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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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Abyssinia, Jenrry

A PED test must be as imposing to Jenrry Mejia as the geometry Regents was to me. I struggled with geometry throughout ninth grade and barely passed the big statewide test the one and only time I had to take it. I’m not sure how many times Jenrry had to take his PED test. We do know he failed it three times in a span of approximately ten months.

They probably wouldn’t have let me graduate had I been as certifiably bad at geometry exams as Mejia is with PED tests. As is, they won’t let Jenrry matriculate in the major leagues anymore.

Avoiding PEDs is clearly not this young man’s best subject. Nor, we are compelled to infer, is judgment.

Jenrry could pitch better than most people. He pitched well enough to be signed by the New York Mets to a professional baseball contract when he was 17. When I was 17, I was barely getting by in an eleventh-grade statistics class. When Jenrry wasn’t much older than 17, he was compiling statistics as a Met. Mejia debuted at the age of 20, which sounded so old when I was in high school, yet sounds so young when you’re so much older. He impressed everybody in his first big league camp. He made the Mets far ahead of anybody’s projections. Barely three years after the Mets signed him, he was pitching for them. In his first outing, he gave up a run in an inning. In his next thirteen outings, he gave up one run in twelve-and-a-third innings.

Jenrry Mejia was a quick learner at 20. Somewhere between the ages of 25 and 26, that core competency eluded him.

Can you believe that someone who is 26 years old — younger than Matt Harvey, younger than Jacob deGrom, younger than Travis d’Arnaud and a whole lot younger than Pete Rose c. 1989, the year Mejia was born— has been issued a Roselike lifetime ban from Major League Baseball? That’s a lot of lifetime to be banned from anything, let alone the institution in which you ply your craft, the particular endeavor in this world at which you had already proven yourself uniquely talented and for which you were compensated handsomely. Twenty-six was literally more than half a lifetime ago for me. I’d hate to have been told at 26 that I was no longer invited to participate in my version of striking out hitters (not that I necessarily possessed an obvious ability or track record comparable to Jenrry’s by that age…or my current age).

I’d really hate to have been put in such a position because I did the one thing I wasn’t supposed to do, and did it three times.

I’m not concerned with what Jenrry Mejia’s ejection from MLB-sanctioned activity means to the Mets. Whereas he was once the focal point of their relief pitching, Mejia was going to enter 2016 as a literal afterthought. He had 99 games of suspension left to serve from the second time he failed a PED test. After 99 games, depending on where the Mets’ bullpen stood, maybe I was going to think about him. Maybe. Although relievers are constantly being penciled into plans and just as vigorously erased from them, I couldn’t drill down deeply enough to a level where I wondered, “…and what will we do with Jenrry Mejia come the 100th game of this upcoming season?”

No need to engage in that afterthought now. Jenrry Mejia will not be available in the hundredth game of 2016 nor any game any year soon. There is a reinstatement process he can look into, but not for quite a while. By then, even if he succeeded in gaining re-entrance to the majors, more of his and his old team’s lifetime will have transpired. There’s no telling what kind of shape a tangibly older, generally inactive, presumably clean Mejia would be in. One can guess with fair certainty the scant interest level of the team under whose umbrella he failed those three tests within ten months. I was surprised the Mets offered him a contract for 2016. I’d be shocked if we ever again see him pitching within the geometry that composes a major league diamond, Citi Field’s or anywhere else’s.

Then again, I was shocked at the third failed test, and that happened.

Because it’s not notably screwing with the Mets’ impending defense of their National League title (and therefore my second-hand happiness), I’m not going to gin up any anger toward a pitcher I always liked. Even if it was notably screwing with the Mets’ impending defense of their National League title — even if he was theoretically slated to close 162 games this year — I doubt I could get honestly mad at Mejia. He’s just not the kind of kid on whom I feel comfortable piling easy epithets. He made three mistakes Tim McCarver might have labeled errors of commission rather than omission. What he had to do was omit PEDs from anything he chose to ingest or inject. As gauged from the distance of the grandstand and the keyboard, his mistakes appear to have been perfectly avoidable and thus strike us as progressively more absurd.

You get caught once, don’t do the thing they caught you at again. You get caught twice, really don’t do the thing they caught you at again. You get caught a third time, which is the point at which suspension becomes expulsion, well, Jenrry, you don’t need anybody to call you names.

You need help. Good luck finding it.

18 comments to Abyssinia, Jenrry

  • Daniel Hall

    Can’t say I was shocked when I read it late last night. With how quick the first two suspensions hit back-to-back, I didn’t consider the third one too unlikely, since “learning from mistakes” obviously wasn’t in his dictionary. I was more like… annoyed. And angry. Thanks, Jenrry, for putting the Mets (as in “Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia was dumped for life by MLB”) into one sentence with the Black Sox, Pete Rose, Marge Schott, and Mr. Steinbrenner. Thanks a whole bunch.

  • David Bowser

    My first thought was that he can’t possibly be that stupid/naive. My second thought was that HIS AGENT can’t possibly be that stupid/naive. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that either they both are COMPLETE IDIOTS, or they both just don’t give a crap.

    I will operate under the assumption that he is not taking anything on purpose in order to have a logical conclusion:

    He gets caught the first time. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong, so his agent speaks with his trainers and goes over everything he ate and drank to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    He gets caught a second time. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He and his agent fire everyone associated with this training and diet to be TOTALLY SURE it doesn’t happen again. His agent then hires a private investigator to follow Jenrry around to make sure he isn’t doing anything stupid.

