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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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The Thoroughly Lost Weekend

I must have been inspired by the incessant promotional buzz generated by those Steve Miller Band concert spots, because in the spirit of the narrator of “Abracadabra,” I tried to conjure some rah. Maybe even some rah-rah. Undeterred by the six deadly frames that preceded them, I threw myself into the seventh, eighth and ninth innings Sunday.

I rode Matt Harvey’s right arm as far as it would take me.

I took solace in Alex Torres’s left arm making things bad but not measurably worse.

I dared to dream John Mayberry could deliver PDQ (or at least RFD).

I saw in Carlos Torres a savior and a harbinger.

I believed Curtis Granderson could be transcendent, Juan Lagares an agent of change, Lucas Duda a genuine threat and Michael Cuddyer

Well, I wasn’t terribly confident Michael Cuddyer was going to do much of anything, but I also didn’t think he’d hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the ninth, the game, the series and the weekend with absolutely nothing to show for it in the win column and a surfeit of dreck stuffed into the doubt column.

There is much to doubt in these second-place Mets, starting with their ability to ever see the light of first again. They probably won’t. Using the three-game series just completed and thoroughly lost in Atlanta as a gauge, they’ll be lucky to be the second-place Mets by this time next week. True, they’re playing the lousy Brewers at Steve Miller Park next, followed by the lousy Reds at Citi Field — where they apparently benefit from reduced proneness to exhaustion — but then again, those teams will be playing the Mets.

The Braves may not be an authentic contender, but when you sweep the team ahead of you and you pull to within a half-game of that team, who is to doubt the Braves? With the lost weekend now over, they’re only relevant in that if the Mets don’t find somebody or figure out something, they’ll be one more team shoving the Mets further back in the playoff processional, and once you’ve faded from first and drifted from Wild Card territory…well, you know what all those years we’ve just gone through felt like?

Welcome back to the age of jive.

There are no doubt sophisticated metrics by which it could be shown the Mets aren’t nearly as bad as I’m convinced again that they are, let alone as bad as they’ve demonstrated themselves to be on this 0-5 thus far road trip (a.k.a. Gary Cohen’s brilliantly timed vacation). You could start with 36-35, a record that indicates this very team has won more game than it has lost since the commencement of the current season. That, like Harvey’s right arm, will only take you so far. Since cresting at 13-3, the Mets have won 23 games and lost 32. That extrapolates over 162 games to horrible.

The truth of the 2015 Mets probably lies somewhere north of the 68-win pace they’ve operated at since April 24, but I don’t see holding them to the standard of their record over slightly more than a third of the current season as somehow unfair. This is the team that’s going out and playing the games that count. In a parallel universe in which all variables are delightfully controlled, nobody vital has been injured, everybody worthwhile has been inked to sub-market contracts and distant potential has translated into immediately pleasing reality, the Mets are probably kicking Atlanta ass and taking Washington names.

In this one, they’ve scored 13 runs in their past 66 innings and looked like rank amateurs for the better part of a week.

Sunday was what certain segments of the northeastern United States used to celebrate as Harvey Day. The remnants of its sacred implications could be easily inferred, as its namesake persevered through two stressful innings then cruised through the next four. The seventh presented the Rubicon challenge — Ryan Lavarnway doubled with two out, pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco up — and the pitcher was unable to cross it successfully. The pinch-hitter singled to center, the center fielder with a once thunderous arm that seems destined for surgical rejiggering couldn’t throw out the torpid runner at home and that was that for Matt.

Until this point in the game, I was resigned to another one of these types of losses, yet I let out a truly anguished “NOOO!!!” when Lavarnway’s molasses-like form blobbed across the plate. Two nights earlier, it was dismaying to watch Jacob deGrom removed for some chump reliever when the game was better off in his hands. Now Harvey was getting the chance to keep the Mets alive. It didn’t pay off.

I assumed Alex Torres would make things worse as soon as he could, and he tried, issuing consecutive walks to load the bases, but when he got Kelly Johnson to fly out instead of grand slam, I thought maybe I’d been too hasty in judging the Mets totally futile. When Eric Campbell doubled with two out in the top of the eighth to raise his batting average to a rousing .177, I thought maybe we weren’t done. John Mayberry came up and I really began to imagine crazy things. Didn’t Mayberry hit a home run here in April? Doesn’t Mayberry have some kind of track record that made him appealing enough to sign in the offseason? Aren’t there fairies flying through the air who watch over babies and puppies and kittens and baseball teams with adorable baseball-headed mascots?

