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ABOUT US

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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Brandon (You’re a Fine Met)

There’s a Met
Out in center field
And some runs
Are what his hits do yield
Other pitchers
They all rue the way
He brings his teammates home

Yeah this Met
Never shows he’s down
As he lights
Up ol’ New York town
Buck says, “Brandon
Get us batting ’round”
And then he starts to fly

The metrics say
“Brandon, you’re a fine Met
What a leadoff
Guy you are
The season that you’re having
Is All-Star”

Close enough (like the pitches Brandon takes).

Brandon works the deepest counts
Taking such close pitches
While the tension mounts
Ball four
Is his destiny
Unless he gets dinged first

Mets played
Miami, F-L-A
On a typical
Saturday
Brandon made it clear
They would prevail
By goin’ three-for-five

Observers say
“Brandon, you’re a fine Met
And you’ve been one since Sixteen
Now your bat,
Your defense,
Your smile —
They’re supreme!”

Yeah, Bassitt kept the Fish at bay
And Alonso’s homers doubled
Marte made some real nice plays
As the pen avoided trouble
Yet Nimmo’s amidst everything
When the order gets turned over
Brandon makes it happen every day!

In first
Where the Mets reside
Lotsa players fill us with lotsa pride
But we love this man
We will confide
You still can hear us say

You hear us say
“Brandon, you’re a fine Met
What a good Met you remain
Your speed
Your talent
Your hustle —
Win us games!”

Brandon
You’re a fine Met
NL All-Star you should be
Just keep on being Brandon —
They’ll all see!

The Sound of No Dog Barking

I hate that the Miami Marlins exist, I doubly hate when the Mets have to play them, and I quadruply hate when the Mets have to play them in their Pachinko parlor-cum-fish tank-cum-mausoleum in south Florida.

I looked it up on Baseball Reference, and as I suspected, the Mets are 4-12,429 all time at Soilmaster Stadium in its various corporate aliases, with approximately 9,000 of those losses (the records are weirdly spotty here) coming in extra innings on 19-hoppers through the infield by anonymous Marlin utility players never to be thought of again, except of course when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re fuming about why a benevolent God would allow this shambling zombie franchise to exist. At that moment, one thinks about such utility players and their maliciousness at painful length.

Anyway, the Mets arrived in annoying Miami having played an annoying series in Houston, in which they lost both games and Jeff McNeil and Carlos Carrasco got hurt. Therein lies an irony — whenever the Mets are in Miami every injured player shows up in the dugout to mock us with the enigma of their being present but not actually available: Max Scherzer was front and center despite needing another rehab start, and various team notes indicated Jacob deGrom and Joey Lucchesi were present as well.

Oh, and the game started at 6:40 for some other annoying Miami reason, which I discovered when I turned it on at the regulation time and found Taijuan Walker pitching with a 1 on the scoreboard in his favor. I blame Jeffrey Loria, but then I usually do.

Walker seemed perpetually on the edge of disaster but actually pitched pretty well, which was fortunate because the Mets were up against the annoyingly capable Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara, though, was undone by a four-minute stretch of some of the wackiest baseball I’ve seen in some time.

It all transpired in the top of the sixth, after a gimpy Jazz Chisholm Jr. exited the game, leaving the sessile-looking Willians Astudillo at second. Tomas Nido reached on an infield single (weird in itself, but just wait), and Brandon Nimmo bunted for a hit. Starling Marte then hit a double-play ball, with Astudillo tagging Nimmo in the baseline and then throwing to first, where Marte was called out.

The back end of that apparent double play looked incorrect from the jump, and the Mets challenged the call — as well as the call on Nimmo, who’d been tagged by Astudillo’s glove while the ball was in his throwing hand. Nimmo made no attempt to get to second and was tagged out once more after the play, but Buck Showalter objected that the ump had incorrectly called Nimmo out, causing him to abandon the play. (Or something like that — it was a little peculiar.) The Mets won the double challenge — something I don’t believe I’ve seen before — and just like that, they had the bases loaded with nobody out instead of a runner on third with two out, while Don Mattingly stood with the umpires and argued half-heartedly before going back to having a staring contest with the void.

Alcantara, understandably somewhat perturbed, left a 3-1 slider in the middle of the plate for Francisco Lindor, who hammered it up the right-center gap and ushered in more slapstick. In rapid succession, Nimmo nearly collided with the second-base ump, who was inexplicably in his path; Marte nearly caught Nimmo between second and third; Joey Cora tried to wave in Nimmo but stop Marte and was nearly clocked himself as both runners steamed past him; Nimmo slid into home and was nearly stepped on by Marte, who missed home plate and had to scamper back to touch it.

All this wackiness gave the Mets a 5-2 lead, which it briefly seemed like they’d surrender, as Drew Smith walked in a run at the conclusion of an eventful appearance, handing the ball off to Adam Ottavino with the bases loaded. Ottavino wouldn’t be my choice for a situation with no margin for error control-wise, but he was sharp, getting Jesus Aguilar to hit a loud but harmless fly to center to steer the Mets through the seventh, then escaping the eighth on a Lindor/Luis Guillorme double play that ought to be preserved for posterity as the Platonic ideal of the form.

Edwin Diaz didn’t look particularly sharp, but there was Guillorme again, jamming his foot between Jon Berti‘s cleat and second base on a steal attempt with one out in the ninth. (Defensible with the slow-footed Astudillo at the plate, but you better make it.) The Mets won that challenge and a batter later Jorge Soler spanked a sharp grounder to Lindor’s backhand — not another domino in the chain of disaster, as has happened so often in this horrible place, but just the precursor for another nifty play by the Mets’ infield. That one sealed the victory.

No one should ever have to play the Marlins, least of all us, and we should never have to play this tacky parody of an organization in Miami, where everything is reliably terrible. But if one has to, you hope for a game like Friday night’s — one that confounds every instinct by somehow turning out OK.

The High Cost of Filling Up

A Mets fan pulls into a gas station — gas prices, huh? The Mets are playing. They’ve just fallen behind at Minute Maid Park, 5-1, on Yordan Alvarez’s second home run of the game. The Mets fan missed the first one. He also missed Alex Bregman’s, which preceded Alvarez’s first in the first. It hasn’t been a bad afternoon to have been away from the game. It’s not a great moment to choose now to get gas, in the macro sense, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

The Mets fan turns off the radio and the engine. He fills up. He pays. And pays. And gets back in the car, turns on the radio and hears starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who’s given up those three home runs, is leaving the game — with the trainer.

Man, they’re not kidding about the high cost of filling up.

