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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.

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Nasty Boy

I’m still kvelling from Jacob deGrom in the All-Star Game last night. Seriously. I should be more upset that the National League did not uphold the honor of the essentially meaningless midseason exhibition (home field, schmome field; Mets in five), but p’shaw! to that. A decision for Jacob would have been swell and an MVP trophy would have been sparkling, but we have something better than any of that.

We have a legend. We’ll be talking about that time Jacob deGrom blew away the American League on ten pitches for three strikeouts in the sixth inning of the 2015 All-Star Game in the runup to every All-Star Game for the next couple of generations. There may not have been a Ruth, Gehrig or Foxx — or even a Parrish, Lemon or Davis — among the hapless trio of Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias, but that’s who the junior circuit offered up as its best, and deGrom overmatched each of them.

When you’re wandering the desert from the last game before the break to the first game after the break, about the only thing that makes life worth living is when your team’s lone representative enters the only game in between. Jacob simply taking the mound would have more or less satisfied me. Instead we got way more. We got a little extra dose of franchise history to go with our recent run of high-maintenance pitchers homering once and sub-Mendoza bench players homering thrice, and we got it with the whole baseball world watching.

As Met All-Star moments go, this rivaled Lee Mazzilli taking Jim Kern deep and walking with the bases loaded versus Ron Guidry. In 1979, I was upset Mazz got jobbed out of the MVP by Dave Parker’s cannon of an arm. Thirty-six years later, I find the performance to be its own reward. Man, I must be maturing.

I’ve never called any pitcher “filthy” or “dirty,” mostly because I don’t talk like a anchor candidate SNY deemed too lame to host SportsNite, but for the first time Tuesday night, I was moved to blurt out, “THAT WAS NASTY!” to the television. I mean such a nice boy, but such nasty stuff. “LOOK! LOOK AT WHAT HE’S DOING!” I advised Stephanie, who was already pretty charmed by Jacob’s cameo in the Fox promo that featured youthful All-Stars who didn’t know what to make of old technology. Our youngster held a rotary phone and expressed total bafflement with what it was for.

Yet when he got the call, he really knew how to dial it up.

35 comments to Nasty Boy

  • Lou from Brazil

    What is so pleasant about deGrom is his demeanor in interviews. I don’t recall if I ever heard him speak beyond a Steve Gelbs quickie from the clubhouse hallway. Seems like a very humble, focused but all around nice guy. The fact that he’s a tremendous talent just makes him all the more likable. Kudos to him and proving he belongs in this and hopefully many more all star games.

  • Dave

    I usually don’t give a shit about All Star Games, because the Mets are usually only represented by the Little League-like “we can’t leave any team out” rule, then combined with a willful abandonment of anything resembling real baseball strategy in favor of the Nice Guy Coach-style “everybody gets to make their parents proud” substitutions. So whatever. But boy, last night I sure gave a shit for one inning. This seems even more gratifying than Maz almost single-handedly winning the 79 ASG (OK, with the help of Parker’s arm, but yeah, Maz still should’ve been MVP), because in July 1979, we had nothing whatsoever to hope for, no matter how well Maz played, or how perfectly he could have been cast in the Saturday Night Fever sequel. But watching deGrom make 3 All Stars – yeah OK, not Babe Ruth, but still guys good enough to have made the All Star team – look like the guys in a spring training split squad game wearing #91 with no name on their jersey…wow. I too was in full “Oh man, did you see that?” mode while my wife was getting caught up on some reading. And as I keep coming back to…this was the guy who was on no one’s radar screen. Even after last year’s performance, probably being thought of on Opening Day as our #3 guy at best.

    But when f’ing Joe Buck had to kind of diss the rest of the Mets’ rotation – including the kid who has pitched 2 games in the major leagues so far – to make his point about how good Young Jacob is…unnecessary. My wife lifted her head up from her Kindle, laughed and said “Oh, I bet Harvey loved that.”

    • Eric

      Besides basking in replays of the 3 Ks, I did 2 things in reaction to deGrom’s performance: look up the on-line scouting reports from when he was called up and look up his pre-MLB history.

      deGrom wasn’t an unheralded prospect, but he was considered a middling prospect, border-line starter/reliever, on the same level of Gee, McHugh, or Hefner. He was also on the verge of aging out as a prospect, so his 1st shot at the majors may well have been his last shot, at least with the Mets.