    He gets caught a third time… I got nothin’.

    My conclusion, based on the assumption that Jenrry is not doing it on purpose, is that his trainers/dietary people are giving him something on the banned list AND that both Jenrry and his agent are f’ing IDIOTS for not firing them all after the second time it happened. They have, in essence, forfeited MILLIONS OF DOLLARS because of this idiocy.

    BTW – The only way his agent is absolved in this scenario is if Jenrry was doing it on purpose, and the only way that makes any logical sense (from a risk perspective) is if Jenrry had NO CHANCE of making it back to the majors without taking the PEDs.

  • 9th string catcher

    I haven’t heard anyone say,”hey, guy is probably an addict who is in the process of killing himself”. To me that’s the most likely explanation as to why he won’t stop – I honestly don’t think he can. Hope you’re right and he gets help.

  • Rob E.

    In the coverage I saw, not one person took a shot at the Mets in this story. If this happened last February, the entire Mets organization would have been crucified. What a difference a year makes.

    As for Mejia, I can’t imagine how something like this happens, especially for something that’s not addictive. You would think that if he was really innocent, he would be overly cautious after the first time, and even more so after the second time. It’s mind-boggling that someone who would cheat to be better would at the same time be so careless with their livelihood. Where do you even begin to help somebody like that? What a shame. Everybody loses.

    • 9th string catcher

      Hi, Rob. I’m no expert, but my understanding is that anabolic steroids can be very addictive as it changes the basic body chemistry when habitually overused. One page I looked at listed withdrawal symptoms bring on:
      •Depressive-like symptoms.
      •Concentration problems.
      •Difficulty sleeping.
      •Lowered libido.

      Mejia may be using steroids just to fight these off, which would explain why he’s using a cheap, easily detected steroid – it’s probably the easiest to acquire. If he’s a severe addict, he doesn’t care about his career or his financial position – he’s probably just trying to feel normal. Just a theory, but the one that makes the most sense to me.

  • rapple

    Sorry, i refuse to pass judgment. Someone is spiking his Red Bull. This goes beyond the point of any other rational explanation. And I can’t unearth a motive for that either, but I would love to know more. If there isn’t more to come, that too would be out of bounds. Stay tuned.

    • Tristram Shandy

      I’m with you, rapple. I can’t pass judgement on this guy. Calling him names just isn’t useful to me in answering the obvious questions of why and how this happened. I’m eager to read a full accounting someday.

  • Lenny65

    Apparently the drug he was using is well-known as being one of the most obvious ones they test for and one that EVERYONE generally avoids using for that very reason. It’s inexplicable. Jenrry was one of the last links to the pre-Harvey/deGrom era, such a shame he didn’t work out as he certainly had the stuff.

  • I had the same thought as 9th String Catcher above. I can’t help thinking that he’s somehow addicted to PED’s and needs help. I feel sorry for him, but as for the Mets – I’m unworried by his loss.

  • John

    Love the title. I’d say we’ve already found our Col. Potter but that reference doesn’t hold up as I always preferred Henry.

  • dmg

    i cannot explain this, unless i’m willing to go down the conspiracy rabbit hole. mainly i’m just a bit sad. last year at spring training, my son and i had seats by the mets bullpen, and played the equivalent of conversational pepper with the relievers, spraying random comments to them, jenrry among them. he and jeurys were polite and friendly, laughing when my son got up and loudly announced he was going to concessions, and “you want anything, jenrry?”

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I wonder if Jenrry learned some Yiddish while he was in New York. The words schmuck, putz and schlemiel come to mind. I want to use the same words my father said to me when I was a teenager. “Jenrry, were you born this stupid or did you have to work at it?”

  • When I had first heard about this on the radio, my first immediate response was, “How can he be so F’ng stupid?”

    Even after hearing that he intends to appeal, I’m still left saying the above initial response.

    What a senseless waste of a talent.

  • Joe Wenzel

    He stayed with the same trainer that he had when he was suspended the first two times. Why I have no idea. But supposedly this trainer has a horrible track record and Mejia paid with his career because of it.

    PEDs can be bought over the counter and are legal in the Dominican Republic that needs to change or we’re going to continue to have these positive drug tests because they’re so easy to get.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Something tells me Mejia’s lawyer appealing the ban will go as well as Casey appealing that Throneberry touched second.

  • Dave

    Rapple, sorry, I’m not buying the “someone spiked his drink” theory (the equivalent of “the drugs aren’t mine, I’m holding on to them for a friend”). As I warned my daughter years ago, only drink what you opened, and don’t let go of it.

    This is supposedly a substance that stays in one’s system for a long time, and was part of his 2nd positive test. That is supposedly part of the basis of his upcoming appeal. But my guess is that MLB is aware of what stays in someone’s system, and the concentration levels are an indicator of how recently it was ingested. My understanding is that this substance itself is not physically addictive, but psychologically, one can be addicted to anything. Maybe he goes and plays in some country that doesn’t honor MLB suspensions (Japan and Korea do), but I’d bet anything we have seen the last of him in this country. Because by now, the suspicion is that when he pitched well, it was because he was juiced but hadn’t been caught yet. Sad.

  • BlackCountryMet

    As someone who was very disappointed with the Mets even considering taking him back, I’m happy he’s been caught again and now we won’t have to tolerate a rampant cheat on the team. In terms of him personally, I couldn’t care less the reasons behind it, he’s no longer a Met and I’m pleased to hear it

  • Stan

    Jenrry Mejia’s career was shot down over the Bay of Flushing. It spun in and there were no survivors.