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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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Sometimes Daniel Murphy Amazes Even Himself

From our vantage point in the front rows of Citi Field’s third level. Emily, my father-in-law and I had a pretty good view of what was going on down there on the field during the first inning of Monday night’s game. We’d watched Jon Niese convince three Braves to play patty-cake with the infield, and now we were watching the Mets continue to frustrate us. Much as they had against the Yankees early in Sunday’s debacle, the Mets seemed determine to squeeze as little offense out of a good situation as possible.

Curtis Granderson had walked, continuing his remarkable transformation at an age when few baseball players are capable of changing their spots. Daniel Murphy had dropped a single into right, followed by a similarly soft hit from Yoenis Cespedes. But then Lucas Duda hit a ball basically straight up, which didn’t benefit anybody except Shelby Miller.

Up came Travis d’Arnaud, who hit a little bouncer to Adonis Garcia at third.

Garcia flipped it into Daniel Castro at second, with Cespedes bearing down on him, and then everything sputtered and got weird. The ball was lying on the infield, Granderson was across the plate, umpires were doing things, and then several Braves converged around a lone Met in camo and pinstripes.

I couldn’t figure out the specifics of what had happened down there, but the general issue was immediately clear: Murph had Murphed.

But this was a bizarre one even by the standards of our own lovable avatar of chaos. Up in the stands we all shrugged and muttered; that Murphy, whaddya gonna do? Down on the field, Murph gave his gear to Tim Teufel and slunk morosely around the infield like a dog who’d just been found surrounded by shredded throw pillows. Later, looking at the replay on SNY, I still couldn’t figure out what Murph thought he was doing. He couldn’t have assumed it was a double play, because he was (inexplicably) turned around between second and third watching what was happening behind him. He saw Castro hadn’t thrown to first … and wandered onto the infield grass anyway. Did he think Duda’s pop had been the second out?

Gary Cohen was so flummoxed he missed the play, which pretty much never happens, while Keith Hernandez just gave a little moan of despair at finding himself in such a pitiful fallen world.

In the top of the third, the relevant question wasn’t about Murph’s recent bout of Murphing, but whether Niese could avoid Niesing.

Niese had been rolling along, mixing his pitches so effectively that I considered the underwhelming Atlanta lineup and had That Thought, followed by noting to Emily’s dad that Niese was absolutely pouring in strikes.

Which he immediately and perversely stopped doing. Having retired the first eight Braves without so much as breathing hard, Niese threw four straight balls to Miller, hitting a Leiteresque .059 and nearing the end of a full campaign as a starting pitcher without a single RBI. He then gave up a hit to Michael Bourn, Castro was safe on Wilmer Flores‘s error, and up came Freddie Freeman with Niese stalking around the mound.

Stalking around the mound is a danger sign with Niese; it strongly suggests that he has lost his cool, which can soon be followed by his focus, which can soon be followed by whatever lead he’s been given, which can soon be followed by the game.

Freeman belted the first pitch, which knuckled in the air — and wound up in Cespedes’s glove.

Niese had tried to Niese, but been given a reprieve — which he took full advantage of. He started off the fourth by walking Garcia and surrendering a hit to the ageless A.J. Pierzynski, but then made a nifty grab on a Nick Swisher bouncer back to the mound, starting a double play. Starting the sixth, he made an even better play, sprinting to first as Duda collapsed on top of a Castro grounder and flung it to first for the out.

And Murph would be heard from again, as he so often is. He rammed a first-pitch double off Andrew McKirahan with nobody out in the seventh, the big hit the Mets have been missing for several days. That got the Murph-O-Meter back to neutral, wrapped up a 4-0 Mets win, and brought several hundred thousand Met fans in off their ledges, or at least convinced them to stop hanging their toes over the edge while screaming about T@m G1av!ne and Luis Ayala.

Not a bad night’s work, bouts of chaos notwithstanding.

38 comments to Sometimes Daniel Murphy Amazes Even Himself

  • PenaciousH

    It seems clearer these past few days that Murph might have an attention deficit (like ADHD). Lapses in awareness of a situation, impulsivity (the wild throw T o first vs NYY) are common in this condition and he should probably get checked out after the season. ( Infamously, the O’s Chris Davis, who was prescribed a stimulant for ADD, forgot to renew his MLB clearance and was suspended 1-2 years ago because the most common medications for this condition is a stimulant- (though not all).) Many adults first find out that they have ADHD/ADD when they get older…it seems to fit the behavior we’ve seen and with education.and, if appropriate, treatment, these lapses might be somewhat controllable.

    • Will in Central NJ

      With sincerity, I think the ADHD postulate may have some validity pertaining to Murph. I also thought the same about erstwhile LHP Oliver Perez.

  • John

    Nice win…everyone can breathe a bit easier. Verrett vs. Wisler….Mets need to get some runs on the board early (crooked number!) and get into that dreadful Braves bullpen. If we win tonight I like our chances versus Willams Perez who we hit hard (but were unlucky) last time in ATL. Let’s go Mets!

