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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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Interminable & Intolerable

Some unusual Met things you’re pretty sure you’ve lived through before. There’s a lot of that going around, actually. In the case of the Mets blowing a large lead when they’ve posted double-digit runs, that’s too familiar a sensation to count in the camp of “Gosh, I’m certain this has happened before, but I just can’t remember when.” Of course you’re certain. It happened the contemporary baseball equivalent of barely more than a month ago. On September 3, 2019, the Mets built a lead of 10-4 and lost to the Nationals, 11-10. Thus, when on July 31, 2020, the Mets built a lead of 10-5 and lost to the Braves, 11-10, it hardly qualified for placement under the heading of Déjà Vu All Over Again. When you follow roughly the same trajectory and lose by the exact same score for a second instance in the span of 33 regular-season games, it falls more in the category of what you do.

Two of the Mets’ fourteen most recent regular-season defeats have been inscribed into the Book of Life as Somebody Else 11 Us 10. I’d say, “think about that,” but don’t. You have enough problems.

Some Met things, however, you have a hunch you’ve never lived through before — and that’s putting aside every baked-in bizarro aspect of 2020. I know we’ve sat through some long-ass games, but something about the past three have been particularly unending and unsatisfying, so I turned to Baseball-Reference’s Stathead service (a spiffy update of their former Play Index); fed in a couple of data points; and confirmed my suspicion.

Until this week, the Mets had never lost three consecutive nine-inning games that lasted longer than three-and-a-half hours.

I know it seems like all we do is sit through interminable affairs that yield intolerable results, but what we’ve experienced from Citi Field versus the Red Sox Wednesday and Thursday and Financial Merger Facility versus the Braves Friday is unprecedented in a very specific and very dispiriting way.

Wednesday: 3:44 to play nine innings and lose to Boston, 6-5.
Thursday: 3:49 to play nine innings and lose to Boston, 4-2.
Friday: 3:35 to play nine innings and lose to Atlanta, 11-10.

The Mets are scheduled to play only sixty games, but they seem determined to cram 162 games’ worth of inaction into them.

We didn’t need extras and we didn’t have to struggle to stay awake for the sake of the West Coast. This was simply regulation long and regulation awful over and over and over. Their only saving grace was they started and somehow ended in prime time. If three nights like these don’t cure you of your giddiness to have baseball back, the next Mets game that refuses to cease or sate or both ought to inoculate you. Surely there’s another one right around the corner.

Remember when you missed baseball? Me neither.

Remember when you looked forward to baseball? I do. Right around seven o’clock Friday night. It felt good to have a baseball broadcast or two clear its throat the way a baseball broadcast does on a Friday night. Even amid a calendar whose days have blurred into one another for months, you can still pick out a Friday night in summertime. If you can’t, it’s the one with most likely a brand new series between the Mets and somebody you can’t wait to beat getting underway in a few minutes. It’s how weekends have been meant to commence since 1962.

It’s exciting. Then it’s assuring. Then, you notice, it’s gone on a while but not really getting very far. Then it’s nine o’clock and it’s only the fifth inning? Maybe it’s nine o’clock. Maybe it’s the fifth inning. Baseball likes to boast that it doesn’t run on a clock, but when you used to be able to go to ballparks, you saw clocks. When you looked at box scores, near where they kept the paid attendance, you saw time of game. Time doesn’t stand as still as we like to believe it does during a ballgame.

Unless you’ve been watching the Mets this week. These past three games, time has squirmed in its seat, never finding a position in which to feel remotely comfortable. Even when you have Jacob deGrom on the mound. Even when you’re loading the bases. Even when you’ve constructed a robust lead.

With these Mets, robust tends to go bust. On Friday, the Mets were not only ahead, 10-5, they’d been ahead, 8-2. A six-run lead. A five-run lead. Expansive by any measure, right? With matters so securely in hand, all you were left to ponder was which Mets pitcher would be credited with the Mets win, because a) the Mets — powered in particular by J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano — were obviously gonna win; and b) Rick Porcello didn’t last five innings, which, even in 2020’s wonderland of distorted and truncated rule revisions, you still need to go five innings to get a win as a starting pitcher. Porcello couldn’t get out of the fifth despite being staked to a six-run advantage.

That might have provided a clue that we’d have bigger issues than assigning W’s. The Braves scored three in the fifth off Porcello and Paul Sewald. They added another off Chasen Shreve, though Shreve was generally effective and the Mets were adding a couple more tallies of their own (Amed Rosario loves hitting in whatever the Braves call their park in whatever part of Atlanta it isn’t in). Wanna give Shreve the win? That would be fine.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Mets were leading, 10-6. No pitchers needed to be pinch-hit for because the National League no longer exists in such a natural state, yet the Mets were on their fourth pitcher of the night, Dellin Betances. In brief, it didn’t go well, and it went on extra long because two replay reviews ensued, neither of them amounting to a reversal of declining Met fortunes and both of them combining to eventually push the game into to its eighth half-hour.

Betances left with the Mets’ edge reduced to 10-8 and Braves occupying first and third. The mess was transferred to the normally reliable right hand of Seth Lugo. Like most relievers, Lugo conducts his business more cleanly when an inning isn’t already in horrifying progress. Like most pitchers, starting or relieving, Lugo is best served by a home plate umpire identifying strikes as strikes. Seth had to deal with Betances’s runners and getting squeezed by Mike Wegner. We don’t make excuses for Seth Lugo, but we do try to cut our best reliever of the past two years some slack.

Still, when he got to a bases-loaded, two-out situation and the opposing batter was Travis d’Arnaud, we had to know what was coming. I assumed d’Arnaud knew what was coming, given that he was Lugo’s catcher fairly often as a Met. Multiply the vengeful ex-Met factor (Adeiny Hechavarria had led off the inning with a single) by the battery-familiarity factor and, yup, Travis d’Arnaud, whom the Mets let go with not much more than a second thought last year, doubled home three runs. The third of those runs put the Braves ahead, 11-10, the official score of you’ve got to be kidding me.

Nope, no kidding. No victory. No good at all, really. An individual exploit here or there notwithstanding, it’s hard to get enthused over being 3-5 after eight games. We knew that back when we could only imagine what it would feel like to be 3-5 after eight games. Except we can, for the first time in the history of Metkind, say we saw three consecutive nine-inning Met losses that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours apiece.

I didn’t say we’d want to say it, I’m just saying we can.

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