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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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Rain and Futility

Before tonight’s game, our bloggy colleagues at Amazin’ Avenue asked readers to predict how many wins the 47-48 Mets would wind up with.

My answer: 47, though I admitted that might be overly pessimistic.

Tonight the Mets played the kind of game that they’ve specialized in since the break: Fall behind, catch up thanks to a brief insurrection of competence, then wait around doing not much of anything until their defense betrays them, the bullpen implodes, or both. This time, the disaster began with Ruben Tejada dropping a ball thrown into his glove, and metastasized with Pedro Beato getting whacked all over the park. As a result, for the second straight day the Mets wound up having managed to combine extra innings with a blowout loss, which is the kind of difficult maneuver they can stop performing any time now, thanks.

Witnessing it were my poor wife, a bunch of folks dressed as stormtroopers, and Snooki.

Yes, it was Star Wars Night at Citi Field, and no, I didn’t go. I felt doubly disloyal for not doing so, but a) it was hot and nasty out; b) the Mets are demoralizingly terrible right now; and c) at my house it’s pretty much always Star Wars Night anyway.

Instead I lay on the couch and watched it rain and waited for my team to lose.

I definitely felt sorry for Emily, fuming in the rain. Just like I felt sorry for the guys dressed as stormtroopers — from my cameo in armor last year, I can tell you that it’s oppressively sweaty in those outfits on a pleasant night, which tonight was not. I even felt kind of sorry for Snooki. I don’t really mind Snooki — she was sufficiently ridiculous as a regular person that someone thought she should be on TV, so now she’s ridiculous and famous, which isn’t exactly splitting the atom but is kind of a neat trick. And she really is a Mets fan, for which I give her credit, as it’s far from the obvious choice these days. My objection to Snooki had nothing to do with Snooki herself, but rather with the Mets’ tweeting out breathless updates about her doings, as well as giving her the run of the place. Such sad desperation smacked of a middling Arthur Avenue red-sauce joint taking photo after photo of some C-list celebrity for its wall, to be hung between the images of third-rate bandleaders nobody can remember and blowsy actresses who never got their names above the title. I mean, honestly — the Mets usually reserve such royal treatment for Yankees achieving career milestones at their expense.

I’d say we’re better than all that, but the truth is that we’re not. The Mets are astonishingly horrible right now, undone by a combination of bad luck and long-existing flaws. The former will pass; the latter will take considerably more work. And before the game, the man who will have to do that work made the rounds, muttering about buyers and sellers and things having changed over the last four or five days.

Sandy Alderson knows the Mets aren’t buyers, unless they’d like to get busy locking up plane tickets home for the night of Oct. 3. They realistically ought to be sellers, unloading Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak and listening to offers for Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda. (Murph doesn’t have enough punch to overcome his defense, and Duda needs to play first base somewhere.) But reading the various beat-writer reports, the impression is that nobody wants what the Mets are selling. Heck, Duda appears ticketed for Buffalo so they can clear roster space for Matt Harvey, promoted a start too late. At least Miguel Batista is gone. I’ve been deprived of my 2012 Mets scapegoat, though fortunately the current roster offers no shortage of fill-ins.

Oh, and Manny Acosta’s back. Yay?

Part of our job is to record stuff for posterity, so here you go: Chris Young was pretty good, deviating from his usual pattern by giving up a two-run homer to Bryce Harper early but then hanging around later than expected. The Mets clawed back on homers by David Wright and Ike Davis and were a hit away from winning it in the ninth after Murph smacked a hit down the line and outran Harper’s arm for a muddy double, but Jason Bay shocked absolutely no one on the planet by grounding out. Roger Bernadina opened the Nats’ 10th with a bloop single off Byrdak, who then got Sandy Leon to hit a comebacker for a sure double play — except Tejada dropped Byrdak’s throw, getting spiked by Bernadina on a hard but clean takeout slide. That opened the floodgates, with Beato coming in and doing ill-advised things and departing with the Nats up 8-2. In the bottom of the 10th, to add insult to injury, the singularly useless Andres Torres approached second base with the delicacy of a hostess seeing a speck of paprika out of place on a deviled egg, politely not disturbing Danny Espinosa in his duties turning the double play. That incensed Keith and Ron, to the extent they were still capable of it, and led Gary Cohen to grouse about optics. Then a few seconds later the game was over and it was time for Bobby Ojeda to yell and point.

