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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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Nothing Doing

In this post-primary, pre-convention interregnum when we speak of presumptive nominees, I must confess I was nervous when the Mets were declared presumptive winners, perhaps sweepers, of the Atlanta Braves in advance of this past weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Braves have been remarkably bad in 2016. The Mets had been pretty good to occasionally very good. Yeah, how could we lose a set of three games to these bozos?

How presumptuous.

I can’t tell if Atlanta is building something formidable based on their having swept this trio of contests from the Mets. Maybe they’re better than we were led to believe. The Mets, based mostly on their recent sample of baseball, don’t appear to be particularly able at all.

It’s not so much the loss of three games to a last-place club as it was the pulselessness that was displayed one through eight from Friday to Sunday, particularly Sunday. The Mets’ trademark starting pitching was good enough to compete if not overwhelm in all three games, but the Mets’ starting hitting, save for a handful of swings, never really began.

Sunday dreadful Sunday was the worst, which is saying something after how Saturday night went down. You can accept with grace one loss to a rebuilding entity like the Braves. You can rationalize away a second loss defined by a third base coach’s ill-advised green light. But the third, for which your batters produced one hit and no other means of reaching base?

That’s not gonna get it done, if you’ll excuse my using technical terms. It’s not much of answer, but on Sunday, the Mets didn’t look like much of ballclub. The real victims were all the kids who were looking forward to the Mr. Met Dash. Without their heroes setting an example, these boys and girls were left completely clueless as to what one does when one encounters basepaths.

I heard “shakeup” mentioned in the postgame press conference. If possible, I’d treat the current roster like a snow globe and, after swapping out Kevin Plawecki for Travis d’Arnaud, send down any four guys and bring back any four guys who aren’t named Eric Campbell. There is a handful of Mets who are performing to expectations and several others who don’t seem to be doing so badly yet also seem to be doing nothing.

Fix that, would ya?

During Saturday night’s game on Fox, one of the announcers I didn’t want to hear referred to the Mets as unathletic. How could that be? I wondered. They’re athletes. I take it that “unathletic” was intended as a synonym for slow. They are slow…but they’re also a little creaky, they don’t proceed with fluidity, and they’re not exactly nimble on their feet.

Fandom often boils down to older, unathletic men expressing dissatisfaction with younger, athletic men for not being less like them. I can be slow, creaky and look pathetic on my own very well, thank you. The Mets went 1-for-28 versus Julio Teheran. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done a whole lot worse.

For all the mostly justified kvetching, the Mets carry the exact record they held after 68 games last year and remain in position for a Wild Card spot this year, but now it’s the second one and they’d be traveling to frigging Marlins Park to face elimination. You’d like to believe the statis will cease and instead of “remaining in position,” they inject themselves with some dynamism. I swear these aren’t terrible players, as long as one of them isn’t Campbell.

I’d also like to believe I’m a better fan than the Mets were players on Sunday. I’d like to think that if I’d been at the game, I would have tepidly applauded Teheran when he came to bat in the eighth. Appreciation for the other team’s starter’s excellent outing is a dying art, just like standing for the seventh-inning stretch (a timeless ritual that mystified my section last week). Though it’s difficult to comprehend that anybody can pitch worse than his record indicates against these Mets, Teheran had been throwing his heart out all year and had two wins to show for it. A giveaway cap can be tipped lightly in his direction.

The Reds made a classy gesture last September. (Image courtesy of Studious Metsimus.)

The Reds made a classy gesture last September. (Image courtesy of Studious Metsimus.)

Granted, one-hitters are useless to have thrown at you, whereas no-hitters are historic. On Channel 11, given that Sunday was Father’s Day, we were shown the last pitch from June 21, 1964, Jim Bunning’s perfect game at Shea Stadium. Between Bob Murphy’s enthusiastic call of and the Mets fans’ supportive reaction to that 6-0 whitewashing, you understood a great performance had transpired and you might as well appreciate it. I thought the Mets should have acknowledged the no-hit successes of Chris Heston and Max Scherzer last season on the Citi Field scoreboard (they didn’t) and I thought posting “CONGRATULATIONS ROYALS” wouldn’t have been out of line at the end of the World Series, as painful as it was to come out on the short end of that little get-together.

The return of the Royals to Flushing this week will elicit several regrets, and the paucity of institutional sportsmanship demonstrated by Met management will be pretty far down the list, but if a championship is captured in your midst by a worthy opponent who isn’t from across town, it really wouldn’t hurt to give the ol’ “good game, good game” before turning out the lights. Watching the Cavaliers accept their NBA hardware Sunday night on the Warriors’ home court, I really had to hand it to Golden State fans who sat and absorbed the scene implicitly commemorating their team’s demise without wadding up their yellow t-shirts and firing them in the general direction of LeBron James. Admittedly, it’s a tough line to toe without tripping on your emotions.

