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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 Center of Saturday Night in Atlanta

Game Six against the Red Sox. The Steve Henderson Game. The Marlon Anderson Game. The Rob Gardner-Chris Short Double Shutout that went 18 innings and was terminated by curfew. The Largest Comeback in Mets History, at the Astrodome, when an 8-0 deficit became an 11-8 win.

The Mets have played some great Saturday night games in their history. Their most recent Saturday night game wasn’t one of them.

I wouldn’t call myself an aficionado of Saturday night Mets games, but I seem to watch all of them and blog most of them. That’s more or less OK, I suppose. I’ve never been one of those people hitting the streets in search of action on Saturday night, not when I was theoretically of an age when action was everything, certainly not two decades deep into married life with a soulmate who’s every bit the homebody I am. On most of my Saturday nights, I’ve mostly looked for something good to watch.

Or failing that, a Mets game.

This Saturday night, the last Saturday night of 2012, wasn’t a bad game if you were a Braves fan. If it had taken place at Citi Field, SNY might have had to have installed a new Cholula meter to measure Craig Kimbrel’s stuff in the ninth inning. The kid quite clearly has hot sauce in his veins. The Mets somehow got two runners on against him, yet there was no chance they were going to score. None. Craig Kimbrel has a .124 batting average against. Think about that: It’s like Craig Kimbrel faces nothing but Jason Bay over and over.

Jason Bay has a .158 batting average for. When it was down to .153 after his first two at-bats, it occurred to me that if you plucked any position player from the minor leagues, the independent leagues, college ball, high school ball, American Legion ball, any organized ball — essentially anybody combining any discernible baseball skill with some semblance of athleticism — and gave him Jason Bay’s 190 at-bats, it seems unlikely that that player wouldn’t exceed .153.

And he would do it for substantially less than $18.125 million.

Mind you, the idea of averaging more than 15 base hits for every 100 at-bats, when .153 is framed in those terms, sounds very impressive to me. But I have no discernible baseball skill and never displayed any semblance of athleticism — plus I’m closing in on 50. So I won’t be one of those blowhards who insists “I could do better than that!” I couldn’t. Many others, however, probably could.

I was thinking that when Bay was 0-for-2. Then he collected a base hit to put with his other 29 from this year, and I thought I was being a little hard on him. Then I was reminded on the replay that his batting average when he swung, as posted on the right field scoreboard, was .153 and it had only just now risen to .158. So, no, I don’t think I’m being at all hard on him.

Conversely, something should probably be said in praise of Chris Young, but…I dunno. I’ve watched this guy be exactly the kind of Met that Met GMs pride themselves on signing: used to be pretty good; encountered genuine adversity; worked incredibly hard to get back; knows how to pitch; can register outs until he can’t; returned to throw game after game that with a few breaks could have been wins but mostly weren’t. Unless a pitcher in that situation has taught himself a knuckleball and kept a journal, those guys just don’t get you to your feet with two strikes. Chris Young has done a fine job of being all the Chris Young he can be. It is commendable, it is admirable, it’s just not…like I said, I dunno.

Chris Young went six adequate innings and gave up two runs. Mike Minor pitched a little longer and a little better. Minor won. Young lost. That could have happened any night of any Met week in 2012, except more IDs were probably checked by Turner Field security given the pronounced presence of those known to be Minor and Young.

In the end on this Saturday night when the Mets ensured their record will be no better than last year’s, my co-MVPs were, per usual, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez (who will relinquish their title on Sunday afternoon when they move to Channel 11 and Cablevision flips me their final bird of the season). Upon one of Chipper Jones’s plate appearances, as our announcers paused to heap praise on him like it was Cholula Hot Sauce, a graphic appeared illustrating what a terrific switch-hitter Jones has been. It showed his average against “rightie” pitching and “leftie” pitching.

