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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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Weird Game, Weird Season

The Mets didn’t lose, though it kind of feels that way.

2015 isn’t a flaming disaster, though it kind of feels that way.

What’s going on here?

Reality check: The Mets beat the Diamondbacks, 6-2. It’s the early hours of June 5 and they are in first place.

So why doesn’t it feel that way? Why does it feel like we’re standing on our heads and all the numbers are backwards?

I’m not sure — it doesn’t make any sense. But I know I’m not alone. Mets Twitter is an echo chamber of disgust, shame and despair, and that’s with all of the above still true.

Some ideas:

1) Win or not, first place or not, the team is owned by people in dire financial straits, a situation about which they’re chronically dishonest. This financial anvil hovers above the fanbase’s collective head at all times, and it’s a little disconcerting to say the least.

2) The offense and defense are iffy — too iffy to put any trust in.

3) Oh my God, someone probably went on the DL while I read this sentence. Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, David Wright, Buddy Carlyle, Jenrry Mejia, Jerry Blevins, Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Dilson Herrera. What the heck, man? Sure enough, Daniel Murphy was pulled tonight and has a date with the MRI tube.

4) Terry Collins keeps being Terry Collins. Let’s have Kevin Plawecki bunt! Let’s blow out Jeurys Familia‘s arm! MAKE IT STOP!

5) Jon Niese is pitching tomorrow, so best not to get too familiar with the NL East penthouse. I’d recommend the sleeping bag and some takeout Chinese.

It’s true that the first three things are real problems, while the fourth one is more of an annoyance and the fifth point is just me being a dick. But these aren’t new problems and we’re in first place.

The Wilpons’ financial situation can’t be affected by anything we do, so there’s no sense letting it wreck a good thing. Wilmer Flores has kept hitting while looking less shaky in the field, Michael Cuddyer‘s been better, and tonight’s win was keyed by a breakout game for John Mayberry Jr., who was starting to get Chris Young‘s hate mail. Herrera and d’Arnaud played in rehab games tonight, Blevins and Mejia are getting closer, and Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel have stepped up nicely with Black and Parnell slow to return.

I know optimism is an odd look for Mets fans, but my goodness, you could even make the case that the Mets have weathered a shit-ton of injuries, growing pains and buzzard’s luck and are in first place on June 5, an unlikely scenario that leaves them rather well positioned should renewed health, continued player development and better fortune be in the cards.

And, of course, you’re as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher. That’s not great news given whatever’s wrong with Niese, but hey, first game of the rest of his season, and most days the Mets throw a pretty formidable starter out there. That’s the strength upon which most baseball success is built, and the Mets have an enviable amount of that strength. (With more on the way.)

So let’s try this again. The Mets rolled into Phoenix tonight to face the Diamondbacks, who score the most runs in the league. They looked shaky early, with Matt Harvey struggling with his slider and Diamondback outfielders running down Met drive after Met drive. But Harvey turned to his curveball and held Arizona in check, the Mets got big nights from Kevin Plawecki and Mayberry, and OH MY GOODNESS LOOK WHO’S NO. 1?

On June 5th, no less.

Now doesn’t that feel better?

16 comments to Weird Game, Weird Season

  • Daniel Hall

    (falls to his knees and thumps fists into the ground) Not – Muuuuurph …!!!

    I’m sorry, I can’t help but feel like we’re lost. Not “we have lost”, but “we are lost”. Poo keeps getting flung at the Mets. And if they are again in first place with all the crap that is going wrong, you have to wonder what’s the emergency level down in D.C., and I find it hard to spy on them, for F.P. Santangelo’s seen-it-all, know-it-all voice makes me bleed from my ears and makes my toe nails go all black, but the last time I checked they were still waiting on Rendon to return, and had put Werth, Nosferatu, and Mister Fister on the DL.

    Other thoughts. Those were some seriously ugly Diamondbacks uniforms back in the day. And His Aceness sure gives up his share of homers, and then some, recently, too.

    (falls to the side and helplessly flails with one arm) Not Muuuurph …….. -.-

  • Dennis

    “Those were some seriously ugly Diamondbacks uniforms back in the day.”

    I was thinking the same thing! On par with the Marlins for the worst looking uniforms of all time.

    That’s the only negative thing from me. Nice win last night. I feel pretty good about this team considering the amount of injuries. My expectations for them may have been somewhat lower for this season than others. After the last several dead Septembers, I hope that can stay in the hunt then. Would be good to see Niese get back on track tonight. Let’s Go Mets!

    • DAK442

      I thought the opposite – I liked how weirdly distinctive the old unis are. Better than the generic red and white they usually sport.

    • Will in Central NJ

      Though I’ve always been a passionate Met fan, I’ve actually always liked the original purple Diamondbacks vest uniforms and the Marlins’ teal alternate jerseys and hats for those respective teams. No one else had these color schemes, and I feel teams true to themselves should OWN their uniqueness (as they do in Oakland) ….and not chase someone else’s look and legacy.

      • Dennis

        I should have said the current Marlins uni’s. The teal (as the “Florida” Marlins) weren’t bad.

  • Rob E

    Jeez, man…I’d like to add that they didn’t win by enough and they waited too long to score the runs.

    I think it’s pretty self-damaging to focus on the Wilpons finances on the day they move into 1st place (so far weathering everything the baseball gods have thrown at them). But look…the Madoff scandal broke at the end of 2008, so let’s assume the Mets have been in those dire financial straits since then. In that time — with the same sword hanging over their heads — they’ve gutted a rotten franchise, developed some good players, made some astute trades, and built the minor leagues into one of the majors’ Top 5. And given us HOPE. So SOMEONE here knows what he is doing. Every time they have taken an incremental step, people have said “So what? They’ll just screw up the next step.”