Listen in as Mike Silva and I dissect a below-average weekend and recall the chaos of seasons past on the Talkin’ Mets podcast. I join Mike at around the 20:00 mark.

24 comments to Nothing Doing

  • Bob

    Fathers Day–June, 1964–My father & I watched on our new color TV set–as that filthy sob Jim Bunning threw a perfect gameV S Mets @ Shea
    I seem to recall Jesse Gonder hit a line drive at somebody….sigh………
    Hope you all enjoyed last season as much as I did (with my 15-year old German Shepherd)–cause it may be a while again before we get so much joy again….ya’ never know!
    Met Fan since Polo Grounds-1963-
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • argman

    My friend and I were talking about how when we were growing up in the 60s and 70s New York fans habitually applauded the stars of, and great plays made by, the opposition. I still do, tepidly, as Greg says, but hey, it’s entertainment, and sometimes the bad guys are doing the entertaining.
    I also remember how “Congratulations Red Sox” was briefly flashed on the Shea message board during game six in 1986. A little sportsmanship can’t hurt.

  • Dave

    I do understand the whole “athletic” thing; just as we’ve all seen people with impeccable academic credentials do things that were unbelievably stupid or heard someone who’s extraordinarily talented in one type of music make a mess of another kind (your typical well-trained opera singer will make you cover your ears if they try to sing a pop or rock song), there are baseball players who obviously have athletic skills otherwise they wouldn’t play professional baseball, but still don’t come across as athletic. Nothing particularly athletic-looking to me about Wilmer Flores. Or Lucas Duda, or Kevin Plawecki or most of the Mets’ Triple-A castoff bench. And I remember other Mets from days gone by whose athleticism was spoken of in glowing terms…people like Ryan Thompson, who very, very rarely helped the Mets win any games, and whose career fizzled away pretty quickly. Gary Matthews Jr was another great athlete. I don’t miss him.

    When Bunning pitched his El Perfecto against the Mets, expectations were still rock-bottom. Nobody booed the Mets, because there was no reason to expect them to do anything. A perfect game? Now that was an accomplishment, might as well let yourself get excited, and besides, just one other way for the Mets to lose because they were unlikely to win anyway. I even remember being wowed by Bob Moose’s no-hitter as the 69 Mets were closing in on the Eastern Division crown. But we’re too jaded and frustrated now to get enthusiastic about an outing like Teheran’s. Now it’s just more salt in the wound.

  • joenunz

    wait…they didn’t put “Congratulations Royals” on the scoreboard after Game 5?

    Really?

    Well I already knew that you can’t spell “class” with “J-E-F-F-W-I-L-P-O-N”

  • Daniel Hall

    It’s official. Mets are done. Ballgame.

    Btw, it’s not worth anything, but I clapped some hands when Teheran finished his 1-hitter. Though, admittedly, it was a sarcastic clapping.

  • eric1973

    These hitters going into the tank are our regular starters, as Wright/Duda/d’Arnaud were ineffective while they were here. And we already have Cespedes and Kelly Johnson.

    Only a simpleton could still be optimistic at this point.

    • Rob E.

      A SIMPLETON?!?! Would those be the same “simpletons” that were optimistic last year? There are red flags all over the place here, but to say they are hopeless because Wright/Duda/d’Arnaud were “ineffective while they were here” is missing a pretty big chunk of the story. Duda hit 57 HRs the past two years….that weighs a little more than 40 below average games. d’Arnaud has hit 24 HRs in 175 games the past two years….that means more than the 13 games he played in 2016. This is 25% of their lineup (and this is not even counting Wright). Like last year, injuries have had a pretty big impact here. Not fair to blame EVERYTHING on injuries, but they’ve been compromised a good part of the year.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    6 games out with 94 games to go. Will they catch up? I don’t know, but I also don’t know what will transpire tomorrow. Perhaps only a simpleton will believe that Daniel Murphy will continue to hit .358 and Wilson Ramos will continue to hit .335. Eric1973, you need to post on the Faithless in Flushing blog.

  • open the gates

    So I’m hearing rumors that one subject of the coming Met shakeup may concern the reacquisition of one José Bernarbé Reyes. Any thoughts on the matter? Or is this grist for a FAFIF post yet to come?

  • sturock

    I don’t think Jose is gonna help. What would that mean? Moving Asdrubal to 3B to accommodate Reyes? Jose has slowed down quite a bit and is no longer the force he once was. I am not sure exactly what the Mets should do– besides sending Conforto to AAA for a couple of weeks– but bringing Jose Reyes back is not it.

