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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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The Continuing Misadventures of the Worst Good Team in Baseball

If it wasn't Willie Randolph burning his entire bench in the seventh (whywhywhywhywhy), leading to the sight of Tom Glavine pinch-hitting in the ninth, it was Lastings Milledge air-mailing everybody south of the loge on a throw home, or Mike Pelfrey crawling out of the wreckage of his usual one bad inning, or Pedro Feliciano pitching like he was tired, or Aaron Heilman doing the same, or Jose Reyes popping up pitches. Yes, I know Pelfrey looked good the rest of the time and Milledge made a terrific play to offset that one and Carlos Delgado looks like he's coming around, but in the end none of that mattered, so I can't really muster the enthusiasm for finding an umblemished oat or two in this bunch of horseshit.

One of the unwelcome themes of this year has been the Mets somehow staying in first place despite themselves, reflecting a malaise we've all pondered and tried to define without quite getting it — we've treed the sucker, but the dogs can't get him down. Is it the routine blowouts? The lack of hitting with RISP? The career years turned into average years? The transmutation of Carlos Beltran back into porcelain?

In the darker hours of the night, we sometimes have a worse thought: Is this what the early stages of Yankeeization feel like? (OK, I've wondered it in the dark hours of the night.) Last year we dominated. Now we're not dominating. I want to dominate. You're in first place, shut up. Yeah, but we look flat. You're in first place, shut up.

Yeah, but we look flat. So shut up yourself.

I don't think it's that our expectations have been raised by last year, so that merely being in first place now isn't enough. I think there's some of that at work here, but it's a pretty small part of what's going on. Rather, it's that this team's default condition seems to be flat — a certain distracted torpor that's hard to endure, and sure doesn't make for a very compelling storyline. Can a talented team playing uninspired baseball hold off two fundamentally flawed teams trying to close the distance? I think it can, and then it's anybody's ballgame, as the 2006 Cardinals will be reminding fans of mediocre teams for a generation to come. But what a half-assed plan for taking care of business. Bad baseball, players lingering in the netherworld of the semi-DL for who knows how long, dumb managerial decisions — it's tough to watch a summer of this stuff and tell yourself that it'll be OK once some magic wand is waved, that Pedro will make everything better, or that Moises Alou will restore order. (He sure restored order for the Nats tonight.)

I'm a Met fan. I watched Bruce Boisclair and Jeff McKnight and Chris Jones and Jorge Velandia and Jason Phillips and Vance Wilson and Jeff D'Amico. It's pathetically obvious, after all these years, that I'll watch anything that shows up wearing blue and orange. But for a first-place team, this year's Mets squad is remarkably hard to watch. Too often they look they'd rather be doing something else, and inevitably that makes you think that maybe you ought to take that under advisement yourself.

Last night I comforted myself by taking solace in the fact that there would be two games today. It struck me as a beautiful thing. What I forgot was that a crappy enough game can make you forget all about a victory won six-odd hours earlier.

Joshua runs the bases tomorrow, weather permitting. The Mets run the bases tomorrow, Nationals pitching and their own inclination permitting.

10 comments to The Continuing Misadventures of the Worst Good Team in Baseball

  • Anonymous

    Burning the bench was dumb, but if Willie really felt Marlon was a better matchup than Castro..well that' stupid, but I guess I understand the 'win this inning' mentality. I probably have more faith in Glavine than Anderson in the 9th anyway. Things easily could've gone the other way, but Delgado and Pelfrey continue to show improvement, as marginal as it is in some cases. Alou sure looks like he needed some more rehab starts.

  • Anonymous

    I think what makes it not enough that we're in 1st is what we saw in 2006. We watched an on-paper juggernaut play uninspired baseball against a crappy Cardinals squad and lose what's now looking like our best shot at the title. Every time we lose a meaningless game, it means our team is a little bit more likely to play like that when it's all on the line.

  • Anonymous

    Also, as a side-note, is there an unending supply of rookie pitchers who make their debut against us? We always see these guys show up, baffle the Mets, then get smushed back into their place once the rest of the league has seen the video. We even got to prove it ourselves. We saw Tyler Clippard first in the last Yankee game at Shea, where he had us flailing. Then we saw him again in the Bronx, and hammered him good, which made Glavine's awful performance even more infuriating.

  • Anonymous

    My abbreviated exposure to the nightcap did re-reveal Moises Alou's worst tendency to me. He'd been gone, gone, gone, he'd been gone so long, that I'd forgotten he is known to swing at the first pitch in situations that strongly suggest taking one or two.
    I guess if we wanted power in the outfield, we would have held onto Jason Tyner.

  • Anonymous

    Marlon had a pretty rough day at the plate, but he'll come around. Pinch-hitting is what he does.
    But he shouldn't have been used there…especially considering how hard we ended up hitting Rauch.

  • Anonymous

    Rather, it's that this team's default condition seems to be flat — a certain distracted torpor that's hard to endure, and sure doesn't make for a very compelling storyline.

    Bad baseball, players lingering in the netherworld of the semi-DL for who knows how long, dumb managerial decisions — it's tough to watch a summer of this stuff and tell yourself that it'll be OK once some magic wand is waved…

    I've heard this song before:
    1970
    1974
    1987
    1989
    2001
    It's a depressingly familiar refrain. I think the only thing to prevent a reprise will be a refusal to step up by the teams of Ben Frankilin & Dr. Lyman Hall…

  • Anonymous

    The main diff, I would remind the Rev. Witherspoon, is none of those teams spent the bulk of their seasons in first place. All told, this is a better division-winner follow-up edition than those you sighted (especially when you factor in the '87 pitching situation). They just haven't hit like it. And that's the frustrating part.
    The Phillies have been more Judge Wilson than Dr. Franklin to this point. Heaven help us if they become John Dickinson.

  • Anonymous

    And by “sighted,” I mean “cited.”
    McNair! More rum!

  • Anonymous

    There must be some mistake: I have an aunt in New Brunswick…
    PS — My nephew Jimmy thoroughly enjoyed my upper deck perch. And OJ would have been proud of our sprint through the Woodside station to catch the 10:58 back to Long Beach.
    PPS — I would have sent Green home on the errant throw on his steal. From the perch, it looked like he was already well around third by the time any Gnat picked up the ball. What a time for Sandy Sr. to turn cool, cool & conservative….

  • Anonymous

    No hosannas, no hosannas!