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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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A Shame by Any Name

That was a brutal way to lose a baseball game. I’m referring to tonight against Cody Ross and the Marlins, though I could be referring to Wednesday afternoon against the Nationals, Monday night against the Nationals, Sunday afternoon against the Giants, last Wednesday against the Reds or last Monday against the Reds.

But then brutal is what happens at Soilmaster Stadium, that dispiriting, poorly lighted, oddly colored den of horrors.

Technically, Soilmaster has a new name: Sun Life Stadium. At least I think that’s what it’s called now. Honestly, I don’t particularly care — I had trouble remembering the Marlins’ park wasn’t actually called Soilmaster Stadium, and that’s just a joke Greg and I came up with at some point in 5+ years of chronicling mostly aggravating things that have happened to the Mets when they visit.

Shooting holes in our own feet is so well-established a tradition when playing the Marlins at Soilmaster Stadium that I can’t even work up more than grudging admiration for the old-fashioned showdown between gunslingers Johan Santana and Josh Johnson. Santana was armed with his indomitable will and more importantly his changeup, while Johnson had that cannonball fastball and perfect location. After he blew away Jason Bay in the sixth, I couldn’t even manage to be aggravated: Bay, no slouch at hitting a baseball, hadn’t had a chance.

OK, so maybe I did admire it some. But then both aces were in the discard pile, leaving various mid-range clubs and diamonds to fumble along in their wake. You knew, somehow, that the first team to make a mistake would wind up sitting glumly in the clubhouse. Given the Marlins’ seeming lack of interest in catching balls, you might have thought the Mets had the advantage — and perhaps tricked yourself into a sense of optimism when Luis Castillo wound up at second with nobody out in the ninth. But if so, you’d probably pushed all the awful things that have happened to the Mets here out of memory.

Last time it was stupid for Jose Reyes to bunt, and he screwed it up. Tonight the bunt was harder to argue with, and Jose screwed up, after which Bay grounded out and David Wright … wait, a minute, you WILL NEVER GUESS … struck out. And soon enough there stood Fernando Nieve, on the way to being one-armed by July, with the porcine Cody Ross on third, his fellow Met killer Ronny Paulino on first, and one out. Would the fatal blow be a bloop hit? A de facto single over an already-departing outfielder after walking the bases loaded? A misplay? A ball lost in the lights? A balk?

Perhaps it would be a ball buried a little too solidly in the dirt to Dan Uggla, one you thought Rod Barajas maybe should’ve got, until you remembered he’s playing with a busted finger and was our offense for the night and forgave him. Wild pitch. Game over.

You probably didn’t guess it would be that, but you knew it would be something. It always is at Soilmaster Stadium.

***

Next Tuesday, May 18, 7 p.m.: AMAZIN’ TUESDAY makes its Grand Central Terminal debut at the Two Boots in the Lower Dining Concourse. Read about our Mets reading series here.

11 comments to A Shame by Any Name

  • How is it hard to argue with that bunt call?

    The Mets have a runner in scoring position with their #3 hitter up, an All-Star for that matter. A hit probably wins the game. Why give him up? To give Jason Bay a chance at a flyball out?

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  • Andee

    I agree with Dan Lewis. A #3 hitter should not be bunting. Ever. Especially with the go-ahead run on second. Carlos Beltran, if you asked him to bunt in that situation, would just laugh at you. You’re paying me how much, to do what, now?

    Reyes has been struggling, yes…but at this point, he should be batting 7th or 8th if Jerry doesn’t trust him to swing away in that situation and if he doesn’t think Reyes is up to speed enough to hit leadoff right now. (Though I don’t know about that, Reyes seems pretty agile in the field these days.) Move Barajas and Davis up, por favor. Ike is a big boy, he can handle it. And it’s completely silly to have your home run leader batting 8th. Also, can we give Frenchy a rest against a tough RHP and let Carter have a start? Pleez?

  • Yeah, you’re right. It was stupid in both cases.

  • Matt from Sunnyside

    I can understand Manuel’s call, though. Reyes is good at bunting. He always has been. He occasionally bunts and makes it to first with no one on base. Luis is on second with no one out? Just get Castillo over and ask Bay to hit a fly.

    Carlos Beltran bunting? I mean, he’s not as good at bunting as Jose. I do think Jose should go back to hitting leadoff soon, and that this experiment to lengthen the lineup looked better on paper than it did in reality, but that particular call? Apples and Oranges. Jose may be our current #3 hitter, but he is one of the best bunters in the league, and it was a chance to scratch out a run in the 9th in a 1 to 1 game.

  • Andee

    Reyes has some talent for drag bunting for a hit, not sacrificing, which has never been something he’s been called upon to do very much for most of his time in the majors. Very different skill, since you’re trying to get it farther away from the plate if you’re dragging, and if he does that in this situation, he runs a high risk of getting the runner hung up between second and third. Against a lefthanded pitcher, he’d turn around to bat righty, and then a drag bunt might have made more sense.

    If he was actually good at sacrificing, it would have been another story, since the lineup is what it is and he has been colder than a penguin’s…uh, nose. But if he stinks at it, which it’s obvious he does, and there’s no danger of doubling him up, for gods’ sake let him swing away. Even a fly ball could have moved Castillo up.

  • SJGMoney

    For a major league player, ANY player in ANY spot in the lineup to be unable to execute a sac bunt is a disgrace. When you actually watch how pathetic Reyes attempts were it makes it even worse. He didn’t want to do it and he went about it with a disgraceful attitude. He set himself up to fail there. I wanted to reach thru my TV and strangle his sorry ass. Time to sit him down again once again attempt to teach him a lesson. You just know not running out a ground ball is next,

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Blame this loss on Jerry Manuel. He never should have come to the mound in the ninth inning to tell Nieve to bounce one in the dirt in order to get the runner out at home plate.

  • oogieball

    After games like this, I just go to my happy place. Right now, my happy place is Davis going into the dugout to catch a pop foul.

    Serenity now.

  • @oogieball

    In Florida, he’s going to have to make those catches without the benefit of a railing.

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