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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Not Very Badass

Out in Section 106, where a couple of Mets fans willing to plop down in seats about 18 rows behind where they were assigned could spread out and enjoy the night if they ignored the fundamental awfulness of the main attraction, Stephanie made one of the most astute observations of the season that used to be. It was when Justin Turner came to bat in the bottom of the sixth, pinch-hitting for R.A. Dickey after Dickey all at once stopped being statistically unbeatable. A swift 1-1 duel versus Gio Gonzalez had become, without pausing to as much check its GPS, a deadly 5-1 stomping. And now here came Turner, stepping to the plate to his chosen walkup music, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.

“That’s really his song?” Stephanie asked me, surprised that something so poppy infiltrated the ranks of the hardcore, bass-thumping cross-genre jams that are supposed to intimidate opposing pitchers.


“That’s not very badass.”

No, I said, it’s not. And neither is our team.

They never were. They were plucky as the dickens when the season that used to be was in full optimistic swing, but even then, they were the first team you’d bring home to meet your mother and the last team you’d suspect of elbowing you out of the way to get that last seat on the Super Express. Year after year they admire in hushed tones the elusive element of “swagger” as if it’s a foreign object hidden inside a villain wrestler’s shorts, just out of the view of the ref. The Mets will pose for pictures with any reality show star who can produce a Shea Stadium ticket stub and Tweet pictures of their special dress-up road trips, but you never get the feeling they, in the immortal words of Leo Durocher describing Eddie Stanky, come to kill you. “Nice boys” is what Tom Hanks’s Mr. White would have termed them in That Thing You Do! These days they seem intent on holding open doors for less polite baseball teams as those squads roar by on their way to the pennant race.

It’s not about the music they choose. It’s about the beat that goes on like crazy, to the tune of eleven beatdowns in twelve increasingly poorly contested rumbles.

Turner, by the way, flied out. Everybody flied out or struck out or grounded out or popped out. Almost everybody, that is. Alleged bad seed Jordany Valdespin was permitted a pinch-hitting appearance as the Mets wallowed four runs from the Nats. He strode to the plate to lead off the home eighth to some very harsh-sounding Reggaeton number and whacked his fifth pinch-home run into the Nationals’ bullpen, as if to let them know at least one Met was ready to throw down. That fifth PH HR was a team record for one season. It’s close to a major league record for one season. A small, brief chant of “LET HIM PLAY!” went up around us in deep right, to which I happily lent my vocal support. Valdespin was indeed rewarded by being allowed to hang around and play center field until the otherwise total 5-2 loss was over.

I carry no personal brief for Jordany Valdespin. I’m not selling apparel on his behalf or wrapping myself in his hashtag, but I’m pretty sure that when a cold team has a hot hand, it would be best served by letting that hand grip as many at-bats as possible from the first inning on. Enough with the tired veterans and the nice fellows who the Harpers and Morses and Espinosas look forward to stampeding let alone spiking for years to come. Enough with David Wright, who was once part of a great teamwide future, having to tip his cap to the Washington bleeping Nationals the way he had to tip his cap to the Braves when he was getting his feet wet and the Phillies as his best clubs’ moment passed. David’s had a wonderful season, and he will always be the most gracious, most polite, most genuinely decent superstar in any Met setting, but wow do I groan when I read quotes in which he is compelled to refer to the bleeping Nationals as a team that can “exploit you pretty quickly,” as he did Tuesday.

The Nationals. The Nationals can exploit you pretty quickly. When did that happen? They were entitled to get better, but so were we. I saw a guy in our section wearing a HARPER 34 t-shirt, and I wondered where our shirtworthy everyday rookie lurks, the guy we wait for breathlessly and the guy who rewards us daily almost immediately. For all the happy horsespit over homegrown lineups, I’m pretty sure our last HARPER 34 was WRIGHT 5. The next one may not technically be VALDESPIN 1, but for now, he will do. So let him do already yet. Other than Daniel Murphy, nobody’s been hot of late like Jordany Valdespin is right now, and right now is what matters when you were 46-39 and you are 47-50.

As the Mets faded from view Tuesday and failed to offer any followup to Valdespin’s homer, my mind wandered back to a story about Eddie Murphy’s first season on Saturday Night Live, when the show was in deathly unfunny flux and Murphy, only 19 and not yet a full-fledged cast member but obviously immensely talented, was consigned to mostly background parts in group sketches. He lobbied for more airtime only to be told by idiot producer Jean Doumanian, “You’re a featured player. You’re learning. You have to understand that you have to be guided by us.”

In a matter of months, Doumanian was fired and Murphy was shooting to stardom. Something similar might not happen with Valdespin, but how you can go 1-11 and just keep bypassing the guy who keeps succeeding in the most limited opportunities does not speak well for the management of a team in deathly uncompetitive flux.

