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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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Do Something

I wish I could share my co-blogger's pluck, his acceptance, his relative calm. But I can't. The only comfort I can take from yesterday's disaster is that Willie Randolph's firing may have gone from an “if” to a “when.” But how much agony do we have to endure before then? How many losses? How many boos? How much dismal baseball? How much finger-pointing?

And that's without even mentioning the controversy that's about to engulf this team. Billy Wagner all but openly called out Carlos Delgado, with collateral damage for Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran. I believe Billy when he says he isn't talking about color but about individual players. But I also believe the talk-radio hyenas will blow this up into exclusively a question of color. And it's not just Delgado and Castillo and Beltran whom the fingers are pointing at. Which slumping player is the target of endless psychoanalysis and rumormongering? Jose Reyes. Who was the last guy called out by Wagner for being flighty and unmotivated? Oliver Perez. Who's now been called out by the press for ducking the media before his start against the Yankees? Johan Santana.

Let's be clear about this. I don't know who on our roster tries and who doesn't. I don't know what motivates or doesn't motivate Carlos Delgado — just as I don't know what motivates or doesn't motivate Aaron Heilman, or what was in David Wright's head as he wandered in the general direction of first base this afternoon. I'm not remotely qualified to guess how much players not talking to reporters has to do with language and cultural barriers, though I bet there's some of that — reporters whose first language is English gravitate to players whose first language is English because it's easier, and players whose first language is Spanish find it easier to duck pesky reporters by exaggerating the language barrier, just as players whose first language is English would if the roles were reversed. I wish none of this were happening. But it is, I can guess how it will be portrayed, and there's a real risk of it getting awfully ugly.

It would be a shame if that were the immediate cause of Willie Randolph's ouster, because there are so many other reasons for that to happen — most notably that his expensive, talented players continue to routinely do moronic and/or lazy things while in uniform.

Witness the frozen-in-amber shuffling of Castillo and Wright on the ball Austin Kearns dropped in the third. I don't know if Castillo would have scored on that play if he'd been at least running, but I do know he would have had a better chance than, say, Reyes did going to third a few innings later. I do know Wright damn well should have been on second. In a game that close, with everything that's gone wrong so far in this infuriating season, that's absolutely inexcusable. And spare me announcers making nice: Keith said that happens and you learn from it, but if the Mets have shown one thing since last Memorial Day, it's that they don't learn. As for the excuse of Castillo's leg, he'd bunted for a hit the previous at-bat. If he's got a bad quad that plagues him on random plays, put him on the DL. Otherwise, tell him to at least attempt to earn his absurd contract.

But for sheer baseball stupidity, the bottom of the eighth was worse. Reyes made a dumb play, as he does all too often lately. (Is it too early to suggest that Reyes, for all his electricity and thousand-watt smiles, is a dumb player?) But what really burns me is why Castillo was bunting. You've got six outs left — why on earth would you give one up when the guy on first is that fast? I understand having Reyes run and then bunting him to third with none out — Castillo may as well sacrifice, seeing as how he's otherwise useless — but with Reyes on first that play is idiotic, stone-age baseball. Even if it had worked, it would have been stupid. (And if Ryan Church had bunted with Beltran on first in the ninth, I really might have taken a cab to Shea Stadium and gotten myself arrested.)

The rest was miserable luck, from Willie Harris's latest dagger-in-the-heart catch to Delgado's ankle-high liner to Beltran being erased on a contact play. (That's the irony of Delgado's apparent refusal to talk — he hadn't done anything wrong.) But luck, as they say, is the residue of design — and this team desperately needs a redesign. If you've watched more than a few years of baseball, you can smell death in the air. The manager has lost his clubhouse. Too many of the players aren't accountable. The clubhouse is turning toxic. The press is out for blood. The fans have turned on the team. (And you can blame them less and less each day.) And we can expect no mercy from the 29 other teams, starting tonight with the Yankees — our third last-place team in a row, but that hasn't gone so well this week. (The Yankees at least have plausible excuses for being bad right now.)

