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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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Panic Would Be an Improvement

There are worst things than living in Panic City. You could be stuck with an address in Disgust Township or Despair Junction or Apathy Falls.

All three of those sad little burgs would have been a suitable location for the wretched parody of baseball that the Mets and Cubs inflicted on defenseless fans for 11 embarrassing innings tonight.

The Cubs have won two in a row in the series (and eight straight against the Mets), but they didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory tonight either. They were awful against Bartolo Colon and a parade of relievers and extended the game largely because of the timidity of third-base coach Gary Jones, last seen being hauled out of camera range for a conversation with Joe Maddon that I don’t think Jones particularly enjoyed.

But while the Cubs looked somnambulant, that’s better than unbelievably awful, which would be a kind description of the Mets during a game in which I stopped throwing my hands in the air because I got too tired.

Besides the nonexistent hitting, led by a hopelessly lost and completely unprotected Lucas Duda, the Mets alternated not executing with executing stupid plays. Which was more aggravating, Darrell Ceciliani‘s failure to execute a suicide squeeze or Ruben Tejada doing his damnedest to get himself and Daniel Murphy called out for sharing occupancy of third?

Murph chipped in by blowing a tag play on Anthony Rizzo at third, Wilmer Flores and Duda flubbed a critical attempt at a double play … the list goes on and on.

As the final batter, Kevin Plawecki actually had a chance to give the Mets a lead with an extra-base hit, and had just witnessed Justin Grimm‘s utter inability to throw his curve for a strike. So Plawecki stared at consecutive fastballs that caught a lot of plate. Three pitches later he was caught looking at a curve that actually broke where it was supposed to, and a miserable game came to a merciful conclusion.

Terry Collins — who at this rate will soon be conducting his postgame interviews from Bellevue — muttered vaguely about shaking up the lineup tomorrow. That won’t work — in part because lineup construction means basically nothing, but mostly because because the Mets’ problem isn’t which lineup spots players are hitting in, but which players are available to hit in those spots.

Until something a lot more significant than the lineup changes, expect more of what we’ve been seeing — good performances from starting pitchers going for naught because of some combination of inept hitting, faulty defense and mental mistakes. So when will something change? Sorry, here in Apathy Falls our crystal balls have all gone cloudy. Maybe you could check with our neighbors up in Panic City.

31 comments to Panic Would Be an Improvement

  • eric1973

    I predict the Mets will finish the season at .500 —— 500 strikeouts looking, that is. Never seen anything like it. Ever. If it’s in the strike zone, they take it, and if it’s in the dirt, they swing at it. Every single one of ’em. Maybe get rid of the assistant batting coach, just for kicks, and see what happens. What is it, poor hand-eye coordination? Maybe they need glasses, no joke.

  • eric1973

    Whose bright idea was it to give Legares an extension AFTER he got fat, and AFTER he hurt his elbow? Thank Goodness negotiations with Duda did not pan out. Would rather leave these positions unoccupied than manned by these two guys.

    Turns out Murphy is the guy they should have extended. He’s certainly a Grade-A numbskull, but he seems to be a really good player who actually contributes.

    Flores is my favorite player, stinks lately, but can’t he and Tejada ever throw the ball to first on a fly, at least once in a while?

  • eric1973

    If TC lasts 3 more years, he will have the most wins of any Met manager EVER. This record would have the same meaning as Barry Bonds’ HR record.

    Someone ought to check TC for steroids. I hear it extends careers.

  • Meticated

    Not to worry, Big pharma is working on a Metication specifically for Mets fans…its called “everything is beautiful”…elongates the medulla oblongata to touch the epiglottis…we see everything as bliss and make purring noises…no side effects like devotion, suppressed rage nor hairy tantrums…works for the crush on the LIE at rush hours too. It’s free…the Wilpons are sponsoring the drug development and will distribute it with Carvel ice cream helmets as a fun and colorful dessert topping….

  • Harvey

    They don’t have Carvel at Citi Field any more. These days its Mr. Softee. No premium ice cream for the Wilpons, only the bargain basement kind. Just like the players.

  • Dave

    Somewhere Dave Hudgens is saying “yeah, it was my fault, bitches.”

    Forget the pitchers pining to walk as free agents. By now I fear they’re thinking of new careers. I could see deGrom playing guitar in an indie band, Syndergaard as a ranch hand, obviously Harvey figures he’s already a model/Jon Hamm. All of those would be less frustrating than knowing that throwing a no-hitter still wouldn’t guarantee a win.

  • Jacobs27

    I feel bad for Terry, because up until that suicide squeeze call, he was basically blameless for the staggering ineptitude of his team. But that one really didn’t make much sense.

    A high risk play for a team that never executes anything well, bunts in particular, with an unproven rookie facing a pitcher with a nasty slider and good reason to throw it out of the strike zone, and a slow, bone-headed runner at third, in a situation where a hypothetical fly-ball (hypothetical because the Mets as a rule eschew situational hitting) could have given them the lead and a hit could have scored two whole runs (remember those?)… I could go on. It was a desperation move, but I think a pretty irrational one. The Mets comically awful execution kind of masks that.

