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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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Ready for the New Present

Can your blogger file his recap within the 24-hour window? Well, with an 11 am start he can. Why was the answer even close to know? Because this was the first game of the season I had no desire whatsoever to recap — which for me is usually a sign that I’ve finally accepted that the competitive part of the season is over.

The Nats took care of that by ambushing Seth Lugo in a fifth inning that refused to end. I’d moved on to lunch by that point — what a strange thing an 11 am start is — and so watched the horror unfold on Gameday, its pantomime unfolding semi-discreetly by my foot. (Hey, when you’re a Mets fan people get used to you staring unhappily at the center of the Earth.) There was a lot of IN PLAY, NO OUT and IN PLAY, RUN(S) and Daniel Murphy renewing his battering of his former mates and by the time it was over it was 6-2 and I needed a white flag to wave with my red white and blue one.

Then there was the battering of various relievers in various innings and by then — about the time a baseball game would normally be coming into focus — we were in the car heading back to New York and hit a reception dead zone in western Connecticut and by the time we came out of it the game had reached its merciful conclusion.

Greg made an interesting point yesterday that I thought aptly captured a way he and I are different fans. Obviously we’re both keenly interested in the Mets’ past — that’s the foundation of what we do here. But then we part ways. “I find the future overrated,” Greg wrote of excitement for trades retooling (or rebuilding) by swapping veterans for prospects. “I value the present in summer, no matter how quickly summer tends to fade.”

I’m wired a bit differently. Unless a milestone or a postseason berth is in sight, I’m most excited by the future. Who will be the next Met to join The Holy Books? Who’s the potential answer at whatever position is afflicting us with troubles, and is that player ready to try his hand in the big leagues?

Sometimes those questions are a byproduct of dissatisfaction, of feeling that it’s not working and so should all be torn down. But more often it’s subtler than that — I’m eager to see new protagonists join the Mets’ long story, and to watch them transform from downy rookies trying not to beam as the ball struck for that first big-league hit is excused from play to cool-eyed regulars to grizzled veterans to role players hoping for a last few bright days in autumn. As I get older, that process seems stuck on fast-forward: I buy a ticket to watch David Wright make his debut against the Expos, then blink my eyes and find David Wright is the franchise hits leader, we’re all hoping for another comeback, and the Expos no longer exist.

This will be true of Amed Rosario and Dom Smith and some Double-A guy I haven’t heard of but will scout avidly once he arrives as the other half of the departure of Jay Bruce, or Curtis Granderson, or Addison Reed. The story will continue, with new vessels filled with old hopes, and the future will become a new present that echoes the ever-advancing past.

Seth Lugo looks uncannily like Jason Isringhausen, as if he’s his professional reincarnation. In a way he is, or might turn out to be — the facial resemblance is just an easy reminder. Some kid pinging doubles with an aluminum bat on a high-school field will grow up, arrive and remind me of T.J. Rivera, just as Rivera reminds me of Daniel Murphy. Perhaps by then Rivera will have gone Full Murph and be killing the Mets as a Braves regular. Or maybe he’ll have gone for Alternate-Universe Murph and have just passed Jose Reyes for second on the all-time franchise hits list while inspiring less-successful team efforts to convert uncertain infielders to corner outfield spots. Maybe Rivera will be losing hits because he’s arriving at first a step later than in the mid-teens — in which case I’m sure I’ll be privately auditioning a Binghamton Rumble Pony or Brooklyn Cyclone or St. Lucie Tebow as his desired replacement.

We root for laundry, it’s been said. I always thought that was clever but hollow. Most guys who don the orange and blue begin bearing my allegiance, yes. But the laundry’s the start of the relationship, not the entirety of it. Seeing what players make of that laundry, and how their contributions echo those that have come before, is what keeps me tuning in and stashing cellphones by my foot, even when the standings bring ill tidings and the calendar ceases to comfort.

15 comments to Ready for the New Present

  • Gil

    Daniel Murphy is the girl in high school you dated who was awesome but you thought you could do better and now she’s the prom queen and you don’t have a date.

  • LeClerc

    I’m hoping that the Mets hang on to Reed. He’s very good now and likely to remain so for a few years down the road. Without him the current Mets bullpen is a chicken coop.

    I’m glad to see TJ and Nimmo get a chance to play. They bring a kind of energy and enthusiasm to the field that Terry’s home run heroes don’t.

    • Eric

      I hope the Mets keep Reed, too. He’s produced significantly better than I expected when he was acquired as a flyer, not even with Salas-level expectation. He was still a reclamation work in progress in 2015, albeit still productive. He’s been very good the last 2 seasons notwithstanding a few rough patches this season. Reed has shown me enough to expect he’ll be at least a reliable 8th inning set-up man, and that’s valuable.

  • 9th string catcher

    Whoo, boy, that was brutal. I got to the gym right before the 5th inning started and was mostly done before the 6th started. (it was a long workout) I remarked that absolutely nothing good happened during my entire gym stay.