    Speaking of Conforto, on the Fox broadcast Saturday night, the announcers talked about how hitting coach Kevin Long is moving him closer to the plate and making him nmore of a pull hitter, something that he did with Daniel Murphy last year. Maybe this is part of the problem. Conforto came up as more of a high-doubles gap-to-gap hitter. Now he’s a dead-pull hitter who strikes out whenever he’s not grounding out to the second baseman. He needs to hang back and go the other way more. The coaching worked for Murphy but not for Michael. I really hope they just send Conforto down for a couple of weeks, get him away from Kevin Long, and let him find himself again.

  • Lenny65

    They don’t need Jose Reyes, not 2016 Jose Reyes. Obviously third base is a problem but will an expensive quick fix help? They’re just dead-eyed right now and damned if I know what the answer is. Maybe a good brawl would help fire them up but then again, someone would no doubt get hurt.

    • DAK442

      Reyes would be dirt cheap… isn’t Colorado (and Toronto) paying his salary? We’d probably just be on the hook for like $100K. Not that I think Jose is the answer, or will help much.
      I just hope we don’t see a panic move, which is what I think Wheeler-for-Lucroy would be. I don’t think there is a quick fix, they just have to muddle through this and hope guys start hitting, and that Duda and d’Arnaud make a difference when they return.

  • eric1973

    Was not a prediction, by any means…..If the guys play up to their capabilities, the SP always gives us a chance.
    Trending down right now, though.

    Maybe should sign Reyes…. He can sure ‘hit.’

  • rich porricelli

    Maybe he meant ‘unenthusiastic’..

  • Steve D

    When Reyes was here, I hated how he would hit a 2 foot dribbler and not run sometimes. He was never my favorite. That said, you have NOTHING to lose by picking him up. NOTHING. If he can’t play anymore or disrupts the clubhouse, you cut him. I personally think he will realize he is getting a rare opportunity to go back to his start, where he had his most success, and will energize the team and be a leader.

  • Will in Central NJ

    This is a VERY loose parallel I’m about to draw, but in the summer of 1986, a one-time NY Met all star —said to have fading talents— was released by the Pirates. The Mets signed him to a minor league contract, promoted him shortly thereafter, and that player, Lee Mazzilli, made significant contributions off the bench with his bat and glove. We all know Maz’ role in World Series game 6.

    In the present time (as Casey might say), we again have a one-time NY Met all star —said to have fading talents— who is about to be released by the Rockies. Could the Mets sign him to a minimum wage, minor league contract, promote him shortly thereafter, and see that player, Jose Reyes, make significant contributions off the bench with his bat and glove down the stretch in 2016?

    I still think that Reyes has something left in the tank, and that the return to Flushing could rejuvenate this one-time fan favorite.

    (I’m fully aware that Mazzilli bore absolutely none of the domestic violence accusations that Reyes does. But, many athletes, including PED users and the likes of Steve Howe—have received second chances and more.)

  • open the gates

    Will, I’ll see your Maz, and raise you a Rusty and an Izzy. Sometimes a former star in a supporting role can do wonders. But sometimes (think Hubie Brooks and Kevin McReynolds) it can be worse than useless, and sometimes (Bobby Bo – is he still on the books?) it can be downright disastrous. Me, I say pick him up – he’s cheap now – but make it clear that if he’s any less than a team guy, or so much as looks at his significant other the wrong way, he’s outahere.

    • Daniel Hall

      Bonilla will be on the books through 2035 with roughly $1.2M annually.

      Even Brett Saberhagen is still on the books…

    • Will in Central NJ

      Open, I agree that the NYM should sign Reyes. If he flops, we let him go. But if Reyes has truly faded significantly in the field, perhaps he might morph into a pinch hitter supreme—maybe like a Lenny Harris or Manny Mota.

  • Dennis

    While I have no problem giving guys a second chance, it’s kind of funny hearing that some won’t mind him coming back to the Mets given his domestic violence baggage. If this was player X making a comeback with the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals (enter your most hated team), he and they would be vilified. Just shows how we are as phony as fans of other teams as well….as long as a player can be productive….sign em!

  • Eric

    I’m for giving Reyes a flier. Cheap, no need to give up prospects. The alternative is, what – Ty Kelly? – until Herrera is ready to come up.

  • Berdj Rassam

    Atlanta is having a good run for now. Time will tell.

  • open the gates

    Sabes is still on the books? Guess bleach must be expensive…

  • […] my benevolence, could allow a loss to Teheran, who’d allowed the Mets one hit over nine innings the last time we saw him in New York and no runs for a very long time anywhere. Lose to Teheran, you still have two games to win. Not […]