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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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Fume After Watching

If there was a way to lose Wednesday night, the Mets were going to find it.

The bullpen was terrible. The bullpen was terribly managed. The hitters turned a gimme into a gag me. Just a complete and utter disaster.

Insult to injury: said meltdown came against the Padres, who sure don’t look like a team capable of winning 35% of their games. The Padres have turned in two days’ worth of horrific at-bats, bad baserunning, lousy pitching, klutzy defense, lazy play and inept tactics and will somehow still play a rubber game tomorrow. Tonight they balked twice, their supposed star player admired a long drive instead of running hard, they had some lousy luck and they still beat the Mets. It would be funny if it hadn’t been so disgusting to watch.

As for the Mets, well …

You know what? I’m going to need a moment.

[steps away from computer]

[walks around in circles muttering]

[rage-tweets for a few minutes]

[more pacing and muttering]

OK, I’m back. Let’s just say that … nope, not there yet.

[repeat most of the above]

Sigh. Buckle up y’all. This is going to hurt.

Terry Collins‘ bullpen is a band of arsonists, and all too often it doesn’t much matter whom you turn to. Fernando Salas got two outs without incident before disintegrating in a flurry of hits and walks. Neil Ramirez, already cut loose by the Giants and Blue Jays, threw two pitches, the second of which came within an inch of being a grand slam. Those misadventures turned what had been a 5-1 Met lead into a tie game. After a brief spell of competence, enter Josh Smoker — the same Josh Smoker who was recently sent down because he was incapable of getting major-league hitters out but then recalled because Hansel Robles was sent down for being incapable of getting major-league hitters out. Smoker went 3-1 on Hunter Renfroe before throwing a pitch that landed in Portugal, and would prove the game-winner for our West Coast guests.

Some of that was poor execution, which obviously gets pinned on the players. But some of it was poor planning, which ought to be in the flaming bags left on the doorsteps of the manager and the general manager.

Let’s ring Sandy’s bell first … y’all ready to run and film the hijinks from a safe distance? Smoker is a disaster right now, who replaced the guy who was a disaster before. Ramirez has thrown 36 pitches in a Met uniform and yielded two walks and three singles — if he’s the answer, the question is some kind of cruel joke. Collins, sensibly, doesn’t trust Rafael Montero any farther than he can throw him, which raises the question of why Montero is still on the roster. Even if you’re a master chef, good luck serving chicken salad when the second word of that dish seems to have been cruelly misspelled and the health department just came out of the kitchen frowning.

And yet, not for the first time in 2017, Terry proved he’s more graveyard-shift hash slinger than culinary maestro when given bullpen ingredients. On Tuesday the Mets took a six-run lead into the sixth inning after a day off. If any situation actually made you say “Rafael Montero ought to pitch here,” it was that one — but instead Terry used Smoker (who, wait for it … gave up a leadoff home run), Paul Sewald, Jerry Blevins and Salas in numbing succession. That led to him declaring Sewald and Blevins unavailable tonight, which is how he wound up using the soft white underbelly of the pen in a much tighter contest. Except he also pulled Robert Gsellman with just 84 pitches under his belt instead of letting him begin the seventh, in a season that’s seen Met starters tax the bullpen night after night.

Some nights the Mets can hit themselves out of their own way, and it looked like they might do so again tonight: they loaded the bases off Brad Hand with nobody out in the ninth. Almost anything would have tied the game — I’ll spare you a solid paragraph of outcomes that would have delivered that result — except for Curtis Granderson waving helplessly at a slider, which was of course what he did. Rene Rivera then struck out too, and I should have turned the TV off right then, instead of watching Juan Lagares fly meekly to right field.

Is there such a thing as exponential ineptitude? Because I can’t think of what else to call this game. As rough approximation, I’ll settle for saying it’s another jaw-droppingly awful, self-inflicted loss in a season that’s been thick with them.

Ballgame tomorrow. Tune in if you dare.

Word of warning: Management is in no mood for poor behavior. That shadow looming overhead is the ban hammer.

