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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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Just a Loss

An occasional debate in these parts and elsewhere is whether there’s such a thing as a good loss. Does it make a difference if your team lost but put the fear of the baseball gods in the opposition? Lost but learned something about themselves? (Other than, presumably, that they lost.) Lost but exhausted the other guys so it might matter later? Lost but showed a certain quantum of fight, grit, vim, moxie or [insert name of unquantifiable and possibly imaginary substance here]?

I’ve never really made up my mind about that one — my opinion seems to be more an indicator of my mood on a given day than anything else. But I do know this much: there are galling, hideous, stick-in-your-craw losses that make you want to go scream in a dark room, and there are losses that are just the price of doing baseball business. After a solid week or so of the former, it was a mild relief to spend Sunday watching the Mets deal with the latter.

Let’s be clear: Sunday’s game against the Angels wasn’t exactly one for the ages. With the Mets somehow poised to sweep the Angels, Tommy Milone went out to the mound holding the broom wrong way up. Single, double, intentional walk, unintentional walk, grand slam, yikes: if you showed up a little late to the proceedings, well, it was already 5-0 without a lone out on the board.

It didn’t get much better after that: sent back out for the second to take his apparently predestined beating, Milone gave up consecutive home runs to Mike Trout and Jefry Marte. Once upon a time the latter was a Mets farmhand, sent west in exchange for the very briefly memorable Collin Cowgill. Trout, sad to say, has never been a Met anything, unless “object of admiration” counts.

Milone departed down 8-0; an inning later Trout made it 9-0 with a double off Rafael Montero, the modern Mets man’s Mike Maddux. At which point the Mets began, at first fitfully and then more compellingly, to fight back. Matt Reynolds homered to smear a little lipstick on this pig; Curtis Granderson added some more color; and then Jay Bruce‘s three-run shot made the pig look … well naw but you totally hesitated for a moment there, we all saw it.

At our house, we were engaged in the all-day cleaning that follows our annual Derby Day/Preakness party, and Joshua noted the score and started to extrapolate from 9-5 to something pretty amazing. Which I acknowledged amiably, but added a caution: the Angels were loose in the back end of the Mets’ bullpen, and the odds suggested that would stop going as well for us as it had.

Enter Hansel Robles … and scene.

The Mets lost, but it was just a loss — there was nothing heart-wrenching or astonishing about it. Milone showed he isn’t a long-term or even medium-term answer in the rotation, but we knew that. Robles showed that something has gone horribly wrong for him that needs fixing, but we knew that. The Mets scrapped and fought valiantly but futilely, which happens.

After all the recent drama, just a loss isn’t the worst thing to witness on a sunny Sunday.

19 comments to Just a Loss

  • Jake

    Since after 5 batters the game was likely lost, why not just leave Milone in to get pummeled but get some more outs and rest the bullpen? Let him throw 90 pitches and the scoreboard be damned. That would’ve made it a good loss.

    • Jacobs27

      I didn’t see the game, but that was my thought afterwards. Was it that Milone just didn’t have it and so Terry figured there wasn’t much more length he could give anyway? Could’ve justified putting Plawecki back out there, definitely.

  • Curt

    It was a good loss for me because I wasn’t able to get to the TV until Montero was pitching. For the game I watched, the Mets won 5-4. Trying to figure out what TC means when he says Milone will stay in the rotation. Is Gsellman out? Or are we going 6-man for a while? Don’t understand either of those at the moment.

    • LeClerc

      Due to a bunch of well placed off-days, the Mets were able to go with a de facto four man rotation with Gsellman bumped to the bullpen.

      With Gsellman back as a starter, they could give Milone one more chance at the number five slot.

      They could also bring Smoker back, and try a troika with Smoker, Montero and Sewald as a combined number five combo – contributing three innings each in a single game. (Just an idea in a problematical time).

      The point is – the Mets don’t want to make every fifth game a virtual forfeit.

  • Dave

    I see Jake’s point about letting Milone take one for the team. Or Plawecki’s arm must be pretty fresh, let him go a few innings. And as Montero has had at least 17 last chances, did he stop the bleeding enough yesterday to warrant an 18th?

  • eric1973

    LA of whatever scored those 5 runs so quickly, I thought baseball had also instituted the no-pitch homer, the no-pitch single, the no-pitch……..

