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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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Before Doom Comes Optimism

This falls under the heading of Things I’d Dearly Like to Be Proved Wrong About, but I suspect the dominant storyline of the 2010 Mets will be how long it takes even the most optimistic among us to concede that the team isn’t going anywhere.

Imagine I could erase all memory of 2009 baseball from your brain. (If I could offer such a gift, dear friends, I promise I would.) From this fresh, clean perspective, survey the goings-on in Port St. Lucie over the last six weeks. Your reaction probably would be something like this:

  • Oh God, Jose Reyes didn’t get any kind of decent spring training! He’s going to have to get his timing and hone his swing throughout April!
  • No Beltran until at least mid-May? AUGGHH! And what’s with the screwy way they handled his injury? It almost feels like he doesn’t trust them!
  • Johan Santana’s location has been consistently awful. I am really worried.
  • John Maine has been horrible. He’s been beaten like a kettledrum out there.
  • Oliver Perez looks like he’s in good shape, but he’s been horrible and wild and distracted.
  • Mike Pelfrey has been horrible. I don’t know if he’s scared of his own defense or just can’t figure it out, but it’s bad.
  • Why on earth are we turning this kid Mejia into a reliever when he’s got the makings of a front-line starter?
  • Why do we think Mejia’s ready when his most-recent numbers against real competition give every indication he isn’t?
  • Was Mike Jacobs put on this roster for any other reason than the old Neanderthal standby that he’s been on big-league rosters before? He can only do one thing at the plate and nothing in the field.
  • If people are going to be put on rosters solely because they’re veterans, why are we jettisoning a useful pitcher like Nelson Figueroa?

And you know what? You’d be right. It’s only in comparison to the scorched-earth disaster that was 2009 that 2010 spring training doesn’t look like a disaster in its own right. The Mets’ plan for the offseason was either bizarre or not worthy of the name, the starting pitching looks so thin you can see through it, the relief corps consists of Pedro Feliciano and guys who are either unknown quantities or depressingly known ones, two core offensive players will start the season on the shelf, and there are already signs that the decision-makers are looking at short-term fixes even if those create long-term problems. (I love Jenrry Mejia. He shouldn’t be here.)

The 2010 Mets look like a disaster in the making. At this point it’s useless to carp that it didn’t have to be this way, so I will resolutely fix my gaze ahead, to where the view is no more encouraging. I’ll give it until about May 15 before towels start getting thrown in, and June 15 before the incurable optimists experience a medical breakthrough.

This isn’t to say that all is lost. There were some bright green shoots in spring training that give me real hope for 2011, if they’re properly nurtured. We know about Mejia. If Ike Davis and Josh Thole stay on track, they could be ready to take their places in the starting lineup near the end of this season. I’m excited to see a full season from Jon Niese, and to figure out if Angel Pagan is a late (though not too late) bloomer. Ruben Tejada could some quickly. Fernando Martinez had a great spring, and has been through the glare and disappointment of New York and emerged alive. And 2011 needn’t just be a youth movement. Santana, Beltran, Wright, Reyes and Bay will all still be here. Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Tim Hudson and Cliff Lee will be free agents at the end of this season. Looking short-term, I have little hope. Looking just a little farther down the road, I have a fair amount.

And looking at the really short-term, I’m giddy. The last couple of days have seen me fidgeting and wishing it were time to get on my gear and head for the 2/3 which will take me to the 7. Despite all of the above, I can’t wait until Monday. Or even Sunday, though I could do without an instant serving of Yankees-Red Sox. Even if you like those teams, why start this way? Can you imagine a Bud Selig dinner party? Hi, welcome, don’t even take your coat off yet BECAUSE THIS EVENING MUST BEGIN WITH CRAMMING HALF A RIB ROAST DOWN YOUR THROAT!