Later, the Mets fan learns Carrasco’s lower back tightened, which isn’t the worst thing a Mets fan can hear about a starting pitcher who had to exit alongside a trainer. There’s been worse in 2022. Also, the Mets, though down by four runs to a premium opponent, make a game of it. Every reliever who follows Carrasco — Yoan Lopez, Tommy Hunter, Joely Rodriguez and a cobwebbed Edwin Diaz — keeps the dangerous Astro attack on E. The Mets get to Houston starter Luis Garcia in his third loop around the lineup. It’s the sixth. The Mets fan has driven home, parked and is pinging between radio and television on a dreary Wednesday afternoon. Outside, it’s been drizzling and spritzing. Inside, it’s beginning to sound and look hopeful.

Brandon Nimmo walks, because that’s what Brandon Nimmo does. Starling Marte doubles Nimmo home. Francisco Lindor singles to move Marte to third. The Mets fan isn’t watching, but is listening. He wants to hear Marte score on that single. The ball Lindor hit didn’t land in the right spot for that, he is told. Oh well. Here comes Ryne Stanek to relieve Garcia. Here comes Pete Alonso. Pete’s the potential tying run at the plate. A lot of potential brewing.

Pete lifts a fly ball. It’s enough to score Marte. It’s 5-3. We’re cooking. Aren’t we? These Mets find a way to tie games and win games. It’s only the sixth. A Luis Guillorme double sends Lindor as far as third. A Mark Canha walk, on a three-two pitch, loads the bases. The moment is pregnant with possibility. And you can’t be just a little bit pregnant, right?

Perhaps metaphors, like Mets, won’t carry the day to term. Eduardo Escobar, whose slump paused the evening before for a solo home run, pops up. He also slams his bat to the ground. The bat-slam has more force than the popup. Then Dom Smith, no longer of Syracuse and with a double and run scored to his credit earlier, is the best hope to bust Stanek’s piñata (hey, how did another metaphor get in here?). The candy remains undisturbed as Smith strikes out.

Turns out the Astros have pretty good relief pitching, too. Having missed their golden bases-loaded chance in the sixth, the Mets don’t arrange any opportunities nearly as good versus Hector Neris in the seventh, Old Friend Rafael Montero (who’s come down with a case of Paul Sewald Syndrome, growing reliable in his AL West incarnation) in the eighth or Ryan Pressly in the ninth. There are a couple of dubious balls called strikes by Adam Hamari that went against the Mets, but Rodriguez got a borderline call like that versus Alvarez, so the Mets fan’s criticism of Hamari is selective and a bit insincere.

The Mets lose an aggravating game, 5-3. It’s not their only loss in the last month, but it’s the first one in weeks that’s felt like it coulda/shoulda been a win. The Mets have punctuated their Ws with “you’re gonna lose a third of the time” Ls, mostly. The Mets fan is reminded it sucks to lose a close one. The Mets fan reminds himself that even if the Braves win Wednesday night (and they will), they still maintain a significant barrier to entry atop the NL East; enough off days ahead to cushion the blow of whatever extra rest Carrasco might need (if, in fact, lower back tightness is all that’s ailing Cookie); a trip to Miami, where the Marlins don’t appear to be the Astros; and a general manager who probably has a plethora of phone numbers of other GMs to keep checking on available pitching. The Mets fan also has those encouraging reports out of Binghamton on Max Scherzer, but geez, be careful about bringing Max’s oblique back a minute too soon.

Filling up at the pump in 2022? Not much fun. The Mets in 2022? Not always a joyride.

National League Town? There, the current decade means a Met utilityman who’s busy redefining the genre on a daily basis. Groom your beard and listen in.

An Old Rule Revisited

I’ve heard it said that the second best thing one can do with an evening is watch your favorite baseball team lose a game. And that’s probably true.

But there’s watching your team lose a baseball game and there’s watching your team get its collective behind whooped, and Tuesday night was the latter. Trevor Williams was so-so and Chasen Shreve was bad and the best thing about the night was that it ended.

Well, actually that isn’t true. Before the game I predicted Pete Alonso would hit one into the Crawford boxes, which wasn’t exactly auditioning to be the new Nostradamus in terms of going out on a limb but was still satisfying to see come true. Luis Guillorme showed off some more moves that would make a ballerina turn pale with envy, an exhibition that is always welcome. Jose Siri connected for a home run that the Astros fan in a space helmet might have considering riding to orbit — not a welcome development but certainly a sight to see.

And it was baseball, filled with injury updates (Max Scherzer! In Binghamton!), dreams of the future (Francisco Alvarez has hit approximately 435 home runs in his last 10 games), talk of the past (Tal’s Hill and Carlos Beltran‘s adventures ascending it) and the other threads of which baseball’s warp and weft emerge. Those are things to savor … even when you get beat by six in Texas.

At Home Wherever They Are

After defeating the Marlins on Monday afternoon, the Mets are 24-10 at home and 4-1 in games that end homestands. As if to express their affection for Citi Field at the end of this 5-2 homestand, they touched home six times en route to their 6-0 victory, each time crossing the plate like it meant something to them.

• Bases-loaded walk.
• Sacrifice fly.
• Wild pitch.
• Another sacrifice fly.
• Two-run single.

None of those runs was foretold. Each was earned (one was unearned, but you know what I mean). Batters got bruised. Runners took off. Patience and alertness were rewarded. Nobody sat back and waited for the wallop. The Mets are very much at home discerning every which way to score.

Mets pitchers were at home keeping the Marlins off the board, too. David Peterson, en route to joining Seth Lugo (and hamstring-tight Jeff McNeil) on paternity leave, celebrated Father’s Day a day late. Peterson was big daddy to the visitors, figuring out how to blank them despite scattering six hits and walking two in five-and-a-third innings. He was succeeded by Adam Ottavino, who unjammed what Peterson left him by producing a ground ball that became a 5-4-3 double play. Peterson benefited directly from one of those babies an inning earlier. Mets’ pitchers like their best friends.

As if Met defense could use the help — we’ll never turn down assistance — the club signed Ender Inciarte to a minor league contract. Inciarte now has a chance to become the Willie Harris of his day. Willie Harris, you’ll recall, took extra-base hits of all variety away from Met batters in the 2000s. Then he became a Met in 2011, not having the same impact for the Mets that he had against the Mets, but he was a pleasant enough veteran presence for a non-contending team. Inciarte used to rob us blind in the 2010s. Here’s Ender’s chance to make it up to us.

