather.

The 999th Met in club history — a prelude to a milestone I was happy to hear trumpeted on Twitter and WOR today — isn’t blind. He knows perfectly well that the Mets don’t normally score seven runs in a week, and that pitchers don’t key the offensive attack most days. But Matz is old enough to also know that baseball is a cruel game, one in which bad luck will undo preparation and the virtuous often go unrewarded.

In other words, he knows this won’t last. Not because of any flaw in his makeup or any lack of talent, but because it never does.

Which means he also probably knows that you laugh while you can.

Perfection's Discontents

The 2015 Mets have settled on an interesting formula for trying to win ballgames:

1) Ask your young starting pitcher to be perfect.
2) Hope to score a run, or maybe two if feeling saucy.
3) Pray nothing goes wrong defensively.

It worked last night, as Noah Syndergaard pitched one of the best games of his downy career. But it didn’t work tonight, and it won’t work most nights.

You could squint a bit and find positives in tonight’s game. Matt Harvey reported for duty to find his fastball AWOL — he couldn’t control the pitch all night and wound up walking five and running his pitch count to 100 over five innings. Not a line to text Mom about, but Harvey did a pretty nice job improvising, a lesson every young pitcher has to learn sooner or later. He reprioritized, showed the Dodgers a mix of offspeed stuff, and departing having allowed only three runs.

Three runs, alas, is more than what the Mets’ offense can match most nights. The team fought back with a flurry of offense in the eighth and ninth, drawing to within 4-3, but Curtis Granderson struck out against J.P. Howell to end it.

(Sign of age: I briefly confused J.P. Howell with Jay Howell before realizing the Mets’ tangle with that Howell came a shocking 27 years ago. Christ I’m old.)

As usual with a Mets loss, that one-run deficit at the end left us examining plays not made — tonight, the grumbling was over the ball hit by Alberto Callaspo with one out in the 7th and runners on the corners.

Alex Torres tried to spear the ball as it bounced by him, then Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores got in each other’s airspace near second. The ball ticked off the end of Flores’s glove and wound up as a run-scoring infield hit.

It wasn’t a grotesque flub or ruled an error — in fact, whether gloved by Torres or Flores, it would have been a mildly nice play that brought an appreciative fist pump. But it was a play not made, and enough to beat the Mets.

Most nights, something like that is.

Thor The Win

When you can’t hit water even after you fall out of a dinghy, then does it really matter who’s rowing ashore to presumably shut you down? Sure, Clayton Kershaw has been all-world for a half-decade and the Mets traditionally maintain a safe enough distance from the Cy Young and MVP award winner so as to never dare touch him, but of late, how many pitchers without such dazzling credentials have floated high above the reach of the Flushing Lumber Company?

Basically, all of them.

So, perversely, it was “Bring on Clayton Kershaw!” Friday night, because if we’re gonna have no chance against anybody, we might as well take our chances against the nominal best. And, son of a gun, the chances paid off, as the Mets’ water pistol offense squirted just enough hits around the drought-deprived Dodger Stadium lawn to grow two runs, or one more than spritzed by them.

This is to say the Mets won. They appeared to have done so almost accidentally, but accidents happen: happy accidents, happy recaps, happy Thorth of July!

The secret weapon the Mets resorted to in neutralizing Kershaw — who pitches baseballs better than he does sandwiches — was an opposite number worthy of the role. While Kershaw represented a formidable foe for our guys, Noah Syndergaard was no trip to Picnic City for the Dodgers.

Neither starter was extraordinarily sharp (Kershaw 2015 isn’t quite as upper-echelon as Kershaw most of his preceding life), but they each bore down when they had to, choking off potential rallies and allowing only a run apiece. Each man got tougher as the stakes grew higher. It’s what aces do. The world knows Kershaw is an ace. The world is learning Syndergaard soon will be one.

Noah’s single run permitted was on a long fly ball that traveled over the fence via the bat of Adrian Gonzalez. Tough break, that solo homer in the second, the kind of break that likely sent many an East Coaster to bed. The Mets were down, 1-0; what was the point of struggling to stay awake? Yet that was it in terms of scoring from a Dodger standpoint. Two ensuing threats went nowhere. Syndergaard put Gonzalez away at key moments, giving the bleary-eyed viewer the clear-eyed idea that the kid really learns as he goes.

The Met scoring attack didn’t seem terribly convincing, but a little luck carried two runs home, one in the fourth, one in the ninth. The latter came after Kershaw departed. It was mostly a matter of Mets making contact and balls finding holes, but given that every line drive hit in the Cub series landed in a Chicagoan’s glove, let’s hear it for holes, save for the ones in Lucas Duda’s swing. Then again, let’s hear it for Lucas Duda’s glove, which emerged as an asset in the fourth, just as Justin Turner seemed poised to add an addendum to a spate of “why did we let him go, again?” stories?

The win went to Hansel Robles, the save to Jeurys Familia, but the all-important Nice Job goes to Syndergaard. He could have fielded his position a little more attentively, but otherwise he was the primary reason the Mets hung in against Kershaw. All those outings when a Mets ace (we’re on the verge of having at least three) has to suck up a no-decision that turns into a team loss because the lineup is a no-win zone obscure how much pitching is keeping this team in games. Don’t take it for M. Donald Granted. When it’s good, it’s uncommonly good. And it’s good more often than not.

At the halfway point of the season, the Mets are statistically good more often than not, if just barely, at 41-40. Their shortcomings are familiar and don’t need to be catalogued at the moment. Their glaring strength is something to behold. You know that feeling of dread because Kershaw is Friday and Greinke is Saturday (putting aside that every opposing pitcher looks like Denton True Young to this team)? On the other side of the divide, whoever we’re playing, their fans are groaning, too. On Friday, it’s Syndergaard. On Saturday, it’s Harvey. On Sunday, it’s that rookie who’s supposed to be in their class. At least we miss deGrom.

Let’s hope that dreading Met pitching becomes an industrywide phenomenon. At the same time, let us not fear who lies ahead for us. When Friday night’s 2-1 win went final, I flashed back to a stretch in May 2004 when the Mets were mostly dismal but now and then showing a pulse. They were on their way to Arizona and Houston where in five consecutive games they’d be facing Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. The smart money insisted you could go ahead and chalk up an 0-5 in advance.