Fred and Jeff, it's up to you. It's your $137 million lining the pockets of players who aren't earning it. It's your final hurrah for Shea that's rapidly turning into a bitter farce. If neither of those things moves you, consider how you'll feel opening your gorgeous new park and hearing the fans shower a catatonic manager and his uncaring charges with venom. That's where were headed. If you want to stop it, you need to do something very quickly.

19 comments to Do Something

  • Anonymous

    If you've watched more than a few years of baseball, you can smell death in the air. The manager has lost his clubhouse. Too many of the players aren't accountable. The clubhouse is turning toxic. The press is out for blood. The fans have turned on the team.

    Right around the corner from firecrackers, bleach & “I'll show you the Bronx.”
    Seriously.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think Reyes is dumb (nor that players are easily categorized as smart or dumb with no accounting for deviation on a given day) but that his instincts sometimes get the best of him and his instincts are often terrible. Hooray for wanting to make something good happen as opposed to waiting for something bad to happen which is what Castillo and Wright were doing. A razzberry for letting that desire get ahead of his brain.
    And slide if you're going to be that antsy about the whole thing.
    Lousy coaching (along with deplorable managing) can be considered a contributing factor as well.

  • Anonymous

    I think I might enjoy being a Marlins fan.
    Extremely low expectations. Incredibly low payroll.
    And they play with some F#@KING attitude!
    Not to mention the World Series win over the Yankees (how sweet was that?).
    I'm so ashamed…

  • Anonymous

    Plus PLENTY of good seats available.

  • Anonymous

    I am going to try to lower my expectations for this ungood team. I just wish I could get the payroll dollar signs out of my head. My family of five doesn't eat for the day when I go to a game for Christ's sake.

  • Anonymous

    I will never understand why Willie has Castillo bunting when Reyes is on first base. It's simple baseball: have the game's fastest runner steal BEFORE Castillo attempts to bunt. Chances are Reyes is going to make it to second. THEN, bunt him over to third, so if there are less than 2 outs, a simple flyball scores the run. It's not rocket science, doesn't Willie get it?

  • Anonymous

    You answered your own question.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. If this were 10000 BC, Willie would regard the wheel with suspicion. He doesn't play the transportation game that way, his guys are winners and just need to get a little rhythm going, they've carried heavy carts up the hill before and he trusts them to do it again.

  • Anonymous

    Couldn't've said it better myself, Jason. My friends and I were livid about that bunt fiasco in the 8th. There were so many things wrong with that play as you amply discussed. This is what I hate, though, so much more than bad baseball, stupid baseball. Illogical, avoidable, embarrassing baseball.
    We were too busy laughing joyously at Austin Kearns' ineptitude to realize Wright's and Castillo's blunders. But man, that stuff makes me want to boo. I thought Wright was smarter than that. Did Willie say anything to them afterwards? Arg. This team.

  • Anonymous

    remember the joy in 05 and 06 when the players played baseball like it oughta be? how often did we have to stop and think of synonyms for head's-up and crisp?
    how long has it been since we had to?
    yesterday's game was stunning only in its starkness. a 1-0 loss against a last-place team in a game that had spent much of the afternoon building a legend. all the good washed away by absolutely inexcusably stupid play.
    (i'm reminded of the hope maine gave us all sept. 29 with his masterful performance. of course, the mets WON that game. now they've managed to compress the best and worst of a season in the same afternoon.)
    yes, willie should go. the only problem i have — and i think the only problem the wilpons and minaya have — is i cannot come up with an adequate replacement. maybe wally backman?

  • Anonymous

    Here's a interesting theory…
    There's been a lot of talk about how Willie knew what he was doing in 05 and 06, but lost something for 07 and 08. You know what he lost? Manny Acta.