After finishing up with the Nats, the Mets head to the west coast — not a prospect any sane fan looks forward to at the end of July when their team is playing well. Buyers? Ha. The Mets ought to have the decency to warn the Marlins and Phillies about the deadweight plummeting toward them.

To answer Amazin’ Avenue’s question more seriously, I’m sure the 2012 Mets can win around 50.

18 comments to Rain and Futility

  • Andee

    The starting pitching has gotten over its suck-itis. At least there’s that.

    But it’s not really clear what they’d get out of “selling,” either. The Mets’ players break down into roughly these categories:

    - Players who are performing at top value now, but are too valuable over the next couple of years as building blocks to sell, and who they have a good-to-excellent chance of retaining: Wright, Dickey, Niese, Tejada.

    - Players who are young and talented but have underperformed this year relative to potential, and who they’d thus be selling low on: Davis, Murphy, Duda, possibly Parnell, possibly Thole.

    - Players who debuted impressively but aren’t considered high-celing guys, who you could possibly sell high on, but who are cheap and useful, and thus aren’t worth getting rid of just to get rid of them: Valdespin, Niewenhuis, Edgin.

    - Scrubs who won’t fetch more than a bucket of balls unless some GM has an inexplicable Whitey Herzog/Neil Allen crush on them: Turner, Nickeas, everyone in the pen except Edgin, Parnell, possibly Rauch, and Byrdak (q.v.).

    - Players way too expensive to be tradeable for anyone whose contract isn’t even worse: Bay, Santana.

    - Role players who might be undervalued due to the fact that they’ve been overused against righties (lefties) and are generally only good against lefties (righties): Hairston, Byrdak, (Torres, Cedeno).

    - Guys you might actually be able to flip right now, but probably not for anything spectacular: Rauch, Young.

    - Ineligible for trade because of DL: Baxter, Francisco, Gee, Pelfrey (and Santana, though they’d never get rid of him anyway).

    So that’s why you grab a Zack Wheeler while the grabbing is good. It’s not going to happen again this year. I can see Sandy making a couple of our-junk-for-yours deals to maybe get lucky with someone else’s castoff reliever, but not much more.

    The best things they can do right now are send down poor lost Lucas Duda, and cut bait on Bay, who is pretty obviously a sunk cost. Maybe he can go to the Yankees and get roided up — er, absorb their magic pixie dust.

    But when your bullpen is that awful, where do you even start? Swapping out Beato for Acosta is like trading dog poop for cat poop.

    • Andee

      Hm, Firefox won’t let me edit. Cedeno, obviously, belongs in the hits lefties-not-righties category, and so does Torres. My oops.

  • James Allen

    It’s gotten so bad that they didn’t even show the 6am Mets Fast Forward. I’m sure most fans don’t want to ruin their breakfast by watching such things, but its absense was quite telling.

    Sigh. The Mets “Express” has turned out to be a 77 Chevy Nova held together with scotch tape. I did not have high hopes for the second half, but I sure didn’t think is was going to disintegrate that quickly.

    And as far as buying/selling goes, they have nothing they can trade that’s worth a damn. I was thinking that maybe they can package some spare parts for a would be closer, but that doesn’t seem to even be doable.

  • Steve D

    I have been a fan of Sandy Alderson. However, he has now been lowered a notch in my estimation due to his designing the worst bullpen in baseball this year.

    Perhaps Sandy realized early on the Mets weren’t ready to really contend yet and is focusing on the long term. I hope for our sake that’s what happened.

  • mikeL

    the only thing that could have gone worst last nite would have been tejada doing a murphy at 2nd and being out for the season (ahhh, the small miracles!)

    at this point the mets could do no worse to send the scrubs elsewhere for a bag of bats and balls and call up any youngster who may know how to play ball.

    yea, i’d get rid of torres after that lame slide at 2nd even if the sight of him didn’t grate on me every time he comes to bat…and at this point some fresh, if unformed, blood would generate more goodwill than much of the current cast.

    but like a bad car crash, most of us would watch this team anyway – if only through one eye.

    ech!

