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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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Nine Runs Is Worth a Thumbs-Up

Who were those strangers in blue and orange at Citi Field on Sunday?

They couldn’t have been the Mets, because they won a baseball game. And they scored nine runs! Which scored all manner of ways — a monstrous home run into the second deck from Javier Baez, a less prodigious but equally consequential clout from Jonathan Villar, RBI hits from Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, even a balk engineered by Lindor while dancing off third. That was enough to outpoint Josh Bell and Juan Soto, who are about all the Nationals have left, and take the series.

(Perhaps it would be kinder not to note that the Mets have won a total of seven eight games in all-but-over-with August and five of those were against the Nats? Seriously. They beat the Marlins, Giants and Dodgers once each and that was it for your non-Nats part of the schedule. Yikes.)

I heard the first half of the game while sitting in a kayak in the East River, which is a novel way to experience Mets baseball — Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo painted a solid word picture that was only occasionally an odd contrast to being surrounded by water, and their call of Baez’s moonshot was sufficiently awestruck that I immediately bookmarked it for a look-see as soon as I got home. (In the meantime, I thrust a paddle skyward, whooped and scared a kid in a nearby boat. Sorry about that.)

The original plan in our house had been to depart at about the two-thirds point in the Mets game for a trip down to Coney Island to see the Cyclones, but my wife and I were logy and sometimes Sunday is about deciding the couch is the best getaway of all. As it turned out, Noah Syndergaard‘s second rehab start got scratched anyway — he tested positive for Covid, though thankfully he had the brains to be vaccinated and is experiencing an asymptomatic breakthrough infection. It’s still enough to scotch his plans to return for a while yet, the latest misadventure in an odyssey that’s gone from tragic to downright farcical —  we got the setback, the question of whether not to relieve, the odd decision to not throw breaking stuff, the Mets being caught off-guard by that odd decision, and now this. Next we’ll be told that Noah might return for the last series, but he’ll pitch left-handed and throw only eephus pitches. I adore Syndergaard and would find considerable solace in a mere 2021 cameo from him, but this is getting ridiculous. And I don’t see what it would help, now that the horses are running around the pasture and the barn’s burned down (doors and all) and a meteor hit the smoking ashes and uh-oh the horses seem to have fallen into the crater and oops I forgot this was a meteor shower and … well, that could have gone better.

Hey, maybe the Mets can change that bleak assessment with the little time they have left. Scoring nine runs a day would be a good start.

(What’s that? You were expecting a hot take on the thumbs-down controversy? Sorry, I gave up caring about things that are both deeply stupid and utterly inconsequential for Lent — in 1990 — and have stuck with that strategy. I highly recommend doing the same.)

24 comments to Nine Runs Is Worth a Thumbs-Up

  • Harvey Poris

    The Mets won 8 games in August. You missed one against the Dodgers. I’m also disappointed that you didn’t address the thumbs-down issue. Your silence supports those spoiled, overpaid, and underperforming players. We fans pay good money for admission, overpriced hot dogs and beers and booing has been part of the game forever. Earlier this year, the Yankee fans booed their team and how did the players respond? they kept their heads down, mouths shut and began to win like crazy. The Mets players are behaving like jerks and you should call them out.

  • Dave

    Suggest that Mets fans ignore a controversy in which they themselves are part of the story, while the team is agonizingly nose-diving? In this economy?

  • MEKeating

    In retrospect, the most disturbing element of the Baez trade was Lindor’s ecstatic squeal in reaction to it (a considerable contrast to most Met fans’ WTF sensation). It’s an uncomfortable issue to bring up, but this may very well speak to an Anglo-Latino divide in the clubhouse, and potentially, a number of white racist players. The first indication was the raccoon-rat incident, which we all laughed off at the time. More importantly however, Baez will be quickly forgotten after the season (and possibly blackballed). But we’re stuck with Lindor for 9 more years.

  • Stuart Cohn

    From the new owner on down, are there any adults in this organization?

  • Michael Caputo

    You know what, I have given much of my attention to baseball and this franchise. Since I was an 8-year-old I grew up with an amount of focus on the Mets. At first it was just grabbing onto to the winning NY team (1973) and then I grew to appreciate the everyman quality of the Mets as opposed to the pampered, whining nature of the crosstown team. Guys like Mazzilli and Mookie didn’t have the talent, but the appeared as though they gave it their all. Then we gained the Gooden-Strawberry kids coupled with the Hernandez-Carter additions and low-and-behold there was a team to cherish. They were partiers and brawlers but they were ours and, at least it appeared as though, we were theirs. Bonilla, Murray and Saberhagen tested the bounds of fandom but then came these no-names who somehow became winners under Valentine (who had the same brash tone as Johnson). Piazza and Ventura and Leiter gave us the grand-slam single in the rain and the near opportunity to win a Subway Series. Then we reverted to losers, but I would still check the box scores. Beltran arrived and for a solid year he was booed. I didn’t like it and neither did he. In 2006 he hit a clutch dinger and was forced to give an encore wave. And we accepted it. So many tough years. Then we had the wonder of DeGrom and Thor and Harvey (for a spell) and the 2015 of Cespedes and Wilmer tugging at our hearts. Alonso is fun and so, too, was the Flying Squirrel. Then this.