But come Monday, I want to see the apple in its new home. I want to see the new banners. (In color, no less!) I want to eyeball the new friezes for Casey and Gil, and the (now-corrected) plaques for great moments, and get a look at the Mets museum, and see if the stairwells are painted, and see if there are new miscellaneous touches that say “this is the home of the Mets.” I want to see if McFadden’s is worth adding to my routine. I want to see familiar faces. I want to make that can’t-go-wrong choice between Shake Shack and Taqueria. I want to chat with my co-blogger and not have to ask him what’s going on, because the answer will be happily obvious. I want to hear the National Anthem and see red-white-and-blue bunting and then let myself get too excited for baseball and then relax back into it. There will be plenty of time to feel doomed. It’ll wait a bit.

13 comments to Before Doom Comes Optimism

  • srt

    Ouch….

    I can’t throw the towel in before the season has even started. So I guess I’m one of those you note who will be waiting for a ‘medical breakthrough’ come June.

  • Oh, I haven’t thrown it in yet either. That would be silly, and like I said, I’d love to be wrong. But I have done some preseason towel-hefting to get a sense of the weight and arc, and eyeballed a likely landing spot. Forewarned is forearmed.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    I became pessamsitic when watching other clubs being reviewed on MLB Network’s “30Clubs in 30 Days”series. So many looked stronger and made me realize how weak we really are.

    The problem was that a few years back Omar quickly built the team around veterans and at that time I had the feeling that it was either 2006/2007 or nothing. Exept for Wright, Reyes and Beltran I doubted anyone on the roster would be around by this time. The rotation of Pedro, Glavine, El Duque and Traeschal was built for then along with the right side of the infield, catching left field and right and the bench. That’s too much of a turnover to expect any team to remain in contention.

  • I think a good question at this point is, “what’s the over/under on when the Mets stop running the ‘we believe’ ad campaign?”

    I say June 1.

    I’m more excited to see the improvements at Citi Field than I am to see the team, oddly enough. If I can make peace with our new home this season, I’ll consider it a good year.

  • 5w30

    Did you see the NY Times’ Vecsey’s own gloom and doom …
    the big line is:
    “The Mets have become irrelevant.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/sports/baseball/04vecsey.html?hp

    • Oh, no team is ever irrelevant. There are a million or so people for which the Mets are relevant no matter where they are in the standings. That’s just newspaper boxing-match bullshit.

      But the Mets are certainly confused, bad and incompetently run. No argument there, alas.

    • I ♥ George Vecey with all my ♥, but no, not irrelevant. I sense between the lines the frustration of someone who wishes the best for this team but the sense that he’s seen it all before and doesn’t have the energy to ride out what appears to be hopeless before it becomes plainly hopeful again.

      Which it will, maybe sooner than we understand.

  • I don’t believe this spring was a disaster, Beltran and Murphy aside (And Reyes better not miss more than the 4 games. I’ve not even been properly convinced he still shouldn’t be there Opening Day.) Spring Training means so little (absolutely nothing ) that I’m refusing to be even mildly disturbed by the pitching. I’m Optimistic, and I feel i have reason to be which I won’t recount at this time. (Sean Green bothers me a little..not because he really has left a bad taste in my mouth at any point, but because his main problem is walks, and he walked a lot of guys this spring)

    I have big issues with Manuel and Warthen and definitely think they have, and will, cost the Mets games based on managerial decisions. (I’m still not sure about Omar. I like some if it, but then he seems to make choices like Green and Mejia, and I just can’t help but wonder why/how Manuel has so much influence.)

    But I think this team is good, and I believe they’ll surprise people. I see you give me until June 15th, but nothing I’ve seen from the Phillies suggests to me they’re going to be better than the 93 wins in a bad division they had last year, and it actually seems to me they could easily be decently worse, so the NL East will NOT be decided in June.

  • Andee

    Almost every starting pitcher of note has been pasted badly this spring: Lincecum, Sabathia, Johnson, Carpenter, Burnett, Wainwright, Peavy, etc. Can’t tell doodly about squat from spring stats, I’m afraid.

