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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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'Ee's a Jonah, He Is'

I spent the last five days in Chicago, getting my Star Wars on at McCormick Place and in the hotel bar. So my Mets attention was fitful and scattershot. I saw news of the first night’s events in amazing seats behind the plate at Wrigley Field (plenty of good options available when it’s still frigid), departing in the seventh when freezing rain began tumbling out of the sky. I followed the first game in Philadelphia on MLB.TV, huddled in a corner of the Delta Sky Club while wondering if I’d ever get back to New York and if the flu I’d caught would be fatal. (So far: yes, and probably not.) I was on the plane and monitoring GameDay when I saw Michael Conforto‘s AB turn into IN PLAY, RUN(S), which I took as a good omen. As, indeed, it was.

And then I got to recap Tuesday night’s delight.

With that con flu ripping through me, I conked out in my bed around 7pm, Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo speaking beside me. I woke up some indeterminate time later to hear Howie sounding exasperated, even by Howie standards. I peered at the phone. It was 8-0. Well, that wasn’t ideal.

From there I spent the game in a strange dose, sometimes just beneath the surface of consciousness and sometimes just above it. The Mets seemed to be getting an inordinate number of hits for a team down by double digits, and I knew if ever there was a park where impossible comebacks might happen, it was Philadelphia. My sick, slumbering brain proved more creative than actual reality, though — I kept dreaming comebacks which turned out not to exist. The gap steadily widened, the narrative turned into the relative heroism of Drew Gagnon, and Howie began complaining about HBO shows not being “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the Barclays Center and its unsuitability for hockey, and anything else about modern life that crossed his radar. (To his credit, he was generally amusing in his grumpiness, and admitted that hey, it was 14-3. Meanwhile, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were trying on hotdog hats next door. However you tuned in, the night was more about survival than broadcasting awards.)

One thing I’d missed while in Chicago was the return of Paul Sewald. I must now sigh deeply.

For years I’ve had an odd habit of taking a deep dislike to one Met on the roster, concluding that everything that befalls the team is obviously his fault. Sometimes players deserve this by seeming generally unlikeable — Michael Tucker, Jon Niese, or Jim Leyritz in his happily brief spring-training cameo. (By the way, Steven Matz was thoroughly Niesean in his performance, and it’s high time someone taught him to stop feeling sorry for himself on the mound.)

Sometimes my deep dislike is inexplicable — I detested Jose Vizcaino for years before he became a Yankee and crushed our dreams in 2000. Couldn’t tell you why, but anyone singing the praises of “the Viz” made me want to throttle people. Other times my animosity builds gradually, in response to ever-mounting hangdog tragedy and buzzard’s luck. For an example of this last kind of dislike, we need go no farther than Aaron Heilman.

And Sewald. Sewald always looks doughty and determined, but it never makes a damn bit of difference — he’s doomed when he steps on the mound, and everybody knows it. Yeah, he was OKish Tuesday night. That’s because the game wasn’t close. If it had been 3-3 he’d have been undressed by a line drive, Charlie Brown-style, and have Jeff McNeil bring back the baseball in a dog dish. You know this, I know this, and most likely Paul Sewald knows it. (Mickey Callaway probably doesn’t, because I don’t think he knows anything.) Sewald is a warm body, a replacement level nonentity, a ham-and-egger with no detectable redeeming features besides being bipedal and ambulatory. Every day he spends on our roster eats minutely at my soul.

This tradition of inexplicable blame goes back way before baseball — in the English navy, tragic shipmates were known as Jonahs, and treated with everything from open hostility to secretly murderous intent. I certainly don’t want any of those things to happen to Sewald, who seems a decent sort, but he’s a Jonah and disaster will stalk the Mets so long as he trods the decks of the S.S. Mickey, getting whacked by booms and run over by poorly secured barrels and skulled by heavy, salt-sodden lines.

While thinking of Jonahs, a postscript: in the offseason I started gathering Topps cards for potential new players, and noticed a weird set with a unique Gregor Blanco card. What was Topps Emerald Nuts? It turned out to be a sponsored set given away at Giants games, with the same look as that year’s Topps cards but some different photos and unique cards. And I realized to my horror that it had existed from 2005 through 2012 without my being aware of it.

