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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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Days Gone Down

Pending makeup dates instigated by rain, an atmospheric condition that seems to follow the Mets all about the continent, Wednesday brought us the final weekday afternoon game of the season. Yes, we’re actually at that point of the schedule when lasts are taking their final at-bats. Last day baseball infiltrates the traditional workweek. Last visit to Wrigley Field. Last interaction with the National League Central.

First time, though, for a sentence of this nature: Hardy veterans Jason Vargas and Todd Frazier led the Mets to a resounding victory over a first-place team.

See? As long as baseball is being played, it’s never too late for a few miracles.

Go figure these Mets. Led by Frazier, they put ten on the board in support of Vargas and various bullpen successors, yet couldn’t score two freaking runs for Jacob deGrom — or anybody who pitched in his wake — and went down to a 2-1 defeat when the game suspended Tuesday night resumed play Wednesday afternoon. Hard to blame the eleventh-inning defeat on the Mets’ impotent lumber, however, when it was Paul Sewald who all but literally threw away the game.

Paul, who seems like a nice enough kid, is 0-11 in the big leagues, all of it in service to torpedoing already dim Met prospects these past two miserable years. That’s not what you’d call a promising launch to a career. Sewald entered the potentially endless 1-1 affair in the eleventh, walking Javy Baez to get his feet overly wet. Victor Caratini laid down a bunt. Sewald pounced, grabbed and sailed a throw over first base as if he had chosen to idle his afternoon away on Lake Michigan. If the object was to nail Caratini in right, this might have been the play to make. I don’t think it was. Ah, Paulie, maybe someday it won’t all go to L with you.

It didn’t take long for the ivy-covered walls to come crashing in. An intentional walk was issued. An out was recorded. A pitching change was made. Daniel Zamora entered. Ben Zobrist batted. This was a classic Z-on-Z matchup. Zobrist bested Zamora, singling up the middle (where’s a shift when you need it?) to alphabetically clear away what remained of the night before’s soggy leftovers.

But that wasn’t that for Wednesday. Tuesday night’s game was masquerading as a matinee, the seventh resumption of a suspended contest in Mets’ history and the third loss the Mets have waited an abnormal span of time to absorb (the others occurred well after the blackout in 1977 and under less legendary circumstances in 2013). Fortunately the day-after result didn’t diminish the Mets’ enthusiasm for the real afternoon game at hand. Frazier put it out of reach early with a first-inning grand slam and Vargas kept it out of reach into the sixth. The Cubs seemed to be mailing it in, but we’ll accept delivery of a 10-3 win postmarked WRIGLEY FIELD anytime.

Good to see Wrigley Field in daylight. One didn’t used to have to add the qualifier, but night ball now predominates on the North Side, thus there hasn’t been a Mets at Cubs day game since July 20, 2016, which happened to have been the day of my father’s memorial service, so the date kind of sticks with me. It was also the first time the Mets won at Wrigley since July 19, 2016, the night preceding that particular occasion. I vividly recall the morning of the Twentieth, hurriedly writing up Jeurys Familia’s ninth-inning wizardry (he somehow got himself out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out mess) and then donning a dark suit for the cheery ride out to Pinelawn.

Then, last September, the 2017 Mets dragged their not so lively selves back to Wrigley for three night games in which they were outscored, 39-14, which sounds like one of those random couplings of numbers invoked to exaggerate a series of blowout losses, but no, the Mets were really outscored, 39-14. Not only was it depressing, it was at night. Wrigley at night is splendid when you’re clinching a pennant. An afternoon is preferable if you’re going to wallow well below .500.

And a 10-3 win is most choice of all.

How about these Mets and their usually creaky components operating to factory specs? Vargas is overindexing at last. Frazier is suddenly the biggest ex-Little Leaguer going. Jose Reyes pinch-hit and tripled in two runs, even. Hey, have you noticed Jose Reyes is still a Met? I’m the guy who says that without the snarling or sneering usually associated with Internet communication where No. 7 is concerned, yet I’m as amazed as anybody. Barring unforeseen 40-man machinations — or somebody falling down a steep hill on the off day in San Francisco — Jose appears on the cusp of entering September as one of only four Mets active every darn game of 2018 (joining Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and intermittently firing sparkplug Amed Rosario), meaning he’ll probably make it to year’s end with his roster spot intact. I am indeed amazed and quietly contented over this long-term development reaching fruition. God forbid it’s repeated in 2019, but for now, as long as you’re giving me good, old-fashioned day baseball at Wrigley Field, give me a player I rooted particularly hard for tripling like he did when he and the century were young and I wasn’t nearly as old as I am now.

Not pictured in Chicago or any MLB facility just yet: David Wright, but we’ll see. He’s playing in Las Vegas. He’s banging out a few hits. He’s making barehanded scoops and firing accurately to first (Paul Sewald take note). Also, per Marc Carig’s reporting in The Athletic, he needs to commence loosening his back today for a game next week. That’s exaggeration, but apparently not much. I couldn’t tell you if David is physically up for the rigors of major league competition. I couldn’t tell you how fiscally clever it will be of the Mets to keep talking out of whichever side of their mouth in order to preserve whatever they might collect from the insurance company if they can hold Wright back. I can tell you that if David Wright honestly believes he can play, I will believe in him. I’ve been believing in David Wright most of this century, too.

Days are better with ballgames and thoughts of ballplayers you yearn to see compete in them again.

7 comments to Days Gone Down

  • I opined a long time ago that the most graceful way to deal with the David Wright dilemma is to trade off his remaining money on his contract for a minority ownership interest in the club. He remains a Met-for-life, his memory is unsullied by poor attempts at a comeback, and no money actually goes out of pocket from the Wilpons in this transaction.

  • LeClerc

    Sewald is becoming the new Robles.

  • Dave

    LeClerc is right, but I’ll add that Jacob Rhame is the Hansel Robles of Paul Sewalds.

    • Daniel Hall

      Pretty stiff insult to throw at somebody! “Stiff”, because all of them ought to have such necks from all the whirling their neck around to catch a last glimpse of the baseball before it utterly destroys a car in the parking lot.

      I will put it this way. I see why they have sent Rhame down nine times this year. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why they brought him back nine times. At this point, just for a change, I’d rather have Scott Rice back. That was at least a feelgood story. And that even lasted more than a year. Rhame is just the same old, same horrendous every time he is flown here for 3,000 miles, gives up three runs in 1.1 innings, and is flown back 3,000 miles. The madness.

  • Ken K. inNJ

    … dark suit for the cheery ride out to Pinelawn.

    Well put. Been there, done that, twice. Once from NJ, an even cheerier ride. RIP Mom & Dad.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I have to agree with LeClerc and Dave on their observations about Sewald and Rhame. I didn’t mind Rhame pitching with a 9 run lead and hopefully Mickey has learned to never ever trust Sewald in a high leverage situation.

    During the broadcast, every time I heard the name Caratini, I wondered if a carrot-tini is anything like an appletini.

    Gary Cohen referred to Jason Vargas as “the pride of Apple Valley California,” and said it sounded very bucolic. Having lived in Apple Valley since 1984, I can tell him that what was once bucolic is now a far flung suburb of Los Angeles. For example, there is a car wash where the feed store used to be.

  • Greg, I too have shared that “cheery ride” for both parents and my older brother. I now regard you and Jason and the followers of FAFIF as my spiritual family.