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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 Marvelous Mess in Cincy

Now that was a fun game.

A mess, to be sure — a big, brawling, unpredictable, crazy game, with lots of reversals and no guarantees, particularly if you were a Reds pitcher asking your defense to get a freaking out already — but a fun mess.

For four innings Jonathon Niese looked untouchable, coolly sawing Reds apart with his cutter, but in the fifth the wheels came off, along with both axles and the transmission, and then the gas tank went up and the airbags deployed and I think something bad might have happened with the cupholders. Meanwhile, poor Johnny Cueto could barely breathe for all the daggers in his back — Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Miguel Cairo (twice) and Edgar Renteria all betrayed him, leading to the rather startling line of 5 IP 6 R 0 ER. When the Reds had an all-hands meetings at the mound, I was generally curious what the infielders said to Cueto. “Eight guys behind ya” probably wasn’t uttered, considering that four of the five Reds present had demonstrated clear ineptitude, with Ramon Hernandez the lone holdout, and only because Laz Diaz decided a catcher’s interference call needed peer review.

The Mets, meanwhile, turned in one of those games that give you delusions of grandeur. Hats off to Terry Collins, who moved smoothly down the line of JV relievers, getting just enough from Manny Acosta, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Beato and finally Tim Byrdak to assemble four innings of one-run ball without calling on Bobby Parnell or Jason Isringhausen. And hats off to the Mets’ impressive collection of useful players — guys who aren’t stars and might not even be regulars, but who seem to find a way when it matters.

(Momentary digressions: Yonder Alonso might be the best baseball name I’ve heard since Stubby Clapp — and i don’t think he’s Canadian. And old age has given Miguel Cairo an odd resemblance to Popeye, down to the comma eyes and puffy cheeks and ill-advised slapstick.)

But back to useful Mets. There was Justin Turner spraying balls around the park, even if he was a little too enthusiastic on the basepaths. (“Memo from Turner to Reds re Tonight’s Game: FUCK YOU!” I announced, purely to entertain myself — I have nothing against the Reds and had pretty much forgotten they existed before this series.) Daniel Murphy, the mighty Irish Hammer, collected three hits, raised his average to .313 and played three and a half hours at first without cutting off a potential out at home or putting a crushing block on his own team’s closer. (“Erin Go FUCK YOU!” I bellowed happily as Murph wielded his shillelagh to great effect.) Jason Pridie’s ringing double (if it were an indie song we’d have called it plangent) down the right-field line after Niese spat the bit turned a momentary Reds lead back into a Mets lead so fast you wondered if you’d imagined the bad stuff. (Sorry, I had no for-the-heck-of-it profanity regarding Pridie.) Ronny Paulino and his amazingly silly facial hair chipped in a double, with Paulino hooking second base with his fingertips and somehow stopping his considerable momentum. I still don’t know how Paulino did that — it was like one of those movie scenes where one character falls off a cliff and another character grabs him and pulls him up (after a dramatic speech), all with one hand.

But that’s not a bad description of this year’s Mets. I’m not quite sure how they aren’t lying broken at the bottom of the cliff, but the evidence is irrefutable: There they are, holding on to tree roots and thinking about their next move. And now they’re windmilling their feet like Wile E. Coyote and hurling the villains sent to dispatch them over the edge and WHOA! They’re back up on the mountain! But wait — here comes the rest of the posse, and the Mets … OH NO! The Mets are out of bullets! They’re looking at each other in consternation as the horses race toward them! Looks bad for our heroes — but then it did in the last chapter too, and I’ve got a funny feeling that they just might think of something.

Tune in tomorrow night for the next thrilling chapter!

16 comments to A Marvelous Mess in Cincy

  • March'62

    Don’t you just love that Collins now has the ability to bring in Byrdak to close it out against a tough lefty. Back in the KRUD days, he would have had to stick with the righty ‘closer’ or he would hear it from the MLBPA, the ASPCA, and the LaRussa foundation. Yes Jason, this season has definitely been fun and it sounds like unless we get a stud in return, Beltran is sticking. And the Mets plan for the playoffs is simple:

    1. get our ace back next month
    2. make sure the Phillies have 3 Tommy John surgeries in August
    3. match the Braves’ payments to home plate umpires

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    I’m actually wondering why so many are surprised about Daniel Murphy’s
    hitting.

    Remember how he impressed everyone within the organization with what was
    called an intelligent hitting approach when coming up in the middle of 2008
    and batting .313?   Both Keith and Ron lauded him for a mature
    understanding of the strike zone and pitch count.  

    He started out 2009 asour everyday left fielder but this was met with criticism by the media led by Mike Francesa.   Some of that pessimism was justified of course, due to
    his glove in left for as we all found out, it was atrocious.  To keep his bat
    in the lineup he was thrust into first base, literally learning the
    position as he played.  With that weight on his shoulders he still managed
    to hit .266 but even  when his average and home run power climbed it was
    scoffed at by most for being accumulated in September against call-ups.

