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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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Year Book

The Oscars were handed out Sunday night. Thus, per Monday morning-after tradition, the Academy pauses to remember those Mets who have, in the baseball sense, left us in the past year.

Cue the montage…

___

GEORGE CHARLES “Buddy” BAUMANN IV
Relief Pitcher
May 16, 2018 – June 2, 2018

Baumann looked good in his first inning of work but terrible in his second, establishing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s suited to be a member of this ridiculous, ramshackle franchise.
—May 17, 2018
(Free agent, 11/2/2018; currently unsigned)

___

KEVIN MICHAEL McGOWAN
Relief Pitcher
August 22, 2017 – October 1, 2017

Out came Terry. On the scoreboard, his expression was in plain view: he looked not so much like a deer in the headlights, as a deer uncertain what headlights are, but vaguely aware that they’re nothing good. As Terry waited for Kevin McGowan, I thought about the situation. Here was Terry Collins, in the last game of his Mets managerial career, standing on the mound in the middle of an inning that had gone to hell, making a pitching change four batters too late. And as I took this incredibly representative situation in, I couldn’t help but smile again.
—October 2, 2017
(Released, 9/25/2018; signed with Sugar Land Skeeters, 3/19/2019)

___

SCOTT REAST COPELAND
Relief Pitcher
May 31, 2018

Scott Copeland — with Tim Peterson one half of the Who? Brothers Show Band and Revue — acquitted himself nicely from out of nowhere and that can surely be interpreted as inspirational.
—June 1, 2018
(Free agent, 10/1/2018; signed with Nationals, 12/30/2018)

___

CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL “Chris” BECK
Relief Pitcher
June 15, 2018 – July 8, 2018

Where were we? Oh yeah, losing. Losing 3-2 after four, losing 5-2 after five (Daniel Descalso doing the longball honors), losing 6-2 after Jon Jay drove in pesky Dyson, who had walked, stolen second and stolen third off the inspiring duo of Plawecki and Chris Beck, the latest Mets pitcher you’d never heard of until basically just now.
—June 16, 2018
(Free agent, 10/1/2018; signed with Cardinals, 11/29/2018)

___

GERSON BAUTISTA
Relief Pitcher
April 17, 2018 – June 2, 2018

As Rose Marie advised, wait for your laugh. It’s coming. It will take a while if you’re a Mets fan. Perhaps the tale of the team whose first six pitchers struck out 24 batters in thirteen innings before its final two gave up six runs in the fourteenth will come off as amusing in a future context. Not hilarious at this juncture, however. Buddy Baumann didn’t strike out any Cubs. Nor did Gerson Bautista. Outs of any sort were elusive for that duo until the barn door was detached from its hinges.
—June 3, 2018
(Traded to Mariners, 12/3/2018)

___

JAMES DOUGLAS “Jamie” CALLAHAN
Relief Pitcher
September 2, 2017 – October 1, 2017

[Ron] Ziegler would have loved flacking for the Mets relief corps, as inoperative a unit as you’ll stumble across on a September evening this sad season. Hansel pointed the Mets toward a loss; Chasen Bradford confirmed the direction the game was going in; and the rest of the poor little lambs who’ve yet to find their way waved home wave after wave of Cub after Cub. By the time Kevin McGowan, Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan had clocked some of that all-important valuable experience, the Mets were down, 17-5.
—September 14, 2017
(Free agent, 11/3/2018; signed with Giants, 12/28/2018)

___

PHILLIP MATTHEW “Phil” EVANS
Infielder
September 8, 2017 – August 1, 2018

It doesn’t get more athletic in the middle of the infield than Reyes at second and Amed Rosario at short. And it doesn’t look less athletic at the corners than Smith at first and Phil Evans at third. They are athletes, they are skilled, they have futures at the highest level of professional baseball…but it is striking how they each — as rookies — appear to have wandered over from a keg-intensive softball game in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On the other hand, the limber and lithe Rosario seems to display a little less savvy every diamond day. Let’s give everybody a clean slate come spring. This season hasn’t honed anybody to a fine edge, physically or mentally.
—September 25, 2017
(Free agent, 11/2/2018; signed with Cubs, 12/17/2018)

___

MATTHEW G. “Matt” den DEKKER
Outfielder
August 29, 2013 – September 28, 2014
July 11, 2018 – July 26, 2018

