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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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Sticking the Landing

For most of Tuesday night, the Mets stuck to their horrific 2018 script. After the evening began with grim real-world news, as opposed to the ultimately meaningless baseball variety, the team went out and scored two early runs against the Pirates, who seemed so comically discombobulated that you wondered if you’d stumbled into some MLB wacky skit: The fans are here for a baseball game, but what they don’t know is that we took the Pirates and switched them with the Mets! Let’s see if anyone notices!

Uh, we noticed. The Pirates committed three errors (and could easily have been charged with a fourth), and contributed four wild pitches to the fray, meaning they basically gifted the Mets half a week’s worth of offense just for showing up. Was that enough to win? Don’t be silly: if the Mets can lose on consecutive nights marked by late-inning three-run homers, a bushelful of extra bases is no guarantee of anything. Steven Matz pitched well, aside from a Leiteresque few minutes where it seemed like he’d forgotten how to pitch, yielding a single, double and two more singles in a head-scratching sequence that erased the Mets’ early lead. The Mets being the Mets, that was enough to leave him stuck with a 2-2 tie.

All right out of the dreadful playbook the Mets really ought to burn already, along with Matz hanging around over 100 pitches and giving up what sure looked like a fatal home run to Gregory Polanco. Except the Pirates weren’t covering themselves with glory, either: with the good guys down by one in the bottom of the seventh, Michael Conforto connected to tie the score again.

Foolishness followed: Josh Harrison broke up a double play with a hard but clean slide into Asdrubal Cabrera, an encounter that seemed to incense Jeurys Familia. The real issue was likely Jeurys’s recent inability to throw strikes, stay healthy or escape the putrid mire of this season, but Harrison made for an easier target, so Familia started barking at him. Harrison, who’s voluble to the point that one suspects he carries on a running conversation in his sleep, took objection to the taking objection, and there was yelling and semi-pushing and a vague amount of posturing, complete with the bullpen catchers arriving a minute later, wheezing and hoping there was no chance they’d have to actually hit anyone.

There wasn’t, because Cabrera had recorded his opinion by embracing Harrison out there in the scrum. That caused Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling to grumble old-man things about today’s game — honestly, it wasn’t a good night for anybody — but Cabrera’s peaceable gesture prevented further nonsense. Perhaps he figured the Mets couldn’t fight either, which strikes me as wise. This season’s bad enough without having to extract meaning from, say, Kevin Plawecki slipping mid-haymaker and breaking Brandon Nimmo‘s orbital bone, causing him to fall on Noah Syndergaard‘s elbow.

Familia somehow escaped harm after everyone got all worked up, and the game ground into extra innings, which made me sigh. Free baseball isn’t exactly a blessing this year; rather, it suggests additional indignities must be endured. The question remaining was how, exactly, the Mets would lose and how much it would sting. That’s a question with no good answer: “a lot” is obviously no fun, while “not at all” is actually worse, and this season has given us ample supplies of both.

Except this is where the Mets somehow departed from the script.

Oh, they tried to mump it up. With Conforto on second and Todd Frazier on first, Cabrera either decided to bunt or was ordered to do so. He popped his first attempt up to catcher Elias Diaz, who dropped it as part of one of the worse days I’ve seen for a catcher in a good long time. Given new life, Cabrera managed to bunt even less effectively, lollipopping the ball out to pitcher (and sometimes singer of our national anthem) Steven Brault. Brault could have let the ball drop for a double play, a triple play or possibly some as-yet-unheard-of play where all 25 Mets were declared out, giving the Pirates another 7 2/3 free innings to score a run. He settled for merely catching it, and faced Wilmer Flores.

Flores whistled a liner down the third-base line. First it looked foul. Then it looked like it had clipped Brian O’Nora, who’d earlier forgotten there was a force at that same base. (Seriously, I wasn’t kidding when I said no one had a good night.) It definitely wasn’t foul and it may or may not have grazed O’Nora’s pant leg — by the time everything was sorted out Conforto had scampered home and Flores was being attaboyed out beyond first and the Mets, somehow, hadn’t lost, which was an outcome both unfamiliar and a lot more pleasant than that to which we’ve become accustomed.

There’s no game Thursday, but chalk up a victory by attending OFF NIGHT FOR METS FANS: READIN’, WRITIN’ & RUSTYTwo 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.

18 comments to Sticking the Landing

  • LeClerc

    Thanks Wilmer.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Is there any stupider sight in all of baseball than a bunch of pitchers and catchers jogging (jogging!) from the Bullpen to an on-field fight? Just rule that any bullpen player doing that gets 2 day suspension or something,and we’ll never have to be embarrassed by that again.

    Best non-defense of a pissed off Met since Gregg Jeffries.

  • Steve D

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch much of this game. Just the intro and tribute to Sandy, who proved to be a real standup guy and I wish him the best.

    The future of this franchise depends on the next GM’s ability to create a farm system that can develop hitters and hire a manager to instill a winning culture. The manager has to be Girardi and I stick by my idea to hire him now as a consultant to help shape the organization so that he can eventually manage it. I already spoke to the morning show on radio and plan to resume my campaign in a few days out of respect for Sandy. Please join me.