43 comments to Fume After Watching

  • eric1973

    Was I hallucinating, or did TC actually bring in Neil Ramirez with the bases loaded and the tying run on second, in the 7th inning?

    The very same Neil Ramirez who just days earlier disproved my theory (for one night, anyway) that ‘anyone can pitch the ninth inning with a 5 run lead.’

    To paraphrase Gary, it is managerial decisions like this that make some say (me included, most likely) that TC’s reign here has been a ‘net negative.’

  • Lenny65

    It’s really bad. It’s tough to remember a season that’s gone this poorly out of the gate. Of course there have been many seasons where you knew they’d suck and they indeed did, but this year has been different, what with the expectations and all. After two admittedly very entertaining seasons that ended with us getting dropped on our heads, it’s like they decided to drop the suspense and just crush us right away. This bunch of gimpy sad-sacks isn’t going anywhere near any playoff series unless deGrom can start every game and Conforto can play all eight positions. Today I almost forgot Cespedes was on the team (aka “Steven Matz Syndrome”), which is just horribly depressing. Today I read a headline that said d’Arnaud was returning and my first thought was “yeah, sure he is”.

    Re: Montero. So the Mets have a pitcher on the ML roster who’s so bad the manager won’t even consider using him (aka “Matt Reynolds Syndrome”). So why is he ON the ML roster? Does this mean that every AAA pitcher the Mets currently have is WORSE than Montero? Is that even possible? They don’t have a single other guy they could just roll the dice with who might through sheer luck alone fare better than that?

  • Matt in Richmond

    If I may, I’d like to offer a different opinion while respecting the guidelines of site authors. TC has been put in a no win situation where every option he has is a bad one. The pen is short to begin with due to no Familia and overworked due to starters not going deep game after game after game. Salas is supposed to be a strike thrower and after getting two easy outs he gives up a hit and walks 2 guys. That’s unacceptable.
    It’s also not TC’s fault that for the second game in a row the offense knocked out the opposing starter early and then failed to produce anything afterward. 8th inning runner on 2nd 0 outs fail to score. 9th inning bases loaded 0 out fail to score. This one is on the players.

    • Why didn’t TC leave Smoker in for longer than an inning Tuesday night with a 6-run lead, thus saving Salas/Blevins/Sewald for Wednesday?

  • Matt in Woodside

    Eh, what is Collins supposed to do at this point? Everyone in the bullpen is giving up runs other than Reed, Blevins, and Sewald. In the postgame, it did sound like they went in with a plan to have Gsellman pitch six and six only. And Blevins and Sewald had been given much deserved nights off.

    Maybe not sending Gsellman out for the seventh was the mistake tonight. But of course if he had gotten hit and the (exhausted) bullpen had melted down anyway, we’d all be grouching about how he was left in too long. At least he left the game with a bit more confidence following a couple of good relief appearances. He is still a rookie.

    A few days ago I said the Mets’ starters inability to get further than the sixth inning consistently was the Achilles Heel of this team. It’s bigger than that. It’s like their Achilles Face.

  • LeClerc

    Neil Ramirez was DFA’d by the Giants on April 29th – immediately following a game in which he gave up a three run HR to…, Will Myers.

    It follows that you bring Neil in on May 24th with the bases loaded to face…, Will Myers.

    • Pete In Iowa

      And Collins admitted in the post-game he was unaware of that Myers-Ramirez at bat, lea than a month ago. That folks is being completely, totally and inexcusably unprepared!!
      Disgusting….

  • Curt

    I want to blame TC for this. I want to get on him for bringing in Ramirez – except Ramirez IS on the roster and doesn’t that mean he has to contribute?

    Here’s who I really blame:

    Pitchers who can’t pitch and can only seem to throw strikes down the middle of the plate that end up in another zip code
    Lagares standing on 2nd with nobody out in the 8th and we can’t get him home
    Whole bunch of people standing on a bunch of bases with nobody out in the 9th and we can’t get them home.