We learned “den Dekker” is Dutch for “not Lagares”. This is linguistic clarification gleaned after the Mets center fielder of the moment lost three fourth-inning fly balls in translation. Mets fans with memories longer than a Yankee Stadium short porch home run will recall Matt den Dekker was originally cast as the can’t miss defensive whiz in the attempted 2013 reboot of the Mets as a competitive baseball entity. Turned out den Dekker did miss — loads of time, due to the injury which opened the gates for Lagares to take his projected Gold Glove role — and could miss, specifically a trio of not easy yet not impossible chances hit in his general direction Saturday. They went for a triple, a double and a single, but when measured by cringe factor, the first was a boot and the next two were reboots. Given that Matt is 0-for-17 since his surprise recall from obscurity, one wonders what his particular major league acumen is at present.
—July 22, 2018
(Free agent, 10/1/2018; signed with Long Island Ducks, 3/26/2019)

___

JOSE MANUEL LOBATON
Catcher
April 13, 2018 – September 28, 2018

Jose Lobaton, presumably aboard an eastbound flight from Vegas, you’ll recall from killing the Mets as a National. Now he gets a chance to make it up to us.
—April 13, 2018
(Free agent, 10/29/2018; signed with Mariners, 1/24/2019)

___

ROBERT MARTIN “Bobby” WAHL
Relief Pitcher
August 2, 2018 – August 16, 2018

There was a plethora of contributors. One of them was Bobby Wahl, another very recently introduced name (called up August 2) growing suddenly into a person we recognize as our guy. Wahl replaced Noah Syndergaard with the bases loaded and one out, Joey Votto up to bat. The Mets were ahead by five, so maybe the leverage didn’t soar as high as McNeil’s homer, but it was a tall enough order for a reliever with minimal cachet. Wahl walked Votto, which should probably count as a rite of National League initiation, but then struck out another All-Star, Scooter Gennett, before giving way to Robert Gsellman and, ultimately, closer du nuit Jerry Blevins.
—August 7, 2018
(Traded to Brewers, 1/5/2019)

___

JOHN PATRICK “Jack” REINHEIMER
Utilityman
August 15, 2018 – September 29, 2018

Oh, and Jack Reinheimer collected his first major league base hit. That’s more of a Jack Reinheimer highlight, but he’s entitled to one for himself, just like we were entitled to a night of swimming in Mets-related jubilation. The pool has been empty all summer. What fun to find it filled.
—August 16, 2018
(Selected off waivers by Cubs, 11/2/2018)

___

AUSTIN JARRIEL JACKSON
Outfielder
July 27, 2018 – September 30, 2018

Austin Jackson’s .350 as a Met has been fashioned in a similarly brief span. Unlike McNeil, who excelled at Binghamton and Las Vegas after an otherwise off-radar minor league run, no Mets fan was rattling cages to get Jackson on our roster. Jackson’s been on most everybody else’s roster since 2010. We usually get a turn at guys like that, generally when we’re desperate for help and they could use an opportunity.
—August 5, 2018
(Free agent, 10/29/2018; currently unsigned)

___

ANTHONY RAY SWARZAK
Relief Pitcher
March 29, 2018 – September 29, 2018

Then, suddenly, Anthony Swarzak got up and, almost just as suddenly, Anthony Swarzak was in the game. Nobody fast-forwarded to skip over the boring warming process. They got him in there just before it was too late. A couple of instants later, it was too late. The stilted two-pitcher process that permitted four Pittsburgh runs required 25 pitches in all. The eventual result approached our rainy shoreline with the relentlessness of Superstorm Sandy. You could see it in the forecast. You knew it was coming. You braced for the worst. There went the trees.
—June 28, 2018
(Traded to Mariners, 12/3/2018)

___

TYLER PATRICK “Ty” KELLY
Utilityman
May 24, 2016 – April 5, 2017
July 9, 2018 – July 23, 2018

In a sense, Mets at Pirates was an understudy’s gala, with the unlikely character of the rookie third baseman, played by little-known Ty Kelly, rescuing the first act with a display of power clearly at odds with the script’s prevailing narrative arc. There was no hint that Mr. Kelly — whose name was familiar only to those whose Playbills were properly supplemented with squares of white paper alerting the audience to his existence — had such a forceful outburst in him, but proponents of baseball will always default to their pastime’s capacity to jar as explanation for such illogical turns of event.
—June 9, 2016
(Free agent, 10/1/2018; signed with Angels, 2/5/2019)