As precursors of opponents who do us in go, John Paciorek appears safe in his splendid isolation. On Sunday, Jerar Encarncacion broke into the majors with as Met-killing a debut as one could imagine: an outfield assist, a stolen base and, mostly, a game-turning grand slam. It occurred to me if he never played again, he’d join Paciorek, brother of much-later Met benchman Tom, from the last day of the 1963 season. The Mets played the Colt .45s to wind down their second season. John made his big league bow that day at Colt Stadium. Starting in right, Paciorek gathered three hits, walked twice, scored four runs and drove in three runs, dooming the sophomore Mets to their 111th loss (13-2) and whetting the appetites of Houston fans for 1964 and beyond. They had young Rusty Staub! They had young Joe Morgan! And they had young John Paciorek!

Except young John Paciorek never played in the majors again. A bad back sidelined the kid, and his one day of Met-killing inadvertently served as his career line. It’s a pretty good one: batting average of 1.000; on-base percentage of 1.000; and OPS of 2.000. Encarnacion of the Marlins deigned to follow up his debut by playing a second game. He neither reached base nor gunned anybody down. As the 45-24 Mets head to Houston on their forthcoming road trip, the legend of the one-and-done Colt .45 legend lives on unmatched.

When the Mets play their erstwhile National League expansionmates in matchup of first-place occupants in Houston, they will have Tommy Hunter ready to go as one-eighth of their formerly nine-man bullpen. Hunter returned to Met duty on Sunday after a detour to Tampa Bay in 2021 when, like Paciorek, he had to deal with back problems, but — no irony intended — he is back. Hunter didn’t pitch for the Rays while he was gone, meaning we can categorize good ol’ Tommy not so much as a Recidivist Met (someone who played for the Mets; played for somebody else; then returned to play for the Mets some more) but as a Met Once Removed (someone who played for the Mets; left for another organization without logging any MLB action while away; then got his Met on again in an active player sense, thus precluding the necessity to include Chris Schwinden and his umpteen waiver claims from 2012). As defense attorney Jackie Chiles told his clients in the Seinfeld finale, “You people have a little pet name for everybody.”

Here are our known Mets Once Removed:

Terry Leach
An intriguing pitcher in 1981-1982. Capped his initial stay with a ten-inning one-hitter (a Met first and thus far only). Spent a year with the Tides in 1983 before being traded to the Cubs. Bounced to the Braves — the Richmond Braves. Then, after another helping of Tidewater cooking, recalled to the Mets in May of 1985. He’d be up and down until sticking in ’87, where he merely saved the summer (11-1 starting and relieving). Lost the sole sidearming slot to Jeff Innis in 1989. Comes up in FAFIF discourse periodically, inevitably eliciting warm recollections.

Mike Birkbeck
Never comes up in our discourse, but here he is. The former Brewer righty started one end of a doubleheader as 1992 got worse and worse. He didn’t win. Then he disappeared from our view, signing with the Braves and taking the same tour of Richmond Leach knew so well. Birkbeck rematerialized in Flushing during the first half of 1995 season. Mike gave Dallas Green four solid starts, then got while the getting was good, clearing out his locker in advance of the Generation K beachhead, opting to take his talents to Yokohama for better money and short-term security. “The Mets have some wonderful pitching down below and I was basically a fifth starter,” Birkbeck reflected as he packed his bags. “Whenever a move is made, that is the position that is impacted.” Mike’s roster spot was taken by rookie Bill Pulsipher, a future Recidivist Met, though in June of 1995, we wouldn’t have believed Pulse would be anything but a Met mainstay. Birkbeck pitched in Japan through 1996.

Pedro Feliciano
Y’all should remember Pedro very well, though you might not remember how often he found himself a Met removed. Claimed off waivers by the Tigers in the offseason following the first leg of his Met tenure in 2002, the Tigers lost interest well before the next Spring dawned. The Mets snapped him up anew in the first week of the 2003 season and he’d be warming up to face a lefty again by late May. Pedro followed the Birkbeck trail to the Far East after 2004, but one year away from the Mets and North America was all Feliciano wanted. He rejoined our ranks with the divisional championship season of 2006 already underway in April and hung around through 2010. Boy did he hang. Pedro pitched in more games than any Met ever did in any season, and he did it over and over and over, peaking with 90 games pitched. He had enough strength left in his wing to sign a free agent deal with the Yankees, but not enough to ever pitch for them, thus winning our admiration as someone who took their money for what amounted to nothing and ran back to us in 2013. Healed enough to get back to work, Pedro gave us 25 more appearances before moving on…but never pitching for another MLB club. Despite affiliations between 1995 and 2015 with the Dodgers, the Reds, the Tigers, the Yankees, the Cardinals and the Cubs (not to mention the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks), every one of Feliciano’s 484 big league outings was as a New York Met. Pedro Feliciano will never be removed from our hearts.

P.J. Conlon
The Irish-born, California-raised southpaw provided rookie manager Mickey Callaway (remember him?) two spot starts in May of 2018, only to find himself poached off waivers by the Dodgers in June. Conlon, in the Met system since 2015, tweeted a heartfelt farewell to the only organization he had known before setting off for the West Coast. The Dodgers waived P.J. four days after claiming him, so the Mets grabbed him back, leading to a second tweet effusively thanking the Dodgers for all they’d done for him in the course of fewer than a hundred hours. Actually, he retweeted the exact message he’d left the Mets, but with “Mets” crossed out and “Dodgers” filled in. As social media bits go, it was pretty amusing. P.J. had one more relief stint ahead of him as a Met, the main purpose of which was to ensure him Met Once Removed status in this feature.

Juan Lagares
Juan Lagares, a medium-sized fixture in the Mets’ narrative from 2013 to 2019, slipped quietly into the past tense when he signed with the Padres on February 10, 2020. Then came the pandemic that touched down in America a month later, upending whatever was expected of the baseball season ahead. When MLB’s health/marketing experts that July judged COVID was not enough of a threat to prevent a shorter schedule from taking place in front of literally nobody, the Padres decided they could do without Lagares and cut him loose. The Mets remade acquaintances with Juan and brought him back for two cameos’ worth of pinch-running and defensive-replacing before letting him leave again. It was a pretty Conlonesque departure for a former Gold Glove winner. We just saw Lagares continuing his career in Anaheim. Good for him.