      His path to the Mets was set back by injuries but also moved forward by unusual events. His promotions were often the back-up plan when someone else was hurt. His 1st Mets start most of all: deGrom was only called up because Germen got sick and then he only started because Gee got hurt. Of course, deGrom made the most of his opportunity from there.

      As far as Buck, I was irked by the nasty tack he took, too.

      Buck should have hailed deGrom on his own merits. For contrast, he could have cited stars from other teams. If he had to bring up the other Mets starters, he could have hailed deGrom as a representative of the Mets’ remarkable staff of aces. Instead, Buck chose the mean-girls tack of breaking up the Beatles with a poisonous barb.

      In reaction to Buck, I looked up Harvey’s 2013 stats to remind that Harvey was a Cy Young-contending ace before the TJ surgery. Harvey is at least a solid number-2 right now while in the midst of recovering from the TJ surgery, and on track to be an ace again by next season.

      Baseball is not a sport where there is a zero sum of touches of the ball for starting pitchers. There is full room for a staff of aces to make their mark. The Mets have 5 realized aces and potential aces and that’s just right for a starting staff.

    • sturock

      Joe Buck is just so truly awful it’s hard to watch any game he broadcasts. Why couldn’t he just say, “With all the great young pitchers the Mets have, deGrom might just be the best of the bunch.” He’s a clown…you just can’t ever watch Fox no matter what. But, deGrom might just be the best of the bunch.

      • Eric

        It’s disappointing. Buck had captured deGrom’s performance well before Buck decided to ruin it by capping his commentary with a cheap tabloid barb.

      • Eric

        I would have preferred characterizing deGrom as representing the Mets starters, but “With all the great young pitchers the Mets have, deGrom might just be the best of the bunch” would have been acceptable, too.

    • I was so mesmerized by Jacob that I wasn’t even listening to Buck at that point, so I missed his dig. The trick is to never listen to Buck.

      Reynolds is awful but in the studio I truly believe he’s compelling, plus we know he could play. Verducci is miscast in the booth, but he’s a helluva baseball writer. (Do check out his Travels with Charlie Hustle piece.)

      Other than bloodlines, I have no idea what Buck brings to these telecasts.

      • Matt in Woodside

        Reynolds: deGrom is throwing cheddar with extra mustard. Could you pass the antacid Tom, because this stuff is sick.

        Verducci: Sick is right, Harold, I think I’m gonna hurl, but not as well as deGrom is hurling out there tonight.

        Rosenthal: deGrom once hit a home run off of Chris Sale in college, and just the thought of that is making me light headed. Do you have any smelling salts Joe? I am getting the vapors.

        Buck: No I don’t Ken, but the last time I saw anything this sick, I was in a comic book store in Japan. I picked up something I thought was about baseball, but it turned out to be a story about an octopus dating a softball team. I thought about the Mets pitching staff and left the place disconcerted, and walked into the nearest sushi bar where I ordered a small carafe of heated rice wine that the locals call “sake.”

        Reynolds: Did you taste anything like the wasabi that deGrom is throwing?

        Andrews: I’m standing here with deGrom in the dugout waiting for you guys to finish talking because that half inning was only 25 seconds long.

        Buck: Well there you have it Erin, people talk about Matt Harvey, they talk about Noah Syndergaard and his 580 foot home runs, they talk about Zack Wheeler and his rehab, they talk about Steven Matz and his 4 RBIs, they talk about Colon and Niese and Seaver and Gooden. But do they ever talk about deGrom? I am asking a question and I am answering that question. Remember deGrom.

        • Dave

          Wait Matt, did you get expressed consent from Major League Baseball to use those pictures, descriptions and accounts of that game? LOL

  • Nick

    The better DeGrom gets, the more it simply raises the bar for Harvey.

