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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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Long After the Thrill of Winnin' is Gone

It may feel like we’ll see more losses like Wednesday afternoon’s than Ruben Tejada will see pitches this year, but it won’t be nearly that bad, statistically speaking. We can’t lose more than 158 games and Ruben sees almost that many pitches in a given week.

Yet sometimes you can’t argue with how something feels.

Wrightlessness equaled hopelessness for a second day in a row, which is too bad, considering what a blast we had zipping from 0-0 to 4-0. Now we’re 4-2, which works better as a pie chart than a trendline. The trend, pending the progress of the most important pinky in Flushing, is potentially fraught with peril.

It should all feel happier at the end of a day when the Mets officially turned 50 — outstanding call having Roger Craig on hand to once again throw a first pitch — and a battle of National League East aces proceeded partly to plan. Johan Santana found most of his groove and Stephen Strasburg seems close to where he was when Bob Costas was throwing the Big Train under the bus amid 2010’s initial onslaught of Strasburgmania. We still don’t know if Stephen is going to overtake Walter Johnson as the best pitcher to come out of Washington since Honest Abe Lincoln threw that gem against disunion from 1861 to 1865. We do know, after he won his first-ever start at Citi Field, the following:

• The way the Mets suddenly aren’t hitting, it wouldn’t take the second coming of Walter Johnson to shut them down. The second coming of Andrew Johnson would be tough to beat. Or the actual Andrew Johnson, and Lincoln’s less-than-beloved successor has been dead at the present time since 1875.

• Strasburg was doing well enough that he didn’t need help from the executive branch, which in this case means Larry Vanover’s desire to coax balls into strikes to make Jason Bay look even worse than usual was misplaced, to put it diplomatically.

The ejected Terry Collins probably put it less so, but whatever he said to get booted should be subject to presidential pardon. It’s Vanover who deserved ejection…and I mean with coils springing up from the ground and sending him skyward to his next assignment.

Which shouldn’t be in organized baseball.

No matter that the ump was a hump; the ace/off almost lived up to its billing. If it wasn’t Seaver vs. Carlton, we can owe that to prolonged precautionary periods that follow career-saving surgeries (and blame killjoy pitch counts). Santana struggled in spots, but Santana struggling doesn’t amount to much more than a few specks of dust on the Mona Lisa. A Johan the Mets don’t worry about stretching out hangs in there through the afternoon and keeps things excruciatingly close. And a Strasburg the Nats don’t worry about extending either continues to master the actual strike zone — lordy, what a breaking ball — or tires enough to be gotten to before Davey Johnson can rescue him.

As was, our ace was pulled in the sixth and their ace was gone by the seventh, 17 strikeouts between them. In the 1975 of the imagination, they both go nine or more. In the here and now, it’s another call to the bullpen, then another, then another, with walk after walk after walk of National batters. When your staff strikes out ten while walking ten, it’s startling how immaterial the strikeouts become.

On the plus side, one of our three hits was registered by Ike Davis, who is no longer oh-for-’12, and his flair for popups at or around railings and fences remains intact. Tejada, meanwhile, saw another 22 pitches, to go with the 20 from Tuesday night and the 23 from Monday. That’s 65 in a dozen plate appearances, which goes a ways toward explaining why young Ruben is slashing at a .333/.440/.524 clip. An eon or so ago, I was in a bar with my friend Joel Lugo when the band announced a break. “Hey,” Joel declared, “I’d pay to watch these guys drink!” That’s how I feel about watching Ruben Tejada work counts. Nothing is happening, yet everything is happening.

Alas, other than Ruben’s time spent in the box and Ike’s release from .000 purgatory, there was nothing to speak of offensively against Strasburg. Granted, he’s Strasburg, Vanover or no Vanover. There’s a difference between not touching Ross Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg constructing an impenetrable force field around himself. Still, it was a mostly hollow lineup and bench sent to take on all Nat comers without David Wright. That’s a scary thought if the pinky isn’t a quick healer.

Ike’s flirtation with foul territory acrobatics notwithstanding, there was little to recommend Met defense Wednesday. Josh Thole was baffled all day. Daniel Murphy, despite one impressive flip, refuses to transform into a second baseman just because we wish he would. And Johan Santana simply couldn’t catch a break.

