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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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Off Again

This win-one/lose-one pattern the Mets have settled into is, if nothing else, steadying. You can set your watch by it, assuming you still wear a watch. Even adjusting for rainouts, you know what’s coming. If it’s the second game on a Tuesday — and the first game on a Tuesday was a loss — then it must be a win. If it’s a Wednesday following that second Tuesday game, it must be a loss.

Wednesday was, in fact, a loss. Funny, we thought Jeurys Familia was just as predictable after 52 consecutive regular-season saves. Something had to give. Yadier Molina (natch), Kolten Wong and the twelve Mets batters who didn’t drive in their teammates who stood waiting in scoring position ensured the ninth would give the game to the Cardinals.

Familia took the loss, but don’t be too hard on the fella. He hadn’t blown one of these babies in almost exactly a year. He was due. Only two relievers had ever successfully played 52 Pickup before. Even allowing for parentheticals (Jeurys gave up a four-run lead to Los Angeles earlier this year and there were those three World Series saves that didn’t get converted), it was a helluva streak. Familia has done his job.

Not everybody has, 100 on-again, off-again games in. The Mets are consistently inconsistent. The last dozen contests in which they’ve won one, lost one, won one, lost one and so on and so forth make for a pretty telling microcosm. This is a 53-47 team that is markedly better than it looks when it looks bad and likely less imposing than we’d like to believe when it looks good…which it does every other game.

But not that good. Except when Yoenis Cespedes gets ahold of one, as he did versus Adam Wainwright in the culmination of an epic seventh-inning at-bat. Yo put us ahead, 4-3, after the Mets didn’t hit nearly enough, but Logan Verrett pitched just well enough. Verrett had one tough inning, a three-run third, but otherwise didn’t look bad.

Met looks can be alternately deceiving and confirming, so who knows? The standings say the Mets are in contention, if not in command. The calendar says the Mets are on the clock (which they can set via their stubborn .500 tendencies). The trade deadline lurks Monday. Last year, as if you didn’t know, it brought Cespedes. If the Mets could go out and get him again, that would be fantastic, but it’s also fantasy. As Terry Collins has suggested, it would be swell if the players already here could play like the players they are.

Maybe that’s exactly what they’re doing.

I hope you’ll join me at Hoboken’s Little City Books, Monday night, August 8, for some Mets discussion, featuring my book Amazin’ Again. Full details here.

30 comments to Off Again

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Really felt like the season ended last night. Consecutive series victories against the Marlins & Cardinals would have made a statement, instead it’s simply more of “this is what 85-win teams do”. Oh well. The window is still open for a year or two at least, so you might say I’m more disappointed than devastated.

    • Myles H

      Wonderful post, Greg. Thanks for putting into words what my heart and brain haven’t quite been able to agree on how to articulate.

      Kevin: I think it’d be convenient if that were the case. But I don’t think this season is gonna allow for such an easy resolution. :)

  • Eric

    After Familia escaped from that 1 run lead, bases loaded, no one out, Cubs best hitters coming up corner, we knew he was due to give one up. Karma demanded it. No timely double play this time. That it was Molina who finally broke through against Familia just makes sense.

  • Mikey

    I should not be this devastated about a regular season loss, but I am having a hard time processing it. and the worst part is, I felt it coming. I think many of us did. meanwhile the Marlins and Nats won again. there is a long way to go but it’s hard to win consistently if you are leaving so many runners stranded. I’m just sick about this and wish I wasn’t. Being a Mets fan can be dangerous to our health.

    oh and look, Murph hit his 20th homer yesterday. he’s gonna hit 30-35 of them in addition to batting .350. why, baseball gods, why?

