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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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No Particular Place To Go

Sometimes you get what you wish for and then it doesn’t turn out so well for you, as it didn’t in this case.
—Earl Monroe, Earl the Pearl: My Story

In the bottom of the fourteenth, I figured I was golden. David Wright was on first, but there were two out. Shaun Marcum was up. No way Shaun Marcum does anything here, I thought, and when he doesn’t do anything, I will have what I’ve been sitting here in Promenade secretly craving. I will have my first fifteenth inning.

Then what happens? Kevin Slowey hits Marcum and now Wright is on second and Justin Turner is at the plate. I once saw Justin Turner take one for the team with the bases loaded in the bottom of the thirteenth. Turner robbed me of a potential fifteenth that endless night in 2011. Now I privately fretted that my shot at setting a Log record for longest game attended was going to wither when Turner did something characteristically clutch.

Silly me. Nobody on the Mets is characteristically clutch anymore. Of course Turner grounded into a fielder’s choice and of course the Mets didn’t score Wright from second and of course they played on.

Of course. I can say “of course” free and clear of overwrought woe-is-Mets-fan self-pity, because if you saw Saturday afternoon’s and evening’s twenty innings of still-life baseball, then you know there was an inevitability to the end result of the Mets sticking around for six hours and twenty-five minutes that simply trudged by.

But I got my record, so I should be satisfied. Funny, I’m not. Once the giddiness of sitting in on history wore off — which coincided with Daniel Murphy lining out for the, I’m guessing, hundredth Met out of the day — I transitioned from fascinated to fuming.

Same old Mets fan.

Four fourteenth innings in my past, in 1998, 1999, 2008 and 2010, but those seem puny and insignificant now that I’ve been where homestanding Mets fans had only been twice before. Fifteenth? Sixteenth? Seventeenth? Why ever stop? Call up Ed Kranepool from Buffalo! Play Willie Mays at shortstop! Turn a triple play! Hand Ed Sudol another lineup card! Get Dave Schneck a twelfth at-bat! Let’s see if we can pick off Bake McBride finally! (And won’t Hank and Ryan Webb have some stories to trade come Thanksgiving?)

I’ll let you in on another secret besides my quietly rooting for the Mets to not resolve this game prior to the fifteenth once it became apparent it was going to take way more than ten to get anything done. Twenty innings with the Mets and Marlins, whoever wound up winning, cannot be characterized as “fun,” but it was no great burden to sit through every last bit of it (save perhaps for the last bits of it). This wasn’t Colorado in the cold or Flushing in the rain with suspension of hostilities looming or the joy of Marlins Park fifteen innings after dark. This was a beautiful day on the heels of a tropical storm’s offshoot that kept the Mets out of action for the previous 63 or so hours. When the PA embraced the five o’clock folly of this extended mix of offensive torpor and talentless exhibitionism and featured Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place To Go,” I was sold.

I indeed had nowhere else I had to be. I had nothing to take cover from. My phone battery ran down as it tends to in extra innings, so I was cut off from all non-Mets civilization. I had no immediate companionship after my visiting Oregonian friend Andee had to vamoose to catch a plane once the tenth was over, which was too bad for both of us, but in what became Saturday’s Game 2.0, I stretched out among the ample empty seats and relished my veritable solitude. It was just me, the inept Mets, the stupid Marlins and assorted kindred spirits making use of a public space. I was in no rush to leave. Neither club was in any hurry to score. The sun shone, I had an unopened bottle of water, I was plenty full from my annual pregame trip to Shake Shack…I was set for a fifteenth inning and whatever it brought.

It brought nothing, natch. These were the Mets and Marlins. They are the co-champions of nothingness. The Mets and Marlins threw dazzling young-gun aces at each other, delivered exactly what you’d want to see from Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez and it was still nothingness. Were Harvey (who left with a tight back, god help us if it’s anything worse) and Fernandez really as good as they looked from above home plate in 514? Or could Terry Collins and Mike Redmond march a parade of random relievers to the mound and achieve much the same outcome?