    Well, they HAVEN’T. They are in first place, and that very well may not last long, but for all the things they have done wrong, they have done a lot of things RIGHT. And at this point they are starting to earn the benefit of the doubt a little that they can figure out the future.

    The eternal gloom and doom of the fans and media regarding this team (way overplayed but admittedly not undeserved) is like a giant weight tied around our collective feet. After YEARS of embarrassment, we are at the TOP of the division on June 5…if we can’t even enjoy this single point in time, what’s the point of any of this?!?!? We may as well be Yankee fans. I’ve been that guy, and I understand where that comes from, but I don’t want to be that guy anymore.

    • Dave

      Rob, I hear you. But seeing so little go right since, well, 9/28/08, especially for those of us who remember numerous previous long stretches of futility (I spent many a day at Shea late 70’s/early 80’s as one of about 3000 paying customers), it’s going to take something sustained to convince us once and for all. A lot of teams have had top-rated minor league systems that turned out to be filled with real good minor league talent. Moving in the right direction? Yes, finally, albeit slowly. Giving us hope, showing resiliency, no question. Still blatantly obvious gaps that haven’t been filled that could well prove very costly over the dog days of summer, but trying to be positive…like you, I don’t want to be that guy either. A while back I was profiled in a kind of 20 questions thing for a professional association I belong to, and I was asked for 3 wishes. One of them was for the Mets to win another World Series in my lifetime. At 56, I better have enough time left for that.

      But big difference between the Yankee fan whose condescending arrogance makes them feel entitled to an annual World Series crown and a Mets fan who has been beaten down by failure so consistently that they always figure the other shoe is about to drop.

    • Rob D.

      How did I miss this post? Great job.

  • mikeL

    i fell asleep and woke up to campbell pinch hitting – then later saw harvey still in the game. groggily realized post-game what had happened after reading The Post.
    it feels like the mets’ surprisingly good fortune in the standings is being paid for in critical body-parts – like the mayor of troy new york who sold city hall to balance the budget a few years back.
    i’d like to think we have new bodies coming back but i’ll believe it when i see it.

    meantime let’s hope for some extra bunting drills before gametime and a late inning lead that lets familia take the night off.

    (oh and can we trade neise for matz while we’re talking body-parts?)

    and yes WE’RE IN FIRST PLACE!
    cheers!

  • eric1973

    When all is said and done, Bernie Madoff will have done a better job of earning his money than David Wright.

    When Murph’s MRI results are in, the way things are going lately, no doubt he will be diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis.

  • Rob E

    What I meant by the Yankee comment was that they’ve been brainwashed to the point that they can’t even enjoy the ride. Nothing before winning the last game of the World Series means anything to them, and after the parade, the only thing that matters is winning the next one. With us, either things suck because they actually SUCK, or they suck because it’s good NOW, but they will almost certainly suck again SOON. Why can’t there be a middle ground?

    I envy these teams like the Royals or Giants or Phillies or Blue Jays where there are a couple of years where it’s a big party and everyone enjoys the ride and gets behind the team and wears the colors and nobody expects it to last forever, but it’s pretty cool right now. We don’t have ANY of that. Here we are in first place, and there’s no excitement about what they’ve done so far, only dread about what lurks around the next corner.

    • Dennis

      All great points Rob! I don’t understand the negativity either. We’ve had 6 straight losing seasons, but here we are, in 1st place over a team that was supposed to dominate, but everyone is waiting for the sky to fall.

  • APV

    Forgive me if this Mets fan isn’t exactly doing cartwheels about first place. Remembering the second halves of 2010 and 2012 is enough to make this fan take a more reserved tact about this season. Oh and by the way, this team is 15-20 since that amazing first 20 games. I wasn’t overly excited then either.

    My expectations were for 84-78 (though I’ll take 82-80). But that’s what six straight crappy years can do to a fan. And I remember the last time I went all in on title expectations: 2007. Spent the entire year blasting that team for lackadaisical play, to the point that friends and family didn’t want to be around me. I will never be THAT guy again, especially since I developed a long-term health condition in part due to stress over that season. At the same time, I won’t be celebrating our current standing yet. When the Mets are over .500 on August 5, maybe even September 5, then I’ll start to feel good again. But until then, I have the right to expect the other shoe to drop — even as we savor each win and positive moment.

  • Andee

    As fans of that other NY team will tell you if they’re being honest, teams often finish first by default. And the truth of the matter is that WAS, who everyone thought would run away with it, is having problems. They can’t score runs even with Harper in their lineup, because teams can pitch around him.

    Now, to what degree this is temporary we don’t yet know, but you’d expect a team with the staggering number of injuries we’ve had to key players to be pretty well buried by now. Not to mention our expensive FAs producing almost nothing, which is why I think spending more money just would have given us more expensive problems. Not to mention that about half our lineup probably should be on the DL and isn’t.

    But for once, no one is talking about us being sellers by the first week in June. I’ll take it.

  • Seth

    It’s easy to explain, actually. The Mets got off to this amazingly hot start, and the rest of the division got off really bad starts. So the Mets had a cushion, and since then pretty much the whole division has been treading water. That lets the Mets play slightly sub-.500 ball and still be in or close to 1st place.