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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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Somehow Even Worse

The bad taste of Friday night’s Mets disaster lingered into Saturday, with Twitter moaning and comment sniping and unhappiness all around.

Fortunately, I thought, there’s another ballgame today. Because one of the least-celebrated but most important aspects of baseball is that winning fixes things. A crisp win is like a cleansing breeze that airs out everything and leaves you feeling renewed.

And for a little while there, it looked like we’d get that cleansing breeze — why, the Mets immediately scored two runs, doubling their output from last night.

But the wind turned foul. And by the end, we were stuck — almost unimaginably — with a game that was worse than Friday’s.

Some of the things that happened were just bad luck, such as the fourth-inning Baltimore chop from Eury Perez that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead and left a sweat-drenched Noah Syndergaard to flail his hands in helpless dismay.

Or another unlucky play, one that initially looked far worse: In the sixth, Pedro Ciriaco lofted a fly ball to Michael Cuddyer in left. It didn’t look deep enough to score A. J. Pierzynski, but the 38-year-old catcher was sent anyway. Cuddyer’s throw beat him, but was up the line, and Pierzynski’s torso snapped Travis d’Arnaud‘s arm back, flipping the baseball into the dirt and spinning d’Arnaud onto his face with his elbow as a fulcrum. It looked Cliff Floyd bad at the beginning, bad enough that Pierzynski lingered by home plate to check on a fellow member of the backstop fraternity. X-rays revealed a hyperextended elbow instead of a break, which is bad but shouldn’t be disastrous — though no Met fan who remembers David Wright‘s exit because of what we thought was a mild hamstring strain should take much solace in “bad but shouldn’t be disastrous.”

Other things that happened were unfortunate but understandable. Syndergaard, for instance, had one of those nights that a 22-year-old pitcher will have — no command, no confidence in his pitches, and no answers after things went awry. Syndergaard is in the rotation to stay, and deservedly so, but he’s got things to learn and lumps to take during the lessons.

That, unfortunately, brings us to the end of the unlucky and understandable. Because the other things that went awry were the product of unacceptably stupid baseball.

Take Dilson Herrera not covering second on a steal attempt, leading to d’Arnaud firing a ball through the comically large space between Herrera and initial shortstop Ruben Tejada. That sent Jace Peterson to third, setting up a tie game.

Or take Juan Lagares inexplicably trying to barehand Andrelton Simmons‘ single to center an inning later, allowing two runners to advance and leading to two runs.

Or, perhaps most amazingly, take whatever it was Eric Campbell thought he was doing in the sixth: With the bases loaded and time to get Simmons at home, Campbell stepped on third for a force, letting an insurance run score. That one sent Jim Duquette into Ojeda Mode on the SNY postgame, pointing out (correctly) that a high-school player needs to know what to do in that situation.

I mean, the Mets had just intentionally walked the bases loaded!

On my couch, I was gaping at the screen like Dallas Green after the early-90s Mets did something so mind-bogglingly dumb that he couldn’t even manage to be angry about it.

It probably won’t be remembered, but the Mets actually did mount an eighth-inning rally, with Lucas Duda singling through the teeth of the shift and Cuddyer whacking a ball into the 5.5 hole. It looked like it was going to be first and third and nobody out, but Juan Uribe smothered the ball, starting a double play and killing whatever slim hopes were left to us. Instead of a rally, we got a hideous baseball morality play: Hey, look! Defense! It’s important!

So what to do now? The blithe answer is to review this little thing I posted yesterday. Failing that, wait until Tuesday. That’s when Daniel Murphy should return, presumably to take over third base.

Wilmer Flores isn’t going to move off short, so there’s no point asking — the Mets are sticking with that experiment. Which I reluctantly agree with: Flores is one of the only semi-capable bats in the lineup, and I wouldn’t disrupt his development at the plate or in the field (where he is progressing, albeit painfully) by moving him off the position.

That leaves second, which a few days ago I would have handed to Herrera for the duration. But no more: I think Dilson has a bright future, and we should remember he’s still very young, but he’s struggling at the plate and making dopey lapses in the field. He should fix those things in Vegas, with Tejada taking over. (Unless the Mets want to give Matt Reynolds a try, which would be fine with me.) Campbell, meanwhile, simply has to be kept away from third base, having repeatedly shown that he’s unreliable even on routine plays.

Yes, it really has come to believing that Daniel Murphy, avatar of baseball chaos, will stabilize the infield defense. Amazin’, as we used to say in better circumstances.

18 comments to Somehow Even Worse

  • LA Jake

    After reading this recap I’m happy I didn’t get to watch much of Saturday’s game.

  • Eric

    That Eric Campbell play was boggling. That chop to 3rd was exactly what the Mets wanted. Ball in glove with runner not yet even halfway home. Easy throw home for the force. Instead, stared at home plate, then trotted over to step on 3rd base. Huh?

