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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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Lame As It Ever Was

When the Mets are mired deep in one of their patented extended funks, I tend to be asked — given that I’ve been around and remember things — some variation on the question, “Has it ever been this bad before?” The fact that the Mets have patented extended funks pretty much provides the answer. Yes, it’s been this bad before.

Most of the Sixties; the final segment of the Seventies; the dawn of the Eighties; the balance of the Nineties; chunks of the Ohs (I never cottoned to “Aughts”); and, in case you are afflicted with an incredibly short memory, all but a cherished fistful of months of the Tens or Teens or whatever historians will call the current decade. Within the lifespan of this blog, every single season from 2005 forward, with the possible exception of 2006, has encompassed an extended funk during which somebody was certain it couldn’t have been this bad before.

But it has been, often. It’s not always fatal to the season in which everything seems suddenly all funked up, but we do have a nearly perennial knack for being shoved by our beloved team into pits of despair, which I guess speaks both to our contemporary misery seeming surprisingly unremarkable to me and the rate of our recurring misery being more alarming than we might realize. But we’re Mets fans anyway. It’s not like we were blinded by the glare of countless championship baubles when we signed up for this.

Now don’t get me wrong. This portion of 2018 shouldn’t get a pass just because we’ve been some version of here before. Just as every pennant race brings its own unique joys, every season racing in the opposite direction deserves to be felt for all it’s worth. And this one may be singularly awful for just how ordinary it’s begun to feel.

On Friday night, the Mets lost their seventh game in a row, their fourteenth out of seventeen and their thirty-second out of forty-eight. Don’t gloss over that last set of numbers: the Mets are 16-32 since starting the season far better than that. I won’t even print what their record was after twelve games because it offers a patina of competence to their overall 2018 effort. That initial dynamic dozen, while certified as official and etched into the record books as legitimate and permanent, is no longer relevant to the campaign in progress. The team that lost only once in twelve initial outings is not the 2018 Mets anymore. The 2018 Mets are the team that has lost two of every three games for nearly a third of the season and hasn’t won consecutive games in nearly three weeks.

The seven losses in a row, on the other hand, don’t seem like they constitute a significant losing streak. They do, numerically, but experientially, it has come off, to my view at least, has just what the Mets do. The Mets play, the Mets score next to nothing or perhaps nothing and the Mets lose. How many is it now? Are we still counting?

Seriously. I’ve lived through scorching seven-game losing streaks that have scarred my soul from top to bottom. I have lay awake nights tortured by seven-game losing streaks. Usually the Z’s take a powder when the L’s reach three. Here, this homestand, in which the Mets dropped all four to the Cubs, both of two to the Orioles and now their first to the crosstown rivals, I had to stop and add it up when it got to seven.

My god, we’ve lost seven in a row. This should feel more urgent than it does. It just feels like another night without a win.

That the seventh consecutive defeat came at the hands of the team we are conditioned to despise and resent more than any on the planet (spare me your haughty “I don’t hate the Yankees” folderol if you’re one of those people) seems incidental. Had I been at Citi Field, it probably wouldn’t. But I watched on TV, with a migraine. I guess that’s sort of like being surrounded by Yankees fans.

Jacob deGrom was great for eight innings except for one pitch. Joke’s on Jake — you can’t throw one bad pitch in eight innings and expect everything to be simply, well, jake. Brett Gardner got hold of that one pitch and stroked it over the right field fence. A runner was on base. Silly deGrom, mistakes are for Yanks. Or Nats. Or whoever will be in the postseason this fall. Jake will have to make do with consolation Cy Young runner-up votes (unless somebody makes the Mets an offer they can’t refuse, and we’re getting to the point where phone lines are open).

It had been 1-1 when Gardner — who I think came up from the minors under Ralph Houk — homered. The Yankees had scored an unearned run a couple of innings earlier. Again, deGrom’s fault for not striking out every batter he faced. At the risk of being unsporting, that run wasn’t so bad because the Yankee who scored it, Masahiro Tanaka, had to leave the game as a result of having to use his legs to transport himself from one base to another until he came home on Jay Bruce’s throw to nowhere in particular. Tanaka had been stymieing the Mets’ offense since the first inning. He’d given up a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo — who is now tied with Jason Bay for eighteenth on the all-time Citi Field Met home run list with ten — but then literally nothing at all through five.

Learn to play baseball, American League pitchers. Then I’ll be sporting about your mishaps.

Tanaka left, Jonathan Holder entered. “Take your time warming up,” he was told, as all relievers are when injuries arise. The Mets took advantage of Holder’s unpreparedness and heightened case of nerves to go down in order in the sixth. Same as it ever was. The seventh, eighth and ninth were given over to Yankee relievers I’d heard of. The Mets gathered three hits in those three innings off those three pitchers, none for extra bases, none in particularly useful proximity to one another, certainly none that caused a run to register. Not that it was needed by the nominal visitors, but Giancarlo Stanton added one for his side by belting a barely fair, barely gone solo homer off Paul Sewald. The Marlins are having a throwback weekend in Miami. Stanton honored his old franchise by slugging at Citi like he always has. The erstwhile Floridian has more homers in the Mets’ park (22) than Bay and Nimmo combined (20).

