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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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Good Teams Don’t (But Ours Does)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An ace walks onto a pitcher’s mound. Throws a great game for like seven innings. Gets almost everybody out, gives up maybe one run. Somehow, by the eighth, he’s on the losing end of a one-nothing score. His team isn’t doing anything for him and his manager takes him out even though he hasn’t thrown that many pitches. By the end of the game, despite performing as basically the best pitcher in baseball for the entire season, he loses, his team loses and everything is terrible.

Yeah, you probably have heard that one or something very much like it before, many, many times in 2018, for it’s how Jacob deGrom rolls…or how 2018 keeps rolling Jacob deGrom. Approximately every five days a sheath of “can you believe this spit?” statistics are widely disseminated contrasting deGrom’s relentless excellence with the paucity of positive results they produce when processed through the offensive and fundamental dysfunction of those who surround him. DeGrom was excellent again on Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta: seven innings, one run. The Mets were not: nine innings, no runs. Somewhere in there, M-M-M-Mike Soroka had the knack for getting Mets out, and the Braves’ young starter probably deserves a share of credit for the 2-0 decision that tilted in the Braves’ favor. But since something along the lines of the Mets scoring little to nothing and their starting pitchers having little to no margin for error happens repeatedly, we can reasonably conclude good teams don’t lose like this daily.

But ours does.

We have trained ourselves to look past deGrom’s won-lost record, which fell to 4-2 despite his having pitched well enough to be, if you’ll excuse the expression, 11-1. You can’t ignore, however, what the Mets are shall we say accomplishing while feasting on Column ‘L’ and ordering sparingly from Column ‘W’.

• 0-2 in the two-game set in Atlanta, which seems mostly incidental, save for the concept that the fourth-place Mets are nominally in pursuit of the first-place Braves (the pursuit may be losing steam; the Mets are 9½ out — and 8½ behind the Nationals for the closest available Wild Card).

• 1-10 dating back to the beginning of their most recent homestand, a homestand traditionally considered an excellent opportunity for the home team to enhance its fortunes at the expense of visitors.

• 3-15 since the last time I had the apparently rare pleasure of writing up a Mets win (the game of May 24, three freaking weeks ago), though given the prevailing proportions it’s not like I can accuse my blog partner of presciently hoarding a bounty of victories for himself when we divvy up these assignments in advance.

• 4-17 following the most recent Mets “winning streak,” whatever that is.

• 11-27 once April became May and continued into June, which also coincides with their record since the day I sat down with a well-meaning public radio reporter who was doing a story on Mets fans enjoying life in the wake of the club’s still semi-fresh spectacular start. We talked on a Monday. By Friday, when the report aired, the Mets had dropped three going on six in a row and the tenor of the piece had morphed into some familiar variation on those lovable losers and the people who are into them despite the possibility of better judgment.

• 16-34 after last being Ten Games Over .500, a breadcrumb along the trail I point out because, as noted recently, it was unusual to stumble into a Mets ballclub that had risen that high only to fall Three Games Under .500 later in the same season. Well, the Mets are now five games below Three Games Under (a.k.a. Eight Games Under), and should they pause at a net of -1 loss at any time from here to the end of the season, they will have made Metsian history. No edition of the Mets that had been Ten Games Over has ever plunged to as many as Nine Games Under within the confines of the same schedule. Ya think it’s coming? I wouldn’t rush to New Jersey and bet against it.

• 17-35 on the heels of 11-1. “11-1” threatens to gain iconic status in our numerical lexicon, positioned to assume a place of perverse pride alongside 40-120 and 7 Up With 17 To Play. So there’s that.

• 28-36 overall, which resides on the outskirts of near-respectability and perhaps indicates a team that — had it made itself a few more breaks, gotten itself a few more hits and prevented itself a few more injuries — coulda/woulda/shoulda been hanging in there at the break-even point, where everything would appear not so great, but also not nearly as bad.

We here at Faith and Fear in Flushing know from that, for we have chronicled a team that has performed at exactly such a level across more than thirteen seasons. Wednesday’s loss in Atlanta, you see, tipped the Mets’ record in the thus far 2,170-game FAFIF Era to 1,085-1,085. That’s 1,085 regular-season wins since April 4, 2005, and 1,085 regular-season losses since April 4, 2005.

