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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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The Worst

“Gary Apple back in our New York studio, following the Worst Game Ever, as the Mets lose, 10-4, to the Oakland Athletics, though mentioning just the score and the opponent doesn’t do it justice, does it, Todd Zeile?”
“No, the score only hints at the awfulness of the entire sorry episode, Gary. That’s why I have to give everybody in this game and everything about this game my Zeile of Disapproval. My Zeile of Dismay and Zeile of Disdain, too.”
“It’s harsh, but merited. We’re going to go live now to the visitors’ clubhouse at Ring Central Coliseum in Oakland to Steve Gelbs. Steve, you weren’t even scheduled to be on the West Coast today, but instead of preparing to host our Jets pre- and postgame shows tomorrow, you flew out for this.”
“That’s right, Gary. For this historic occasion, SNY spared no expense, and we have live coverage of the celebration.”
“On the monitor, it’s clear the tenor of this celebration has a different tenor than the one the Mets participated in last Monday after clinching a spot in the upcoming postseason. That was more of a muted affair, where as I see the champagne is flowing after this Worst Game Ever.”
“That’s right, Gary. The champagne is, of course, flat and off-brand, much like the effort it is celebrating.”
“And the t-shirts we see the players wearing, the ones that read ‘THE WORST’?”
“Irregular and a bad fit.”
“Under the circumstances, that’s appropriate. I see you have a special guest, Steve.”

“Thank you, Gary. We are joined here in the visitors’ clubhouse by Mets president Sandy Alderson. Sandy, this has to be a special feeling for you.”
“It is, Steve. These are the two franchises with which I’m most associated, and finding myself watching the Worst Game Ever from the perspective of somebody who had a role in building the losing team after my history with the winning team, knowing that the losing team is actually a winning team most days, and that the winning team is a consistent losing team, gives me a particular sense of pride.”

“Sandy, you’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of losses for both the A’s and the Mets. You were the general manager when Kirk Gibson hit his legendary home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series, and Mets fans can name any number of stinging defeats from your two tenures in New York. What made this one the Worst Game Ever?”
“I think there were a certain number of variables present in this game that you simply don’t see every day. You had arguably the best pitcher in the sport, Jacob deGrom, appearing totally clueless. Jacob was followed by one reliever after another who couldn’t record outs before giving up runs. You had the Met defense breaking down at critical junctures. You had the dimensions of the ballpark here playing a role. You had the elements, at least one of them in the form of a bright midday sky, also making themselves felt. You had the Met offense coming to a dead halt after a while, with every ball it hit hard somehow finding a glove, and every potential rally snuffed, and this was against a team that analytics suggest is notoriously incapable defensively.”

“And you’re considered the godfather of ‘Moneyball’. Sandy, even with all of that going sideways, was there something else, something intangible that pushed this loss into the Worst Game Ever column?”
“Well, you can’t ignore the expectations. I think our fans, whether they were here or watching from home or wherever they were following, had this game listed as a win if not before it was played, then probably after Jacob was staked to an early three-nothing lead. There is a level of disbelief that can be reached, even in an industry where it’s not uncommon for a so-called lesser team to beat an ostensibly better team, where you’re convinced there’s no way something can go wrong. I think today we proved everything can go wrong.”

“The final from Philadelphia, where the Braves won and trimmed the Mets’ lead in the National League East to a game-and-a-half, would seem to underscore that assessment. Sandy, final question: you’re transitioning soon from your role as team president to that of special advisor to Steve and Alex Cohen and the Mets’ senior leadership. Can you give us an idea of the kind of advice you’ll be providing?”
“There’s a degree of discretion when you serve in an advisory role, and every situation needs to be treated as its own challenge, so I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to your question, but in broad terms, I would strongly advise not playing any more games like the one we saw today.”

“Thank you, Sandy. We now talk to somebody who had a big part to play in the Worst Game Ever. Darin Ruf, owner of a .427 OPS as a Met, what’s it like to receive LVP honors?”
“I didn’t see it coming.”
“That could describe most any ball hit in your direction in right field.”
“It was a team effort, Steve. I may have the hardware here…”
“Which I see just fell apart in your hands.”
“…but it wasn’t just me. Maybe I’ve just become the most visible reason for our team losing.”
“Least valuable, most visible?”
“None of us really could see the ball well or hold onto it for very long, and after the second inning, none of us could make anything happen when it came to getting us back in the game. I don’t want to take all the credit. Together, we were all Least Valuable. If it were up to me, I’d divide this award 28 ways and give a little bit to each guy here.”
“The award is not made very well, so you may have that opportunity. Darin, you haven’t been hitting much, you don’t run well and your experience in the field hasn’t been fruitful. How have you managed to put all that together for the Mets since coming over from the Giants for J.D. Davis and three minor leaguers?”
“Y’know, it’s funny. When I was across the Bay with San Francisco, I got to meet Willie Mays, and they say Willie wasn’t only the epitome of a five-tool player, but when you factored in his baseball intelligence, he was really a six-tool player. When he and I met, I realized that between the two of us, we had six tools.”

