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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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Thump Carries Pennsylvania

I missed the first Met home run of Tuesday night while I was consumed by the culinary arts. I missed the second Met home run of Tuesday night because I was standing in line waiting to partake of the democratic process.

Don’t worry, the Mets said — we’ll make more. And I approve that message.

If you like your sample sizes small but powerful, Philadelphia’s the place you oughta be. It’s an ophthalmologist’s dream. Everybody sees a pitch he likes and everybody swats it for four bags. The Mets stroked six home runs Tuesday night on top of four from Monday. The Pennsylvania primary isn’t until next week, but it appears the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard is already feeling the burn.

The Mets are the same team that struck us as so crummy as recently as a week ago, and the Phillies are the same team that dealt them fits the weekend before last. We were in the midst of bemoaning a 2-5 start then. We’ve since won five of six, the latest victory revealing itself to be of the 11-1 variety. Some small sample sizes are more delectable than others.

Conforto, with the two-run jack (while I was cooking), and Cespedes, with the three-run bomb (while I was voting), I didn’t see except on replay. Walker and Duda and Walker again and Granderson I observed live and reveled accordingly. The sum total was highly productive and the aesthetics were astounding. You never get tired of watching your team hit home runs.

You do, however (especially if you’re a Mets fan), begin to fret that so many home runs might be too many home runs, and not just in the reflexive “same some of that for tomorrow” sense. What is it the carnival-barker philosopher king suggested about winning…oh yeah, that if you do much of it, you will become bored by it. Tedium stemming from Met slugging doesn’t worry me, though I do find it a tad disconcerting to ponder the possibility that when baseballs inevitably stop flying off of Met bats and out of parks like those in Cleveland and Philly, they won’t land anywhere where they’ll do us much good.

Tuesday night, the Mets produced all eleven of their runs via the homer. And that’s a problem…how? I’m not sure, yet as a born-again home cook, I understand that you’ve gotta vary the recipe now and then. Maybe mix in a few more singles and doubles? Not instead of homers, but in addition to?

Or just keep pounding the ball out of sight. That’s always plenty tasty.

It was particularly satisfying to drive Vincent Velasquez from the scene of so many previous crimes. That kid shut us down at Citi Field, then did the same to the Padres. No point building up a legend in our own division. And speaking of legends, let’s hear it for Logan Verrett, the veritable Seventh Beatle of our already immortal starting rotation. Logan is an afterthought all-star, ostensibly lower on the depth chart than still-rehabbing Zack Wheeler, even. Nobody asked this son of a Leach to squeeze into the class portrait, but based on his first two starts — 12 IP, 0 R, 9 H, 3 BB, 10 SO — somebody needs to Photoshop him in.

For the moment, he’s a seat-filler, one of those indistinguishable gents who slips into a star’s chair at the Oscars or Tonys so everything looks full when the director pans to the crowd. Our crowd should be giving Verrett a standing ovation for making Jacob deGrom missed on principle, not for performance. It is the fate of the spot starter to retreat into the wings until something else goes terribly wrong. We are left to appreciate Logan for what he’s done in Jake’s absence, yet kind of hope we don’t have to find him on the mound too often too soon.

As long as we’re providing plaudits for supporting roles beautifully portrayed, how about a few bouquets tossed at late-inning replacement Juan Lagares’s feet for the way he came off the Ordinary List and displayed the defense that not long ago made him a Metsopotamian cause? I’m not sure where the Juan with whom we fell in love went for the (ahem) bulk of 2015, but the original version appears to be back and on the prowl for the prevention of home runs, which can be such nasty buggers when they’re launched by the wrong team.

True, the Mets’ eighth-inning ten-run lead was reasonably secure when Maikel Franco drove the final two-on, two-out mop-up pitch from Rafael Montero (apparently the Pete Best of his generation) over the center field wall, yet how could you not ooh and aah at Lagares playing a little fence ballet and taking the homer away? It was swiped so efficiently that the candy had time to bid adieu to the baby.

Juan, we thank you, and Rafael’s ERA — down to 11.57 from 13.50 in its own small but disturbing sample size — thanks you.

And I thank Bill Donohue for having me on WGBB Sportstalk1240 a couple of nights ago to discuss Amazin’ Again. You can listen in on our lively Mets conversation here. If you seek a signed copy of my book, bless you…and order one here.

5 comments to Thump Carries Pennsylvania

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Until this point, anytime I heard, “the Mets will need a spot starter,” my first instinct was to pine for Pat Mahomes. But now, if Logan can keep up this work he started in 2015, he may be my go-to wishful thought.

    If the Mets had to put together a 5-man rotation of all-time spot starters, would Verrett get a nod at this point?

    Also, I am in total agreement that the Mets need to practice stringing hits together to produce runs, but it’s still early. If we’re still relying on the homer after Memorial Day, we’re in trouble.

  • Eric

    “Lagares playing a little fence ballet” – good description. It wasn’t just pulling back a 3-run HR. It was how smooth and light he looked tracking the ball and leaping for the catch. Lagares looked like the best centerfielder in baseball again. I suspect that given the opportunity, his hitting and baserunning would show improvement, too. Barring injury, it won’t be easy to carve out playing time for Lagares, but his (gold) glove is a weapon.

    Too bad about Montero. I’m leery of Henderson’s durability and Reed, who just seems hittable. I still hope Montero will seize the opportunity to set up for Familia, but it looks like Montero is running out of chances to stick with the Mets.

    We couldn’t have expected better from deGrom than we got from Verrett substituting. He reminds me of Dillon Gee.

  • open the gates

    I said it at the time, and I’ll say it again. Logan Verrett should have been on the postseason roster. Particularly during some extra inning games in late October.

  • Dave

    I’ll dive into the spot starter question…Terry Leach is a flat out Hall of Fame spot starter. In addition to Sadecki, I will add Jim McAndrew and Nolan Ryan, who were used similarly to the lefty from Kansas City, Kansas, as the champion of everybody’s hometown Bob Murphy used to call him. Mahomes was another good one, and even after he became a closer, Tug McGraw would occasionally start. Verrett, definitely getting there.

    Wasn’t that long ago that Montero was the next guy coming after Harvey and Wheeler. Now he’s not even demonstrating the ability to be the 12th guy on the staff. Some guys top out in the minors, and there’s another list that could be assembled…I see your Montero and raise you a David West…