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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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That is Mets Baseball

I traveled to the Meadowlands a couple of Septembers ago for a Giants game. In the first series executed by the home team, a run for four yards on 3rd and 1 produced a first down. My host for the afternoon, as True Blue a fan as there is, could not have been happier to have seen the ball move from his team’s 29 to his team’s 33.

“That,” he exulted to me, “is Giants football!”

Some franchises are eternally identified with a certain style or trademark, regardless of how they’re playing in a given era. Giants football has indeed always meant effective rushing and stifling defense. The Lakers will always be Showtime in the mind’s eye. The Celtics must have a killer Sixth Man lurking somewhere on their bench. The Raiders are supposed to be marauders. You say “New Jersey Devils,” I still think “neutral zone trap”. The St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles are assumed fundamentally sound, thanks to their respective Ways.

The Mets? The Mets are a convincing complete game shutout from an outstanding starting pitcher on a sunny weekend afternoon. That is Mets baseball, certainly to me.

Sunday from Philadelphia, I watched quintessential Mets baseball. I watched 2014 Rookie of the Year, 2015 National League All-Star and Wilson Defensive Pitcher of the Year Jacob deGrom throw nine innings and give up no runs. I watched the Mets score enough runs (five) to not require a pinch-hitter to prepare to bat for deGrom. I watched deGrom maintain a low enough pitch count (105) so that the bullpen did no more than perfunctorily stir in the ninth.

DeGrom’s line was so simple as to be beautiful: nine innings, seven strikeouts, one hit, one walk, no runs, no trouble. Add in the dazzling handling of a Cody Asche would-be bunt base hit; a two-out single deGrom’s second time up; and Jake coming around to score the Mets’ second run from first on Jose Reyes’s subsequent double into the gap, and some kind of day it had been. It was not a perfect game, but it was perfect. I love Mets baseball when it’s definitively Mets baseball. The Mets, at their best, are defined by a Jacob deGrom-type pitcher having a Jacob deGrom-type day.

You may have noticed I slipped that “one hit” allowed in there without fanfare. A one-hitter can be crushingly disappointing if a no-hitter is in play, but deGrom gave up his lone hit with two out in the third, to opposing pitcher Zach Eflin. Not that I wasn’t already contemplating how good deGrom looked and how possible it was that the Phillies might not touch him at all, but it was too early to be edgy about it, and besides — June 1, 2012. We’re good. We were also good the Santana start before his no-hitter, on a sunny Saturday at Citi, when Johan threw the kind of throwback complete game shutout deGrom did Sunday.

Tom Seaver threw a one-hitter in Philadelphia in 1970 in which the only opposing hit was generated in the third inning. The batter then was Mike Compton, a name that does not really live on in the pantheon we associate with dreamwrecker deluxe Jimmy Qualls. It could by all rights, considering catcher Compton totaled only 18 hits in his brief big league career, or 13 fewer than Qualls. But Compton’s hit of note happened six innings earlier than Qualls’s had ten months before, so some one-hitters get themselves accepted at face value.

We can take Jake’s as such, even if Eflin’s straight outta Compton single was only the third hit of his rookie year. It seems ungracious to rue the one at-bat that didn’t go deGrom’s way when all the others did. Jacob was in command from start to finish, accent on finish. Nobody else had to pitch for the Mets. Thanks to three runs off Eflin and two off Andrew Bailey, nobody who was in the lineup in the first wasn’t in the lineup in the ninth. The Mets were comfortably ahead by the fifth, prohibitively so by the eighth. Substitutions could be left to Pete Mackanin and, for that matter, Red Auerbach. It was a smooth afternoon, the kind Seaver and Gooden regularly gave us sans ceremony back in the day. I understand we live in a different day. I understand why it’s rare in the present. A little taste of what made the past so appealing when the past was the present, however, can be quite welcome any day. Especially on a sunny Sunday, though that’s a matter of personal preference.

A Mets win (in which no Met aggravates a quad or other body part) is a good Mets win, period, but a Mets win in the tradition of Mets wins as you picture them when you picture Mets wins…well, gosh, that’s baseball like it oughta be.

9 comments to That is Mets Baseball

  • Dennis

    Terrific win and of course an outstanding performance by deGrom. Nice to see Terry make a great decision, have confidence in Jake and allow him get the complete game. On to Chicago and LGM!!!

  • Seth

    Great game, except I was wondering why Gary and Keith kept talking about Zack Efron. :-)

  • Dave

    Well, if you want to keep it 100 and remember the fear as well as the faith, real Mets baseball will often include a pronounced inability to do anything so decadent and indulgent as to score 5 runs in a single game. The greed and selfishness.

  • argman

    Missed yesterday’s masterpiece while sightseeing in Chicago, but am happy to say that my son and I will be at Wrigley tonight to support Matz and the boys. Let’s Go Mets!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Right you are Dennis. And we can all take note that there is zero difference between yesterday and the time he sent Noah out to attempt the CG. Except of course yesterday worked out whereas Noah ran into trouble causing a few malcontents to question TC’s judgement. Doubt we’ll hear much from that crowd today, because it would sound so silly to complain when Jake had such a convincing ninth inning. Just as if Noah had done, we wouldn’t have heard the whining then either.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Matt, if it weren’t for the complainers, I never would have solved a mystery that’s been bugging me for 44 years. I now know who Carly Simon was singing about in 1972.

  • eric1973

    Looks like the dead horse is being beaten once again.

    Noah had a balky arm and a recent MRI, making all the difference in the world.

  • kdbart

    Unfortunately, not being able to get any hits with runners in scoring position has also become “Mets Baseball”. 2 for 28 with RISP in the 4 games since the ASG. 3 for 37 in the last 7 games.

  • Jacobs27

    True, Kdbart. I was thinking the same thing… so frustrating.