___

ADRIAN SABIN GONZALEZ
First Baseman
March 29, 2018 – June 10, 2018

I’m not looking to rush Adrian to the exit, but most of what I see when I look at him is a large man with a bad back who I’m kind of surprised to learn used to play professional baseball. I’m impressed he’s on an active roster. I’m impressed that he’s active in the older adult who takes walks in the woods now that his doctor has recommended this new bladder control prescription sense. I should talk; I’ve done nothing for two games but sit on the couch and form opinions. Gonzalez was thrown out going first to third on a Juan Lagares single in the sixth, which didn’t really hurt our sacred cause, and could be taken as evidence that Mickey Callaway is running a suitably aggressive ship. Things are so borderline giddy right now, I was convinced he was going to be safe. Someday, somebody will be surprised to come across evidence that Adrian Gonzalez was a Met. Maybe it will be in the 2018 World Series highlight film. That would be sweet.
—April 1, 2018
(Released, 6/11/2018; currently unsigned)

___

ALEJANDRO “AJ” RAMOS
Relief Pitcher
July 30, 2017 – May 26, 2018

AJ Ramos, who not so long ago was considered by experts a major league closer, a major league setup man and/or a major league pitcher, was called on next, perhaps as some sort of immersion therapy so he and we could face our worst fears. We all feared seeing Ramos facing the Brewers approximately ten psychic minutes after he walked them to victory the night before. Our fears couldn’t have been any more founded: three runs in a mere two-thirds of an inning. Ramos truly puts the frack in fraction.
—May 27, 2018
(Free agent, 10/29/2018; currently unsigned)

___

JOSE ANTONIO BAUTISTA
Outfielder
May 22, 2018 – August 27, 2018

I got a particular kick out of sitting practically directly behind Jose Bautista, who spent his defensive day doing what appeared to be tai-chi to stay loose. Jose had no putouts but was a crowdpleaser between innings, consistently reaching fans with balls and smiles. That stuff goes a long way when batting averages no longer climb very high.
—August 23, 2018
(Traded to Phillies, 8/28/2018)

___

RAFAEL MONTERO
Pitcher
May 14, 2014 – October 1, 2017

Rafael Montero doesn’t normally pitch into the ninth inning. Rafael Montero doesn’t normally limit his opposition to no more hits than there are bases. Rafael Montero doesn’t normally get a Mets fan excited, except to see what else is on. To be fair, almost nothing gets a Mets fan excited at this juncture of the current Mets season, save for the knowledge that the current Mets season will eventually give way to a different Mets season. But Rafael Montero and what we’ll refer to as the Rafael Montero Game (at least until we have another one remotely like it) did. You wouldn’t have thought any Met starter whose last name begins with an upper-case letter could, but Montero was as good as any Met not named Jacob deGrom could possibly be. Against the Reds, he was sublime.
—August 31, 2017
(Free agent, 11/2/2018; signed with Rangers, 1/4/2019)

___

KEVIN JEFFREY PLAWECKI
Catcher
April 21, 2015 – September 29, 2018

You know who looked happy? The guy from the charter bus company who threw out the second first pitch (a guy from a car company threw out the first first pitch). The charter bus company guy was stoked to stand at the lip of the same mound Steven Matz was about to tread, even more stoked to toss one on the fly to Kevin Plawecki. Imagine being that happy to see Kevin Plawecki.
—July 7, 2018
(Traded to Indians, 1/6/2019)

___

HANSEL MANUEL ROBLES
Relief Pitcher
April 24, 2015 – June 19, 2018

During the third game Wednesday, in the bottom of the sixth, Wheeler the ace was — because this will happen in a pitcher’s second start after two years’ absence — huffing and puffing in an effort to blow away three more batters. The wolf, however, wouldn’t exit the doorway. Zack got two outs but loaded the bases. Away went Wheeler, along came Hansel Robles, making his eighty-fifth appearance of the thus far nine-game season…check that: it was his third night in a row pitching. Seems like more. Robles is too talented to dismiss, to enigmatic to trust fully. Enigmatic is one of those words you use when you want to acknowledge a reliever’s talent but chronically cringe when he shows up with runners on base, especially when all of the bases have runners. Cringing turned to caterwauling when the first pitch Robles threw to Maikel Franco turned into a grand slam and chopped the Mets’ lead to 5-4.
—April 13, 2017
(Selected off waivers by Angels, 6/23/2018)