“Thank you, Darin. I’ll let you get back to the celebration with your teammates. Like you said, you were all a big part of what we saw today. Meanwhile, we have another couple of special guests in the clubhouse here, Sun and Space. Sun, you’ve been around practically forever, even longer than Albert Pujols has been hitting home runs. Darin Ruf just mentioned the great Willie Mays. Older baseball fans remember Willie’s last game in center for the Mets, right here in the Oakland Coliseum, and all the problems he had fighting you. Did today bring back any of those memories?”
“Oh, absolutely, Steve. I hope people who instantly invoke Willie’s difficulties that afternoon in 1973 as some kind of evidence that he shouldn’t have still been playing baseball at his age will realize that when I’m over the outfield in a day game here, especially when it’s fall, nobody, regardless of age, should be playing baseball.”
“You do make things difficult, Sun. As do you, Space. You had one of the most expansive days we’ve seen this year.”
“Great day, Steve. I don’t get the opportunity to inflict a whole lot of foul territory on too many teams anymore, but here in Oakland, I really get to roam, just like since the place opened in 1968.”
“True, few ballparks are built in this era with so much space for so many balls to fall in and for so many players to fall down like they have here, and the Mets, who are used to comparatively tiny slices of foul territory at Citi Field, definitely didn’t look comfortable dealing with what you had going today.”
“I’m wide open, Steve. It’s a great feeling.”

“Thanks, guys. We are now joined by two others who helped write the story of today’s game, Projection and Anticipation. Projection, you had everybody thinking that with Jacob deGrom on the mound and Pete Alonso having crushed a two-run homer after Francisco Lindor drove in his hundredth run on the season that there was absolutely no way the Mets could lose. And even after those four runs Jake gave up in the first, once Mark Vientos crushed his first big league homer, it had to seem there was no way the Mets could lose. But maybe you had different ideas?”
“Honestly, Steve, I had no idea. You gotta remember: I’m Projection. I just project what figures to be ahead, and I figured the Mets would stay ahead and be ahead, and it sure looked like it.”
“It’s the little things that make a bad game the Worst Game Ever. Anticipation, I think it’s fair to say you were really looking forward to this game, Jake on the hill against a last-place team and the playoffs on the horizon, almost too perfect a setup for a Saturday afternoon.”
“What can I say, Steve? I tend to look forward and look ahead. It’s what I do. Yet for all that looking ahead, sometimes I can’t see what’s coming.”
“A green and yellow freight train, apparently, in the form of the underestimated Oakland A’s, underestimated today at least, and a deGrom performance it’s safe to say nobody was anticipating. Jake lasted all of four innings and for the first time in more than three years gave up more than three runs. He just didn’t look sharp at all.”
“I didn’t see that coming.”

“One of your buddies at the end of the bench might have had a different idea. Come up here, Karma. Karma, you don’t always figure into the outcome of a given baseball game, but you seemed plenty invested in seeing the Mets lose the way they did today.”
“That’s right, Steve. I haven’t had the opportunity to contribute much lately, but I stayed loose, stayed ready and I saw I had an opening to make a difference, however slight, when I got word that somebody expressed a few unkind thoughts about Yogi Berra a couple of hours before first pitch.”
“Yogi of course managed the Mets in this very stadium in the 1973 World Series, where the Mets lost Games Six and Seven to a very talented Oakland A’s team, a Series some Mets fans to this day believe hinged on Yogi not starting George Stone in one of those games.”
“That’s correct. I went back a long way with Yogi. He may not have been the best manager in the world, but you’ll recall he was considered very lucky in his day, almost a human rabbit’s foot, and maybe it wasn’t the best idea to call out Yogi — I think the phrase was ‘shambling ignoramus’ — when the team you’re rooting for is in a pennant race and every game counts and you need all the help you can get. It’s something like those old margarine commercials where ‘it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature’ and suddenly there’s thunder and lightning.”
“In other words, bad Karma?”
“I’ve got access to a bulletin board and I’ve got a Ziploc bag full of thumb tacks if you know what I mean. Look, I don’t wanna take too much credit. Like Darin Ruf said, everybody in this room had something to do with today being the Worst Game Ever. But deGrom getting whacked around like that? McNeil slipping in left? All those problems the Mets had chasing foul balls? The A’s nabbing almost everything in sight? Let’s just say that even though Yogi’s been gone a while, he still has some friends among the higher-ups at Big Karma — and that his wife’s name was Carmen. Think about that, Steve.”

