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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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The Kids Are All Here

June 3, 2017, was a fine Saturday night for the New York Mets, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field, 4-2, with, Lucas Duda at first, Neil Walker at second, Curtis Granderson in center, Jay Bruce around in right, René Rivera catching, and Addison Reed pitching the eighth and ninth innings to record his eighth save. Some kinda win, some kinda team.

Well, not really some kinda team, because even with that particular splendid effort put solidly in the books, that team improved only to 24-30 and sat nowhere near either first place in their division or a Wild Card spot in their league. June 4 was also the last time all five of the aforementioned position players started together in a winning Mets effort, whether saved by the closer of record or otherwise. Injuries were incurred. Lineups were juggled. Futility ensued. It was nobody’s fault, it was everybody’s fault. The Mets of Bruce and Walker, Duda and Granderson, Rivera and Reed and those with whom they attempted to blend their talents never gained traction. Now — eleven weeks since they forged their last collective success — there is no longer any sign of any of them on the team they once called their own.

There are still Mets, but those guys aren’t them. Reed, 28; Bruce, 30; Walker, 31; Duda, 31; Rivera, 34; and Granderson, 36, are fighting for playoff positions in other teams’ colors. They were supposed to be doing that in orange and blue. It didn’t happen. We have moved on because we have to. On Saturday night, August 19, 2017, the majority of the Mets who started their game at Citi Field were far younger and, as logically follows, less experienced than their early-June forebears. Kevin Plawecki, 26, was the catcher. He’s up because Rivera followed Granderson out the door on Saturday afternoon. René, who at some point held every unsure Met hand attached to an otherwise promising Met pitching arm, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. In 2016, Rivera kept an ad hoc staff in one piece all the way to October. In 2017, there is no October to speak of on the horizon, so the Mets bade René Vaya con Dios, which is baseballese for “go and contend.”

Bidding fare thee well to the veterans you don’t expect back and allowing them to lend their abilities and wisdom to teams battling for something more than a quick end to the schedule is the humane thing to do. For example, I would have enjoyed a few dozen more opportunities to watch Curtis Granderson of the Los Angeles Dodgers play the consummate professional for the New York Mets, but as with the other vets who have been similarly dispatched, it wasn’t getting us anywhere and it wasn’t getting him anywhere. This was a Branch Rickey-Ralph Kiner year in Flushing. We were finishing out of sight with these fellas, we can finish out of sight without them. Had Grandy and Duda and so forth hung around, we’d likely be a more competent outfit than recently demonstrated in the short term, but we’d also be grousing that the kids aren’t getting their fair chance.

Those chances have arrived. Plawecki’s gonna get the games Rivera would have started, and maybe a few that would be going to Travis d’Arnaud. Brandon Nimmo, 24, is suddenly at least a part-time starting outfielder. No more Bruce, no more Granderson, hence more Nimmo than we’ve ever seen. On Saturday he joined Plawecki, 21-year-old Amed Rosario, 22-year-old Dominic Smith, 24-year-old Michael Conforto and 26-year-old Wilmer Flores in support of 26-year-old Rafael Montero’s eternal search for the fountain of effectiveness.

The young men on a mission found what they were looking for as they crafted an 8-1 victory over visiting Miami. Montero was a real pitcher for six entire innings. He pitched without fear and was rewarded with one double play ball after another. The Mets’ offense — with a helping hand from the Marlins’ defense — provided Rafael with a seven-run bottom of the sixth to ensure him one of the rare positive decisions of his career. Mets management has made mostly neutral decisions since late July. They cut their losses on the veterans who weren’t signed for next year but brought in no major league or major league-ready talent in return. Instead, it’s been about the kids who hadn’t yet gotten a shot and the kids who hadn’t yet gotten much of a shot.

Saturday night, the kids were all here and the kids were all right. Flores homered. Plawecki homered. Smith homered. Matt Reynolds, 26, who started the smashing sixth by pinch-walking for Montero, came to bat a second time in the inning, serving as the ninth de facto designated hitter in Mets history. Two nights before, Granderson became the seventh Met to homer in his final swing as a Met, the only one to leave us with a grand slam. Intriguing goings and comings are defining these transitional Met days. Smith hit his first career Citi Field home run, Plawecki his second. The five double plays the Mets turned tied a franchise high. Montero earned a home win for the second time ever, the first time since 2014, long before we’d ever given more than a passing opponent thought to the likes of Neil Walker and Jay Bruce.

We had ourselves a succinct, discrete era in the interim. We had ourselves 2015 and 2016, back-to-back postseason appearances, one deep, one cameo, each the culmination of memorable 162-game journeys. We tried to keep it going in 2017 but went irretrievably off course. We might find our way back to where we want to go in 2018, but we’ve surely veered from the path we traveled the previous two seasons. Not all the names have changed, but enough have. The 2017 that encompassed the events of June 4 was part who we were in 2015 and 2016. The events of August 19 are the preface to something else altogether, something yet to be determined.

***

Already determined: win or lose, a night of baseball with the Chapmans of Central Jersey remains an unmatched delight. Stephanie and I were honored to spend Saturday in the M&M’s Sweet Seats alongside our dear friends Sharon, Kevin and Ross — the family’s youngest son, whom we’ve known since before he was knee-high to a Strawberry, recently turned 21, thus providing an excuse for Citi Field celebration — and other swell folks in the Chapman Mets orbit. The M&M’s Sweet Seats used to be the Party City Deck. Before that, it was deep left and left-center field and the reason hardly anybody hit a home run in those directions. In its current incarnation, it’s a perch that serves as a prime spot for outfield viewing (we literally had Nimmo’s back), and you will by no means leave hungry from the bountiful food and drink included with your admission. Yet I have to agree with Sharon that if you’re going to name a section for M&M’s, then just on principle, the M&M’s should flow like wine. Perhaps wine should flow like wine in that section, too, but leave that issue for when Seaver Vineyards takes over naming rights.

Surprisingly, the M&M’s don’t flow at all. There are some baked into cookies, where chocolate chips should be, but it’s not the same thing. It never is. C’mon, M&M’s. Get with your own program. You bought it, you branded it, you gotta bring out your best. Divert a case of your candy-coated product from Air Force One, slap a skyline logo over the presidential seal, and give your guests a treat that will Met in their mouths, not in their hands. I can’t believe you need me to tell you that.

5 comments to The Kids Are All Here

  • LeClerc

    The Kids were all right last night.

    Well done Rafael, Dom, Kevin, Chasen. Brilliant infield defense. Once and future Met Wilmer. Suddenly stable Hansel. Reliably cheerful Nimmo.

    Even Cespedes and Conforto kicked in.

    Maybe Asdrubal isn’t going anywhere?

  • Dave

    Corporate sponsorships can be deceiving. Yes, you would assume there are M&M’s for everyone in the section of the stadium they’ve ponied up some money for (I’m sure enough to cover the salaries of some of the Single-A pitchers the Mets are stocking up on). But I remember the one time, about 20 years ago, I caught a game at Coors Field and was happy to learn that the namesake imitation beer-like carbonated alcoholic beverage product was not the only brew available (and this was long before the advent of this, the Golden Age of Beer).

  • MetsFanMD

    New to this site, I really like what I see so far. It’s refreshing to see a Mets fan site that has a patient, positive vibe.