Pretty much. After a fashion we were down to Shaun Marcum and Kevin Slowey, two starting pitchers who became those guys who are instructed to go out there and suck up innings until their appropriate arms detach from their shoulders. Each did marvelous work — or they were nothing special but looked fantastic given who they were facing. Who can tell with the Mets and Marlins? And who could take an affair slathered in absurdity seriously enough to dissect what any pitcher was throwing in the bottom of an eighteenth inning?

Holy fudge, I was at a baseball game that had an eighteenth inning, among nineteen others.

The Marlins would win, which doesn’t make them any less awful. They beat the Mets. That’s what the Marlins do. My advice is to stop treating their savantish knack for defeating our team and nobody else as anything out of the ordinary and just chalk it up as one of those things. You’ll feel less frustrated than you already do.

The Mets would lose, which doesn’t make them any more awful. If anything the already-awful Mets improved as a result of their twenty-inning loss to the approximately-as-awful Marlins because it nudged them to delete Rick Ankiel five seconds after it was over. Saturday wasn’t Ankiel’s fault. Saturday was everybody’s fault. But boy was Ankiel not helping. He was Dave Kingman in 1983 after Keith Hernandez came over, overswinging and completely missing. May he enjoy whatever he does with the rest of his days. If any of them are spent playing major league baseball after proving useless to the current editions of the Houston Astros and New York Mets, you can assume he has pictures of some GM doing something illegal, immoral or embarrassing.

Ankiel’s out. Can we get rid of most everybody else, too? Probably not. The answer to Ankiel is the return of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, supposedly better prepped this time around. Whatever. Send Kirk out there to share center with Juan Lagares. Juan Lagares started against a tough righty Saturday and, well, the Mets lost in twenty innings, but Lagares played smart defense and drove in the single, solitary run for the home team. He was overmatched as the day wore on, but so was each and every Met not named David Wright. We’ll suffer with Lagares and Nieuwenhuis in the short term, but at least there’ll be a theoretical point to their growing pains.

Snap judgments one makes after twenty innings of this:

Buck can go. Davis can go. Duda can more or less go but won’t. Turner is a cheerful sort, so he can stay. Quintanilla’s not supposed to be here anyway. Murphy has surpassed ragingly adequate as a defender but ran the bases like retro Angel Pagan in the twelfth when the Mets had their last, best chance of winning (with eight innings remaining, for crissake). But Daniel Murphy is the second-best everyday player the Mets have. As established the other day, Marlon Byrd is the third-best, and he’s Marlon Byrd.

I offer this ad hoc roll call because as I whiled away the hours in the sun, now and then offering an unsolicited comment to one of my two Promenade neighbors, it occurred to me that I had no faith whatsoever in anybody getting the big hit or even accidentally driving in the winning run. Other than Wright, that is, and, because what’s baseball without a touch of hope, Lagares. Murphy I’d have faith in on a good day, but this wasn’t a good day. The rest of them are Ankiel-plus. Catch me on a better day and I might not be as harsh. But the Mets are twenty-inning losers more on merit than by chance.

And stop with the bunting already. Terry can go, too.

The bullpen that succeeded Harvey and preceded Marcum was real good. Or they faced the Marlins. Whichever, it wasn’t their fault. David Aardsma looked Aa-OK as he knocked Don Aase from the top of the Mets’ all-time alphabetical chart. That and getting in on a fifteenth through twentieth inning should have made today a personal success. I live for such historical oddities. Plus the nice weather. And the leg room. Lots and lots of leg room. I like nice weather and stretching out.

