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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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Don't Overthink It

A day after a downtrodden people gathered to bear witness to Harveyism and declare that henceforth its tenets shall be their faith, the less-exalted Jeremy Hefner took the hill for New York. The more you know about Hefner the more you root for him, but he’s not Matt Harvey, which isn’t any kind of insult. Like many starters who have come before him and many who will come after him, Hefner can be very effective if he has all his pitches working and can hit his location, but is generally ineffective at all if he doesn’t. In three of his four appearances this year, the latter’s been the case — and this time Hefner was up against Gio Gonzalez, who has a 20-win season on his resume and the Nats’ offense supporting him.

But what could easily been a post-Harvey hangover game turned more interesting than that. Hefner wasn’t great, but neither was Gonzalez — the Mets worked their usual patient at-bats, driving Gonzalez’s pitch count up and up with an assist from Gio himself. They harried him in the bottom of the fourth, putting up five two-out runs, with the most impressive at-bat probably Ruben Tejada seeing 10 pitches (one of which tore Kurt Suzuki’s glove off his hand) in working out a walk as a pinch-hitter.

Alas, with Hefner out early the Mets called on Aaron Laffey, who’s no Matt Harvey and no Jeremy Hefner either. Laffey got the first two, but then walked the hideous Jayson Werth, gave up a double to Bryce Harper and then served up a 1-2 pitch to Adam LaRoche, one of those guys who kills you without attracting his fair share of notice. LaRoche turned it into a three-run homer. Harvey is Harvey and Jon Niese has matured into a generally reliable pitcher, but the back of the Mets’ rotation is a mess, to put it charitably. Dillon Gee deserves more time and patience as he works back from an injury, but otherwise we’re left hoping Shaun Marcum gets here soon, after which the best-case scenario is that he’s Shaun Marcum.

After Laffey did what he did, the game turned into one of those long grinds, with teams poking at each other in search of a weakness. That turned out to be Josh Edgin. Edgin has not looked good so far this year, but he pitched a clean seventh (much-needed for him and for us), after which the Mets grabbed the lead on a Daniel Murphy hit (Murph was safe by an eyelash on an eyelash), a John Buck double and a Harper bobble that prevented Murph from being roadkill at the plate. But as before, the good feeling lasted about six seconds — Harper utterly demolished an Edgin delivery for his second homer of the day, and this one should have counted double: It re-entered the atmosphere above the Shea Bridge, and I’m pretty sure I saw a LaGuardia-bound 747, a communications satellite, a near-Earth asteroid and a dislodged chunk of the Bifrost Bridge plummet down in its wake.

The Mets looked like they had a chance in the ninth against a wild Rafael Soriano, but their lessons in admirable patience seemed to desert them when they were needed most. Justin Turner worked a 3-1 count, fouled back what might have been Ball 4 and wasn’t his pitch even if it weren’t, then lined out. Murph grounded out on a 3-1 pitch. David Wright worked out a walk — and Buck promptly tapped the first pitch to short.

So … yeah. Interesting game turned disappointing. You can lament that our current rotation is Harvey, Niese and a collective shrug, and you wouldn’t be wrong. You can wonder what’s wrong with Edgin, and ask if Sandy Alderson’s thoughts are turning to Pedro Feliciano or Robert Carson. You can wish the Mets had shown just a bit more of that wise restraint in pursuing errant baseballs at the end.

All of that would be true, but there’s such a thing as overthinking stuff. Bryce Harper is a star at 20, and if nothing goes amiss it’s absolutely terrifying to think what he’ll be at 25, and how many years he’ll stay that way. Let’s face it: If Buck had worked the count to 3-2 and blasted a double up the gap to score Wright and make it 7-7, Harper would have hit a third homer off Bobby Parnell or Scott Rice. The Nats version of this recap would be MOTHER OF GOD BRYCE HARPER IS FREAKING AWESOME, and that would be correct and hit all the truly important points.

9 comments to Don’t Overthink It

  • ToBeDetermined

    I’ve been trying to work out a rhyme for this Mets rotation, but I’m still coming up blank.

