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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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Justin Time

Less news flash than point of fact: On Monday night, Justin Turner, a largely anonymous utility infielder with perhaps the most generic ballplayer name to grace a Met roster since 2004 catcher Tom Wilson arrived and departed, became the team’s 141st third baseman Monday when he replaced David Wright in the seventh inning of an eventual 13-2 loss at Chase Field.

It used to be a big deal tracking Met third basemen given that nobody could hold down the position for more than five minutes. Wright happily placed that particular meme into cold storage six years ago tomorrow, yet the third base count is still a staple of the Mets Media Guide; it’s appropriately on page 141 this year. They’ll have to be sure to add Justin Turner to the next edition, just as they added the immortal Andy Green and Wilson Valdez last year.

Oh, you know what else used to be a big deal? Mike Pelfrey. He used to be a great Met pitcher, back in April, May and select portions of June 2010. There was a time when you heard Big Pelf was pitching and you felt pretty comfortable predicting a competitive evening for the Mets.

Hmmm…doesn’t feel so competitive lately when Pelfrey pitches. Mike claimed a stiff neck got the best of him on the flight to San Francisco, which is why he pitched Monday against the Diamondbacks instead of Saturday against the Giants. His neck couldn’t have improved much watching Diamondback hitters and Diamondback baserunners do their Diamondback worst to his many, many pitches in his short, short outing. The Mets didn’t improve much, either. If anything, they, like their starter, just kept getting worse and worse.

I could go on about how bad Pelfrey’s been; how tenuous our rotation appears two of every five starts; how frightening it was to learn Oliver Perez will likely be reinstated for active duty in a couple of days; how our extracurricular concern is swiftly shifting from how the Braves are doing to how umpteen potential Wild Card rivals are doing to whether there’s any point in monitoring the out-of-town scoreboard; or how downright shaky this team has looked since accepting the Marlins’ invitation to briefly summer in San Juan. They’re 6-12 since alighting on Thunder Island, and the American Southwest is so far no more welcoming a venue for these Mets than was picturesque Puerto Rico.

I’m neither psychologist nor physiologist, so don’t ask me what the hell is wrong with Pelf. I’m no Jon Heyman scoop artist wannabe, so don’t ask me who the Mets can get to bolster their moundsmanship on the nights that quality early innings are suddenly up for grabs. I’m no legal scholar, so don’t ask me how the Mets can slither out of their contractual commitment to employ Perez no matter how large a detriment he proves to their bottom line. Most of all, I’m no soothsayer, so don’t ask me to tell you whether the Mets will emerge healed and whole from this disheartening morass in any kind of contending shape or come home limping as anything more than a barely .500 team. I sure hope they will, though, as it’s way more fun worrying about keeping pace with the Braves than it is looking up at the Diamondbacks.

Feel free, however, to ask me about the 141 Mets who have played third base, a list that began with Don Zimmer and has now pulled up at Justin Turner. I know it’s not a subject that’s top of mind for most Mets fans, but after 13-2 drubbings that are too horrible to contemplate for too long, it’s the sort of thing that gets me through the night.

19 comments to Justin Time

  • Andee

    Pelfrey HAS to be injured. There’s no other explanation for such a sudden, precipitous drop. Either that or he’s the new Bobby Jones, who usually had about half a good season in him, and then, look out below.

    • Guy Kipp

      But Pelfrey’s velocity hasn’t dropped any. He was still hitting 93 on the gun last night–unlike when Santana couldn’t get out of the high 80s in June, or when Maine couldn’t even reach the mid-80s in May. So, if it’s an injury, it’s not affecting his speed.

      • Andee

        My theory is that it’s an injury having to do with his fingers, which prevents him from throwing certain pitches with the frequency that he used to. With a decreased arsenal, a 93-MPH fastball is all too hittable.

  • LarryDC

    Good thing I’m going to bed without even tuning into the early parts of these games. These West Coast nightmare trips used to keep me up, gritting my teeth, night after night.

    Oh, also … thanks on behalf of my 2-year-old son, Justin Shea, for providing a new Mets-related Justin reference. I didn’t want him to be haunted by the walk-off grand slam by Justin Maxwell oh-so-late last year against oh-so-awful K Rod.

  • James Allen

    It’s too bad that the one thing that went really right this year is suddenly going all wrong. Pelfrey looks lost out there, and it’s really bumming me out. I’m still waiting for the rebound. In the meantime, we can all go to one of your Amazing Tuesdays, hold hands, sing “Kumbaya,” watch Ollie pitch, and then get ourselves sauced out of our gourds while I read select passages from “Nails” by Lenny Dykstra. (Fuckin’ sweet.)

    Third Basemen you say? Growing up I remember Wayne Garret, Joe Torre, Dave Kingman, Roy Staiger, Bobby Valentine, Len Randle, Elliot Maddux, Richie Hebner (what an asshole), Mike Phillips, Leo Foster, Joel Youngblood… I could go on. I too remember it was quite the running joke.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Mets have a thing for playing catchers at third? I swear I remember Jerry Grote, John Stearns, and Alex Trevino playing a little third.

  • CharlieH

    Well, this “contending” thing was fun while it lasted…

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Though Don Zimmer was still on the roster when I went to my first game, Casey had already benched him in favor of Felix Mantilla for both ends of that Sunday doubleheader. So rather than having seen number one of 141, I probably saw number two instead.

  • Eric B.

    Let’s not panic yet! Dickey, Niese, and Santana continue to pitch well, despite the collapse of Takahashi and Pelfrey. Surely the bats will come around somewhat and this death spiral will level out, at the very least, into comforting mediocrity. We may even have one big streak left in us to renew our faith and allay our fears.

    • Sounds good in the light of day. If Beltran can be Beltran and Castillo can be not bad, I don’t think we’re doomed. Tough to transform on the fly when two guys are coming back from injuries and Reyes’s oblique may or may not be a ticking time bomb.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I remember the Old Timer’s game where the Mets featured all thier 3rd basemen.

    I remember Howie Rose doing interviews with some of them that day on WFAN. Charlie Smith comes to mind, I think HoJo had just broken his single-season record Home Run record for 3rd basemen.

    During the course of the show Howie played the “79 Men on Third Base” song which consists of the names of all 79 Men who had played 3rd up to that point.

    • Linz, Mantilla, part of the story
      Randle and Phillips
      And Youngblood and Torre
      Moock, Hunt & Hurdle
      No hoi polloi
      Gardenhire and Klaus and Foy

      I seem to recall Smith was placed on the “opponents” team which drove Howie nuts since Smith indeed set the Mets’ 3B HR record.

  • Lenny65

    Provided that there’s nothing physically wrong with Pelfrey, this is really it for him here. If he can’t turn himself around and work his way through this stretch, there’s no reason to believe he ever will. Enough with the waiting on this guy to develop, do it and do it now or go find yourself in Pittsburgh or Baltimore or some other baseball Siberia next year.

  • […] most of us clicked off the television in disgust last night, Greg Prince hung in there long enough to report that Justin Turner came in to play for David Wright …and thus, became the 141st third baseman in the history of the NY Mets. Where have you gone, Roy […]

  • Ian

    yes, Pelf is undependable now, but on top of that they will trot out RA Dickey or J Santana, he’ll pitch beautifully and can’t score a blasted run for them. hoping this is a funk, but fearing it’s not…so the story of 2010 is “what the hell happened to Jason Bay?”

  • Mike W

    Does anyone remember one season inside the yearbook, they had all the Mets third basemen with a little black and white picture of each guy? Didn’t even Kingman play 3B for a game?