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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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Ordinary People

Y’know what they say about not believing all that much of what you see in April and September? Throw the mythical month of Metuary into that mix of incredulity. Metuary is that span of time when the Mets aren’t the Mets. They’re just whoever’s in Mets uniforms playing whatever positions Mets normally play.

Natch, it’s not that easy to dismiss a busful of strangers on a train when the train keeps rolling down the regularly scheduled tracks and other teams keep sending their troops to meet us at the station and steal our cabs. Non-transportation translation: You’ve gotta play these games with whoever you’ve got. You’ve gotta play these games wherever they put you. That mistakes will be made because certain players shouldn’t be playing certain positions and certain players are woefully miscast and certain players are becoming overly depended upon given that they’re just not that good — hey, all of that describes Willie Harris! — is immaterial. You go out there, you need to score some runs, make some plays, win some games.

I know Terry Collins agrees with that. I heard Terry Collins mention that as steam seeped from his ears, fire raged in his eyes and climate change came to his cheeks. It was comforting to hear the manager is aware that no matter how much Mets are trying, it’s severely dismaying that almost no Mets are succeeding.

We’re talking about whoever happens to be Mets this week. Technically, it’s pretty much the same bunch whose heads we were patting for being such good Buffalo soldiers when they were gamely persevering and sporadically succeeding. That seems over now, and they seem overmatched. We’ve been going into these battles without Wright, without Davis, without (for a few days that are mercifully ending) Reyes and it shows. We have fourth outfielders playing third base, ad hoc second basemen playing first base, would-be second basemen playing shortstop and…who’s on second again?

Please, no stale “Hu’s on first” asides. The whole team’s hitting like Chin-lung Hu. And it’s fielding like Lou Costello.

The manager has had it with the bizarre misadventures that seem to mangle the Mets when seventh innings roll around. Good for him. Bad for him that he’s “running out of ideas here,” though I’m sure he’s already thought of “expect my team to execute like [bleeping] major leaguers.” Which these Mets find ways not to. They’re mishandling of leads isn’t egregious, but the subtlety — just missing tagging bases; not being alert to bunts; going for unlikely DPs while opposing runners cross plates — doesn’t make the end result any more palatable. And if bad luck and questionable judgment doesn’t do them in, suddenly hopeless relieving confirms they won’t accidentally encounter good fortune on their way to yet another dull, dispiriting loss.

Metuary is surely the longest month of the year.

What we have to keep reminding ourselves is that these aren’t, for the most part, superb, top-of-their-craft professional athletes. They’re more like regular guys…ordinary people pressed into baseball service. Even without the injuries to the essential pieces, this wasn’t going to be a finely honed outfit in 2011. If you were told on the eve of this season they’d be a few games under .500 after a third of it was over, even if you weren’t also advised that certain significant players would be out substantial chunks of time, you would have (had you been reasonable and realistic) shrugged and said, “Sounds about right.”

Yet it’s all wrong when you’re a spectating party to it on a going basis. It’s all wrong when you watch the Mets’ lineup and the Mets’ defense tell the Mets’ starting pitcher to go ahead and waste six solid innings, we’ll take care of the seventh. It’s all wrong that even when the Mets hold a lead for two-thirds of a game, you’re fairly confident that the final fraction won’t be favorable. It’s all wrong that the Mets can’t low-key a rebuilding year the way the Pirates might. It’s all wrong that the Pirates are now a better team in the standings than the Mets are. And it’s all wrong that, reportedly, the only way we can retain our franchise shortstop is to (reportedly) jettison our franchise third baseman.

But that’s a 2012 and beyond-type issue. We’re trying to negotiate 2011 for now, a year that offered no payoff upfront and is somehow finding a way to yield less than that on a nightly basis.

18 comments to Ordinary People

  • From the great catch preventing a run in the first to the four scratch infield hits in the seventh( not to mention yesterdays seventh )this team cant help but make you wonder whats next!

    Its even harder when you get a brief look at quality- or see it consistantly amid a comedy of errors that are almost predictable..

    Snake bit

    Rich P

  • Andee

    About the Reyes-or-Wright rumors: Feh. Alderson does not strike me as someone with a lot of loose lips working for him, so they pretty much have to guess what he has in mind. The media desperately wants another Midnight Massacre, favorite players given away for handfuls of magic beans, which is probably why they will not get it.