    So here’s the thing. To me the attention expended on this team is akin to having a love affair. You have moments where you are disappointed and you muddle through because they are yours and, you think, you are there’s. Silly, no? Of course it is. Ain’t no reasoning with ardor. But this just feels different. It feels like being told to accept all the shit brought your way and like it. Maybe ballplayers always held the fans in contempt when they booed, they just kept it to themselves. Maybe I’m a spouse completely unaware that his mate is fooling around. This fan thing is about feelings and has a bit of an unexplainable connection to it. So many places call for logic and reason. Why should the escapism of a thing like baseball demand that too.

    So I’ve gotten myself the mental lawyer and have the papers in hand. Maybe I’m bullshitting myself and I’ll continue to check the boxscores for a losing team and listen to Howie. But it feels different today. And maybe, just maybe, I can move my attention to another direction.

    Thanks for the opportunity to rant. This blog is one of the gems of being a Met fan. Maybe you can talk me into staying in this fan-marriage.

    • Seth

      I have said before, when you live with someone day in, day out, you get on each other’s nerves sometimes, no matter how much you love each other. But eventually the love prevails. In this time of incredible frustration for both Mets fans and players, it’s not surprising that it manifested itself in some form. I hope we don’t dwell too much on this.

  • eric1973

    Thumbs down on these few immature crybabies, like Lindor and Baez.

    They should behave like mature adults and take it like mature adults. We wanted to get under their skin with the booing, and we did. So good for us, and we should take it as a victory for the fans.

    This also shows a lack of leadership, and they can all do a ‘hands-down’ if it will get Rojas and Zack Scott out of here.

    We only root to win, so at the same time, hope Lindor and Baez hit .400 for the rest of the season and then don’t care if they fall into a manhole, ridiculous attention-starved hair and all.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Gotta love players hitting .210, .212 and .227 booing the fans during one good game in past month…During the mid- to late-1970s, when I was equally a Mets and Yanks fan (easier to do then), I attended many a game when Reggie Jackson was booed–almost always to some extent (he did strike out a lot and was the “bad” black/Hispanic guy in Munson and Martin disputes) and often quite loudly. Yet he maintained his HOF career and went on to hit 3 dingers in a Series game and etc.

    And as others have pointed out, star Yanks just this year were booed constantly but they kept their heads down and have soared to current heights. I have never been a boo boy myself and never happy about it but, come on, Baez and Lindor are babies and just adds to bad vibe around team for supportive fans. Ask Lindor–if he had signed a $340 million deal with Cleveland and then hit .225 does he think his beloved fans there would not be booing now?

  • Eric

    My hot take is I wonder if the stars doing the thumbs-down ritual — ie, Baez and Lindor — are adopting the exit strategy employed by stars in other pro sports who successfully PR-poisoned their way to divorcing a team. Former Rocket, current Nets guard James Harden for example. That doesn’t explain why a player like Pillar would join in, though.

    My warm take is it feels empowering as a sports fan to learn that the demigod players we follow are actually sensitive to our feedback, at least the 1 crude mob form of it.

    As for the Mets win, the Braves and Phillies wins dampened my hope the Mets will slice off 3-4, even 5 with luck, games from the Braves’ lead over this stretch.

    At the same time, I usually don’t consider the Mets a viable contender and scoreboard watch until the Mets are at least at .500, and they still need to make up 4 games to get back there.

  • open the gates

    I haven’t been paying so much attention to the Mets lately – a combination of their continuous losing, a heavy work schedule, and real life stuff taking front stage. (Afghanistan has pretty much sapped my ability to be truly outraged by anything thel Mets have done recently.) I will say this, however, to the Lindors and Baezes present and future. Noo Yawk’s a tough town, see? When you don’t do well here, you get booed. Hell, we even booed Mike Piazza here. Granted, that was dumb, but Piazza responded like a man, which was to say he kept his mouth shut, picked up his bat, and resumed being Mike Piazza. I’ve been pretty easy on Lindor this season, all things considered – I commended him on his great fielding, his professionalism, and his clubhouse leadership. I’m done with that – he’s not worth working that hard on. You get paid that kind of money and give that kind of return, you shut up and take your boos like a man. Even more so for Baez, who hasn’t been around here long enough to be this obnoxious. Pillar still gets a partial pass for toughing out that face injury, but the brownie points won’t last forever. In short, I’m getting a little whiff of ’93 here – the memories of Vince Coleman tossing around cherry bombs, Saberhagen bleaching reporters, Bonilla threatening to show people the Bronx. That was the one time I seriously considered giving up the Mets for good. I would tell Lindor and anyone else on this team, don’t walk that path. You’ll lose a lot more fans that way than you would by losing ballgames. And good for Sandy for calling them out. I’m tired of the crybabies. Go cry in a big pile of cash, Frankie.