I didn’t get sore until it was over, and even then it was good-natured “can you believe this team?” pique. I didn’t mutter about wasting six hours and twenty-five minutes on them because that was my choice and the day was so pleasant in so many ways. I don’t think it was until I arrived at Jamaica and saw dozens of temporarily horsy types returning from the Belmont Stakes. I’ve lived within theoretically easy reach of Belmont Park all my life and have, when not detained by a twenty-inning Mets-Marlins game, watched its big race on TV most every year. Yet I had absolutely no idea people dressed up for this thing. I mean dress up like they’re extras at Roger Sterling’s Derby Day party. And it’s so clearly a put-on. They’re not swells. They’re not even degenerate railbirds putting on the dog. They’re like 19 and pretending to be genuine gentlemen and real ladies. With hats.

Hats!

And? And they all looked like they had a nice time at a sporting event. Nothing makes me angrier after a Mets loss than discovering people are happy after a sporting event or looking forward to a different sporting event from the Mets loss I’m still brooding over. I don’t even like the non-Mets teams I usually like when I’m coming home from a Mets loss. I don’t like when people at a Mets game the Mets are losing discuss other sports. My universe is the Mets in those hours (in those hours, in particular, I mean). My universe is thus shattered by a Mets loss when I’ve so committed to it. How dare these children in their white linens and pastel sundresses laugh it up when the Mets have lost in twenty innings?

But that was later, after Marcum finally gave up a run and the Mets couldn’t short-sheet Steve Cishek. Before that, it was all as hunky-dory as twenty innings of the 2013 Mets could be if you’re predisposed to that sort of thing.

Which I apparently am.

19 comments to No Particular Place To Go

  • kd bart

    I’ve been a Met since I was six years old in 1969 and I can easily say this is the sorriest group of offensive players I’ve seen in all that time. Beyond Murphy and Wright, there is not another solid respectable major league bat in that lineup. I lived through the late 70s and the likes of Stearns, Montanez, Youngblood, and Maz would hit rings around Ike, Buck, Duda and whomever you want to name in right. It’s not just the lack of hits, it’s how many times they fail to even make solid contact during the course of a game as Met at bats are reduce to an endless parade of strikeouts, pop ups, weak fly balls and weak groundouts as almost everyone seems to have no idea how to hit anything that is not a fastball right down the middle and even then they seem to swing and miss at most of those. Other than Murphy, Wright and Lagares, he’s young and could get better with experience and familiarity with major league pitching, the rest of the non pitchers can be flushed at this point as they are what they are and stand very little chance of improving on their ability to hit major league quality pitching. Unfortunately, at this point, there is very little down in the minors that could come up and prove to be any better than what is already. Arthur Brown and Colin Cowgill are not going to come up and suddenly become productive everyday major league hitters. Kirk should be given another shot and Flores eventually will but will we they play him? His two best positions are already occupied by the only two major league caliber hitters they have.

  • 9th string catcher

    I watched up until the 8th then went to the gym to catch the rest of it on the treadmill. Wouldnt you know the cable was out. An hour later i got in my carand the game was still on. I took my kids to the park came back to the house and the game was STILL on. I had to watch to the end as the mets kept getting guys on and couldn’t get them in.

    Very amusing. You have 2 bats and about the equivilent of 7 good hitting pitchers in the lineup. If you like offense dont watch this team.

  • chanley

    I haven’t been following the Mets since I was in the womb or anything. In fact as a British transplant in NY I haven’t even been following baseball that long. However I love the game and I’m trying to love the Mets. Last year I thought we (yes,we) may surprise and for half the season we did. That made the pain of the second half almost worth bearing. This time around there are way too few good signs. Hell, even the Marlins are full of young players with up side and have Morrison and Stanton to return. The Mets have ineptitude throughout the roster and little beyond. If ever that could exemplified in one afternoon yesterday was it. Any number of stats bear that out but any of us that watched the sorry affair including naps, trips to the store, childcare and attempts at writing the great American novel (about as likely to succeed) now have it ingrained.

