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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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Milestones Minor and Miserable

The first week of the season is about getting reacquainted with your team: remembering all the things that make you happy and a few of the things that don’t, checking off boxes and generally luxuriating in the part of the year when any fan can run down every game played so far and how it turned out. Very soon the season will have become a blur of games and series; right now everything stands out in sharp relief.

The Mets hit a minor milestone Friday night when Zack Wheeler pitched and T.J. Rivera pinch-hit, meaning all 25 players from the Opening Day roster had seen game duty — as well as the bigger milestone of Wheeler pitching in a game that counted for the first time in nearly 1,000 days.

Another roster milestone came Saturday night, when Paul Sewald was summoned to shore up the relief corps, replace video star Ty Kelly (seriously, this is hilarious) on the roster and become the 1,027th Met to labor between the front lines. Which may not seem significant, except his presence averted what I’ve been calling the Akerpocalypse — the first time since 1974 that Opening Day ushered in a Mets roster with no new players. Jack Aker‘s arrival for bullpen work ended the Akerpocalypse in mid-June of ’74 (so it really shouldn’t be named for him, but hush up you); Sewald put things right much faster than that.

Unfortunately, that was the only thing Sewald put right in his big-league debut — he was terrible. Still, I’ll give him a pass based on understandable nerves and the fact that last night Mets No. 1 through 1,026 wouldn’t have done much better.

Because that was the night’s other milestone: this was the first game of the season that found me thoroughly disgusted by the proceedings. In the winter you’ll often catch me staring out at the frozen hellscape of the backyard and declaring that I’d do anything to watch even the lamest, lousiest, lossiest regular-season baseball game; last night was proof that I don’t mean it. What do I do when it’s spring and there’s baseball like this? I stare at the television and wait for it to be winter.

Robert Gsellman was lousy, with his sinkers floating up instead of diving down, leading to pitcher whiplash — particularly when Marcell Ozuna sent one luckless baseball to Mars. The rest of the relievers weren’t much better: Hansel Robles was awful; Josh Smoker staggered in the beginning, probably because he’s wearing Jon Niese‘s No. 49 before it’s been fumigated to rid it of accumulated alibis and excuses; and a gassed Rafael Montero took a last-man-on-the-bullpen-depth-chart beating and still needed help.

But the pitchers had company: the Met defense was iffy again, with Curtis Granderson misplaying a fly ball into a triple, and the offense was dismal. If you missed it, well, so did the batters, who spent the night flailing helplessly at middling fastballs. It was a godawful mess whether you were looking at Granderson, the completely lost-looking Jose Reyes, the possibly injured Asdrubal Cabrera or human windmill Neil Walker.

I was left to seek solace in a milestone that so far is just rumor: the potential sale of the Marlins and baseball ridding itself of serial con man Jeffrey Loria.

I’m too dispirited to do a deep dive into my hatred of Loria and his baseball team — the archives await if you want a refresher. As is often said about pinata middle relievers, I heartily endorse Anyone But Loria as a successor to the actual Loria. Anyone But Loria might decide the Marlins’ ballpark could use an aesthetic beyond Cokehead Pachinko Parlor and hire someone to overhaul their Neon Concussion uniforms. (Seriously, look at the Marlins’ backs — even the fonts look like they were chosen mid-seizure.) Anyone But Loria might put money into his franchise instead of slurping it out of 29 other clubs and Florida taxpayers. Under the aegis of Anyone But Loria, the Marlins might actually be able to fill their park with more than enemy fans, passing rubes, transplant lookyloos and a handful of impressively determined masochists.

Anyone But Loria would be better in every conceivable way but one: we’d still have to play 19 games against the Marlins and at least 10 of those would be a near-lock to leave me in a frothing rage. It was true in 1993, 2005 and 2017; I’m sure it will be true in 2029, 2041 and 2053.

The milestones click by, but some things in baseball are eternal.

12 comments to Milestones Minor and Miserable

  • LeClerc

    “Home Run or Bust” is not a winning offensive strategy. In the first five games, the Mets have hit three HRs – all three solo shots – all in losing games.

    Walking leadoff batters is not a winning pitching tactic. Those free pass riders have a tendency to come around and score.

    Looking forward to Noah righting the ship.

    Montero can take the evening off and talk to a therapist about Rafael’s strike-o-phobia.

  • Dave

    No sooner does Montero make us feel happy for him that he worked his way back into the organization’s good graces does he remind us of how he progressed (definitely not the right word) from top pitching prospect to “oh yeah, I forgot all about him.” And are we really to believe that Alderson’s idea of an effective offense is one in which everyone has above-average power, low BA, low OBP, strikes out a lot, no speed to speak of, and for at least half of them, can’t hit lefties? Was there no way to add anyone who doesn’t fit that profile? It’s all or nothing, and so far there’s no all.

  • JoeG

    I have heard and read (not here) many discussions about why the Mets are playing Bruce over Conforto. I don’t think that’s the real issue. Of course Bruce has to play while he’s here. The real question is why Granderson is playing over Conforto?

    It’s as if the Mets forgot that Granderson was a huge offensive liability from April through August of 2016.

    I realize Conforto isn’t really a centerfielder. But is Granderson really so much better in center that it’s worth the offense? And is it worth what this is doing to Conforto’s development? It seems clear to me that a veteran will do better as a spot player off the bench than a youngster.

    And I realize Conforto also struggled offensively for much of 2016. But there is reason to expect he could do much better this season. Is it really reasonable to assume that Granderson, at a year older, is getting better?

    • Lenny65

      I’m with you, I like Granderson but IMO it’s time to see what Conforto is really all about. Is he a viable part of the future or what? If they think he is he has to play, if it becomes immediately obvious that he’s a huge defensive downgrade then fine, you can sit him again. But keeping Juan Lagares’ seat warm is a pretty steep drop for our top prospect from just a few years ago.

  • Eric

    I thought I might experience some relief from the Mets loss by checking out the box score of the Phillies 17-3 win over the Nationals. It didn’t work because Murphy went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, which highlighted Walker’s 0 for 4 with 4 Ks.

    Murphy is batting .524 and Walker is batting .150 to start the season.

    • DAK442

      We’re paying Neil the same amount DC pays Murph, to not hit from both sides of the plate and have a bad back despite being roughly the same age. I think letting Murph leave is going to end up in the Nolan Ryan level of the Pantheon Of Mets Stupidity.

  • eric1973

    Granderson’s been bad ever since he got here, until last AUG. But he’s a great guy making a lot of money, so he plays, whether it’s the right thing to do or not.

    • Dennis

      Not saying he should or shouldn’t be playing now, but you must have a short memory. He wasn’t bad until last August….he had a very good season in 2015. You know…the year he was a major contributor on a World Series team.

  • Matt in Richmond

    He sure was Dennis. Some of us haven’t forgotten.

  • I was at Saturday night’s game, froze my tuchus off, didn’t stay for the fireworks and made some inhumane, too-soon comments about the entire Miami team availing themselves of New York’s aquatic transportation.

    I hate what watching the Mets play the Marlins does to me…

  • Harvey Poris

    On a more trivial note, new Met Paul Sewald is the first Met born in Nevada. Now only Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont have not produced a Metropolitan.