And now, Tommy Hunter, who has followed his four scoreless 2021 outings and 1-for-1 batting performance as a Met with thus far one scoreless outing as a Met in 2022, not letting his gameless-played interlude with Tampa Bay get in the way of feeling at home with us. Also looking happy to be a Met again, per a shot of the dugout on SNY as Monday’s win over the Marlins finished up, was Dom Smith, returned from Syracuse to take the roster spot that by Manfredian fiat can no longer be reserved for a ninth pitcher. (I’m old enough to remember when a seven-man bullpen seemed extravagant.) Dom fizzled mightily in the first part of 2022. The last time the Mets were in Houston, Smith was in his rookie feeling-out process as a potential hotshot rookie. It was the waning weekend of summer 2017, days when Amed Rosario and Dom represented our future.

Dom hit a home run in that series at Minute Maid Park, a bad weekend for Houston in the real-world sense (Hurricane Harvey had just come through), but a sweep for the Astros, who were about to make a whole lot of world championship clatter. That’s another story. Our story, the one we thought was unfolding in future-tense, had Smith up to four homers since his promotion on August 11, though with a batting average straddling .200. Dom wouldn’t really stamp himself a major leaguer to stay until 2019, and, despite some mighty success along the way, we’ve seen how impermanent such a status can be. He was batting .186 with zero power when demoted about three weeks ago. It feels more like three years. Here’s hoping he makes up for lost time on the road.

The Mets are 21-14 away from Citi Field in 2022. They seem pretty comfortable everywhere.

Met-Killer on the Loose

“Could you describe the assailant, please?”
“I don’t know. He was a Marlin.”
“A Marlin? Like the fish?”
“No, the baseball team.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not following.”
“Marlins. Miami Marlins.”
“I’m not familiar with them.”
“Scroll down the National League East standings.”
“Hmm…oh, there. You’re right. Marlins. Sorry, I never heard of them.”
“Most people haven’t.”

“OK, so the assailant was a Marlin?”
“I already said that.”
“I need you to be more specific. There seem to be 26 Marlins. Was it this Marlin?”
“No, that’s Miguel Rojas.”
“This one?”
“No, that’s Jazz Chisolm.”
“Cool name. Well, what about this one?”
“Sandy Alcantra? He helped, but he’s not the one who did the real damage.”
“Wait, we just got this sketch into the station house. Is this who came after you?”
“That’s him! That’s…I can’t remember his name. I’d never heard it before today.”
“It looks like Jar Jar something.”
“Jerar?”

“Jerar…Encarnacion?”
“Yes! That’s it! You should arrest him before he does any more damage!”
“Sir, we’re just here to collect information. Can you please describe what this Jerar Encarnacion allegedly did on Sunday?”
“First off, he was armed and extremely dangerous.”
“We’ll make that determination.”
“I’m telling you, he had a rifle.”
“In this country, that’s not always a crime.”
“He had a rifle for an arm.”
“Well, you know how strong the NRA is when it comes to lobbying.”
“There was a ball in the right field corner, a sure double, yet the next thing you now, this Jerar Encarnacion threw it to second base. Cut down Nido in his prime.”

“It’s always the backup catchers who take it the shinguards. What a shame.”
“I thought it was just one of those things, you know, kids messing around. This time of year, you hear firecrackers going off. But I’m telling you, it was an absolute cannon he fired.”
“All right, so he threw Tomás Nido out trying to stretch a single into a double. That’s not exactly a crime. No offense, but catchers aren’t known for their speed.”
“I wouldn’t be here if it was just that. It’s what he did a few innings later.”
“The incident in the seventh?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”

“As calmly as you can, tell me what happened.”
“We’re enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the right field stands, Chris Bassitt is going along swimmingly.”
“Bassitt — like a Marlin?”
“I said Bassitt, not Bass.”
“Sorry, I don’t follow baseball all that much.”
“So we’re sitting there, and it’s Bassitt having a great game, as good as Alcantra…”
“The aider and abetter of this Jerar character?”
“Yeah. Chris is rolling. Then he gets into a little trouble. A single. Another single. Then a walk. Ya gotta understand, Bassitt doesn’t normally walk guys.”
“Oh those bases on balls. We try to warn the public walks are a gateway drug to runs, but do they listen?”
“Next thing we know, it’s goodbye Bassitt, hello Lugo.”

“Lugo — name rings a bell.”
“Sure. Seth Lugo. Dependable relief pitcher most games. But here comes this Jerar Encarnacion, and all at once, it’s the end of Seth Lugo.”
“It’s always the reliever who gets it in the late innings.”
“Ya gotta understand. Seth has his bad days, sure, but he’s a good pitcher. This wouldn’t have happened if not for…”
“If not for…?”
“Jerar Encarnacion.”

“That’s a pretty substantial charge.”
“Jerar Encarnacion opened a can of whoopass on Seth Lugo.”
“Did he open with the arm that’s a rifle?”
“Maybe it was more like a whuppin’ stick. He used it to…”
“To what?”
“He used it to…”
“I can’t help you unless you tell me.”
“Jerar Encarnacion hit a grand slam off Seth Lugo.”

“Oh, dear god.”
“It was brutal.”
“I imagine so.”
“The worst part is none of us saw this coming. We didn’t know who Jerar Encarnacion was when the game began. It just didn’t make any sense. It was like those dark gray and blue caps they made both teams wear.”
“Sir, that’s more a matter for the fashion police.”
“I’m not talking about the caps! I’m talking about a Met-killer! Jerar Encarnacion is out there committing one horrible act after another! It wasn’t enough that he gunned down Tomás Nido or absolutely murdered a Seth Lugo sinker. He even had the audacity after all that to steal a base.”
“So you wish to add robbery to the charges?”
“In broad daylight, no less!”

“Listen, I’ve got the name, I’ve got your description, I understand your concern.”
“Well, is there anything you can do about it? It’s a terrible feeling knowing Jerar Encarnacion is just out there and can do something like this to the Mets with absolutely no notice and he could be out there again tomorrow afternoon.”
“Tomorrow?”
“There’s a matinee. The Marlins and the Mets. The Marlins are bad enough. But now they have another Met-killer to go with De La Cruz and Berti and god knows who.”
“Hold up — there’s another game tomorrow?”
“There’s always another game tomorrow.”
“And you’re concerned the Mets are in mortal danger?”
“Actually, they’re in first place by a bunch of games despite losing on Sunday and they’re way ahead of the Marlins, who are almost never any good.”
“Then what are you worried about?”
“You really don’t follow baseball, do you?”

Escapees

It’s unlikely the Mets know they’re accessories to a furniture-moving caravan traveling the East Coast, but that’s what they are. Day 2 of the extravaganza featured a drive from outside Philly to Brooklyn, unloading furniture there and loading up more stuff in its place that’s headed to Maine later today.

