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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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Back in the New York Rut

Thanks to the technological marvels of the day, I didn’t go Mets-less during nearly a week in Iceland. Maybe we don’t have flying cars yet, but I did use my phone to sit out in the post-midnight sunshine in rural Iceland listening to the Mets playing baseball on the other side of the world. My childhood self would have wanted that a lot more than a flying car anyway.

Still, I only heard an inning here and an inning there, so I was happy to get to spend the evening with my team tonight — the same team that arrived at Busch Stadium with a lineup Terry Collins had reportedly spent 75 minutes constructing.

Seventy-five minutes, really? That was funny on multiple levels.

First of all, batting order isn’t worth arguing about — an ideal one would be worth about one win over 162 games, meaning Terry would have better off spending 7.5 seconds on the lineup and the other 74 minutes and 52.5 seconds writing “I WILL NOT KID MYSELF THAT ERIC YOUNG JR. IS A STARTING OUTFIELDER” as many times as possible.

Secondly, because 75 minutes was about how long it took me to go from mildly interested in the Mets to disgusted once again.

The details of the evening? They’re hardly worth recording, but OK, here they are for posterity’s sake: Jonathon Niese pitched pretty well, the Mets didn’t hit with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals did, and a mild tragedy of a game curdled into a farce when Lucas Duda failed to cover first and Daniel Murphy then inexplicably gave the Cardinals a fifth out by not tagging a runner at second, a play so boneheaded that Anthony Recker and second-base ump Bob Davidson were left competing to see who could look most startled.

But like I said, the details don’t matter. Here’s what does: The Mets are fucking terrible, and they’re fucking boring.

When will that change? Terry is getting a lot of heat, but I can’t see Wally Backman getting much more out of this roster. Sandy Alderson is taking his share of snark, but the GM has never been given a budget that didn’t turn out to be a bit of Wilpon misdirection. Bud Selig isn’t going to make the Mets’ crippled owners sell, or do anything else that needs doing in baseball. Whoever replaces Selig will be another corporate stooge who listens to owners and not fans, so don’t look for help there.

The best-case scenario? It’s that the Mets’ minor-league hitters arrive before the Wilpons’ payroll restrictions dictate that their solid starters depart, and they sneak into the playoffs one year. It’s not impossible — the Royals are in first place, after all. But everything has to go right for that to happen, and it generally doesn’t.

So in the absence of a baseball miracles, expect more of the same — a Mad Lib in which you can fill in a different name for the pissed-off starting pitcher and identify lunkheaded fielders A, B and C and record six or seven names of guys who didn’t hit when it mattered.

Baseball that’s fucking terrible and fucking boring, in other words. Can’t wait!

21 comments to Back in the New York Rut

  • MetsOrangeBlue

    Insult to injury, Kevin Burkhart did the play by play. Absolutely terrible.

  • Indifferentmetsfan

    I couldn’t have said it better my self. Great post. Now let’s Oust the Wilpons. It’s time.

  • Dave

    I keep hoping for some connection between Sterling Sports Inc and Donald Sterling that would force the Wilpons to sell, but unfortunately nothing yet.

    Your childhood self would have wanted to follow Mets games in rural Iceland. For your adult self, did it ruin the trip? Iceland and Greenland are on my vacation bucket list, to which my wife says “have a good time.”

    • Didn’t ruin the trip. As I’ve gotten older and busier I’ve become OK with missing games now and again, particularly when the team’s lousy. Plus it really helps if I can steal a few minutes and watch the highlights, read Greg’s recap, etc. Back in ’86 I was a kid on a trip to China as the Mets were making like Secretariat and all I could do was see the standings change in the Intl Herald Tribune. That hurt. Felt left out.

      I highly recommend Iceland — it’s beautiful in an unearthly way, people are nice, no mosquitoes, good food. Very accessible to doubting spouses. Greenland — now on my bucket list too — might be tougher.

