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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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Sticking Around

The Mets won a game with me recapping, so I guess I can stay!

So can Steven Matz, who rebounded rather nicely from a horror show of a beginning to his 2016 season. Matz’s Sunday outing began with disquieting similarities to Matt Harvey‘s start on Saturday: he was cruising along but telegraphing his off-speed stuff, and you had to wonder what would happen the second time through the order.

The answer: not much.

The Mets scoring six runs before the Indians had a baserunner certainly helped, and was a luxury not given Harvey. Maybe not having to wait around for a week and a half between pitching assignments did too.

As diehards we’ve heard about Matz forever: he was signed in 2009 and lost two full seasons to Tommy John surgery, not starting in pro ball until 2012. Given all that drama, it’s easy to forget Matz won’t turn 25 until just before Memorial Day, or that his entire major-league body of work before this year consisted of nine starts — three of them in the postseason. We’ve gotten used to flamethrowers reaching Triple-A, grousing briefly about being bored, then coming up and making you say ooh in short order. That happened with Matz too, amazing even Grandpa Bert, but the kid’s entitled — as we all should be — to some scuffling and growing pains. Simply put, we’ve gotten a bit spoiled since Harvey arrived to give notice that there were new sheriffs in town.

Michael Conforto‘s a newcomer too, just two seasons removed from patrolling a different New York park with the Brooklyn Cyclones. But every time the Mets treat him gingerly, you wonder why: he’s been a platoon player despite hitting lefties well in the minors, and stuck low in the order despite his obvious skills with the bat. Keith Hernandez has repeatedly called Conforto the best hitter on the team, which I’d agree with: beyond Conforto’s God-given bat speed and power, his sense of the strike zone could have been borrowed from Edgardo Alfonzo or the Shea model of David Wright. Conforto rarely turns in an at-bat where he hasn’t maximized his chance to succeed, leveraging a hitter’s count and forcing the pitcher to risk a mistake. Today’s work: ringing double to right-center on a 3-1 pitch, hard-hit ball down the line an inning later on a 1-0 pitch, 2-1 flyout to deep left. Conforto’s assignment to the third slot in the lineup has been billed as a Cleveland-only thing, but like Keith I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays there for a generation.

Oh, and points for the Cleveland crowd: the Mets’ win was helped considerably by poor Rajai Davis losing two balls in the sun, but when Marlon Byrd was similarly undone, there was Davis streaking in from center field to save the play, to cheers that had only a mild tinge of irony. Baseball specializes in these short stories, these bite-sized passion plays that you appreciate at the time even though you’ll forget them within a couple of days. Up six it was easy to be magnanimous and smile at a player claiming a bit of redemption.

Before we go: Your baseball library could do with some excellent additions. Besides Amazin’ Again, by the esteemed Mr. Prince, check out The Arm by Jeff Passan. It’s a terrific overview of elbow injuries, why they happen, how they’re fixed and what — if anything — baseball can do to reduce their frequency. The Arm is a must-read for any fan who knows that sense of dread at the sight of a young starter shaking his arm on the mound, which is to say all of us; it’s carefully researched but also grippingly told. You’ll be riveted by the story of how Tommy John met Frank Jobe and root for Daniel Hudson and Todd Coffey as they struggle physically and mentally to return and recapture what they’d been.

4 comments to Sticking Around

  • Martin Dickson

    Hi Jason I’m pretty sure you are not expecting a comment on the Mets from Perth Australia but I am a Mets fan following the team from Down Under. My partner Shirley and I visited NY last September so I got to see the Mets play the Yankees at Citifield, and even though that day was a loss we had a great day and I got to see Thor pitch. Mind you I never expected that I would be watching on ESPN the Mets go all the way to the World Series. Thank you for your reports they are so appreciated from down here. On this blog I am glad Matz came back the way he did, but are you worried about Harvey?

    • I am worried about Harvey a bit. Not a lot, but a bit, and that’s how things start. How nice to get a message from Perth. I was in Sydney a couple of years back and wanted so badly to cross the country to the hometown of Bon Scott, but alas time and expense worked against me. Maybe someday!

  • Martin Dickson….residing in Sydney. ..i was in the USA for the playoffs and world series…broke bread with Stan Kasten owner of Dodgers and his family for the Sabbath. ..was in St Louis for the Series…awesome!

  • Eric

    I’m torn about Murphy leading the league in hitting.