    And it’s dumb-de-dumb-dumb for the Paid Media to talk about trading Wright when he’s on the frigging DL indefinitely, and was barely hitting more than his weight when he went on it. What are they going to get for him if he’s out for the rest of the year and he finishes with those numbers? Nothing. Which is what Adam Rubin and all the rest of them are praying for, that this team will forever be the Buffalo Bisons. Screw them all to the wall.

  • boldib

    I didn’t watch, but checking the box score is all I need to know about another dreadful game. 10 hits,2 walks,3 runs. And, of course, in the middle of all that, in the “heart” of the order, is another Bay 0fer with a couple of K’s and 3 LOBs. Can’t take much more of this guy – don’t care how hard he plays. Collins has got to get him out of the run producing lineup spots. Eighth would be about right.

    The only thing that keeps me going is that St. Derek has an even worse slugging pct. than Bay. And that’s not easy.

    God, it’s like the return of Ellis Valentine.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Ordinary people – not legends.

    No green light for these guys….

  • BlackCountryMet

    I can’t take this any more. I watch the majority of games in full but delayed. 2 hrs+ of hope with the inevitable 20 minutes where, if you’ll excuse the language”it all goes SHITTY” I’m officially PISSED OFF. We may stand a chance today, it’s a day game but I’m NOT watching it live

  • Roger Tusiani-Eng

    Greg,
    I don’t know how such a pitiful, yet typical Metsian performance can put a smile on my face, yet reading your post, it absolutely cracks me up. Thank you for your dedication to our team. It helps to know that we are not alone in our suffering.
    Roger

  • 9th string catcher

    Boy oh boy – did everyone just write “Sweep” when they saw the Pirates were coming to town? Yes, the Mets are playing horribly, which they do in streaks and play pretty well in streaks time to time as well. Injuries + lack of depth = .500 baseball, which in the end is where I think this team will be. I don’t know how any other expectations could be set with the lack of starting pitching and Jason Bay.

    As for trades: I don’t see Reyes being dealt. A lot of $$$ comes off the books for next year, particularly if they can get rid of K-Rod. Beltran might get traded, but who cares – he’s done next year anyway. What I would do is if someone really wants Beltran (or Reyes for that matter), make them take Bay off our hands. Imagine the budget space with Bay, Beltran and K-rod off the roster. You keep Reyes and Wright, bring in some decent outfielders and a pitcher.

  • Brian

    Didn’t T.S. Eliot call Metuary the cruelest month “mixing memory and desire, stirring
    dull roots with spring rain…”?

    • March'62

      wait. Metuary? or mortuary?

    • Matt from Woodside

      Where are the hits that are clutch, what branches grow
      Out of this stony rubbish?

      • Brian

        “Would it have been worth while…
        …To have squeezed the universe into a ball
        To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
        To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead..”

        With some editing, a more appropriate Eliot quote for this afternoon’s game.

        • Matt from Woodside

          LET us go then, you and I,
          When the evening is spread out against the sky
          Like a patient etherised upon a table;
          Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
          Pelfry muttering retreats
          Of restless nights of ten-hit affairs
          And sawdust rows with peanut-shells:
          Aisles that follow like a tedious argument
          Of insidious intent
          To lead you to an overwhelming question …
          Oh, do not ask, “Que C’est?”
          Let us go and see the Mets.

          Dude, this has got to be the nerdiest thing ever. What a game, though!

  • Roger Tusiani-Eng

    Willie Harris is insuring that he will always be known as a Mets Killer.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Cheer Up!…Spring Training 2012 is only eight months away!

    Can’t wait for the 2012 Mets! At least during spring training you have hope and dreams!

    Then the Mets have to take the field for real and ruin it all!

    We are looking up at the Pirates right now…how sad!

  • March'62

    I can’t believe what I just saw!

  • Rob D.

    PUT IT IN THE BOOKS!!!

  • [...] Terry Collins was likely still fuming from the Mets’ inability to put away the Pittsburgh Pirates the night before. “I’m running out of ideas here,” the manager vented after a 2-0 seventh-inning lead crumbled [...]