    His anemic .223 against in 2009 lefties again came at a time when he was suddenly thrust into trying to  learn first base without any prior experience in order to possibly salvage any chance of making it in the big leagues.  As mentioned, his outfield play was so bad he couldn’t even  be considered as a platoon player in left and there is no designated hitter in the senior circuit; he also could look over his shoulder and know the Mets had a hot prospect in Ike Davis who could even take that job away from him.  That’s a lot of pressure for someone with just a half-season of major league ball under his belt trying to prove he belongs in the majors.  

    It therefore comes as no surprise his overall hitting two years ago would falter by concentrating so much more on his fielding so much more than most would need to.

    Injuries kept him out in 2010.  Yet while learning how to play second base
    and shifting between three infield positions, he’s now not letting it
    affect his bat. He is now a valuable piece of that lineup.

    With Daniel making an adventure of some many fielding plays and base running situations I have affectionatly come to think of him as “Marvelous Murph”. Had he been on the 1962 squad, his name would be legendary!

    But this is 2011 and so again, my original question: why are so many people surprised about how well he is hitting?

  • Flip

    Jason, I admit it, you’re right, you win…. This team really has been fun to watch this year. Last night’s game was no exception. By the way, Joe D., you’re also absolutely right about Murph. With his swing and approach, and given enough Major League at bats, you knew he’d eventually hit. He definitely did get bogged down with improving (and I use the term loosely) his defense. This is just my humble opinion, but I really think his best, most natural position is third. And if they don’t keep Wright next year, I could see him filling in, possibly. There’d be less power numbers, but fewer strike-outs, as well. Don’t forget, Wright was pretty shaky at third for quite some time before he settled down.
    One last inane ramble: for the love of GOD, can someone please get Jason Bay to stand just one inch closer to the plate?!! Anyone agree/disagree with me on this one?

  • eric b

    Any chance of Murphy at third and Wright at second? Wright’s throwing from 3rd has been an issue from time to time…and we all remember Alfonzo making the 3rd to 2nd move. I don’t think Wright would be great at 2nd…but he’d be better than Murphy. And Murphy would be least bad at third.

    Too bad he can’t seem to field any position…

  • Dak442

    Is there any chance that given some offseason work and a full spring training, Murph could make himself into a passable outfielder? I mean, the guy’s a professional athlete. Outfield really isn’t that hard, he just needs reps to learn to judge balls.

  • Joe D.

    Why not let Marvelous Murph stay at second? One cannot move wright from third and I think Murphy has the hands to cover the keystone base but needs more work to be a thinking second baseman.

    • This might just be my prejudices, but I think second baseman are more born than made, and Murph will only ever be passable there.

      But if the bat’s good enough, we can live with passable — Tejada comes in for defense, Turner becomes the supersub who gets 275 ABs, etc.

      And now back to waiting for definitive Beltran news….

      • Joe D.

        Hi Jason,

        Why wouldn’t Marvelous Murph qualify as a born secondbaseman instead of being made? Haven’t you ever heard about being “born again”?

      • Rob D.

        Beltran for Zack Wheeler. If he had to go somewhere, glad it’s there.

  • mikeL

    Beltran heading to SF per joel sherman. I can live with that.

  • Joe D.

    Yeah,

    Was hoping for that outfielder they were talking about but the Giants strength is pitching, not hitting, so the surplus was with a throwing arm and in return we get a very highly ranked pitcher in Wheeler, who is about two seasons away. Will miss Carlos (hey, finally got his bobblehead doll on Friday) but if he really was planning to walk, this is better than nothing.

    It is a new experience, however, to have a star player walk AWAY from a New York team so now we know how Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland, Minnesota, etc. felt. Not a good one, that’s for sure.

  • Matt from Woodside

    Tune in tomorrow night for the next thrilling chapter!

    C’mon everybody! Big Pelf dun got hisself stuck in old man Baker’s well!

    • Yep, this might be the episode where Big Dumb Pelf tries to hide in a box canyon again, and as the posse corners him the surviving Mets slip away, too good-hearted to admit that they’ll have a better chance without BDP constantly falling off his horse, getting bit by rattlesnakes, forgetting his canteen and pointing the six-shooter the wrong way.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Real proud of our guys last night. At least a hundred times I’ve seen the version where we give up the 4-0 lead and roll over. Instinct told me we were going there again (just like instinct told me the night before “if he walks Bruce, game over”). It’s so nice when the Mets prove me wrong.

    Watching the post-game I made a half-dozen “they battled” jokes.

  • [...] a whale of a ballgame — and were reminded that this year’s Mets team just keeps somehow finding a way. On Sunday the season flat-lined as the Mets lost Jose Reyes and then Daniel Murphy in the finale [...]