  • Pete In Iowa

    If I’m Familia (or any other teammate for that matter) I’m pretty p**ed off at Cespedes. What in the world was he thinking on the foul pop by Wong which should have been the third out?? No dive or slide required – merely a reach with his left arm. And his “look at me” bat flip was bush league. He’s got a nice (and well earned) plunking coming in St. Louis next month. If he worried as much about running out grounders and making relatively simple plays as he does about his preening, he’d be a much better player. Can’t imagine he can be any type of positive influence on some of the younger guys either.
    I’m as big a Mets fan as anyone else, but watching this type of play makes me cringe.

  • Steve K

    I share my fellow posters’ concerns about the Mets’ issues with RISP, and their win-one-lose-one pattern. And, last night’s loss was though to take.

    However, let me leave you all with this thought. The last time Familia blew a regular-season save was that loss vs. the Padres almost a year ago to the day.

    The next day, the Mets beat the Nationals on Wilmer’s extra-inning HR and never looked back. :)

  • Jacobs27

    At this point, the only way I see them getting in this season is if the line-up dramatically ups their game with runners in scoring position.

    If they’re not capable of that, then they can’t compete with the teams ahead of them. End of story.

    • Jacobs27

      In fact, if they don’t start taking a better approach with RISP–the total lack of which was on display in the base-loaded-nobody-out farce that just transpired–I’m not sure the Mets can compete with the teams behind them, either.

      You just can’t do this sort of thing game after game and expect to win.

  • mikeL

    yes a depressing game.
    only thing worse than cespedes’ non catch of wong’s foul pop was the lack of any commeng from the tv booth. especially from keith.

    i actually fell in love with this team after that first win v. nats before the break.
    since then i’ve realized i must have been feeling hard-up. the inability to hit with RISP has become beyond ridiculous.
    murph was clearly the straw that stirred the drink…

  • Jacobs27

    I don’t know if you can really fault him, but TC had the option to stick to his own pronouncement and pitch Robles/Blevins in the 8th and the Gunslinger in the 9th — giving Familia the day off. Who knows what would’ve happened. Ultimately, we’ve got a blown save and Robles in anyway when it’s too late.

    On the flip side, bad luck and bad defense were certainly instrumental in this BS (ambiguity intentional). Ugh.

  • Matt in Richmond

    A little perspective folks. Yes, win one lose one will not get it done in the long term, but keep in mind, this has been the toughest part of the schedule. We’ve played the Cubs twice the Nats twice the Fish and now the Cardinals. All playoff contending or division leading teams. Viewed through that lens, .500 ball isn’t that bad. We were so close to winning all 3 games this series….my biggest lament is still that Teufel didn’t send Jose no that double in game 1. I love Timmy, but he has had a brutal year as 3rd base coach. We’ve once again fallen victim to some tough hard hit luck…numerous balls this series looked like they might go out but seemed to get knocked down by the wind. The ball definitely wasn’t carrying nearly as well as it has much of the year at Citi.

    Long way to go. Might as well stay happy and confident. LGM!!

    • Jacobs27

      I see where you’re coming from, Matt. And I appreciate the need for perspective. Happiness and confidence don’t come at will, though (especially for Mets fans, as you have pointed out).

      My sense of perspective is that it’s officially a long shot this year. Stranger things have happened, but most of the time they don’t.

      To give you an idea, MLB.com/fangraphs (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/probability.jsp) has their chances of making the post at 36.9%, without factoring in today’s loss. That’s down forty points since June 1st. For a chance of winning, that’s not a bad batting averge. Coupled with the nature of these losses, and the lack of reason to expect any reinforcements, confidence doesn’t exactly seem warranted. But maybe can hold off the sadness and frustration with a little hope. Ya gotta believe (they might get lucky!) Let’s go Mets!

  • Steve K

    I realize what I’m about to say is in the heat of frustration. And I hate publicly calling for people’s jobs, but today is the last straw.

    1. Once again, this team demonstrated that it’s incapable of hitting with RISP. It does not matter who is in the lineup. It’s systemic. We can no longer rationalize that “it’s early”. Something has to change. Reassign Kevin Long (so he can still get paid) and install a new hitting coach. Had the Mets capitalized on their bases-loaded none out chance in the 7th, then they go to the ninth up maybe 3-0, and that meltdown would not have occurred.

