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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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This Isn't Going Well

It’s two games. 1/81 of the schedule. Calm down already. I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to you.

But man oh man, this isn’t going well.

The bullpen’s terrible — and while I’m no scout, something tells me wheeling the embalmed corpse of Kyle Farnsworth onto the mound isn’t going to help things.

The lineup has struck out in an amazin’ 47% of its plate appearances so far. (While drawing five walks.) Curtis Granderson looks utterly lost, but he has company.

Ruben Tejada still makes you wonder what, if anything, is going through his head. Tejada tiptoed into home in the fifth, giving Jose Lobaton minimal trouble in getting tagged out standing. If he’d scored, it would have been 3-2 Nats with the tying run on second; instead it was inning over. I was walking back home from an errand, and on WOR Howie Rose and Josh Lewin needed a substantial part of the top of the sixth to inventory all the things Tejada had done wrong: He’d gotten a lousy jump, failed to pick up Tim Teufel at third, taken too wide a turn between third and home and then, of course, approached home plate like his mission was to put a daisy in a rifle muzzle. After the game, Terry Collins showed not the slightest hesitation in throwing Tejada under the bus, which might be his best position: Tejada, he said, didn’t understand the new rule about plays at the plate. If you immediately thought “potential failure of coaching,” I was with you — but Terry then noted, without changing expression, that they’d covered this at length in spring training.

Normally, one would inch a teensy way out on a limb and predict Tejada’s days are numbered, but the Mets want no part of Stephen Drew (not that I blame them, given Drew’s price tag and the fact that the team would still be lousy with him) and have so far refused to do business with the Mariners. So Tejada, rather amazingly, seems to have a sinecure. And the only thing that’s more galling than thinking of further head-in-behindery by Ruben is remembering that this year’s Mets actually gave a roster spot to the spectacularly useless Omar Quintanilla. As for Wilmer Flores at short, I think we’re in enough pain as it is, thanks.

Overlooked in all this: Ruben would have scored from second (OK, presumably) if Bartolo Colon had been able to get a bunt down. Colon is charming and entertaining to watch with his collection of finely calibrated fastballs and pinpoint control, but his debut wasn’t exactly the stuff of a Mets classic — I have no “nowstalgia” for it, to use a horrible catch phrase the Mets unveiled on Opening Day. If starting pitching becomes a problem for this team as well, forget September — it’ll be a long way to May.

It’s two games. But what I can’t get out of my head is that so far the 2014 Mets look appallingly similar to the 2013 Mets — not just a bad team, but a lethargic and unwatchable one. Last year’s team nearly broke me by summer; this one is trying my patience before there are buds on the trees. I don’t want to think about what that means.

29 comments to This Isn’t Going Well

  • open the gates

    Two words: Anthony Seratelli.

  • Scott M.

    But, hey – 2015 is right around the corner…

  • Wilson the Bichon

    Do the Mets have an e-mail address or even regular mail where the mail will be read by the Wilpons or Alderson at the very least? I want to write them a letter and DEMAND a refund for the ticket price I paid and the subway fare I paid to go to the game yesterday and watch that garbage. No fan (of any team) who pays money for a ticket expecting to watch PROFESSIONAL baseball should be subjected to what I saw yesterday…. namely a fatass who can’t run even 1/4 the distance from home to first; just the act of swinging a bat led this blob to lose all his stamina. This is not what I (or anyone else) should expect from a PROFESSIONAL baseball team. I demand a REFUND from the Wilpons for the price I paid to sit in Section 122, Row 8, Seat 9 for yesterday’s game.

    Who in the Mets front office can I write to who will read the above message?

  • Pat K.

    I’d be careful about criticizing Tejada’s baserunning. It could discourage him from reaching base in the first place.

  • open the gates

    Message to everyone who killed Jose Reyes for easing into the batting championship a couple of years ago: Hope you’re happy. No danger of that happening with this shortstop. No sirree.

  • March'62

    What kills me is the strategy not to swing until you have 2 strikes. What kind of strategy is that? Selective pitch selection. What garbage. Get up there and hack for goodness sakes. “Well that pitch was on the outer half of the plate so I’ll take it for a strike in the hopes that the next pitch will be a meatball with a bow tied around it and THEN I’ll take a cut.” So how’s that working out so far? I never saw a lineup that was so obsessed with hoping to work out walks. There are so many strikeouts because they’re not hacking at the first good pitch they see. Then they end up behind in the count and swinging defensively at the pitcher’s best pitch. Ted Williams’ head must be spinning in his freezer. This is just pathetic to watch. Welcome to the season. Next stop: 2015

    • Joe D.

      Hi March’62,

      Did you catch Keith Hernandez last night when he said the Mets had to get away from the sabermetrics and that they had to start putting the ball in play rather than striking out so much because they were taking so many pitches focusing on the count?