Yeah, I was carried away with the Mayberry fever. Johnny struck out. But so did Nick Markakis and Juan Uribe, victimized by Carlos Torres to start the bottom of the eighth, and when ol’ Central Time (my personal nickname for the reliever with the initials CT) teased an easy grounder back to the mound from Andrelton Simmons, I thought I saw something fantastical developing. The Mets would rally in the ninth, Parnell would come on for the save, we’d bemoan Harvey’s non-decisioned fate, but otherwise talk about character and resilience, and with Milwaukee and Cincinnati on the schedule and the knowledge Max Scherzer can’t flirt with perfection more than once every five or six days, everything that wasn’t hunky would be dory. The Maverick is back!

I can convince myself of anything if I really want it. I wanted Granderson’s leadoff single to augur great things. I wanted Lagares’s breathtaking bunt to represent a marker in the turnaround of 2015, one that would be featured in the highlight download narrated by Len Cariou this November (“When things were at their bleakest, it was Juan who found a way to set up a win…”) First and second, none out, Lucas Duda, who hit 30 home runs last year and rates a growth chart next week, up. Has Lucas Duda grown enough to produce what Cariou and the rest of us would call the biggest blast of the season?

No. Just another flyout. But still two outs to play with. And once Cuddyer didn’t completely kill the ninth by not hitting into a DP, maybe Flores, the focal point of so much frustration of late, would…

What’s that? Cuddyer did the one thing he absolutely couldn’t do in that spot? He grounded into a game-ending double play?


The Mets went back to sucking with that ground ball. Or they never stopped sucking despite amassing three base hits in their final two innings. They lost, 1-0. Harvey, who pitched extremely well, joined deGrom, who also pitched extremely well, as an absorber of loss in Atlanta. In between them, Noah Syndergaard had his ERA fluffed up a bit. Thus, your three shiningest hopes on this otherwise mostly dim roster had their utility snuffed out. And if deGrom, Syndergaard and Harvey are going to start three consecutive games and the Mets are going to win none of them, what exactly is there to expect from the remaining 91 games?

“Anything” is the correct/hopeful answer. A three-game sweep at the hands of a divisional rival whose signature chant evokes such pleasant associations (genocide, Chipper Jones) only seems prohibitive in its prevention of possibilities. I distinctly recall a similar weekend in Atlanta from fourteen years ago. Technically, it was a weekend at Shea, but I was in Atlanta on business watching on TV. The 2001 Mets were flailing and failing. The Braves were that era’s Nationals. Alex Escobar was that year’s Michael Conforto, the guy we couldn’t wait to bring up. In fact we brought up Alex Escobar.

He didn’t help. Nothing did. The Mets lost three straight, fell double-digits out of first and all looked lost. A Mets fan spending a weekend in Atlanta found it was a destination that provided limited fun then, too. Three months later, however, the Mets were in the thick of a September pennant race against those very same Braves. There’s not a huge moral to this, given that the 2001 Mets came up short in their valiant last-minute run at a division title, but they did make it more exciting than we could’ve imagined in June and at this point, I’d take having something to look forward to beyond constant entreaties to come out to Citi Field this Saturday to watch somebody who hasn’t had a big hit since 1982.

I’m referring, of course, to Michael Cuddyer.

Disgust and frustration at least make for lively conversation. Hear for yourself as I join Jason and Shannon Shark for the non-Star Wars portion of the latest episode of “I’d Just As Soon Kiss a Mookiee” here.

15 comments to The Thoroughly Lost Weekend

  • Rob E

    I didn’t watch Duda’s at bat in the 9th closely when it happened live, so I don’t remember the pitch sequence or anything…it was the kind of nondescript play that nobody notices. But how does a guy who pulls the ball often enough to get over-shifted on every at bat hit a ball the other way in that spot?!?!? That same stupid lazy fly to right at least gets the runner to third with one out. They GIVE him the left side of the field ALL the time when it DOES matter and he never takes advantage of it.

    If you want to criticize fundamentals/approach/execution, there’s an example.

    • Matt in Woodside

      If you look at Duda’s career spray charts, he’s never been the extreme pull hitter that these shifts would indicate, though. A couple of years ago, the coaches were preaching patience at the plate, and Duda started getting walked all the time. Then they complained that his walk rate was too high and that he should be hitting for more power, so he had a 30 HR season and started pulling the ball a lot more. Now, practically every team is using exaggerated shifts on him, and he’s been making a deliberate effort to go the other way. IMO it seems like that may be the reason that he’s suddenly swinging at a ton of balls outside and striking out more often. But he’s proven every year that he can make adjustments.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    …but I also didn’t think he’d hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the ninth

    Hmmm. That’s EXACTLY what I thought he’d do.

