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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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Consolation Prizes

Congratulations to Drew Gagnon for making his major-league debut — and collecting an RBI in his first plate appearance at-bat.

If you detect snark in that, hold your fire. The congratulations are sincere. Gagnon is in his eighth professional season, and with his third organization. Las Vegas marked the fourth season in a row he’d pitched in Triple-A. He had to have thought that the call was never going to come and the dream was never going to come true. And with good reason: he knew he’d become a roster-filler, and that 28-year-olds with marginal stuff are Plan H or I for big-league rotations.

But the Mets specialize in Plan Is. Gagnon did get the call, and the dream did come true. Even if he never throws another big-league pitch, he’s an immortal. That has to mean the world to him, to his fiancee, and to his family. I hope they’re all out too late, celebrating the long-awaited fulfillment of all that hard work and shared sacrifice.

The Mets could use a feel-good story in this horrific season, but Gagnon’s arrival was pretty much all they could muster on a steamy, torpid Tuesday night. Gagnon, a vaguely Matthew McConaughey-looking dude, was whacked around pretty good and then gave way to Tyler Bashlor, whom I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. Amed Rosario, who may one day aspire to be a feel-good story instead of a question mark, collected three hits, two of them triples. Rhys Hoskins slammed his face into the outfield wall and was apparently undamaged, which we’ll file under “good news based on common humanity.” Oh, and Wilmer Flores made a nice catch and peg home, though that one ought to come with an asterisk since Wilmer should’ve let Jose Bautista catch it.

Is that it? I think that’s it. Well, Mickey Callaway didn’t do anything that demanded curious postgame rationalizations. Wonders abound.

I hadn’t seen the Mets for the better part of a week, as I was out in California with family and friends. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that their absence from my life was not exactly a hardship. Watching Phillies circle the bases in the middle innings tonight, all I could think was that what the Mets offer is not a big-league product, and hasn’t been for some time.

The people who own and run this sad-sack franchise should be apologizing nightly for a steady diet of Flexens and Oswalts and Conlons, for setting up shop in New York and charging good money to serve people helper without hamburger. One SNY spot proudly informed us that for the next few days there are no fees for buying Mets tickets. Did you hear that, Mets faithful? Should you be dumb enough to waste your hard-earned money and a summer evening watching this bleak parody of baseball, you will do so free of the indignity of a string of surcharges.

Unless the slow death of the soul counts, of course.

Still, not even apologies would satisfy me at this point. What I really want is for the people who own and run this staggeringly terrible baseball team to go away. Since that’s not going to happen, I want the team they have shoddily assembled to go away, and as soon as possible. Except even that wish comes with an presumptive asterisk. Because we know there will be no dynamic players coming back in return. Should the Mets’ bureaucratic triad agree on a trade and get their feckless nitwit of a boss to sign off on it, it will be a trade made with an eye on pocketing money instead of amassing talent. We’ll get more middle relievers who throw hard but straight, and maybe a lottery-ticket future fourth outfielder. And then we’ll watch more Flexens and Oswalts and Conlons trudge out to the mound.

The broken-down, has-been Mets I want to go away will be replaced by cheaper-model, never-will-be Mets I will almost immediately also want to go away. Perhaps a couple of those players will be making their debuts, with smiling family members in the stands. I’ll try to be happy for them, I really will. And then I’ll hope they make it through, say, three innings before it all comes crashing down on us that night too.

21 comments to Consolation Prizes

  • Curt

    Another game where I came in from the other place, AKA outside, looked at the score and started watching GLOW instead (surprisingly entertaining). Not to be picky but it’s a baseball statistic so how else could one be about it? Referring to “collecting an RBI in his first at-bat.” he actually didn’t. Have an at-bat that is, since it was a sac fly. Just a plate appearance.

    This leads me to wonder if any other Met has ever finished his career with zero at bats but one or more RBIs? When I looked at the box score last night this was the first thought I had – sad that the season has gone in such a direction that Rosario’s 2 triples meant almost nothing to me.

    • Only two other Mets have a career total of 1 RBI — Rodney McCray, the pinch-runner who ran through a minor league wall, and Eric Cammack, the pitcher who tripled — but each cooked their ribeye steak with an actual at-bat (just 1 PA apiece). As of now, according to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, only the newly entered Drew Gagnon is a 1 RBI, 0 AB Met.

      Seventy-nine Mets have had only one RBI as a Met. The most ABs: Bret Saberhagen (166). The most ABs by a position player: Pat Howell (75). The only Mets with 1 RBI and 1 sac fly besides Gagnon: Ike Hampton, Jeff Gardner, Mario Diaz, Pete Harnisch, Ben Johnson and Chin-lung Hu.

      Still, like Drew, active as Mets and hoping, to add a second RBI: Phillip Evans, Jeurys Familia and Rafael Montero. You can also count Jenrry Mejia if you don’t mind the gray area.

      • Daniel Hall

        “You can also count Jenrry Mejia if you don’t mind the gray area.” – Remember kids, *always* finish on a high note!

      • Pete In Iowa

        Well, waddaya know Jason and Greg, we have our very own version of Archie “Moonlight” Graham!!
        So that’s somethin’? Right??

    • Good catch re PA vs AB. Fixed.

  • Daniel Hall

    Since we are on consolation prizes – I feel despair when I see that Hansel Robles’ stats with the Angels aren’t all that bad.