The Mets won four of those matchups, losing only to Pettitte, who was good, not great, on his night, but the Mets got themselves buried early because they were trotting out journeyman James Baldwin, who a) hadn’t won a game since 2002; and b) would never start again in the majors. Eleven years later, you’ll notice the Mets are no longer signing end-of-the-line starters on spec. They’re also not coming up with any external help on the hitting end of things, but to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin’s advice to John Adams in the runup to this date in 1776, “First things first, John. Pitching; competitiveness. If we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?”

Actually, it is our fervent hope that a little rest will make a great deal of difference to a great announcer and at least occasional reader of this blog. Our best to Howie Rose, who is necessarily abstaining from this road trip, courteously. You know, Ben Franklin told Judge Wilson in the climactic scene from the musical my wife and I will later today be watching together for the 25th consecutive Independence Day, “Every mapmaker in the world is waiting for your decision.” In that spirit of ’76, every firm that prints ledgers into which the results of baseball games are entered is waiting for Howie to return to the air.

Otherwise, who will inform them it is appropriate to put it in the books?

The Stuff of Urban Legend

“I’m tellin’ ya, I seen it.”
“You lie.”

“I do no such thing. As God is my witness, I seen it.”
“Ya couldn’ta seen it, ’cause it never happened.”

“It happened.”
“You are a blasphemin’ devil to spread such nonsense.”

“I speak only the truth.”
“The truth is it never happened.”

“Doubt me all ya want, but these two eyes seen it.”
“Not the ‘two eyes’ testimony again.”

“These two eyes, on a warm July day…”
“Ya sure? Ya sure it was July? Why not say it was December? It’s just as likely.”

“These two eyes, on a warm July day, situated almost directly behind home plate…”
“I can’t take it anymore.”

“You will take it, for you have questioned my honor, my recollection and the historical record.”
“History? History? There is nothing in history that reflects what you say you seen ever having happened.”

“What if I could produce a document that affirms my testimony? What if I could produce witnesses?”
“I would say you are clever but dishonest, for it defies all we know about the nature of the beast. The nature of the beast is plain. The nature of the beast was to stand and swing and miss and sit.”

“But not this day. Not on this one occasion.”
“This ‘magical occasion’ of yours eludes common sense!”

“This world rises and falls on the uncommon occasion, and this, I tell ya, was a most uncommon occasion.”
“I am in no mood to indulge your flights of imagination.”

“There is no imagination. There is only what transpired. These two eyes, on a warm July day, situated almost directly behind home plate know what they seen.”
“If those two eyes seen what you swear they seen, then those two eyes were closed.”

“They were open, I tell ya. It is your mind that is closed to the reality of the happenstance.”
“You might consider realigning your storytelling. Reality is not your strong suit.”

“Your insults will not prevent me from knowing what I know, telling what I know. And I will tell it until my dying breath.”
“Which can’t come soon enough.”

“Insult. Mock. Go on. I have the truth on my side. I have these two eyes, from that warm July day, situated almost directly behind home plate — and these two eyes seen what they seen.”
“They seen an illusion.”

“NO! They seen the Mets score a run!”

“Preposterous, perhaps. Improbable, for sure. But it was as possible as the day is long.”
“You’re the one who goes on too long.”

“It was a warm July day. I was situated almost directly behind home plate. It was the home third inning. There was an out…”
“I believe that.”

“Then that shaggy fella with the small letter to start his last name, he doubled.”
“This is where your fabrication drives me to distraction. You invent these ridiculous characters.”

“He was very real and very able.”
“And he pitched, right?”

“That he did.”
“He pitched and he doubled.”

“Yes. These pitchers could do that. They were permitted to try and they often succeeded. Not all the time, but these Mets pitchers could hit.”
“The Mets couldn’t hit.”

“It was the Mets’ position players who couldn’t hit.”
“Yet somehow you’d have me believe the Mets’ pitchers — the pitchers — generated what little hitting the Mets did have.”

“I wouldn’t have you believe that. The facts would.”
“Facts are very selective when you spout them.”

“Where was I? Oh yes, the shaggy fella with the small letter to start his last name doubled. And he was bunted over to third.”
“The Mets couldn’t bunt. When they attempted to do so, multiple outs occurred.”

“I understand your confusion. Mets who tried to bunt with a runner on third couldn’t…”
“The Mets didn’t have runners on third.”

“They didn’t often, but on this occasion, they did, after the bunt.”
“Of course they did. Whatever you say.”

“Your condescending tone notwithstanding, the Mets had a runner on third with two out.”
“And then there were three outs.”

“Normally, yes. But not in this instance. In this instance, a mighty swing resulted in a ball that bounced over the outfield fence.”
“Because, according to you, a Met hit a fair ball that wasn’t caught.”

“Because, according to what happened, a Met hit a ball that wasn’t caught. I am merely the conduit for this information.”
“According to your ‘information,’ a Met hit a ball that by ground rule turned into a double, thereby driving that runner on first…”

“Oh, pardon me. The runner on THIRD scored when the other Met landed on…was it second?”

“Yes. Man on third, two out, ground-rule double.”
“And the Mets scored a run.”

“And the Mets scored a run.”

“Calm down.”

“I shall not calm down! It was in the bottom of the third inning on a warm day in July. I seen it with my own two eyes. I sat almost directly behind home plate and I seen the runner’s foot touch it and cross it. I seen a zero transform as if by black magic into a ‘1’ on the scoreboard. Grown men wept. Grown women fell to their knees in prayers of thanksgiving. Children who had never fully comprehended the purpose of home plate shrieked in astounded fashion. Raucous celebrations ensued. Ice cream was distributed without charge to all. A national holiday was observed the very next day.”
“I have grown exhausted from your fables. The next thing you’re going to tell me is that the Mets, having accomplished this unprecedented feat, went on to prevail in their baseball game by scoring more runs than their opposition.”

“What? No, don’t be silly. The Mets lost. The Mets always lost. Ya thought they could have won? Geez, you’re crazy.”

Panic Would Be an Improvement

There are worst things than living in Panic City. You could be stuck with an address in Disgust Township or Despair Junction or Apathy Falls.

All three of those sad little burgs would have been a suitable location for the wretched parody of baseball that the Mets and Cubs inflicted on defenseless fans for 11 embarrassing innings tonight.