    Whether DeGrom is better than Harvey, or Harvey is better than DeGrom, it kinda doesn’t matter. Sometimes it seems like they’re Lennon and McCartney; they need each other. (Of course that can’t be true.) And yes, it seems like Harvey is Lennon and DeGrom is McCartney — the brooding dark one, the light approachable one; the nasty wit; the friendly smile; even the capital G in DeGrom echoes Paul’s C… But I digress…

    The real thing is, Harvey was first. Harvey owned the town before we knew DeGrom existed (most of us, anyway). Harvey was the one who put visions of Seaver and Gooden in our minds – it was Harvey who inspired the real dreams that 2015, his third season, would be like those two pitchers’ third seasons – World Championship caliber… Harvey who was the Star… So: will Harvey always seem like Koufax to DeGrom’s Drysdale; Seaver to his Koosman/Matlack; Gooden to his Darling? It certainly doesn’t seem that way anymore, not after last night. And yet…

    And yet, Harvey does have something – call it charisma – that seems to demand he be Alpha Dog. He’s like Seaver and Clemens, and a lot of other guys — they simply need to be THE MAN. Given the kind of inconsistency he went through in the first half – and really, it wasn’t that awful, he didn’t get a lot of run support early on or his record would be a helluva lot better than 8 and 6 – it was really just that stretch of 4 starts where he seemed hittable — and given that he, as they say, rises to a challenge, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he reeled off about nine great starts in a row now.

    He wants the Mets to own this town. And HE wants to be the one to lead us there. And it could happen in 2015. If only…. a bat here… a bat there…

    — Dear God, why won’t they sell the team to someone who sees that we should win this thing RIGHT NOW? There’s no guarantee the Nationals will ever be as mediocre again, or the whole division so lackluster…

    • Sure beats wondering if Misch is less of a bad bet than Redding or vice-versa.

      Until last night I would’ve said Syndergaard has them all beat for stuff, but seeing what deGrom could do in one inning of letting it all hang out…wow.

      • Eric

        If Gee hadn’t gotten hurt, deGrom might well be the closer now, on par with Familia. Or the set-up man for Familia in an elite bullpen.

        As is, we now know that deGrom is a relief option for a Madison Bumgarner Game 7 moment.

  • sturock

    I love him and everything but I’m kinda sick of Matt Harvey. I was a Wheeler guy, now I’m a deGrom and Thor guy. Maybe cuz they drive pick-up trucks and go fishing in the off-season, vastly preferable to a metrosexual who shops at Whole Foods and hangs out at Ranger games with a model some PR firm hooked him up with.

    Everyone reading this blog knows in his or her heart that deGrom is way cooler than Matt.

    • To paraphrase Sean Parker from The Social Network, one ace isn’t cool. Y’know what’s cool? Several aces.

      • sturock

        Like five aces, baby!

        • Jacobs27

          We could have five aces next year without even cheating! Forget the wild card!

          • Eric

            The thing about the wild card (game) is that the Mets are less likely to have a pitching advantage since the other team will likely be able to line up their 1 or 2 for the 1-game elimination, while keeping in mind that the Mets hitting means a good 2 is like facing an ace.

            For the post season, the Mets’ potential 5-of-a-kind ace advantage only comes out for a series.

      • Eric

        On the video section of the MLB website, they have a section with highlights of top pitching performances from around the majors this season which include a bunch of Mets games.

        After I watched the replay of deGrom’s all-star performance, I watched highlights of Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard from this season. For added measure, I watched a few highlights of Harvey from 2012 and 2013 on youtube.

        I think Syndergaard does have the best raw stuff, with control of it in contrast to pre-TJ Wheeler, but all the stuff is top shelf. Harvey’s stuff has flickered some this season, but that’s to be expected at this point of his recovery. The inconsistency could be worse – recall Corbin’s sudden mid-game meltdown.

        The pitching is good enough now to compete for a championship, and it’ll be a regret if the hitting wastes it. Even so, it’s a treat to be a Mets fan right now and enjoy the special quality of pitching almost every night.

    • Eric

      Harvey does live his life like a Hollywood celebrity, but I haven’t seen indications that he approaches his job and team relations like a Hollywood prima donna.

      You’ll like this video piece about Jacob deGrom and his wife, Stacey:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-HZRQcN3t0

  • Dave

    While I don’t mind a trip to Whole Foods, I know what you mean about Harvey, sturock. He’s a Joe Namath type, but 50 years after Namath established the prototype for the rock star athlete, now it comes as part of the privileged kid package, a look-at-me attitude before it’s been fully earned.

