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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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Execution Day (Is Not Today)

With the Mets in a pennant race again, I’ve been remembering all the little stresses that come with meaningful games in September.

Here’s one of them: Getting to within an hour or two of the game and thinking that this could be Execution Day — the day where, if they don’t win, you can pretty much write them off.

On Sunday, you probably heard if you didn’t see with your own eyes, the Mets flubbed a chance to move within three of the Cubs and half a game of the Phillies. The damage was lessened by the Cubs and Diamondbacks losing … if you discount the fact that another day was lost from the calendar, which is increasingly hard to do as September rolls along.

Anyway, the schedule dictated that Sunday night’s dispiriting loss and missed opportunity would be followed a day game in another city against a red-hot baseball team. That sounded like a recipe for another loss, and then the Mets would be facing Max Scherzer, and … well, yeah, maybe Monday was Execution Day, the day belief put its neck on the chopping block.

But baseball, as always, is a funny thing.

I wasn’t particularly surprised that Noah Syndergaard came out looking to put a hurt on some unfortunate enemy nine, as his implosion against the Cubs struck me as more lousy luck and bad defense than anything else. And, indeed, Syndergaard carved up the Nats. He gave up a leadoff single to Trea Turner, then retired the next 16, and ended with 90 pitches and seven spotless innings.

Meanwhile, the Mets ambushed Joe Ross — whose curveball looked positively vicious early — with contributions from up and down the lineup. J.D. Davis looked rejuvenated after an off-day in Philly, while Brandon Nimmo burned up 15 pitches in his first two ABs and then doubled on the first pitch he saw in his third appearance, which is pretty much the classic mix of Nimmoesque (Brandonian?) patience and aggression that we’ve missed all summer. Joe Panik and Rene Rivera had RBIs, and Jeff McNeil cracked a homer that he desperately needed for his own sanity. Seriously, McNeil grounded out to the pitcher to end the second, stranding two, and I was a little worried that he might implode into a neutron star of self-loathing.

Instead of two crushing losses in 18 hours, the Mets wiped the slate clean — or at least cleanish — with a laugher. That would make no sense in fiction, but in baseball it’s just a “well, of course,” because anyone who tries to outguess this sport will soon make a fool of himself or herself.

The rest of Labor Day’s wild-card machinations weren’t particularly Mets-friendly, as the Cubs, Phillies and Diamondbacks all won, meaning the Mets only made up ground on the Brewers. That’s another one of the stresses of being a team on the bubble in September — hoping the scoreboard will give you a triple-bank shot in the standings. And, of course, time claimed another of its daily victories.

Tomorrow the Mets send Jacob deGrom out to face Scherzer. Maybe events will conspire to make that feel like Execution Day. Or maybe it will be the day after that. Or maybe the Mets will keep avoiding that date, ducking the hangman while he’s busy elsewhere.

All we know is this, and it’s a good thing to know: Execution Day? It wasn’t today.

18 comments to Execution Day (Is Not Today)

  • Steve

    I feel like we need to win 8/10 (including the game we won Monday, so really 7/2) to stay in this thing. That would mean we put a real dent in Arizona and Philly and reeled the Gnats back in a bit. It should also be enough to close the gap with the Cubs. Still work to do then, but that should level the field.

  • LisaMetsFan

    My brother always uses “the rule of seven” on September 1st. His personal theory is if you team is no more than seven games out on September 1st, they still have a chance. Not a great one, mind you (dare I say “slightly alive”)? But a chance. So for the Mets to be four games out of the WC on 9/2 I feel pretty darn good. LGM! Another hot streak would be awesome right about now…

  • Daniel Hall

    That was a fun game. At least until the really, really, really shallow end of the pen became involved. I mean shallow in the sense of, don’t dive in here, head first, and don’t even think about jumping in bum first. Just walk in and as calmly as possible sit down in all five inches’ worth of stale water.

    • MikeS

      It’s gonna take a Metsian miracle to clinch a WC. Not only do we have to go on a major win streak, but we have to rely on other teams to beat up on the cubs and/or nats since we play neither again after Wednesday. As Mets fans we know all too well teams can collapse in September. What do we have to offer the baseball gods for this to happen? Btw, cubs schedule is easy, nats relatively harder.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Great to watch last night, love a day game. Never quite relaxed though, no idea why Noah didn’t start the 8th? Great to have Nimmo back, “Brandonian” is an excellent descriptive word. We keep fighting

  • Harvey Poris

    Whatever happens to the Mets, at least there are the Cyclones. Brooklyn swept the hated Staten Island Yankees in their last three games of the year to win their division, make the playoffs and eliminate those Yankees from playoff possibilities. Its a shame they don’t get more press in NY.

    • Jacobs27

      Thanks for mentioning this. It is some solace, even as they did it with an ex-Staten Island Yankee in their line up.
      Dear God last night hurts, though.

  • 9th String Catcher

    You see, we never ever do anything nice and easy.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Is there anyone who DIDN’T say, when Dunderhead pulled Thor after 90 pitches, that he was going bring in one of last guys in pen who would give up at least 3 runs and lead to burning (needed or not, with two outs) once and future closer? That’s how Mickey rolls. And see the previous game: “Zamora, Daniel.”

    • Seth

      I am Mickey. I am robot.
      I am programmed.
      I go to bullpen.
      I have arms in bullpen, I must use them.
      I am not programmed to evaluate talent.
      I have arms in bullpen, I must use them.
      I have arms in bullpen, I must use them.

  • mikeL

    ^^ yup, would be nice to slam the door on these ‘laughers’,
    giving the opponent more at bats and runs an hope is no way to demoralize an opponent. probably a sure way to alienate one’s own lineup after all of their production.

    but yes, the execution has been stayed.

    now those unnecessary recent and not-so-recent losses loom large as the mets must be nearly perfect. they’re all jake now.

  • open the gates

    Doesn’t it always seem like when we lose it’s because of Mickey, and when we win it’s despite Mickey? I’ve very rarely said this sort of thing about a Met manager – frankly, I thought Terry Collins got a bum rap in NY, even though he was never the best tactical manager, but at least he had some baseball instincts and some leadership qualities. But with Mickey – I think we need to go all the way back to Jeff Torborg to find the combination of ineptitude and cluelessness inherent in our current skipper. This may seem harsh, but if we lose this season, the buck stops with Mickey.

  • 9th string catcher

    Now it’s execution day. Good night, all.

    Now can we get a manager?

    Rip 2019

    • Steve D

      That was shocking for sure. He blasted a 100 mph fastball…but that can’t happen. Worst blown 9th inning lead in team history?

      • Made in the Shea-de

        Yep. They were 274-0 when leading by 6 runs in the 9th. And I think MLB was 240-0 this season under those conditions.

  • Matt

    There’s a nice symmetry. The post for September 2nd’s game is “Execution Day (Is Not Today)”, and the post for September 3rd’s game can be “Execution Day (Was Today)”. And it’s not just the ultra painful loss. It’s that every other team they’re chasing won… :(

  • […] debacle wasn’t Elimination Day, which is about math, but it was Execution Day, which is about belief. Before Tuesday, in my heart of hearts I insisted the Mets would somehow win […]

  • CharlieH

    I think Execution Day could have been Saturday, September 7th, but more definitively Sunday, the 8th.