The Cubs have won two in a row in the series (and eight straight against the Mets), but they didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory tonight either. They were awful against Bartolo Colon and a parade of relievers and extended the game largely because of the timidity of third-base coach Gary Jones, last seen being hauled out of camera range for a conversation with Joe Maddon that I don’t think Jones particularly enjoyed.

But while the Cubs looked somnambulant, that’s better than unbelievably awful, which would be a kind description of the Mets during a game in which I stopped throwing my hands in the air because I got too tired.

Besides the nonexistent hitting, led by a hopelessly lost and completely unprotected Lucas Duda, the Mets alternated not executing with executing stupid plays. Which was more aggravating, Darrell Ceciliani‘s failure to execute a suicide squeeze or Ruben Tejada doing his damnedest to get himself and Daniel Murphy called out for sharing occupancy of third?

Murph chipped in by blowing a tag play on Anthony Rizzo at third, Wilmer Flores and Duda flubbed a critical attempt at a double play … the list goes on and on.

As the final batter, Kevin Plawecki actually had a chance to give the Mets a lead with an extra-base hit, and had just witnessed Justin Grimm‘s utter inability to throw his curve for a strike. So Plawecki stared at consecutive fastballs that caught a lot of plate. Three pitches later he was caught looking at a curve that actually broke where it was supposed to, and a miserable game came to a merciful conclusion.

Terry Collins — who at this rate will soon be conducting his postgame interviews from Bellevue — muttered vaguely about shaking up the lineup tomorrow. That won’t work — in part because lineup construction means basically nothing, but mostly because because the Mets’ problem isn’t which lineup spots players are hitting in, but which players are available to hit in those spots.

Until something a lot more significant than the lineup changes, expect more of what we’ve been seeing — good performances from starting pitchers going for naught because of some combination of inept hitting, faulty defense and mental mistakes. So when will something change? Sorry, here in Apathy Falls our crystal balls have all gone cloudy. Maybe you could check with our neighbors up in Panic City.

Bats Minus Matz? Rats!

Let’s hear more about Steven Matz. Let’s see more of his delighted grandpa. Let’s get another look at his delightful sandwich. Let’s relive those three hits from Sunday, which is as many as Steven Matz’s teammates collected without his help Tuesday. Let us tally up his four runs batted in, roughly four more than Mets not named Matz batted in last night.

Steven Matz is in a six-man rotation, but he needs to be in our lives every single day to remind us there is good in this world.

Little good came of the Mets’ first post-Matz game despite a few positive developments at Citi Field. Daniel Murphy came back to play a professional third base; Wilmer Flores continued to reacclimate at second; and the pitcher who isn’t a young flamethrower and isn’t an ancient wonder pitched about as well as he is capable of pitching. That’s actually three good things.

Alas, it amounted to bupkes, as the Mets fell to the Cubs, 1-0. “Fell” might not be the right word. More like the Cubs scored a run and the Mets found awesome seats on StubHub from which to view it.

Jon Niese is in Jim McAndrew mode these days, pitching well enough to lead any team that isn’t the 1968 or 2015 Mets to victory. He made one questionable call as a fielder, threw one unfortunate pitch as a pitcher and would make a nice addition to the staff of a contender who would be willing to send Sandy Alderson a position player of an offensive caliber anywhere above moribund. No reasonable inquiry will be rejected out of hand.

The Cubs are supposedly interested in Niese. The Dodgers are supposedly interested in Niese. It’s convenient that they are our respective current and next opponents. There’s all kinds of Mets who can be dropped off with Jonathon if so desired. Please give them a good home. Please give us a live bat.

We seem to be competing with the Cubs for a Wild Card. Glad we’re not competing with them for a Pepsodent ad. Joe Maddon is all smiles, bringing in magicians and waxing nostalgic for Lindsey Nelson. Terry Collins is scowling his face off and having his press briefings bleeped. Nobody except a few of his pitchers can hit for him and now Michael Cuddyer has a sore knee. Cuddyer has contributed mightily to the Mets’ offensive drought. But without him…actually, I don’t think it will make a darn bit of difference if Cuddyer isn’t playing, but in theory this isn’t good. My impulse would be to DL him if his MRI shows anything (and by “anything,” I mean if he’s still alive) and give Michael Conforto an audition, in the same Double-A spirit that they gave Dilson Herrera a shot late last summer. The worst that can happen is a few weeks of service time will accumulate and Conforto might be a free agent in the year 2524 instead of 2525.

Unless they’re gonna use Niese to wrangle a sentient left fielder from another organization, what’s the non-Cuddyer alternative? Eric Campbell displaying more of his trademark versatility? Logistic wizardry to return Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the 40-man? Handing Matz a fielder’s glove and pointing him in the general direction of the Acela Club?

Hey, now we’re talking!

Game of Jones

Your correspondent, taking a whirl at Beating the Booth, for fun and self-flagellation.

Your correspondent, taking a whirl at Beating the Booth, for fun and self-flagellation.

Beat the Booth, the thoroughly Metted game show that pairs Howie Rose and Gary Cohen and therefore offers plenty of reason to watch, is at last coming to an SNY near you. It will air tonight and tomorrow following your regularly scheduled baseball matches. Then it will air periodically every three hours for the next eight to ten months, which may not be enough for some of us. And to everyone who has asked since the promos first aired for it, no, I am not a contestant; I never was a contestant; nor did I audition to be a contestant.

Officially, that is. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

In case you’ve missed the commercials or haven’t heard it brought up by the denizens of the booths themselves, Beat the Booth will bring Howie and Gary, our peerless radio and TV broadcasters, into mentally armed conflict with two teams of two fans, one duo per night. All will be asked questions about the Mets. Cash prizes, charitable donations and, presumably, Metropolitan credibility will be at stake.

If it’s half as good as last summer’s Battle of the Broadcasters, it will be the 29th-best non-Mets game telecast SNY has ever aired. In a 27-way tie for first are every edition of Mets Yearbook, which are unassailable in their ranking. Then Battle, which you’ll recall was hosted by a stick-mic wielding Kevin Burkhardt, who sported a plaid, three-piece suit that strangely does not hang in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum but should. Messrs. Rose and Cohen were the standout performers, but Burkhardt’s wardrobe is what stands out most in the collective memory.

