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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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Noah's Arc

Noah Syndergaard‘s back, and it was aggressively pointless.

The return was five whole pitches — if the taco line was a little too long (actually possible given there were postgame fireworks), you missed it. The Mets, I’m sure, had counted on a normal inning with 15 to 20 pitches, but for whatever reason they hadn’t planned in terms of pitching. Syndergaard was getting an inning, and then giving way to Matt Harvey, and so it went.

Noah Syndergaard’s back, and it was superlatively wonderful.

I mean, there he was — Thor, with the blonde locks intact and the arm hanging down and the baseball doing murderous things. The first pitch was a slider at 95, which is so absurdly and perfectly Syndergaardian in that He’s Got the Cheat Codes way that just makes you laugh and shake your head. The other pitches were fastballs, and the slowest of them was 98. Despite all that’s gone wrong and despite the oh-so-Metsian daffiness of the night’s plan, it was heartening to see him out there. I was happy to let my brain fast-forward to Opening Day 2018 and imagine better days, and oh wow did I need a chance to do that.

But he was there and then he was gone and the rest of the game was pointless. Harvey was lousy, or maybe the numbers were lousy and the unquantifiables were better than that, but that’s a spring-training conversation at this point. The Mets scored early and then stopped and the Nationals came back and then Daniel Murphy hit a homer off the apple housing and you knew that was it, and a few minutes later it was.

Who knows where Noah goes from here? He’s still a power pitcher with an elbow ligament that hasn’t snapped, which means you hold your breath with every searing fastball and buckling curve. Now you can add a side of worrying about the lat. Or if that’s not sufficient agita, you can look at Harvey — a god-given arm eroded into an all-too-human question mark.

But even if so, at least that’s just baseball bad luck. The world is bigger than that, a reality brought home by Steve Gelbs’s conversation in the seats with Greg Cole.

Who’s Greg Cole? Sixteen years ago his brother Brian was a Mets prospect who’d impressed everybody in his first spring training. He was coming off a season in which he’d hit .301 for Binghamton with a dynamic mix of power and speed, winning accolades as the team’s minor-league player of the year. He wasn’t ready, not quite yet, but he was on track for at least a September call-up, and you figured he might force his way into the conversation before then.

It never happened. Cole was driving home from Port St. Lucie to Mississippi when his Ford Explorer rolled over on the highway. He was ejected from the vehicle and died a few hours later. The Mets learned of his death at the team dinner before Opening Day in Pittsburgh.

Maybe you remembered all that. If you didn’t, read this. Hell, if you did remember that, read it anyway. My little biography captures nothing of what Cole was to his family, his teammates and opponents, or what he might have been. The article does that joyously and beautifully.

The Mets haven’t forgotten Cole — as his brother explained, they’ve supported scholarships in his name. Kudos to both the team and the broadcast crew for remembering him and honoring him.

What really got me, though, was hearing Greg Cole tell Gelbs that his brother would have been about to turn 39.

What Brian Cole would have been on the field is impossible to say — ask Syndergaard or Harvey about that. But it doesn’t matter. The important thing, the part that makes all the rest pale into nothing, is he would have been about to turn 39.

13 comments to Noah’s Arc

  • Steve D

    In the category of ONLY THE METS would a pitcher work for months to rehab himself, get the opportunity to make 40 pitches in rehab games, look close to his old self and then start to only make 5 pitches. This makes as much sense as when they wanted to pitch Harvey on short rest a few weeks ago. There seems to be no checks and balances in this organization, leading to the two main problems the Mets have…inability in 55 years to develop hitters and inability to stay healthy. Those seem to be ingrained in this organization.

    • Jack Strawb

      I’ve informally noticed that young Mets ballplayers very rarely increase their BB rates as they come up through the organization. If a 17 yo kid is walking 35 times in 500 PAs for the Mets rookie team, you can be pretty certain he’ll be walking 35x per 500 as a 22 yo in AAA.

      Is that typical? Darned if i know, but I also happened to notice it with Rosario and Smith, and lo, both are struggling to get on base as MLB Mets.

      It seems all but impossible that this kind of impatience would be an organizational philosophy surviving complete overhauls of personnel, but it’s an impatience that undermines Rosario and Smith just as it has other young Met position players.

      Is it a factor? I don’t know, and i’ve never done a serious study of the issue, but it can’t be helping.

      • Jack Strawb

        Argh. Is there no editing function!?

        –“Is that typical?” for young ballplayers across all organizations?

        –“but it’s an impatience that undermines Rosario and Smith” ‘s ability to stay in the majors.

