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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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This Could Be Fun

The only thing missing from Wednesday night’s game was Keith Hernandez requesting that someone put a tent on the circus.

This is not a blueprint for constructing a satisfying baseball game: a seemingly much reduced Matt Harvey giving up a home run to Zack Cozart on the fourth pitch thrown, followed by Ivan De Jesus smacking the seventh pitch thrown off of Harvey’s derriere, followed a bit later by Lucas Duda dropping a ball in a rundown to force his pitcher to get another out.

That doesn’t sound fun at all, and yet we came to the end of the first inning and found ourselves feeling hopeful. Yes, it was 1-0 Reds. But it was only 1-0 Reds. And despite the fireworks and fumbles, Harvey’s fastball was coming in around 95 and 96, not the 92 or 93 of his dispiriting outings in Cleveland and Atlanta. He’d struck out Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Devin Mesoraco and walked away more nicked than cut.

And then the circus truly got rolling. With two out in the bottom of the first and Alejandro De Aza on second, Lucas Duda hit an arcing drive to left fielder Scott Schebler. It hit Schebler in the glove, which is normally what a fielder wants, but it didn’t stay there, falling to the grass instead for a free run. The Mets then capitalized further, with a Neil Walker single driving home Duda for a 2-1 lead. Schebler, by the way, has the presumably unconscious habit of flipping his mouthguard around nonstop, which was fine until it fell out of his mouth while he was at bat in the sixth. When the SNY cameras returned to Schebler, I hoped the mouthguard would be missing, tucked in a pocket until it could be rinsed off, while pretty much knowing that … yecch. That’s the kind of thing that gets your mother to email you disapprovingly.

Poor Schebler wasn’t alone, at least in terms of non-mouthguard-related miscues. Walker made an error of his own, Asdrubal Cabrera corraled a ball but couldn’t unload it, David Wright was awarded first base on catcher’s interference … MY WORD, to return to The Quotations of Chairman Keith. As the errors mounted all you could do was hang on, with no sense of how this one was going to unfold. Granted, no one ever knows how a game is going to unfold, but a decent amount of time you can guess — unless chaos is erupting everywhere at regular intervals, in which case you just shrug and try to imagine what wacky thing might happen next.

What happened was the undermanned Reds (no Jay Bruce, no Brandon Phillips, a discombobulated Votto) tried to fight back but couldn’t, thanks to three rather delightful Metsian storylines.

The first was Harvey, whose location wasn’t perfect (and whose bunting was very far from it), but who kept his velocity and seemed to gain a better feel for his slider and change-up as the game rolled along. Harvey’s 102nd pitch, to finish the sixth inning and his night, was a 97 MPH fastball — very good news indeed.

Storyline No. 2 to enjoy was the continuing rampage of Neil Walker, whose ninth home run of the still-young season tied Dave Kingman, Carlos Delgado and John Buck for most Met home runs in April. That company doesn’t guarantee anything — Buck, you may recall, followed his nine home runs in a blazing April 2013 with a grand total of six more over the next four months, a display so impressive that the Mets made him a throw-in in the Marlon Byrd trade with the Pirates. But for now, dare to dream: rather than compare Walker with dearly departed Daniel Murphy, let’s measure him against Bryce Harper, his co-leader atop the NL HR leaderboard. (Yeah, I know. We’re daring to dream, remember?)

Our third storyline concerned Michael Conforto, who for the first two hours of Wednesday’s game looked like the overanxious young player he’s never been. Conforto struck out looking in the first with De Aza on second, fouled out meekly in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded, and stranded two more runners with a groundout in the fourth. If you were keeping score at home, that was six seven runners left idle in three un-Conforto-like at-bats. Oh ye of little faith: In the sixth, against Blake Wood, Conforto got two more runners dropped on his ledger and responded by roping a double to left-center to give the Mets a sorely needed cushion. If we can go back to dreaming, a generation spent watching Conforto and Noah Syndergaard in blue and orange sounds pretty swell.

So the Mets won — that’s their sixth straight, their 11th in 13 contests, and the mighty Nationals are just a skinny game north of us in the standings. Jump to conclusions and you set yourself up for a fall, but this could be fun.

9 comments to This Could Be Fun

  • BlackCountryMet

    My 2nd consecutive game where I rose to watch the game live and I’m glad did. A bizarre game, poorly played at times but entertaining nonetheless. GKR were in exceptional form in the booth. A generation watching Conforto & Thor…OH MY, DARE TO DREAM ;-)

  • JerseyJack

    OT- but since there’s no game tonite, it might be fun to watch the Mets-related episode of the Odd Couple on CBS …

  • JohnP FArrell

    I enjoy your columns. Interesting commentary in well composed writing. I’m still in official mourning for Murph but Walker is persuading me to take off my black armband.

  • Dave R.

    I thought Harvey was really good last night. He got unlucky on several of the Reds’ hits; there were so many dinkers and hits off good pitches. He could’ve had a much easier night. With a little luck, that could’ve been a gem.

    Harvey is one unathletic-looking person when he starts sweating.

    What an awful game. Thank goodness for Conforto.

  • Eric

    6 runners.

    Pretty cool that with the Mets’ slow start and the Nationals’ and Cubs’ hot starts, they’ve caught up to within 1 game of 1st place of the division and 2 games of 1st place of the league at the 20 game mark.

    Is there a better offensive outfield than Conforto, Cespedes, and Granderson right now?

    Another storyline is the bullpen delivered another quiet wrap up to add to their fine over-all work so far.

    Coming into the season, my concern, carried over from last season, was that regularly brilliant 6-7 innings by the Mets aces would be wasted between the departure of the Cy Young-contending starters and the entrance of the Cy Young-conversing closer.

    Instead, the relievers (2.54) ERA has been better than the starters (3.10) ERA. The starters have averaged out to good, but not brilliant, and the closer has bent, but not broken, while the middle-late relief has been reliable with only a few hiccups through 20 games.

  • Harvey labored a bit, but his defense was not backing him up. I liked this crazy win with the backup catcher and two backup outfielders getting the starts, and doing well. Plawecki threw a guy out at second and Lagares’ arm has regained its strength so much that Billy Hamilton did not tag up on him. This all bodes well.

  • Eric

    Whoa. Phillies just swept the Nationals 4-3, 3-0, 3-0. Mets now 1/2 game out of 1st. Thank you, Phillies.

    Either the Phillies pitching is coming together fast in a big way or the Nationals hitting has dropped down a hole. To see which is what, their next series, against the Indians and Cardinals, respectively, bear watching.

    • Matt in Woodside

      One thing that I’ve really liked about the Mets for years is that there’s generally very few visible displays of anger or frustration, like throwing helmets to the ground or beating up Gatorade coolers in the dugout. And this with a fanbase that has booed David Wright on rare occasions. In years like 2009-2014, sometimes I wondered if there just wasn’t much passion, but you can already see signs of Washington getting into their own heads with that stuff. They’re 14-7 and a half game up, and Papelbon is already sniping at Harper over a misplayed fly ball that cost them one game, when Harper and Murphy have basically been carrying the team’s offense. The Mets have a chill clubhouse, good rotation, good bench, good bullpen. They just seem confident.

  • Stearns dude

    Hey Dee Gordon, Jim Henderson called he wants his 16 pitches back.