This season’s host is Chris Carlin. This season’s format pays homage to the “most memorable game shows of yesteryear”; one of the games within the game, for example, is entitled Flushing Feud (good answer, good answer!). It sounds like fun, even if word on the street is the mood grew a little intense during the taping.

How could it not? How many tests of one’s Methood is one administered in a given week? And how many are recorded for future broadcast? This isn’t some life-or-death nonsense we’re talking about. This is knowing your Mets.

Perhaps that attitude is why so many well-meaning folks asked me if I was going to be a part of this, other than as a viewer. Perhaps that attitude is why I decided not to be. To me, knowing “Mets trivia” isn’t trivial, because, to me, there is no such thing as Mets trivia. My Mets fandom is a state of being. At the core of that state is an expectation I’ve developed for myself without really thinking about it.

I expect myself to know all there is to know about the Mets. When I learn all there is to know, it becomes my obligation to learn more. This is my perpetual journey of discovery. There are satisfactions in the moment of being able to answer a “who did this when…?” type of question, but my quest is for knowledge, not reward. The knowledge — along with the knowledge that I have come to know something — is, in essence, the reward itself.

This is all very Zen. Or Zen Boswell, if you will.

The one Met question I never know how to respond politely to is, “Why do you know that?” as opposed to, “How do you know that?” The “how” is easy. I know something because I learned it and I remember it. I only know that’s an unusual trait because people tell me it is. The “why” eludes a definitive answer. I perhaps unconsciously at an early age decided it was important to absorb and process all the Mets facts I could. Some of what results informs my writing and my chatting. Some is just stuff that hangs around in my brain or on my computer. It might very well be crowding out other information that I could use in other facets of my life. I may never know, given that my mind is otherwise occupied retaining a random recollection regarding Ron Taylor or Ron Hodges or Ronn Reynolds or Rod Barajas.

So, no, I did not try out for Beat the Booth. But I did think about it, mostly because I was encouraged to. It was nice to be thought of in this realm. Better than there being a game show called What an Idiot and being told repeatedly, “Hey, you should try out for that!” I went as far to touch base with one friend who’d expressed a slight interest in our teaming up (the auditions called for pairs), but he wasn’t fully up for it and I let it go.

Not long after the official audition period passed, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was SNY asking me to, in tones more affable than menacing, come out to play. Not as a prospective contestant, but as media. The idea was I’d go through the paces as if actually trying out and would thus be able to better understand (and then communicate) what it’s like to compete on a game show whose categories include Flushing Feud.

That was too good to pass up, so I went for it — alone. I tried to find a partner, but it was a little last-minute to round up someone for a Thursday 9:30 AM call, and, besides, I feared the only person I could work with in this sort of setting was myself.

I showed up at SNY world headquarters at the appointed hour. The place wasn’t unfamiliar to me, having appeared on the old Mets Weekly show several times and having passed through for other reasons over the years. No stage fright, I figured. Still, when I did get on set, I was impressed with how it was dressed. The very same Beat the Booth logo I’d seen in the commercials was all lit and ready to go. The producers treated this — and the second round of authentic auditions that were going on that day — as the real thing.

Before proceeding to the set, I met some other early arrivals, two would-be teams packing a veritable baseball library of research material. I’m pretty sure I saw a 1963 yearbook in somebody’s bag. Since there were no stakes for me, I did no more in the way of homework than glance at a page of all-time leaders in the current media guide the night before. I figured I was invited on based on whatever somebody there assumed I knew, so I would go with whatever I was already carrying around.

I didn’t watch anybody else audition until after I was done. They’d be hearing some of the same questions I would, so that made sense. Just meeting those contestants, however, convinced me that if I was truly trying to make the cut, it would not be easy. These are people who took the challenge very seriously and were working to meet it. They might have known less than me, as much as me or more than me, but I knew (from a Mets fan’s sixth sense for these things) they were capable and committed.

Sure enough, I was informed that one of those teams that went in before me answered every question flawlessly…and if I’ve read the pre-show coverage correctly, those fellows weren’t finalists. SNY told me 60 teams showed up at Citi Field for the initial open tryouts, and there were loads of competent answerers. Factor in those who earned auditions through other channels (answering questions over WOR, for example), and the producers had many qualified candidates from whom to choose. Met knowledge trumped all, but when decisions had to be made, comfort in front of a camera as well whatever qualities make a person “passionate, funny and entertaining” factored in strongly.

I have no idea where I’d have fallen on that scale. The contestants I witnessed all seemed wonderfully watchable. And if they knew from Tim Harkness, well, that’s pretty a formidable skill set.

In the ten o’clock hour I was ushered into the studio, had a microphone attached to my shirt and was told where to stand. From there, I had to put my money where my Zen was.

The questions came in bunches. Seven on general Mets history. Then seven more. Then one of those deals where you have to name as many as you can within a particular subject without getting as many as three wrong. Then, at last, a Pyramid-style bit in which you are given clues and you have to figure out what your partner is getting at. (Since, I didn’t have a partner, a producer filled in.) All of it was timed.

I believe I was asked to answer the equivalent of 46 questions. I got 42 of them right. You may see that and think that’s pretty good. I see that and remain disappointed (if not devastated) with myself that I got four wrong. I only vaguely recall those I got right in three of the four categories. In my mind, I’m supposed to get them all right. My inner Professor Kingsfield glares at me sternly when I stumble.

In the first round, I was asked what Met has scored the most runs in World Series play. That’s something I didn’t know off the top of my head. I’m not automatic on individual Met postseason totals, probably because when those postseasons are in progress, I’m thinking intently of the team and only the team. So this had to be a matter of drawing a conclusion based on the available evidence in my head. I thought, “has to be someone who played in more than one World Series…that means it has to be someone who played a lot in 1969 and 1973…there was Grote…there was Harrelson…Harrelson scored a lot of runs in his career…”

I said Harrelson. I was told it was wrong.

Cleon Jones. Of course. Cleon Jones was hit in the foot by Dave McNally, for Gil’s sake. Then Clendenon homered him in. Overall, Jones scored seven World Series runs for the Mets to Harrelson’s (and Grote’s) three. I needed to think the entire thing through, but you’re on a set, you’re on a roll, you’re conscious of the clock…it’s not so simple once you’re in the game.

In the second round, I was asked what Met pitcher last led the National League in strikeouts. I said Johan Santana, thinking he had done so in 2008, a year when he finished third in the Cy Young balloting. I remember when that season was over being surprised he’d ranked as high as he did in various pitching categories. Mostly I remembered him struggling a bit early and coming on like crazy late.