      • Dave

        My wife and daughter thought I was nuts when last summer while flying home from Paris, we flew over a good chunk of Greenland and got great views and I was so excited. Might be able to talk her into Iceland though. Country has also had a cool underground music scene over the years, besides just Bjork. And of course, baseball’s not getting in the way of travel plans any time soon.

        Pre-internet travel while trying to follow a team was tough. We were in Ireland when the Rangers were playing the Devils in the ’94 playoffs, going all around Cork on a Sunday trying to find a shop selling any newspaper international enough to have North American hockey scores. Found a place with one copy left of the London Times that had the results of the Matteau game in the smallest font a newspaper can print.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I was in Iceland two times for a total of about 4 hours back in the 70’s when it was a stopover on Icelandic Airways’ cheap fares to Europe. Both times it was in August and both times it was about 46 degrees and rainy.

    And today I wake up and check the standings for the first time in a couple of weeks (I mean, why bother??) and lo and behold the Houston Astros now have a better record than the Mets. So it ain’t just the payroll that’s the problem.

    • Oh, the Astros went through hell to get here. It’s finally paying off for them. I can handle the current Metsian pain if it’s part of a plan to get better and stay better. And I think Alderson does have a plan for that which is sound. But it’s dependent on the Wilpons eventually spending money, and that part’s out of his control. And I think the Wilpons aren’t telling him or us the truth about their financial intentions for the future.

  • The Jestaplero!

    The Wilpons will never sell the team, not in our lifetimes, so get used to it. Only a catastrophic cashflow deficit could force a firesale, and if the hit they took with Madoff didn’t do it, I doubt anything will.

    I’m praying that their plan was, in fact, to spend big this year, as promised, but when they lost Harvey for the year they decided to go cheap (despite what Sandy said, this year’s payroll is in fact $82M, down $20M from 2013 when it was in fact $102M) and save their sheckels for a big spend in 2015 when they will have not only Harvey, but Syndergaard and whomever else doesn’t get shipped off for some big sticks.

    Well, that’s the fantasy I cling to to get me through this Godawful season anyway.

    • That’s what I’m hoping. I think it’s what Alderson hopes. But I fear the Wilpons aren’t being straight with Sandy and will keep the payroll as low as possible for as long as they need to survive. Which could be a couple of years, a few years, or forever.

  • Tristram Shandy

    Jason, I don’t see how more money would have saved this team or improved it significantly. I’m interested in what you would have done with more ducats. We’d have a good-hitting, charismatic shortstop, yes, but the rest of the team would still make the same, huge sucking noise.
    When they spent money like a big shot, they sucked, too. I’m referring, of course, to the Minaya years. Granted, they didn’t suck this bad, but they were a non-stop disappointment.
    Truly, I don’t know what the problem is. I don’t have a better explanation than yours. I must have been an epic monster in my past life.

    • It’s not this year that worries me so much as the future. If they intend to hold serve at around $85 million until they think acquisitions can supplement the financially controlled core and then go to $110m or $120m, OK. But I fear they’ll never do that and will stay at this level more or less forever.

  • 9th string catcher

    I don’t know what baseball you’re watching – I’m riveted. We are most definitely going to win 90 games! In fact…what? The Mets? Oh, I thought we were talking about the Royals. Yeah, the Mets are awful.

    If we forget about assigning blame, and instead look at making improvements, I’m all for bringing up Backman. He’ll work cheap, he’ll work hard and allow Terry can go back to the minors, instructing all of our position-less left handed power hitting .200 bats who don’t know how to play defense. I can’t imagine Backman standing for all of the defensive mistakes and baserunning blunders this team makes on a nightly basis. Backman wasn’t an especially gifted ballplayer, but he was smart and worked hard. And he’s been a winner. Collins has not won on any stage. No manager can turn this sad bunch into a contender, but his familiarity with the young players and his approach could at least provide some energy and add to the baseball IQ of this team, which in turn can help the team’s future.

