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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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The Lost Hurrah

“Pack it up. Pack it in.” Those are the words that usually play over the Citi Field loudspeakers when the Mets’ best player comes to bat. I’ve noticed the song before but was never quite moved to put the lyrics into proper context until Thursday, when I sat again through nine gnawing innings at the house of pain and watched the Rockies anesthetize the Mets for a fourth straight game — or would the proper term here be euthanize?

No, because the Mets have yet to be put out of their or our misery. They owe their fellow National Leaguers 37 chances to get their momentum on against them. It worked wonders for the Rockies, who didn’t look like world-beaters in effecting their four-game sweep, but they weren’t taking on the world. They were taking on the Mets. All they had to do was wait out another superb starting pitching performance and…that was basically it.

Let’s review:

• Monday night, R.A. Dickey throws seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball. Mets lose, 3-1.

• Tuesday night, Chris Young begins his evening by throwing five perfect innings. Mets lose, 6-2.

• Wednesday night, Matt Harvey strikes out nine while giving up one run and three hits over six innings. Mets lose, 5-2.

• And on Thursday afternoon, a beautiful day for a ballgame if only the Mets had decided to take part in one, a young fellow named Collin McHugh made his major league debut, shut out Colorado for seven innings on two hits while striking out nine. Mets lose, 1-0.

To be fair, the Mets were facing Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson, which would explain why they scraped together only five runs over four days.

Correction: the Mets were facing Alex White, Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis and Tyler Chatwood, which didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the Mets’ inability to score. Those guys — none sporting a remotely impressive WHIP or ERA+ in 2012, could have been any guys Jim Tracy picked up outside the Flushing Home Depot for a day’s work. The Mets who weren’t Dickey, Young, Harvey and McHugh conducted themselves across four games as if they’d packed it up, packed it in and prepared to jump on the first plane to their autumnal hunting and fishing trips.

McHugh looked very solid, albeit against the Rockies, who somehow have a worse record than the Mets, but men with bats are men with bats, and those men wearing the purple tops (which always appear blue on television) didn’t do a thing with the kid. Conversely, the Mets apparently did a few things with Chatwood, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Will Harris and Matt Belisle, though they were only commendable in the version of baseball in which getting to second base — as a Met did in seven of nine innings — is considered an outstanding achievement. Perhaps Coach Terry is handing out self-esteem ribbons for advancing 180 feet, but the rules by which everybody else plays dictate trips to third and home are prerequisites for success, and the Mets opted not to visit either of those sites Thursday.

The defense, this time in the guise of second baseman Jordany Valdespin in center field, committed its customary lapse; the bullpen, represented by hard-throwing liability Bobby Parnell, found a way to not hold the fort; and Terry Collins undermined what tiny chance of redemption his group had by calling for a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning because the Mets can easily afford to give up outs. Baserunning was also abominable, as admirable Mike Baxter, whom we promise to ply with pilsner in the offseason, staggered tipsily between first and second on a fly ball just tricky enough to trick him into an out.

All this sizzling 1-0 action took 190 minutes to complete, which gave me plenty of time to engage in baseball and sundry conversation with fellow blogger Sam Maxwell on my right and award-winning photographer Sharon Chapman on my left while we occupied a shady swath of seats out in left field. It was midday human contact I surely appreciated (just as I enjoyed my time with several swell Mets fans Monday and Tuesday nights), but I really wouldn’t have minded a little yappus interruptus so we could ooh and aah at some Met home runs. Or run-scoring hits of any kind. Or runs generated by any means necessary. Or maybe a first-and-third situation.

There was none of that. Just a canyon of zeroes accompanied by the steadiest of dull aches.

11 comments to The Lost Hurrah

  • mikeL

    playoff hunt-calibre pitching, old-timer’s day calibre hitting.

    it’s a shame the pitchers can’t walk out until ownership provides some everyday players who can hit (and field)…or sells.

    in an alternate universe, the ballpark is rocking as the same pitching performances mean something…

    good to see yet another rookie come in and strike out 9 in his debut…didn’t see THAT coming!

    • kjs

      No earned runs given up by Whatshisname in his debut was impressive, but he was facing a AAA lineup. Likewise, so were the Rockies’ pitchers.

      I see they announced 22,000 masochists attended, but from the TV replay and photos, I’d say it maxed out at 10,000, Greg?

      The Wilponzis should try the Cubs hustle (Wrigley Field used to be a graveyard). Just turn Citi into a massive party zone. Let the unemployed sit in the OF seats for a few bucks and chuck opposition HRs back onto the field (yeah, I know that’s already in vogue at Citi, a my, how sad that is to reduce yourself to being a Cubs fan)…. Even get a silly “W” flag to raise up once in a blue, blue moon.

  • Lenny65

    I NEVER normally even remotely agree with (or listen to) that fat loud guy who does afternoons on WFAN, but yesterday he was right on the money. “We had a few good at-bats there late”…uh, excuse me? “Good at-bats” on the losing end of a 1-0 shutout? No such thing. Most teams actually BENEFIT from mid-season call-ups who throw 6-7 excellent innings, but not us. Just a few years back we would have KILLED for a mid-season call-ups capable of delivering 6-7 solid innings and not allowing tape measure HR’s in the top of the 2nd. Of course, back then the lineup had one or two guys capable of occasionally getting on base here and there, unlike now. But I digress.

    • Sam B

      No kidding, Lenny. It reminds me of Ogilvie in the Bad News Bears trying to put a positive spin on a butt-kicking suffered at the hands of the Yankees.

      “Well, we committed 24 errors. Their pitcher threw a no-hitter against us. But there is some good news. Two of our runners almost managed to get to first base, and we did hit 17 foul balls.”

      • Lenny65

        Just disgraceful, blathering on about “good at-bats” in late August…LOL! Save that stuff for spring training when some non-roster invitee is battling for the last spot on the roster. Don’t spit on my cupcake and tell me it’s frosting, you know?

  • Sam B

    Hang with ’em, guys. We’re still a half-game ahead of Florida for fourth place.

    This weekend’s gonna be pretty emotional at Citi Field, with the Astros making their last visit to Flushing as an NL team. A ton of great memories since we both entered the league in 1962. Maybe they can get Mike Scott to scuff one up and throw out a first pitch.

    Plus, tonight’s Merengue Night!

    Does it get any better?

  • Dave

    ‘Stros must be excited. Finally, a chance to turn their season around.

  • Will in Central NJ

    The darkest part of the night is just before the dawn…..right?

    • Dave

      But how many years until dawn?

      And now they send McHugh down…because after all, how on earth do you expect him to crack a starting rotation that includes Jeremy Hefner? I mean, I look at Hefner and I think we could be looking at the next Alay Soler, maybe even a Pat Misch figure.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    The message from Gil Hodges was hilarious. Might be the first time in over 55 years of being aware of Gil that I’ve ever used the word “hilarious” with reference to him, but you’ve done it. Thanks!

  • […] was August 23, 2012; the place was Citi Field; the occasion was McHugh’s first MLB start. The contemporary Met vibe was wan during that summertime stretch when the Mets were operating under a strict restraining […]