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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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A Norse Is a Horse Of Course

Honestly, even without considering the lateness of the hour, a big picture of Noah Syndergaard would be more eloquent than whatever I’ll be able to come up with.

Because sometimes Syndergaard defies description.

Wednesday night’s pitching line might not look like ace-level Syndergaard — the swing-and-a-miss stuff wasn’t quite there — but that’s deceptive. Syndergaard was hitting 100 MPH in the eighth, leaned on that killer slider for some key outs in the middle innings, and showed the curveball just to make things even more unfair. Results-wise, he was dented on two bad pitches — one a slider that arrived more than it slid (it happens, even to him), and one on a too predictable first-pitch fastball down the middle to a fastball hitter. That was it.

But — as you probably know by now — that was only half of the latest Norse saga. In the third, Syndergaard hammered a Kenta Maeda offspeed pitch over the fence in right center — a pitch intended for the outside corner that drifted back and begged to be spanked. Impressive, but greater things were in the offing.

In the fifth, Syndergaard came to the plate with nobody out and runners on first and second. Terry Collins, predictably, had him bunt. Now, first and second with nobody out is the one situation where a bunt is defensible mathematically, but c’mon. Syndergaard has always shown an ability to hit and had just crashed one 407 feet. Noah didn’t get the bunt down, was allowed to swing away on 2-2, and hammered the ball over the fence in left-center, with Joc Pederson failing to get a glove on the ball and losing his cap over the fence. That blast was even more impressive than the third-inning shot — Maeda’s first pitch was a mistake, but the second was an off-speed pitch on the back corner of the plate. As Syndergaard trotted around the bases, Maeda gritted his teeth on the mound, no doubt thinking that things like this don’t happen in Japan. If it’s any comfort to him, they don’t really happen here either, much as the last week might make us dream otherwise.

Syndergaard got two more at-bats. In the sixth, with the bases loaded and one out, he practically came out of his shoes trying to take Chris Hatcher Maeda deep for a third homer, hooking two pitches hard down the right-field line and sending another one straight back before fanning. In the eighth, Joe Blanton threw him nothing but sliders, which was disappointing but wise.

If there was an unamusing part of the night, it was the Mets’ continuing futility with runners on third and less than two out. This will take a while: Yoenis Cespedes got thrown out at home on a bad gamble with one out in the second, Eric Campbell fouled out with nobody out in the sixth, Syndergaard struck out with one out and the bases loaded in the same frame, and Lucas Duda flied to short left in the seventh with runners on second and third and one out. That’s four gimme runs not converted, which forced Jeurys Familia into a dicey situation that became dicier, with the Mets needing remarkable plays from newcomers Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera to stave off disaster. Such situational failings are usually baseball randomness that disappears over time; it would be just fine with me if the vanishing would begin soonest.

Anyway, the Mets kept rolling — on the same night Max Scherzer struck out 20 in leading the second-place Nats to victory. To get woofy for a moment, fanning 20 is something Syndergaard can do, but can Scherzer go deep twice?

More seriously, it’s been fun monitoring the Nats in the early going. They’re a team with so many interesting storylines: Dusty Baker‘s supervision of a clubhouse that needed healing, old friend Daniel Murphy‘s new blazing hot streak, Jonathan Papelbon‘s explosive failures, and Bryce Harper being Bryce Harper. And I’m sure knowledgable Nats fans (yes, there really are a few) have kept the same watch on Metsian doings, marveling at Syndergaard and wondering where Walker came from and sighing about years of facing Michael Conforto.

All this has necessarily happened at a remove. But that will change next week, with six Mets-Nats tilts over nine days. We’ve got work to do before then — starting with none other than Clayton Kershaw on Thursday — but isn’t that going to be fun?

15 comments to A Norse Is a Horse Of Course

  • Dave

    Inspired by the scene in Spinal Tap in which the band members contemplate the blackness of the cover of their new album:

    Q: How much more badass could Thor be?

    A: None.

    • Jacobs27

      Well, he coulda hit that third one… he certainly was ready, if he had gotten the right pitch…

      I know the baseball gods frown upon getting greedy like that, but Thor is a god, too, so.

      • Eric

        A grandslam would be have been THOR, but turning on Hatcher 97 MPH fastballs and fouling them hard right was still pretty badass.

  • kdbart

    Eric Campbell’s major league employment continues to mystify me.

  • Jacobs27

    Great post, Jason, definitely more satisfying than even Thor iconography.
    One small note: it was Hatcher, not Maeda whom Syndergaard hit those blazing fouls against in the 6th with the bases loaded before striking out.

  • Shawn B

    And somewhere . . . Walt Terrell is smiling.

  • Jacobs27

    Sobering thought: Mets pitchers now have more home runs this year, than Mets catchers.

    • Keith

      Better thought: If you take away Freddie Freeman, Mets pitchers now have as many home runs this year as the Atlanta Braves.

  • Shawn B

    I would love it tonight if the Dodgers catcher stood up and stuck out four fingers the first time Colon got up to bat against Kershaw. And, then, obviously pitch to him. Would be a fun moment, though.

  • Bob

    Odin is pleased
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Greg Mitchell

    Is Eric Campbell Terry’s son-in-law? Only explanation. With Flores out who is backup infielder? Ah, right…Thor.

  • Eric

    The Syndergaard 3-run HR was impressive. Good pitch by Maeda, breaking ball (slider?) breaking away at the knees on the outside corner. That should have been a strike-out. Instead, Syndergaard put a nice easy swing on it.

    The many RISP LOB is an issue that should have gone away by now. Without the pitcher’s HRs, it would have been another shutout loss.

    Nice recovery and show of maturation by Familia to strike out Puig. Good that the rest of the bullpen got a break, too.

    Murphy still hitting like Ted Williams for the Nationals bothers me. Wish he was outside of the division, so I could be happy for him, or at least off the Nationals. Play-offs aside, did he ever hit like this for such a long stretch for the Mets? Walker cooling off at the plate doesn’t help (though Walker flashing leather does help), but Murphy’s hot hitting makes me scrutinize the production from 1B and 3B more, too.

    Matz hurt again. Elbow, nervous. d’Arnaud still hurt (again). What can you do with a catcher who can’t throw?

    Flores hurt. How close is Dilson Herrera to being called up? If he comes up and plays well that would help make up for Murphy still raking since the Mets declined giving Murphy a longer offer to keep 2B open for Herrera.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    On the radio side (OK, it was late, I was in bed with the headphones), it was pointed out that the last 3 run Home Run by a Met pitcher was by none other than Ron Darling. Not sure if they mentioned it on TV (probably, not much gets past them either) but I thought I’d mention it because I think that’s even cooler trivia than 2 Home Runs by Walt Terrell.

  • Mikey

    Hey Eric….dude im so glad you wrote that about murph. I wish it didnt bother me this much but seriously he is hitting .409 with 5 homers and 22 rbi. I dont ever remember a stretch like that with the mets for that long. Not to mention i think hes playing stellar defense too. Its unfathomable that he hasnt cooled off. And i fear hes going to torment us next week and hit like .900 in those 6 games…i too want to be happy for him but its the damn nats