  • Dave

    I have no qualifications to make any diagnosis, but I think Penacious might be onto something. So Murph, get to a specialist today, or Tuefel, make sure he always knows how many bloody outs there are.

    Obviously, a team need not bring their A game to beat the Braves, but a nice job of not playing down to a weak opponent’s level…and talking us all off the ledge. Pay no attention to the Nats, just beat the team in the other dugout.

  • 9th string catcher

    Seems more like baby brain. How old is his kid again?

    Murphy does exemplify the 2015 Mets – anything, I mean anything could happen when you go to a Mets game this year. Down 7 runs near the end of the game? Come back and win. Up 8? Might lose. 42 year olds with complete games, healthy 26 year olds shutting themselves down, falling asleep on the basepaths or getting the opposing pitcher to balk. It’s like a roulette wheel – whatever number comes up, that’s what the Mets do. Fascinating.

    • Dave

      Absolutely. However this season ends, it’s one we’re going to be talking about for a long time. The Mets 2015 Yearbook video is going to be about 3 hours long, they’re going to have to save it for what look like very long rain delays.

    • Eric

      Routine throws from pitcher to 2nd base flying untouched into centerfield between 2nd baseman and shortstop not once but twice.

      It’s a big part of what makes this season a redemption for the 2007 Mets collapse and its progeny. LOLMets is still part of this team’s make-up. They’re winning while competing against themselves as well as the night’s opponent.

  • NostraDennis

    Since we already have Thor on our roster, can Danny Murphy be Loki?

  • Matt

    It makes me really happy to know that Nick Swisher is on a really, really bad team.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Hopefully that win coaxed the more emotionally fragile fans back from the ledge. Lots of good stuff. Best game Niese has pitched in a couple months, Cespedes getting his groove back, Cuddyer remaining money off the bench, Reed-Clippard-Familia getting it done late.

    No idea what to say about Murph. He really is a singularity out there. Usually his epic screw ups somehow don’t end up killing us and/or he finds a way to redeem himself (both happened last night). LGM!!

  • Will in Central NJ

    ADHD or ADD diagnoses aside, I think the baseball DNA inside Daniel Murphy is: 20% Mattingly (per the words of Jerry Manuel), 30% Ron Swoboda and 50% Marv Throneberry.

    • Dave

      LOL, brilliant…I’ll replace Mattingly with Howard Johnson (who, like Murph, played hard every minute and never complained when they stuck him at a position that he couldn’t play to save his life), but I love your other 80%.

  • PenaciousH

    Will – wanted to complement you on the percent makeup reference! #LetsgoMets

  • Eric

    Redemption watch: With the postponement, Nationals (78-71) stay 2 games behind the 2007 Phillies (80-69). With the win, Mets are (85-65) are 2 games ahead of the 2007 Mets (83-67). Mets are 6.5 games ahead of the Nationals, magic number 7. After game 150 in 2007, Mets were 1.5 games ahead of the Phillies, magic number 11.

    Hopefully, Duda will heat up in time for the play-offs. That he hasn’t been striking out much is a good sign. If he can make consistent contact, then hard contact should be forthcoming.

    Hopefully, d’Arnaud breaks his slump, too. Meanwhile, as long as he’s not hitting, I don’t mind Plawecki’s glove playing more.

    Collins pulling Niese after 6 was informative. He explicitly said that, despite the pitch count and quality effort, he was afraid of Niese giving up a big inning. That indicates Niese is on the outside looking in the play-off rotation. It also shows Collins’s view of the bullpen. He trusts Reed, Clippard, and Familia 7, 8, 9, but distrusts his other relievers more than he fears Niese giving up a big inning. It’ll be interesting in the play-offs to see whether Collins reflexively opts for Reed in the 7th even when a starter is pitching well with a reasonable pitch count or the short leash is just for Niese.

    • SJGMoney

      Eric, exactly my thoughts when I heard Collins’ comments on Niese. I can see Colon being on the playoff roster with Niese left off.

      • Eric

        I can see Collins using Colon as the 4th reliever, 6th inning man, if needed.

        I can also see Niese on the play-off roster in the Gilmartin/Torres role as a long man behind Colon on the depth chart for extra-inning games.

    • dmg

      actually, this is the last marker for me: 6 and a half up with 12 games to play was, i believe, where the phillies were in 1964 before their worst-of-all-time choke.

      i have faith that the mets will exorcise their demons. i just wish they’d complete the ritual more quickly is all.

      • Eric

        Yep.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/1964-schedule-scores.shtml

        Much like the 2007 Mets collapse, most of the damage to the Phillies’ lead in 1964 happened in a week, which started for them after game 150. For the Mets in 2007, the worst week ended with game 150.