    Do I blame TC? A little. Who do I really blame? Pitchers who couldn’t pitch and hitters who couldn’t hit. And a world where anyone who has performed as badly as Curtis Granderson has this year is doing anything but warming pine.

    On the plus side, really like how Lucas Duda is approaching his AB’s – did not strike out on a single ball out of the strike zone. Maybe Curtis and Rene need to watch film of Lucas to learn how to make a pitcher throw strikes with the bases loaded.

  • Mike S

    Due to work commitments this year, I’ve been able to watch very few games (thank you baseball gods!). I tend to just follow the score on my “at bat” app. But it seems to me every single time I see Salas’ name, it’s in the midst of another bullpen meltdown.

  • Steve

    This was the first truly unforgivable loss of the year. You just don’t give this game back to the Padres and if you have the chance to take it back in the 9th which they did, you take it.

    Honestly, I don’t know what they do about this pitching staff, they just don’t have enough arms that are getting outs. I do have to wonder if they would be better off having Smoker start right now though. He seemed to do well enough in the two games he started in the desert.

    • Guy Kipp

      “This was the first truly unforgivable loss of the year.”

      Not sure I would term blowing a 9-1 lead in Milwaukee on Mother’s Day “forgivable” either.

  • Dave

    Here’s the biggest problem, in the long run (and IMHO). Mets will be in a position in the standings in 2 months that makes them sellers, and the roster is stocked with veterans with expiring contracts. But the team status of sellers will mean that most of these guys will have had miserable and/or unhealthy seasons. So instead of being able to move Bruce, Duda, Granderson, Reyes, Cabrera, etc, to restock the system a bit, they won’t find a team who has any interest in any of them. Or all they’ll be able to get in return is someone who has the potential to be the next Neil Ramirez.

  • Matt in Richmond

    If we as Mets fans had been told before the season started that through 44 games we would have gotten only 18 games and 10 RBI from Yo, would get a few great starts from Noah then lose him for likely the whole year, and would no sooner get Familia back from suspension then lose him for the year, would any of us have been shocked to be a few games under .500? That’s not to mention all the other oddities and injuries that have occurred. #1 starter, all star closer, best player all gone. That’s gonna hurt any team. Having said that, look at all the crazy stuff, injury and otherwise that happened the last two years that we struggled with but ultimately overcame. The season is barely 1/4 complete. I’m certainly not guaranteeing anything. Maybe ultimately it’ll be too many body blows to overcome, but I’m not throwing in the towel and I am not gonna dump on any of these guys that have already achieved so much.

    LGM

  • eric1973

    Yeah, Dave, maybe just this once you wave the white flag midway through and restock the farm system, you know, the Yankee way. The ‘one dumb owner’ theory needs to work, though, as someone would need to see Grandy and the rest of ’em as somehow useful.

    The starting pitching staff’s window is closing ever so slowly. We thought last year was their recovery year, but it looks like it is this year, too.

    More important Gsellman feels good about himself, rather than win the game. TC also read him a bedtime story and tucked him in last night.

    • Pete In Iowa

      Yep. A “positive” feeling, outcome, exit — or whatever TC called it, for Gsellman and a “negative” outcome for the whole squad.
      Yet another fine example of pitchers being babied in “today’s” game. Apparently, it’s not enough to limit pitches, limit innings, push back starts, ease through spring training, etc., etc. — now they have to have a “positive” vibe as well.
      When are the powers that be in baseball gonna wise up to this babying of adults??
      BTW, Myers should have been pulled and benched immediately for his utterly disgusting posing. But, boy, he sure looked cool doing it!
      Would any of us teach — or allow — our children to play the game in such a manner?

      • Matt in Woodside

        When d’Arnaud was in the on deck circle in the seventh, I texted a friend “Oh no! Collins needs to leave Gsellman in!” And Gsellman sounded just slightly annoyed with his “the manager makes those decisions around here” comment in the locker room interview.