Jason Bay — a real sweetheart, everybody insists — was in the starting lineup, however. He went his usual oh-for-whatever but at least the Citi Field A/V squad was merciful enough to blast the volume on the Pearl Jam when he trudged to take his ups so the booing would be drowned out and his feelings wouldn’t sink any lower than his average. (Seriously, “State Of Love And Trust” was twice as loud as Ike’s trusty “Start Me Up” and did have the effect of audibly smothering the new “BOOOOO” overture.)

You could ask what the pluck has happened to these Mets who never gave up and were sweetly stubborn enough to withstand eight daunting frames before turning steely and indefatigable when ninth innings rolled around. I couldn’t tell you where they went, but I would guess they grew discouraged after all the near-misses they’ve been engineering since the All-Star break (which, I think we’d have to agree by acclamation, must have been the Worst…Break…Ever).

They put the potential tying run on second in the ninth Friday night and did not score.

They brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth Saturday afternoon and did not score.

They put the potential winning run on second in the ninth Sunday afternoon and did not score.

The Mets put the potential winning run on second in the ninth Monday night and did not score.

By Tuesday night, there was no pluck and no luck. There were two strikeouts and a groundout in the ninth. It couldn’t have been over faster, which was great news for those of us who wanted to catch the 10:17 at Woodside but worse news for those of us who hoped to catch a team or two ahead of us in the season that used to be but isn’t anymore.

36 comments to Not Very Badass

  • Andee

    The Nationals got lucky. They got two #1 overall picks at a time when once-in-a-generation talents were available to them, and although Strasburg needed Tommy John, now it’s like he never left. We get a #1 overall pick and it’s Paul Wilson, right?

    But think of how completely accursed that entire franchise has been since 1969. No Washington version of the team has been in the postseason even once. No team in the history of the entire franchise has been to the World Series. Ever. Not once. The only other team that’s never been is the Mariners. And the last time the ExpoNationals were in the playoffs was…uh…1981. Yeah, that’s a drought. (They’d have made it in 1994, probably, but we’ll never know.)

    Whether the Washington fans give a crap about the Expos, I don’t know. Maybe not. Maybe they don’t think of Gary Carter and Andre Dawson and Pedro Martinez (and Rusty Staub!) as part of their past. But yeah, think of the Washington Senators. Both of them. Eeeyowch. That city has has a loooooong-ass drought. Way longer than the Mets, although right now it doesn’t seem like it.

    What I want to know is, what happened to that vaunted patience at the plate? Did they rehire Howard Johnson and not tell anyone?

  • Andee

    Oh, and I don’t care if Justin Turner’s walkup music is a five-second fart. (If anyone in baseball actually ever did this, I’m not sure I’d ever stop giggling. Yeah, I’m 8 years old.) Joe McEwing’s was Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” and wasn’t he the Justin Turner of his day? Cliff Floyd’s was the Sanford and Son theme. Okay, that one was actually funny — intentionally. Duda had “All Along the Watchtower,” just like Ken Caminiti! And he still forgot how to hit, not to mention playing the outfield like he was playing pin the tail on the donkey. I’d actually have mad respect for someone who had the guts to come to bat to some Barry Manilow schlockaballad. That takes some cheek.

  • ian

    it was only a matter of “when” re: the collapse. And if RA was .500 instead of godlike, they would have been a non-entity in May. Face it: this team is severely flawed and has been all year. Duda? One nice month. Catcher? Duffy Dyer looks magical in comparison. Rauch? Torres? Ramirez? Bay? Parnell? Cut/trade them now. Let’s see Valdespin and other kids every day. At least he has a spark, and not the US Steel corporate approach of others like Bay. How on this planet did Bautista survive until July?? If this year is a bridge to next year, then use it as just that — an investment.

  • Steve D

    1. As I speculated, the league has seen RA several times with his faster knuckler and they have adjusted. Now RA must adjust.

    2. There is a reason most pinch hitters don’t hit that many HRs…it is because a smart team would start such a player.

    3. Ironic that you talk about Mets swagger with Davey in the other dugout…a man who rode the coattails of a team with the biggest swagger we have ever seen to become selected the all-time Mets manager – over the more deserving Gil Hodges. The downside of all that swagger destroyed two potential Hall of Fame careers. I wonder what Davey tells Harper and Strasburg about Darryl and Doc?

    • Dak442

      Lax supervision is the reason Davey is so NOT the greatest all-time Met manager. That was a preposterous selection.

  • joenunz

    Setting a PH record is as exciting as when the Murph tried to convince us during the Doug Flynn era that leading the league in turning double plays was significant.

