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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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The Other Guys

The biggest reason for optimism about the 2018 Mets? It’s that Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom could pitch nearly 30% of their innings.

The biggest reason for pessimism? Even in an ideal scenario, more than 70% of their innings will have to be pitched by someone else. Which puts the spotlight squarely on a line of guys led by Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and the fifth starter. (At the moment that’s Seth Lugo, but check back next week until notified otherwise.)

Syndergaard and deGrom got the campaign off to a rollicking start, but that screeched to a halt soon after Matz took his left arm and its latest repairs to the mound on Sunday afternoon.

It would be unfair to say Matz was bad, but it would be far too generous to say he was good. His fastball was down a tick and lacking command, which left him overly reliant on his curve, a reasonably effective pitch today but one that got overexposed. That was uncertainty enough; throw in C.B. Bucknor calling balls and strikes via Magic-8 Ball and you had a mess. The kindest thing I can say about Bucknor is the eccentricity of his strike zone was impartial: Matz, Luke Weaver, Dexter Fowler, Paul deJong, Wilmer Flores and Todd Frazier headed the list of players left wondering what, exactly, the lower dimensions of Bucknor’s zone might be on any given pitch.

But look, that’s baseball. Bad umps are gonna bad-ump, and it’s not news that Bucknor is down there with our old friend Angel Hernandez in terms of umpirical competence. And much as I enjoyed three days without evidence to the contrary, the Mets weren’t going to go 162-0.

161-1 would be perfectly acceptable as a consolation prize.

(I’ll give us all a moment.)

161-1 isn’t going to happen either. Which leaves us settling into the season, complete with weirdo Friday off-days and April snowstorms.

This is the delicate part of the new season, the part you remind yourself not to squeeze to hard for fear of crushing it. It’s the time when you can remember every final score, when you’re keenly aware of who’s left to hit the roster (just Harvey and Lugo now), when batting averages and ERAs soar and crash on the basis of a single ball in play, when you spin ridiculous projections out of the thinnest skeins and laugh at yourself and then spin them all over again.

Before we know it things will be different. First the games will become a blur, and then the series and homestands and road trips will follow. Statistics will have been slowed by accumulated weight. We’ll have sufficient data points to elevate our impressions into arguments or maybe even a certainty or two. The roster will ebb and flow — rumor has it there’s a Michael Conforto sighting set for later this week, which means Brandon Nimmo picked a lousy time to get the flu. The disabled list will come into play, hopefully because an injured Met is actually on it instead of being forced to turn a nagging injury into a prolonged absence. Someone will go down and say the right things about what they have to work on. Someone will come up and say the right things about what they’ve been up to. Someone will move on to another team. Someone will arrive from one.

And little by little the season will acquire a story and a shape. A shape that for a while will be as amorphous as a C.B. Bucknor strike zone, but that’s baseball too.

6 comments to The Other Guys

  • Jacobs27

    Yeah, I agree, Jason. I still have high(ish) hopes for Matz. He’s supposedly pain-free at last. But he looked pretty out of whack yesterday. It’s been so long since he’s really looked in whack, so to speak.

  • Dave

    While I can’t pretend to have any level of knowledge that makes me any better at predicting such things than anyone else, I predict that by 2019, Gsellman > Matz.

    Mets could have their new Generation K in Harvey, Matz and Wheeler. At least Harvey shone very brightly for a little while. Time, as it always does, will tell.

  • Gil

    If Matz had the run support that #1 and #2 had the first two games he’d be in the W column.

  • open the gates

    So here’s an idea for Rob Manfred that doesn’t involve messing around with extra innings. At the end of every season, have all the players, managers and coaching staffs vote on the absolute worst umpire in the league. Whoever gets over a certain percentage of votes gets permanently booted. This clears outHsu some of the weeds while giving some deserving young minor league umps a shot at promotion. It also might get the Bucknors and Hernandezes nervous enough to up their game. Everybody wins. Will never happen, of course…

  • Bill Slocum

    Open The Gates – A season-ending automatic ump elimination formula seems unfair in a non-Bucknor/Hernandez/Joe West environment, as most umps aren’t nearly as egregious as those three. You would theoretically get rid of the worst actors, at the expense of setting a bar that might also weed out decent umps unlucky enough to be at the center of multiple unavoidably-contentious fracases. It does at least make one small case for Instant Replay, as the likelihood of personal animus would be less of a factor since many big decisions are now out of the hands of the umps on the field.

  • Cleon Jones

    Matz is always hurt.