And as I gasped in the disgust only a nitpicking editor could really gasp, there was honest-to-god cackling coming from the SNY booth. Gary, who has observed the baseball team equivalent of a typographical error for the vast majority of 158 games, couldn’t believe his channel couldn’t spell “righty” and “lefty” properly. Keith seemed pretty amused by Gary’s being floored — and absolutely scandalized a little later when an SNY field mic picked up Scott Hairston’s exploding f-bomb after Scottso flied out.

“Ooh,” was Keith’s reaction to a ballplayer cursing loudly or, perhaps, to a ballplayer’s curse plainly going out over the air. And when Kimbrel caught Lucas Duda standing, looking and helpless to end this Saturday night in Atlanta, “ooh” was pretty much all I had left.

10 comments to The Center of Saturday Night in Atlanta

  • AaronMo

    After that deflating loss, I caught up on the series premiere of Elementary, which ended with (spoiler!) another deflating loss by the Mets. Lucy Liu as Watson is a Mets fan, you see, and Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes is able to predict exactly how the Mets are going to lose the game she’s watching. But the 3-2 loss to the Reds that they show isn’t even a real game (it’s not this one). Instead, it’s just something they stitched together from SNY footage. The biggest insult is there’s a home run call, and it’s not even Gary. (Some sleuthwork here.)

  • Steve D

    Forget Bay,…by mid next year, the Mets will be willing to eat the rest of his contract. Ike Davis is a bigger concern to me. Everyone is so happy he is going to hit .220 with 30 HRs…but even his HR swings show flaws that make it impossible to hit lefties. His OBP vs. lefties is .218…42 points worse than any other ML player. His .171 avg against southpaws is the worst in MLB in at least 10 years. He also hit .188 at home. So in 1 out of 3 ABs, he is as bad as Bay. He will have to radically alter his swing to improve.

    • Dennis

      So you, sitting behind your computer, are a MLB talent evaluator and are certain that Davis, all of 25 years of age, will remain that way the rest of his career with no room for improvement?

      • Steve D

        Why do you make it personal about me? I gave my opinion, a concern about a Met player, backed with facts…you are free to counter my concern with facts and your opinion about him. Leave your concerns about me out of it. Thanks.

        BTW I said he will have to alter his swing to improve…when did I say he will never improve?

  • Will in Central NJ

    “Rightie” vs. “Leftie” is bad enough, but not as bad as the grammatically challenged person who uses/abuses run-on sentences in the ‘news crawl’ for MLB Network! Ugh!

  • Joe D.

    Hey Greg,

    My brother and I once played a game of stratomatic on a Saturday Night when my 1978 Mets came from a few runs down to beat his 1978 Yankees in the ninth inning.

    Would that count?

  • Metsfaninparadise

    I laughed at the “rightie” and “leftie,” too, and laughed even harder at Gary’s reaction. That was the highlight of my night. I’ve spent the last 180 days hanging out almost every night in my living room with these guys, and I’ll miss them like hell. In fact, I won’t even get to hang with them this week because they’ll be blacked out here and I’ll be stuck with the Marlins nitwit announcers. I’ll go back to the MLB archives later and watch the game with them, but it won’t be the same. But I will be at Dickey’s last start Tuesday, so that kind of makes up for it.

  • Dave

    Well, on several occasions I’ve caught Ron Darling say “should have went” instead of “should have gone,” but he doesn’t get the snickers that “rightie” and “leftie” got from his booth-mates. Darling’s degree from Yale is in French, so perhaps his grammar is better a Francais.

  • Lenny65

    Re: Bay, I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again. If you’re not a pitcher and you can’t hit your weight, you really have no business on a MLB roster…unless you’re good for 40+ homers a year, that is. But those guys are pretty uncommon.

  • Dak442

    By all accounts Jason Bay is a decent guy. To that end, I wonder if, midway through May and he’s hitting .160, he does the right thing and retires. I mean, how can he feel right taking this kind of money and blocking young players’ development and providing absolutely nothing? He’s already set for life. Does he really need the fan abuse?

    I imagine the union would be unhappy, but it’s not unprecedented – didn’t a pitcher do it a couple years ago?