    Harvey and Niese, and… ???

  • Matt in Woodside

    Collin McHugh has an 0.50 ERA after 3 starts in the PCL. 1 earned run and 4 walks in 18 innings. Call him back up. I know he didn’t look stellar during spring training, but based on what we’ve seen of the back of the rotation so far, he deserves another shot ASAP.

  • Andee

    McHugh wasn’t as sharp today: 5.1 IP, 13 (yes, thirteen) hits, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3K. But hey, it’s Vegas — and if Marcum isn’t ready to go Saturday he’s the obvious fill-in, since that would be his day to start anyway.

    Speaking of which, how seriously we should be taking Vegas stats at all is an open question. Every pitcher who pitches there winds up giving up either a ton of walks, a ton of hits, or both; just look at past 51s rosters if you don’t believe me. It’s about the worst AAA affiliate they could possibly have gotten stuck with if they’re building around young pitching. If you’re a pitcher, it must feel something like being gaslighted if you’re pitching there; you could swear you’re doing it right, and you might well be if you were outside of the PCL Pacific Conference, but Vegas doesn’t give a shit.

    • Matt in Woodside

      Wow. Actually, his prior stats in the PCL were the main reason I thought he deserved another look. That league is supposed to be brutal on pitchers.

      I wrote that before I heard that Laffey got dfa’d. At least Alderson isn’t afraid to cut someone when it clearly isn’t working out. And Gee looked better today. I just hope in a rebuilding season they give some guys who have promise a few starts when they deserve it. And Wheeler doesn’t look ready.

      • Andee

        That league is hard on hitters, yes…and Cashman Field is extra hard. Ted Berg did a USA Today article on the Mets’ pitchers and LV a few days ago, and he said the only starting pitcher from the last ten years to come through LV and have a smooth transition to the majors was Chad Billingsley. That’s it. One in TEN YEARS. The Berg article has some rather choice quotes from pitchers (and others) about what it’s like to pitch there. Most of them sounded like they’d rather pull their own teeth out with pliers.

        And FWIW, Billingsley’s AAA numbers were no great shakes; he averaged over 4 BB per inning there (though almost 10 Ks), plus 7 HR in 13 games. And his control sucked even worse than that when they first called him up, too, but he figured it out the next year. That’s more than you can say for Edwin Jackson, who got knocked around like a boppo toy there for two years and then got traded for practically nothing.

        Wheeler has never had control that terrible before, and I strongly suspect that the knowledge that almost any contact with a bat means trouble in that park, and that breaking pitches don’t break there the way they should, has not helped. But it’s worth noting that Harvey’s first four AAA starts in 2012 were even worse, something like 11 BB to 17 K in 19 IP, ERA of 6.63, and he didn’t have to pitch in that funhouse at all.

  • The Jestaplero

    Harvey and Niese and three spots of grease…

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Other than on Mets Blogs, interest seems to be near all-time lows. The attendance on Saturday was 24,325. I decided to look at attendance for Saturday Home Games in April/May/June of 1967, a year that is oonsidered a low point for Mets Interest Level in the 1960s.

    They only played 4 Saturday Home Games in those 3 months. Attendance was as follows:

    4/22 vs. Phil. 15,032
    5/20 vs. Stl. 29,075
    5/27 vs. Atl. 21,295
    6/17 vs. Chi. 16,881

    Average 20,570.

    I wasn’t able to factor in weather (as we all learned from Gary Cohen in Colorado, MLB did not track game conditions until 1991). So, 46 years ago, when in order to buy game tickets one had to a) go to the stadium or b) buy from your “local ticket outlet” (mine was a men’s clothing store on 86th street in Bay Ridge where some snarky older man in a top of the line suit controlled distribution, obviously giving us scruffy teenagers who were very unlikely to buy a suit, the worst seats available) nearly as many seats were sold on average as today when all I have to do it point, click and print my choice of all tickets, it seems that we haven’t made much progress in selling this team to the public.