Aside from a couple of bumps — I realized you can’t drive a truck over the Brooklyn Bridge just in time to make a critical left and escape trouble — things went well, and Joshua and I were on 95 in Connecticut (in oddly horrendous traffic for a Saturday afternoon) when the Mets and Marlins commenced hostilities.

Howie Rose and guest star Lee Mazzilli were painting the word picture for us, but something was amiss with Joshua’s phone, cell service or perhaps both. The MLB audio kept dropping, but stranger were these moments where the audio would roll on without interruption but we’d both realize Howie or Maz had jumped back in time 10 to 15 seconds. Trouble in Jetsons paradise!

An excellent method for dealing with such maladies is the dullest one … perspective. I keenly recall long-ago road trips where I stubbornly kept listening to WFAN despite being on the outermost fringes of station range, catching every fifth word through static and the wow and flutter of a sputtering signal. Fortunately, baseball is a sport of long pauses that supply the context for little bursts of action — if you know the game and its rhythms, you can decode everything important from every fifth word and the pitch and rapidity of play-by-play. A buffering signal or glitch in the matrix? Eh, it’ll be fine.

Particularly since we got to listen to Taijuan Walker, whose return from the netherworld of injuries has been one of more satisfying Mets stories over the last two seasons.

Once upon a time Walker was going to be a superstar with the Seattle Mariners, and his baseball cards from that era showcase the eager grin of a young man in a hurry, ready to claim his pitching birthright. But Walker’s size and arsenal weren’t matched by his sense of the game or his commitment — the above-the-neck components of being a pitcher. That lesson kicked in after the wake-up call of a trade to Arizona, but Walker’s body then betrayed him: He lost pretty much all of 2018 and 2019 to Tommy John surgery and a shoulder strain, winding up back in Seattle for the COVID season but then swiftly sent off to Toronto. When the Mets took a flier on him for 2021, Walker had gone from prospect to suspect to forgotten man, a lonely journey for anybody, let alone a former budding star.

But Walker was finally healthy again, and it was time to pair good health with what he’d learned. He pitched his way to an All-Star nod with the Mets in 2021, though that turned out to be the high point of his season, as the accumulated innings after a long layoff proved too many in the second half. But 2022 has seen Walker continue making strides, using his splitter to erase batters left flummoxed by his four-seam fastball, sinker and slider.

Walker was in immediate trouble in the first as pesky Jon Berti led off with a single and then stole second and third during the inning, but Walker used three different pitches to catch three different Marlins hitters — Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jorge Soler and Garrett Cooper — looking.

And that was it — Walker allowed no Marlins to reach base at all until the seventh, when a Chisholm walk and an Avisail Garcia RBI double ended his day. Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor hit another mom-in-the-house homer and Jeff McNeil drove in Mark Canha, giving the Mets three runs to the Marlins’ eventual one.

And that was the score in the ninth when Edwin Diaz reported for duty, with your audience shifting from foot to foot in my in-laws’ den, with an imminent restaurant reservation making us doubly anxious for a speedy, happy denouement. (The switch from radio to TV meant I never learned if Ed Kranepool responded to Howie’s text about whether he’d actually been AWOL from manning first for an inning’s first out. If you heard how that story ended, help a recapper out in the comments.)

Diaz wasn’t as sharp as he’s been of late, which meant some anxious moments in what developed as an odd bookend — Miami’s first inning, redux. Berti singled, stole second and scooted over to third on an overthrow. Up came Chisholm, who looked at 100 MPH from Diaz on a 1-2 count, passing the pitch up because it was two or three inches inside — and discovered home-plate ump Adam Beck had called it a strike.

Beck let Chisholm rant and rave, I suspect because he knew he’d missed that one, while Don Mattingly made no effort to protect his player, emerging only after Chisholm was finally tossed. I don’t know what’s going on in Miami and don’t particularly care, but that was odd to say the least.

One out secured, but Diaz was still looking for his slider. He found it in time to strike out Soler for the second out and went back to the pitch to try and put away Cooper, but left that slider in the middle of the plate, surrendering a single and cutting the Mets’ lead to one. Pinch-runner Luke Williams stole second, Garcia worked the count to 2-2 facing all fastballs, and the game would come down to one pitch.

Garcia was perfectly set up for a slider. For about the millionth time, I thought to myself that I love baseball while suspecting it will be the death of me. The slider was coming; could Diaz find a good one?

He could — the ball dived low and outside, tempting to swing at but impossible to hit. Garcia’s bat slashed harmlessly over it, Diaz had escaped, and it was time to go to dinner.

The Boys in the Box

Welcome to another recap in transit!

Wednesday night’s game found me on my way to an airplane and ended while I was on said conveyance; Friday night’s began with me wearily navigating a Penske rental truck through New Jersey with Joshua as my co-pilot and supplier of Mets news. (More than you want to know: My mom is downsizing her house, which has led to an intricate, perhaps overly choreographed do-si-do of furniture moving between Virginia and Brooklyn and Maine.)

First off, a note that while I dislike next year’s Everybody Plays Everybody schedule, a silver lining will be fewer games against the Marlins, a team I may actually detest more than the Yankees.

I’ve gone on about this at length in the past, but the gist is that I loathe the Yankees’ cult of entitlement and the braying mooks who serve as its foot soldiers, but have an obvious respect for the franchise, its history and the way that history is woven into the history of the game and even the history of the country and my city, or at least the postwar era. With the Marlins it’s the opposite: I feel sorry for anyone who’s actually managed to be a Marlins fan, because they deserve far better, but the franchise’s entire history reads like bad satire, a not particularly subtle send-up of corporate cynicism, tasteless marketing/politicking and general shamelessness. The Marlins never should have existed and the mistake of their creation should be rectified by either reconstituting them as a new franchise in another city or contracting them posthaste.

Since MLB failed to take my advice by the evening of June 17, 2022, there were the Marlins infesting Citi Field and the Mets having to deal with them. Which they started doing while I was checking us into a shabby but otherwise inoffensive Comfort Inn: During our elevator ride a 3 popped up on the Mets’ half of the scoreboard.

That welcome crooked number belonged to Francisco Lindor, who’d slammed a three-run homer into the apple orchard (it’s only produced one fruit but by golly is it a big one) beyond the center-field wall. Said homer was a doubly happy occasion for Lindor: His wife, Katia, surprised him by bringing his mother, Maria Serrano, to Citi Field for the game as a Father’s Day present. Lindor’s mother has been in ill health in recent years and had never seen Lindor play in-person as a Met. (I don’t know if Lindor’s homer really traveled the advertised 440 feet, but we’ll add 20 feet or so for good familial vibes.)