The Emerald Nuts people would probably say they just wanted to make a nice giveaway, but I know the truth: their sets constitute a rogue’s gallery of all-time Met Jonahs, possibly with malefic powers. The thoroughly detestable Guillermo Mota got unique Emerald Nuts cards in three different years. Fantastically useless outfielder Andres Torres got two. Inexplicably incompetent Ramon Ramirez got one. So did Joaquin Arias, and Tyler Walker, and Jose Vizcaino. So I spent the winter haunting eBay for sets featuring players I’d been happy to mostly forget, grumbling all the while.

Paul Sewald has no Emerald Nuts card. The set hasn’t been given away since 2012. But given who Sewald is, one day he will have one. That’s a when, not an if.

9 comments to ‘Ee’s a Jonah, He Is’

  • eric1973

    Lucky you were only semi-conscious for this one. But then so was Amed Rosario.

    My only memories of Vizcaino were the goggles, of course, and the fact that Dallas Green always had him attempt to steal second every time he got on base. And that he was thrown out every single time.

    Somewhere, VERY VARGAS is chuckling to himself that at least he got 1 guy out.

    If Mickey really wanted to show some smarts and then some guts, while not allowing Diaz to go for a 4 out save:
    Let Diaz get that final out in the 8th to put out the fire and actually save the game, and then yank him out either right then and there, or after he gets 1 or 2 out in the 9th.

  • Daniel Hall

    “Sewald is a warm body, a replacement level nonentity, a ham-and-egger with no detectable redeeming features besides being bipedal and ambulatory. Every day he spends on our roster eats minutely at my soul.” – Sad, funny, and cruel at the same time; I applaud you, dear Sir. Also, Familia’s it for me, because he was actually supposed to be useful.

    Boy, sometimes I am glad the Mets play at least half their games while I am merrily asleep. What the heck is up with this rotation, though? By my count, their ERA in the last five starts (so, since Wheeler was OKAY in Atlanta) is a crisp 11.02 … weren’t those guys supposed to be assets? Well, except for VERY VARGAS Vargas. I keep looking for a way to make this Tricky Mickey’s fault, too. Maybe he makes them switch undies with each other just before the game? Keith always longs for fundies, and Tricky Mickey thinks it’s short for “flip undies”.

    Well, you come up with a better explanation before you poke holes into mine!

  • Jacobs27

    Obviously a lot went wrong here, but what’s most troubling, I’d say, is that Steven Matz supposedly already *did* learn to stop feeling sorry for himself on the mound. “Neutral thinking” Anthony DiComo reports for mlb.com:

    “[Matz] worked with the Mets’ mental skills advisor, Trevor Moawad, on a concept called neutral thinking — not thinking positively or negatively, but instead focusing solely on the steps he needed to take to succeed.
    In that fashion, Matz hoped to avoid one of the bugaboos of his career: his sporadic unravelings within starts. […] Tuesday proved that Matz is still prone to it.”
    No kidding. Maybe it’s just a momentary relapse. Matz reminds people of Matlack in his good moments, but if he can’t get past this meltdown issue, he might as well be Niese or VERY VARGAS.

    • And he was given the same uniform number as Matlack, an honor allowed him because of his promise, and, in my estimation, a fitting one because of his matching left-handedness and similar surname alphabetization. I certainly hope there’s nothing physically wrong with Matz and that this was just a momentary relapse, as you said. We need him to snap out it with positive self-talk. If he doesn’t, we could see a lot of Lack the next time he’s on the Mat.

  • Dave

    With you 100% on Sewald, but I’ll expand it to the rest of the failed task force of Quadruple-A empty uniforms who are nominally pitchers, but whose primary qualifications seem to be that they’re in possession of a pulse. I suppose that today Drew Gagnon gets sent back to Syracuse so that the Mets can reap the immeasurable benefits of having Jacob Rhame or Paul Hanhold on the roster for 24 to 48 hours. What a formula for success.

  • Gil

    When its going good for Matz, it goes good. When its not, there is no chance for him to get gritty and figure out ways to get guys out.

    He’s soft.

  • CharlieH

    Oh, my God…Wasn’t that awful?

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