I was wrong. And as soon as they told me I was, I asked, “Dickey?” And of course it was, in his Cy Young year of 2012 (Johan came in second in K’s in ’08). I knew that in real life. But a game show is not real life. On a game show, you tend to answer a second or two too soon (and in real life, you have Baseball Reference).

Later in the second round, I was asked what Met has played the most career games in the outfield. This one I’m kicking myself over more than I am from the aforementioned two because a) if I’d thought it through, I would have gotten it; and b) it’s the same answer as the first one I got wrong. It was Cleon Jones. I said Darryl Strawberry, probably for the same reason I said Johan on the strikeouts question. When I glanced at the media guide the night before, I noticed Darryl’s name and decided I tend to overlook how high Darryl ranks on all-time franchise lists besides home runs. So when I heard “outfield,” I already had Strawberry planted in my brain.

This time I knew I was wrong as soon as I said it. “It was Cleon Jones,” I added as soon as they said Strawberry was incorrect. I feel bad because it was avoidable and I feel worse because Cleon was one of my Met idols as a kid. He was the only outfielder with any staying power, so of course he leads the team in games played (though it’s closer than I would have guessed: Jones 1,101; Strawberry 1,085, according to Ultimate Mets Database).

I’m sorry, Cleon.

In the fourth segment, the Pyramid part, I got everything right. My ad hoc partner did his best but admitted he was having trouble cluing me in on the last one. He said “1986 rookie second baseman…” and I’m thinking there was no 1986 rookie second baseman, unless he means Kevin Mitchell, but Mitch never played there. Then he came up with “swung his bat underwater,” and I got it: Gregg Jefferies (whose first appearance came in September of 1987).

Back to the third segment, the “name all of these” portion. My subject was the 2000 World Series roster, which had 25 answers. I got 24 in the allotted time, the length of which I don’t remember but it wasn’t long. I felt this was too easy because they used this topic on Battle of the Broadcasters, but since we were just screwing around, what the hell?

The one I missed is more amusing than irksome. I failed to name Timo Perez, generally the first name that comes up with ire to explain how the Mets didn’t win that particular Fall Classic. I’d love to say I’d blocked out his identity so as to preserve my sanity, but the real reason I think I missed him stems from a previous segment in which Jay Payton was an answer. Therefore, when this one started, Payton was on my mind; because Payton wasn’t on the field when the 2000 pennant was clinched (he was hit by a Dave Veres pitch and had to leave Game Five against the Cardinals), it was left to Perez to move over to center and catch the final out. In the course of answering the World Series roster question, Payton became Pac-Man and gobbled up Perez.

But as mentioned, I got 24 of 25, including the other immediately identifiable culprit of the Subway Series defeat, which is where things got interesting on the Beat the Booth set.

I listed Armando Benitez. I was told it was incorrect.

Without breaking stride, I told them it was most certainly correct. I calmly recounted Game One, the endless at-bat of Paul O’Neill, how Armando lost him on a walk, how that led to a tie game and extra innings and, well, whatever happened thereafter. I also threw in (because nobody seems to remember much about the lone game the Mets won in that Series) that Armando earned the save in Game Three.

I was told Benitez wasn’t on the list provided by Elias.

I replied I didn’t care, I was right, “and now I’m eating into my time,” returning to rattling off the rest of the names who composed the 2000 Mets bullpen.

Later, somebody went and checked. Yes, Elias had included Armando Benitez on its list. It was somehow copied wrong. I was right.

Of course I was. I say that not out of hubris but, c’mon…Armando Benitez and the 2000 World Series are inseparable. As Tom Kean might acknowledge, they’re imperfect together.

That was my faux-audition. I did well, they said. They liked my poise and were taken my breadth of Mets knowledge. They didn’t understand why I didn’t try out in the first place. I heard their kind words and appreciated them but couldn’t get past not answering Cleon Jones. All this happened more than a month ago and I’m still annoyed.

I’m more annoyed by Timo breaking into a trot and ball four to O’Neill, but you could have guessed that.

I stuck around to watch the next team try their hand (and was reminded six or seven times to not blurt out answers). They were likable but a little overmatched. I felt bad when they answered obviously incorrectly, not so much because I was rooting for them, but because I was rooting for accuracy. Which is what I shall do when Howie and Gary and their competitors appear on SNY tonight and tomorrow night. I want everything answered right by everybody.

It’s Mets knowledge. It should always be handled with the utmost care.

Absurdist Drama Adds Prestige Character

Previously on The Mets

“Eleven in a row! This is the year, baby!”

“Oh no. Who’s hurt now?”

“Sure, the pitching’s great, but they can’t score to save their lives.”

“They’re never gonna win another game, are they?”

“We’re making a roster move and adjusting our rotation accordingly.”

“We don’t need another pitcher. We need a bat.”

“He’s from around here, you know. Grew up a big fan. And they say he can hit a little.”

“I can’t believe they’re gonna try playing through this rain. I’m soaked!”

“Suspended? What does that mean? And what about the concert?”

“He debuts tomorrow. Right after they finish yesterday’s game…whenever that is.”

And now: The Mets.


Rain, rain didn’t go away so easily. It wasn’t Saturday in the park rain, but it was present as Sunday at Citi Field began. Or continued. Not sure why I bothered going home in between. Not sure why I didn’t bring a full-fledged jacket when I returned. Not sure why I put so much stock in it being late June when it feels only nominally summery out there.

Joe and I chose this game long ago for no particular reason beyond prospective convenience. Its curiosity factor — off the charts as of Sunday morning — didn’t exist when he asked me if I wanted to go on June 28 and I said sure. Who knew it would loom as an idiosyncratic’s delight? They were ending a game that began the day before; they were beginning a career from scratch; they were presenting the architects of three No. 1 hit records, for goodness sake. All we were expecting to reach out and grab were Lucas Duda Growth Charts and all we were hoping for was to maybe not get so wet.

We got our charts. The wetness seemed predestined until a text from another friend offered an overhang. Sharon had cleverly rainchecked (from an “official game,” no less) her way into six dry seats. It might not rain all day Sunday as it did Saturday, but why find out? Joe and I accepted the gracious invitation to avoid unfriendly skies. Turned out we wouldn’t have been more than aggressively misted upon. After Saturday, though, who needed it? My schlep bag is still damp from that downpour.