    • Rob E.

      Imagine Terry Collins watching all this same ineptitude we watch, and listening to all the screaming to “DO SOMETHING!”, and here he tries to do something different with that squeeze, and unfortunately, it didn’t work. I didn’t think it was a desperation move at all, and I applaud him for trying SOMETHING. And if they let him hit and Ceciliani struck out as he ultimately did, the comments would be that that would have been a good time to try a squeeze and how come they never do THAT.

      The manager has to manage to what his guys CAN and MIGHT do, he can’t just say “these guys suck, what’s the point of even fielding a team?” For what it’s worth, they are averaging 3.5 runs a game, and while that is bad, it is better (INFINITELY better, actually) than the ZERO runs everyone seems to think they will score from this point until the end of time.

      • Eric

        Safety squeeze.

        • Jacobs27

          Was it as safety squeeze? I didn’t think so, but I could be wrong. The effect was suicide, in any case.

          To clarify, I wasn’t suggesting that TC somehow lost the game with that move (the Mets took care of that themselves, over and over), just that it seemed very unlikely to succeed, at least to me. For one thing, a squeeze only really makes sense when you have good reason to think the pitcher will through a strike. That was hardly the case here. And I for one would certainly not have been calling for a squeeze if Terry simply let Ceciliani hit (even if he ended up striking out).

          To Rob E.’s point, I understand the desire to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING and why not something outside of the box, with the element of surprise, push the envelope, and so forth. And if it had worked it might have jump started the team’s confidence. And yes, without it, probably Ceciliani fails to drive in the run anyway (although maybe if he had been thinking along with Ron he would’ve been patient and walked, albeit uselessly, since Strop has a base to work with and was probably pitching around the young hitter seeing if he would fish).

          But I still see Terry calling the squeeze (which he hardly ever does) as more a sign of his deep frustration, of his being at his wits end trying to make something happen, than him reacting what the situation called for. But I could be wrong.

          So, in other words, my main feeling is sympathy for TC that even when he tries something for understandable reasons — even if I don’t agree with them — it goes hopeless awry.

          • 9th string catcher

            To be honest, I think TC has done a pretty good job this year, particularly with the bullpen. He’s wrung the most anyone could get with major pieces missing. The first two weeks of the season showed what this team could be if healthy, but there is absolutely no room for error.

            That said, I would put this game in the category of one that the manager lost. Yes, the Mets are not scoring, yes, they have a lot of injuries. But with 2nd and 3rd, one out, you don’t pinch hit for Mayberry. You have the momentum on your side and the guy is simply a better risk than the rookie. JM is a professional hitting having a tough year, but who is use to late inning pinch hitting and who certainly could put a ball in play. Adding to a poor substitution was the atrocious suicide squeeze decision. Slow runner, inexperienced batter, pressure situation.

          • Eric

            You’re right: it was a suicide squeeze. I wasn’t clear. I meant Collins could have called a safety squeeze instead of a suicide squeeze. I was fine with the squeeze call, but it didn’t have to be a suicide squeeze. Tejada isn’t fast, but he’s fast enough to take the extra beat.

  • Rochester John

    Huhh boyyy……where to begin? Oh hell, why bother?…….

  • mikeL

    silver lining: we now know that wilmer can botch a critical double play from the other side of the bag.

    here’s an idea: give terry a week off to soothe his frazzled nerves. bring wally up for one week to decide who on the current team goes down to AA.

    replace them with his picks from the AAA team.

    let the deposed MLB-to-AA squad fight their way back to AAA. hopefully terry never has to see them again.

    let terry roll the dice with his new roster. can the AAA call-ups possibly be worse than the sub-anemic team out there today?

  • sturock

    I agree the suicide squeeze was okay. It just didn’t work. Meanwhile, is there anything Ruben Tejada can do right? He is– seriously– one of the dumbest players I have ever seen. He and Murphy both should’ve been called out on that play; I don’t know how the Mets escaped that. Why does this team continually– year in, year out, no matter who the GM is– why does this team continually develop dumb players with no rudimentary grasp of the rules and fundamentals of the game?

    And I don’t see a magic bullet for this offense. Who is going to start to hit better? Ruben Tejada? Juan Lagares? Wilmer Flores? We know what these guys are: flawed. They are just not good hitters. Michael Cuddyer? Can’t they invent an injury and make him go away for a few months? Bring up Michael Conforto. At least he’s different– and he bats left-handed. Or trade for some other team’s young project.

    And yet, this team, for all its troubles, is still in the pennant race. Why is it so hard for them to find a real baseball player?

