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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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Throw Sixteen Balls, What Do You Get?

Oliver Perez had an awesome 1-2-3 first inning.
Oliver Perez walked three in the second, but surrendered nothing.
Oliver Perez retired the first two batters in the third, gave up a single…and didn't survive the frame.
So it's hard to write it off as just a bad night.
This was the other side of Ollie, the one you get along with the upside. This was the side that we hadn't seen much of since some meaningless night late in the clinched 2006 season. And even in his three or four decidedly unstellar, hopeless Met starts previous to finding himself in October, his control may have escaped him, but it never deserted him like it did tonight.
Seven walks. Worse, four consecutive walks in the third — sixteen balls that changed the game and gave the Phillies life. Seventeen balls if you count hitting Rod Barajas at the end of the line.
And that was that. Even with Aaron Sele gamely holding the fort, the Mets didn't do anything of note with Adam Eaton, wasting Jose's leadoff magic — single, steal, wild pitch — on third in the opening inning (you should always score when you've moved the ball into the Reyes Zone) and never really recovering. You can cope with that for an evening.
But Perez? Falling apart five nights after mastering the Braves? Two innings after stymieing the Phillies? That's an alarm bell. That's a tumble down the mountain that might (might) take some serious reclimbing. That's staying after school with Professor Peterson and hoping a lesson takes. The kid didn't sound panicky after the game but he didn't sound too sure about what just happened.
Oliver Perez at his best is awesome. The Mets have nobody like him at the moment. But Oliver Perez at not his best is mostly worthless. He could use a little middle ground on nights like this.
Good news…any? Only tangentially.
• Jerry Koosman was a welcome visitor to the booth. Ron, Keith and Kooz overlapped in a way that makes you realize those of us who watch the game intently have little idea of its intricacies. Experts talking their craft without pretension…beautiful. I loved the story about how Tom or Jerry would sit on the bench when Jerry or Tom was pitching and if the spectating hurler recognized something wrong, he would signal the guy on the mound. Instead of shoehorning stuff like into one-run games, SNY should figure out how to get these guys in a booth and just talk…not have a talk show, not have them be interviewed by one of their hosts, just (somehow) spur them into baseball conversation. It would be better than any non-Mets game programming they have.
• The orange-and-white kitty who bolted through left field…neat! One hesitates to imagine what his little hidey hole over the side fence leads to (though somebody long ago did).
• Congratulations to the Dillon Panthers on their Texas state championship, attained after overcoming yet another impossible deficit at the half. Clear eyes, full hearts, get renewed.

17 comments to Throw Sixteen Balls, What Do You Get?

  • Anonymous

    If you thought Monday's game was cold, think again. I never want to go outdoors again as long as I live.

  • Anonymous

    Can every cold-weather team take turns playing home games at Miller Park? Perhaps then we can all be cheered by sausage.

  • Anonymous

    I am always cheered (in a different sense) by THOSE Sausages, but never the real ones.

  • Anonymous

    man it was great seeing koosman throw out the first pitch. the crowd was fiercely loud. and perez's first inning was terrific. downhill from there.
    for what it's worth, and it ain't much, several of the balls called, especially in the third, were borderline. i thought perez's frustration fed at least in part on the raw deal he felt the umpire was giving him. though not letting that get to you is part of the pitcher's portfolio as well.
    and with all that, the mets still had chances late in the game: the bases loaded no outs shot that alou tagged could have gotten them back in it, but utley made a valentin-like play on it — great stop, then even better backhand flip from the ground to rollins who made a sharp throw to first.
    one run traded for two outs. pretty much done after that.

  • Anonymous

    The killer was Jose getting gunned out trying to steal 2B after plating Valentin.

  • Anonymous

    I think Peterson's comment sums it up best:

    “It's early in the season, so it's not concerning at all. It's more disappointing because the expectations are so high…
    “There's a big gap between trying your best and doing your best. It’s really a focus issue…It was Oliver Perez vs. Oliver Perez. Somebody has to lose.”

  • Anonymous

    While some pitches were borderline, the majority of Oliver's throws were nowhere near the strikezone. But Kudos to Willie Randolph giving Perez as much opportunity as humanly possible to work out his control problem in a real game situation. As Gary Cohen and company alluded to, if this was June or July he would have been yanked much earlier yet Willie was thinking of the 30 or so starts ahead of him and didn't want to jeapordize Perez's shakey confidence just eight games into the season. Had he come back after the first bases loaded walk I think Perez would have taken the mound again in the fourth.
    But I feel bad for those who attended last night's game, not because the Mets lost or because it was cold, but because they missed last night's broadcast which showed the true beauty of the game of baseball and how it's slow, relaxing pace is too often maligned by followers of other sports. What else but a baseball game allows a trio of veteran players to talk about the tools of the trade and enables fans to follow both, the conversation and the action going on below? And thanks to the split screen effect, one saw how much Darling, Hernandez and Cohen got into the discussion with their guest Jerry Koozman – the expressions on their faces were pricesless (Keith nodding his head in agreement, Darling expressing amazement and Gary just sucking it all in with enjoyment). Baseball allows us to relax, sit back and casually enjoy the game, a refreshing difference from the quick moment to moment stress of our otherwise daily lives.
    Unlike FOX, whose off-field conversations distract one from the action, SNY handled this wonderfully. It was just a joy to listen to and watch.