Once Joshua and I got settled in we decided to forgo delivery pizza in favor of a sit-down restaurant, which in this part of the world means picking something a) attached to a mall; b) in a symbiotic relationship with a Wal-Mart; or c) anchoring a parking lot the size of a small sea. We opted for a) and so wound up in a vast barn of a craft beer/appetizer/sports concept restaurant, arriving via Lyft because at that point I would not have climbed back into my Penske rental truck even if pursued by a zombie horde of former Marlin All-Stars.

The TVs in said craft beer/appetizer/sports concept restaurant were all showing the Phillies (save for one tuned to a show I believe Joshua informed me is called American Ninja Vikings), and I’ve logged enough time in the Philly burbs to know how a request to watch the Mets would be received. But it didn’t matter, because these days I get to carry a little box in my pocket that lets me listen to the Mets and even watch them, provided I’m not within a certain distance of where they actually play. (That last part of course makes the inverse of sense, though MLB appears to be actually working on it.)

So there we sat, munching through wings and guac and other mainstays of the appetizer ecosystem while peering down at miniature Mets and their doings. At that scale what had happened with the ball Luis Guillorme hit to the conjunction of the fence and center fielder Bryan De La Cruz wasn’t clear, but what was clear to us was that the umpires had mumped it up and Buck Showalter wanted it un-mumped.

Guillorme settled for a single that loaded the bases, but the Mets took said mump-upping in stride, with J.D. Davis singling in a run for a 4-1 lead. Pablo Lopez fanned Tomas Nido and then departed in favor of Tommy Nance, who coaxed a flyout from Brandon Nimmo before the roof caved in on him, allowing runs on a walk and an HBP and then facing Pete Alonso.

Alonso connected for a grand slam just over the fence; given the cacophony of our craft beer/apps/sports surroundings, I was able to exult as loudly and profanely as I wished: “Fuck you Wayne Huizenga! Fuck you Jeff Loria! Fuck you Kim Ng! Fuck you Derek Jeter!”

(Huizenga’s been dead for four years; Loria hasn’t been a club owner since 2017; I like Ng and have hoped on multiple occasions that she might become the Mets’ GM; and Jeter no longer has any connection to this franchise. I just really, really, really, really, really, really hate the Marlins.)

The Mets now led 10-1, and that would prove to be enough, despite a spot of bullpen bother as Adam Ottavino cleaned up an off-night for Adonis Medina. Ottavino can be a frustrating sight on the mound, looking around in perturbation as he calibrates the path of his frisbee slider. How his appearances go often depends on how long the slider calibration process requires and how much goes wrong before it’s completed. On Friday night, Ottavino walked Soler but then got everything lined up as it should be, ending the eighth on an Avisail Garcia groundout and striking out the side in the ninth. That will do nicely.

Also nice: a dugout sighting of a smiling Eduardo Escobar, who’d been absent with some ailment discussed in the context of “non-workplace events” and HIPAA rules. Worrisome, as were reports that he’d seemed disoriented and teammates were concerned, but there Escobar was and the scuttlebutt seems to be he was felled by a migraine, inner ear issue or something along those lines. Escobar hasn’t set the world on fire quite yet, but he’s held third base down in a professional manner and is obviously both adored and revered by his teammates in a way that’s pretty rare in baseball.

Finally: Tip of the cap to Faith and Fear pal Jacob Resnick, who notes that it looks like we have our first Mets ghost since 2008. Tommy Hunter‘s return to the roster meant Gosuke Katoh was designated for assignment. Here’s hoping Katoh somehow finds his way back to the Mets and into a game, but if not, he’ll haunt our hearts forevermore.

Now You See It

Everybody misplaces their Mojo from time to time. In the summer of 1999, Austin Powers had to chase his Mojo all the way back to 1969. A couple of months later, the 1999 Mets’ Mojo experienced dizzying spikes and frightening declines despite Jim Morrison’s advice that it should keep on risin’. For a night-and-a-half in the middle of June of 2022, the current edition of New York’s National League franchise played as if disturbingly Mojoless.

There’d been a sloppy loss on Wednesday to the Brewers. That was one bad night at Citi Field, no biggie, unless one became two in a row, not in and of itself a biggie, either, but who wants to give such vibes a chance to resonate? My god, we were only four games in front of Atlanta! Thursday’s game dawned properly Metsian in the sense we’ve come to appreciate it this season: leadoff hitter Mark Canha walks to rev up the bottom of the first; Brandon Nimmo is hit by a pitch; after two outs, McNeil singles Canha home. The only surprise was that the Mets hadn’t mounted a larger lead than 1-0. Tylor Megill, who’d retired the Brewers in order in the top of the first, faced the minimum through three. Everything appeared SN — Situation Normal.

Then came the AFU that transforms a normal situation into a SNAFU.

The top of the fourth commenced with a Christian Yelich leadoff homer, but OK, that’ll happen. Megill struck out Willy Adames, yet normality was about to take it in the teeth. Rowdy Tellez singled convincingly, Luis Urias more so. Tellez, who doesn’t come off as the racing kind, raced to third as if imbued by the spirit of Mo Donegal. Andrew McCutchen walked. Sticky jam we faced, but Megill could get out of this.

Correction: Megill was simply out. The trainer was on the mound and Tylor was leaving after his second start since returning from the IL. Ouch! Word would come down eventually that Megill was experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder. When they delivered the news, SNY’s booth groaned. Like the difference between a dead arm and a sore arm (sore being more concerning than dead), discomfort, which doesn’t sound so awful to civilian ears, speaks volumes to those who understand the language of baseball most intimately. A pitcher needs his throwing shoulder to be comfortable.

In the meantime, Chasen Shreve came on to relieve with every base occupied and was greeted by a pair of grounders sporting 20-20 vision. They certainly had eyes, each ball (one struck by Omar Naravez, the other by Hunter Renfroe) plating a run or two. The Brewers suddenly led 4-1. Our starting pitcher was gone. Our usual starting right fielder, Starling Marte, wasn’t available after being hit on the hand the night before. Our usual starting third baseman, Eduardo Escobar, wasn’t around, thanks to a “non-workplace event,” a euphemism grim mainly for its vagueness. In the bottom of the fourth, the Mets attempted to rally the way these Mets do. McNeil walked with one out. Luis Guillorme singled with two out. Tomás Nido, quietly clutch, took an Aaron Ashby pitch to right. It was enough to score McNeil. It wasn’t enough for the normally infallible Guillorme to stop at second. He tried to take third on Hunter Renfroe’s arm. McNeil could have told him from Wednesday not to run on that limb. Guillorme ended the inning making the final out at third, just after Jeff crossed the plate. There was a replay review to confirm Luis’s faux pas. The crew in Manhattan must have fainted when it realized Guillorme ran into a fundamental mistake.