    • 9th string catcher

      Girardi is a manager, not a team builder. Knicks made the same mistake with Phil Jackson. Girardi is a manager who can win a lot of games with a roster full of all-stars, drives his players nuts and overtaxes the bullpen. Not what the team needs.

      Yesterday is an example of what I always say – give the Mets 4 runs and they’ll usually win. They have good pitching. Don’t trade Thor or DeGrom because a) They won’t get market value and b) the Mets have no idea how to evaluate or develop talent anyway.

      With some back end bullpen help, they will have very competitive pitching. Of course, the offense and defense is terrible, but don’t weaken the only part of your team that works to try and address it.

      • Steve D

        Good point about Jackson. Let me clarify…I don’t want Girardi to be the next GM, but I do want him as manager, despite your reservations. No manager is perfect. To replace Callaway with Girardi right now would likely not work given the lack of talent and undermine his tenure. I want Girardi to be a consultant right now to help select the GM that he could work with and it has to be reciprocal. If you don’t do it this way, he’ll be managing elsewhere.

        • 9th string catcher

          Cannot argue that Girardi would be an insanely major upgrade over Callaway. The fact is, the Mets are who they are – old fashioned, overly bureaucratic and devoid of creativity, and will be as long as Wilpon runs the team. So a strong voice who can make the most out of the roster, force discipline and fundamentals out of their players and take control of the field operations would make sense. And a catcher is a pitcher’s best friend. So, yeah, sign this guy up, stat.

          • Steve D

            And Callaway’s condescending tone with the media after the game is a great reminder any future Met manager must prove they can deal with the NY spotlight. Another major plus in the Girardi column. I’ll also mention it tweaks, if ever so slightly, the evil empire across town.

  • Xtian

    “Kevin Plawecki slipping mid-haymaker and breaking Brandon Nimmo‘s orbital bone, causing him to fall on Noah Syndergaard‘s elbow.” Funny cuz it’s within the realm of possibility.

  • Bill Slocum

    That Wilmer guy is pretty good. Let’s keep him.

  • mikeski

    Brault could have let the ball drop for a double play, a triple play or possibly some as-yet-unheard-of play where all 25 Mets were declared out, giving the Pirates another 7 2/3 free innings to score a run.

    It’s funny because it’s true.

  • K. Lastima

    First, best wishes to Sandy for a complete recovery.

    As far as the franchise is concerned, the fallout from this unfortunate news is that the Mets will likely make no major strategic decisions at the trade deadline, and we will be in a holding pattern until such time that the 3-headed front office team is replaced with singular person in charge of baseball operations . . . the scariest thought is that this triumvirate arrangement will be kept in place with Little Jeffy taking advantage of the leadership vacuum to assume further control over baseball operations. We are as doomed as doomed can be.

  • Matt in Woodside

    “possibly some as-yet-unheard-of play where all 25 Mets were declared out.”

    In case anyone missed this gem from nine years ago: https://sports.theonion.com/rare-centuple-play-ends-mets-season-1819570966

    • Jacobs27

      That is very funny. I particularly like:

      “I hit it on the screws, but it just happened to be in a spot where they could turn a hundred,” said Francoeur

      Perfect.

      I too had forgotten about Dan Uggla.

  • mikeL

    haha that’s funny. i’ve been wishing the mets could forfeit the rest of season/get their heads together and/or temporaily contract/reboot/flush out the owners.

    voila!
    that all-too-rare centuple play!

    i also totally forgot about dan uggla…

  • mikeL

    to GM trio: please FIRE MICKEY!

    blown save is on him

    god he sucks!

  • HowardMezz

    Well now we’ve seen everything.. best wishes to Sandy and thanks for trying; Wilmer STAYS; Mickey goes!; we all need to offer TC a HEARTFELT apology —- IT SURE WASNT HIM! I hope this is the last season we have to write off for a little while… and when do we divest ourselves of Cespedes and Syndergaard? And we need to even things up by having DH in both leagues (I don’t like it but it has to be consistent across leagues and you know we can’t ever dump it. And thanks for the soapbox

    • K. Lastima

      NO DH IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE, EVER!!! (sorry for yelling)

      And thanks to Nelson Figueroa for taking Mickey to task on last night’s SNY post-game, and rather harshly too but deservedly so. Strikes me that someone in the front office might have whispered in Nelson’s ear that he had the green light and would not hear any complaints from ownership, which could signal the beginning of the end for Callaway

  • mikeL

    missed the post-game as i had already started watching the hangover as top of the 9th had fully unravelled (what an absurdly funny flick btw).

    my theory was that jeff was shopping familia which might lead to calloway putting a fatigued and no longer very effective ‘closer’ out there w/o a plan B.
    nobody could be so brain-dead as to miss from the dugout what anyone could see from their couch, right?

    in any case familia is now even more damaged – as one would assume, is mickey’s remaining cred in the clubhouse.

    i truly hope the triumvirate’s bold moves include a managerial change at the top of their list. the players deserve better – even, and perhaps especially the underachieving ones.