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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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Bring Your Kids to See Our Kids

In the summer of 1977, with Tom Seaver exiled to Cincinnati, the Mets tried to lure fans back to Shea Stadium with the cheery come-on “bring your kids to see our kids.”

It didn’t work — nothing short of M. Donald Grant’s public execution would have worked under the circumstances — but this month I keep flashing back to that ancient phrase. The soon-to-be free agents are mostly gone or going, replaced by a kiddie corps of Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Chris Flexen and Matt Reynolds — bolstered by young veterans such as Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores. (It still boggles my mind that Wilmer just turned 26, since he’s about 75 in Emo Met Years.)

On plenty of nights the kids haven’t been all right. They’ve looked like … well, like kids, undone to wildness and lack of focus and uncertainty and overeagerness and other kid maladies. But now and then everything has snapped into focus, and damned if you don’t find yourself fantasizing about 2018 and beyond.

Take Wednesday night’s game, in which Nimmo was on base all four times, Conforto drove in two runs, Smith belted his third big-league homer, Rosario was 2-for-4 with a RBI, Flexen recorded the best start of his very young career and Paul Sewald rode to the rescue with sparkling relief work. The oldest guy mentioned in this paragraph is all of 27.

No, it wasn’t a perfect night: Flexen still walks too many guys, and the Mets played some avert-your-eyes defense before Juan Lagares bailed them out by making a fine running catch in short center and firing home for an inning-ending, lead-preserving double play. But it was good enough for a win, and to make you imagine more such wins in the future … perhaps even the near-future.

This youth movement is an odd one — the Mets didn’t tear down an old team so much as they accelerated already-existing plans to part ways with veterans. Barring a big splash in the free-agent market — which seems unlikely given the club’s eagerness to slash payroll and trade for cash — the 2018 plan seems to be to bring back the once-glittering, now-tarnished starting pitchers and hope that a) this time their arms don’t all fall off and b) the young bats can score enough runs to win.

We’ve got all winter to discuss that plan; for now, it occurs to me that youth movements are much the same whether they’re part of a teardown or a mere remodeling. You have to put up with mistakes and mismatches, and squint to imagine potential blossoming into production.

Losing isn’t fun even when it comes with patient words about lessons and the future. (Hell, that kind of losing may be even less fun, since it implicitly demands that you accept more of the same.) The question is how much losing you’re willing to endure in exchange for basking in the occasional sunshine.

There’s no one answer to that. Personally, I’ve been chewed up by this wretched season — by the Mets’ horrific luck, poor decisions and annoying penny-pinching. But watching Rosario and Smith high-five after a win sure helps. So does seeing Nimmo sprint to first with his goofy grin, and realizing that I’ve come to admire Sewald for his guts, and thanking the baseball gods that not even Terry Collins would sit Conforto now.

Tomorrow may not bring good news: I can imagine coming in from the beach to find it’s 5-0 Diamondbacks, with Rosario booting balls and Smith looking overmatched and Rafael Montero nibbling at corners. But for now the kids are winners, and you don’t even have to squint to see it.

I could get used to that.

20 comments to Bring Your Kids to See Our Kids

  • Lenny65

    “Bring your kids to see our kids”…I actually shuddered upon reading that. “A pinch of Mazzilli, a dash of Staub, the wisdom of Bob Gibson”…if you lived through THAT era you’ll never, ever forget. It can always get worse, always remember that.

  • LeClerc

    Last night was a great one for the youth movement. Flexen, Nimmo, Rosario, Smith, Sewald, grizzled veteran Conforto.

    PS – A great defensive play by the elderly Juan Lagares.

    And I like AJ Ramos’ style. Very glad he’ll be around in 2018.

    • Eric

      Ramos appears to be an adequate replacement so far for Reed as a back-up closer. If Familia can find his all-star form, hopefully Ramos will be as good a set-up man as Reed was, too.

      I’m still hoping Reed pitches poorly enough with the Red Sox so his market is depressed enough for the Mets to bring him back, but Reed is pitching well enough so far to probably price himself out for a Mets return.