The first four games aren’t forgotten, but they are no longer the most recent games the Mets have played. On the happy side of life, the last two aren’t the next two, either. An off day (surprisingly welcome so soon) will give way to the road, where six games will tell the tale…of the next six games.

It’s a long season. That’s how it feels, anyway.

23 comments to Long After the Thrill of Winnin’ is Gone

  • Lenny65

    I know, I know, it’s early. But Wright getting dinged already made me shudder. Please, not another year of that sort of thing. As far as Bay is concerned, he used to remind me of George Foster a little, but at this point that’s demeaning to George.

  • BlackCountryMet

    At the start of the homestand, I’d have been well chuffed with 4&2, it’s just that 4&2 after 4&0 seems annoying. More worrying is the lack of offense without Wright and the increasing suspicion that Jason Bay is toast. More pluses than minuses so far, now lets go get them Phils

  • BlackCountryMet

    PS On a worrying parallel, my soccer team was playing at the same time as the Mets, both lost 4 0 and it appeared that every time the Nats scored a run,my team conced a goal which spooked me somewhat!!

  • Z

    Glass half full: the 4-5-6 hitters in our lineup (Bay, Duda, Davis) are hitting a combined .344.

    Glass half empty: that’s “combined” as in you get to .344 by *adding* their three batting averages together.

  • Brian Lennon

    Amazing that two of the worst home plate umpires could be in the same crew.

  • cleonjones

    Everyone is being nice about Jason Bay. I am going to say what everyone feels- Jason Bay SUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lets go Mets !!!

    • Steve D

      I am going to say this…and it will be controversial…as bad as Bay is, I am willing to go out on a limb and say he will have more RBI this year than Ike Davis. Bay at least had some success over a multi-year period…Davis’ approach at the plate now makes him look ready for AA ball. If I’m right, it is going to be a very long year.

  • kd bart

    “It’s a long season.”

    So lets not over react, either way, to a handful of games at the beginning of the season.

    The biggest concern right now is Wright’s injury. Not because he’ll be out a long time but because you lose his bat and he puts you in a bit of a roster quandry. You don’t really want to put him on the 15 day DL because he won’t need that much time and he’ll be stuck there when he’s clearly ready to play but if you don’t, you have to play a man short on the bench while he can’t play for a few days to a week. Sherman’s suggestion of being able to use a 7 day DL a few times a season is one I like because it fits an injury like this.

    • Steve D

      I doubt he will avoid the DL…I recently jammed my thumb playing basketball…did not break it…it has taken a week to get back to 85%, but it is still vulnerable to re-injury. Think of a broken finger now…you need two weeks to get the pain out then another week to be strong enough to swing a bat. You’ll see him May 1.

  • March'62

    Hey guys, let’s look at the bright side…………..okay, never mind.

    There have been only 5 times in our 50 year history that we started 4-2 and the Stankees started 3-3. 2007, 1994, 1987, 1982, and 1971. And in all of those years neither the Mets or Stankees won the World Series. I think I would sign up for that right now. Yes, the bar is set very low.

    • Why are we as sports fans always hypothetically signing/signing up for results so far in advance? Acts as kind of a spoiler.

      Kentucky didn’t win the NCAA tournament in any of those years, so something of historical precedent will give in 2012.

    • Dennis

      An odd but ultimately meaningless stat, which leads me to a question………does it really matter how the Yankees started their season? Who cares? I find it a bit strange that the Yanks are referenced quite a bit here when it’s not really warranted. Do people that post about them here secretly have a love for them, and feel the need to mention them? Yes, I hate them as well, but I only think about them 6 times a season. Other than that….they might as well be on another planet.

  • Steve D

    Don’t mean to scare anyone…I don’t trust Met doctors or anything they say…this sounds like Wright’s injury…are we looking at 4-6 weeks? or do they rush him back and screw up his swing?

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Is the title a nod to the Eagles? (Henley’s not Vick’s)

  • Patrick O'Hern

    I am extremely embarrassed I missed that. Got sucked in by a few of your past post references to End of the Innocence.

  • […] Deep The Mets are now 1-2 without David Wright. It felt like the world would end without him in the lineup. Perhaps it still will. But Team Day To Day flourished another day without their best […]