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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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I Wouldn’t Bet On It

The barrage of Rob Manfred-encouraged ya gotta gamble on baseball! entreaties overwhelming SNY’s airwaves in some incarnation seemingly every half-inning (never mind that Major League Baseball in the minuscule personage of Bowie Kuhn once cast out Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle — in retirement — for accepting jobs that required them to golf with a casino’s clients), whether they feature…

• Steve Gelbs ducking in and updating live odds, presumably because the sponsor wasn’t happy with Gary Cohen’s contempt-dripping minimalist read of its copy;

• Drew Brees pretending to hang out in a sports bar with a trio of randos we’re supposed to believe are his bosom buddies (I’ve seen more of Drew Brees than I have Drew Smith in the second half);

• a fake sports anchor interviewing a fake sports fan about how real happy he is to have hypothetically cashed in on his hypothetical bet;

• or the guy who comes on to shout at those of us whose most pleasant hours of any day are largely informed by watching baseball that, contrary to what everybody is saying, baseball isn’t dying

…are totally lost on me. I don’t wish to gamble on baseball. The more I am advised by the baseball gambling consortia that it’s what smiling, energetic people do, the less I am inclined to entertain their proposals. I’m satisfied with remaining dour and lethargic by comparison to the actors in the commercials. I’m satisfied with caring about the outcome of a baseball game and its myriad components on the merits already inherent in baseball. I’ve stayed with baseball for love of the game, not the winning of money.

Also, I’d be terrible at it. I don’t mean the winning of money. Just the process of choosing how to lose the money. Saturday night’s Mets-Nationals game was a prime example of what I would face.

Bet on the Mets? How could I not bet on the Mets? Max Scherzer is going for the Mets. Max Scherzer is going for his 200th win. Max Scherzer pitched well enough to win his 200th last time out, he just wasn’t supported in his effort. This time Scherzer is facing his old team, his old team that has been full-out dreadful all season without him (and without everybody else who won a championship barely three years ago). Narrative City, baby! And the one Washington National who would be recognizable to anybody from the 2019 World Series, Patrick Corbin, is starting for the Nats, and he’s become synonymous with veteran starter who’s completely lost his way: 5-17, 6.56 ERA and a piñata to Mets batters. The first-place Mets are rolling, they’re at home, the Nationals are the worst team in the sport — the only question is which MLB-sanctioned tout service do I utilize to place my surefire wager?

Except, save for the betting part, I didn’t think all of the above solely. I also thought this:

Bet on the Mets? Against the Nationals? You mean like betting on the Mets in September of 1985 against the Pirates, who were that year’s version of the Nationals? The Mets were in a heated pennant race with the Cardinals and had everything to play for and they were at Shea, where a New York attendance record was being established, and the Pirates barely existed, with their manager on the way out and nobodies dotting their lineup…and the Pirates took two out of three that weekend, behind, among others, rookie starter Bob Kipper (career ERA 14.04 before facing a single Met and commencing to lower his earned run average by six runs); rookie shortstop Sammy Khalifa (who hadn’t driven in a run since September 14, yet totaled four RBIs the weekend that spanned September 20-22); rookie third baseman Danny Gonzalez (two base hits and a run scored in Friday night’s Pittsburgh win; eleven base hits and nine runs scored over the course of the remainder of his entire career); and Jose DeLeon (season’s record 2-18 before the series, yet he proceeded to notch his very first save of ’85 versus us).

I’m gonna bet against the legendary Max Scherzer and my mighty Metropolitans? Hell no!

I’m gonna bet against the slight possibility that a team in the present day might replicate the performance of a crew of washed-ups and no-names from 37 years ago that rattles around in my brain just in case the Mets should find themselves at the top of their division and taking on a supposed hapless opponent? Honestly, no.

I’d bet anything can happen in a baseball game, not that anything will happen. This is why my wallet stays in my pocket every time one of those ads runs. This is why I’m poorer only from an experiential standpoint that Max Scherzer and the Mets lost to Patrick Corbin and the Nationals, 7-1, on Saturday night. All I bet was my time, and that’s baked into a perpetual “let it ride” quinella with gambling my emotions. I was simultaneously surprised that the Mets would show themselves to be utterly unsuccessful and unfortunate in taking care of business as logically anticipated while not terribly taken aback that the Nationals would rise up and appear hapful for a night. It happens, even for the hapless.

Corbin was back to his presumed-dead previous self for seven innings of three-hit mastery. Scherzer left after five with “fatigue” in his left side, which the righty later reassured us we shouldn’t worry about, and why would any of us worry about a Met co-ace who missed time from oblique issues taking himself out of a 1-1 pitchers’ duel in September? The Met bullpen was solid until it turned squishy and then, accompanied by an ill-timed outbreak of loosey-goosey defense, went splat!Adonis Medina, thank you for your intermittent service, but you can pick up your one-way ticket to Syracuse at the departure gate; Bryce Montes de Oca, we’ll talk later — while no Met hitter besides Eduardo Escobar (second consecutive game homering) did anything against anybody clad in gray and red.

