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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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Going Numb

Matt Harvey wasn’t great, but he battled, to use a term from a similarly downtrodden era. The Mets’ bats were better than they’ve been, not that that’s saying much — they actually took an early lead, then came back against the Reds to tie the score. Daniel Murphy is back to demonstrating that none of this is his fault, while Rick Ankiel is welcome to keep proving me wrong for as long as he can. As for Lucas Duda, his BABFS — that’s a sabermetrics term meaning “Batting Average on Balls Freaking Smoked” — remains an unlikely .000 in May, which one hopes is unsustainable. Minus several superb plays by Cincinnati fielders, in fact, this might be a happy recap with a side of shrugging about a little tarnish on the Harvey halo.

Even Ike Davis didn’t look too bad — at least not with a bat in his hand. Ike drew a pair of walks and hit a ball to deep center field that might have gone out in August. Which would count as progress of a mildly pathetic sort, except it was overshadowed by what Ike did in the field with one out and two on in a tie game in the ninth.

Brandon Phillips and his enormous smile were at the plate. Shin-Soo Choo was at third. (By the way, we all know Soo will suck if he’s a Met next year, so don’t be too disappointed in December when the Wilpons force Sandy out in front of the cameras with a new story and timetable.) Joey Votto was at first. On an 0-1 count, Phillips hit a little bounder right down the first-base line. As the ball came towards him, Davis decided three things: 1) he didn’t have time to get Choo at the plate; 2) if he stepped on first, the force on Votto would be removed and Choo would score before a double play could be completed; and 3) the ball seemed destined to spin foul, leaving Phillips looking up at Bobby Parnell from an 0-2 hole.

So Ike let it go, Phil Cuzzi called it fair (correctly, I thought), Ike looked like an idiot and the Mets were on their way to another loss.

Ron Darling was indignant, as was Bobby Ojeda, though that’s Bobby O’s default condition. I wish I could have heard Keith Hernandez’s take. Probably Keith would have sighed and lamented the extinction of manliness — in his day first basemen caught balls in their teeth, shot umpires just to watch them die, etc. But possibly he would have sympathized with Ike’s dilemma, acknowledged the split-second he had to make a decision, and shrugged that sometimes you guess wrong.

Like everything else in this wrecked season, it doesn’t matter. Ike was on the field and so one way or another disaster found him. Simple as that.

Ike has been pretty even-keeled, all things considered. But while that’s admirable, I suspect he’s simply gone numb. He’s lost at the plate, he’s lost in the field, he’s probably lost picking out shirts and socks. The games rain down on his head in a drumbeat of futility, and he vaguely remembers that this used to be fun, and knows he needs help but has no idea what form that help should take. So he goes about what he’s doing waiting for something to change, but with no idea what that change will be or when it will happen.

In that regard, at least, I think we all know how he feels.

* * *

I’m off to Orlando until Sunday, so Greg will bear witness to this weekend’s curb-stomping by the Braves. But let me leave you with something Mets-related that doesn’t make you want to lie down in the road.

harv-snyDuring the broadcast, SNY put up this interesting graphic about the most consecutive starts allowing 3 runs or less. (I filched it from Michael Baron‘s Twitter feed.) I noticed that Doc’s streak of 24 was in the same year that his streak of 17 began, and wondered how many starts separated the two.

The answer: one.

Gooden gave up four runs (three earned) on Opening Day of 1985, then reeled off those 24 straight superb starts. On August 15 he gave up five runs in five innings against the Phillies. (He still won.) The next start in which he gave up more than three runs was May 22, 1986.

So over a stretch of 42 starts, Dwight Gooden gave up more than three runs exactly once.

Wow. Just … wow. Matt Harvey is a wonderful pitcher, and it’s been enormous fun watching Doc become Harvey’s Twitter cheering section. But what Doc did a generation go was otherworldly.