Now it was up to Chasen Shreve and whoever followed him. Shreve has his moments but also isn’t the first Met you think of when you conjure notions of length. With the DH rule ensconced, whoever was pitching could stick around a while. Except the Mets used their designated long man, Trevor Williams, the night before and sometimes you wonder how baseball gets from one game to the next with its bloated pitching staffs, its short benches yet often nobody to inhabit whatever role is most in need of filling. Opportunities to score more had gone by the wayside. Depth was shallow. Chasen Shreve was our immediate best hope as the fifth inning beckoned.

Mojo was elusive. But Shreve didn’t care. He popped up Yelich and struck out Willy Adames, then Tellez. We were still down by two. It only felt like more. Ashby comes back to the mound in the bottom of the fifth and walks right fielder Nick Plummer, who hit a big home run in late May and hadn’t done much since a second home run in slightly later May. Plummer’s ability to trot remained fresh, thought. He got to do it on Mark Canha’s ensuing home run to center. Just like that, the Mets had tied the game. It only felt like they trailed. Just one of those vibes on one of those nights. A normal 2022 Mets affair tells you it’s only a matter of grind before our team of choice is out in front. I was frankly surprised they were no longer behind.

The Mets stayed tied with Milwaukee in the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. Seth Lugo was good for two middle innings of shutout ball. Drew Smith worked around a pair of baserunners. The Mets couldn’t do anything to any Brewer relievers after Ashby’s exit in the fifth, but not losing was a provisional victory. Not the same as a W, but no two wins are built exactly alike.

I’m not fond of the concept of teams stealing victories. I don’t mean teams stealing bases en route to winning, but the idea that they didn’t deserve to win the game they won. A win is a win; you won, you won. The game didn’t belong to the other team. It was up for grabs. For Thursday night, however, I’ll make an exception. The Mets stole themselves a win.

J.D. Davis led off the bottom of the eighth versus Brent Suter with a well-guided single through the infield. Guillorme’s ability to do everything splendidly rematerialized via contact on the eighth pitch of what might have been an epic at-bat, but what for Luis is business as usual. He put the ball in play, sending it to Tellez at first. Tellez sent it to the outfield, missing a potential forceout on Davis at second. Now we had runners on first and third with nobody out.

The heretofore unavailable Marte materialized. Can’t bat. Can’t throw. But the man can run. With a sac fly a possibility, Starling’s legs could make the difference. He pinch-ran for DH Davis. A pretty decent percentage move, I thought, despite the bench now being down to Patrick Mazeika and splinters should the bottom of the ninth be a factor. But one half-inning at a time.

Nido didn’t come through, but Plummer — don’t you love how now and then the fortunes of this particular team are embedded in names like “Nido” and “Plummer” and the fortunes aren’t necessarily dismal? — hit the ball to the right side. Good thing Marte’s speed is in the game, because the Brewers’ infield is playing in. Except Marte didn’t break, which wasn’t a crisis because Tellez, who fielded Plummer’s grounder, opted to attempt to execute a double play. He got one out, Guillorme at second. But after his initial hesitation, Marte streaked home. There was no double play. There was a Mets run. There was a Mets lead. It wasn’t exactly classic Mets magic, but in the inverse of now you see it, now you don’t, the Mets were ahead, 5-4.

I swear I didn’t see it developing. But then I did.

The top of the ninth fell to Edwin Diaz, and unlike most ninths of late, it almost tumbled down on his Sugary head. Renfroe led off with a soft single to center. Jace Peterson struck out, which is what you expect versus Diaz these days, but Tyrone Taylor, pinch-hitting for 2015 World Series villain Lorenzo Cain, lined a ball past first base. It wasn’t a classic double into the corner, but it did have tricky written across it every bit as much as it did “Robert D. Manfred Jr.” A skilled outfielder like Marte would catch up with it and get it in, but on Buck Showalter’s lineup card, Marte was listed as the DH who literally couldn’t hit. Lesser-known quantity Plummer was still out there. The collective brainpower of the Brewers — Renfroe taking off from first, third base coach Jason Lane and, presumably, manager Craig Counsell — decided pushing Plummer and the Mets’ defense to its breaking point was the way to go. They weren’t expecting two hits off Edwin Diaz. Why wait to find out?

So Renfroe, who’d thrown out two runners in two nights, concluded he was immune to the kind of defensive punishment he’d been administering. He kept chugging toward home. I started rewinding to 1999, not for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (one of the more disappointing sequels I ever willingly watched), but for another Mets-Brewers encounter that came down to baserunning in the top of the ninth. It was that doubleheader when Robin Ventura grand-slammed in both games. I was thinking about the opener, the only 11-10 win in Mets history, a contest that got put into the books for us because another Brew Crew baserunner, old friend Alex Ochoa, was trying to score the tying run and was clearly gonna be out. Watching then from the third base side of Field Level at Shea, I wondered what the hell was Alex was doing. He was gonna be out by the proverbial twenty feet. And he was. A kooky slugfest was over in our favor. Thanks, old friend!

Twenty-three years later, Renfroe didn’t appear to be indisputably doomed, but Diaz or no Diaz, his mission came into focus as an enormous risk, to put it kindly. Plummer handled his task, picking up the ball and relaying it to Alonso. Alonso, not always the first baseman of our dreams, continued the process as best we could wish. Pete’s throw found Nido on the third base side of home. It was a little high, but it was in plenty of time to nail Renfroe. Hunter made a good slide, and it necessitated a review, but the dude was out. He was going to be out before he slid, he was out when he slid, he was out after he slid.

The Brewers had only one out left to play with. They did have Taylor on third, and they did have former National League MVP Yelich coming up, he who had homered off Megill way back in the fourth, but Diaz was still Diaz. Three strong pitches, three strong strikes; our lion tamed their Christian.

The Mets’ Mojo returned intact, bringing a 5-4 win in tow. I was surprised it went missing. I’m not surprised it was rediscovered, as I was confident it hadn’t hitched a ride out of town, but I thought it might be AWOL a little longer than it was. Maybe it was just in hiding for a few innings. Mojo can be mischievous that way.

National League Town is simply happy the Mets are home for a spell. Relive a little 2005, a chunk of 2012 and a dollop of 1955, as well as all that 2022 has to offer, here.

