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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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It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now

The Mets, losers of seven consecutive ballgames, will win again. They may win their next scheduled date this very afternoon against the Brewers. Jacob deGrom is still one of the finest pitchers around and the Brewers are still — despite taking the first two games of this series — a last-place team with the worst home record in all of baseball.

And if they don’t win today, there’s always tomorrow. There are 89 tomorrows remaining in their 2015 journey. It only feels as if the suddenly sub-.500 Mets will lose them all. They won’t.

Comforted? Probably not. The Mets’ strengths are starting pitching and a schedule that includes as many potential patsies as existential threats. Starting pitching hasn’t prevented them from losing seven in a row, nor have the Brewers. Nor has the time-honored team meeting. Terry Collins took a page from the Frankie Goes To Hollywood playbook and told his team to relax. Nine innings later, Frankie Rodriguez Who Went To Milwaukee relaxed the Mets off to dreamland. Prior to our old closer closing the door, it was the generically named Jimmy Nelson taking care of our former first-place team on two hits over eight innings. Jimmy Nelson was not a household word even inside the Nelson household before Wednesday night. I’m guessing “spatula” had a higher Q rating.

Opponents seem immaterial at the moment. Words seem immaterial at the moment. Collins himself suggested team meetings, like his hitters, don’t do much of anything. This one didn’t. Nor did the resting of certain underachieving regulars in favor of massively unproven reserves…as if one can tell them apart anymore.

What strikes me as strange about these Mets who need to be told to relax is the lack of any sense of urgency surrounding them. When you listen to their manager postgame or their general manager anytime, the message always seems to be we did everything right, it’s just the darn scoreboard that didn’t cooperate. Players prepare, coaches coach, scouting reports are compiled, issued and devoured. Nobody performs.

It doesn’t help when your presumably prepared players are incapable performers. Do you get mad at your cats for not calculating sales tax? No, because you know they can’t. And the Mets are loaded down currently with players who can’t in general. It would have been nice to have had a foolproof contingency plan in case key players became unavailable in the course of the season, as occasionally (or often) happens. The Mets didn’t have one of those. The Mets’ bench when this campaign commenced consisted of Anthony Recker, John Mayberry, Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The ranks have thinned unmercifully from there.

Perhaps someone is working the phones to acquire Grade B talent to reinforce the outer edge of this roster. Grade B would be an improvement. Again, though, the Mets give the impression that you’re the crazy one for wondering why Eric Campbell is the default answer every time there’s a personnel shortfall. Or why of all the positions Wilmer Flores is minimally qualified to play he is continually assigned the one he finds most baffling. Or why their only operative power hitter, Curtis Granderson, isn’t deployed in a traditional power-hitting spot in the lineup on the off chance another Met reaches base in front of him. Or why Juan Lagares’s once-beautiful throwing arm is allowed to strain itself worse before succumbing to inevitable surgery.

We are allowed to wonder these things. It would be easier to slough it all off on the perpetually murky state of the Wilpons, their financial follies and MLB’s blatant negligence regarding the New York National League franchise’s inability/unwillingness to compete vigorously in today’s bustling baseball marketplace, but then what are you left with? You’re left with 89 games worth of abyss, from K-Rod to Que Sera, Sera, and it’s not like we’re ever going to stop staring down into it and gauging where it might level off. To say “no chance, it doesn’t matter” to the people who buy the tickets, subscribe to the packages, provide an audience for the sponsors and care because there is no alternative to caring doesn’t work. For better or worse, it’s too late to turn back now. Whatever will be, will be, but it’s our constitutional right as fans to keep wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ it will be at least marginally better before it grows prohibitively worse.

Anything can happen with 89 games remaining. Even a Mets win, sooner or later.

22 comments to It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now

  • Steve2916

    Greg,

    Thank you for your usual excellent post.

    Now, I’d like your take (and the take of other fed-up fans like myself) on the following…

    I think that ALL of us would like nothing more than seeing the Wilpons sell the team, or, at the very least, open their pocketbooks and spend $$$ like any big market team should be doing.

