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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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The Mets That Didn't Mets

Jacob deGrom was wonderful, and Jacob deGrom … won?

No really, he did, and it wasn’t even that bumpy. Which isn’t to say it was entirely smooth sailing: the Nats brought the tying run to the plate against Seth Lugo in the eighth and again against Robert Gsellman in the ninth, causing warning klaxons to blare all over Metland. But these were just scares. The eighth ended with a ground ball to Todd Frazier, who converted it into your run-of-the-mill 5-4-5 double play. Gsellman looked weary in letting in a run in the ninth, but set Juan Soto up with change-ups before finishing him with a 98 MPH high fastball and then got Ryan Zimmerman — who exactly no one wanted to see batting with a chance to wreck things for the Mets — to hit a long but not particularly dangerous foul fly that Brandon Nimmo secured in right. And that was it: the Mets had won and so had Jake.

Perhaps helping a bit is that the Nationals look ready to go home, and who can blame them after this smoking crater of a year? A couple of things happened to the Nats Friday night: they secured a losing season against the Mets and were eliminated from the division chase. Bryce Harper looks completely checked out, as SNY dissected at length, and there’s an air of sour resignation around his teammates. The Nats’ talent pipeline is far from empty, what with Soto and Victor Robles having arrived, but this year may get recorded in franchise history as the last X’ed-out line of a paper dynasty.

But enough about the competition. DeGrom was great, and if that seems a rather unadorned way of putting it, it’s because I’ve run out of superlatives. The man’s had the grand total of one lousy start in 2018, and even that wasn’t that bad: on April 10 he gave up four runs to the Marlins in six innings. That’s the sub total of deGrom being lousy this season. Otherwise he’s combined hellacious pitches with cerebral tactics to forge a season that’s been historically dominant, yielding comparisons to Gooden and Seaver and Gibson. He’s the front-runner for the Cy Young award and a credible candidate to be MVP, particularly if you poll those familiar with WAR as a measure of a player’s value.

Alas, his teammates’ contributions have turned a historically dominant year into a historically weird one. DeGrom is now 9-9 and the Mets are 13-18 in his starts, which is absurd — with numbers like those you’d expect him to be knocking on the door of a 20-win season. (And for the Mets to be about 10 games better, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole of regret.) You probably knew all that and didn’t need me to tell you, but it bears repeating, because you get to cheer for a year like this only every baseball generation or so.

DeGrom’s been almost invariably great and the Mets have often been frustratingly lousy, and you’ve been able to see it on the field and probably also on your own couch — his teammates have sometimes seemed to be walking on eggshells, trying desperately not to fail, and sometimes I’ve felt like I should apologize myself when things have gone wrong, as if I cheered poorly or otherwise failed him from my post miles away from the actual game. Through it all deGrom has been admirably imperturbable, though there are exceptions — at one point early Friday, deGrom spread his arms questioningly after not getting a call, which Sam Holbrook put up with because, hey, that was deGrom out there.

Barring some ill-advised rotation shenanigans, deGrom will take the mound one last time in 2018, on Wednesday night at Citi Field against the Braves. In the excitement of his finishing kick, Greg and I started firing off Twitter DMs, and convened an impromptu Faith & Fear summit to see our ace deliver his valedictory address. We’ll be there to bear witness; if you can do it, you should be there too. It may be a long time before we see such a campaign again.

5 comments to The Mets That Didn’t Mets

  • DgInOz

    It’s the hair. If he still had the hair he’d be 23-5.

  • Curt

    Missed last night’s game even thought it was DeGrom. Some friends stopped by unexpectedly. If we were in a pennant race I’d have figured a way to move them out the door. Much to my surprise he seems to be the Cy Young frontrunner. When you look at all the metrics except wins he deserves it. Scherzer and Nola have helped by having a couple of not-so-great starts. If either of them had an ERA of around 2.10 or so I’d be worried but that’s been taken care of.

    It would really sum up his, and the Mets season if his next start ended with him going 8 in a 1-0 loss where the run against was unearned. I’ll hope for better during the game of course.

    I’m trying to figure out if having the sort of season we’re finishing with the way Jake, Thor and Wheeler have pitched means we’re not far away from being a good team – or a bad one. If we score just a little more during Jake’s starts we’re on the edge of the playoff race with maybe 10 more wins. On the other hand, if one of the three gets hurt for the year we’re horrible – maybe it isn’t a coincidence that Noah was out during June. I suspect I’ll spend the offseason changing my opinion on this a number of times.

  • Eric

    Like Curt said, I’m glad Nola and Scherzer have sputtered (5.00! ERAs) down the stretch. DeGrom’s ERA has ticked up down the stretch, too, but only by a bit.

    In addition to the start he recently missed due to the non-rain out, what if … deGrom hadn’t strained his elbow in an otherwise typically deGrominant start against the Braves, which led to a missed start and the 1-inning start? Figure very conservatively 6 innings for each of those 4 missed or abbreviated starts, and that’s 19 more innings for deGrom to beef up his stats.

    I don’t think deGrom needs the short-rest start to win the Cy Young award. But pitching as well as he has this season, if I were deGrom, I’d want to squeeze out 1 more start, too, just to revel in being peak deGrominant one more time and make up somewhat for the 19+ innings missed.

    All that being said, I consider the 1-inning start where he somehow didn’t allow a run to the Phillies to be deGrom’s signature moment of the season.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    rain rain stay away and I will run into you both this coming Wednesday!

  • Orange and blue through and through

    Jacob deGrom is simply not built to throw his teammates under the train. Not only the National League’s best pitcher, but a truly class human being too. Cy Young AND MVP!