To paraphrase the visionary baseball analyst Madonna from her landmark 1984 study on playing with one’s heart, borderline, feels we’re going to lose our mind.

Feels like we’re going to lose more than we win in light of how little we win and how much we lose lately, but as you can tell, that’s not necessarily the case into perpetuity. A long-term .500 record hasn’t been the case in an overarching FAFIF context since July 4, 2015, when eternal Mets fan darling Matt Harvey was bested by Zack Greinke and the Dodgers, 4-3, dropping that year’s team record to 41-41 and the franchise’s record since we came along with our blog to 851-851. From there, the Mets rose, at first fitfully, then resoundingly. By April 13, 2017, the night the Mets needed sixteen innings to reel in those pesky Marlins, the FAFIF Era record had ascended to 994-960, implying a certain immunity to gravity’s whims. I mean, c’mon, we’d won a pennant, we went to another postseason, we were lousy with momentum…

And then we were just lousy. Since April 14, 2017, the Mets have compiled a mark of 91-125, pulling us right back down to where mediocrity’s red glare dazzled us three Independence Days ago. In the last not quite three years, we are 234-234. Good ol’ .500 just keeps finding us.

We are accustomed to the ebbs and flows of the franchise we have chosen to track, which has certainly prepared us for this particular notch on the cumulative growth chart. The Mets lost their first five in our inaugural season of 2005, then won their next five and we were .500 for the first time, yet hardly the last. In the course of ’05, the Mets settled in at .500 on 27 separate occasions, eventually poking their heads securely above break-even at 83-79. The next three autumns yielded plenty of first-world problems, but finishing with a winning record was a given in every year that remained in Shea Stadium’s life. Extremely early in Citi Field’s tenure, things stayed resolutely above the borderline; by cresting at 28-21 on May 31, 2009, the FAFIF Mets record peaked at 385-312, or 73 games above .500.

Beginning June 1, 2009 and running through June 13, 2018, it’s been 700-773, or (as should be quickly discernible without a calculator) 73 games below .500, making the whole of our existence once again .500. It was actually distressingly below .500 in the midst of 2014. On July 5 of that year, we were 38-49 in-season and 769-776 overall, our low-water mark on a going basis. Then began the deliberate climb to not so terrible in real time (79-83 for 2014) and precisely middling for a decade’s worth of blogging (810-810 from the crèche of 2005 to the doorstep of 2015).

What goes up must come down, huh? And the opposite sometimes. Maybe. Eventually. Who knows? Score a few runs for Jake first and then we’ll talk.

21 comments to Good Teams Don’t (But Ours Does)

  • Gil

    Please send a copy to:

    The Wilpons
    Citi Field
    123-01 Roosevelt Ave
    Queens, NY 11368

  • Ken K. in NJ

    No other comment except: This was fascinating. Thanks! For it all.

    Seriously, I have you guys ever thought of compiling all 2,170 game stories into a PDF or E File? I’d pay for something like that. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  • Bob

    GREAT STUFF!–How you & Jason write about the Mets, the details…..HOW do you guys stay sane?
    As a fan from 1963, I thought seasons we lost less than 100 games were a almost win–1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, hence I lost my sanity when Casey was manager.
    THANKS to you guys 50+ years later for putting things in perspective–OY!
    Lucky to have you guys writing about our Mets!
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Greensleeves

    Because it would seem that what’s ahead is only more of the miserable same–
    I would like to know what bats this blog covets and a plan to acquire them
    without decimating a starting rotation that has (save Vargas) been more than respectable for two plus months…

    • My roster-building philosophy is basically I’ll root for the guys they put in front of me, and I sure hope they’re good.

      • Greensleeves

        You know as loyal readers we have the utmost respect for your abilities to
        spin straw-filled, hapless recaps into lyrical, statistical and nostalgic gold. But it’s hard to imagine after decades of masochism that you could be so passive. I’m sure both of you have thoughts… I’ll choose to believe it’s not in the mission statement and that you prefer to leave roster building speculation to the doltish purveyors of same on other websites and bandwidths. Still, someone with brains has to play General Manager once in a while. No?