    2. Why does Terry PH his best hitter (Ces) with an OPEN BASE when you know he’ll be walked? Send up Kelly Johnson to hit for deGrom instead of Ces Even worse, KJ pinch-hits for their best fielder (Lagares)…when the Mets HAVE THE LEAD. Makes no sense.

    3. Poor fundamentals killed them in the ninth inning. This team does not play smart baseball and I have to wonder if they care. Terry had a great run, but his repeated strategic flubs, and the team’s lackadaisical approach are an indictment of him. As with Long, offer him another spot in the organization with full pay, and bring in someone else.

    This season has reached critical mass and there is no Cesepedes to come in from afar to save our season.

    Final note: You know how bad they are going now? As I was posting a comment on the mets.com forum, my computer displayed a critical error and I had to reboot. Only fitting. ;)

    • Jacobs27

      Re: Kevin Long.

      Serious question: Do hitting coaches serve any useful purpose? How can Kevin Long be credited for helping create Murphy 2.0 but helpless in the face of the generally terrible at-bats this whole team takes with RISP?

      • Steve K

        @Jacobs27 –
        That’s a fair question.

        I will say that, to my non-expert eye, the Mets’ hitters may need to hear a “new voice”. The converse might even hold if “John Doe” was the hitting coach, they were having the same issues, and Kevin long ended up being the new voice…

  • Paul Schwartz

    You know I love your analysis and optimism Matt and I know that there are 61 games left. But these two (especially today) makes me feel that we’re playing out the string. You’ve got a wounded closer who is told he’s going to be off, a one run lead in the 8th (bottom of the 7th) with a dominant pitcher who easily has an inning left. 2nd and 3rd none out with that same pitcher (who can handle a bat) and he hits for the pitcher with a guy you know is going to be walked and,then hits for Lagares who won’t be doubled and is a fly ball hitter.
    Sorry. TC blew this one big time in a way that might cost him some players (lagares) and might cause huge confidence problems for your closer.
    I’m a TC fan generally but I was another TC fan as well (Tom Coughlin ) but sometimes the voice loses effectiveness. Especially when there’s over managing involved as there was today. Please talk me,down from the ledge.

  • LeClerc

    Just watched the 2-1 travesty VS Colorado.

    This one is 100% on Terry Collins. After the fiasco, TC asserted there was no doubt they would walk Cespedes. You don’t want a walk there – you want a hit or a fly ball – anything that will drive in a run. Is there no one on the ball club who can drive in a run there? Then TC brings in the burned-out Familia in the ninth. Robles put out the fire but JF had already gone down in flames. After the game, even Nelson Figueroa questioned Collins’ judgement. Disgraceful.

  • Greg Mitchell

    You know what’s coming: Terry wisely proclaims that Familia will get day off after pitching 4 out of 6 days and 26 pitches last night–and this being a day game. I presume, as per Terry’s routine, usually fatal, Familia talked him into using him. Yes, he had a little bad luck, but also had zero command–a sure sign of being wasted. So he ended up pitching 5 times in 7 days (and with long outing 18 hours earlier). He’s back on pace to hurl 80 games this year after pitching until November last season. If you think that has no effect, every one of his numbers is way off this year–walks, e.r.a., hits. Yes, he had the saves streak, he is a battler,but you can only wiggle through allowing that many base runners for so long, and how many of you are that confident the rest of the way? When he’s not tired he can rise to the occasion. But when he is…look out.

    • Steve K

      Greg,
      Where have we heard this song before. i.e. Terry letting a player talk him into pitching when he either should get the day off, or be removed from a game? And, having his changed decision backfire and cost them a game?

      Does Matt Harvey, Game Five, 2015 WS ring a bell? :)

      I understand Terry wants to be a players’ manager. And, to some degree, I respect that mindset. Nonetheless, he should have learned his lesson from the aforementioned game.