The 4-1 loss that perfectly complemented my headache was preceded by news that Noah Syndergaard won’t start Sunday as planned (his finger’s swollen) and Jeurys Familia won’t relieve for at least ten days (his shoulder’s sore). After the routine wounds of defeat were listlessly licked, word came that Yoenis Cespedes rehabbed with Binghamton and talked to reporters. He’s looking forward to returning to the Mets in Atlanta on Tuesday. Actually, “looking forward” may be an exaggeration. He said, “If the team remains playing this way, I don’t think it’s going to help, but I’m eager to get back.”

Yo may not make it as a motivational speaker, but he’s got a helluva future as a scout if he wants it.

14 comments to Lame As It Ever Was

  • Gil

    Remember when Cespedes said ‘this is the best team I’ve ever been on’ a week into April?

  • Jacobs27

    –How are you doing this?
    –I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

  • Dave

    I have been a Mets fan for approximately 117 years. In that time, here is the total sum of possible evidence that a Mets hitting coach has had any noticeable positive impact on a Met hitter:

    – Daniel Murphy, for 9 postseason games in 2015.

    Remember, this assembly of no-hitter victim candidates has not only a hitting coach, but an assistant hitting coach as well. The current hitting coach was the assistant hitting coach last year, when they also couldn’t hit. At this rate, might as well bring back Mayberry Jr and Soup for the middle of the lineup.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Yeah, there’s been plenty of seven (now eight) game losing streaks in our Met lives. But how many of them came within 2 months of the tease of a nine game winning streak.

    I’m not skilled enough to figure it out, but we gotta be getting close to some sort of record for that, if not all-time, at least Met all-time.

  • Greensleeves

    How about we sentence all these bereft slumpers to talk with the hungry press in Binghampton after every game?

    What’s the over/under on Cespedes reinjuring some part of his bod by July? August?

    Hey legion of hitting coaches; how about you give Rosario & Co. some precise pointers on the benefits of choking up, instead of choking?

    Shouldn’t #17 always be the go to honorary hitting coach?

    How about we give Mickey Callaway a close shave and a moratorium on sullen post game cliches? The reporters in that room should also be put before a firing squad for their own lack of imagination.

    Where in the world has Conforto’s swing gone? Didn’t he use to hit to all fields in his younger days?

  • Steve D

    One could argue that the current Yankee team and farm system has as many excellent young hitters they developed or acquired early on than the Mets have had in all their 56 years.

    Strawberry, Wright, Reyes, Cleon Jones?, Alfonzo?, Mazzilli? (it is a stretch)

    vs.

    Judge, Torres, Andujar, Bird, Sanchez, Frazier in minors

    It was very wise to hitch our wagon to this star.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    And the rumors have started that the Mets will listen to offers for Jake and Thor. When Cashman traded Chapman a couple of years ago, he got Gleyber Torres. Last year when Alderson traded a bunch of expiring contracts, he got Jacob Rhame and a bunch of Jacob Rhame clones. Do we really trust Sandy to bring back anyone of consequence in exchange for one of our stud pitchers?

  • eric1973

    And we did the same thing with Bruce!

    What really galls me, is beginning to think, only 2 days before the Subway Series, to try to get Ces to come back. They should have targeted this date a week to 10 days ago, and surely he could have come back by Friday. Now they are trying to rush him back for tomorrow night.

    Hey, remember the robot pitcher on the Twilight Zone? Well, we got the robot manager. Must be, to decide, in any universe, that Plawecki should be batting cleanup.

  • This team is a train wreck, a perpetual train wreck. As long as the Wilpons own them… I don’t think Jeff– apparently the real GM of the Mets– will ever go for a tear-down-and-rebuild, so we have to expect this cycle of mediocrity to run on repeat.

  • Lenny65

    Here’s the thing about trading deGrom, Thor or anyone else for “prospects”. Not all that long ago the Mets farm system was studded with prospects. The current Mets roster contains many of those very prospects. So I am to believe that by trading the one or two prospects who’ve become legit ML stars to obtain more prospects would be a wise idea? By trading Jake away for prospects you’re admitting that your last attempt at developing and fielding prospects failed and you need to do it again. And what reason is there for me to believe that they won’t f**k it all up again? Because you KNOW they will.

    • Orange and blue through and through

      The sad and hideous, unfortunate truth is, that even when deGrom or, now occasionally, due to “the finger”, Syndegaard, pitches…the Mets STILL lose!

  • Greg Mitchell

    Relative low risk in trading pitchers. 9 out of 10 times they will have up and down or mainly down careers from here on out. deGrom already has issues this year and Thor has been hurt last two years and due for his own TJ. A position player like Torres almost certainly more valuable for next few years and beyond with much, much, less chance of injury. Other teams realized this a few years back and adjusted.

  • mikeL

    the mets on the other hand get nothing bach for btuce and then get nothing back in bruce.
    wilponderson would get an injured never be sort of cache of prospects for degrom or thor. let those two go and gurantee even greater mets misery for the forseeable future.

    is it too early to wonder who will be the willie randolf to callaway’s art howe?

    thinking it couldn’t hurt to bring up a former 1B prospect. seems like his benching back in the spring was the last time mickey really walked his walk.