        I’m not a baseball historian like our hosts, but my impression is that the shock of the historic MLB collapses is how steeply far and fast the leads were lost. Seemingly comfortable leads built up and maintained painstakingly for months were lost suddenly within 1-2 weeks.

        That’s why it makes sense for fans who are sensitized to collapses to worry until the division is clinched, because they can and have happened to large leads when a collapse was just mathematically possible by that much.

        Streaks happen in baseball and it’s important to reverse losing streaks ASAP. Collins managed the game as a must-win, perhaps with the same thought in mind.

      • Steve2916

        The Phillies collapse started with a 1-0 loss when Chico Ruiz stole home leading to a 10-game losing streak.

        I say the above as a historical nugget, not b/c I think the Mets are going to blow it. For one thing, they’re not losing 10 straight, or anything close to that.

        Could you imagine – if there were message boards and Sports Talk Radio in 1964 – how both media would have been inundated…esp. in THAT town? ;)

        Let’s just relax and enjoy the countdown to clinching…

  • SJGMoney

    I’d like to start an poll. When we let Murph go after the season is over, what are you going to miss more:

    1. The boneheaded baserunning?
    2. The boneheaded fielding? (my favorite being when he insists on fielding balls that the Shortstop has a much easier play on)
    3. The one armed foul-outs?

  • Eric

    Mets flip Wright up to 2nd and Cespedes to clean-up tonight with the closest version yet to what I consider to be the A line-up, setting aside who’s hitting hot or cold (Duda). I like taking some of the pressure off Wright’s back to wield a power bat and drive in runs and have him focus more on getting on base and situational at-bats. Downside of batting 2nd is Cespedes is fast and Wright’s speed is noticeably less than it was. That being said, the quality hitters behind Cespedes can drive him in. d’Arnaud batting 6th and Flores batting 8th would round out my A line-up.

    Curtis Granderson, RF
    David Wright, 3B
    Daniel Murphy, 2B
    Yoenis Cespedes, CF
    Lucas Duda, 1B
    Wilmer Flores, SS
    Michael Conforto, LF
    Kevin Plawecki, C

    Logan Verrett, RHP

    Also, Mets are 1 game back of the Dodgers in the loss column. Orioles are 6 back of the 2nd WC so hopefully they still feel like they have a shot if they win out, which starts by beating the Nationals.

  • eric1973

    Surely, Matt in Richmond had the same hubris-like view at this same time in 2007, regarding a possible collapse, and look how that turned out.

    Sure, the Mets may eventually clinch it this year, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. LGM!

    • Matt

      This club bears no resemblance to the 2007 club other than the uniform. Everyone who has attempted to draw parallels has been roundly refuted. I remain confused as to your allegiance….are you in fact a supporter of the club? You often seem to wish for bad things to happen to the team, certainly you actively root against some of the players….That is of course your privilege, but it seems an odd use of your time and energy.

  • eric1973

    Just as you can’t spell ‘Problems’ without ‘Robles,’ you also can’t spell ‘Duda’ without ‘Dud.’

    • Dennis

      Yeah…..Lucas is such a “dud” he’s playing professional baseball at it’s highest level and drawing a salary you or I will never achieve. If that’s a definition of a “dud”, I would gladly be called that all the time.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Which is why Keith Hernandez, possibly the greatest fielding first baseman of all time, raves about Duda’s defense and why many baseball insiders view Duda as they key ingredient to the Mets lineup in the postseason. As to Robles, I’ve already debunked your irrational criticism of him. I guess you decided to forgo trolling with anything negative about the Captain since he homered tonight.

  • eric1973

    Think it’s the Yankee-fan-like hubris that rubs the wrong way.

    Robles- Relegated to loser-patrol, due to consistent ineffectiveness when pitching with the lead. One step above O’Flaherty. Electric stuff, not this year.

    Duda – “Insiders” say this when they actually mean ‘it would be nice if he contributed, and he better snap out of it.’ Team rejuvination all done without him. Great fielding and a really nice guy, 2 things going for him.

    Captain – That ship has already sailed. 20 million through 2020. Worth it? No team would take on that contract if offered for free.

    BTW, how’d that Parnell thing work out for ya?

    • Dennis

      And they all get paid incredibly well to play MLB, something only a few can do, and yet here you sit obsessively writing negatively about them.

  • 9th string catcher

    RIP Yogi. 2015 ain’t over.

  • mikeL

    mets fans? relax? good stuff…keep ’em coming!

  • Nicholas Conticello

    So it’s a couple of days later and Collins is faced with the same situation after six innings. What does he do? He lets a tiring Colon load the bases with one out and only then does he bring in Reed, who promptly channels Sr. Robles and allows all three runners to score. Even Matt Williams would have brought Reed in to face Simmons.

    Either Collins makes his decisions by rolling a pair of dice, or he has caught whatever it is Murphy has. At any rate, these bullpen meltdowns don’t augur well for the postseason.