The 1985 New York Mets lost two out of three to the 1985 Pittsburgh Pirates in September. It was a bad sign for a team to finish three games out in the days when you either won the division or went home. The 2022 New York Mets lost one to the 2022 Washington Nationals on a September night at the outset of the playoff multiverse era (when the 2022 Atlanta Braves defeated the 2022 Miami Marlins on a bases-loaded ninth-inning walk, as if something like that had never happened before) after winning one from the 2022 Washington Nationals the September night before after a season of stomping on the Washington Nationals and their cellar-dwelling ilk, many of whom we’ll be meeting in the weeks ahead. I’d bet it’s not a sign, just a game. I’d bet that the schedule, imbued with a depth of softness that Downy only wishes it could legally promise your fabric, will prove beneficial in the short and long run.

That is if I bet on baseball. I wouldn’t.

11 comments to I Wouldn’t Bet On It

  • Curt Emanuel

    This little rant has been building for a bit, excuse me for indulging.

    The offense is starting to concern me. Actually it started to concern me a while back but we were playing the Braves, Phillies and Yankees. Good pitching will make your offense look like something to be concerned about.

    But when your offense takes Pat Corbin back to 2019 Pat Corbin, when in 8 of your last 11 and 14 of your last 22 games you’ve scored 3 runs or less, and when Pete Alonso is going through a non-productive period which is far from unheard of but beginning to become lengthy – well, I’m officially concerned. And all hail the pitching staff for getting us to 6-5 in those 11, 12-10 in those 22. I’m afraid 12-10 in the next 22 means we’re looking up at Atlanta.

    Every time I look at the lineup I wonder at moving McNeil up to bat 2nd and Sterling to 5th, Canha 6th and Escobar 7th – 8th/9th don’t much matter for us, anything more than automatic outs is a bonus. Heck, if they can each take 7 pitches to get out it’s a bonus. I understand McNeil as a 2nd leadoff man but 2nd leadoff man only helps if those batting behind him can do something. Always hate to 2nd guess Buck but I am here. Maybe getting Guillorme back can help.

    Soft part of the schedule, weaker pitching, time for the hits to start coming again.

    Please.

    • Eric

      I agree with all your points. I’ll add Canha looked good the few times he batted at the top of the order, so maybe that should be back in the mix.

  • Greg

    Not sure what I am missing, but why does the (by far) best Mets pitcher at Syracuse all year–and solid in the majors–Steve Nogosek AGAIN get passed over this week for promotion and instead we got Adonis (mostly bad in AAA and has blown up in majors after fun start) and De Oca (who has no control and at best was a hope for next year). And 2-1 quickly became 7-1.

    Nogosek meanwhile with 2 more hitless innings at Syracuse last night lowering ERA to 1.30 in quite a few innings. Yeah, maybe he’s just an AAA hurler, but if so that makes the others AAA-minus.

    The less said about the always-absurd Darin “Mashes Lefties” Ruf trade (and in fact almost all of Eppler’s moves and non-promotions), the better. I will sadly point out, however, that Vientos chose to coincide worst slump in months–he’s about 0 for 20–with rising outrage over non-promotion….

    • Dave

      Nogosek is currently on the major league IL, technically in Syracuse on a rehab assignment that just started a few days ago, and my guess is there’s probably a minimum number of days that has to last. Medina was sent down today to make room for Carrasco. Adonis hasn’t looked like a Greek God lately, which is disappointing, he had some good outings early on, but lately has looked like the kind of pitcher who wears a number like 68. But to be honest, if our chances rest on the likes of Nogosek or Vientos…well, I’m not taking that bet.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I’m with you, Greg. I find the posting of gambling odds and MLB’s partnership with gambling websites rather hypocritical. After all, this is the same MLB that justifiably banned sleazebag Pete Rose from the game. Is this their attempt to appeal to younger fans? Reduce the time between innings to 90 seconds and sell a few less cars.

  • Eric

    It was a stumble. Let’s see if it turns into a faceplant with an unusual series loss to the worst-in-MLB Nationals. (The Mets are losing 7-1 again and the Braves are up as I write this.)

    Scherzer is 38 years old, his arm died in the playoffs last year, and he hurt an area that was already injured this year. I’m holding my breath on Scherzer now as much as I do for deGrom.

    I’m not ‘Panic City’ because while I prefer the division championship and believe the older, hurting Mets need all the rest and recuperation they can glean with the bye week, a wildcard slot — presumably the 1st wildcard slot — works for me, too. Just get in, and then get hot.

    The bigger concern is Scherzer’s fitness. His status swings the Mets playoff prospects drastically whether they’re a division winner or wildcard.

  • Bob

    Greg-
    Excellent the way you point out the evil plague of gambling; which almost killed the game of baseball.-
    There is NO bottom for these Corporate/MLB & Gambling (sports betting) swine.
    When I’m watching Mets pre-game show and they start with the gambling odds bullshit, I get so disgusted that I switch the TV channel back to Judge Judy!
    Judge Judy has the perfect statement to the Gambling push by MLB-“Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
    Gambling in MLB baseball is poison.
    Do I love my Mets more then I hate gambling in Baseball?–Sadly, it’s close.
    But as always Let’s Go Mets!

  • sturock

    Another 7-1 loss to Washington. Can this team hit at all?

    • Eric

      Shut down 2 straight by the worst pitching staff in MLB in the wake of the Braves bombing the NL Cy Young favorite. Not a good start to what’s supposed to be the ‘easy’ part of the schedule.

  • No tobacco or booze commercials but they push wagering like its a harmless vice..You talk about corporate MLB interests, but never forget the states take. They take a nice chunk of that action..