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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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Silent Movie

Sometimes life — by which I mean, “that stuff scheduled around baseball games” — gets in the way.

First there was dinner, then a podcast interview. I moved what I could thanks to the kindness of other folks involved, but only so much movement was possible, and the Mets would have to take a back seat to non-baseball events.

Which was OK, because over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping tabs on what’s happening in that metaphorical back seat. At dinner, I had Gameday tucked between my knees, a little glowing rectangle of tidings from the baseball world. My kid was a beat ahead — I hadn’t known it, but it turns out At Bat notifications go out a second or two before Gameday. So I knew if Joshua grabbed for his phone (he’s still working on subtlety, but so was I at 16), it was time for me to put down my fork, scoot my shoulders back and peek down between my knees for an update.

We got back to my in-laws’ house with the Phillies up 2-1, which was worrisome but hardly seemed insurmountable. Except now I was scheduled to be interviewed for a Star Wars podcast. My answer: ESPN with the sound off.

I could follow what was going on, but I needed about two-thirds of my brain to respect my interviewers and talk Star Wars without sounding like a total idiot. Which seemed unfortunate but turned out to be a kindness, because it meant only one-third of my brain wound up freaking out at the Mets and Mickey Callaway.

I actually don’t have a problem with bunting with first and second and nobody out. Or at least I don’t think I do.

The Mets absolutely needed to score at least one run, and the base-out matrix tells you that the bunt slightly elevated their chances of scoring at least one. It’s not a big difference — an additional 6.6 percent — but it’s there, making the call statistically defensible. (Having a minimally competent position player bunt with none out and a runner on first, on the other hand, is not defensible — it actually decreases the odds of scoring at least one run.)

Yes, the Mets had just six outs left to burn and handed the Phils one of them for free. Yes, they were on the road, where conventional wisdom says you play for the win and not the tie. Yes, the base-out matrix also tells you that the bunt cuts the number of runs you’ll score on average in that situation. Yes, those are a fair number of yes-es. But even as someone often driven to frothing rage by bunting, I can squint and understand the decision: tie things up, hold the line, and take another shot at that beleaguered Phillies pen. (Incidentally, Gabe Kapler took Zach Eflin out after 84 pitches despite having given up only three hits, lest you think only our manager does odd things.)

Nor do I have a problem with resting J.D. Davis in the Sunday game, though I came to that conclusion reluctantly and it took me a little longer to get there. Davis looked a little heavy-legged to me in the first two games of the Philly series, and presumably he’ll now be in there for the Monday day game against the Nats.

Opting for Daniel Zamora against Bryce Harper, though? That one bugged me. Callaway said Justin Wilson was unavailable, but Wilson hadn’t thrown an unreasonable number of pitches over the last few games, and he’s a far better bet than Zamora to get the inning off to a clean start. Speaking more generally, it’s now September and the Mets are fighting for their postseason lives. If you’re going to push Wilson past his comfort zone, isn’t a 2-2 game where a win brings you to within three of the wild card the time to do that?

(But wait, Jace — didn’t you just have no objection to resting J.D.? Yeah, I did say that, didn’t I? Maybe by tomorrow I’ll have changed my mind again.)

Granted, the Mets could done any number of things to make that eighth inning a sideshow instead of the main event. They could have done more in a bandbox against Eflin, whose campaign hadn’t exactly been stellar so far. Brandon Nimmo could have thrown to the proper base as things unraveled. (Welcome back anyway, Brandon — our smilingest Met did work a seven-pitch walk.) Jeff McNeil could have delivered the hit we so often expect from him (and perhaps have come to take for granted). Jeurys Familia could have not walked the first batter he faced, as he’s done far too often, and could have thrown Scott Kingery something other than the same pitch he’d just thrown him in much the same location.

But still, throwing a brand-new callup with a mixed track record out there against Bryce Freaking Harper with everything on the line? Shit, Mickey, really?

As it was, the Cubs and Diamondbacks both lost, which limits the damage somewhat. But it’s another opportunity not seized and another day off the calendar, and all too soon that will be damage enough. Or maybe it already has been, and we just don’t know it yet.

17 comments to Silent Movie

  • Dr. Louis Verardo

    Read your post, and I found myself nodding in agreement over many of the sentiments you expressed, especially in the last paragraph. And yet, when I think about disengaging from the hope of being in a pennant race, I think I would miss the central part of what I experience as a fan of this franchise: becoming fully engaged with the team, win or lose (preferably win), because that process resonates with me and fulfills a need to feel connected. It’s akin to saving yourself from a broken heart by never falling in love; yes, you avoid getting hurt, but you miss out on the most satisfying, the most fundamental part of being a person. So I will watch and listen, dream and pray, and follow the schedule to the end, no matter what, because the New York Mets are a part of my life, they are a source of discussion with my patients and colleagues, and they both enrich and infuriate my daily experience.

    Ya gotta believe, right?

  • David R.

    Wasn’t the real mistake made one night earlier, when he let Lugo pitch the ninth with a three-run lead, making him unavailable last night?

  • EastFallowfield

    Phils reporter: Asked Zach Eflin if he thought he had more in the tank after the 84 pitches across 7 high-quality innings. Said arm felt good but that he’s been nursing oblique tightness last few days and it crept back up in the middle innings.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    The fact that ESPN shows the strike zone box on every pitch demonstrated how poorly Joe West called balls and strikes. And then he fell on top of Rajai Davis on a play at the plate. I am amazed that Rajai was able to get up under his own power after that.

    MLB should be embarrassed that this tub of lard continues to waddle out onto the field to officiate games. He is as much of a black eye for the game as last weekend’s uniforms.

  • Harvey Poris

    Stick a fork in the Mets they are done. Almost all their remaining games are with N.L. teams with winning records. Against such teams so far this year they are 28-47. They are slightly above .500 because of a 15-5 record against the A.L., 11-4 vs. Miami, 5-1 vs Pitt and 2-1 vs Colorado.

  • Left unanswered – which Star Wars podcast?

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    One reason I enjoy these essays is they wrap the life of a Met fan around a smart fan’s notes on the game. Struck here too by the first comment and its “better to have loved and lost” thought. Yes, but we’re in a relationship with the Wilpons, who are not trustworthy, loyal or caring partners. Regarding the kids we fight over – the Mets – they’re still at .507 in September and occupy a corner in the playoff picture. The kids are alright!

  • MikeS

    Joeybags, good comment. Here’s another stat I keep thinking about. At the allstar break the bullpen had lost 20 leads. If we had won 10 of those we’d be second in the division and first in the wild card.

  • Daniel Hall

    The best thing about this game was that ESPN grabbed it, which freed up my 19:00 / 1pm ET slot to watch a game of my choice. I chose (unwittingly) to get a look at the Astros. Scouting ahead for the Mets’ World Series opposition (ba-hah!), y’know?

    Verlander 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K

    That was fun.

  • open the gates

    True, our dance partners the next few weeks don’t bode so well for the boys in orange and blue, but hey, that’s why we play the games. And now we have the return of Nimmo and Cano, a bunch more arms in the bullpen, and even the possibility of a Jed Lowrie sighting. With some deft managerial moves deploying these troops, we might actually…

    On second thought, I’ll shut up now.

  • eric1973

    Zamora? Really? With the season on the line.

    It’s like he couldn’t wait until SEP01, so he could use him again.

    Oh, Mickey, what a pity
    You don’t understand…