      He said that because anything could happen with the ball in play and of course we saw two perfect examples of that with Washington in the ninth – a slow roller hit right at Tejada drawn in that nevertheless scored the runner from third anyway because he got a great read on the ball and scored. Would not have happened by taking the pitch. Or the base hit that followed by a bad swing on a strike that fooled the hitter but by luck was punched just over the heads of Flores and Satin for a base hit. One does not get those breaks by taking pitches all the time.

      That’s why statistics are for reference and preparation to get some possible additional insight regarding the current tendencies of each player besides the visual. That is different than Sandy attempting to use them to better control future performances that have yet to happen based on the probabilities compiled by the past. He says he more faith in probabilities than conventional wisdom.

      Well, probabilities are the sum total of every game situation which has it’s own uniqueness for each player and contest. Geo Gonzalez was overpowering tonight and had the advantage of a rookie umpire. What about the next time with the same stuff against a different weak hitting team but with a different hitting coach with conventional hitting wisdom instead along with a veteran umpire behind home plate with an already established strike zone in which both sides know what to expect?

      So how can one ever create a stringent set of rules to abide by based on such a superficial correlation of causation based on past stats like Sandy’s PPPA or Dave Hudgens .200 batting average on corner pitches? The mistake is not recognizing these are not guidelines to follow in order to create more chances of “probabilities” for the future based on a controlled environment like a stratomatic game where the numbers are set in place; rather they are no more than simple, general statistical “results” from the past which due to the overwhelming amount of variables involved trying to use them to aler the future only results in meddling with how the game is played and watering down the quality instead of improving it.

      Even if Hudgens says the team only hit .200 on pitches on the outside corner, it is because players swinging at those type pitches early on that they keep the pitcher honest and get those on the inner 13 inches prior to getting caught up in a two-strike hole. Because they are now letting pitchers know they are laying off those corner pitches early they are finding themselves behind in the count which turns them into defensive hitters.

      That’s why numbers on a spreadsheet does not turn a lawyer into a baseball know it all.

      • March'62

        There’s also a difference between a .200 average consisting of 8 strikeouts and 2 singles, and a .200 average which has a slow roller to score the runner from 3rd, a grounder to the right side to move the runner to 3rd, maybe a couple of defensive gems which robbed the hitter.

        Everyone knows that you’re better off putting the ball in play than striking out. There must be something wrong with the whole statistical analysis of baseball if that isn’t a given.

        • Joe D.

          Hi March’62,

          Sure is, and that comes from those who have no real experience in the game but believe they know better than those they do because they are so intellectually “analytical”. It shows tremendous disrespect to those who came before them.

          But this also brings out the point many of us make – that Sandy Alderson is a baseball business person, a CEO and that he was brought in to straighten out the Met’s financial problems. The “plan” he came in that so many believed existed was fiscally oriented to rebuild Sterling Mets and not the New York Mets – that was a goal he hoped to achieve through the budget cuts and building from within with players mostly unknown to him which is no more than starting from scratch and seeing what happens.

          Sandy was hired by Oakland for his business management skills and was promoted to that of General Manager because the role of the GM was changing from that of a baseball person to that of the corporate person focused on business matters. I think what we’ve seen with the Mets puts to rest the myth that as a lawyer who admitted having no professional understanding of the game he made of study of advanced statistical methodology and suddenly took charge of matters and decisions related to baseball including those of draft picks, signing free agents, trades and game strategy which resulted in those great Oakland teams. He was not involved in that area in his early years at Oakland but believing so much in a legend is what gives credibility to the cause of advanced sabermetrics in the wrong way that they should be used.

          • March'62

            Joe, I think we disagree regarding Alderson’s ability. I have no problem with the concept of building thru the farm system, of using the free agent market only for the final missing pieces, of budget constraints, and even with finding hitters with high OBP. My problem is that the hitting system that’s in place is putting shackles on all of their hitters. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and Tejada and countless others would be doing much better playing on other teams that let them get up there and swing freely. Duda looks like he’s been up all night studying for an algorithem test when he’s at the plate. The Mets should name Doc Gooden as their hitting coach. He enjoyed hitting. The Mets could use more of that. The high OBP will come from the pitchers trying to pitch around the hot hitters, not from going up to the plate and taking pitches.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    This very sad scenario happened to me last night: it was the first time in 6 months I was able to sit back, relax, and watch a ballgame, the 9th inning was coming up, and I was very excited that I would be able to change channels and watch The Americans instead.

  • Mike M.

    It’s true that things aren’t going well, but I’m just happy to read a blog in which I actually have to look up a word to understand the meaning. Thanks for introducing me to “sinecure,” and for using it so appropriately. Unfortunately Tejada is not the only Met with one of these!