    Between that and the universal presumption that he’s a future Yankee, I have the deal that brings Mike Trout to Flushing all worked out…but not until winter for that.

    • Eric

      To be fair, deGrom’s MLB achievement so far in 2014 and 2015 is on par with Harvey’s MLB achievement in 2012 and 2013 before Harvey’s TJ surgery. In 2013, while not the front runner, Harvey was in contention for the Cy Young award.

      So, if at this point, deGrom has earned his stardom, then by the same measure, Harvey earned his stardom before he got hurt. Happy Harvey Day wasn’t just hype. It’s just shelved for now while Harvey recovers and builds his star back to there.

  • Dennis

    How about this……I like deGrom and Harvey. As far as Harvey’s life style, I really don’t care where he shops or who he is seen with if he eventually wins postseason games for us. And this presumption or irrational fear that he’s going to one day be a Yankee should stop.

    • sturock

      Should Matt become a Yankee, Met fans can take heart that we are likely getting his best years anyway. His record this year is none too shabby, btw, especially post-TJS. Remember back in the day when people were “disappointed” in Dwight Gooden because he never duplicated 1985? I love watching Harvey. My dis is just perceived-personality-based.

      • Eric

        Yup. When folks talk about a decade of domination, I think about Justin Verlander who hit a wall at age 30.

        It’s a big risk to give big bucks to, and more importantly for fans, reserve a precious rotation spot for, a power pitcher into his mid-30s, which will be the decision for the Mets when Harvey’s FA year arrives.

        We’ll have Harvey until he’s 30. We can be confident that now until then will be his best years. After that, it’s a crap shoot whether Harvey can sustain his power (sans Clemens-type PEDs anyway) or adjust his game enough to justify a big contract. He might. He might not.

        Throwing pinpoint sharp, hard breaking pitches and 95+ MPH fastballs with movement is an unnatural act that requires a fine-tuned machine with exceptional coordination of fragile, mostly irreplaceable moving parts.

        Any team needs to think hard about how much and how long to commit to power pitchers of a certain age.

  • Robin Moore

    Jacob deGrom was amazing. I waited and waited for him to finally get in the game. I was on the couch, staring at the TV, and after he blew away the 3rd batter, I jumped off the couch, with my fist high in the air, I screamed,”YES.” I remember getting annoyed with Joe Buck, as he ignored deGrom as he pitched to the first batter. Buck was going on and on about the batter. It is so obvious that he dislikes the Mets (of course, he is a Cardinals announcer) Prior to the game as the players were being announced, Buck also felt compelled to say something positive about the Cardinals players as they were getting booed. He said, “he gets the biggest smile award”. I laughed out loud when I read that you never listen to Buck.

  • open the gates

    All I know is, this is by far the best Mets rotation I have seen since the mid-’80’s. Even Jon Niese has been lights-out lately. And we still have Wheeler, Matz and Montero coming back from injuries. When they do, Mets management is going to have a slew of “good problems” to solve.

    • Eric

      If Matz can pitch like that with a nagging lat injury, imagine how well he can pitch with a healed lat.

      I don’t think it’s fair to expect a lot from Wheeler until 2017, though he should be able to contribute next season. I think of Corbin’s mid-game meltdown against the Mets where his fastball suddenly dipped 3 MPH and got whacked. Wheeler will be returning next season on about the same schedule as Corbin this season.

      I look forward to seeing what a healthy Montero can do.

      I’ve read good things about Michael Fulmer, too.

  • Jacobs27

    I think a center-of-attention guy like Harvey allows a under-stated guy like deGrom to feel comfortable and just keep doing his thing. And while I don’t dig the Dark Knight shtick (artificial, arbitrary), and I think “Harvey Day” is overblown and asking for trouble during his recovery, it’s still awesome to watch him pitch (and hit!). And so it goes with all our Big Four. They’re just great, better and better, exciting and hope-inspiring. Faith not fear, where they’re concerned. Injuries be damned.

    • Eric

      It’s impressive that Harvey has been at least a solid 2 at this stage of his TJ recovery. I believe the experience this season of grinding through games where his stuff and/or control is flaky will make him a better pitcher. That DP to cap his last outing was an ace moment.

