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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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4 For 4

“If we’d had 5 decent starters, his ass would have been out of here 4 years ago!”

Thus spake a disgusted Joe in the midst of Sunday afternoon’s Trachselization. When Joe has the clearest vision among 45,000 disgruntled Mets fans (and probably 3,000 jerks who haven’t heard the Dodgers don’t play one borough over anymore), surely it’s time for action.

Stevie Shoelaces untied my 5-game winning streak and slapped me right back under .500 for the year, 24 hours after I climbed back to break-even for the first time since 0-0; Joe and I are 0-4 together…and outscored, he looked up, 38-10 on our weekend ventures. But I’ll happily — ecstatically — accept a lackluster 8-9 mark for myself for now if it means this day was not in vain. It is my fondest hope that Steve Trachsel’s 3rd-inning exit, down 0-4 with loaded bases bequeathed to Royce Ring, punched his ticket out of the rotation for the playoffs. If I can legitimately claim I witnessed the final start of Steve Trachsel’s Mets career, I’ll chalk that milestone to my record proudly.

The last time a perpetually berated Mets starter took the ball in the postseason, it was Bobby Jones. But Jones, fairly useless from the middle of 1997 to the middle of 2000, was on an upswing for a couple of months leading to October 2000. He was downright hot down the stretch. His pitching, not his since-’93 longevity, earned him his starts. We were rewarded.

Any ball handed Trachsel next month should be signed by the entire team and melded to a plaque that says, “Good Luck Steve! Fondly, Your Former Teammates.”

Loyalty’s a marvelous quality and if you’ve been on a team that has been playoffless since the moment you showed up and you’ve been with the team the longest of anybody, it would be heartwarming to see you get your chance in the spotlight. But not if it’s at the expense of success in those playoffs. Willie’s a loyal guy, but to his guys (which is probably why Ricky Ledee is here and Fonzie isn’t, though Fonzie’s .241 BA at Norfolk might have been a factor). Trachsel’s not one of Willie’s guys. Just about everybody else is. It will take guts to drop a veteran at this stage of the season. Willie’s got guts. Let’s see if he has the stomach or judgment to make the move. (Note: Willie and Omar are professionals at evaluating baseball players and what they can do for the team. I’m just cranky and kvetchy, but I do pay attention.)

If Steve is incapable of starting effectively when they need him most, then maybe this was the beginning of the end or the end of the end for Trachsel’s 6 years as a Met. He’s shown no sign that he could ever adapt to a relief role. I don’t want him out there in a Game 4 over Maine or Williams or Perez or George Stone. The 5.17 ERA he left with after 67 pitches and 8 outs wasn’t built on just a bad week. If the Tigers can release Dmitri Young in September, perhaps Trachsel can become his batting practice pitcher.

The Dodgers seem to like his stuff well enough.

Of course, Trachsel could have pitched to his earned run average against L.A. and the Mets still would have laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown lefty. If we face the Dodgers and Little pitches Penny over Stults, he’s as big a dope as they believe he was in Boston.

The only intriguing note of a positive nature from this 9-1 throttling was a Julio Franco sighting at 3rd base in the 8th and 9th. He made 2 nifty slings to 2nd. Julio Franco hadn’t played 3rd base since 1982. Julio Franco is the Ralph Malph of infielders. He’s still got it.

By then, though, most of the patrons had left. When plenty of good seats are suddenly available with a game in progress, it can only mean Steve Trachsel in on his 2nd bottle of pinot.

Marlins beat the Phillies. Through all this yeech, comes a yay. Yay, the magic number is 4.

4.01: Is Acta Practicing the Stop Sign? It was pleasant to see Jose Reyes hit a meaningless 4-bagger in the 6th. It is shocking to realize he has more homers (19) than triples (16). He will need 4 very specific extra-base hits, 1 homer and 3 triples, to get to 20 in the 4 categories that only the greats have reached at once. He’s already doubled 28 times and stolen 57 bases. If he has 20 homers and 19 triples on the last day and he hits 1 out, would it be real bad form to trot into the dugout after he touches 3rd?

4.02: Sweep! Sweep! The Mets won the 1969 World Series in 4 straight. Game 1 was practice.

4.03: He’s in My Face. In light of the historical theme running through our countdown, it would be proper to salute No. 4 Ron Swoboda or No. 4 Lenny Dykstra or maybe even No. 4 Bob Bailor, but the No. 4 Met who’s hard for me to ignore at the moment is the current bearer, Chris Woodward. He’s half of the September page on my Banco Popular Calendar Weekend calendar hanging behind my computer. They made him share a picture with Aaron Heilman. Coulda been worse for Woody. Xavier Nady was August.

4.04: B-R-L-F-Q Spells Mom and Dad. In 2002, Steve Trachsel posted a sparkling 3.37 ERA for a last-place team. While he has seemingly regressed, we have, in 4 short years, gone from rags to riches. Bobby Goldsboro said he did the same in “Watching Scotty Grow”. Nearly 14 years ago, I was writing a sub-headline for the cover of the magazine I worked for that played off another lyric from the same song. It said that three particular executives “are Watching Snapple Grow”. I was asked if we needed the “are” in the sentence. I explained it was meant to recall the line, “Me and God are watching Scotty grow.” Another staff member, who would reveal himself over the remainder of my tenure at that publication to be the biggest horse’s ass in the rear-end genre, said that’s not it, it’s “Me and Dottie watching Scotty grow.” Dottie? Who the hell is Dottie? This guy insisted Bobby Goldsboro, like him, was from Alabama, and in Alabama, “we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.” He was extraordinarily adamant about this, adamant to the edge of argumentive. I drove to Tower Records, bought a cassette of Bobby Goldsboro’s greatest hits and found the proof. It was “Me and God,” not “Me and Dottie”. I brought it to work, played the song and pointed out, “See? See? ‘Me and God’.” The horse’s ass’ reply? “I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this.” Also, the song was written by Mac Davis of Lubbock, Texas.

Good God.

4 comments to 4 For 4

  • Anonymous

    So, your “Profiles in Orange and Blue” featuring Mr. Trachsel seems to have undergone a bit of a re-write.

  • Anonymous

    I stand by my earlier assertion that he likes wine.

  • Anonymous

    You know what's puzzling about Steve? He cruised through the first two innings. The inning preceding his meltdown vs. the Braves, he cruised with ace-like ease. Then he had Chuck James (Rookie Lefty that he is) 0-2 and suddenly the “bad Steve” had a tantrum and Trachsel oozed into a puddle of ineffectivness on the mound. I don't get it. I hate to see a guy toil away on progressively worse teams for so long and then, finally when the team is awesome, get cut. But…we can't have that kind performance in the playoffs. I don't know…it sucks.
    On the bright side, Annibal Sanchez, although he is a rookie, does not use his left hand. He also appears to be legitimately skilled, which might work to our advantage. Generally, I've found, with some exceptions, that the Mets performance against a rookie pitcher is something close to inversely proporitional to that pitcher's ordinary skill. Right. Whatever helps me sleep at night.

  • Anonymous

    I think the problem is that Trachsel, creature of habit that he is, has his set pattern of pitching and won't deviate from it even when it's not working, even when the opposing team has figured him out. I didn't like what I heard on yesterday's broadcast, with Gary and Ron talking about how Trachsel chose not to alter his gameplan on Monday despite the fact that the Braves weren't swinging at the pitches he expected them to chase.
    I hope you're right about success-to-skill ratio, but I remember Johnson and Olsen pitching pretty well against the Mets this year. Where have you gone, Ricky Nolasco?