“We will, Karma, though maybe not until after we talk to our next guest. Angel Hernandez, we didn’t expect to find you in the losing clubhouse. To what do we and our viewers owe the pleasure?”
“Steve, I heard you were covering the aftermath of the Worst Game Ever, and you know the old expression: when something in baseball is considered the Worst, Angel Hernandez must be lurking somewhere.”
“Sure enough, you were the home plate umpire today, and it looked as if Jacob deGrom was a little unhappy with some of your calls.”
“Every pitcher is unhappy with my calls, Steve. Every batter is unhappy with my calls. Every manager is unhappy with my calls and, really, everybody is unhappy to see me. You’re probably not too happy seeing me standing here next to you.”
“I have to admit, Angel, it is taking all my self-control to not wretch in your mere presence. But I haven’t been myself since that sausage race in Milwaukee.”
“I saw that, Steve. I’d say that was the best, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
“I don’t suppose you would. Thank you, Angel Hernandez.”
“Funny, people only say that when I’m leaving.”
“We’re leaving, too. Back to you guys in the studio.”

6 comments to The Worst

  • Curt Emanuel

    “you had everybody thinking that with Jacob deGrom on the mound and Pete Alonso having crushed a two-run homer after Francisco Lindor drove in his hundredth run on the season that there was absolutely no way the Mets could lose.”

    That was me and pretty much everyone I suppose. Saw the box in the middle of the 1st and mentally gave us a W. Followed it some on Gamecast until about the 4th straight pitcher gave up runs.

    Gamecast did not capture the overall badness of the Mets. Glad I didn’t see it.

    Actually I have seen it. I remember more than one of those games in the late 70’s. Didn’t need to see another.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Steve Gelbs and the SNY team also sought to interview Rickey Henderson on his namesake field, but alas, Rickey said, “Man, I ain’t got no time for no press!”

  • Eric

    “Come up here, Karma. … I got word that somebody expressed a few unkind thoughts about Yogi Berra a couple of hours before first pitch.”

    Yep. If Berra isn’t one of the baseball gods, he at least has their ear in the pantheon.

    Apparently the Mets are committed to keeping the Braves series dramatic.

    Going into yesterday’s game I was apprehensive because the Mets have not steamrolled through their tour of the worst teams in MLB this month. Their losses to bad teams have all looked like candidates for the “Worst Game Ever” with the Mets going Jekyll and Hyde to highlight the team’s flaws. The Mets have been beaten soundly. Then they’ve turned around to win soundly and look like a contender again.

    Good thing for the Mets that they won’t face the worst teams in MLB in the playoffs.

    That said, I’m not overly upset about yesterday’s loss yet because the Mets MO all season has been series wins, not series sweeps, no matter the quality of opponent. I’ll be retroactively bothered more by yesterday’s loss if they lose the series to the A’s today.

    Going in I was also concerned about deGrom. This is now 3 straight starts deGrom has stumbled against teams he normally would dominate. Yesterday’s loss was different in that he faceplanted coming out the gate rather than suddenly falling off a cliff earlier than expected at the end of the outing. What made deGrom’s failure yesterday unusual isn’t that he was off coming out the gate. We’ve seen that from time to time. What was unusual is that deGrom neither adjusted nor bulldogged his way through it. I don’t recall that happening since his pre-Cy Young days.

    No word that deGrom is injured again, but I wonder if his body isn’t recovering like it should between starts as his pitch count has increased. Right now Scherzer-deGrom isn’t looking like the intimidating 2015 Kershaw-Greinke-like combination we’re banking on.

    I hope the Phillies beat the Braves a 3rd time today, but 2 Phillies wins are already unexpected. Hopefully the Brewers and Padres wins yesterday motivate the Phillies today. The 3-for-2 NL wildcard race is becoming as close as the NL East race.

    Ruf isn’t McNeil as an IF/OF, McNeil’s costly flub yesterday notwithstanding. Is Ruf reputed to be at least a better outfielder than JD Davis and Dom Smith? The Mets didn’t play them in the OF while relying on solid defense this season. Yesterday, with better defensive options on the bench, the Mets were penalized for risking Ruf’s defense to add his right-handed bat that isn’t hitting.

    Will Marte be available come the playoffs let alone the quasi-playoff Braves series?

    Vientos’s HR and production the past 2 days are a promising development in his righty DH audition.

    PS: My comment at Jason’s post yesterday didn’t post.

  • I was at the game and I've showered 3x to try and remove the stench


    Funny that Eric mentioned deGrom/Scherzer not looking like Kershaw/Greinke of 2015. The Mets took care of that combo and went to the World Series, so maybe we need to hope deGrom/Scherzer are actually the Johnson/Schilling combo from 2001.

  • Seth

    I did add an RIP to Yogi in the comments section, so shouldn’t that have counteracted the bad karma?