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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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Don’t Look in the Box Score

The Mets didn’t commit an error tonight in losing the rubber game of the series to Ronny Paulino, Burke Badenhop and company.

But don’t tell Jon Niese that.

Niese pitched pretty well, mixing his pitches and generally hitting his spots. (Said spots perhaps were a wee too near the heart of the plate in the late goings, but that’s forgivable.) He pitched even better when you factor in how little help he got.

The play-by-play will tell you that in the first Cameron Maybin singled to right and a bit later Dan Uggla singled to left to put the Marlins up 1-0. The play-by-play doesn’t mention that Maybin’s ball journeyed approximately through Fernando Tatis, or that Uggla’s skipped by David Wright’s awkward backhand. Both go more in the category of Plays Not Made than Bad Plays, but they still meant extra pitches to make, extra outs to find and an extra run for the enemy.

The play-by-play doesn’t mention Wright pausing in semi-consternation before routine throws to first, which I’d rather not see become a habit again. It doesn’t mention that Jeff Francoeur gave up on Jorge Cantu’s third-inning double, which should have yielded a Marlin run except for a Met fan who corralled the ball and the gaggle of umpires who decided not to give Hanley Ramirez home plate, even though there was no way Francoeur would have thrown him out. (The Met fan made the defensive play of the night.) None of those misdeeds cost the Mets on the scoreboard, but that doesn’t mean they were pretty to watch.

Oh, and the play-by-play doesn’t mention that Maybin’s fifth-inning single traveled past a nearly immobile Luis Castillo. Cantu, that beady-eyed killer, would soon make it 2-1 Marlins.

No defense would have caught the balls Niese served up in the sixth, so that run’s on him. But with better glovework from his teammates, he might have been in a 1-1 game with 15 or so fewer pitches expended. Again, there were no egregious misplays behind him, and nothing that shows up in the box score. But plays not made can kill the confidence of starting pitchers and tax the bullpen and lead to losses just as surely as big glaring Es on the scoreboard can. It’s demise in slower motion, perhaps, but you wind up in the same place.

6 comments to Don’t Look in the Box Score

  • srt

    For some reason, I was far less annoyed at last night’s loss than the 2nd game of the season. Probably because I was encouraged by Jon Niese’s start and completely unimpressed by Maine’s.

    We were out pitched last night, no doubt about it. It’s going to happen more often than we’d like when we’re looking at 3 replacement players. (Jeeze, I thought 2009 was over….)

    Anyway….Jose back Saturday – yippie. Beltran right on schedule. Murph ahead of schedule. Although I can’t help wondering if Ike Davis, (check out his 3 for 3 last night) might not be here sooner than anyone thought….

  • [...] Alright, forget the poor defense and cold bats. Forget that Nate Robertson turned into Tom Seaver for five innings. Forget that there were only 25,982 fannies in the seats at Citi Field. Forget the 3-1 score. As Jason Fry says, forget the boxscore. [...]

  • Joe D.

    If the usually hustling Franceour stops going after a ball before it’s declared foul I’m afraid it means even he’s not immune to adopting the bad habits of his team mates. Neither Jerry or Willie did anything to stop their lasidasical attitude and though the Mets showed hustle in games one and two I’m hoping that’s not it for the season.

    • cropseymonster

      Spot on, Joe D . . . and if it continues, it won’t be long til Fred and Little Jeffy will be longing for the days of 25,982 fannies in the seats at Citi Field . . . new season, same mess made of it by management/ownership

  • I’ll give you another, weirder example of a misleading box score from yesterday’s A’s-Mariners game in Oakland. Bottom 8th, runner on 1st, nobody out. Oakland batter lays down a sacrifice bunt attempt…off the hands of the third baseman charging in, and backed up by the catcher. Catcher for Seattle played the ball with his mask (that’s a no-no). It went in the books as a “ground rule double”. but it appears as not just a hit in the box score, but a 2B, and I think he also scored on the sac bunt attempt.

    I listened to the 1st inning last night on the radio and it sounded like Niese did nothing wrong but trust his defense.

  • MetsMom

    We were at the game and said the same thing – Niese was victimized by the defense. He looked good, and maintained his composure, which was more than we could do as we watched the ball go through Tatis and past Castillo.