    The question I kept coming back to was, has there ever been a pitching staff top to bottom that was as afraid to throw a strike as this one? It’s every inning of every game by every pitcher. I’ve been wondering aloud if there is a pitching coach problem. I mean, it seems like an epidemic to me. .200 batters get thrown 3-2 change ups. Opposing pitchers routinely foul off 4 pitches and take 3 balls before our guys get them out. Every time the meat of the order comes up for the other guys, there’s usually two on via walks, dribblers or infield errors.

    Offensively speaking, the Mets have the ability to manufacture runs and work pitching counts but only with the right personnel and lineup. Too many swings at the 1st pitch, particularly coming off a 20 pitch previous inning. They get pitchers on the ropes and then let them off again. Give me Cabrera at the top of the lineup and TJ behind him. Put Duda 3rd and have him work the counts. Put Reyes up 7th and keep him there until Rosario replaces him.

    I have not given up yet; I envision a four game winning streak starting tonight. I am heartened by deGrom and Matz, and if Lugo and Wheeler can stop going 3-2 on every single batter, this can be turned around. But you have to have a manager who will tell these guys to play baseball and not try to hit home runs every time up. It won’t work. If the leadoff guy gets on and there’s a mile wide shift on, I don’t care who the batter is – bunt it down the line and keep going the other way until they take the shift off. Work the counts, get on base, score runs and get into the other guy’s bullpen for a change.

  • Pete In Iowa

    In the middle of the fifth inning carnage, I decided to get up and do some more enjoyable holiday activities — sanding the drywall mud in my bathroom and then cleaning up the mess.
    Yes folks, it has gotten that bad. Hopeless really. The team as constructed has no shot. If anyone thinks all these aging free-agents-to-be are going to bring back some sort of future hope, I’m afraid you are sadly mistaken. Think Herrera (WHERE has HE gone) and Vic Black for Byrd and Buck.
    Hate to burst any bubbles out there, but that is the stark reality….

  • skoonix

    Being the 4th, many of us had things to do as I did – so at one point I turn on the game to see Rene Rivera smack a homer to tie the game 2-2 and I thought “All right, they’re fighting back today!” and then later I turn on the game and see Goedell and Edgin start the Walk Machine and in a blink of an eye the game is out of reach. That’s the thing about these two teams and their shaky bullpens – the Nats are so good that they need their bullpen to save a lead, we usually have our bullpen in when we are losing but trying to stay close – and of late, our bullpen allows 2 or 3 or 4 runs to put the game out of reach. It’s awful to watch. I can’t believe Ramirez is on a MLB roster

  • Henry J Lenz

    Depressing yes, but I repeat an unusual idea.
    Start the relievers for the first 2 innings, especially at home. Then bring in the starters and maybe they can pitch the 7th, 8th & 9th. You still will have Reed available at the end. We will have 8 at bats to undo the damage from the bullpen instead of just 3 or 6 outs to catch up. The shift was also a dumb idea till it showed some success. And I agree, start hitting down the third base line if it’s uncovered.They have nothing to lose now by being bold and innovative.

    • 9th string catcher

      It’s a very interesting idea. There was a time that closers didn’t only come in the 9th inning, there was a time where there was no such thing as a setup man. Then again, our starters seem to freak out in 0-0 games; how are they going to deal with a 2-0 or 4-0 deficit?

      So, basically your rotation looks a little like this?

      Edgin – 1st and 2nd innings. deGrom 3-8. Reed closes.
      Sewald – 1-2, Matz 3-8, Reed closes.
      Salas – 1-2, Smoker 3-4, Wheeler 5-8, Blevins closes.
      Edgin – 1-2, Sewald 3-4, Smoker 5, Lugo 6-9

      • Henry J Lenz

        Excellent! Why not? The pen freaks out at the end anyway, maybe they can throw some first pitches for strikes early on instead. I say try it for 2 weeks. Bottom line, the starters would have a shot to be there in the last 3 innings, and that’s better than what happens now.

      • NostraDennis

        9th string catcher’s bizarre rotation looks no more bizarre than the seven-man plan I sent to Davey Johnson in 1988:

        Sundays – Cone
        Mondays – Leach
        Tuesdays – Gooden
        Wednesdays – Darling
        Thursdays – Aguilera
        Fridays – Ojeda
        Saturdays – Fernandez

        Since the only off days on the schedule are Mondays and Thursdays, the regular starters would each get 26 starts, theoretically keeping them fresher and enabling them to pitch deeper into games. It also would have allowed Gooden, for instance, to make an occasional appearance out of the pen on Fridays or Saturdays, halfway between starts. Same with Ronnie, Coney, Sid and Bobby O, on their respective halfway days.

        I have no idea why Davey didn’t respond to this brilliant out-of-the-box theory. No idea at all.

  • Jacobs27

    The 2017 Mets will be a triumph, a triumph I tell you! If I was ever sure of anything, I’m sure of that… A triumph! (pause) And if they aren’t, well, we still have four months of baseball left to think of something else…

  • Eric

    The 1 game in the Nationals series where the Mets appear to have a strong advantage – deGrom vs Roark – and the game gets rained out. The baseball gods sent a message.