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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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Clarifying Losses

The idea that there can be losses that are also moral victories is a trap sentimental sports fans need to avoid: Nobody gets an extra win because they had an exceptional year in the LMV column. But chiefly in March, there is such a thing as a clarifying loss.

You know what I mean: You hear that the Mets have lost a spring-training game, and your first thought isn’t about the W-L record or the standings or the upcoming schedule. It’s to hope is that some scrub got pounded or made a frightful error. Let the blame fall on a poor schmo with a number in the 70s whose real clock doesn’t start for a couple of years yet, or on some moth-eaten veteran in camp for a sympathetic look-see, or on some replacement-level player who doesn’t particularly matter in the moderate scheme of things.

For instance, today: The Cardinals beat the Mets, 5-3, in a game I saw not one second of. R.A. Dickey did just fine, giving up one earned run in 5 1/3. The goat was Manny Acosta, helped out by Luis Hernandez, who made an error. Tim Byrdak pitched OK. And that’s a wrap, Mets fans.

Manny Acosta is eminently replaceable, a one-pitch reliever. Luis Hernandez is the kind of player so beloved by Omar Minaya that it’s a miracle he isn’t stuck with an option giving him $3 million if he has 11 at-bats. It’s never fun losing a game, but if you’re going to, best to have the loss be one in which on-the-bubble relievers and interchangeable middle infielders are the guys who lose it.

I’m not claiming this is science — spring training is entirely too small a sample size to be worthy of the term — but it’s clarifying. In all likelihood, that’s farewell Manny Acosta to the waiver wire, reducing the derby for last reliever to Izzy, Pat Misch and Blaine Boyer. And Hernandez’s gaffe should make Brad Emaus’s road clearer. Two fewer questions and a day closer to games that count.

You can have clarifying losses from April through October, too — of course. But those leave a mark. As losses go, I like these better.

7 comments to Clarifying Losses

  • InsidePitcher

    Preach it Jace!

  • March'62

    Thanks for clarifying Jason. They seem to have trouble winning on Jupiter also. Or is it IN Jupiter? Maybe we can get that out of our system before the World Series.

  • Joe D.

    Mark Teixeira said on Francesca’s show yesterday, it doesn’t matter if he goes 0 for 4 in a spring training game as long as those four outs were well hit and indicated his timing was back. I’m sure our first baseman would say the same thing if asked.

  • dak442

    When I see Acosta I almost always have one of two thoughts: “Oh, I forgot about him” or “Ugh, he’s still around?”. Hernandez is another one of those guys who doesn’t do anything particularly well but is thought useful by Baseball Minds. Another in the long line of anonymous second basemen who bat 8th and allow you to go to the bathroom without fear of missing anything when they’re up. I know utility infielder and middle reliever aren’t glamour positions, but surely we can do better.

  • Flip D.

    Manny Acosta has shown over and over again that he’s not a major league pitcher. I do hope that was his last-hurrah with the Mets. I hadn’t ever seen Boyer, though, and he made an impression on me the other day. Solid frame, threw the ball hard, threw strikes, nasty slider/change-of-pace/whatever-you-wanna-call-it. Jason, I hope you’re mistaken about there only being one reliever spot left and it’s either Izzy or Boyer and not both. (Of course, I’m sure you’re right, but I can hope,right?) (Misch is a bubble pitcher, who belongs, well… on the bubble.) I think Izzy will do a nice job for us and be a nice story, to boot, but I’d really like to see both those two make the team. Does anyone else out there like Boyer, or was I taken in on just that one appearance?