    It’s fine to vent on a blog, but that’s not going to hit the W’pons in their wallets. So, I’m wondering, is there anything we can do en masse, that might induce them to do the right thing (again, either sell or spend $$$)?

    Brainstorming here….

    1. Boycott the team and find a way to publicize what we are going. “Boycott” can mean
    – Stop attending games.
    – Stop watching games and SNY in general.
    – Don’t buy products from companies who advertise at Citi or on Mets games, and let those sponsors know why we are doing so.

    2. Pick a home series and have “picket lines” outside all gates with signs demanding that they sell the team. Alert local media (and national media such as MLB Network and ESPN) that we would be protesting in this manner.

    3. Out-of-the-box idea: Start a petition on change.org.

    While there may be some differences of opinion on this forum as to the various issues with this team, I think what we all have in common (including you, Greg and Jason) is that we care passionately about the Mets and would like to see them field a contending team. So, maybe we put our heads together and find a way to express our displeasure that might have a chance of getting something done? What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Steve

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Greetings from Milwaukee, Greg. I’m on the tail end of a trip that my son arranged that began in Minnesota. Saw Pelfrey pitch at Target Field Tuesday night, and I will be in attendance at Miller Park this afternoon, and, hopefully, see deGrom end the losing streak. More likely, though, Terry will take him out in a 0-0 tie, and bring in Gilroblesich to allow the inherited runner to score, aided by a terrible outfield play by Granddyer.

    If somebody has pictures of Fred Wilpon with V Stiviano, please leak them now. Thank you.

    But you’re telling me I shouldn’t be angry with my dog because he can’t prepare my income tax return. Is that right?

  • Dave

    Very good on the song queues, wrapping up with Dusty Springfield even. All I can add is the title song to the Beatles’ second movie. HELP!!!! Or maybe Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away,” although that’s been used for the Mets before.

    I was at the Cyclones game last night, so at least I watched a game where players have a valid excuse for playing like minor leaguers.

  • Rob E

    The issue of spending comes up repeatedly in these comments. Can any of you proponents of spending tell me where you think they should have spent in the past couple of years or where you think they should spend now to have avoided/get out of this perceived disaster?

    • I think that’s a fair question when we’re talking within the constraints of what Sandy’s allowed to spend — I’ve asked that myself, because it dispenses with a lot of the Nelson Cruz/Tulo or Bust/Should Of Resigned Reyes silliness.

      But I think it’s less useful when looking at the Alderson regime — which should really be called the Madoff regime — as a whole.

      Give Sandy an extra $20 million to $30 million a year and you would have had an entirely different structure of decisions made, players acquired, Plans A and B. The team would have been reconstructed differently and subsequent decisions would also have been different. So asking someone to go back and construct an alternate Mets reality doesn’t strike me as a useful exercise.

      This is not to say the Sandy With Money team would have been better — as anyone who remembers Eddie Murray and Vince Coleman (or Jason Bay) can tell you. But the questions we’d be asking today would be a lot more along the lines of “Player X or Player Y?” instead of what we find ourselves asking, which is “Can we even afford Player Z?”

      • Rob E

        The thing is that the recent “difference-maker” free agents like Scherzer and Cano are getting $250 million contracts. There are other “difference-makers” like Carl Crawford and Josh Hamilton that got big money and totally crapped out. People like to complain about Nelson Cruz before 2014, but they DID sign Chris Young for about the same as what Cruz got. That’s not a “spending” issue, they just spent it on the wrong guy (which no one ever brings up).

        Also they did spend $220 million on Wright, Granderson, and Cuddyer (also never brought up). All the pitchers are cost-controlled right now…that’s one reason the payroll is low. That’s a GOOD thing!

        So maybe a better question would be “who did they pass on in the last three years that would have made the team better, that also came at a cost that was reasonable (even if it was expensive)?” Who was that guy this past offseason? Who is that guy NOW?

