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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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Showing Up With Nothing

Pitching’s hard. You knew that. But dig into everything involved with pitching and you wind up amazed that anyone can do it at all.

Never mind, for a moment, the routine and chronic physical danger inherent in it — the stress and pain of doing something unnatural and damaging over and over again. And put aside the rare but catastrophic danger inherent in it — the non-zero chance that this next pitch may be the one that causes the shoulder to bark, the fingertips to tingle, the elbow to burn, or be transformed into a missile fired back at the head faster than anyone can process the danger and react.

Even if we could assume physical safety, pitching would be really hard — there’s the need to commit the windup and the stretch to muscle memory, to get and keep your limbs working in sync, to ensure a fatigued arm stays at the proper angle, to coax weary legs into guiding the front foot to the right landing spot and following through properly. All of that has to become a process that can be repeated 100 times in a row, despite stress and strain and distractions and bad luck.

Hell, pitchers have to do all that and commit stepping on and off the rubber to muscle memory — to name a seemingly small thing that’s also pretty hard. If I were forced onto a big-league mound, this is what would happen: I’d immediately walk somebody or give up a hit, balk that guy around the bases while trying to throw my next pitch, and then run off the field to hide in a cave and starve myself to death.

But pitchers learn all that, and work at it, and become masters of something that should be impossible. Even the least successful of them has done something extraordinary.

Now let’s throw in one more wrinkle. Sometimes really good pitchers do everything right, walk out to the mound to ply their trade, and discover that despite all their preparations they have arrived unable to put up a fair fight. The breaking pitches won’t bite, the fastball won’t go where it’s told, the change-up arrives so exuberantly that it’s become a lousy fastball, and so on. That pitcher has arrived at a gunfight and wishes he was the much-mocked dummy holding a knife — because all he has is a handful of air.

That’s what happened to Jacob deGrom against the Brewers. He was down 2-0 before he recorded an out, and it didn’t get much better. To point out that this is the same deGrom who was the hero of the realm in his last start is to underscore the point. In all likelihood (caveat because you never know with this ravaged team), there’s no why worth pursuing. DeGrom’s usually good; on Wednesday night he was really bad.

That’s it, it happens, and if you can get past the unavoidable partisan aspect of it, you might find yourself thinking it’s kind of wonderful. Sometimes your seat’s not even warm and the Mets are unloading on Sandy Koufax or Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens or Jake Arrieta and what looked like a stressful appointment has become a giddy carnival. And sometimes before you’ve dressed that first hot dog Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden or Al Leiter or Jacob deGrom has his hands on his knees and the manager and the pitching coach are exchanging helpless shrugs.

It’s just baseball, deciding it’s that pitcher’s turn.

(Oh, and Mr. Met got in trouble but I don’t care because it’s dumb.)

13 comments to Showing Up With Nothing

  • Unfortunate game no doubt; I thought we might be on our way to a sweep. But I was shocked to see no more runs after DeGrom left the game. I went to sleep but they must of had their Wheaties in the beleaguered Mets BP. I guess that’s my silver lining.

  • LeClerc

    The positives are:

    Granderson crossed north across the Mendoza line.

    Flores continues to hit the ball very hard.

    Edgin and Ramirez combined for five scoreless innings – (then again, with a day game after a night game looming, the Brewers weren’t really motivated to lengthen the contest by hammering the bullpen).

    I got to sleep early.

  • eric1973

    Regarding Mr. Met, like whenever a drunken Santa gets arrested, we know it’s not the real one, so let’s not get too upset!

  • Daniel Hall

    Somewhere I saw pointed out, that Mr. Met can’t really do that specific gesture because he only has four fingers per Hand, and thus technically no middle finger…

    I will take this one to sooth the wounds, and hope for more pitching and more hitting, and less random crap in the series finale…

  • Greg mitchell

    Just coincidence that his worst start follows being sent out to throw 118 pitches in a 7-1 game? Even Terry admitted very possibly the cause after game. Nothing new, unfortunately.

    • Matt in Woodside

      I love deGrom; he’s been my favorite on the staff since he came up. But he does occasionally have outings like that, including Wright’s first game back in August 2015 at Citizens Bank Park. Dude got absolutely shelled in the first three innings, and then the Mets just kept hitting home runs. I almost feel bad for him that it’s in the regular Mets Classics rotation on SNY at this point. But then a couple of months later, he beat Kershaw and Greinke in the playoffs. He’ll be fine. I’m glad Collins let him save the bullpen for a night last week. It was a great performance!

  • Gil

    Every morning I play the ‘daily recap’ on MLB.com for my two kids as they eat their breakfast – win or lose. This morning my son said to me: “That was a stinker.” And indeed it was. Wheeler to take the series tonight. Hopefully, the Mets will smell better.

    LGM!

  • Seth

    Yes, it’s “just baseball.” Seems like there have been a lot of just baseball days this year…

  • 9th string catcher

    That’s why he’s called MISTER Met.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Great Dan Barry piece posing as Mr. Met today. Fun fact: Dan and I both members of Journalism Hall of Fame at the college we both attended (a few years apart).

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/sports/baseball/inside-the-very-big-head-of-mr-met.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

  • Lenny65

    Know what I hate most about 2017 so far? It’s when they’re in the 8th or 9th of a tight game and you see that Reyes is leading off the inning. For that one fleeting moment you think “oh, good, the table-setter…” and then you realize that “now” Jose is batting, not Good Old Jose.

    This got me to thinking, has any “return” Met ever been worth the trouble? It was great getting Seaver back in 1983 but they bungled that all up. There were guys like Hubie, McReynolds, Burnitz, Kingman…big “mehs” during their second stints. Does anyone remember any returning Met that was any good? Rusty springs to mind but not really anyone else.

    • 9th string catcher

      It’s an oddball one, but what about Kelly Johnson?

    • I’d add Mazzilli in 1986. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis after his mid-2015 smoke break. They don’t make the playoffs in 2016 without Reyes. The rest of his 2017 is clearly TBD, but Chapter Two of his homecoming is rather wan to date.

      (Since we have a new post up to discuss the next game, please shift the conversation attaway.)