    Ces and Matz will be back soon, and then we’ll see what’s what.Thank goodness it is only May.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I got some kicks out of the game. Such as when Gary Cohen was in the midst of describing how historically bad, Mets-wise, Robles last 2 outings were. Before he could even finish the commentary, Robles’ 3rd outing got historically badder.

    Sometimes you just have to laugh.

  • Gil

    To be fair, Cowgill had a heck of an opening day for the Mets.

    Not sure about good losses. Acceptable, perhaps. Heartening, maybe. If the team is watching a starter give up crooked numbers in the first and second frames, and they keep playing hard and generate some runs, maybe it’s heartening for the fans to see they will always play hard. It’s a TC team, so you’d expect nothing less.

  • Seth

    Just the price of doing baseball business? Unfortunately the Mets can’t really afford that price right now… I didn’t feel like this was a good loss.

  • Greensleeves

    Nonsense. Any loss combined with a Nats win makes the climb back that much steeper.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Agreed. When you’ve won the first 2 games of the series and some guy you’d barely ever heard of 2 weeks ago is starting game 3 it would be a bit silly to get too bent out of shape over losing that one. It’s typical baseball irony that for all the hand wringing over lineup decisions and who should be playing more or less and who should get called up, the offense has been absolutely fine….to the tune of 2nd in the league in May. With Ces due back shortly and TDA hopefully able to come back before RR’s magic dust wears off, it’s all about pitching. The starters simply have to begin getting a little deeper.

  • Pete In Iowa

    A loss is a loss. Period. No participation medals or ribbons. Especially when the loss comes when you’re five under and looking to build some momentum with a sweep.
    BTW, tell Greg that there should be no post-season share for Milone. He’s not worth anywhere near the 41 cents he gave to Niese last year.

  • Bill M

    I thought about the loss is just a loss issue as I was sittting in my Promenade Gold seats yesterday. I concluded that if I were watching at home it would be just another loss in the standings. Being present at the game, however, made it much worse than that. For those who spent considerable time getting to the ballpark, paying parking fees that only the players can easily afford and concession stand prices that give new meaning to the term “price gauging”, being robbed of a competitive ballgame was devastating. We all know that baseball games, unlike Broadway musicals or massages, do not come with a a guaranteed happy ending, but watching Tommy Milone do his best impersonation of that Wilk guy (or whatever his name is) from two weeks ago was hard to take (especially if, like me, you attended that game as well). As the chants of “refund, refund” began emanating from above, I wondered if the Mets would do something for those in attendance (perhaps some free popcorn for the kids or some free heroine for the adults), but, alas, this is a Wilpon-owned team and they have done little for the fans over the years ( if you don’t count our increased interest in Bernie Madof’s scandals). My vote, at least, is for perspective. And from mine, it was not just another loss.

    • Seth

      Yep. Coming off a 7-game losing streak, they really needed a sweep, instead of a repeat display of what put them in that losing streak to begin with. Given everything that’s happened in the last few weeks, the Mets don’t have the luxury of a “good loss.”

    • Left Coast Jerry

      Bill, I feel your pain. There’s just something about Sunday afternoon games between the Mets and Angels. I was at the game in Anaheim 3 years ago when Bartolo gave up 3 straight home runs to Angels hitters in the 1st inning, and the game went downhill from there. I was so disgusted, I left after 6.

      Here’s hoping that tomorrow night Matt Harvey looks more like the Dark Knight than the Translucent Pawn.

  • Jacobs27

    “modern Mets man’s Mike Maddux” Hey, Jason, that’s a lot of of M’s!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Yes Jerry, this would be a great time for Matt to step up. And “Translucent Pawn” made me literally laugh out loud!

  • Daniel Hall

    This one didn’t really hurt me at all. It was 5-0 before I opened my beverage of choice. The last Sunday disaster was a kick straight into the nuts. This one was borderline amusing by the time the Mets were on their third or fourth completely washed up pitcher and were still bleeding runs. When some Angel or other vehemently flapped his wings in Robles’ face to make it 12-5, I admit I had to chuckle.

    This my diagnosis: the Mets are so mind-warpingly bad, they stopped being awful and started being funny again.