11 comments to Going Numb

  • Jerry

    It’s something watching Harvey’s start for sure. I was a very young teenager when Doc come up. I’m still in awe of those early days. He was only 19.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Since I was there from the beginning I can assure you that Harvey with his poise, maturity and professionalism beyond his years definitely is making the same impression that Seaver first made back in 1967. That is not to say Harvey is the second coming of the Franchise – but that he has all the makings to be the first coming of Matt Harvey based on having the same type of attributes as Tom did.

    Seaver lost a lot of games in 1967 and 1968 due to lack of run support and that only made him become even a better pitcher. Perhaps out of the bleakness of this team the same will become of Matt as well so this adversity could be a blessing in disguise, albeit most likely the only blessing.

    Have a good time in Orlando.

  • Steve D

    Ike has taken his rightful place with the worst BA in MLB and the worst slugging percentage. Only the New York freakin’ Mets would start the year with a cleanup hitter who is one of the worst sluggers…not just of cleanup hitters, but of all hitters in baseball. Makes sense, as he has the worst swing I have ever seen on the Mets. Once and awhile he gets lucky and connects with a mistake pitch. His fielding now sucks too. Keeping him in the lineup signals everyone else that the Mets tolerate poor play and losing. He’s the anti-Harvey, negating all the intangibles Harvey brings. Even the Mets won’t be able to keep him around much longer.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    We have this year’s Rod Barajas behind the plate, this year’s Jeff Francoeur in Center, 2009′s David Wright at 3rd in Citi Field, this year’s 1966 Ron Swoboda in Left, worse than last year’s Ike Davis at First, and, really, pretty much Jerry Buchek at Second. And lest we think we have 1967′s Tom Seaver on the mound, we have a pheenom who has now won once in his last 6 starts.

    • Joe D.

      Hi Ken,

      Would not compare Murphy to Bucheck – the former St. Louis Cardinal’s claim to fame was getting off to a hot start with the Mets in 1967 and then fading. But there are similarities – Gerry gave 100 percent as does our current second baseman and both felt loyalty being a Met (in 1967 the players were asked by a reporter what other team they might wish to play for – Gerry’s answer was nobody else because the Mets gave him that opportunity. Kinda reminds one of R.A., doesn’t it?

      • Steve D

        R.A should have been a Met for life…again, we pay for the sins of ownership.

        BOYCOTT THE WILPONZ

        • ROTK

          Steve, there are a lot of things to blame on the Wilpons. There is no doubt their ineptitude and financial issues have prevented this team from fielding a legit squad. But the R.A. thing is something I can’t understand anyone questioning. We all loved the guy. He pitched great and he was by all accounts a straight shooter. Good guy. Underdog done good.

          But he was a 38 year old knuckleball pitcher. Knuckleballers, no matter what level of success, have no guarantee of success the following year. You can’t even predict start to start in most cases. And at 38, he certainly wasn’t going to be around or very effective when the worm turned in 2014 or beyond.

          The FO turned him into the top catching prospect in the game, a highly rated pitching prospect who continues to improve and a young young guy who has a ton of talent but doesn’t need to pan out to make the deal work. And this says nothing of what Buck provided in April as compared to what we had at C last year.

          The Wilpons are awful. I won’t buy tickets from the team. I won’t put money in their pockets. But the Dickey thing was a great move for the franchise.

          • Steve D

            I see your point…but a well run team does not need to dump the reigning Cy Young winner because they can’t afford him…especially in the New York market. BTW, there is also much history that shows knuckleballers pitching well into their 40s.

  • Quigley

    First, let me say that this is one of the best-written blogs of any kind that I devour (and for better or worse, I devour quite a few). I feel like you’re kindred spirits to a Met fan who knows all too well about the brief euphoria that are unfortunately overshadowed by extended periods of angst. I wear my F&F t-shirt with the retired numbers proudly (even though a couple of curious onlookers asked if the numbers referred to scripture). That being said, a better name for the blog might be “Crisis of Faith and Abject Fear in Flushing”).

  • Lately more like Pain and Punishment for the Flushing Faithful.

  • Ken C

    Bring up Wheeler and Montero….it is really hard to watch this team in between Harvey starts!