  • Jack's Loge 23

    We’re on our way to 90 alright – 90 losses.
    This team is an embarrassment to the rich losing history of the NY Mets.
    Sorry, but to bring this team to Opening Day in this condition is a very poor show on Mssrs. Collins and Alderson… let alone our firmly entrenched clueless owners.
    Many pundits have the Mets finishing ahead of the Marlins. Not going to happen.
    The Marlins are playing like the type of team we would to see in Flushing – with expectations of winning.
    Unfortunately the cries of Sell the Team have waned in recent seasons as the arrival of the now-hobbled Harvey and Wheeler had apparently stoked the synapses of Seaver and Koosman & Gooden and Darling in many otherwise somnolent Met fans memory banks. Well-meaning agents have filled the stands with Loyal Met fans rising not-so-mightily against the well-heeled pinstriped set across town.
    But we have to face the facts. Nothing – nothing – will change as long as the current ownership wields it’s clumsy hand on the controls.
    Sell the damn team already!

    • March'62

      Maybe if the owners bring in Phil Jackson to run things…….

      I’ll tell you one thing, if Wally Backman were in the Met dugout Ruben Tejada would be on the DL this morning.

  • K. Lastima

    Meet the new dross
    Same as the old dross

    (apologies to Pete Townsend)

  • APV

    Oh boy, where to begin? My colon hurts watching this Colon at the plate. And he gave up a HR to the pitcher, are you f’n kidding me? As for the offense, yes they put up seven runs on Monday (five should’ve been enough to win), but I see the team has struck out 31 times in the two games played so far. Yikes, if my gazoontas are correct and I have no reason to doubt they are, the Mets are on pace to strikeout 2,511 times this season. Maybe I should go to Citi Field after all this summer; the Mets’ bats might set an infamous record and do a better job cooling me off than my air conditioner.

    • Dennis

      So Colon gave up a HR to Gonzalez. Was that the first time any pitcher ever hit a HR in a MLB game?

  • Not only are the Mets bad, they’re DULL and bad…

    • K. Lastima

      To the contrary, consider the Mets as being a tragic/comedy (or comedic/tragedy, if you prefer) and then it’s all quite amusing and entertaining, with few dull moments.

      • 5w30

        K. Lastima. A Sandy (Becker) fan. God these Mets are awful. You’d have to go back to the early 1960’s – heyday of the real Sandy Becker on WNEW-TV 5 – to see such a bad Mets group.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    The guy with the “90 to Go” sign needs a new sign: “118 to Go”.

  • Dennis

    Glad to see no one is taking the losses badly to a team many consider to be the best in the NL. Two games is a really big sample size out of 162 to judge a team.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Relax…it’s going to get worse….have you seen April’s schedule?

    Why is everybody surprised this team is bad?

    It is just about the same crappy team as last year!

    Why would you expect a different result?

  • Dave

    Well, it’s 1/54 into the season now and no signs of improvement since the 1/81 milestone. What do you know, spend as little as possible on a bullpen year after year and it will continue to suck.

  • Lenny65

    Well, while it’s “still way too early” to panic, those first three games were a debacle. The bullpen is already an active barn fire, the lineup appears to be as punchless as ever and weird doings are afoot with the first basemen on the roster. And the second baseman (who played in 161 games in 2013) taking two days off for the birth of his child has ignited a NY sports radio firestorm of gassy bloviating. It is April 3rd.

    The Tejada play was awful. IMO you gotta err on the side of trying to score the run, the new rules be damned. If you’re called out it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Didn’t this site used to have a list of all other Stem’s related blogs and sites? What happened to that?

  • Dezzy72

    Okay. I am tired of this team. And I am angry. I’ve been a Mets fan since I can remember. I’m very close to done with this franchise. Everyone is talking about the young pitching, but no one is talking about the fact that this franchise has lost its heart and fire. The front office is pure analytics and data. The coach has swallowed his formerly feisty personality to keep his job and be a Mets corporation stooge. Wright is great and a nice guy, but he is low key on and off the field. Granderson is another super nice guy. They are all a bunch of pleasant fellows, no doubt. But where is the anger from losing? Where are the thrown bats and helmets? When was the last time a Mets pitcher brushed someone back (Shawn Estes and Roger Clemens)? God forbid this team gets into a fight! As abhorrent and frankly embarrassing as Tejada’s home plate tip-toe-shuffle was against the Nats, what was even more upsetting was his face after Gio Gonzales was clearly trash talking him after he was called out. Watch the replay. Gonzales is cursing up a storm, and looking right at Tejada, and if you watch Tejada’s reaction, he looks like he’s thinking: “What’s wrong with this guy, why is he so excited and yelling near me?” Well, you know what, on a Mets TEAM with heart, with fire, and with some damn guts, the Mets player would turn around and get in Gio’s face and start something right then and there. Instead, Tejada seemed confused, not only about the fact he can crash into the catcher if he’s blocking the plate, but also about the fact that baseball plays matter, games matter, and that other players on other team actually care enough to shout, yell, and get fired up about the game. This team needs a heart transplant. They need to start a fight. They need to scream at one another. They need some soul. They need Wally Backman. He would have been out there in Gio’s face in an instant. But, no, he is not a corporate, number crunching zombie. He played by the gut. And with fire. And like his life was on the line. And he manages that way, too. Enough of rolling over. Enough of 90 win proclamations and working the count. Play like it means something, or your fans will leave you for a team that does.