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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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Accepting a Familiar Blueprint

The first half of the season, which is actually a bit more than half, ended Sunday with the 2018 Mets deciding to remind us that yes, they’re the 2018 Mets.

Ya want yer solid starting pitching, zero offense and a bullpen from hell? Here ya go.

Actually I don’t remember ordering that combination or asking for a reminder that it’s once again the Daily Special — I’d been enjoying the Mets’ spurt of vague competitiveness. But that’s what the Mets slopped down on my plate and everybody else’s.

Corey Oswalt turned in his second-straight abbreviated but admirable performance, with the Nats and Mets each tallying a run when runners were safe on the back end of attempted double plays. (Not exactly an advertisement for baseball thrills, but that’s a post for another day.) The teams ground along until the top of the 7th, when Anthony Swarzak took over pitching duties and everything came up Metsy.

Swarzak has been reliably and inexplicably awful this year, the second coming of Ramon Ramirez. He walked Juan Soto, then had him picked off but threw wide of second base, converting a free out into a free base. He then walked Anthony Rendon, which led to Swarzak’s exit for awfulness and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s exit with an injured hand. (Thanks, Swarzak!)

Enter Tim Peterson, who surrendered a single to Matt Adams to load the bases and pinch-hit two-run single to old friend Daniel Murphy. Peterson got actual outs courtesy of a sacrifice bunt and a flyout, but Mickey Callaway opted for the other half of this year’s tandem of Unexpected Awfulness. Jerry Blevins somehow hit consecutive batters and then surrendered a two-run single to Trea Turner, by which point everything was academic and the faithful were booing anything blue and orange that moved.

I went numb a long time ago, so that’s enough about Sunday’s debacle. But looking ahead to the second half I’ve moved on to acceptance — and the first flickerings of stubborn, stupid hope. The Wilpons seem determined to sacrifice some other player’s development so that Jose Reyes can continue making out with the regularity of a cursed metronome, but that farce aside, it’s clear that in the coming weeks the team will shed payroll obligations and the veteran players that go with them, to put things in an order that matches ownership’s priorities.

Cabrera will go, assuming Swarzak’s latest ineptitude hasn’t injured him. Jeurys Familia will go. Perhaps the Mets will find a taker for reclamation project Jose Bautista, or swing some sort of deal involving Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler or Wilmer Flores. (Which would hurt, and going bigger by trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard would be insane, but anyone else … well, we’re 16 games under .500, y’all.)

With veterans off to what I hope will be greener temporary pastures, the Mets will probably give us a look at Peter Alonso, just seen hitting to the moon in the Futures Game, and possibly Jeff McNeil if they can remember that he has in fact played positions where they need help. Maybe Amed Rosario will keep looking like he’s found his footing, Brandon Nimmo will show he’s adapting to the rigors of everyday play, we’ll be convinced Michael Conforto‘s shoulder is reknit, and Matz and Wheeler will keep building on their successes and remain pain-free. In which case maybe September won’t look so bleak, and maybe we’ll find ourselves idly playing with 2019 rosters and thinking that maybe something good could be happening.

Or, alternately, Tim Tebow will get called up, because this year of greasepaint and pratfalls could use one more circus. Alonso and McNeil will sit on the bench next to Dom Smith while Reyes makes even more outs for his BFFs in the owners’ box and Jay Bruce limps around in right.

But for now, let me have this vision of something different, which might look like hope if you squint. Because I need it.

11 comments to Accepting a Familiar Blueprint

  • greg

    I see that you have self diagnosed yourself as suffering from WINS. No, not wins (lower case). Yankee fans suffers from wins, if that’s the right word. You and I suffer from WINS, Wilpon Induced Numbness Syndrome. I am informed that it will shortly be added to the Center for Disease Control list of illnesses. There is a treatment protocol, but it is complicated and expensive. The first stage of treatment involves buying the team from the Wilpons. As you will be shortly be contacted by the CDC, I suggest you start monitoring the spread of WINS across the sprawling “Faith and Fear” campus. Best wished for a full recovery.

  • LeClerc

    Contractually stuck with Swarzak, Vargas, Bruce, Frazier, and – yes – it may be that the Mets are likewise jammed up with the possibly permanently gimpy Cespedes (not quite ready to swallow that particular bitter lozenge just yet).

    But by all means ditch the deadwood now. Sayonara to Reyes and Blevins. Time to get some talented young blood for offensive MVP Cabrera (thanks for your service Asdrubal). Now’s the time to move Familia.

    I’d like to keep Wilmer for sentimental reasons and walk-off magic. And let’s not delay the MLB debuts of McNeil and Alonso.

    Even grizzled veteran Mets fans are not going to put up with a 100 loss 2018. Start dealing Troika!

  • Left Coast Jerry

    As soon as I saw Swarzak take the mound in the top of the 7th, I knew immediately that the Mets would lose the game.

    Was there any explanation as to why Lugo didn’t pitch a second inning. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • JoeyC

    The Wilpons should act honestly this year. After July 31, put the leftover players with the big contracts, guys they don’t want to pay, on waivers, like everyone does every year, but this time if a guy is claimed, let him go. In the July 2017 trading fiasco, the team got no one back because they wouldn’t pick up any salaries. Just tacitly admit (we get it) it’s all about profits, not competition, even though that’s a basis of your antitrust exemption. Every dollar saved in expenses moves to the profit column. The Wilpons should concentrate on what they do well – that wonderful food court where baseball happens 81 times a year.

  • Dave

    You know Tebow is coming, and he’ll belong here as much as Mike G|@v┬íne did. They probably already have the Free Shirt Friday design picked out.

  • K. Lastima

    One of the most regrettable aspects of this train wreck of a season is the dishonor that this particular group of Mets has done to the memorial patch intended to honor one of the ultimate “gamers” that has ever donned a Mets uniform. It’s a shame that for years to come, the Rusty patch will be seen in the video ash heap of this season’s ineptitude. Out of respect for Rusty, the patch should be photo-shopped off of all 2018 uniforms in the video and photo archives, except for deGrom’s.

  • Luis Venitucci

    “Swarzak has been reliably and inexplicably awful…” Every year of his career except last year. .

    • Jacobs27

      That’s a little unfair. Swarzak’s got a 4.31 career ERA, not great, but not awful. And as it happens he’s often alternated good and bad years.
      2009: 6.25
      2011: 4.32
      2012: 5.03
      2013: 2.91
      2014: 4.06
      2015: 3.38
      2016: 5.52
      2017: 2.33
      2018: 7.47 (so far)

      In other words, Swarzak has certainly been bad before, but he’s also been pretty good and not just last year. In addition, last year, he had supposedly perfected his slider enabling him to potentially sustain his success. So it seemed reasonable to hope he would be at least decent this year. But maybe the Mets should anticipated another pendulum swing. There was certainly precedent in his career.

  • Michael Elias

    Jason, great call on the Ramon Ramirez comparison. As soon as I read “second coming of” I thought of Ramirez–and there it was! At least the Mets didn’t give up Angel Pagan for Swarzak, just a lot of money. Worst case for fans, though. The front office won’t spend enough to bankrupt the owners, but just enough on terrible players to make the team perpetually bad.

  • Pete the Midnight Golfer

    The Wilpons are bankrupt … morally bankrupt. Yes Fred and Jeff, you can duck the media, but the shame hangs over you. Apologize and get out. Where’s the shame?

    • Steve D

      The Yankees have owned NY since 1994 or so, basically uninterrupted. I have to be honest and say it is very likely they will own the next 10 years as well. It is quite possible Met fans will be on the endangered list if the Wilpons don’t heed your advice. This is getting serious.