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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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Fatalism Prevails Again

In the aftermath of the Mets’ sixth consecutive loss, dropped at Arizona Tuesday night by a final of 5-4, I heard Terry Collins reason away something that went wrong by saying, “That’s just part of the game.” I forget what the question was, but I recognized the response. “That’s just part of the game” is one of Collins’s default explanations after the Mets don’t win. As analyses go, it’s probably as good as what he came up with the night before when he quoted somebody in the Met dugout after the club’s fifth consecutive loss as having concluded, “Right now, somebody has pissed off the baseball gods, because every move we make has been the wrong one.”

Managers don’t get philosophical or fatalistic after wins. At least I don’t think they do. It’s been so long since the Mets won a game, I no longer recall what Terry says on those practically extinct occasions. You win, you’re happy, you exude, you get ready for the next one. You lose and lose again, you grope for something or somebody to make sense of it all. “The baseball gods” are a handy collective of fall guys, but I prefer “that’s just part of the game,” because you can’t argue with that.

Thing is, the parts of the game that are defining the Met fortunes of late aren’t the parts of the game that sucked us into following this sport let alone this team. We didn’t fall in love with baseball so we could get caught up in disabled list dithering, contingency starters, waiver-wire relievers, opponents who persistently mash our pitchers like potatoes, bases-loaded situations that aren’t fully resolved, first basemen who still don’t throw home so well and Interstate traffic jams up and down the batting order.

Yet those are the parts of the game we couldn’t miss if we managed to stay awake Tuesday night. The Mets came to grips with Asdrubal Cabrera’s sprained left thumb and allowed him a chance to rest his barking ligaments by placing him and them on the 10-day DL. There, that only took three days. This allowed them to add to their ranks another reliever, righthander Neil Ramirez. Designating Neil Ramirez for assignment has lately become a major league rite of passage, but that just made him more available. Thus, Neil’s a Met now, following in the footsteps of fellow has arm/will travel journeyman Tommy Milone. Milone is one of the Mets’ five starters. He’s the one you didn’t see mentioned in any of the vast promotional material touting the deluxe rotation that was supposed to be holding court on mounds nationwide from now until autumn.

Nevertheless, Milone is part of the game in our neck of the woods every five or so days until further notice. Tommy gave the Mets about what could be expected from a chap whose services were going unengaged prior to Sandy Alderson giving him a jingle: less than six innings worked and almost as many runs surrendered. One was allowed via a Yasmany Tomas rocket, which is included with every ticket purchased for a Mets-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. Another developed on a steal of home by Paul Goldschmidt, which isn’t something you’d expect. It unfolded on a double steal attempt that featured Goldschmidt breaking from third and Lucas Duda flinging the ball from first. The history embedded in such a scenario is not the encouraging kind.

In the current Met context, five runs over five-and-two-thirds innings from a starting pitcher to whom nobody gave a single thought in spring would have to be considered a serviceable outing. Before Milone’s measure was inevitably taken, the Mets had their chance against name-brand starter Zack Greinke. Not chances, but chance. It came in the second. Neil Walker lined a comebacker off the Arizona’s ace’s foot; Wilmer Flores bounced a ball over the right field fence and into a pool party; Duda struck out; René Rivera walked to load the bases; eight-hitter Curtis Granderson also walked. If you were scoring at home, that was a run. If you were scoring in Phoenix, that was all you were getting. Greinke struck out Milone, then Michael Conforto, both with the bases still loaded.

The Mets’ 1-0 lead eventually turned into a 4-1 deficit. Granderson (.153) grabbed a run back by going suitably deep and Rivera later sliced Arizona’s 5-2 lead to 5-4 by doing what Grandy did, except with a man on, but that was that. The top of the order — Conforto, Jose Reyes (.180) and Jay Bruce — went 0-for-12. No Met produced more than one hit. Fernando Rodney threw a perfect ninth, fired off an imaginary arrow to celebrate his actual save, and the Mets were pushed ever further from their hypothetical target. They are now nine games out of first place and not particularly close to the Wild Card. With the schedule nearly a quarter played, it’s neither too soon to notice the latter nor, regrettably, begin to forget about the former.

Pardon the pessimism. It, too, is just part of the game.

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