    The Nelson Figueroa Perplex is kind of dizzying. I like the guy, don’t get me wrong, and I’d rather they’d kept him even if they think Nieve and Tak2 can do the same job already. But how do you figure that if he’s that good, no other MLB team wants him and he has to go to Japan? It’s got to be politics (with a small p). Something about this guy just rubs GMs the wrong way; I’m damned if I know what, although I suspect he just doesn’t throw hard enough for them.

    Politics also has to be why they kept Cat and Jacobs (the lefty Dave Kingman) over Carter. All managers have their pets, but they shouldn’t take up half the roster, or it’s the Seattle Pilots all over again. If Jerry is really trying to save his ass from the chopping block, just having Mejia around ain’t going to do it. If the kid has no lead to protect, it might as well be Sean Green out there.

    Speaking of Mejia, I honestly thought Jeffco would put his foot down and say, “You assclowns are not costing me a future ace. Mejia goes down, and that’s that.” And to be honest with you, Mejia being with the big club doesn’t bother me so much as him being told not to throw any breaking balls. Pedro Martinez broke in with the Dodgers under similar circumstances, but they didn’t limit his arsenal, and by the end of his rookie season, he was sporting his legendary curveball. (Speaking of playing favorites, Lasorda’s lack of wood over Pedro’s physique is what cost the Dodgers an ace, the likes of which they haven’t had since. I have to wonder if, similarly, the Mets think Mejia isn’t large enough to make it as a starter. Like having Pedro and Mike Hampton around didn’t teach them anything.)

    What I hope is that someone like Santana (although who else but?) takes the kid aside and says, “Don’t listen to Jerry, you’re going to be around a lot longer than he is. You want a changeup, I’ve got one for you. It doesn’t matter what he says; if you can get people out with it, he’ll love it, or be out on his ass.” Just pleasepleasePLEASE don’t let Jerry run him out there on consecutive games, PLEASE.

    At least now there’s a lot more depth in case anyone gets hurt or just plain old sucks out loud and can be inexpensively cut; I figured they’d send down almost anyone they could after what happened last year, although I don’t know why they’re keeping Tejada for just five games, unless they’re figuring on working him into second base (which would be nice). I just hope, if the kids show they’re ready upstate, that the team can manage to clear places for them. Spending April showcasing GMJr for other teams isn’t ipso facto a bad idea; he’ll probably bust his ass to make an impression, which means they could well manage to move him when it’s time. But letting him (and Jacobs, et al) clog the roster when they’ve got someone better in AAA would be bad.

  • Jacobs27

    I agree, but don’t hate on Jacobs so much, Jace. He’s just happy to be here again. Of course he is a one-skill hitter and a sub-par defender, but if we can get him on one of his hot streaks to start of the season, we might at least get to see some nice, long home runs at Citifield–something we didn’t see much of last year.

    I’ll take it.

    And while it’s still pre-season and I can be delusionally optimistic, who knows, maybe he’ll discover he wonders of on base percentage in returning to the Mets.

    All I know is I’ve kept this username all these years for a reason. And I’ll be damned if I don’t take some enjoyment in this unlikely return–even if it is a sign of how desparate and screwed up our team is.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Well, here in England, despite the doom and gloom from the Big Apple,I’m looking forward to the season. Paid up me MLB TV subscription, bought a big TV to send the pics from me laptop to and Opening Day is even on an afternoon which means I get to see it LIVE ;-D Yeah, I know we’re gonna struggle, 3rd in the division and a winning season would probably represent marginal success but lets look for positives. We got some good kids coming through and no season is ever that bad when you get to see Johan!!

    GO METS!!

  • [...] Jason Fry: “The 2010 Mets look like a disaster in the making. At this point it’s useless to carp that it didn’t have to be this way, so I will resolutely fix my gaze ahead, to where the view is no more encouraging. I’ll give it until about May 15 before towels start getting thrown in, and June 15 before the incurable optimists experience a medical breakthrough.” [...]

  • com682

    I just checked out Mitchell Karasik pre season video report on the Mets, he discuses 5 Key Points the New York Mets need to address. Over all i thought it was good. just wanted to share.
    http://bit.ly/cvZbUD
    Im really looking forward to this season