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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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Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Ike

More than a few media outlets have let it be known they don’t plan to refer to Washington’s football team as “the Redskins” this fall. And in an unrelated development, it’s highly unlikely that the name “the Washington Nationals” will be mentioned in many baseball stories come October.

Let us enjoy this brief period of tangible Metropolitan achievement wherein we are helping to render the Nationals irrelevant to postseason coverage. Perhaps it’s more an anti-achievement. It’s whatever you want to call the Mets planting themselves between a nominal contender and its long-shot hopes of advancement. The traditional phrase is “spoiler,” though it may be a tad too early to anoint a couple of wins over Washington as devastating to National playoff aspirations, considering a) four weeks remain of this regular season and b) the heretofore hot-as-heck Nats were still pretty far off the pace as our boys arrived in D.C.

You want to know what spoiling looks like? Spoiling is what the 2007 Nationals did to the 2007 Mets in the last week of that besotted September. We get historically hung up on the Marlins and Game 162, but who could overlook Games 156, 157 and 158 when Manny Acta’s Los Natos showed up at Shea and swept the Mets by respective scores of 13-4, 10-9 and 9-6? A division lead of 2½ games with one week to go was reduced to a single length over three increasingly dark nights of the soul.

Now that’s some spoilin’. And though only Ryan Zimmerman remains among the opposition from that series, it did my grudge-bearing heart good to think Nationals fans were processing the Mets’ easy handling of their allegedly outstanding club Saturday with the same sense of disbelief we evinced a half-dozen years ago when their club was undoing our best-laid plans.

In other words, eat it Wily Mo Peña, wherever you are.

The Nationals aren’t dead yet, I suppose, but they ought to be discouraged. To put it in Met terms, they’re having themselves a 1987 kind of 2013. Two steps up, one step back and then another step back. All that talent generating what seems like solid momentum…and then some subpar team playing out its silly string reminds them they really should’ve won more games between April and two weeks ago. The Nationals were supposed to run away with the Eastern Division or at least stand their ground against the Braves. At the moment, the Mets are closer to catching the Nationals than the Nationals are to reaching the Wild Card.

Poor Nationals. Their pitchers allowed the Metsies 17 hits, every one them recorded using the bow from the world’s tiniest violin.

Gosh, I’m enjoying the Mets’ consecutive conquests of the Nationals all out of proportion to our traditional rivalry with them — which last I checked was essentially nonexistent. It probably still is. I think I was stirred to a resentful froth by my friend and perpetually reluctant Washington-area resident Jeff’s pregame report from Nationals Park Friday night. He told me that during BP their version of DiamondVision was airing the MLB Network and that one of MLBN’s talking heads referred to the Nationals having an “easy schedule,” one that explicitly included those powderpuff pushovers the Marlins, the Phillies and, yes, the Mets.

“The Mets were playing catch,” Jeff related, “but some turned around and looked at the board.”

They woke the sleeping giant! Or the groggy Lilliputians! Or the Mets just happen to be firing on most cylinders while the highest-profile National keeps running his team out of innings and into the ground. Friday night Bryce Harper couldn’t be bothered to run out a grounder Daniel Murphy bobbled and it cost them their best chance to tie. Saturday night Harper was either attempting to compensate or just being cocky when he opted to try to take third on right fielder Juan Lagares. Perhaps Harper guessed Lagares isn’t as good in the corner as he is in center. Perhaps Harper doesn’t waste his time on scouting reports. It was a meaningless play, given that the Mets led by about a million runs when young Bryce decided his leadoff double wasn’t sufficient, but oh how satisfying it was to watch him flick off his helmet, turn up his afterburners and be thrown out rather easily, 9-4-5.

Davey Johnson didn’t see Harper’s basepath negligence on Friday, having taken to his office with lightheadedness. Back in the managerial saddle Saturday, he had to watch his nascent superstar make the first out at third base, the sin of McCarver sins, not to mention Dan Haren surrender seven runs in less than three innings. Reflecting on the 11-3 pummeling the first franchise he managed had administered to the last team he’ll manage, he quarter-kidded, “That one put me back in the hospital.”

Davey should live and be well when he hangs them up at season’s end. Too bad for him he’s on course to go out with another 1987.

Not too bad for the Nats. Cue those tiny violins one more time!

The only thing unlovely among the exploits of Lagares, Murphy, Satin, Quintanilla, d’Arnaud, den Dekker, Young and, most thrillingly, Wheeler, was the apparent loss of Ike Davis for the rest of 2013 and perhaps all Met time. Ike strained an oblique as he drove in his 33rd run of the season on August 31. “I was eating some seeds on the bench and I coughed and it felt like someone stabbed me, so I don’t think that’s a good sign,” he recounted, painting a scenario that sounds straight out of 1962.