  • jennifer

    the problem is really Jacob deGrom got sick because Noah was always going on Sat. It was supposed to be Gsellman not Harvey and I have a feeling they would’ve given a inning more to Thor if Harvey wasn’t pitching.

  • Curt

    I had forgotten about Brian Cole. That was painful when I heard way back when, and that was just as a fan, not knowing the person.

    I had not forgotten about Daniel Murphy and did not need the reminder. Then again, if we’d won DeGrom would be looking for his 16th win on a Sunday where we were looking for a sweep. We all know how those turn out this season.

  • eric1973

    A big problem with this organization is the wavering back and forth publicly, before they make a decision. Then the decision makes no sense at all. I thought it was ok for Noah to be the official starter, as he went through the pre-game SP rituals, and hopefully he and us and the organization can relax. Probably a godsend that he only threw 5 pitches, as who knows what would have happened on pitch number six?

    Sandy says Harvey’s ‘esoteric metrics’ are the best, so we have nothing to worry about. Not really, but would anyone doubt that story if it were true?

    • Jack Strawb

      “Sandy says Harvey’s ‘esoteric metrics’ are the best,…”

      Alderson’s job isn’t to assemble the best team he can, though, but rather to give the most plausible-sounding explanations he can invent every 24 hours to justify the Wilpons treating the team as a cash cow with which to service their massive debts.

      Alderson’s job this offseason will be to lie to fans about pitching and therefore justify going into next season without the trouble and expense of building a real rotation despite having all of one successful starter on the club.

      Could his statement be true? Sure. But since he lies as necessary, this is just something Alderson said, and has no actual meaning.

      We forget that Alderson was forced on the Wilpons by Bud Selig as a condition of their continued ownership. Alderson turned out to be the perfect company man. He had a name to sell, that of a once-strong GM with credibility across baseball, and for $4m a year he sold it.

  • Eric

    Familia looked good, except for his quick pitch that Turner laced for a double. Quick pitching is a wrinkle, but it’s not worth it when, as in Familia’s case, the quick pitches tend to flatten out over the plate.

    Bad outing by Rhame, though I doubt anyone was surprised Murphy hit a HR in that spot. Good outing by Callahan.

    Rosario made another error, which gave Callahan the opportunity to look good. Rosario’s game continues to look loose in the field and at bat. Rosario does not look ready for the big leagues, which is odd, because he was ranked as the top prospect in baseball. In a much smaller sample, Evans has looked the most major-league ready of the call-ups – like TJ Rivera at bat with maybe a better glove – with Smith second.

    Aoki continues to hit like Daniel Murphy, Mets version.

    Syndergaard’s 5-pitch inning didn’t bother me. It makes sense to give the practical, if not record starting pitcher a prepared, scheduled clean entry for his outing. As long as Syndergaard’s feeling okay, I assume he’ll get another longer outing. I’m more curious about, if the Nationals had extended his pitch count, what was his pitch limit within the inning? And if he had reached that pitch limit, would Harvey have relieved Syndergaard mid-inning?

    • Eric

      Correction: Rosario’s misplay was scored as a hit, not an error.

      Even so, the worst part of Rosario’s misplay, which should have been an error, was he fell and didn’t get up instead of running after the ball, despite he was the closest fielder to the ball. Which allowed Rendon to take 3rd with 1 out in the 8th inning of a tied game. Rosario was lucky Callahan bailed him out.

    • Pete In Iowa

      And, lest we forget Eric, the homer he gave up to Gordon in Game 1 was on a quick pitch.

      • Eric

        I doubt any of us here, as long as we have memory, will forget that.

        Gordon’s HR, Duda’s throw home, and the ball skipping under Murphy’s glove are seared memories.

  • eric1973

    Most interesting story left in this season is how the announcement regarding TC’s departure will be handled.

    Sandy cannot conceivably do it now, like Detroit did with Ausmus, as Sandy’s contract runs out at the end of the season as well. So he really does not have that authority. If done now, TC can take his victory lap, which he deserves, this final week. So that will not be done.

    Should Riccio handle it today, as he is probably the ‘Mets source’ we always hear from? But can’t do that, as Sandy already said his own, and TC’s, situation will be clarified right after the season, meaning immediately after the final game.

    So I guess we all sit around and wait while the tension builds.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Missed the Brian Cole tribute. I’ll go back and check it out later.

    I did enjoy the in-game interviews with long time season ticket holders on Friday Night. I wonder how they selected those particular fans, they were all interesting, especially the guy (I forget his name, Federico or something) during the rally inning.