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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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Changing of the ’Gaard

When you’re sending your ace of aces out to face the dregs of the dregs, you can’t help but have high hopes…high in the sky apple pie hopes. In this corner, we had the undefeated Matt Harvey, author of the best day (sometimes two days) of every week. In the other corner, there sat the oft-defeated Philadelphia Phillies, who — an inside pitch or two notwithstanding — had barely laid a glove on our heavyweight champ in any of their previous meetings, dating back to 2012.

It looked good going into Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

So good.

Too good.

Mortal Matt wound up no match for the fickle fates and lost to the remnants of the once-mighty Pennsylvania Proprietors of the National League East. Up from their basement apartment rose Ryan Howard (a homer and two ribbies), Cole Hamels (seven easy innings) and Jonathan Papelbon (who wasn’t a Phillie until they started falling apart yet is now somehow their all-time co-leader in saves; go figure). Freddie Galvis cranked his batting average above .350, Chase Utley took his below .100 and, most relevantly, Matt Harvey saw his mark drop to 5-1.

Oops, there went another Harvey Day start, kerplop.

As Monty Python taught us, every Harvey Day is sacred, so it’s a shame to let one go for naught, especially in foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia. Matt threw a quality start in the most minimalist sense (6 IP, 3 ER), but the other guy happened to be that thing where you’re not worse and you’re not the same but you’re…you’re…

I can’t bring myself to admit anybody could be better than Harvey, particularly Hamels, but yeah, something like that. It would have helped had the Mets hitters brought their bats on the trip, but perhaps they’ll arrive in time for tonight’s game.

On one hand, it’s always nice to be reminded of the presence of several relief pitchers whose existence you’d pretty much blanked on. Hansel Robles, it can now be confirmed, is still alive. On the other hand, the 3-1 loss left the Mets’ record at 18-11, which appears exceedingly healthy to the moderately trained let alone perfectly sane eye, yet stares back at me hauntingly through the prism of 2002, when the first-place Mets were 18-11 after 29 games, with Pedro Astacio moving to a Harveyesque 5-1 the night they reached that plateau. Yet it was all downhill from there for the next five months (57-75), then further downhill (137-186) for the next two seasons.

In a similarly pre-emptive gloomy vein, because that’s how I roll when Matt Harvey doesn’t win and Matt Harvey’s teammates don’t hit, Bryce Harper socked another couple of home runs down in Washington last night, as the Nats whittled the Mets’ first-place lead to a precarious 3½ games (with, granted, 133 to play). In an eleven-day span, the foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Federals have picked up 4½ games. So that’s bad news. The Mets not taking full advantage of Harvey’s rotational presence is bad news. David Wright reporting lower back pain and having his hamstring rehab shut down is bad news.

Then there’s Dillon Gee’s groin, which sounds like it should be a private matter between Dillon and his doctor, but you know how it is with athletes’ body parts. In exchange for extraordinary pay and exclusive perks, we get full access to their medical records. Thus we learned on Friday that good old reliable Dillon’s groin is strained and he has to go on the DL, making way for Noah Syndergaard to take his turn on Tuesday.

Quit smiling. An injury to a Met is never good news. Dillon’s a good guy. He’s one of my favorites on this team. He is to menschen what Harvey is to aces: state-of-the-art. Last Sunday he likely became the first Met in the 54-year history of the franchise to use the word “finagled” in a postgame interview. That may not sound like much, but when a boy from Cleburne, Tex., comes to New York City and takes on the tongue of the natives, it gets you right here.

I’m pointing to my heart, not his groin.

Then again, if you have to reach down to Triple-A and call up another pitcher (another Texan, it so happens), you could do worse than Syndergaard, who ranks somewhere between ninth and eleventh among all prospects in baseball, depending whose forecasts you follow, and has been doing to minor league hitters lately what Harper’s been doing to major league pitchers.

He’s been bleeping owning them.

So yeah, there is a silver lining to the Mets presently having ten players — including eight pitchers — unavailable due to injury/suspension, even with the caveat that chickens absolutely detest getting counted prior to hatching. Still, if you can’t summon an anticipatory froth over seeing the guy you’ve been hearing about for almost two-and-a-half years make his major league debut, then mister, you might need another sport.