    At least there’s no more “Sweet Caroline”…

  • Steve D

    Listening to the news this morning, the Mets are making history…worst team record after the all-star break since 1962. Also, not only the worst bullpen in MLB this year, but reportedly worst in team history, including 1962.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    In times like these even Gary Cohen can get a little annoying. As Valdespin was completing his run around the bases (and speaking of annoying, what’s with Valdespin’s triumphant “one” finger in the air when he crosses home plate to put the Mets only, say, 3 runs behind? Is he reminding us of how many games the Mets have won since the All Star break??) Cohen says “He’s really put a spark into this Mets team”. I guess without that spark they’d be 0-12 in thier last 12 games.

  • Jim Haines

    In other news, the Box Frites Buffalo Hot Dog is fabulous.

  • Bluenatic

    I wonder if Carlos Beltran and his 71 badass RBI are still coming to the plate to the accompaniment of the not-very-badass “El Esta Aqui”

  • James Allen

    I hate that I was right about this team all along. I hate that they are heading straight for the 72-90 record I expected them to have before the season began. I that their oh too predictable second half collapse is occurring faster than any of us expected. I hate that the joy of the no-hitter and Dickey-mania are now what seem like distant memories. I hate Terry Collins’ nonsense, like the notion that a player sucking on a team that’s winning is somehow not as bad as a player sucking when you’re losing. I hate seeing Jason Bay with a bat in his hand. I hate the passivity of this organization. I hate being told the Mets are building something. What exactly? What is the plan? What is the goddamn plan? From one game from the world series 6 years ago to collapse after collapse after collapse after collapse, watching all of Buffalo brought up in a vain attempt that something might stick for a month.

    I hate that I care sometimes. I really do. I was talking with a Yankee fan yesterday, a good friend of mine, who really hates Alex Rodrigez (this was before his hand was broken in last night’s game.) I’ll never get that. I wish I had something that good to hate.

    • Linda

      I hate that i could not have said it any better. I hate that i am not looking forward to a trip to CITI on Aug 9th with pre-purchased tickets. I hate that i still care about the Mets and what that says about me. I hate that i cannot bear to watch games but ask my husband for updates. I hate that when i can bear to watch, i mute the best announcers in the game because there is nothing left for them to say.

      • Dak442

        I do the opposite – I read something with the game on and listen to the announcers, and if anything piques my interest I’ll rewind it a bit.

  • Dave

    I’ve been saying for years that the Phillies hate the Mets, the Braves hate the Mets, the Yankees pretend to be indifferent but hate the Mets, the Marlins hate the Mets so much that they tried to ruin the postgame wake @the the last game @ Shea…and in return the Mets hate nobody. It’s clear that some new bodies have to be brought in, not just farmhands, and while I’m not saying we need someone who needs a traveling bail bondsman, we need someone, as you say, who comes there to kill you. If many of these players used entry songs that reflected their personality, it’d make Call Me Maybe sound like the Bad Brains.

    And I hate that while the Mets sink farther into irrelevance once again, in the Bronx, the best record in MLB isn’t enough, they have to add a future HOF’er, and get Seattle to pay for it. I’m sure they’ll replace A-Rod with another allstar rental next.

  • Lenny65

    Is there some sort of legitimate reason that Jason Bay is still around? I find it very hard to believe that corner outfielders who can hit better than .182 are that scarce.

    Ike Davis: 16 HR’s, .211 average. Ladies & gents, the new Dave Kingman, now with slightly less power!

    • Steve D

      At least Davis can field…but I agree…a weaker Kingman. I don’t think he’ll ever be more than that either. Even his HR swings look awful to me.

      • Dennis

        Nice to see you guys ready to bail on a 25 year old good fielding, power hitting first-basemen who has played less than 2 full seasons. Do you think that maybe, since he missed almost all of last season, that there is an adjustment period for him? I’m sure that if the Mets traded him to any other team, and he proceeded to be a steady 30 HR-100 RBI player, you would be the first to whine about it.

        • Steve D

          Let’s keep it about him…not us.

          Anyway, Cohen just gave this tidbit…Davis has now gone 49 straight home games without getting 2 hits in a game…longest streak in MLB since 1991.

        • Lenny65

          I’m nowhere near ready to bail on Ike. I did, however, seriously believe he’d light it up in the second half. And he is a WAY better fielder than Kong EVER was…but that’s hardly a claim to fame or anything.

          I am ready to bail on Mr. Bay, though. I keep hearing and reading the word “patience” in regard to Bay, but I’m wondering when “patience” becomes “wishful thinking”. Much like with our alleged “bullpen”, there is a point when “anyone” becomes a better option and for this fan that’s right around the time you notice a guy is not hitting his weight.

          • open the gates

            Now is not the time to bail on Ike Davis. He’s having a sophomore slump. A real bad one, but nothing that some truly great players haven’t experienced at this point in their career. It’s just a year delayed, due to injuries. (And probably, in itself, partly due to injuries and illness.)

