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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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Trading Places

Now you listen to me! I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on! Turn those machines back on!

That’s Mortimer Duke at the end of 1983’s Trading Places, after he realizes Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine have ruined him and his brother Randolph in revenge for a cruel and cynical experiment in social engineering. Mortimer’s command goes unheeded, of course. The machines won’t go back on any more than the genie’s going back in the bottle.

Other than not identifying with the bad guy, it’s pretty much the way I feel whenever an umpire has made a rotten, terrible, no-good, very bad call against my baseball team, one the entire world except him knows is wrong and that he will also know is wrong the second he looks at the replay, which will lead to a big fat lot of nothing because umpires getting lectured and disciplined is pretty much the only thing baseball still keeps secret.


That’s what Carlos Torres did to the Mets Saturday night. No, not rubber-armed, sometimes-effective and apparently ageless reliever Carlos Torres, but less-than-effective, still pretty young home-plate ump Carlos Torres.

With the Mets down 3-1 in the third, Logan Verrett fanned Tony Wolters with one out and the bases loaded, bringing pitcher Eddie Butler to the plate … oh wait. No, Carlos Torres ruled Wolters had foul-tipped the ball, when he quite clearly hadn’t. Torres didn’t get help, Terry Collins went ballistic, and soon thereafter Terry Collins was excused further attendance. Given an undeserved reprieve, Wolters clubbed a ball over Yoenis Cespedes‘s head for two runs; an out later Charlie Blackmon chipped in a two-run single of his own, and the Mets were looking at a big ugly crooked number.

Managers usually cool off enough to wax philosophical about these things after the game, but Collins was still hot: “It cost us the game. End of story.”

Wellllll. That’s loyal of Terry, but it’s not that simple.

When Joshua was about eight, I told him I was going to teach him an essential but unwritten rule of baseball, one that he would do well to accept, since it would let him avoid a fair number of churning stomachs and hours wasted moaning about injustice. Emily, by far the better parent, knew what was coming and tried to intervene, but I would not be deterred.

When you’re going horseshit, they fuck you.

I know, language. Sorry. But that gets at the essential, visceral truth far better than a more refined way of putting it.

When one’s caliber of play is subpar, the benefit of the doubt is generally not given.

Nuh-uh. It’s the first one.

Yeah, the Mets got saddled with four enemy runs they would have avoided if Torres had made the right call and Verrett had retired Butler. Yeah, they tried to come back only to wind up short. But they’ve been losing because the starting pitchers are practically outhitting the position players and fielders are coming up short or doing dopey things with depressing regularity. It’s a blueprint for losing plenty of games, with or without mistakes by umps.

The Mets look flat and tired and dispirited. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. I’m flat and tired and dispirited by this road trip, and I’m not even on it. Seriously, I’ve been on multi-week trips covering different time zones, and by Day 10 I generally just want to be home staring at a familiar wall. And my job is to type and talk to people, not to play professional sports in front of 30,000 people and have to explain afterwards why I failed at something that’s really hard to begin with.

The Mets will be home late Sunday. They’ll actually get a day off Monday. Good. They better rest up, because then it’s six of nine against the Nationals. The first-place Nationals, who are eager to show the second-place Mets …

… oh wait. Nope, it’s the third-place Mets. You want trading places? Well we’ve traded places with the Phillies.


Now you listen to me! I want the ballpark reopened right now. Get those hitters back in here! Turn that scoreboard back on! Turn that scoreboard back on!

Oh yeah, that’s right. We already established that never works.

13 comments to Trading Places

  • MetFanMac

    What’s really killing the Mets is the hitting. Last night they actually outhit the Rockies but wound up three runs down. Why? Well, on the season they’re batting .239 — lower tier, but not the worst comparatively… until you realize they’re hitting .249 with the bases empty. Put one or more runners on, and their batting average dips to .227, lowest in the league. But wait, it gets even more dispiriting: narrow it down to at-bats with runners in scoring position, and they hit an abysmal .207, lowest in the MAJORS. Make it a two-out situation, and it plummets to an eye-popping .168 — also lowest in the majors, needless to say. To put that in perspective, since their most recent high (.277 in 2007), their lowest season RISP average has been 2013’s .242 mark.