Also, Syndergaard can hit, which is no small favor the way this offense is going. Come Tuesday at Wrigley, Terry’s gotta bat him sixth.

Only kidding. He should bat him fifth.

5 comments to Changing of the ’Gaard

  • Inside Pitcher

    Quit smiling. An injury to a Met is never good news. Dillon’s a good guy. He’s one of my favorites on this team. He is to menschen what Harvey is to aces: state-of-the-art. Last Sunday he likely became the first Met in the 54-year history of the franchise to use the word “finagled” in a postgame interview. That may not sound like much, but when a boy from Cleburne, Tex., comes to New York City and takes on the tongue of the natives, it gets you right here.

    I’m pointing to my heart, not his groin.

    Brilliant – well said Greg!

  • metsfaninparadise

    A. An injury to one of our heroes is never a good thing, but we are finally able to turn misfortune into opportunity, as we’ve done with Familia and possibly Plawecki and (hopefully) Herrera. I’m one of those in the camp of “Murph’s a great guy, but we can’t upgrade from him soon enough.”
    B. I’m reasonably confident that this season won’t develop along the lines of 2002, due in part to A.
    C. If someone had told me before Opening Day that we’d be 18-11 and have a 3 1/2 game lead on May 9 I would have jumped for joy. And so would all of you have.
    Postscript–I’m really sorry I missed Dillon saying, “finagle.”

    That is all.

  • Rob E

    A couple of interesting things in the past 24 hours…Harvey lost…and, surprise, we’re NOT in the middle of a long losing streak. Harvey has gotten a lot of attention, and he has surely been a STOPPER, but deGrom has sort of fallen off the radar because of a couple of sub-deGrom starts. The Mets are not going to be good because of Matt Harvey, they are going to be good because they’ve put a pretty good supporting cast around him. He lost last night, and they’ve got guys good enough to pick him up. This is not a “one-horse” team.

    Secondly, they’ve got “assets” maturing at the same time (because of injury, unfortunately, but that’s part of baseball). Plawecki and Herrera have shown they’re major league worthy, and we’ll finally get to see Syndergaard (and don’t forget Montero). When Wright and d’Arnaud and Gee return they are going to have a glut of decent players like we haven’t seen since the 80’s. Those guys are going to be the trade chips, and the depth, and the reason this team is going to be playing “meaningful” games in September. They are not all the way there yet, but, man, they are getting closer!

  • Daniel Hall

    Hamels was better than Harvey, it was just that easy. Or rather… or maybe it was rather the fact that the Phillies lineup, despite being composed of half zombies and half should-be retirees scooting about in power chairs, was still showing well more bite than the Mets’. Dentures in play or not.

    The offense is utterly hopeless right now. Duda has gone cold. Lagares is oh-for-farther-than-he-can-run-and-snag-a-liner. When has Cuddyer had his last hit? It’s been going like that for too long. They have 2.16 R/G in May. Since that merry Harvey Day in the Bronx they have 2.5 R/G.

    I try to like Cuddyer. He tries hard to get something going, but I fear he will take his knee into Lagares’ face before he gets his next RBI. And I like Plawecki, a nice, likeable kid that still doesn’t hit a lick. And we have an *entire* lineup of these guys.

    While I don’t necessarily need any part of Gee’s groin around me, and it will be nice to get a glance at the long-advertised Syndergaard, I can’t find a reason for excitement in it. So here’s another kid to take a well-pitched 2-1 loss. Yay. Lucky him. When will the offense shipment arrive?

  • Lenny65

    Nice rebound win tonight. Lo and behold, Niese, never a favorite of mine, is proving me wrong. And Juan’s shot…where’d THAT come from? And may we order more please?

    Hate seeing Gee go down but let’s face it, they can’t hold Thor and Matz down at AAA forever. The future is happening, right now. This team has its issues but IMO they’re not insurmountable. Having too many pitchers isn’t a “good problem”, it’s a great one.