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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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The Staggers

What’s happening to the Mets now is cruel, and hard to watch. But perhaps it’s not really unexpected.

Perhaps what was unexpected was the part we liked more — the walking on water, the withstanding injury after injury after injury, the playing scrappy, winning ball for so long. The recent run of misfortune feels like proof that the team finally took one blow too many. Maybe it was being stripped of Carlos Beltran, or Jose Reyes being hurt again, or the unexpected end of Daniel Murphy’s year. Or maybe it was just August, when good teams step on the gas and bad teams expire, and all those things are coincidental. Whatever the case, the Mets are frustrated and Terry Collins is frustrated and we’re frustrated too.

It hardly seems worth going over today’s game, but I’ll paint it with a few strokes for posterity: R.A. Dickey was very good, Yovani Gallardo was just as good, and then the Mets’ bullpen and defense caved in again. Manny Acosta had a tough Saturday, coming in to clean up Jason Isringhausen’s mess and being victimized by a couple of ground balls with eyes. Today was more of the same, with Ryan Braun hitting a pitch through the infield that he practically needed a shovel to get to. One would feel worse for Acosta except he’d walked the leadoff hitter just prior to that. Tim Byrdak came in, and got Prince Fielder to hit a grounder to Justin Turner — who made a not good but not terrible throw that Ruben Tejada let sail on by. Then Jason Isringhausen was horrible, his location way off for a second straight day, and an inning later Pedro Beato was horrible too, and the Mets were dead meat.

Oh, and now we go play the Phillies.

As Collins remarked afterwards, the shame of this descent is that it’s unraveling the Mets’ good work from earlier in the summer, threatening the good feeling surrounding the team. That’s certainly true. But maybe it, like a lot of other things, is more a lesson in being realistic.

There are Mets who have made strides this year, just as there are Mets who can prove something over the last month and change. Murphy, Tejada, Turner, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Beato can all claim to have raised their profile significantly. Angel Pagan, Dickey, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole can show us something by finishing strong. The Mets have some minor-league help on the way. The team’s financial picture could be clarified by spring. Even the much-derided dimensions of Citi Field will most likely be different. This is a different team than it was in 2010, and I think a better one. I think there’s reason to believe it will be different and better still in 2012. That’s not a failure; come November and December, I think we’ll see it and be hopeful.

But there’s still six weeks of baseball to play — and six weeks can be a long time for a demoralized, battered team. They, and we, risk losing our focus before this season is in the books.

10 comments to The Staggers

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Please, you had to remind us that there are six weeks left! it going to seem like 60 weeks the way they are playing.

    Its hard to watch them and I believe it is going to get worse. Can we just forfeit the season?

  • Ken K. from NJ

    (Murphy, Tejada, Turner, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Beato can all claim to have raised their profile significantly. Angel Pagan, Dickey, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole )

    Problem is, I have the nagging feeling that all of these guys are playing at exactly thier level, that none of them are going to “prove” anything over the next 6 weeks.

    When was the last time a Met in-year callup “raised his game” over the last month or so and followed it up with a great or even very good career? I’m not talking about the guys with high expectations, but just the Tejadas, Tholes, Turners etc. It just never seems to happen in Metsland. Instead we get Mike Vail Duda.

    • Well, the “whole career” thing is obviously too early, but I was impressed with both Davis and Duda last fall — Davis adjusted to pitchers’ initial adjustments to him and had a very fine September, which he then carried over to this year, while Duda overcame his dreadful start to have a good final month.

  • Since the trading of K-Rod and Beltran and the second injury to Reyes everything has fallen apart. I’m not suggesting Alderson shouldn’t have traded Frankie and Carlos; I think they were smart, eye-towards-the-future decisions. But having seen the product since, it’s pretty obvious which players were the foundation for all of the Mets’ surprisingly plucky play.

    Meanwhile Reyes is too injury-prone to be seeking out a Crawford contract. Beltran, while still very good, is only 75% of his former self. And David Wright, he’s an ok player, and a good-looking, well-behaved kid. Fred was right all along.

    Yes I’m frustrated.

  • Dave

    Yeah, it’s all caving in, but we had to figure that things were going to get worse before they got better…and I agree, they will get better. We’re Mets fans, we can take it. If we couldn’t take it, we’d be rooting for that other team, and therefore would cast no reflections in mirrors.