  • Mikey

    Ugggggg….this sucks. I did a double take when i saw the phils are a half game up….but if youve watched them play you can kind of see it….they have great young pitchers

  • Mikey

    Speaking of risp lets not forget we lucked out with the rare arenado flub early on that would have been a double play

  • Shawn B

    Wonderful read as ever, Jason. Thanks for the Trading Places reference. Jamie Lee Curtis made quite an impression on me that summer when I was 16. Long before she got strung out on Activia.

    And, hey, let’s not panic. We’re still up two full games on the Marlins.

  • Parth

    TC post game comments on call were authentic but a bit misguided. “The call” was 1 of about 6 reasons they lost- you CAN get 4 strikes on a batter when its a triple A catcher batting 8th. It WAS still a 2-2 count.

  • Matt in Woodside

    I am not a fan of challenge system at all. I know this was “balls and strikes,” but that was a swing and miss on a ball in the dirt. The bat was like, two feet away from the ball. Even allowing only one incorrect challenge per game per team, the system just drains the excitement out of close plays, while still allowing egregiously bad game-changing calls like that one to stand. And this one turned into an ejection, a big inning for the Rockies, and the Mets using a whole lot of extra bullpen, which could affect today’s game. It was a huge call and it was 100% wrong, but it stood because it’s non reviewable and the guy making the call was the one umpire whose view was obscured. But I’m sure this week regular viewers will get to watch about 20 aggregate minutes of super slow mo bang bang plays at first while the umpiring crew stands around with headphones.

  • Dave

    And if Verrett had buckled down and gotten guys out instead of pitching BP, the horseshit call wouldn’t have mattered. So there’s that.

  • Rocco

    But Dave, you forget…he DID get the out. The horrible call is what literally changed the outcome of the at-bat, and in turn the game. Officiating has always been the most pathetic aspect of sports. Not making officials responsible for the calls they make has always been a major flaw of the system. Officials will never care as long as they can’t be held accountable in any way. They should be fined and suspended just like players and coaches. Instead they are given free reign over coworkers who make more money than they do. I don’t know too many offices where that would go over too well…why is it okay with athletes? Officials in any sport have one of the cushiest jobs ever, right up there with the weatherman. It doesn’t matter how often they’re wrong…because there are no repercussions. The fact that it’s so easily fixable is what makes the whole situation so incredibly stupid.

  • Dave

    Rocco – my point is that Verrett let the inning get away from him instead of just brushing off the bad call. Bad calls happen, the tough competitors just focus on the next batter and get him out. You’re not going to win many games where your starter doesn’t make it out of the 3rd inning, no matter how good or bad the umpiring is.

  • Rocco

    Dave, I totally get that point, but there’s a bigger issue at play here. The lack of accountability for the umpires leads to innings that get out of hand unnecessarily. While I understand we can’t predict what would have happened, if the proper calls are made, the probability that the inning gets out of hand goes down considerably. When an obvious blown call has that much of an impact on the outcome of the game, the umpire should absolutely be fined, suspended, whatever…there has to be some kind of repercussions for these idiots. Personally I’ve always thought that officials in every sport should be scored just like the players. You create rules and replay committees to go over calls after each game, with a positive or negative score associated to each good or bad call respectively. At the end of the season, the highest scoring officials get to go on to the postseason, thus providing a monetary incentive for them to make the right calls as well. That’s just one idea and could surely use tweaking, but it’s a good starting point for making these fat f**ks own up to their crappy calls for once.

    • DAK442

      Umpiring will remain abysmal as long as it’s a closed shop based on seniority and not merit. In just about any other field, if you demonstrably suck at your job and screw up publicly, you are relieved of your position.

      Hell, if the union won’t allow MLB to just shitcan Angel Hernandez and his ilk, why not treat them like players? “You’re not getting it done… you’re getting sent down to AAA.” And bring up some new blood.

  • Martin Dickson

    Umpiring aside I did not expect The Mets trip to Denver turning out the way it did, certainly did not expect that the Mets would be swept! There are worries with the mechanics of our highly rated pitchers, De Grom and Harvey are struggling and perhaps Matz needs an MRI. Also The offence was down. I really thought that the final game at Coors was one we needed to win before facing the Nats. Certainly our Mets will have to match what Harper and Murphy are doing. Remember Collins saying that game against the Phillies was one we needed to win, I thought the same about the last game at Coors.
    Please forgive me if I am being presumptuous as I am following the Mets from Australia, so relying on websites and ESPN to keep up with things, for those who attend Citifield please give the Mets a Let’s Go Mets for me!