  • Anonymous

    I'm not opposed to Obie. He's got a sterling reputation, the kids who came up through the system have played for him and, hell, what are the other options?
    The team that shipped Milledge off (a move that's turned out brilliantly in my book) for (prorbably contributing) off-field issues sure isn't going to bring Backman back in.
    Bobby V (a pipedream anyway) must be happy in Japan (or so we'd be led to believe by the documentarians).
    As much as I think this team needs an injection of the '86 attitude, there really aren't any options among that bunch, as Carter seems to have burned bridges and Keith needs 60 games off a year. Honestly, I'd love to see Mex at the helm. In a perfect world, he's my skipper.
    Anyway, I'm sure there are other options out there, but I do like the idea of giving Obie (nicknamed because I can't be 100% sure how to spell his name and can't be arsed to look it up – I'm On Lunch!) a shot.

  • Anonymous

    A fine point.
    Also lost: Julio Franco.
    I'm just sayin' …

  • Anonymous

    The team has no center no heart no focus no direction..Willie seems to simply be there as a fan not a manager..Sandy Sr has got to go. The whole damn clubhouse has become way to comfortable with underachieving and it's the paying fans who will suffer…
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    Something has been bothering me about this game (aside from the obvious, I mean) and I finally realized what it was.
    On Thursday, June 22, 2006 my brother, our friend Dmitri and I went to Shea to see the Mets play the Reds in a day game. It was a fateful day for many reasons: Pedro's last W before the dark days of the DL, Wright's two homers at the height of his MVP candidate glory.
    It stands out now because, just like yesterday (also a Thursday, incidentally), the $5 upper deck seats were sold out and so they offered us seats at the back of the loge for the same price. Despite the annoying overhang obstruction, we took those seats willingly and the June game was a great success. We even got a chant going that yielded bunch of Ks in a row for Pedro. Walking into the ballpark yesterday, we wondered if the substitute seats would have the same magic.
    For six innings, it seemed possible. The no-hitter had us salivating and the symmetry was almost perfect. The game had been against the Reds. We had just finished playing them. Austin Kearns had made a great catch for the Reds in that '06 game and yesterday he couldn't seem to catch anything for the Nats. Wright had hit both his homers that day on 2-0 counts with a runner on first. He came up in yesterdays game in the same situation, but fouled the pitch back. No problem, we thought. Pelfrey's got our back; the Mets'll score eventually. Well, we didn't count on Aaron Fucking Boone.
    We also didn't count on Reyes repeating a play that worked brilliantly for him on the June 22 game. Chris Woodward (the Magic Rat we sometimes called him) hit a chopper down the third base line with Reyes on first. The Reds' third baseman (Juan Castro apparently) fielded it and threw to first, leaving third base vacated. Reyes never hesitated tearing around second and made it all the way to third before the Reds even realized what was going on. At the time, it seemed to epitomize what made Reyes so awesome. Now, it seems like the bitter irony of the baseball gods.
    Perhaps Reyes sensed us in attendance with our repeat substitute loge seats. Perhaps he sensed that strange rupture in the space-time continuum, that resonance with a better day at Shea during a better year. Perhaps he reached out for it, in desperation, to recapture what had made games in 2006 different from these abortions of fiascoes of debacles that we call games in 2008. Or maybe he didn't think at all. Maybe that's the difference between 2006 and 2008. One thing's for sure, the $5 loge seats have lost their magic.

  • Anonymous

    He also lost Cliff Floyd….

  • Anonymous

    (Is it too early to suggest that Reyes, for all his electricity and thousand-watt smiles, is a dumb player?)
    uh . . . NO !!! 2006 will prove to be his high water mark . . . he will NEVER mature into an intelligent ballplayer and will continue to be a frustrating player who is occasionally brilliant rather than vice versa

  • Anonymous

    I wish I could say you are wrong, but at this juncture I can't..
    Young players in team sports these days rely on sheen physical ability to make up for a lack a game smarts. We have been so conditioned to simply accept this as 'just the way it is' that criticizing it seems almost unfair, but of course, it's not..

  • Anonymous

    you're giving jose too much credit. if he sensed that much, he would have RUN to second.
    anyway, jason is rational and even at times poetic about this team, and he is absolutely losing his shit. and me? i'm ecstatic. finally the mainstream of the fanbase is coming to grips what i have seen since june. it is a fine line between madmen and prophets.
    maybe there's hope after this gets straightened out. maybe just vindication. either way.