___

JERRY RICHARD BLEVINS
Relief Pitcher
April 6, 2015 – September 29, 2018

Blevins and Bourn battled for eight pitches. The count reached three-and-two. The Mets led by three. The Diamondbacks had two on. Sixteen runs had scored on Monday. Eleven runs were in on Tuesday. I didn’t know it for a fact that Bourn was going to drive in anywhere between one and three runs imminently. I just knew it was true. Here’s some truth: Blevins struck out Bourn on the eighth pitch. Three innings later, Jeurys Familia would come on to record his fortieth save of the season by pitching a one-two-three ninth and officially preserving a nervous 7-5 Mets victory — their first over these demons of the desert — but, really, Jerry saved the day. Syndergaard’s swing was more glamorous, but the one Blevins coaxed from Bourn proved the most vital.
—August 17, 2016
(Free agent, 10/29/2018; signed with A’s, 2/4/2019)

___

JAY ALLEN BRUCE
Outfielder
August 2, 2016 – August 9, 2017
March 29, 2018 – September 30, 2018

Bruce is productive. Other Met hitters are sporadic. A couple are dinged up — contusions of the wrist (d’Arnaud) and hyperextended elbows (Duda) are all the rage this spring — but only one lately seems prone to produce dingers, plural. That’s the Jay Hey Kid, as we’ve been calling him ever since I wrote the first part of this sentence. If breathless cable news talking heads applied their talents to baseball, they’d declare that Jay Bruce launching those missiles is when he became president.
—April 20, 2017
(Traded to Mariners, 12/3/2018)

___

ASDRUBAL JOSE CABRERA
Infielder
April 3, 2016 – July 26, 2018

Cabrera simply gets the job done. The job at hand in the bottom of the eleventh with two on and one out was monumental. If Asdrubal could avoid grounding into a double play, it would rate as a net-positive. If he could as much as walk, it would be welcome, since it would set up Cespedes as the potential game-winning hitter for a third consecutive night, and you know what they say about third times and charms. If indispensable Asdrubal could manage to stay in one piece amid the myriad possible outcomes given the precarious condition of his continually balky knee, well, that would be keen, too. Asdrubal transcended all ancillary aspects of the job when he connected authoritatively with the final pitch Ramos threw, the last of 409 delivered by nineteen pitchers in all. As soon as Cabrera swung, he knew it was gone. His bat was flipped, his arms were raised, his trot was jubilant. The camera stayed on him an instant before it cut to the ball Gary Cohen was describing in flight, so we could tell it was going to land easily beyond harm’s way a tick ahead of the rarely uttered double-OUTTA HERE! the home run so richly deserved. Ender Inciarte was in another city and no Phillie could climb, leap or pray high enough to do a darn thing about this one. It was indeed outta here, outta here. The Mets were 9-8 winners.
—September 23, 2016
(Traded to Phillies, 7/27/2018)

___

WILMER ALEJANDRO FLORES
Infielder
August 6, 2013 – September 18, 2018

Asdrubal and Yoenis each made an out, leading to (assuming Steve Henderson was unavailable) Wilmer Flores as humankind’s last great hope to win the game on one magical swing. Wilmer had done that before, my companion reminded me, as if I needed the nudge. Wilmer Flores might as well approach every one of his late-and-close at-bats tugging at the wordmark on his jersey. He is the walking, talking, swinging, stinging embodiment of Tears of Joy™, one of the Citi’s most humble and lovable characters, a veritable Shoeshine Boy who, whenever there is a call for help, emerges as Underdog! Wilmer could make forays into the sciences, the arts, public policy, anything you name, and the first question he’d be asked is how it compares to that home run he hit against the Nationals two nights after he was weeping on the field over being traded, which he wasn’t. Flores’s Flushing calling card is made of such sturdy stock that nobody ever mentions he took called strike three to end the 2015 World Series. Carlos Beltran might go into the Hall of Fame…might go into the Hall of Fame as a Met…and he will never not be reminded in Metsian circles that he took a strike three to end a postseason series. Different strokes for different folks — and not all Met folks are certified Met folk heroes. Wilmer Flores is assuredly that, and his legend grew on Saturday night, July 22, 2017, when he lined a Simon Castro pitch over the left field fence for a game-winning homer not exactly like the one from July 31, 2015, but close enough to exhilarate 39,629 skeptics, 15,000 of whom thought they’d be leaving the park with nothing better than a bobblehead, none of whom (save for my companion) sensed they’d get to take home a 6-5 walkoff win boxed inside a stirring comeback from five runs down. Prof. Flores, in the parallel universe in which he takes up laboratory work, had just found a cure for chronic doubt. As he accepted his Nobel, he was asked how it compared to that time he beat the Nationals.
—July 23, 2017
(Free agent, 11/30/2018; signed with Diamondbacks, 1/21/2019)

