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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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Uncomfortably Numb

In a better season, Friday night’s loss to the Dodgers would have been one of those defeats that made you say vile things, hurl a remote, and then brood and mutter. In this season, it barely elicited a sigh. Yep, those are the Mets and the Mets are losing. Who’s surprised? Who, at this point, is still capable of getting angry about it?

If you squint — a phrase I’ve used a lot this year — you can see some good things, despite it all. Michael Conforto shouldn’t be playing center field, but he did make a highlight-reel catch, flinging himself across the warning track in left-center to temporarily save Zack Wheeler‘s bacon. The catch was great; I was even happier about Conforto’s little-kid grin as he trotted back to the dugout, getting attaboys and back slaps from his teammates.

Keep squinting, and you could say that Wheeler seems to be learning and growing as a pitcher this season, working more quickly and pitching more effectively. But pitchers’ learning processes are rarely unbroken inclines — they come with dips and setbacks. And one of those was enough to doom Wheeler and his team.

The fatal inning was the sixth. Wheeler’s eighth pitch to leadoff hitter Joc Pederson was a strike. Gabe Morales called it a ball. Wheeler went to 3-0 on Max Muncy, prompting a visit from Devin Mesoraco, then walked him. He retired Justin Turner on a first-pitch flyout, then got to 1-2 on Matt Kemp, putting Kemp in the hole with one of his better sliders of the night.

Wheeler then appeared to lose track of what he was doing mid-pitch, hesitating oddly in his motion and then tossing a high lob homeward that was recorded as a 57 MPH curveball. Wheeler offered Mesoraco a small, sheepish smile, which was funny … except for the part where he’d surrendered an advantageous count to a dangerous hitter. His next slider was flat; Kemp served it into right for a single to load the bases.

That brought Cody Bellinger to the plate. Wheeler threw him a pair of fastballs for an 0-2 count, prompting Mesoraco to call for a fastball above the zone. Wheeler missed the target badly, leaving that third consecutive fastball in the middle of the plate. Bellinger, offered the same pitch three times in a row in the same location, connected. The ball was last seen passing above an airplane carrying the just-DFA’ed Hansel Robles to some new destination. I suspect Robles pointed helpfully at it.

At least that’s not our problem anymore.

With the Mets’ offense being what it is, that was that. Call it one pitch if you like, but it was more than that — bad luck, yes, but bad luck that was followed by missed locations, poor sequencing, and a really weird brain cramp at a very bad time. During that few minutes, Wheeler lost focus and lost the game.

Look, maybe at this time next year we’ll look back on Wheeler’s 2018 as a key part of his growth into becoming a consistent winner, and if so we’ll excuse dips like that. It’s possible to imagine, if you squint.

But it’s also possible to squint so hard that you can no longer see a damn thing. If this train wreck of a season has taught me anything, it’s that.

Don’t get left at the station: OFF NIGHT FOR METS FANS: READIN’, WRITIN’ & RUSTY is coming to Two Boots Midtown East, 337 Lexington Ave., between 39th and 40th Streets, Thursday, June 28, 7:00 PM. Join a trio of Mets fan authors, grab a slice of Two Boots pizza and have a fine baseball time designed to improve all our perspectives. The details are here. Hope to see you there.

5 comments to Uncomfortably Numb

  • eric1973

    In our new world order of analytics, many of the stats/strategies we held dear are now becoming insignficant:

    Pitchers’ Wins and Losses
    Batting Average
    Bunting
    Moving Runners Over
    Stolen Bases

    The great Mickey Callaway has now introduced another stat to go the way of the dinosaur:
    Team Wins and Losses

    No longer does it matter whether you win or lose, but how you PREPARE for the game, you know, “Ground-Based” preparation.

    So reserve your Mets Parade spots now, folks, because, gosh darn it, those little whippersnappers are sure giving it their all!

  • mikeL

    i recall sandy forshadowing this post-win mindset a few years back when he bragged that the floundering mets had a positive run differential and deserved a better record but for a run of bad luck.
    the mets no longer even need luck : they have mickey.

    hansel helpfully pointing from his plane – that made me smile.

    BUH-BYE!

  • K. Lastima

    New Age Mickey will no doubt be handing out “participation trophies” at season’s end.

    Off topic, is it just me or does bearded Plawecki resemble the young version of comedic-genius, roast toastmaster Jeffrey Ross?

  • Bob

    On this, the 55th anniversary of my 1st Mets games–(DH @ Polo Grounds, June 23, 1963,–Mets won both games and Piersall hit his 100th HR and ran bases backwards)
    there is only 1 question..
    “Can’t anyone here play this game?” or manage it?
    Seems the answer is NO.
    Sigh……………
    Lets Go Mets!
    Met Fan since 1963…………..

  • Since64

    Playing the Dodgers makes me wonder about Justin Turner. He was with the Mets for a few years. Just another utility infielder.
    They trade him to LA and all of a sudden he becomes an All-star. Are we doing something wrong? What did we miss here?