  • mikeL

    on friday nite i belive ron commented on degrom’s likely sentiment after being pulled as “why pull me? pull the errant infielder”
    last night TC actually did so much which is a start, albeit too late to save so many games lost to shoddy and brain-dead play. can only imagine the kind of divide that may be emerging between the effective starters and infielders not named duda.

    it may be a blessing to finally be overtaken by the nats… and the braves. a lost season should LOOK like it’s lost until it’s (hopefully) not.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    …Yes, it really has come to believing that Daniel Murphy, avatar of baseball chaos, will stabilize the infield defense.

    Rimshot. Perfect.

    As of the close of business on June 20:

    2009 34-32
    2010 39-30
    2011 35-37
    2012 38-32
    2013 28-41
    2014 33-43
    2015 36-34

    Six years of revolutionary progress. You could look it up, there’s a book about it.

  • eric1973

    Ok, now that we’re out of first place, perhaps we can dispense with all the talk that ‘TC got us there.’ As Keith would say, “My Word!”

    Last time we saw a team this bad, Lupus was playing RF, and Tanner Boyle was playing SS.

  • Rochester John

    I really hate to make derogatory comments about people in print. My mother taught me to remain silent, when your only possible comments are negative. But dear Lord! WHAT is Eric Campbell doing in a major league uniform? (Or a Royal Giants uniform, for that matter?)

  • eric1973

    Rochester John — Where ya been?

    Funniest comment was weeks ago when you said Herrera was a replacement for a replacement, and we could not keep track for who anymore and that we missed the part where he proved himself major-league worthy enough to be missed.

  • Steve D

    We need someone to fly a plane with a banner over Shea…14 out of 15 years of lousy baseball…we’ve had enough. Worked for the football Giants in 1978.

    Great post Jason…the one thing I’d like to point out, because nobody else picked up on it, is that on the Lagares barehand, it looked to me like the ball took a funny hop to his right causing him to try that.

    • Dennis

      Hard to fly a banner over Shea…’s gone. I don’t know about 14 years of lousy baseball…..maybe 10? In hindsight, 2005 looks OK, and if you ignore the last weeks of 07 & 08, at least those teams were in the hunt…..which should make most here pretty happy considering the disappointment of the last several seasons.

      • Steve D

        I still call it Shea…not by the corporate bailout name. And you could still fly it over the outline of original Shea, which is still there until they put up the Walmart. I considered 07 and 08, but historic collapses count as lousy to me. Keep me on my toes!

  • Dave

    And TC says that the guys are inexperienced, so they make bad plays. Eric Campbell is 28 years old. At what age will he learn to throw the ball to the fucking catcher when the bases are loaded? Was that not taught during his years playing baseball in HS, at Boston College and then 6+ years in the minors? When is that covered, in grad school? Dilson Herrera is about the same age as my daughter. She might not know to cover 2nd on a steal with a right handed hitter up, but as an English major, she knows who Shakespeare was and the difference between a sonnet and a novel. I figure that’s about the equivalent. That play looked like footage from 1962. Somewhere Casey is looking down and asking “even now all these years later, can’t anybody here play this game?”

    I wonder if yesterday was the last day the Mets woke up in first place for the rest of the season.

    • Lenny65

      Ha, so, so true. Now I’m not a professional baseball player or anything, but it seems to me that if you’re the 24th or 25th man on a MLB roster you really ought to be fundamentally sound and have your brain in the game 100% at all times thus making yourself useful to all involved, no? Bone-brained utility IFs are the last thing the Mets need.

      ‘Inexperienced” is an excuse when your rookie slugger goes on an “o-fer” streak or when your young ace gets rocked every once in a while. It’s not a catch-all to excuse away mental lapses or bad fundies. Get those f***ers out there for IF practice every day until they get it f***ing right. Maybe TC is just too easy on these guys, maybe they need a fire-breathing jerk to scare them into competence, I don’t know.

      • sturock

        Maybe they should develop some real baseball players. Other teams are able to do that. Dave’s point about Eric Campbell is well taken: there is no excuse for bone-headed defense. Batting slumps I can understand; I’m a Met fan, I’m used to them. At least they didn’t blow Sunday’s game to dunce-itude. It was back to can’t-hit-the-ball.

  • Seth

    The answer is obvious — we need Gary Cohen back.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I’ve seen high school kids play better and smarter infield than the Mets did last night. And while Noah did not have his best stuff, he was blooped to death. Everything the Braves hit fell in. Everything the Mets hit got caught.

    Terry Collins manages the Mets, not because he has a great baseball mind, but because he costs a lot less than Joe Maddon or Bruce Bochy. Come on, people. Have you never worked for an incompetent manager in the real world?

    End of rant. Happy birthday to all you fathers out there.

  • BornAMet

    I was just noticing Justin Turner’s stats with the Dodgers the last couple years, and how he’s worked his way to starting 3rd baseman currently, and wondered what our reason was for losing him and keeping Niewenhuis?
    As for last night’s comedy of errors, the injury D’Arnaud hurt, no pun intended. But seriously, why did Cuddyer cut off Lagares to catch that ball? Does he not recognize Lagares’ throwing ability as one of the best in the league?