    But why does he keep playing Duda at 1B? Presuming that Ike Davis’ injury is treatable by some means short of amputation, Duda is not going to be playing 1B next year. Put him in RF and see if he can handle that. And on September 1, bring up a few guys like Josh Satin and Zach Lutz and heck, Mike O’Connor, and see if anybody surprises us. Maybe even the 22-year-old has-been F-Mart.

  • Joe D.

    After the game an angry Terry Collins said our pitching can’t hold down anybody and second guessed himself for not keeping R.A. in the game. (R.A. said that was the right move because Willie Harris is a better hitter than he is).

    After the game, a fed up Bobby Ojeda said our pitching is mediocre to bad and added getting rid of KRod messed up the entire bullpen for nobody knew what their role was and that the open spot caused by KRod’s departure was filled by a bad pitcher.

    After the game, a disappointed R.A. Dickey said Jason Bay’s shot would have gone out in any other park in the universe.

    After the game, a sarcastic Chris Carlon noted Jason Bay must be pleading “Mr. Wilpon, tear down this wall.”

    Now go back to about eight months ago. Sandy Alderson told us how deep our pitching would be with the acquisitions of Cappuano, Carasco, Buccholz, Young, Boyer and Byrdak (the only one having a semblance of a decent season). He also said we would have a stronger bench with more maneuverability getting the 3H club (Harris, Hairston and Hu). Hairston has been a decent fill in while Hu got us a sacrifice fly once and Harris has been cited by R.A. as being a better hitter than he is. I do hope the only reason Sandy settled for these bargain basement injury plagued players was because the Mets gave him no money to spend for anything more. With that, Sandy gets a pass.

    Now go forward a few months. About $65 million of the $120 million Alderson is projected to have goes to four players (Santana, Wright, Bay and Dicky). That’s $55 million left spread out over 21 players and that DOES NOT INCLUDE JOSE REYES. True, the kids like Gee, Duda, Davis, Turner, Murphy, Neise, Parnell might account for maybe $3 million but including Jose (if he signs) means less than 40 million for 12 others. That’s $3.5 million for each remaining player spot and players like Pagan and Pelfrey will be getting more than that figure.

    Of course, these are very rough estimates but I believe are indicative of the financial situation for 2012. And if that’s the case, don’t look for Sandy acquiring anyone better than he did in 2011. So even if 2011 has been a successful developing year for our young kids and that they’ve learned by their mistakes and that we can look forward to the return of a healthy Santana, Davis, and Murphy, without the money to spend for good quality pitching, we will still be short changed.

  • Dave

    Don’t get me started on Bobby O’s “the pitchers need to know what their roles are” crap. I hate that. You’re a pitcher. Your role is to get hitters out. It shouldn’t matter what inning it is, or if there were already runners on base, or if the team is winning or losing. There’s a guy up there wearing a different uniform and he has a bat in his hands. Get him out.

    • Joe D.

      Sorry about that.

      Unfortunately, what Bobby O. said represents the mindset of today’s pitchers and for that we have to blame those who run the game. There’s a difference being trained as a starter or reliever or even long reliever, but with a “designated inning”?

      I mean, is there any less pressure on someone coming into a situation with two runners in scoring position and one out in the seventh in a tie game than holding a three run lead at the beginning of the ninth?

      It’s all BS.

  • Lenny65

    It’s been quite depressing to watch this once-entertaining season spiral down the loo, but hey, at least it WAS entertaining for a while. I derived NO entertainment from the 2009-2010 seasons, except for when they mercifully ended. New management has at least proven they’re capable of injecting a little life into this bunch, let’s see if they can expand upon that next season.

    • Ken K. from NJ

      (I derived NO entertainment from the 2009-2010 seasons)

      That’s a short memory. I’ve been thinking about this lately and in spite of how every year has ended, there’s been some excitement through at least June/early July in each of the post ’08 seasons (i.e. since they were in real “contention”). A meaningful game in June or July may not be as critical as a meaningful game in September, but they’ve been fun.

      By my very cursory check of the daily standings in 09, 10, 11 for May and Jun and July, at least 7 MLB teams cannot even claim that level of excitement over the past 3 years.

      So, thanks Mets.