  • Anonymous

    For those of us shivering in the cold, wind and even snow flurries for three hours, the “slow, relaxing pace” was akin to torture. I was actually yelling “JUST THROW THE BALL!” It felt like Feliciano was out there for an hour.

  • Anonymous

    Laurie,
    Didn't you mention you also have tickets for tonight's game? If not postponed it might even be under worse conditions than last night.

  • Anonymous

    Good point, Joe. Fox had Glavine on several innings after he left Saturday's game probably because they could. He said one or two interesting things but the game was tight and it was pretty late in the game and there were runners on (it may have been the ninth, actually). There's a time and place and these weren't it.
    There is, on the other hand, no wrong time or place for Jerry Koosman.

  • Anonymous

    I'm sorry, but I've heard this so many times I have to say something. How does “finding [yourself]” in the postseason mean pitching to a 4.63 ERA and 1.37 WHIP? If Endy is a quarter-inch shorter, Perez winds up with a 6.17 ERA and 1.46 WHIP for the series, assuming he's allowed to finish the inning, both just marginally better than his dismal regular season stats.
    I just don't get it. In game 4, he goes 5 and change and gives up 5 earned runs. In game 7, he's much better but comes within one divine intervention of blowing it. It's amazing that we'd consider this sample, even if we're willing to concede that it's an insignificantly small sample, evidence of greatness discovered. He was mediocre at best. Why are we surprised by performances like yesterday's?
    To look at it another way, I guarantee you most of us scoffed at the notion that Jeff Weaver was suddenly an ace because he had a good postseason, especially against our beloved. He had a couple of good games; so what? He's always been mediocre, sullen, never lived up to his potential, blah blah blah. When he got shelled for 7 ER in 2 IP in his first start with Seattle, we all smugly thought, “Told you so.” So why did we think Oliver Perez would be different?
    If you look at their 2006 regular season stats, Weaver was (by one measure) a “better” pitcher, with an ERA+ of 76 (!) to Perez' ERA+ of 68 (!!). Seriously, could we be comparing more rotten apples? The guy had a pretty good 2004 season — stats, including an ERA+ of 139 and WHIP of 1.15, comparable to the NL Cy Young Award winner, despite a poor winning percentage due to lack of run support — but has been pretty much crap the rest of his [brief] career.
    I understand we need to have faith, but we also need to have realism.

  • Anonymous

    Who says? He's all we've got, he's been good before and since we have no other options we choose to believe the hype and expect he'll be good again. Are we grading on a curve…of course we are, he's a Met and we have no one waiting in the wings to beg to replace him. We listen the Sensei Peterson because we have no choice and because he's NOT the guy who told me every summer that the latest crap-pile from the Tidewater Tides was a pitcher in the tradition on Seaver, Koos, etc. He is the guy who told us Voctor Zambrano was (sorry Laurie) but today he's the man with the plan…the only plan. Realism is for suckers and teams with All-Stars back in AAA. And we ain't that.
    Rosey Glassed Joel

  • Anonymous

    Oliver Perez wasn't Oliver Koosman in those situations, but in both his playoff starts and his final tuneup against the Nationals on October 1, he was viable (his bats helping him out in Game Four of the NLCS, no doubt). Then he was brilliant in his first start of this year. The Perez to whom we were becoming accustomed shaped up as a lot different from the “ohmigod, we're pitching Oliver Perez against the Cardinals, make room on the Whitestone for me” version. I'd settle for consistently viable with a 40% chance of brilliance. Perhaps “finding himself” was an overstatement, but he gave his team a decent chance to win in his four previous starts, something he was not about to do last night.
    Weaver was considered quite a comer four or five years ago. I would have given him a shot this spring and still think he might come around as viable. But I haven't given him much thought lately, to be honest.

  • Anonymous

    I was one of those attendees of last nights game. It was a little warmer on the first base side, but not by much. Of course i'm the idiot that got to the park at 4:30 for batting practice, though I did catch my first ball ever. 2006 all-star ball. I'm actually disappointed that I missed the broadcast. Often in baseball you can mute the commentary and still be entertained, the Mets are one of the few teams where I feel you could black out the picture(not that you would) and still be entertained.

  • Anonymous

    Y'know what sucks? That slightly better pitching or hitting would have won the game for us last night. While it's early, how demoralized would the Phils be had they dropped another one? Took our foot off their necks a little, there.

  • Anonymous

    No, tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. I hear Friday may be even colder than Wednesday.
    I love them, but this is ridiculous.