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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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Just a Game (Is All You Need)

Goodness knows the Mets have had plenty of drama in this very strange year. But every so often, they play a baseball game that’s just a baseball game, refreshingly free of sideshows and controversies and agita. And it’s a reminder that, to quote the endlessly quotable Bull Durham, “this game’s fun, damn it.”

At our house the game began on the radio, as we were out in the backyard grilling — on a perfect evening, with mosquitos still happily absent. It was 2-2 when we moved inside, saying farewell to Howie Rose and new fill-in John Sadak and hello to old friend Kevin Burkhardt and, well, Joe Girardi. (Who was fine, though I kept thinking that, as with some other baseball lifers, Girardi looks faintly ill at ease if he’s wearing anything that isn’t a uniform.)

The Mets and Rockies kept trading blows (on the scoreboard, not between the pitcher’s mound and home plate), with Carlos Gomez‘s two-run homer matched by singles from Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, then Todd Frazier‘s RBI single followed by some lousy Mets defense that scored Brendan Rodgers. It was 3-3 as Steven Matz topped 80 pitches, then 90, and just kept going.

When the count topped 100, I have to confess I was muttering to myself. This was Matz, the Mets starter most likely to have an arm actually come off mid-pitch, spontaneously combust, or do both at once. Still, a look at the Mets bullpen made me think a one-armed, burning-like-a-torch Matz was better than any of Mickey Callaway‘s options for the sixth inning. (Or Jim Riggleman‘s — Callaway was ejected in the fifth, having had enough of Mike Winters’ surrealist, wobbling parallelogram of a strike zone.) Matz allowed a leadoff single to Ian Desmond, fanned Rodgers, and hit Tony Wolters. Jon Gray tried to bunt the runners over, but Wilson Ramos pounced on the ball and threw to third, getting Desmond fairly easily.

That left Matz facing Blackmon, a dangerous confrontation at any pitch count. Matz’s final pitch of the night was a high curveball — but Blackmon swung under it, and Matz was out of the inning and the game at once. He’d wind up the winner thanks to a Ramos double past Blackmon, a Frazier single and a double-play grounder from Amed Rosario, with Pete Alonso chipping in an insurance run with a homer just above the left-field wall. Alonso arrived at third along with the ball, then hung around a bit sheepishly in the dugout with his helmet on until the umpires declared that it was, in fact, a home run.

It’s been a weird year, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler all maddeningly inconsistent. Quietly, Matz has become the guy you worry least about — he’s had two bad starts all year, and the Mets are 8-4 in his outings. I’ll happily sign up for that kind of performance and an Alonso homer, particularly if that also comes with the game as faithful companion on a pleasant spring evening. Sometimes a game’s just a game, and that’s more than enough.

5 comments to Just a Game (Is All You Need)

  • Bob

    Excellent effort & game by Matz!

    You say it perfectly–
    “Callaway was ejected in the fifth, having had enough of Mike Winters’ surrealist, wobbling parallelogram of a strike zone.)”

    I thought my eyes were going on some of those balls & strikes calls…
    Many years ago–2006, I was at Mets Spring Training at Pt. St. Semi Lucid and I had great field level seats.
    When the umps made lousy calls, I’d yell out–“Hey ump, want me to get your seeing eye dog to find your glasses?!” On one occasion, the ump did turn to me and smile…

    Let’s Go Mets

  • mikeL

    … a one-armed, burning-like-a-torch Matz was better …

    hell yea he was.
    matz looked very determined (and bad-ass) up there in the big blackmon spot.
    no channelling his inner niese…i like it!

  • Dave R.

    Anybody else get the feeling, watching the Fox broadcast, that it sounded like a job interview for Girardi, especially when Burkhardt asked Girardi for his impressions of the Mets and Girardi gave an unusually detailed answer?

  • eric1973

    I opted for the pleasure of listening to Howie Rose and the new guy, even though the radio was about 30 seconds ahead of the TV.

    Good thing is, when that happens, you can zone out, read a book, and then just put on the TV to see what was just described.

    Howie said that Girardi was in the building and did not say why, leading many of us to hope he was there for a real job interview.

  • Daniel Hall

    For FOX standards, this was an amazing broadcast. Okay, low bar… Girardi was *okay*. Burkhardt could have lost a word or two about the Mets kept him fed for a while. But I don’t regret not going first instinct and flicking off the game when I saw the FOX logo.

    I also appreciate Matz biting his way through that tough-as-nails lineup and his own past combombulations. Couldn’t have asked for much more from this game.