        But, this is a pitcher who, in his last three starts, had pitched a total of 14 innings and had given up a ton of runs in those abbreviated starts. Don’t get me wrong. Then and now I would have preferred to see Gsellman in the seventh due to the low pitch count, if anything. But I don’t think Collins pulled him to protect his ego at the cost of the team. The last time he tried to push Harvey it blew up. Heck, the last time he tried to have deGrom pitch the seventh it almost blew up. He’s in damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t territory with most of the pitching staff.

        Also (and believe me, I bear no ill will toward Salas. All of those guys are just way overworked at this point) if Salas hadn’t melted down and loaded the bases after quickly getting two outs in the seventh, and if Smoker hadn’t suddenly adopted the unfortunate habit of giving up a solo HR to his first batter before settling down, then they would have coasted to victory. So I think it was a reasonable plan to take Gsellman out after a “quality start.” Unfortunately it also blew up.

      • Sorry Pete, but not buying this. Taking a young pitcher out with a good feeling isn’t a new thing in the game — Dallas Green got killed for NOT doing it with Paul Wilson at Wrigley Field two decades ago, and the defense was that hey, Dallas is old school.

        To me, the issue last night was deciding 84 pitches was the time to do it, instead of trying to get Gsellman through 100 to 105. Particularly with how overworked the bullpen has been because of starters being inefficient.

  • BlackCountryMet

    2 things

    1) Fernando Salas is TOILET. DFA NOW

    2) Terry Collins Bullpen management is equally as bad. I believe he costs us far more wins with his in-game management than he gains us?

    That’s all

  • Greg Mitchell

    Agree with Jason on Terrible Terry’s use of bullpen, with the two games this week as Exhibit A– in a season of Exhibit A’s. Even Ron Darling took a full minute between innings to rip him, and then the postgame announcers as well. You can’t just say “Terry has no options and it’s on the bullpen guys” when he grinds them into dust–remember when it was said that Robles was not overworked because his era was good?–and then misuses them on top of that? Why was Blevins not available after pitching one game after a day off? Because he is on a pace to pitch over 100 games. So then why was he used in a 9-3 game? This is a question that has arisen time after time all season. And Gsellman is done after 84 pitches–but the choice is Salas, who is on pace to pitch 100 games and threw an inning and a third the night before?

    And if you want to blame the starters–someone call Elias and confirm that in the history of baseball, replete with starting staff every bit as bad as the Mets or worse, no team has ever had 5 pitchers in the top 8 in most games pitched. And Familia had pitched in well over half of games he was around for when he went down.

    And as has been clear for weeks–Sandy deserves equal blame for not stocking AAA club with a few plausible major league pitcher, starters and relievers. Hence: MONTERO STILL AROUND.

  • Gil

    “Most ball games are lost, not won.” – Casey Stengel

    The game was lost when Gsellman came out. I can only imagine that his little relief stints of late were why he was pulled after 6. I just don’t get it. 84 pitches.

    The silver lining is that the Mets continue to produce runs.

  • “Even if you’re a master chef, good luck serving chicken salad when the second word of that dish seems to have been cruelly misspelled and the health department just came out of the kitchen frowning.”

    That’s it: the next Mets manager should be either Gordon Ramsey or Jon Taffer.

  • K. Lastima

    Season 3 Bloodline is out tomorrow on Netflix, so there’s that to look forward to.

  • GroteFan

    Wow, Greg bringing it.
    tough loss. So happy I went to bed.
    As my buddy pointed out, the awful Dirty Dancing remake my wife was watching was better than the debacle in queens.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    If you’ve already decided that Blevins and Sewald are unavailable, you don’t pinch hit for your starter in the bottom of the 6th after only 84 pitches. The bullpen fiasco is clearly on Terry. Watching Granderson and Rivera batting in the bottom of the 9th was painful.

    Right now this team consists of Conforto, deGrom and 23 roster fillers.

  • Eric

    Not scoring after loading the bases with no one out in the 9th inning was painful. At least deGrom’s turn is up tonight.

    • DAK442

      That was the killer. After all the bad pitching and worse decisions, I was so excited to have stuck around for the bottom of the ninth to see a memorable comeback. And then our “hitters” got to flailing.