  • Steve D

    I took my family to a crowded family restaurant/sports bar at around 7 PM…most sets were tuned to the Yankess who had just beaten the Mariners…others had college baseball…a few had a NASCAR rain delay. Did not see one TV on the Mets, who were entering the 18th or 19th inning. It was embarrassing, but I asked the server to put the Mets on one of the TVs the Yankee post-game was on. Some of the other families saw the inning and got into it a bit. Seriously, this team can’t beat the Marlins? Set a franchise record 0-19 with men on base? I wonder if Murphy would have scored had he been tagging up properly…that kid in right made some throw…I was amazed he nailed him.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    I hope they have a rerun on T.V. Of that game.

    That should be a prison sentence to make people watch that game from start to finish.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    For us mid 40 fans, this is worse than the late’70′s. at least as a 13 year old I could believe that Joel Youngblood was as good as Dave Parker, Doug Flynn’s Gold Glove would lead to a pennent and LeeMazzilli would be CF#4 behind Willie Mickey and the Duke.

  • Dave

    That was the baseball equivalent of water boarding.

    Let Dave Hudgens go. Not really fire him per se, but spare him the embarrassment of having to say to people “I’m the Mets’ hitting coach.”

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I never thought about my “record game length” before, so thanks for that perspective. I was at rhe Jack DiLauro game, so I did have a 15 inninger on my ledger, and I had to start my new summer job the next day (or, actually, later that same morning).

    I knew Ankiel was gone after that last strikeout. I think it was Jonathan Schwartz who described Bob Bailey striking out for the last out in the 78 plaayoff game vs. the Yankees..”Goodbye from my life forever”.

    All sorts of team and all-time futility records being cited, but I’m wondering when was the last time, if ever, both catchers caught an entire 20 inning game.

    And speaking of that, what was Anthony Recker doing pinch hitting for Mike Baxter? Baxter against a lefty is better than Recker against just about anybody, including the ballgirl.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    You’re not alone, that was the kind of game I perversely would have loved to attend–and if anyone was curious as to why yesterday’s game went 20 innings, look no further than Howie Rose. On WFAN as the 11th inning began, Josh Lewin said something to the effect of, “they’re turned the scoreboard over here at CitiField as we go to the 11th inning, they’ve even got a 20th inning up there, and maybe that’ll see some action,” to which Howie replied snarky and dismissively (as he sometimes does), “no. That’s not going to happen.”

    I could swear at that moment I could hear the universe reply, “oh yeah?”

    • Ed Kollin

      I am shocked that a person like Howie with such an encyclopedic knowledge of Mets history would say that.

      I am glad the writer was able to get something positive out of it.

      The only long extra inning loss was worse was the one Perez blew in the 14th inning of the last day of the season a few years back. It was so symbolic. Every bad thing that has happened here in the last few years was going through my mind after that game. As for yesterday just glad the waiting for the inevitable loss was over and that they went down easily without teasing us again with another false rally or tying up the thing and losing in 30 innings.

  • Lenny65

    If the 2013 Mets were to have their own “signature” play, it’d be a foul out to the catcher with two men on base.

    And yeah, the damned bunting…is this the sort of team that can really afford to give away outs? I realize that moving the runner along is sound baseball strategy but it only works if one of the following batters stands even a slight chance of driving the runner home.

    • Kevin From Flushing

      Considering the other options are “strike out” and “ground into double play”, sacrifice bunting is really the best course of action.

      • Lenny65

        Well, since they can’t give us a winner, perhaps trying to finish the games as quickly as possible would be a nice gesture towards the fans.

  • Steve D

    They sent down my favorite whipping boy, worst hitter in baseball Ike Davis. He can’t hit at home or the road…he can’t hit righties or lefties…at this point he can’t hit at all. He took two good swings last week and they said he was turning it around. Well, face facts finally…his swing is not viable for a major leaguer. He does not need a few adjustments…he needs a whole new swing and also to get his eyes checked to see why he blinks so much stepping into the box. Only an organization of this ilk would let a potential cornerstone get so screwed up. The Stems are back Keith.

  • NostraDennis

    Have there ever before been four pitching performances in a single game that fit the definition of “quality start”? Except, of course that two of them didn’t actually START the game.

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