  • mikeL

    well, we broke the pattern. maybe THISi s what’s needed to start a win streak. and if it didn’t seem like a season mired in mediocrity and futility, i’d expect our guys to string something together.

    but i don’t. i’m sad to say i’ve stopped caring, mostly watching out of habit. there’s no mets radio coverage where i am and when my sirius coverage lapsed – and with it my ability to hear games when driving – i didn’t really miss it.

    this team is as complacent as last year’s was inspired.

    and it has completely rubbed off on me.

  • eric1973

    Matt in Richmond makes a great point, that these are lethal teams we are playing and .500 against them is ok. But this one hurt. I was fine with using Familia, just hate when TC announces when players are unavailable. It only gives the opposition info they should not have. Seems pretty dumb and not sure how it benefits the organization.

    Winning teams win these games —- lose enough of them and good luck to those teams that DO make the playoffs.

    Greg P. — I still think these hitters are better than this. Not sure why they stink with men on base.

  • sturock

    This team has no offense, making every game a nail-biter where Collins has to use his best relievers. Take Cespedes out of the lineup and there’s not a single hitter who scares the opposition. Until they fond some guys who can get on base and score runs, we are going to be watching games like the past two. And no, Jose is not the answer.

  • Matt in Richmond

    1. The issue of pinch hitting with Cespedes. It’s a tough one because you know they’re probably going to walk him, but really what other choice did TC have with a lefty on the mound. It would be weird to send up KJ or MC. The failure to get the run(s) in is on the players, not the manager.

    2. Familia did not get hit hard. Sometimes when you’re a ground ball pitcher the balls just find holes. The leadoff hit was a routing grounder to straightaway short that only got through because of the shift. Again….not on TC. Just unfortunate. He had FIFTY TWO freaking saves in a row. That’s unsustainable. No need for alarm bells. (Although I would like to see his walk rate come down a bit)

    3. I thought the home plate umpire really screwed the Mets a few times. Several called strike threes that were clearly outside and I didn’t see our pitchers getting the same calls. Of course I’m biased, but that’s what I saw.

  • kdbart

    Some mind numbing awful numbers with RISP:

    Season to date: .204

    Season to date excluding Cspedes: .196

    With 2 outs: .166

    Since the ASG: .155

    This homestand: .119

    The Mets are 17 for 110 with RISP since the ASG but 5 of those hits did not plate a run. So in essence, they’re 12 for 110 or .109.

    No pitcher ever has a stress free moment for the Mets.

    The Yanks, the next worse with RISP, at .220 are bad. The Mets don’t even rise to that level. We are looking at an historically bad team in this category. One of the worse, if not the worse, statistically since WW II. If they were merely mediocre with RISP, they would’ve won 3 or 4 since the ASG & probably 7-10 more on the season.

    • Mikey

      those numbers are sickening.
      but that is in stat form what we are seeing every night….it’s become so predictable
      last week I went to the Mets/Cubs game at Wrigley with Colon pitching. not only did he have an off day, but our lineup was hideous since there was no Cespedes, Walker or Cabrera. then again Walker and Cabrera have been big culprits of that shit batting avg. with RISP, but the thing is once we’re down 3-0 or so with that lineup, we’re doomed.

      sort of off topic but I think our pitchers hit better last year. am I wrong?

    • NostraDennis

      kdbart, you’re not kidding about these Mets being historically bad hitting team. As of a few weeks ago, only the expansion ’69 Padres had a worse team RISP. Even the ’62 Mets didn’t perform that poorly. That has to be discouraging to the pitching staff.

      • kdbart

        Even worse is the .166 with 2 outs. That’s about 70 points below the league average. Going back as far as WW II, no team has ever had a lower BA.

  • eric1973

    Numbs the mind to read that comment, and makes the Mendoza Line appear as out of reach as the Carew Line for an average team.