      Curtis is a delightful guy who does a lot of good work in the community. But he is bad at baseball. When Yo and/or Nimmo is back, Grandy needs to go. Trade him for a reliever we can roll the dice on. Or some socks, whatever. Or just release him.

      When Asdrubal returns, Jose hits the bench. If TC benches Wilmer, currently our only good hitter not named Conforto, my head will explode.

      We need to get creative to find bullpen help. Someone see what Jon Papelbon is up to. He hates Bryce Harper, so there’s a plus. Or give Tim Lincecum a jingle.

      • Lenny65

        I like Grandy too but unfortunately he appears to be done. Reyes too, I don’t really see the upside in keeping him around at this point. IMO there’s that point where a “slow start” is actually indicative of who a player is now and here we are.

  • JerseyJack

    Why not let Edgin pitch another inning ?? At least he doesn’t have a 8 or 10 ERA ?

  • mikeL

    ^^ yes and LMN features great trashy flicks every nite.
    Thankfully lifts are still running at Killington so the mets remain only a week nite problem for at least another week.

  • Paul Schwartz

    84 pitches
    6 innings
    a 7 pitch 6th
    crappy bull pen and a,short bullpen?
    that’s all that needs to be said.
    #changesomething

  • Lenny65

    Remember back in early 2015 when Uncle Terry would put together those “hey, I can only work with what they give me” lineups featuring Campbell batting cleanup? Perhaps that’s his thinking re: the tire fire…uh, I mean bullpen. I can’t blame him entirely, I mean they’re in a position where a SP making it to the 6th is actually noteworthy as opposed to routine, but still. I’ve seen many, many (many) awful, awful (awful) Mets bullpens through the years (Tim Burke, Mike Maddux, Aaron Heilmann) but this one is right up there with any of them. And seeing them every night makes it all worse.

  • Seth

    Still not exactly sure what happened in that bottom of the 9th. The Mets were doing great, loaded the bases with 0 out. Then suddenly they were swinging at everything — wicked slider after wicked slider, way out of the zone. Did the pitcher rejigger something, or was it just lame-a s s Mets hitters?

  • 9th string catcher

    Ugh. That was horrible to watch. There are arguments for some of the choices made, but some of them are really hard to defend. Gsellman has been terrible and could have easily coughed up the lead in the 7th. But if your solution is a burned out Salas, what makes you think that’s any better? And the explanation that he wanted to give him a moral victory is pretty crazy.

    But, okay, let’s say Salas is your solution, why don’t you have a lefty ready to go once he starts missing the plate? You could have had an earlier L-L matchup and gotten out with a lead.

    Ramirez? Smoker? Not a great game.

    I think TC is a good manager overall, but games like this hurt his rep. In the meantime, have you ever seen so many sub .200 batters in a May lineup before?

    Ugh.

  • LeClerc

    DeGrom not starting tonight.

    In his place: Rafael Montero !

  • MikeL

    Good nite to go out and do errands…

  • Greg Mitchell

    Mystery solved! We finally learn why Montero is still on the team–to take a start tonight likely to be rained out to save deGrom….put it on his baseball card…Problem is–my forecase shows no heavy rain until 10 or later….meaning this game will count…and Montero sure to implode

  • It’s hard to see how even the best baseball manager could do much better w/ the mess that the Mets have become this season. I say this is mostly on the players (both those playing and those not). With that, I’m not giving up all hope.

  • Daniel Hall

    Okay. I don’t get what Neil Ramirez was doing in the game with s**t steaming already. Why is that guy even on the team? There got to be some pitchers at AAA to give a damn shot to rather than playing guys who have been washed out of several organizations this season by early May!

    The bottom of the ninth was again done to us in cold blood. I have a long weekend and I could have turned night into day again to watch the Mets games, but – nah. Not worth it.

  • […] a decision he made a night after burning his least unreliable relievers despite a big lead. Spoiler alert: the shallow end of the bullpen failed Gsellman and Terry and the Mets […]