Out and About With and Without the Amazin' Mets

7:10 Finish talking to a friend about an art project. Tired from packing ahead of a flight to Charlottesville. Time to watch some Mets baseball!

7:17 Jeez, David Peterson has already hit two Brewers. In a cheap horror movie there’d be some dissonant strings warning of bad things to come.

7:19 Luis Urias slaps a two-run single just past Francisco Lindor. Ugh.

7:19 Have my alarm set to remind me to get a Lyft to the airport. This is going to be a busy night after a busy day. It’ll be nice to have baseball as my companion. Well, unless the Mets get slaughtered.

7:20 Peterson finally throws a slider. That’s good! He throws another one and nearly hits Keston Hiura with it. That seems less than good.

7:21 Oh, a generous strike three call. We’ll take it.

7:25 Oh shit I forgot we’re facing Corbin Burnes. He’s good. He’s really good.

7:30 Starling Marte singles and the Mets are pecking away at Burnes.

7:36 Pete Alonso drops an RBI single down the line … oh wait, no, it’s a foul ball. Oh cruel fate.

7:39 Hiura makes a nifty snag to deny Jeff McNeil and the Mets are turned aside in the first. But they forced Burnes to throw a lot of pitches. Maybe it’s not time for despair quite yet.

7:44 Peterson is somehow not killed by a Christian Yelich line drive. Both Yelich and Patrick Mazeika instinctively duck in sympathy. Oof.

8:01 And Peterson has lost the strike zone. Not momentarily misplaced it, but in a coal mine without a lamp on a moonless light lost it.

8:02 Mets turn a 5-4 double play. Nice! Could have been a triple play except the ball was hit too slowly. Don’t get greedy.

8:17 Peterson is nearly killed by a second line drive. Yikes!

8:19 McNeil can’t find the grip on a relay and throws the ball 10 feet wide of Pete. It’s 3-0 Milwaukee.

8:21 A 6-6-3 DP, as Lindor is covering second and in the absolute perfect spot to turn a single up the middle into a rally-killer. Yelich is like, “so that happened.” He’s veteran enough to have Seen Some Shit.

8:24 Remember I only heard Brandon Nimmo‘s catch last night, so cue up the video. Yep, pretty nifty.

8:30 Uh-oh, time to head to the airport. Wait, what am I forgetting? Oh yeah — you still have to actually a call a Lyft for one to show up. Do I have to do everything?

8:31 McNeil homer! Keep hope alive!

8:35 In the Lyft. We have lyftoff. That has to have been an ad campaign at some point, right?

8:36 Peterson has thrown his last pitch.

8:39 Hmm, have I seen Jake Reed pitch this year? No, I was yeehawing and boozing it at my high-school reunion when he made his season debut. Do I remember him from 2021? Vague impression is that he was hairy and a sidearmer.

8:41 Howie Rose confirms: sidearmer. Don’t know about the hairy part.

8:42 Howie talking schedule. Sixty-six games into the season is still too early to have to deal with the Marlins. I would prefer to play them never. Never would be ideal.

8:43 Was talking with my boss about the fact that the Mets could add two phenomenal midseason pickups without spending a penny or parting with a single prospect. It’s even true!

8:44 Jake Reed is doing things he’d prefer I didn’t remember.

8:46 That’s right, it’s the anniversary of the Tom Seaver trade. I hope some bat-winged spawn of Hell is giving Dick Young and M. Donald Grant an extra turn on the spit to mark the occasion.

8:47 Howie tells a funny story about Maury Allen and Young hating each other and someone asking Allen what he was doing at Young’s funeral. Allen said he was there to make sure Young was dead. I admire a good grudge.

8:49 Don’t fuck this up, Jake Reed.

8:52 Jake Reed fucks this up.

8:54 As it happens, I’m looking through the Lyft’s windshield right at Citi Field. Somehow still haven’t been this year. Need to fix that. But not brokenhearted I didn’t fix it tonight.

9:09 Through security and at my gate. There was a lot of fucking up over at Citi Field while I was on a lengthy journey through the new Terminal C. It’s nice.

9:10 I’m looking across the bay at Citi Field. I can see the scoreboard and discern that Mark Canha is up. That means the radio feed is behind, as the Mets still aren’t out of the inning from Hell in my ears. All my time codes will be slightly off. I can live with that.

9:11 I’ve lost track. I think it’s like 43-1?

9:16 Beginning to think we’re not going to win this one.

9:17 If I agree to watch “The Old Man,” will WCBS stop saturating Mets’ broadcasts with ads for it? Christ on a crutch. And I like Jeff Bridges!

9:26 Nimmo triple! This pig has some lipstick!

9:30 Boarding. Marte just got hit in the hand. Great. A question I hope isn’t relevant: Does the hamate bone have an evolutionary purpose, or does it exist solely to sideline baseball players for six to eight weeks?

9:36 McNeil drives in a run and is inexplicably thrown out at second to squelch a modest threat. Seriously? I can imagine Buck Showalter glowering at McNeil from the dugout.

9:37 Great catch by Nimmo at the fence. Well, none of this is his fault.

9:38 A couple of hours ago I was scheming about leaving my phone on during taxiing so I could hear as much of this game as possible. Think I can let go of that idea.

9:39 Good Christ it’s only the seventh. And of course the Braves are winning again. Less scared than annoyed about that last part. For now.

9:44 The boarding door is closed. I’m still listening to the game because I am a dangerous outlaw.

9:48 Huh, it was Canha who figured out Taijuan Walker was tipping his pitches. That was mildly worth waiting for.

9:50 And Luis Guillorme hits into a DP. I guess it’s a sign of a good season that I’m disappointed.

9:52 C’mon Nimmo, put a little more lipstick on this pig.

9:54 Nimmo Ks. Time to turn off my phone I guess.

10:06 Not going anywhere so cheating again. The game has not gotten better.

10:10 Pete flies out. My plane is moving. Bye again.

10:12 Wait we’re sitting around again. Weights and balances, whatever that means. The captain sounds disgusted.

10:14. Taxiing. Fuck it, will keep my phone on. If the plane crashes, rat me out to the FAA. Oh wait, if the plane crashes no one will ever read this.

10:16 They should have made the whole pen out of Joely Rodriguez. Whose only baseball card is from Topps Total and somehow basically unattainable. This annoys me.

10:17 Oh God another ad for “The Old Man.” I’m sorry, I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll turn off my phone.

11:09. Landed in Charlottesville. Did they win?

11:10 Shockingly enough, they did not.