    • Left Coast Jerry

      I’m with you, Ken. Every time Cuddyer comes to bat with a runner on 1st and less than two out, he hits into a double play. At least, it seems that way. And I’m just waiting for the pronouncement tomorrow that Familia and d’Arnaud need to go on the DL, and Murphy won’t be back till after the All-Star break.

  • Eric

    Harvey sure unwound suddenly. He was lucky Lavarnway didn’t hit a home run.

    The Lavarnway score stood out the most for me because it highlighted the drop-off in Lagares’ defense this season.

    Hits seem to be dropping in behind and in front of Lagares that last year he would have tracked down. He’s making more mistakes like that botched barehanded pick-up attempt in the prior game. Now, teams are running home slow-footed catchers on hits to shallow center field against the reigning Gold Glover who in recent memory deployed a laser-sighted sniper rifle to rack up outfield assists.

    The Mets give a massive extension to David Wright whose on-field value promptly shrinks under chronic injury.

    The Mets give an extension to their young, best-fielding centerfielder in baseball who promptly turns into an ordinary fielder, which brings more attention to his non-power, streaky bat.

    That was a heckuva bunt following Granderson’s single, though. The Cuddyer double-play was a killer, more so with Flores, the Mets’ best clutch hitter this season, left stranded on deck.

  • sturock

    Why do we root for this team?

    You know, I can’t stand Mr. Met on the uniforms. What is he doing on the alternate uni sleeves? I can’t stand Mr. Met on the batting practice hats. Mr. Met just makes them look like a bunch of clowns! Whose idea was this? They have a perfectly nice logo with the bridges and skyline in the background.

    I can’t even talk about yesterday’s game.

  • Lenny65

    Looks like whatever patience there was for Cuddyer has evaporated into a cloud of Jason Bay-esque disgust. I remember when third base was traditionally the Mets “problem position” but now it’s corner OF. Things are bad when you’re fondly yearning for Moises Alou. Granderson and Cuddyer are killing us, no question. Where have you gone, Bernard Gilkey?

  • Steve2916

    The inability of this team to play sound, fundamental baseball with any consistency confounds me.

  • mikeL

    yikes! after the moises alou reference, i was thinking about the guys patrolling the OF during the last few years under bobby v…and came across this:

  • Ed Rising

    I’m as frustrated as anyone with this team but lets leave Mr. Met out of this. The poor guy just wants to root…root ROOT for the home team and help pass out free tshirts. He’s alright with me and he’s been around nearly since the franchise started. When we were winning 11 in a row no one said a peep about Mr. Met on the uniforms. The batting practice hats are with Mr. Met are a bit silly but its silly to have batting practice uniforms in the first place. Some guy in the mlb marketing department because they just aren’t making enough money. Give Mr. Met a break after all since Mrs. Met walked out he’s been kinda lonely.

  • Dave

    There’s always the old saying to fall back on, that you’re not as good as you look when you’re hot nor as bad as you look when everything’s going wrong. But if you want to compare 15-5 with 23-32, sample sizes start to play into the picture. I knew they weren’t an elite team but thought that pretty recently we had evidence that the corner had been turned. But as has happened before in the post-Shea era, the wheels, if not already off, are very loose. And the problems are exactly where we thought they’d be…replacing 2 Youngs with Cuddyer and Mayberry wasn’t going to transform this offense, and those of us too young to remember the 62 team were going to relive some of that vintage glovework.

    Heard the Style Council’s “Long Hot Summer” in the supermarket the other day (big Jam/Paul Weller fan), and got to thinking that that’s exactly what we’re in for. Again.

    • Rob E

      That longer sample was pretty filled with backup players, so that’s one reason they really AREN’T as bad as they have looked. And that 15-5 run was an outlier. But this offense does have flaws which are carrying over into a second year now (low OBPs, bad at generating runs, i.e, moving runners over and getting them home without HRs). I was willing to write off last year as a statistical glitch, but they’re doing the same things that killed them last year. Cuddyer and Granderson are what they are at this stage (which is less than we hoped for), but Duda, Flores, and Lagares are going to need to start polishing up this part of their game if the Mets are going to take that step up to even 85 wins.

  • metsfaninparadise

    Neither Lagares’ poor throw or Harvey’s inability to close out the 7th would have been so consequential if this team would SCORE SOME RUNS!!!!!

    Greg, glad to hear your dad’s coming along. So’s mine.

  • What a lost weekend. Friday-Terry Collins taking out deGrome. Saturday- Eric Campbell NOT throwing home for the lead runner Sunday- losing 1-0 with NO OFFENSE.btw Terry Collins has to go!!!!!!!