There was indeed a game to complete, the one from the steady deluge. After a slight precipitation delay, it was offered to us almost cheekily. A ceremonial first pitch was thrown out even though we were picking up the action in the seventh inning. The national anthem was sung, too. Had Bobby Valentine been in the visitors’ dugout, he would have threaded a needle through the rule book and found the Met in violation of some sort of strict midgame protocol. Bryan Price was in the visitors’ dugout. Bryan Price has bigger problems. Bryan Price manages the Reds.

The Reds considered scoring in the top of the resumed seventh but ultimately rejected the concept as incompatible with their brand. They came pretty close anyway. It took three relievers — including both Tsuris brothers — to quell their advances. Then we seventh-inning stretched (more cheekiness). Then Skip Schumaker stretched as far as he cold to rob Ruben Tejada of a double in the left field corner. Then Skip Schumaker unstretched Lucas Duda’s double into a single and a 7-4 putout. The sun would make cameos, yet Skip Schumaker emerged as Sunday’s version of rain.

In the eighth, Juan Lagares robbed Jay Bruce of a home run. The Mets and Reds probably would have liked to have scored, but the Reds and Mets kept getting in their way.


And on these nudnik teams went. One could credit more defense and bullpen as stringent preventors of tallies, but one chooses not to. The Saturday leftovers were growing stale. The novelty was fading. The suspended game was making a nuisance of itself. It was great for fans of pop flies specifically and offensive futility in general. Also, if you liked the idea that time keeps on slippin, slippin’ into the future, it was ideal. If you didn’t like the idea of everything you were waiting for getting pushed back, this wasn’t your game.

Unless you were there, in which case it was all yours. Unlike me, Joe wasn’t there Saturday, and that fact confronted him with a conundrum. Joe scores every game he goes to. Sunday he was going. Saturday’s six innings were going to be there to greet him. How could a fiercely committed scorer start scoring a game in the middle of the action? Joe did the only sensible thing he could do, the sensible thing I guessed he would do after knowing him some 25 years. He retrofitted his scorebook with the six innings he hadn’t originally scored so he could set the stage for the seventh, eighth and ninth and any extra innings that happened to amble along through the mist.

Amble they did. The Mets didn’t score in the ninth when, with two on and two out, Michael Cuddyer remained under contract to the team that signed him last November. The Reds’ scouting report, the one that suggested, “pitch to Michael Cuddyer every chance you get — even if you’re playing someone other than the Mets or a sport other than baseball” — proved prescient.

Hey, whaddaya know: extras! The Reds threaten in the tenth, but don’t make good. The Mets use John Mayberry in the tenth to ensure an eleventh.

Let’s make like Schumaker and skip over the eleventh and twelfth. Suffice it to say they transpired and resulted in a thirteenth inning, thus ensuring more of Saturday’s game took place on Sunday than it did on Saturday. Because the Mets can’t hit, they were stuck on one run. Because the Reds can’t cope, they allowed the Mets to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the thirteenth. It was a rally for the ages; a rally for this age, at any rate. Dilson Herrera walked. Curtis Granderson singled past an inadequate Brandon Phillips leap. Ruben Tejada grounded to a shortstop who looked less comfortable than Wilmer Flores.

Duda from the growth chart was up. Dozens of growth charts got themselves unfolded, waved and mysteriously hung from the rafters (who thought to bring so much Fun-Tak to a ballpark?) The positive energy was too much for Joey Votto to bear, for when Lucas bounced unto him the absolutely perfect ball to fire home to force Herrera, thereby setting up Cuddyer’s inevitable inning-ending DP, he instead muffed it like crazy. Votto — who had earlier performed as a Bill Buckner tribute band called E-3 when he let a Granderson grounder scoot through his generous legs — couldn’t handle the bounce and the Mets, in spite of themselves and their 0-for-15 RISP inaction, won. They won Saturday’s game Sunday. They won despite scoring no more than two runs in thirteen innings, no more than two runs apiece across three games. Hell, they won each of those three games, all in a row.

Idiosyncratic, all right. And by the time Sunday’s baseball activities were concluded, those thirteen innings and the twenty-four hours at Le Mets that preceded them would be, if not totally forgotten, then mightily obscured.

Because we were ready to be formally introduced to our latest savior.


I figured Steven Matz would be bringing loads of family to the actual Sunday game for his major league debut. But who were all these other people wearing MATZ 32 tees before he’d thrown one pitch at this highest baseball level? They were, I decided, people who have been conditioned to expect deliverance in the form of one young arm after another. Such thinking has provided the subtext of the past four seasons, including the current edition.

We can’t wait for Harvey until we can’t we wait for Wheeler until we can’t wait for Syndergaard, not to mention we at least modestly anticipated the arrival of deGrom and Montero, though we’ve revised history a little to claim we had no idea the former existed (and we’ve lately lost track of the latter). We believe every morsel of hype fed to us where young pitchers are concerned. Every one of them will rise to the majors and succeed immediately. Then we’ll have too many pitchers, all of them great. The excess will be so obvious to all that somebody somewhere will be compelled to send us a low-cost power-hitting infielder who can actually field.

Funny how no trade is ever made and we can never concretely determine how much pitching is enough. We know we can’t have too many saviors, though. Never mind that pitching we’ve got and hitting we need. You can never have too much pitching. It’s why among our eight or so outstanding starters, one is on the DL, one is in Las Vegas and one has been grafted onto a rotation that seemed to have no vacancies.

But you can always make room for a savior. You can always find space in your t-shirt drawer for a MATZ 32. After Sunday, they’re not going to be able to make enough of those models to satisfy demand.


Who says the Mets never produce a hitter? They produced Steven Matz, perhaps the most productive hitter ever to come out of any box, certainly the best to emerge from a box marked pitcher.

He’s not misfiled, either. Pitching is clearly what got him here. Hitting, however, is why we will always cherish his maiden appearance in the big leagues.

Sunday’s de facto second game wasn’t necessarily poised from its late-afternoon first pitch to feel any different from those contests that had directly preceded it. We’d gotten so used to stellar starting pitching that we were only marginally impressed by it. What really got our attention, not to mention our goat, was the invisible hitting. We weren’t overjoyed that we’d just won games by scores of 2-0, 2-1 and 2-1; we were miffed that we couldn’t score more than two runs in any of those games. What good is winning if only some of your dreams are coming true?