  • Steve D

    Maybe I’m in the minority…with better players, Collins would probably be an above average manager. He is not the problem. With this group, Wally might be better, but we’ll never know because neither the Wilpons nor Sandy want to deal with him. What this team and organization need more than anything, stealing from Keith, is FUNDIES. With fundies, this team would only be a few players away…fundies, plus a Donn Clendenon (1969 version) and a Bud Harrelson type and you have a playoff team. Nobody would want to face this pitching in the playoffs. Again, won’t happen because we can’t add any payroll.

    Conclusion for the 197th time…SELL THE TEAM.

    • I agree. Terry isn’t the problem — it’s that ownership can only afford shitty players.

      • Jacobs27

        What’s doubly frustrating is that while being so cheap, they also over-pay for mediocre-at-best free agents. Recently, they all seem to be likeable stand-up guys, though. Which I guess makes it worse.

      • Dennis

        Terry isn’t the problem. Duda hasn’t replicated what he did last year, 1/4 (Wright, d’arnaud) of the starting lineup gone for most of the season with below average players replacing them, a ton of other injuries, and Cuddyer not producing. There you go.

  • eric1973

    Liked the suicide squeeze. TC NOT managing by the book, which is good sometimes.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    It appears that Duda now has the same deer in the headlights look when he’s at the plate, that he used to exhibit in left field. He’s lost all confidence in himself and it will be a long time before the camptown ladies are singing.

    • Steve D

      I’ll mention Keith again…Keith has helped Duda and could help him again if that were his calling…man would this franchise be better off if Keith wanted to manage instead of broadcast.

  • matt

    Panic City is quickly turning into Jeffrey Loria Land.

  • Lenny65

    The most pitiful lineup in Mets history. Think about that for a moment.

    • Rob E

      These lineups ARE pitiful, but this was not the master plan, they’ve been put here by circumstance. So to the guys who are killing these players, keep in mind that you are killing players that have been tasked to perform before they were ready (I’m talking about Plawecki, Herrera, and Ceciliani).

      There are a lot of killers here, but the most disturbing one (and one with future implications) has been the sudden and severe regression of Duda. He has not adjusted to the shift and the way he is being pitched to in any way, and he is planted right in the middle of the lineup, and it has been a black hole. At the beginning of the season, the heart of the order was Duda, Wright, and Cuddyer and at least there was hope. Except for Duda’s first couple of weeks, they have gotten nothing out of the 3-4-5 spots. That is a very difficult hurdle for the rest of the lineup to overcome. But you can’t blame the Wilpons or Alderson for that. Even if you didn’t like the Cuddyer signing, no one was screaming to replace Wright and Duda before the season.

      • Matt

        I was, actually. I thought they should have gone whole hog and traded Wright to the Rockies (where he hits above .300) and go into full on rebuild mode. Put Flores at third, or come up with some alignment that isn’t all that different from what it is now. This whole thing starts with the owners – they can make one big move, so they build it on one their one franchise player, who they kept around. He goes down, now that other piece goes down. In fact, their whole algorithm of an offense goes down, because nothing ever goes by the books. And there’s no money to save any of it. It’s all ownership – all the decisions they make, how they make them, and how they keep talking about the future. Stop going to games and maybe these folks (or MLB) will start thinking about the present.

  • LA Jake

    I’m not sure whether to cry because this team is so inept at the plate or laugh because people on here actually think Totally Clueless is or could be a good manager with real hitters.

    • Rob E

      What do you think Wally Backman or Tony LaRussa or Connie Mack or GOD for that matter would be able to do with the lineups they’ve had to run out there? Even if you want to blame the Wilpons, how can you hold Terry Collins accountable for the players he’s had to put out there these past five years? They have played hard since Collins’ first day, and that’s the biggest thing you can hang on a manager. He’s not the one waving at breaking balls that bounce or popping up to infielders.

      • Dennis

        Great point (again) Rob. That’s been my contention about Collins all along. If you listen to Keith Hernandez (someone who might know a little about baseball) on the telecasts, he often gives credit for the job Terry has done.

    • Dennis

      All due respect Jake, I don’t believe Terry is a genius or a great manager, but your take on him (Totally Clueless… childish) as a bumbling fool is a bit off the mark as well. Like Rob said… could stick Connie Mack in the dugout and he would be hard pressed to improve this team to where you think it should be. Maybe you should contact Sandy and lobby for Terry’s job?

  • LA Jake

    Rob E I agree with your talk about the concern with Duda, except we’re talking about a small sample size. Slumps, even bad ones, happen. And you can be sure his approach probably started getting messed up when he started feeling like he HAD TO HIT HRs because otherwise the team wouldn’t score (and I think some of that affected Cuddyer as well).

    As to another manager with this group, I still think good ones would do better, certainly with fundamentals, the lack of which is a hallmark of TC’s tenure.

    And even if another manager wouldn’t do better with this bunch, he’s still not a good manager and shouldn’t have the job, but does because he’s cheap and the Wilpons knew with this his last chance he wouldn’t rock the boat the last few years and guess what, they were right. He’s the moneyball Art Howe for this team (and the actual one sucked too).