        • Thank you, but I’m quite the lie back and take it fan when it comes to this. I have no real insight when it comes to potential trades. I think I’ve written up one serious trade proposal in fourteen seasons (and they didn’t listen). Consider the Jay Bruce saga:

          2015: They might get Bruce. I think, “fine, better than what we have.” Instead they get Cespedes and that’s much better.

          2016: They suddenly get Bruce. I think, “OK, I guess, though i hate to give up Herrera.” Bruce was mostly useless until the very final push to the playoffs; Herrera’s never played for the Reds. Then Bruce had a dynamite two-thirds of a season in 2017.

          2017: Mets trade Bruce for a minor league arm. “Fine, he’s not re-signing anyway, I can dig replenishing the farm system.”

          2018: We sign Bruce anew. “Oh. Well, he did all right last year, and helped Cleveland, so I suppose it couldn’t hurt.” To date, it hasn’t been a boon.

          At no point was I virulently anti-Bruce or enthusiastically pro-Bruce. If it’s a guy I’ve heard of and he hasn’t offended me and he isn’t blatantly over the hill and doesn’t preclude necessary improvements down the road because of an insane contract, I’m generally fine with whoever comes here.

          But I don’t really believe I have enough of a working knowledge of other systems to map out trades of guys I don’t want to get rid of, which in this case is our two top starters.

          In principle, get younger, more athletic players who won’t slump for two years. Broad parameters. Let Sandy & Co. fill in the details intelligently.

          • Greensleeves

            Thank you for weighing in. Your mention of Herrera (now loitering in Louisville) dredges up yet another highly touted prospect come to bupkis thus far. Your motherboard could probably resurrect dozens of long forgotten bonus babies who never bore fruit. Freak injuries notwithstanding, it “seems” we have way more than our share–surely pointing a fickle finger at scouting or…just another tortured Metsies lament. I am reminded of Bart Giamatti’s oft quoted jewel embraced by 99% of all fans every year: “Baseball breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart…”

    • Michael Elias

      I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter who the Mets draft, trade for, or sign as free agents: they’re all going to catch Mets disease, which is the inability to hit, combined with getting injured at an alarming rate and thus being useless for long periods. Why can’t this franchise ever (save ’86, ’99, and ’06) have even a respectable offense, let alone a good one? Why can’t we be rewarded for our faithfulness in the face of ineptitude? It just defies logic and the laws of probability. If there is a curse, its name is Wilpon.

  • Richard Porricelli

    I already forgot the 11-1 start..And yes, for what its worth, it could be jakes won loss record for the season- well put!! So who is our all star this year? Him?

    • Daniel Hall

      Reyes. It will be his well-meant sendoff. Because once he returns from the Potomac, he will discover that his key to the clubhouse doesn’t match the lock anymore.

  • Bill Slocum

    You definitely have a Knack for dropping obscure-if-you-missed-the-70s culture references in your commentary. How about “Wilpons to Mets Fans: Drop Dead!”

  • eric1973

    Is it that these players are really bad, or are they actually really good players having really bad years?

    I mean, do we blame Sandy for drafting a bad player like Conforto, or do we blame Conforto for underperforming. Same as Bruce.

    And who can really replace a Cespedes?

  • Dave

    Well Greg, here’s where I’d make a clever remark about The Knack, but you already made both of them. I do remember when they played at Carnegie Hall though during their 14 and a half minutes of fame.

    And maybe during the whole month of June, the Mets will play 14 and a half minutes of offense.

  • The King

    Why do we always learn The Hard Way?

  • All that .500 stuff! And FAFIF overall record! Incredible!

    Great article and even greater responses in here. Greg, we are fans of a feather. True observers. They play and we watch. And we love the Mets no matter what.

    And we aren’t out of it….yet. But man, this recent down-spin has been tough to observe.

    • Orange and blue through and through

      Right on Zvon! Count me as a true believer! Among my upstate NY arrogant, obnoxious Yankees fans, I am treated like a poor, unteachable example of the need for better mental health coverage. Your faith is admirable! LGM!