        The young big-ticket free agent in his prime like A-Rod or Greg Maddux hasn’t been there recently. You can’t “spend” like people want unless you have a bottomless well like the 90-00s Yankees had, where you can just outspend your mistakes and give a Kei Igawa $40 million to sign, and then send him to the minors when he sucks and then take on Kevin Brown’s or Randy Johnson’s contract.

        The implication is that the obvious answer was there all along and the Wilpons wouldn’t pony up. But I don’t see who that obvious answer is/was. All the people that are yelling “SPEND!” should at least have someone in mind to support the point.

        • Rob D.

          Thank you.

        • Dave

          The money issue isn’t just the big ticket blockbuster free agents. Each year Alderson has assembled a bullpen and a bench made for the most part of the cheapest parts possible. Justin Turner – who might be the freaking cleanup hitter if he was still here – was allowed to walk because they didn’t want to pay, what, $1.5M for a utility guy. Anthony Recker has never proven that he can hit .200 but looked as though he was given a job for life until they decided to go with Johnny Monell, who I think stands a 50-50 chance of playing for the Somerset Patriots next year. The bullpen usually consists of attempts at catching lightning in a bottle…there’s a reason why the Scott Rices of the world spend their 30th birthdays on the team bus from Duluth to Cedar Rapids. Or we get non-prospect minor leaguers who don’t even earn a uniform number any better than a “you’re not making the team” 71 or something.

          Good teams have good role players and guys who can pick up the slack for at least a little while when the inevitable injuries happen. When it happens to the Mets, we have guys who don’t belong in a major league uniform.

          • sturock

            Right you are! That’s what bothers me more than the non-spending. Other teams — Tampa, Oakland, SF, Pittsburgh — manage to find cheap talent. Hey, at least we won today! And maybe we begin winning again back home at Citi. The change is going to come from player development and finding these diamonds in the rough.

      • Daniel Hall

        No need to remember Jason Bay. We’ve got Granderson and Cuddyer to marvel at right now.

  • LA Jake

    Rob E, the bigger issue is, so we trust them to spend PROPERLY?

    They forked over a ton for Granderson, and we all knew he is who he is, a popgun-armed, homer-hitting strikeout machine who is as streaky as they come.

    They spent VERY QUICKLY on Chris Young, who hadn’t done anything useful in years, and missed out on Nelson Cruz, who was busy racking up HRs and RBIs every year.

    They made a move for Cuddyer which mostly makes sense, except that he’s a complimentary hitter and not a big bat in the middle of the lineup that strikes fear in pitchers and helps the rest of the batting order.

    Oh and if this group was willing to spend money, they could get Tulowitzki basically by eating the whole contract and giving up lesser prospects.

    • Dennis

      All due respect LA Jake, but regarding Tulowitzki, you say they could get him with lesser prospects. How do you know exactly who the Rockies would want? None of us know what prospects they would ask for.

    • Rob E

      1) Not spending PROPERLY is not the same as not spending AT ALL. If you want to criticize THAT, it’s a more valid argument. The Wilpons have spent A LOT over the years. It didn’t work…unless having only 2000 and 2006 to show for 20 years of mega-spending is your idea of success….it sure ain’t mine.

      2) I think that Justin Turner might have been a clubhouse issue, but at face value, yes, that was a mistake. What he was even when the Mets had him is exactly what we need. Still, one Justin Turner wouldn’t negate all the injuries of this year. But yes, that was a mistake that felt like a mistake even at the time.

      But when people say “SPEND!” I can’t believe Justin Turner is the guy they’re harping about.

      3) A) 217/270/400 B) 243/276/344 C) 223/269/303
      D) 191/266/349

      Do you know what those are? Those are the career slash lines of the current backup catchers for KC & SF (the two World Series teams), St.L (the team with the best record in baseball) and…..Anthony Recker. It is a myth that these teams pull championship backup players out of their ass at will. Any one of those teams losing their starting catcher would be just as screwed as we are. Those teams starters are able to absorb their Eric Campbells…the Mets can’t when you take away d’Arnaud and Murphy on top of Wright.