Ike should live and be well, too. Where he hopefully lives and is well is up for speculation. Davis was barely done clutching his side and coughing on his seeds when all of Metsopotamia wondered aloud if this was his last game as a Met. Wish-fulfillment in action? Our erstwhile First Baseman For The Next Ten Years has surely been playing his best ball of the season, yet it’s added up at this late date to 33 RBIs, a .205 batting average and a .660 OPS. Because he’s a nice person, we’ll miss Ike in September definitely and — pending the non-tendering that could be in his future — forever after. Because every time he attempts to turn a corner he falls down a manhole…hey, Ike, live and be well!

Replacing him in the interim will be mostly Lucas Duda, speaking of perfectly swell fellas who’ve done next to nothing in 2013, and partially Josh Satin, who hits a whole bunch when he plays enough, even if he’s not much with a glove and couldn’t beat Bryce Harper in a foot race if Bryce Harper spent the entire foot race sitting in the dugout pouting. Wilmer Flores might be a logical candidate to try at first, but Terry Collins is rarely a proponent of logic and has thus ruled out Wilmer at first for the time being. Then again, the Mets generally say one thing and do ten others when it comes to their ever-revolving personnel door, so maybe we will see Flores play first base. Or Satin. Or Duda. Or somebody else altogether in 2014 who’s not Davis. Or we will see Davis.

Idle thought on which to chew until ESPN2’s starry, starry start time of 8:05 PM on what is essentially summer’s final Sunday: Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a power-hitting first baseman in his prime and stop stitching together carpet remnants? As uplifting as crimping the style of a division rival with something on the line is when there’s nothing much else for us out there, it would be so much better to have something truly tangible on the line for ourselves.

12 comments to Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Ike

  • Steve D

    The Nationals have to be as big a bust as those early 90s Mets…another Davey Johnson managed and influenced team. Who was named the all-time Met manager again? Not Gil?

    As for Ike, we’ll never know if he could have gotten to 40 RBI, a most pathetic total. Being that the games don’t matter anymore this year, maybe he could have. I certainly still believe he needs to totally re-make a new swing from scratch or be out of baseball in a couple of years. If he does it, given Met history, he will likely be a star on another team. In the meantime, put Flores at first every game the rest of this season. No to do so would be insanity. It just seems perfect to me…I envision him making diving plays, driving in runs and being really hungry out there.

  • Dave

    One couldn’t help but notice that no sooner had Ike started walking towards the clubhouse that Gary was printing up the boarding pass for his one-way flight out of town. I think he might have even offered to drive him to the airport and help him move. Their relationship is obviously further along than that of Keith and Jerry.

    And sorry Ike, but it’s time. Guy had one thing to prove in 2013, and that was that the first half of 2012 was an anomaly, and he failed miserably. And Duda did no better. Unless the organization believes that if you play Flores at 1B you might as well put Murphy in LF, they have to put Flores out there every day. I just keep looking at him and seeing Kevin Mitchell or Amos Otis…a bat they gave up on way to soon.

  • <>

    Davey Johnson had very little to do with the Mets’ early 90s decline. He was gone by midseason 1990, and he had nothing to do with the dispatching of Darryl Strawberry, hideously ill-conceived notion to “replace” him with Vince Coleman, the trading of David Cone in 1992, etc.

    The early 90s Met managers were Bud Harrelson and Jeff Torborg.

  • Parth

    Carpet remnants indeed. Is it too much to expect .260, 25 and 90 from a 1st baseman? Watching Ike pad his stats against Sept. call-ups would’ve been fool’s gold- Non tender and move on.

    Admittedly In just a snapshot, Flores appears more line drive rbi guy then crazy power numbers- time will tell- 5 or 6 HRs this month will help in packaging him this off season.

  • I think Davey is a great manager.

  • Bye Bye Ike. Go hit 30 Home Runs in the American League.

    • Dennis

      “Bye Bye Ike. Go hit 30 Home Runs in the American League.”

      And then watch as Mets fans who wanted him gone will then knock the front office for letting him go.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Here’s hoping that the Mets do something special for Davey on 9/12.

  • open the gates

    Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Ike.

    In other words: Ya Win Some, Ya Win Some.

    Sorry – I’ll admit that was mean-spirited. But it seemed like the only way the Mets brass was going to give up on Ike was if he injured himself. So in a way, Ike took one for the team.

    Only in Flushing, folks – only in Flushing.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Never on the next to last day of August did I expect to see Ike Davis probably playing his last game as a Met. Sad thought, especially in lieu of what we had seen up to the point Paulino failed to take charge on calling either him or David off on that seemingly harmless pop up in front of the mound in Denver.

  • mikeL

    joe d: yes paulino AND pelfrey failed to do anything to prevent that needless collision.
    yes ike was tearing it up (as church had yests before, prior to his own collision). i immediately wanted both of those knuckleheads gone for letting two key players crumple as they watched!
    that said, the injury seems fortuitous to the mets’ future planning. davis has gotten way too much rope these past two seasons. i wish him all the best but somewhere else. come to think of it – it was an injury that loosed pelfrey from the mets’ front office overly generous sense of how that player fit into future plans.