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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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The Vargas Index

Nights like Tuesday, defined primarily by rain, futility and Jason Vargas, deserve to be evaluated not on how bad the Mets’ loss was mathematically, but how the elements that constitute the whole of the experience measure within the parameters of the carefully calibrated Jason Vargas Index.

For those who have forgotten, here are the scales of the Jason Vargas Index:

• VERY VARGAS: Truly dismal
• SORT OF VARGAS: Could be better
• NOT AT ALL VARGAS: Perfectly lovely

Jason Vargas threw fourteen pitches to four Cincinnati batters, allowed three baserunners and was charged before and after a long rain delay with three earned runs across one-third of an inning. Naturally Vargas rates as VERY VARGAS.

The decision to start the game with the skies darkening while lightning was clearly visible on the horizon was VERY VARGAS. Sure enough, the tarp had to come on the field ten minutes after the first of Vargas’s fourteen awful pitches. Whatever crap whatever umpire said about trying to get the game in ASAP because it was the last series between these two teams was, well, crap.

Mother Nature was SORT OF VARGAS. The storm was horrendous, but perhaps Mother Nature was trying to nudge Mickey Callaway into getting Vargas the hell off the mound.

Waiting out a rain delay in whatever the club on the Excelsior level at Citi Field is called now is SORT OF VARGAS. The air conditioning was welcome and the west-facing windows let us all be slack-jawed onlookers as we peered for glints of brightness amid the atmospheric morass, but there weren’t nearly enough seats. My party of four — that would be my wife and me along with our regular first Tuesday home game in August companions since 2010 Ryder and Rob Chasin — found our refuge by leaning against an abandoned ice cream stand on the third base side and yammering the eight o’clock hour away.

Abandoning an ice cream cart in a club filled with people waiting in long lines for any kind of food and/or drink diversion was VERY VARGAS. Several people stopped to ask us if the cart was open. We were thinking of forming our own line, drawing enough people out of their seats to unwittingly queue up behind us, and then each of us theatrically abandoning the line so we could grab some of those hypothetical sweet empty seats. But it was probably a plan that was more fun to dream up than actually execute.

The Mets sucking enough so that tickets to the Excelsior level are popularly priced veers between NOT AT ALL VARGAS (for who doesn’t love a popular price?) and VERY VARGAS (because who wants the Mets to suck this much?). Let’s peg it at SORT OF VARGAS.

Maintaining our August Tuesday tradition with the Chasins was NOT AT ALL VARGAS. We cherish this annual get-together. Ryder just graduated from Northwestern. His dad Rob let us know they would be available per established summertime custom. How could we stay away? There are no two people Stephanie and I would rather wait out an hour-and-forty-minute rain delay with.

Going to a Mets game with dear friends, even in this miserable season, is NOT AT ALL VARGAS. Besides loving live baseball (even the Mets kind), Citi Field is the town square I miss when I don’t loiter in it from time to time. For example, while we leaned on the ice cream cart, we waved over our old pals and distinguished married bloggers Taryn “Coop” Cooper and Ed Leyro, making our initial party of four more and merrier. And later, upon completing a beverage run, I bumped into another friend I don’t see anywhere else, Howard Megdal. You hopefully know Howard from his thoughtful coverage of many sports, one of them baseball. When we grabbed a chance to chat, he gave me a little 411 on his next piece, if in fact “411” is something people still say. (I once forgot the number for information and called 911 instead, immediately apologizing to the emergency operator.)

The Mets’ offense is VERY VARGAS. Two hits in the second. Two hits in the ninth. Pacifistic otherwise.

The video board proposal that overwhelmed Kiss Cam was NOT AT ALL VARGAS. Of course the subject of wedded matrimony should be broached at the ballpark. The honeymoon should take place there as well. Coop and Ed have been on theirs at Citi Field for eight years.

The Reds’ devotion to their history, which crossed my mind when I saw scattered BENCH 5 and ROSE 14 interlopers, is NOT AT ALL VARGAS. They recently inducted Dave Bristol, Fred Norman and Adam Dunn into their Hall of Fame. Held a gala and everything. That’s how you do it — annually, with criteria that values long and meritorious service and makes room for many rather than striving to exclude all but a few. Hell, at this point, I’d welcome even a few bronze faces into our dormant museum. The Mets haven’t inducted anybody into their Hall of Fame since the end of the 2013 season and did absolutely nothing with what should be an august institution between 2002 and 2010.

The attention the Mets pay to their Hall of Fame is VERY VARGAS. It was VERY VARGAS before Vargas was a Met the first time (two starts in 2007, in case you’ve forgotten the recidivist angle to the Vargas backstory). It was briefly downgraded to NOT AT ALL VARGAS when, between 2010 and 2013, they honored Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson, Frank Cashen, John Franco and Mike Piazza. Now it’s so VERY VARGAS that the only way to reactivate what promised to be a thriving acknowledgement of Mets history would be to induct Jason Vargas himself. Because once Vargas is in, they’d have to bring in at least six other Hall of Famers to finish the ceremony.