      Harvey Day wasn’t overblown in 2012 and 2013.

      Today, Harvey Day doesn’t fit because the context for Harvey Day was the lone bright spot with a legit Cy Young contender on a struggling team otherwise bereft of reliable, let alone ace-quality pitching.

      Wheeler was called up with ace-potential stuff, but his shaky control marked him as a work in progress a cut below Harvey.

      Harvey stood out for his baseball. The celebrity was window dressing.

      At this point, the TJ-recovering Harvey is not (yet) a legit Cy Young contender. And he’s been joined by an arrived ace and rising aces. If and when Harvey is back to what he was in 2013, Harvey Day can’t be what it was then because he’s no longer the lone bright spot.

    • Eric

      metsbrain (you?) said what I think.

      I haven’t studied the play-by-play of their starts to verify, but my impression is that Harvey before the TJ surgery was more likely than now deGrom to tire and give up runs late. Not that Harvey has had a habit of doing that.

      Based on this season only, no question, deGrom starts the WC game. Though if Harvey starts it, I still like those odds.

      The more interesting hypothetical is 2015 deGrom vs pre-TJ, Cy Young contender 2013 Harvey. Happy Harvey Day Harvey.

      That’s harder to decide, but I still give the edge to deGrom due to my impression that 7th inning, 110 pitches and tiring, 2015 deGrom is more likely to work his way through that inning unscathed than 2013 Harvey.

      That being said, fully recovered 2016 Harvey may have learned from his TJ recovery experience this season to be better at working his way through the late inning when tiring, too.

  • LA Jake

    Or maybe Colon will start a wild card game because he deserves it.
    (Tension breaker, had to be done).

    If the Mets get to the WC game, I’ll be happy no matter who gets the nod. And I’ll take deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard against any other ace the Cubs or Giants or Pirates or Cardinals have and feel confident.

    • Eric

      Hopefully, the team solves the Strasburg dilemma so that Colon and Niese aren’t the best starters available for the WC game. Or maybe Matz returns just as Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard are shut down and Matz becomes the ace in a play-off rotation of Matz, Colon, Niese, and Carlos Torres.

      Kershaw’s post-season struggles show that you can’t know for sure even with Cy Young award winners.

      That being said, I’m fine with either deGrom or Harvey starting the win-or-go-home game.

      I’m still reserved about Syndergaard, but that’s just a matter of building up his track record. He’s progressing quickly.

      Syndergaard’s upcoming starts against the Cardinals and Nationals, then if the Mets are still using a 5-man rotation, the Nationals again after his start against the Padres are an opportunity to check his progress.

  • MetFanMac

    As we prepare to embark on the second half here’s some more random first half statistics because I have nothing better to do with my time.

    Mets’ best inning in batting average: the fourth, at an eye-popping .314 (second in the majors)
    Worst inning: the ninth, .189.
    Only other inning where they hit above .237: the sixth, .251 (plus .250 in aggregated extra innings)
    Best inning in ERA: the third, 2.02
    Worst inning: the fourth, 4.35

    Best day of the week in ERA: Monday, 1.34 (best in the majors)
    Worst day: Tuesday, 4.14 (only day with an ERA over 3.68)
    Worst day in batting average: Friday, .198 (worst) (also worst on Mondays (.212) and Tuesdays (.208))
    Best day: Sunday, .269 (sixth)

    ERA with runners in scoring position: 9.49 (third-best in the majors)
    Same, with two outs: 7.58 (third again)
    Batting average with RISP: .236 (22nd in majors, 11th in NL)
    With two outs: .182 (third-WORST)
    And yet… batting average with runner on third, less than two outs? .387 (third-best)

    Night games: 25-34 with 3.36 ERA (sixth), .218 batting average (dead last, 19 points behind Houston)
    Days games: 22-8 with 2.98 ERA (third), .261 batting average (10th in majors, 5th in NL)

    Number of Mets hitting over .250 with runners in scoring position: nine (including two pitchers (Matz and Syndergaard), a bench player (Muno), and two catchers)
    Best two-out hitter (minimum 50 AB): Lucas Duda, .267