    Gee, that felt good.

  • Jacobs27

    Went to said Cyclones game but didn’t realize Thor had tested positive until we arrived. It was not a particularly inspiring affair, but we did get a pack of Cyclones baseball cards for this year’s team. A win in itself.

    They’re not Topps, but Choice SportsCards. Nice enough all the same.

    Speaking of less-than-ideal attitudes from players, Ronny Mauricio had a couple of hits, but got so bent out of shape about a borderline strike call in one at bat that ended up taking a fastball right down the middle for strike three. Was barking about it to the ump on his way back to the dug out. He also got picked off pretty carelessly in Villar-esque fashion. Hopefully these are growing pains…

  • Matt T

    I salute you avoiding this absurdly blown out of proportion non story. Booing is lame. The players retaliating (albeit in an incredibly mild way despite the hysterical headlines) is lame. But I have no time for anyone who staunchly defends the former and treats the latter as a capital crime. And I can’t help but notice that despite the fact that Pillar was mentioned as one of the *clutches pearls* perpetrators of this ghastly behavior, when I see folks calling out players for being immature crybabies etc it is almost always Baez and Lindor that get mentioned and them alone. Hmmm. I’d like to get back to baseball please and thank you.

  • eric1973

    When I heard that Thor had COVID, I had assumed he was an anti-vaxxer, since he has been so obnoxious throughout his stay here, from that early day in Spring Training when Wright and Parnell threw his lunch in the garbage, to the recent week when he was complaining about the travel plans to LA.

    Get on the field first, before you open your big mouth.

    And BTW, as a pitcher, remember how he could never put anyone away with his fastball, and all the batters would foul his pitches off, thereby wearing him out.

  • Z

    The obvious next move is for the fans to give Baez a standing ovation and chant “M!V!P!” when he strikes out on Tuesday.

  • Michael in CT

    I don’t care how “exciting” Baez is. He strikes out way too much and makes dumb mistakes, none dumber than this thumbs-down business. At least he will be gone after the season.

    I don’t get Lindor’s anemic offense, but I was willing to cut him some slack. With this latest outrage, I feel much less charitable.

    I don’t personally like to boo players, but freedom of speech is a protected right in this country.

  • Steve D

    You can’t “boo” the fans. Most fans don’t boo anyway. What if a little kid is at the game who never booed? They cheer their player for hitting a HR and the player scowls and gives a mocking thumbs down like a wrestler to the whole stadium? This is unconscionable. Cohen must put a stop to this. I file this with the “Rat vs. Racoon” story…just a few immature, rich kids who have been coddled for years.

    Baez will be savaged with boos for sure next game. He cannot give another thumbs down. If he should do something good, I suggest he raises his arms as if to get the crowd back into the game. Turn this into a positive.

    • Seth

      “Most fans don’t boo anyway.”

      That’s the key right there. Who were they thumbs-downing? I never booed in my life — yet you’re giving me the thumbs down, too? When fans boo a player, it’s frustration directed at that specific player, not at the whole team. So why thumbs down a whole stadium?

  • eric1973

    Hey, they are just immature, thin-skinned jerks. Stroman, too. Please do not sign him, as he will be a pitching bust next year.

  • 9th string catcher

    I’m hoping Howie is not actually having health issues and instead is bailing on this unwatchable team.

    If performance and attitude is any reflection on the manager, we’ve pretty much seen the last of Rojas. Between the Donnie Stevenson issue, the rat/raccoon and the thumbs down, the endless parade of double play balls and LOBs, and endless injuries, what exactly is there to watch?

  • Seth

    Maybe Javier preferred the cardboard cutouts?

  • eric1973

    Oh, that’s hilarious!
    See, MLB, this is what happens when you let fans back into the stadiums!

  • mikeL

    funny, i thought baez thumbs down was a sort of anti-jinx : thumbs-down to doom saying. was initially glad there was a new expression that :
    a.) didn’t reference a pitch by a pitcher who’s been away dozens of player turnovers ago.
    b.) didn’t look like a white power salute (which i’d thought for 98% of my years was a sign for “ok” )

    that an ever-whiffing, underperforming, newcomer hothead would sign-boo new york fans just shows what a dope he is. seems those who boo want most to cheer. play better javi before the door hits you on your way out. til then: boo to you (and lindor too)!

    and yes jason: nine runs per game from here out would be a start. maybe then i’ll be able to believe.

  • Eric

    Approaching 9 runs a game regularly would be like a legitimate contender. A reliable 5 runs a game should be enough for a division run given that the pitching — even injury ravaged, ace bereft, constantly stressed with little run support, and bullpen overtaxed — has held up. The catchers have thrown out base stealers. The defense has held up.

    Evan Roberts made an interesting observation yesterday about the thumbs-down ritual: Its proponents, at least those identified from public statements and game video investigation, are players who joined the team this season. So no Smith, McNeil, Conforto, Alonso, Nido, etc. That indicates at least a split in the team that follows a demographic line.