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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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The Lime Green Mile

Monday’s was the kind of Mets game Don Draper would have snuck out of sober so he could get back to the office and knock out those 25 Burger Chef tags for Peggy.

It didn’t start out that way, which of course is the most generous clue that it was going to end that way. Maybe that trajectory wouldn’t seem so predictable if the venue had been Don’s beloved Shea Stadium or the Marlins’ previous home that went by many names (but we knew what it was) or even Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the cameo site of the Mets’ second of now eight walkoff losses to Florida/Miami in this decade. Monday’s game, though, took place inside the Loriatorium, the lime green vice where Met hopes go to first get squeezed and then get crushed.

What does Gonzalez Germen have in common with Frank Francisco, Manny Acosta, Collin McHugh, Shaun Marcum and Brandon Lyon, other than all of them would have been better bets than Daisuke Matsuzaka in the eighth? Each man is a member of the Marlins Park Clean Plate Club, for each has thrown a pitch that resulted in every Marlin descending clean onto home plate in groan-inducing celebration of a sudden-death Met loss. As the pieces were settling into place for this latest coming-out party — Christian Yelich shooting one up the middle to lead off the least suspenseful bottom of the ninth in human history — Terry Collins emerged to make the pitching change that would usher Germen into this ever-expanding fraternity of futility. The SNY cameras captured him nodding to umpire Bill Miller as he trotted toward the mound. I really hoped the nod was his affirmative answer to the question, “Are you just going to forfeit right now and thus spare the True New Yorkers back home the sight of another of those irritating Marlin conglomerations after somebody inevitably drives Yelich in?”

Not to be pessimistic, mind you. That was the thing. I wasn’t pessimistic for the first seven innings. I started out buoyed by Daniel Murphy’s first home run of the not so new year and elevated my mood further when Curtis Granderson (now batting .185, just .007 behind Ruben Tejada) chipped in with his third dinger of 2014. I shifted into deceptive calm as the evening went along, as if I really believed Jon Niese’s no-frills mastery of the Marlins would inoculate us against the darkness that lurks in the hearts of Fish when the Met bullpen gate eventually opens.

Niese was nice. The Mets led 3-0 for seven full innings. Combined with Dillon Gee’s performance Sunday, I got to thinking how the growing pains of Wheeler and Mejia and the physical inertia of Colon have something of a built-in antidote. On the pregame show, I heard Gary Apple refer to Gee and Niese as “veterans,” and it struck me, yeah, they really are. Not Colon-style veterans of ancient battles and all-you-can-eat buffets, but guys who’ve been around the block enough to know what they’re doing yet not so often that they’re no longer a dependable bet to do it most every time out. Gee’s 28. Niese is 27. The Mets have cultivated pitchers who’ve reached their primes in solid working order.

Imagine that.

I imagined Niese’s seven frames of five-hit, one-walk ball was the stuff of a two-game winning streak in the making. I wasn’t even troubled by the Mets having collected only one run between the top of the second and the top of the eighth, because I wasn’t watching this game with my official Marlins Park glasses. Once I put them on in the bottom of the eighth, however, I could see what was coming from a lime green mile away.

Miami never looks good to the visiting Mets.

Miami never looks good to the visiting Mets.

Look! It’s Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Look! Dice-K walked the first guy he faced!

Look! Dice-K walked the next guy he faced!

Look! Giancarlo Stanton is up!

You might have seen a three-run homer coming next, but that would have been too quick and too mundane. Stanton got his hit, of course, but it drove in just one run. To spice things up, a ball would have to be struck more or less right at Omar Quintanilla, but not exactly at Omar Quintanilla. There’d be an error on Quintanilla, another run, then another hit and yet another run. The 3-0 lead had methodically melted into a 3-3 tie.

Kyle Farnsworth came in and didn’t implode, leaving matters tied. The Mets came up in the top of the ninth and went down inside of three batters, though not without a dash of flair. Travis d’Arnaud took strike three on a full count as prelude to Lucas Duda getting caught stealing. Duda, running at Colon speed, was out by a lime green mile.

The rest was another Loriatorium Last Act, predictable in destination even if you couldn’t quite map the journey in advance.

Rice gives up a sharp single to Yelich. Rice departs. Germen enters. Ed Lucas lays down the bunt that moves the Christian gentleman to second. The bat is out of Stanton’s hands as Collins orders him intentionally walked. The bat lands in the hands of Casey McGehee, who makes optimal use of the superfluous letters in his last name. McGehee was the Marlin who hung the ‘E’ on Quintanilla in the eighth. Now, in the ninth, he banks an ‘H’ off Germen’s leg and into right field. (To be fair, it was ticketed for center if Gonzalez hadn’t put a limb in its path.) Yelich comes around to score and the Marlins hug and frolic and shower and change into collared shirts and receive VIP treatment at Marlins Park’s glamorous Clevelander night club where they dance the night away in triumph.