    I wonder what is it with players that they blossom as soon as they get outta Metstown. Or wither as soon as they arrive. Is management in their head? Does Jeffy walk through the clubhouse and randomly hits guys with a belt?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    This morning on one of the radio Sports updates I heard Aaron Judge explaining the Yankees’ latest loss to the Baltimore Orioles. His explanation was the usual cliche, along the lines of “Well, they are Major Leaguers and they do have some pretty good players over there” All well and good, but if any Phillie said that about Yesterday’s Met team they’d be lying.

  • Dave

    Random thoughts: getting excited about Rosario hitting two triples in one game is brought into focus by the fact that Doug Flynn – a prototype of the “good glove, no hit” infielder that baseball was full of once upon a time – once hit three in one game.

    And Jason, when you used the phrase “…serve people helper without hamburger” it had me wondering if you suspected some of the delicacies at CitiField were “people helper,” giving the Mets and CitiField a leg up on the cannibalism market. And here’s Seattle thinking they’re cutting edge with the grasshoppers.

    Still half a season of this to go, with everyone all excited about acquiring someone’s 29th best prospect for Cabrera and some guy with an ERA of 6 in Double-A for Familia. Enough of Jim Beam as the official bourbon; this team needs an official strychnine.

  • Bill Slocum

    If Wilmer had let Jose catch that, you would have dunned him for being slow.

  • Gil

    Jason, it might be time to take a mental health break. There will be Mets seasons that thrill, and they’ll win and play postseason ball. Its just not this season. If you do decide to take a break, I would suggest not putting your time and energy into politics. Maybe yoga. Or medicinal marijuana.

  • Matt in Woodside

    “should be apologizing nightly for a steady diet of Flexens and Oswalts and Conlons”

    Oswalt looked good two nights ago. He was perfect through four with a low pitch count. Two walks in the fifth, along with an IBB with two outs, ruined what was otherwise six good innings. That first pitch that Nola hit WAS an absolute meatball, but if you’re going to throw a meatball to try to get ahead 0-1 with the bases loaded, then Nola, with his career .073 batting average, is the guy that you throw that to.

    One mistake in an otherwise a really promising performance. If you’re going to admit that you haven’t actually watched the games lately, maybe don’t randomly shit on every recent call up.

    • Was aware of Corey Oswalt’s good outing. He needs a longer track record for me to get excited about anything he does.

      Re your last sentence, free advice: Don’t piss off the guy who controls comment moderation.

      • Matt in Woodside

        My point is that Oswalt looked surprisingly good on Monday. At one point he threw an eight pitch, two strikeout half inning. That’s fine if you’re waiting for him to develop more of a track record than one long relief outing, an emergency spot start (he got shelled), and now two regular starts. But he’s shown demonstrable improvement in every outing. And on Monday, against one of the best pitchers in the league this year, he actually looked like a legitimate starter. If you were aware that he threw a good game and is showing commendable progress during a miserable season, it seems kind of ironic that you’d toss him in the trash heap in the middle of a post titled “Consolation Prizes.”

        • Your point is clear. I trust mine is as well.

          • Matt in Woodside

            I’ve been reading and commenting here since you launched (as Matt in Sunnyside from 2005-2010, MiW since). I buy all of Greg’s books. Love the writing from both of you guys and sincerely admire the fact that you stick with it even during terrible seasons like this one. I can only recall one other time that I’ve made a similar complaint about the negativity of something you wrote, and that was seven or eight years ago. This entitles me to jack squat.

            I’m just saying (as a long-time fan!) that you can get straight up BLEAK during bad seasons. And my complaint totally isn’t “Jasonbot and Gregbot must watch all games closely and analyze them for my reading enjoyment.” It’s that, in a hopeless season, I was actually excited by Oswalt’s performance on Monday, because he looks like he’s got a clue and is actually progressing. I’m just searching for threads of hope, man.

            He will probably blank the Nats for three innings on Sunday and then throw another Übermistake pitch to lose the game because our lineup can’t usually score runs. That’s him so far. I’m just arguing that he’s an unfair target to lump into even the most scattershot of rants if you didn’t have a chance to see him on Monday, which was his third MLB start (or his second, if you discount the one where he got off the plane from Vegas and was told a couple of hours before the game that he was unexpectedly starting against Miami).

  • Jacobs27

    I live in France these days and people here, for the most part, don’t exactly follow baseball. That’s an understatement. You probably know as much about string theory or medieval Chinese philosophy as the average French person does about baseball.

    But sometimes the outside perspective is the most revealing. Since I can’t help talking about baseball, especially when the team is playing so badly, even to people for whom it means very little, we get to talking. (“What’s wrong now? Didn’t they just play yesterday? How many games are they gonna play?”) With all this universally understandable losing, naturally my French friends ask me if the team is at risk of being demoted to a lower division. That sort of thing can happen to European football clubs: if a team plays too poorly they don’t get rewarded with a high draft pick, they get sanctioned — the whole club gets sent down, so to speak.

    Of course, that makes me laugh. It’s a completely different system and everything, I know. But honestly have you ever followed a team that was more deserving of such a fate?

  • Tristram Shandy

    I can’t feel my fingers or toes anymore. By the end of the season, all I’ll feel is my forehead.

  • I just noticed you can’t spell Consolation without Conlon.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    PS: On WFAN, Mike Francesa, in addition to scratching is head as to why they have brought up Matt Den Dekker, he went into a 10 minute tirade on the fact that Dom Smith is batting cleanup tonight. To paraphrase Ed Norton, I gotta go along with Mike on that one.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    The only enjoyable part of last night’s game was watching Jason Vargas get into it with Phil Cuzzi. You see, Jason’s dad, Joe Vargas, is a retired high school baseball coach from my neck of the woods. Joe was never shy about voicing his opinions to the umpires. Nice to see that Jason has Joe’s DNA.