  • Dave

    Good point Lenny, I like to remind the young’uns that the Wilpons are a dream come true compared to M.Donald Grant May He Rot In Hell For All Eternity. The “kids” being served up for the fans’ entertainment in the late 70’s were, for the most part, minor league nobodies. If there were in fact reliable Top 100 Prospect lists in 1977, the highest ranked Met farmhand was probably checking in at number 324. And there were about 324 fans in the stands.

    Can always be worse. Sure has been.

    • Lenny65

      All the catchy slogans and miniature mules in the world couldn’t disguise how wretched those rosters were, the names still ring out to a generation of Mets fans. Boisclair, Flynn, Pacella, Norman, Hebner and etc. At least Citi Field is cleaned regularly and has more than one working toilet per level. I still remember the trash cyclones you’d see on windy days.

  • Harvey Poris

    Well, they did it. The Mets real kids, the Brooklyn Cyclones lost their 12th in row to fall to 15-45 which is a winning percentage of .250. That is the same as the fabled 1962 Mets!

  • Gil

    Imagine if Lagares could hit .275. I hope he uses this August and September to get his bat going. Kids looked good last night.

    • Eric

      Agreed. It appears Cespedes’s gold glove days are behind him with his leg issues. Even if he’s physically capable, Cespedes and the team want him to be careful running and leaving his feet in order to keep his bat in the line-up. Which means a rangy centerfielder is that much more valuable.

      Lagares is an elite centerfielder and a sound, fast baserunner, which are both areas of need. Now if he could only reach base just enough to stay in the line-up.

  • K. Lastima

    But what about Doug Flynn’s glove? . . . surely that was worth heading out to Shea (sarcasm)

  • Eric

    This edition of the Mets begins and ends with the starting pitching, plus Familia. There are patches like Colon, Gsellman, Lugo, and Montero, but there’s no Plan B for Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz. If the starting pitching doesn’t bounce back to the envisioned staff of aces, then 2015 and 2016 (which was a fun freak that happened despite injured starting pitchers) are all we’ll get as far as a contender.

    I’m glad that Nimmo is showing his promise alongside the other top prospects since he’s been polarizing since he was picked in the draft. I like his personality on the field.

    TJ Rivera isn’t a young prospect and he’s not quite a young veteran, and he’s hurt right now, but I still consider him part of that group.

  • Xtian

    Nimmo is our version of Hunter Pence!

  • mikeski

    I am at work and can’t watch or listen. Am I to understand that Conforto dislocated his shoulder while batting?

    • While swinging and missing, no less.

      • mikeski

        Gahhhhhhhhh.

        (head on desk)

        I assume that he will shut it down for the rest of the season. I assume

        • Curt

          Might as well. Ordinarily he could probably come back with a week or two left but no point.

          But dislocating a shoulder while swinging? How does THAT happen? Being as he’s the best home grown young hitter we’ve had in a long while (apologies to Rosario/Smith if they read this in a couple of years as all-stars) I smell chronic injury problems.

          • Eric

            That’s what concerns me. The swing wasn’t awkward. If Conforto can dislocate his shoulder on an ordinary swing, that’s a risk on every swing.

  • eric1973

    Sandy says he is not going to rely on the starting pitching next season. So? What can he actually do about it?

    4 of the starters are currently on the DL, they have been on it virtually all season, and 3 of them are probably out for the year. Flexen? Montero? Serviceable, maybe, but what a mess.

  • Ken

    Oy vey! This season cannot end soon enough.

  • Let’s define “a true fan” — One who sticks with the Brooklyn Dodgers and carries it over to the 1962 Mets, without constant complaining… one who enjoys watching the team even when they lose, and can’t wait for the next game… I’m thinking it must be “generational”, back when folks had more patience and weren’t so accustomed to instant gratification.

  • Ken

    I remember how we Met fans were patient back in 1979, when we cheered on the likes of Steve Henderson, Richie Hebner and Frank Taveras during that dreadful Met season.

    After enduring the M. Donald Grant and Lorinda DeRoulet eras, it is becoming difficult for lifelong Met fans to remain optimistic with the current ownership and management.

    Maybe Sandy Alderson should hire Dr. Vinnie Boombotz, the late, great Rodney Dangerfield’s personal physician, to treat all of these injured Met players?