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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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Was This Game Really Necessary?

This weekend was my annual get-together with my college pals, and while I’m never happy to miss a Mets game, Mets-Royals is about as missable as it gets.

Like my blog partner, I have nothing against the Royals — in fact, I have a certain distracted, information-free affection for them. Back in the late 1970s, a Kansas City Royals cap was the first thing I ever bought with my own money, which arrived a few days before my birthday with a note from my grandparents. My parents took me to Herman’s Sporting Goods at the Smith Haven Mall, and I returned with a deep blue hat with a white KC on it, to the bafflement of friends, neighbors and myself. Maybe I bought a Royals cap as some sort of youthful rebellion against Yankee hegemony, since they were the fated October opponent back then. Or maybe I bought a Royals cap because that was where my eye had alighted when I panicked and decided I had to make up my mind what to buy or my parents would take me home and I’d have nothing.

Let’s say I bought the Royals cap out of youthful rebellion and all that. It sounds better.

Anyway, I noted in passing that the Mets had beaten the Royals in extras one night and lost in extras the next night and David Wright had departed for the foreseeable future. Our friends dispersed and it was early Sunday afternoon and frankly it sounded pretty nice to spend a couple of hours watching the further-reduced Mets try to knock off the thoroughly anonymous Royals.

Which is where everything went wrong.

You know how in “A Clockwork Orange” Alex is temporarily cured of his drooglike ways through aversion therapy, forced to watch violent movies with his eyelids propped open until mere images make him sick? Well, if for some reason I ever need to be forcibly separated from baseball, this is the game the re-education police should pick. I think two showings of this debacle would leave me screaming and retching at the first stanza of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

I mean, what a travesty. The fifth inning was the obviously excruciating part, with Marlon Byrd losing balls in the sun and John Buck chasing balls behind the plate and Royals running pell-mell around the bases — by my count Met incompetence gave Kansas City nine extra bases, which is enough to take you from incredulous to furious to numb to resigned to accepting and then back around again. Yes, Byrd’s been a wonderful find and a good leader and all that, but the Royals were playing with the same G2 star up there the same 93 million miles away, and they didn’t give the Mets any extra bases. The Mets are always tired, or beat up, or whatever the excuse happens to be, but the maladie du jour never seems to give the other guys any trouble, and I’m sick of it.

The less immediately infuriating but ultimately more aggravating part is realizing that with David Wright the Mets are a mediocre team but without him they’re fricking horrible, which is the kind of thing we all should immediately grasp but tend to forget. Wright is so modest and classy and consistent that we discount him unfairly — OK, sure, maybe he’s vanilla, but he’s the super-high-end rare Tahitian vanilla that bearded dudes here in Brooklyn sell for $18 a pint and you rhapsodize about it until all your friends are either bored into a stupor or have trucked down to Gowanus or up to Bushwick to wait in line and buy their own.

For the next month the Mets will be serving Safeway Select, and the idea of a steady diet of this is dispiriting to say the least. As Ron and Gary talked about various Frankenstein defenses of Daniel Murphy, Josh Satin, Wilmer Flores, Justin Turner, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda I found my spirits sinking until I wanted to burrow into the earth. Which combination of these players at which positions would be best? None of them, frankly — the whole thing makes me want to hibernate until Opening Day 2014.

I mean, OK, if I had to pick I’d call up Flores to play third, put Duda at first and pretend Ike doesn’t exist. But just watch the Mets return Duda to left, move Young to second and send Murphy to third, making sure every defensive position is as weak as it can possibly be. You know they’re going to do it — the only mystery is what crackpot rationale they’ll come with to try and sell it.

12 comments to Was This Game Really Necessary?

  • Allan

    Sorry about Wright, good to see you though. Sorry that your game couldn’t reflect the joy of the weekend.

  • open the gates

    “…the only mystery is what crackpot rationale they’ll come with to try and sell it.”

    How about, “Well, it worked so well when we did it with Juan Samuel, and HoJo, and Hundley, and Piazza, and Alfonso, and Reyes-and-Kaz (or was that Kaz-and-Reyes?) and Murphy, and Duda, and…”

    Seriously. I long for the day when a Met employee uttering the words, “Why don’t we play so-and-so out of position” becomes a firing offense.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    When did you say opening day 2014 was?

    Are you ready for some football?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    …But just watch the Mets return Duda to left,

    Whoo boy. Marlon Byrd’s worst day ever as a Met will seem like just another day at the office for Duda, both in the field and at the plate.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    First Terry Collins would have to shoot down that defense proposal. Only then could he go ahead with it, probably 2 nights later.

  • metsfaninparadise

    The only prayer I even consider these days is one entreating the Powers That Be not to let Duda anywhere near the OF again. The single greatest factor in whatever modest success the Mets have had the last 2 months has been the improved outfield defense. I’m not a whiz with all these advanced metrics, especially the fielding ones, because they’re still much more subjective than hitting ones-I mean, quantifying balls that a SS “should” get to for UZR or something is still a matter of opinion or judgment–but I’m sure any measurement would show team ERA went down the minute Duda did the same.

  • mikeski

    Valdespin suspended in re: Biogenesis.

    Did not see that coming.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Don’t despair – this provides us an opportunity to see those who are part of the “rebuilding” plan.

    But in defense of Byrd and Murphy, Santana himself was not inducing pitches that Mets hitters could get under and hit high to right – whether this was from design or not I do not know but it was hinted at by those in the booth.

    Then there is TC coming down hard on Wheeler both in the dugout in front of his teammates and then with the media in that press conference because Zack let himself get down after the Byrd flubs. I love Gil Hodges and that is why the first thought that came to my mind is that Gil would have addressed the issue behind closed doors.

    One must also remember all the times that Byrd saved Met pitchers with his glove and throwing arm and the point TC wanted to make is that each player is to pick up the other, not brood.

    As Terry alluded to, we saw this in Miami after he lost the no hitter. It was still a 2-0 game and instead of bearing down,he let up and allowed the game to be tied. It was mentioned in the booth that he his pitches were not the same after that base hit.

    • Will in Central NJ

      I also have/had the utmost respect for Gil Hodges and what he did as manager for this Met franchise. However, I must point out that I remember reading about Hodges slowly walking out to LF to remove Cleon Jones from a game, in front of thousands at Shea in 1969. With Wheeler, Collins at least did what he felt he had to in the semi-privacy of the dugout.

      Just sayin’.

      • Joe D.

        It was a different situation and a different era.

        This was Cleon’s fourth year in the majors, he was not a rookie. He was one of the top hitters in the league but was dogging it in left field . By doing that to the team’s top hitter, Gil was sending a message to all his players.

        That was at the time the Mets were beginning their mid-season slide and in the process of being embarrassed in a mid-week afternoon double-header blowout by Houston.

        As said, it was a different era. Gil demanded his players give 100 percent and at that time that was expected on most teams. Players also accepted that as part of the game and indeed enforced it upon their own as well.

  • kjs

    Da, it’s real horrorshow, O My Brothers! Harvey’s more fun than a roomful of devotchkas, but the ultraviolence of the NFL calls, and GKR will be as audible as drunkywunkies soon..