___

MATTHEW EDWARD “Matt” HARVEY
Starting Pitcher
July 26, 2012 – May 3, 2018

If long-term health and contractual status hold out, there will be plenty of time and way more evidence provided to determine if, indeed, Matt Harvey is better than Stephen Strasburg or, heaven forefend, Stephen Strasburg is better than Matt Harvey. Matt Harvey will go up against other aces from other rivals, too. Matt Harvey will draw crowds and focus in an age when crowds are usually sparse and focus tends to be fractured. Matt Harvey will win and the Mets will be forced to follow if they care to keep up. Inevitably, it will all be traced back to the “Harvey’s better” game, one of those nights destined to stay with those who were in on its ground floor. Mets fans from 2013 who have yet to be introduced will sit next to one another some night up the road and trade reminiscences as Mets fans do. They will feel each other out, who was where for what and so forth. If it’s the relatively near future, one of them will say “Harvey’s better,” and the other of them will know what it means. If it’s far off, there will be a prelude to set the scene, about this game I was at when Matt Harvey was in his first or second year, against the Nationals, and the sentence will be finished by a different voice: you mean the ‘Harvey’s better’ game? I was there, too!
—April 20, 2013
(Traded to Reds, 5/8/2018)

___

JOSE BERNABE REYES
Infielder
June 10, 2003 – September 28, 2011
July 5, 2016 – September 30, 2018

The Mets wouldn’t have won on July 23, 2005, without young Jose Reyes, and they wouldn’t have won as they did — 5-3 — on July 22, 2016, without older Jose Reyes. As if to bookend the eleven-year trail of Reyes runs, we even got another nifty quote from his starting pitcher, this time Logan Verrett, who said, “He’s like a can of Red Bull balled up into a human being, and that’s something we were lacking.” Jose is indeed energetic, but also a human being, and we know, through the circumstances under which he was available to re-emerge as a Met earlier this month, that human beings are capable of doing lousy things to their fellow human beings. Upon his return, it was hard to look at Jose, not see the domestic violence charge and instinctively not want to look at him at all. It was nearly impossible to look at Jose and see the Jose-Jose-Jose wunderkind to whom we took such a melodic shine a long time ago. The vision is changing. I suppose it’s transactional. Now that he’s hitting and running and resembling the Reyes of yore, I’m less inclined to dwell on the legitimately negative (human beings will do that in exchange for a couple of runs sometimes). I’m seeing the Met again, the above-average baseball player. I’m hearing the kid we once embraced in pre- and postgame interviews and he sounds like Jose, except older and perhaps wiser. He is full of pep and positivity and, where the rest of his life is concerned, hopefully nothing else. I’m rooting for my longtime favorite player again. I don’t know that he’s my favorite player anymore, but he’s here, he’s getting on base and I’m getting used to him.
—July 23, 2016
(Free agent, 10/29/2018; currently unsigned)

___

DAVID ALLEN WRIGHT
Third Baseman
July 21, 2004 – September 29, 2018

David Wright was up to stay and David Wright, unlike his worthy predecessors of the preceding quarter-century, wasn’t going anywhere…in the good sense. With Wright’s arrival, the Zimmer-Wigginton epoch was over. With Wright’s recall, recalling Met third base travails became trivial, not troubling. David Wright is the best third baseman in Mets history. When all is said and done, even though the saying and doing is barely out of the first inning, we will likely recall him as the best third baseman New York has ever seen. And as great as the feats in front of him will be, he is to be admired now for something he’s accomplished already: he has put all the laughable, cryable, mystifyable connotations attached to “playing third base for the New York Mets” far, far behind us. It’s no wonder that so many of us are willing to wear his name and number on our backs.
—July 11, 2006
(Released, 1/7/2019; joined Mets front office as special advisor upon release)

3 comments to Year Book

  • Daniel Hall

    Besides Wilmer and Wright, and Big Man Blevins, there really isn’t anything to miss here…; this assortment of cruddy pitching…! Nope, nothing to see here. (Kellenic might be the one we will cry about for a long time, while a 39-year-old Cano will spend game time icing his sore limbs)

    Speaking of cruddy pitching… washed-up Arquimedes Caminero might have been bombed for a handful yesterday, but you just watch him make the Opening Day roster … and then this column next year. Because, and I quote, he “establish[ed] beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s suited to be a member of this ridiculous, ramshackle franchise.”

  • Mark Mehler

    RE: 7/22/17. Appreciate the shout-out. ‘‘‘Twas a fine evening in an otherwise lost season. Btw, the Jay Hey Kid is a keeper.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    4 icons representing 2 prosperous eras to top the list. Gonna be difficult to top.