Thus, we decided Steven Matz’s first game was, regardless of the savior possibilities inherent, an act of desperation. No matter what the kid does, it’s not like we’re gonna hit. And it’s not like we really know for certain what the kid’s gonna do.

Then we knew: he’d throw a terribly wild pitch to commence his career and moments later surrender a short, replay-certified home run to Phillips, the best Shea Stadium/Citi Field player who ever lived. The Reds were ahead, 1-0, after one batter; Matz’s ERA dwarfed Garrett Olson’s franchise-worst 108.00; and the 999th Met in team history might not save us from ourselves after all.

Or he might. We’d have to give him his entire start in order to find out.


This is what we found out about Steven Matz after he fell behind by a run.

• He’s a better pitcher than Garrett Olson. Way better. His ERA clambered down from unmeasurable to manageable to sparkling…if, in fact, an ERA can be said to matter after one game. Except for one pitch that Todd Frazier launched definitively over the left field fence, Matz did nothing wrong on the mound. He got out of what little trouble did arise, he fielded batted balls cleanly and he showed poise and command into the eighth. If his debut wasn’t the stuff of Dick Rusteck (still the only Met to pitch a complete game shutout in his first MLB appearance), it was right up there with Harvey’s and Wheeler’s and so forth. He belongs.

• He’s a better hitter than probably every one of his teammates, no matter any individual’s job description. It might not last — it probably won’t because it almost never does when the hitter is a pitcher — but have you ever seen a rookie come to bat and bring home runners like Matz did? Don’t bother sorting through phenoms past. You haven’t, within the realm of one-game sample sizes, seen a new Met like Matz at bat ever. He recorded three hits, drove in four runs, broke up a double play and…what? What else do you need, besides a revised lineup card next time he pitches, because how on earth do you justify batting someone of Matz’s potential and/or credentials behind the Mets’ relentless parade of eight-hitters? Booming double; well-placed singles; situational alertness; not bothering with batting gloves, even. Holy Don Robinson, this pitcher gave us the idea he can hit with the best of them and convinced us he can outhit the worst of them (a.k.a. the rest of the Mets’ batting order).

• He’s a happening. He’s a happening because he brought 130 friends and family from Suffolk County and because he’s been working his way back from Tommy John so long that the general manager who drafted him was Omar Minaya and because his favorite adolescent baseball memory involves Endy Chavez and he’s 24 yet looks 14 and he knows to professionally tip his cap when thunderously applauded and he lived up to every expectation we had for him and he built new expectations along the way and he exceeded those. We who were grumpy from a lack of offense even after Duda’s growth charts flapped victoriously roared without reservation for Steven Matz. We were holding out for a hero. We received a folk hero.

• He’s proof, as if we needed any more, that the designated hitter rule belongs on the ash heap of history. If, say, Cuddyer as hypothetical DH had gone 3-for-3, we might be curious what kind of hallucinogenics they were using at Blue Smoke, but we wouldn’t otherwise be terribly moved beyond vague approval. But Matz going 3-for-3? The pitcher? Never mind the Colon sideshow. This is a pitcher not just helping his own cause. This is a pitcher defining the cause. Let other pitchers pray for run support. Matz answered everybody’s prayers before they could be formulated.

How sophisticated do we all feel in the moment a pitcher makes solid contact? Look at me, I know enough to treat this event as extraordinary. How stimulated does that sensation leave us? The pitcher swings…the pitcher hits…the pitcher runs…the pitcher is on first…maybe second. Oh god…oh god…OH GOD!

Seriously, witnessing a pitcher truly fill the role of hitter may be the closest thing baseball has to adult entertainment.

Every National Leaguer’s soul soared when Matz connected and reached base for a third time. Every one of us knew we had found the silver bullet to refute every silly argument to be made for not letting the pitcher hit. If the pitcher didn’t hit, then all we would have had out of Steven Matz was an encouraging outing presumably going to waste because — oh, by the way — the rest of the Mets continued to mostly not hit in that second game Sunday. With Matz pitching and Matz hitting and Matz doing it all, the Mets discovered a run total higher than two and a win streak that reached four.

It helped that the Reds are brutal. It helped that their scouting reports didn’t factor in Matz’s hitting ability. It helped that they’ve been playing shabby baseball for close to a year. It helps, too, that the Mets are as dependably able at Citi Field as they are astoundingly inept away from it.

But mostly Steven Matz helped himself and helped us all and it was only his beginning.


Poor Steve Miller. Rained out. Postponed. Rescheduled. Abandoned. Maybe 2,000 of us remained to watch he and his band perform postgame. The Mets showed this rock and blues legend so little respect that while he sang, the ribbon board flashed an ad for the Heart postgame concert next month, as if that’s the one you should stick around for. They couldn’t have waited until the act they’d been plugging for months had unplugged their instruments?

If they felt like afterthoughts, they didn’t show it. Fifty minutes, a dozen songs, solid musicianship, two band members wearing Mets jerseys, enough relevant patter to assure you they weren’t mailing it in. Steve Miller dedicated “Abracadabra” to “Stevie Matz” for all the “magic’ he made before they came on, though if you think about it, “Swingtown” would have been more appropriate. Mr. Miller even told us we were going to the World Series, presumably on a big ol’ Met airliner.

We probably have to start winning some games on the road first. Gosh, I hope Matz travels as well as he hits

Take the Money and Rain

Welcome to your recurring state of suspended animation, last visited approximately two years and one month ago. The Mets haven’t lost and they haven’t yet lost. I suppose the same could be said about winning, but I just sat in the rain for what seemed like several hours, but it was just several innings and it must have warped my time-monitoring sensibilities. As I undampen far from the soggy ballpark, I can’t fathom the concept of winning, given the wetness of the context.

The Mets and Reds played six innings on Saturday afternoon. They were supposed to play at least nine and then give way to the Steve Miller Band, whose hitmaking in recent decades has slowed to Metlike levels, but I’m guessing they can still play. Hell yes, I wanted to hear Steve Miller. Hell yes, I wanted to see Mets baseball. Hell no, I don’t want to get drenched.

There was no Steve Miller. There was a shortfall of baseball. There was plenty of drench.