      4) As for the bullpens, they are notoriously fickle. Sometimes you get lucky, but the payrolls are littered with Matt Guerriers and Scott Linebrinks who had a good year or two and then spit the bit after getting a big contract. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Mets bullpen is as bad as people think. The first line of our bullpen has ALSO been decimated, so we are into reserves there (they have four rookies right now). And every time the Met bullpen gives up a run it’s amplified because the offense never scores. There is no reliever in the bullpen today — not even Alex Torres — who has not contributed SOMETHING.

  • LA Jake

    Dennis, you are correct, I don’t KNOW what the Rockies will do. But we’ve seen this scenario time and time again… moving big contract player means either asking trade partner to accept most of money and provide lesser prospects or accept little of the money but provide elite prospects. It might be different if Tulo was younger and/or not injury prone and/or didn’t play in Colorado half the season. But those are the facts so I’ll be shocked if he’s dealt for BOTH elite prospects and ridding themselves of contract.

  • Matt

    I feel like the more common sense moves – putting Granderson lower in the lineup, moving Flores away from SS, and putting Lagares on the DL are put on hold out of some idea of saving face. It’s painful to watch. I’m wondering what the front office feels like it has to lose at this point. More bad press?

  • Steve D

    I have worked up my master list of high quality major league hitters the New York Mets have developed in their system and either kept through their prime or traded at an early age for a quality player in return. This is what they have developed in 54 seasons…please let me know if I forgot someone, though I looked at each roster for 54 seasons:

    1. Cleon Jones
    2. Lee Mazzilli (left, but traded for good pitchers)
    3. Mookie Wilson
    4. Darryl Strawberry (left during prime)
    5. Hubie Brooks (traded for Carter)
    6. Kevin Mitchell (traded for McReynolds)
    7. Todd Hundley
    8. Edgardo Alfonzo
    9. Jose Reyes (left during prime)
    10. David Wright
    11. Daniel Murphy

    I think I have been on the generous side. On average, it takes the Mets every 5 years to turn out even one decent hitter. It is tough to win like this. They could spend all the money they want, but unless this changes it will be the same old Mets. It still bugs me that the payroll is lower than Milwaukee though…it’s because we never have any homegrown hitter that grows into a player that needs to be paid highly. The next step of my research will be to verify what I suspect…this is the worst franchise in history in terms of developing hitters.

    • Dennis

      Like you said, if being generous, maybe Jeremy Burnitz as well.

      • Steve D

        Had a decent career…did nothing in 2 terms with the Mets and they got Paul Byrd, Jerry Dipoto and Dave Mlicki for him (very little). So their system did develop him, but he did nothing for the franchise. Should we count guys like this? If anything it makes the situation seem even more absurd…would then have to count Amos Otis and similar guys.

        • Dennis

          I overlooked the part about getting a good hitter in return, so yeah, it’s a stretch including Burnitz on that list. He was the only one not in that group I could think of off top of my head that was developed by them and had a decent career. Have to admit…..that list is pretty thin.

          • Steve D

            I guess we should count Ken Singleton, a fine hitter…he was in a three player package that got us Rusty Staub…though Rusty only had four full seasons as a full time player for us until we stupidly traded him for Mickey Lolich. This is depressing.

  • eric1973

    Unbelievable stat I just heard, that of Harvey’s 50 career starts, he’s given up 1 run or less 25 times.

    That, and deGrom/Thor/Matz, are what still gives me hope for this year.

    As for spending, or lack thereof, please don’t get Tulo, because the only games he’ll ever play here are rehab games with David Wright.

    I come from the Seaver/Koosman/Matlack era, and the Mets were generally a respectable 3rd place team every year from 1970-1976. Always wondered how they didn’t win more, but this year explains it.

    Off-topic, but could you ever imagine Millan, Harrelson, or Cleon Jones running around with shaving cream or chocolate syrup after a win?

  • Pat O'Hern

    Frankie goes to Hollywood lol Greg. 7 losses in a row and Van Halen imploding before the tour – bad week.