Sal Romano’s rooting section was SORT OF VARGAS, but only from a Mets fan perspective. Actually, I was in awe of how much noise these friends and family of the locally sourced Reds starter made on behalf of their homeboy. We saw multiple ROMANO 47 jerseys and t-shirts in the concourse. If one team is going to start Jason Vargas, how can you blame the other team for taking advantage?

The Mets’ All Other Relievers are SORT OF VARGAS. The game didn’t resume until 9:00. Vargas was out. One interchangeable right arm after another entered, departed; entered, departed; entered, departed. The final score winding up at 6-1 rather than 25-4 speaks well of at least a few of these youngsters.

Steven Matz’s luck is VERY VARGAS. He won’t be coming off the disabled list when scheduled. Did anybody think he would?

My wife’s good humor where being immersed in baseball is concerned, especially on a weeknight, is NOT AT ALL VARGAS. If you subtract the rain delay, Tuesday night’s Mets loss was completed in a reasonable 2:43, and she would have soaked up every minute (albeit some of them in that luscious club air conditioning). The rain delay, however, when combined with the heat…let’s just say that like every starting pitcher the Mets have used this year, Stephanie wasn’t going nine. Though it was highly out of order for us, especially when keeping company with Ryder and Rob, we bolted in the seventh, my first early exit in a couple of years, I believe. Sacrilege, I realize, but rain at the ballpark tends to take the edge off whatever Jason Vargas hasn’t already destroyed.

Dilson Herrera is NOT AT ALL VARGAS for pinch-homering versus the team that sent him away in exchange for Jay Bruce. Good for him. Matt Harvey gets a tribute video, Dilson gets a touch of revenge.

Todd Frazier gracing one side of my souvenir cup is VERY VARGAS. No offense to Todd (“no offense” is a Met credo), but is this guy any Mets fan’s favorite player? I’m excluding anybody he brought with him from his previous stopover and residents of his New Jersey hometown. Whoever decided “we’re gonna move who knows how many more cups with Frazier on ’em” must be the same promotional wizard who convinced upper management that August 25’s Jay Bruce Bobblehead Day is going to be the social event of the season.

That one looms as VERY VARGAS as well, but enough Vargas for now.

Seriously. Enough.

11 comments to The Vargas Index

  • LeClerc

    Meanwhile…,

    Bartolo passed Dennis Martinez as the winningest Latino pitcher of all time.

  • Dave

    Somebody needs to tell the Wilpons that the Mets Hall of Fame isn’t like a 40-man roster, you don’t have a limit on how many can be there. The other night at least Jeff deRoulet reached into the empty void where his soul would be and found it in his non-heart to stop treating Ed Kranepool like a persona non grata (a status he held while there were ceremonies at Citifield honoring various opponents who played for hated teams). I would hate to see the Mets Hall fail the way sometimes Cooperstown or the Rock’n’Roll Hall does of waiting to honor deserving candidates until, well, it’s too late for them to join in the festivities. We have easily 8 or 10 members of the family (not all of them players) who belong, stop with the dragging the feet.

    The biggest mystery of the Mets 2018 season…how the f*** does Jason Vargas have 2 wins?

    • Daniel Hall

      The truly amazing thing is that those wins didn’t come in 12-run blowouts, but with some really degromian run support (3.0 R/G in Vargas wins). But as it seems, for a fortnight in May, Vargas was a reasonably productive pitcher, going 2-0 over a span I have no recollection of, and with nine games in between in which the Mets went 2-7 …

      And yes, there were games this year in which the Mets scored a dozen. Exactly two. And no, we never scored more than 12. And neither do I recollect those anymore.

    • Guy Kipp

      Jon Matlack, still not enshrined. A travesty. Jeff Wilpon probably doesn’t even know who Matlack is.

  • JoeyBaguhDonuts

    This was said, and reported, as though it is a reasonable statement, last night. “I think we all feel confident that Jason, when he gets going and gets on a good schedule, he’s going to be competitive,” Callaway said. VERY VARGAS

  • mikeL

    ^^ very ‘just threw up
    in my mouth VARGAS’ at that.

    that callaway can say that AND keep a straight face is just
    CALLAWAY.

    the man will be president someday.

    and yes Dave, about time kranepool got just a little of the VIP treatment he deserves.

  • dmg

    i attended a cyclones game a few weeks back — grateful dead night, very nice. pitching for the cyclones: a rehabbing jason vargas. cyclones won, and vargas went six, striking out 10 but giving up two home runs to single a league hitters. in all, one of his better outings this season, i guess.

  • Orange and blue through and through

    The Wilpons should be ashamed that they don’t honor their alumni properly. Where is Jon Matlack or Edgardo Alphonso? Al Leiter? Granted, Seaver has trouble traveling, but where is everybody else? Across town, former Yankees litter their landscape. Even encroaching on two of our storied players in Doc and Straw. The Wilpons show little interest in glorifying their teams history.

  • […] still maintain there’s no way innocent Little Leaguers should be subjected to any reading of the Vargas Index in Williamsport on Sunday. In all seriousness, won’t someone think of the […]