Can you blame the Mets for starting a game that had little meteorological chance of proceeding to its end point? I can blame the Mets for anything and usually do, so yeah, it was crass and presumably revenue-driven to not take the raincheck portion of Saturday’s tickets literally. Then again, you get the Reds in for one series and you presumably had a large crowd planning on this particular date happening and what’s being a Mets fan without a modicum of cockeyed optimism?

Somebody cockeyed read the radar, because all of New York knew it was going to rain, yet they started on time, or about four seconds before the weather morphed from annoyance to hindrance to obstacle. Those of us whose seats were uncovered — and that includes the pitcher, the catcher, the batter and so forth — were the most annoyed, hindered and distressed. Those of us who had umbrellas but nothing of a structural nature covering us did battle with those of you sat under overhangs and whined, “Excuse me, I can’t see…I can’t see…your umbrella is blocking my view…I have my choice of a thousand empty seats right now, but you who are sitting in the rain should get extra wet so I don’t have to move three feet.”

The preceding re-enactment was brought to you by Citizens Who Brought An Umbrella, Screw You If You Didn’t — and I approve this message.

It was a losing battle, no matter where you were. This wasn’t baseball like it oughta be, and that’s never minding that another Harvey Day was wasted, that Curtis Granderson is useless even when he’s proving himself indispensable and that there is nothing more quintessentially Metsian than one dope, sitting by himself in a downpour, huddled inside a giveaway poncho he’s been holding in reserve for four years, beseeching somebody, anybody to Let’s Go Mets…and the Mets not going at all.

I thought maybe the fifth would do it. I thought maybe Familia should’ve come in for the obvious neo-save situation. If the 1-0 lead Granderson gave us before Granderson conspired to take it away could have held up through four-and-a-half, I’m convinced they’d have halted it directly and they’d have called it immediately. I also thought maybe this would be the day Brandon Phillips wouldn’t get a hit against us in Flushing, something he’s been doing since he began making business trips to our neck of the woods. Alas, come rain or shine, he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do — Phillips RBI double after a Granderson misplay — and so we’re gonna pick this up tomorrow at 1:10, 1-1.

The top of the fifth refused to get put in the books. We played the bottom of the fifth with another opportunity to win under rain-shortened rules, but we didn’t. And then the sixth. And then nothing. And then, later, the announcement that we were suspended and should come back tomorrow for three going on twelve innings of Mets baseball — a portion of them Matzian — plus Steve Miller, plus that long-promised Lucas Duda growth chart. I wonder if it will measure how big a ninny one is to sit in the rain and expect not to get wet.

I can take a hint, though. When it got too chilly (on June 27!) to bear the rain, I squeezed into the Caesars Club. When the tarp finally covered the field at the beginning of the seventh — Harvey gone, score tied, one of the Tsuris Brothers ready to ply his trade — I left. Actually, I waited through a few sweet Mets Yearbook excerpts playing on the fabulous 62%-bigger scoreboard and then I left. Who can walk away from Jackson Todd describing how after chemotherapy his previously straight hair came in curly? But who can resist a chance to make one’s train out of Woodside and seek warmth, dryness and a go get ’em tomorrow?

Which I will. Because, damn it, I am that quintessentially Metsian dope.

Thanks to those dear friends who provided me entrée and companionship at various points of my sporadically solitary sojourn to suspended animation. You folks make days like these more fun than they have a right to be.

And if you’re wondering what good rain is to a baseball team, learn more about the flora, fauna and so forth that are tended to by June showers at Citi Field. James H. Burns writes about a Mets garden tradition that dates back to Joe Pignatano’s tomato plants here.

Graduation Season

Steven Matz graduates to the big time on Sunday. Or the Met time, at any rate. The efficacy of Sandy Alderson’s doctoral thesis in mathematics — the GM contends six starters will fit snugly into five slots — remains to be seen, but official confirmation that the last lavishly hyped pitching prospect of the current generation is indeed on the cusp of arriving atop a major league mound was cause for joyous celebration Friday night.

So we celebrated. And it was joyous.

To be fair, Matz’s impending promotion served primarily as happy coincidental backdrop for the real reason festiveness was in the air at Citi Field. Steven Matz was on the way and Noah Syndergaard was on the hill, but center stage belonged to another young star: Melanie Spector. Someday you’ll find Melanie in your program at the Met, her budding vocal talents having been honed at the Manhattan School of Music, an institution that will be fortunate to number her among its ranks come fall. Until then, you can find this freshly minted graduate of Leonia (N.J.) High School at the Mets.

Talk about having your priorities straight!

Talk about having your priorities straight!

Melanie’s been a Mets fan since birth. I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve seen her in action. I’ve seen her keep score. I’ve seen her repurpose the rituals of prom night and put them to vivid use for Harvey Day. And now I’ve seen how she puts a bow on her high school career.

Steven Matz leaving Las Vegas has nothing on Melanie Spector taking Manhattan.

Friday night, Stephanie and I were honored to attend Melanie’s graduation party, which of course took place at Citi Field — she and her parents Garry and Susan wouldn’t be anywhere else on an evening the Mets are home (assuming there’s no conflict with the Metropolitan Opera, where Susan plays oboe and Melanie takes copious notes). The occasion called for a grand setting, so they booked an Empire Suite. Actually, any spot in the ballpark is grand when it’s chock full of Spectors, but the suite was an excellent touch. It was right behind home plate; it came with a buffet from which Shake Shack burgers let forth a siren song of fierce temptation; and premier cultural icon Mr. Met dropped by to say hello, albeit extremely sotto voce. Mr. Met, like our hosts, demonstrates excellent taste.

The Mets provided only two hits against their Red nemeses, but one of them was a leadoff home run from Curtis Granderson and the other was a catalytic triple from Dilson Herrera. The three-bagger, legged out in the fifth, led to the quintessential June 2015 Mets rally: a two-out walk followed by a two-out walk followed by a two-out walk. Three good eyes, twelve helpful balls and one additional run. Staked to an enormous 2-1 lead, Syndergaard protected its honor through the eight before Jeurys Familia closed the production with equal dollops of verve and panache.

Bravo for the Mets! Brava for Melanie! Our thanks to her for thinking to include us on such a special night. She is destined to experience many special nights ahead in whatever venue she chooses. We were truly tickled to have been a part of this one.