            I wouldn’t bail, but perhaps he should join his friend Mr. Duda in Buffalo for a tuneup. At this point, couldn’t hurt too much.

            I do agree that it’s time to cut bait on Jason Bay. And we should definitely give Jordany a (Valde) spin in the starting lineup. Two pinch-hit HRs in kinda cool; five is statistically significant. Put him in.

  • open the gates

    And BTW, what the heck happened to Jenrry Mejia? Isn’t he in Buffalo now? Is he that much worse than Manny Acosta and Pedro Beato?

  • open the gates

    And speaking of theme songs, bring back “The Curly Shuffle” during the 7th-inning stretch. At least we’ll have something to smile about.

    • sturock

      And something that’s ours. Someone earlier (joenunz) mentioned “at least no Sweet Caroline anymore.” Adopting the Red Sox’s fan singalong had to be the lamest copycat “me too” things this ownership has done since, oh, copying the outside facade of Ebbets Field and playing “Enter Sandman” when your closer comes in. (Yeah, I know Billy had it first in Houston, but it did sorta become Rivera’s signature song in New York, no?)

  • mikeL

    i hate that baxter’s brilliant season was cut short to save a no hitter that while incredibly thrilling may have done more harm than good. i hate that umpiring has become so mediocre, especially considering beltran’s chalk line smash – properly called – would have meant 20-30 less pitches for johan – and who knows, maybe dickey would have gotten the first no-no shortly thereafter.

    please send bay away already! i felt bad in june thinking he might be irreparably harmed by his crash into the wall – but instead he comes back and starts and makes everyone feel bad every day! insanity!!

    if baxter comes back soon, i’d be very glad to see him and valdespin in the corners every day, come what may.

    • Lenny65

      I feel bad for Bay injury-wise too, I dislike seeing any player get hurt, even bad ones. But he’s been abysmal, let’s face it. Every day is seems less and less probable that he’s suddenly going to shake it off and start doing…something. I mean one-eighty-two, eight RBI’s…blech. Plenty of guys could manage THAT.

      And I really do like Ike, but c’mon, those numbers are incredibly Kingman-like. I still believe he’ll come around though, but sometimes when things are going this poorly you gotta crack wise or you’ll just go crazy.

      Now the Matt Harvey era begins…savior or more fodder for the cannons? C’mon kid, we’re all pulling for you….

      • Dak442

        If we’re going to continue to throw around “Dave Kingman” at Ike, I want to see some 30+ homer seasons out of him.

        I’d trade Ike for Kong in his 37 HR/.204 BA glory in a heartbeat.

  • mikeL

    …hey, if the mets lose the rest of their games, do they get a bunch of first round picks? gotta ask :o)
    positive in the mets universe to hang out proverbial hats on…at least for the next 24 hours – which is a marked improvement over any 24 hour period since a game or two after the break.

    as for ike, while i/we’re venting: i still hate the fact that pelfrey and paulino simply stood and watched as wright and and davis converged on the space between them.

    thankfully wright has emerged better than ever after an essentially lost season, but ike was in a groove he’s yet to recapture after his (and hence our) lost 2011 season.

    crap,this is great:
    “Collins intends to play the right-handed-hitting Bay consistently during the upcoming 11-game road trip so he can get him enough at-bats to evaluate how he’s swinging”

    hmm. how about, he sucks about as badly, maybe worse thanhe has throughout his tenure? is bay blackmailing the wilpons (much as it seemed castillo was before he was finally swept out). insanity!

    • Best-case scenario: Bay gets hot, is showcased, some contender picks up next year’s salary and sends a prospect even.

      Worst-case scenario: These drugs wear off.

      • sturock

        DFA him already. Eat the contract. Let someone take a chance on him, which I think is the only reason he’s playing at all. I’m sure the Mets would love to see him gone and wouldn’t mind paying out his deal. Yes, he seems like a nice guy and he hustles to first on every groundout, but he’s just been a disaster from Day One and he and we need to move on.

      • Linda

        Greg, i am hoping for your best-case scenario. And i think Collins is taking the same denial drugs.

        Does anyone have the date of Bay’s return? When it was announced he was coming back I emitted a primal scream and told my husband “There goes the clubhouse.” I need to look up if his return coincided with the downswing. I feel bad for the guy but he wears his defeat like a blanket on a hot humid night at Citi.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Butch Huskey, (Minor Leaguer) Robert Stratton, Mo Vaughn, Victor Diaz, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda. We must be the most accomplished National League team at drafting or acquiring designated hitters. Feh.

  • […] matchup between Dickey and Gio Gonzalez. For a while, it lived up to its billing. Then it went predictably to hell, but these were the Mets at home in the latter portion of July 2012, so it was bound […]