    I look at people like Duda, Davis, Tejada, TDA, Murphy and some of the pitchers, and I don’t see any improvement from where they started. The mental errors Murphy makes are incredible considering how long he’s been up here. A manager who can provide consistency in his lineup and pitching roles, who has a philosophy on offense and can bring more out of his players is needed. I don’t know if Backman is that guy, but Collins isn’t, so why not see what Wallyball is like?

    Now, with that said, I don’t look at the overall Wilpon budget as much as I look at Alderson’s idiotic decisions. Francisco, Colon, Young, even Granderson who is improving, but at how much? I wouldn’t give him $100M to spend – we’d have Omarpalooza all over again. He’s done his job, getting the pitching up to the major league level and got the payroll down, but come on. He isn’t the answer.

    • I don’t think Backman can make Daniel Murphy smart or teach Ruben Tejada how to hit. Collins is supposed to be a great teacher too, after all. If the players aren’t improving after a few years in the majors, maybe they have no ceiling to improve to.

      • 9th string catcher

        I honestly don’t know either, but I know that TC’s near constant inconsistency is costing games and development. I’d rather see what Backman can bring to the table, if anything, and why not now during a lost season? I wouldn’t mind giving Teufel a shot either – whatever this is, isn’t working.

  • That Adam Smith

    I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. First, does someone in this org hate Flores? (And Camnpbell? And Brown?) Really, what are we protecting by failing to give these guys some extended time to get their feet wet? Flores gets a start today, and will hit 8th, (will he get a single pitch to hit with Colon waiting on deck?) with Chris Young hitting 6th (playing CF with a flyball pitcher on the hill.) If Flores goes 0-4 (or even 2-4) I fully expect him to be nailed to the bench for the next week.

    I know that this roster is doomed to be fucking terrible. But the fucking boring part is fucking frustrating.

  • mikeL

    wow jason, all the way out in iceland and you make it a point to check in on this most horrible of horrible mets teams of late.
    i did catch a few minutes of the game, well after it was over but am fast approaching the day when i won’t even know who the mets are playing any given day.

    it feels like the 90s again, when i parted ways with the mets…and when stories of players spraying bleach at reporters in the clubhouse, a starter losing 20 games and if i recall something about firecrackers had become someone else’s problem – and just a passing story of a crappy team’s off-field disfunction.

    hell, i’d almost settle for a salacious off-field controversy at this point. it would mean someone on the team with a pulse succumbed to passion. torres punching himself in the head doesn’t really count.

    i came back to the mets after my mom died in june ’99. i sought out much nostalgia during that rough time: jethro tull, electric light orchestra, and the suddenly very inspired mets. and for the remainder of the summer, and until kenny rogers walked andruw jones, they were my indispensible and miracle mets.

    and until the post phillies roadtrip i was optimistic and drinking from the glass half full.

    i must say that at this point i no longer care to expend any of my energy on this team. a full circle in only 25 years!

    i hope to someday find the team inspiring – or hell, worthwhile again absent personal tragedy…

  • The Jestaplero!

    I’m not saying that a bigger payroll automatically sends us to the postseason, but I am saying it’s an almost indispensible prerequisite for being competitive. Of course, the money should be spent wisely (we all remember The Worst Team Money Can Buy in the early 90’s), but the last time we were good we had Beltran in the OF, Delgado at first, Jose at short, LoDuca catching. To be competitive we need major upgrades at those four positions. Those kinds of players cost money, and a lot more money than the team is currently spending.

    Duda, Tejada, and the Youngs must go. And I’m not convinced TDA can hit anywhere higher than AAA.

  • Lenny65

    TC spent 75 minutes on THAT lineup? He must have been scouring the rulebook to see if there was any way he could just bat everyone eighth.

    It’s their “we’ll do something if we’re competitive, even though it’s obvious that we’re not” attitude that’s so discouraging. They often act like they’re a player or two away but in reality it’s like five or six.