  • I could accept selling low on Murph and Duda because I don’t think they have futures with the Mets, and it seems like their value will just get lower or at least not rise appreciably. Sandy’s right that there’s no Beltran on this year’s team to bring back a high-value prospect.

  • Guy Kipp

    <>

    When does Dan Warthen have to account for the fact that the bullpen has never been a functioning unit on his watch?
    And before someone asks, ‘What about his work with the starters?’ I’d say, name one starting pitcher under Warthen who didn’t get hurt, break down or significantly wear out in the second half? (R.A. Dickey doesn’t count)

  • Clinton

    I don’t pay all that much attention to the sideshows of baseball, so tell me: Who the heck is Snooki? And actually, being ridiculous and famous isn’t all that much of a neat trick. I sometimes think the first is a prerequisite for the second.

  • It’s not all doom and gloom. The team is definitely in a slump, but they’ve been streaky all year and I think a five game win streak is coming. I would not get rid of Murphy who always seems to come through with a two out RBI or big hit with 2 strikes. The starters are decent – Niese keeps getting better, Dickey is headed for 20 wins, Young is better than Pelfrey and Harvey will be at least as good as Gee (and a lot more fun to watch). The Mets really have nothing to sell and they won’t be buying, but they could still have a respectable 81-84 win season.

    I would sit Bay for the rest of eternity. He cannot buy a hit and he simply drags down the rest of the team. He should pinch hit and spot start, but Valdespin needs to be in LF, at least until we know if he can do this or not. I mean, he already has more HRs than Bay – let’s see what he can do. As for the bullpen – well they’ll do better when the Mets score more runs. These guys cannot hold close games, so the offense has to kick it up a notch. That’s why anyone batting under .200 needs to disappear.

    • mikeL

      hear, hear!
      what the %#$^ is bay doing in the starting lineup tonite after he so miserably failed at the bat last nite (and the night before that and so on…)

      yes, valdespin is clutch, is fast, is comfortable in the OF – and provides some of the spark jose took with him to miami. and yes, he may have a future with the club.

      couldn’t we just ‘give’ bay to the mariners so he can join ollie – physically as far from NYC as possible??

      as for snooki, can she pitch out of the pen?

    • Barry Federovitch

      No hot streak is coming. This is freefall. The Mets are gonna finish last, will be behind the arrogant Phillies within a week and in last to stay within 10 days. When they finish with between 65 and 70 wins, it will feel far worse than had they been bad to start with. They fooled us again. We thought that MAYBE they would be a .500 team or something close. But right now, they’re the worst team in baseball.
      Consider: they can’t hit, they have no formula for success, three of their six starters are out, their closer is out, the rest of their bullpen is the worst in the history of the team ….
      And somehow we were fooled for three months that they were even mediocre. Wow. The blue and orange train careens over the embankment again. Thanks Mets for yet another sh&tburger to your fanbase.

      • Puh-leese. The Mets are just doing their best 2012 Phillies impression right now (including booing a guy with a concussion). Your vapor lock on the NL East is over, your team is aged and creaky, and you’re about to get rid of your only starter under 67 years old. You had a great run, now enjoy the next 15 years of futility while the Mets develop a top flight pitching staff and some great young talent.

  • nestornajwa

    I think Acosta, Carrasco, Beato and Batista are really all the same guy. Maybe Sandy figures he can secretly save payroll with only 22 or 23 guys on the roster. Maybe Carracostabeatista is really a talentless master of disguise, or a Skrull who can’t pitch.

    This is awful.

  • Joe D.

    I don’t understand why everybody wants to get rid of Murphy. He’s become dependable at second and has a clutch bat. Is it just because he hasn’t socked 15 or so home runs? He’s one of the few hitters in the lineup over than David who we can count on.

    Let’s no create holes where one doesn’t exist.

    • 9th string catcher

      Agreed. The team has scored a lot of runs considering their outfield-Murphy’s a bog reason why.

  • Lenny65

    Hey all! I slipped in the shower during the HR Derby and went into a brief coma. So what’d I miss? Everything’s still going great…..right? How many more no-hitters did I miss?