The Mets are denied entrance and remain stuck behind the velvet rope as of this writing.

15 comments to The Lime Green Mile

  • BornAMet

    For the love of God, when Dice-K walked his first two batters, why did Collins not turn to the bullpen? Obviously Dice-K did not have control of his pitches. The only thing left to do was prevent three runs from crossing the plate. With a bullpen rested from Gee’s work yesterday, you throw everything you have at the Marlins in the 8th to get out of that inning with a lead. But I guess when you let Meijia give up 8 runs in an inning, you don’t believe in relief of a struggling pitcher.

    • metsfaninparadise

      Yes, the blog on which I was sharing angst with many other long-sufferers practically melted down at that point. Terry’s bullpen mismanagement is worse than his lineup mismanagement and his poor strategy choices and his waffling on outfield configurations and his…

  • Mike from Atlanta

    BornaMet nailed it. The talent is weak, no doubt, but Collins doesn’t have a clue how to manage. I heard Keith Hernandez say the other day that he thinks highly of Collins as a field general. WTF?

  • Harvey

    Collins can’t manage a pitching staff. That’s 2 games in the last three he let get away.

  • Dave

    When Stanton stepped in against Dice-K and my wife asked me why I was groaning I explained that Stanton can hit the ball 700 feet with half a swing. But no, this was going to be slow and painful while TC kept daring Dice-K to get a batter out. Even a walk off win can be decided in the 8th inning.

    And i thought the Fishes’ over the top post game jubilation was a reflection of the “trophy for everyone” mentality we all hate in the millennial generation and the unhappiness-averse parents who raise them. I’ve seen more low key celebrations when World Series were won. Did they all have “We won on May 5 2014″ caps to wear after the game?

    • Dennis

      Those type of celebrations are widespread among MLB and are ridiculous. I saw an orchestrated one the other day where the entire team was dousing a player with bottled water after he hit a HR….and we’re talking a regular season win in May. Between the hopping up and down at home plate and the pies in the face it’s turned into a joke. To think back in 1986 the Mets with hi-fives and curtain calls were considered over the top.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    In 1973 Yogi Berra took Bob Apodaca out of a save situation after he walked the first 2 batters he faced (OK it was Apodaca’s MLB debut, but still…).

    Instead, Terry Collins gives the run sign to the 2nd slowest runner on the team with two strikes on the 2nd most strikeout prone batter on the team. And, a footrace between Duda and Colon might make me amend that. Jeezus, I thought I was watching the Slo Mo Cam instead of the realtime play.

    The most surprising aspect of the game was that the Marlins only scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th. If I wasn’t watching closely and had to guess I would have thought it was 5 or 6 runs.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Bornamet says it all!

    How do you leave a relief pitcher in when he walks the first two batters?

    This team is starting to settle in to what it is a .500/sub.500 team.

    Nobody should be surprised about this.

  • dmg

    as you say — absolutely predictable. it wasn’t suspense that kept me watching, it was the fascination of a car wreck unfolding in slo-mo. which doesn’t say much for my humanity, never mind my fandom.

  • powery

    dmg… hilarious. I feel like the Mets have been stuck in 2009 for far too long. Offseason acquisitions and expectations mean nothing to me. April means nothing to me. The Mets always fall into a stupor (a black hole) eventually… nothing new. I’ve seen last night’s game too many times over the past few years. It’s time we bring up the big guns (Syndegaard and Montero) and shorten the game. It’s time we… hmmm, why am I even trying? Does it really matter what the Mets do at this point?

  • Lenny65

    Wasting good starts is just so criminal, it actually pains me to watch. While I’ve never actively disliked TC, his bullpen is a tire-fire, it’s all so wildly random. And the SS position…ugh. It makes me yearn for the stability of Mike Bordick and ain’t NOBODY yearning for Mike Bordick. But let’s not go into panic mode here, not yet anyway.

  • Skoonix

    Love this site! Just discovered it. I’m still smarting over last night’s blown game (plus the 6 run lead we watch evaporate in Colorado). I agree with many of the other posts that Collins has no idea how to manage relief pitching. I know Collins is cheap so that’s why the owners keep him around but in my profession if we finished second to last four years in a row – I’d be gone. He doesn’t deliver. I really wish Collins was gone. This Mets team has some talent (and definitely also has holes on the roster as well) – but they need the right kind of manager. Feel bad for all of us, but especially Niese – he threw a beaut!