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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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I Don't Believe What I Just Saw

I’m sure there have been worse showcases for baseball. I’m sure I’ve even seen a few of them. But it’s hard to think of any at the moment.

My God, that was a horrible, horrible, horrible baseball game inflicted on blameless fans and viewers by the Mets and the Brewers. I gave up trying to keep track of the atrocities sometime around the third inning, throwing up my hands and letting the game degenerate into a blur of Brewers being thrown out by 10 feet, kicking balls into the outfield, flopping in the general vicinity of balls they should have had, and otherwise commencing to play stupid. The Mets had their own problems early on, but they seemed to right the ship, while the Brewers kept scooping up buckets of seawater and pouring them into the boat. It was like a “Benny Hill” sketch with all the roles played by Jar Jar Binks, a travesty so profound that eventually even Keith was overwhelmed — his metronomic sighs lapsed and then went silent, leaving him to stammer out a meek protest every so often about the decline of everything. When Carlos Gomez got himself thrown out at third with Milwaukee down four in the seventh, I just shook my head sadly. All that was missing was Dallas Green staring gape-mouthed at the field, so shocked that he momentarily couldn’t remember how to be outraged.

Amid the mess, some quick notes on Mets who managed to attract attention for positive reasons.

Ike Davis: Shalom y’all, he’s back. (Hey, Ike greeted everybody in the clubhouse with “shalom.” Just using the material I’m given.) My first glimpse of the prodigal son was disappointing — he still has that crazy hitch and 53 million other moving parts to his swing, making you wonder how he ever hit in the first place. But then I asked myself what, exactly, I thought I’d see — Ike was still going to look like Ike, not Pete Rose or Jerome Walton or Jeff Bagwell. Guys don’t retool a lifetime’s worth of batting over a couple of weeks wandering in the desert, no matter what commandments Wally Backman has to offer. He looks more patient, and that’s not nothing — his at-bats got better as the night went on. At his worst earlier this year, you felt like Ike was out before he stepped in for the first pitch. For a night at least, he wasn’t being baited into launching a long swing at junk he could only tap to an infielder, and it showed in the box score. Progress? Ask again in a day, and then in a week. But for a night? Sure. Progress.

Zack Wheeler: Reason 19,346 that it’s great to be a power pitcher is that you can survive on nights you don’t look particularly good. Wheeler was wild early, with his fastball leaping out of the strike zone in every conceivable direction, like a dog who’s been in the house all day straining at the leash. Fortunately for Wheeler, he was also throwing 96, meaning most of those misdirected fastballs went for balls or walks instead of shots up the gap. Like Ike, the most encouraging thing was that he got better, culminating in his 1-2 punchout of Juan Francisco as the tying run in the bottom of the fifth. The last pitch Wheeler threw all night was also the best pitch he threw all night. Can he build on that? I don’t know, particularly with the Mets braintrust giving him wildly contradictory advice nearly every day. (Don’t throw all fastballs! Throw more fastballs! You’re tipping your pitches! Quit worrying about tipping your pitches!) Tune in five days from now and we’ll begin to find out.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: It’s probably just a hot streak, but the mulleted one has a pretty good thing going between his late-inning heroics against Arizona and his four-hit, two-walk, five-RBI performance tonight. Granted, massive hurler Johnny Hellweg and his successors were handing out walks to everybody who asked, but as with Ike, the most promising sign for Nieuwenhuis is that he’s doing fewer bad things — namely, getting himself out without making pitchers break much of a sweat.

But you know what? Enough. We won and they all count — even the ones where the entire other team plays like someone’s spazzy nephew mashing all the buttons on the controller at once.

And now that we’ve won, let us never speak of this one again.

5 comments to I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw

  • We may not be first but we’re not the worst!

  • Dave

    I’m away for the weekend so only have the pitch-by-pitch on the mobile version of to go by, so thanks for, as Murph would have said, painting the word picture. But even with the little faceless, motionless avatars in batting stances and tri-colored dots with speeds and descriptions for pitches (why a 94.3mph FB and not just 94? Do we really need decimal places?) I could tell it was ugly…not only did errors and pitch counts and unearned runs keep escalating, but after what seemed like about the new standard length of about 6 hours, they were in the 4th inning or so. After a long day of wading through lakes and swimming holes and sunburn, I saw a little dot that represented a 90.whatever mph slider that caught Francisco looking and thought “probably his last and best pitch of the night,” and called it a night myself, so thanks for confirming.

  • Steve D

    I was surprised by Ike’s swing…nothing changed!!! Even Keith said it and they compared before and after. His timing looked a fraction of a second better, but has to remain perfect to hit the ball well with the worst mechanics in Met history. Hate to say it, but after his first 0 for 5, he’ll be right back in the tank. All the talk about him making changes was a big lie. If he stays in MLB much past next year, he’ll be perennially in the bottom 10 hitters.

    • Metsfan

      And how many years of experience in the major leagues have you had? Enough to evaluate a player after one game back?

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    This was another poor showing by Zack no matter how one wants to look at it. He did not work himself out of jams (other than the fifth) as it was the Brew Crew ran themselves out of innings. And the hits that came off of him were hard hit – and this is not Vegas where one could cite the desert climate.

    Bob Ojeda was more rationale on the post game, citing how his timing and rhythm were off an had actually changed from his first performance against Atlanta, in which it was pointed out that the Braves were swinging wildly at pitches outside the zone.

    None of us dispute Zack has tremendous stuff, however, at this point, he has not shown improvement on the problems with control and secondary pitches that he was dealing with not only in Vegas, but last season in Buffalo and the second half of his double-A stint in Bimmington. That is why one could question why San Francisco would send off a top prospect for a rental – did they see something in Zack that gave them second thoughts?

    He can still become a dominating starter – again, no dispute that he has the potential. However, there are two things that do bother me (as you might guess). One is that the Mets are hyping him no end in order to justify the front office making the moves it has the past three years now and not allude to the financial circumstances that caused those to be made. The other is in the way they speak of Zack and his problems. They say they “know” he will work them out, rather than saying they are either “confident” or are “hopeful” that he “could” work them out.

    If this was any other rookie call-up, based on his performances to date, many would say he is not ready for the major leagues and the Mets should consider sending him down for further seasoning. In fact, some would think we might have another Oliver Perez on our hands.