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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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Ain't That Grand?

Curtis Granderson isn’t having fun so far.

There’s the .127 batting average, the $60 million contract, and even the defense — what, exactly, that throw in the nightmarish top of the fifth was is a question best not pondered. Granderson is by all accounts a peach of a guy, but he’s been hearing boos from fans who have a growing sense of dread that he’s a rather well-disguised Jason Bay.

Of course, Granderson has plenty of company. The Mets’ .227 team batting average is 28th in baseball. Their .301 OBP is 25th. Their .636 OPS is 29th. They’ve hit 12 home runs, good for a three-way tie for 25th. They’re on their third closer of the season, and that closer is Kyle Farnsworth. They can’t win at home. Their fans are fed up with trying to figure out what the payroll is going to be, and with waiting for endlessly promised better days, and most of all with bad baseball.

And yet, somehow, the Mets are 9-9. David Wright is hitting, the first-base conundrum hasn’t been solved but at least has been decided, the starting pitching’s pretty good even with Matt Harvey attending public events in disguise to avoid the wrath of talk-radio trolls, and the aforementioned Kyle Farnsworth pitched just fine today, as did fellow former stars Daisuke Matsuzaka and even Jose Valverde, Ol’ Gopher Ball himself.

The Mets even withstood the might of Freddie Freeman, the man who makes Chipper Jones look like an eighth-place hitter. Scott Rice arrived in the seventh with the game tied and Braves on first and third. I was trying to figure out how Freeman’s blast would count for six runs, but before I could even frame a doomed tweet Rice had delivered the only pitch he’d throw. Freeman rolled it to Daniel Murphy, who fed it to Omar Quintanilla, who fired it to Lucas Duda, and all was well.

Wait, what?

The Mets seem like the worst 9-9 team in the universe primarily because we’re Mets fans and we’ve had enough. But it’s also that they’ve gagged up some games in atrocious ways — such as watching a promising start undone by a lone inning of spastic defense (Zack Wheeler‘s implosion could have been modeled after Bartolo Colon‘s the previous day), then having bullpen horrors shred a plucky comeback. Games like that make your shoulders sag, as a fan and probably as a player as well.

But the bullpen horrors didn’t come today. The pen held the line long enough for the bats to piece something together. Granderson didn’t hit a cannonball of a homer that blasted open a bank vault of pre-Madoff money; he hit a lazy fly ball that was just deep enough given that Kirk Nieuwenhuis was just fast enough. Either way, it was enough.

And hey, if you were a Braves fan, by then you’d had enough. Dan Uggla played second base this series like a guy you should spoon-feed to keep him from hurting himself with utensils, and Justin Upton sometimes seems like he’d rather be doing anything than playing baseball. Even at 12-6, the Braves have issues of their own.

So the Mets won. It may not feel like it, but they won … just as they’ve done as often as they’ve lost, though it doesn’t feel like that either. I don’t know what to make of Granderson, or Colon, or Wheeler, or Travis d’Arnaud, or Chris Young, or any of the guys we’re counting on for better days. But perhaps that’s because they’ve played 18 games over less than a month. Of course we don’t know anything yet. Ask again on June 1. In the meantime, well, we played a baseball game today and somehow eventually we won. And ain’t that grand? Or at least grand enough?

13 comments to Ain’t That Grand?

  • I still can’t figure out how the Mets have a better record than most of the AL East…

  • Wheaties54321

    A winning record at home should be among this team’s top aims in 2014.

  • Dave

    If Grandy ever runs into Braves reliever Gus SheSellsSeaShells anywhere beer is sold, he owes him one. Had GsssSsscchhhlllllssssssrrr not uncorked that wild pitch, the winning fly ball just would have made it 0 for his last 17 with 2 more stranded base runners for the man turning heads early with his audition for Jason Bay’s place in franchise lore.

    But as it was one win out of what will probably be about 73 of them, we’ll take it. Proof that that 9-9 pie in the sky is there for those who dare to dream big.

    • Ken

      Well, the Braves got back at Granderson. The outfield should have been playing shallow enough to have a chance at throwing out a runner at the plate.

      If the Braves did the right thing, played the game to win, the ball would have been over Upton’s head, and Grandy would have had a hit. But it appeared the Braves didn’t care if they prevented a run or not, they just wanted to take away that hit and keep Grandy in his funk. They’re clever, those Braves. Detestable, but clever.

  • Steve D

    I’m still wondering why they didn’t walk Granderson and bring the outfielders in.

    I appreciate you trying not to bash the Mets so early and look at the bright side. But you touched on the issue of wining at home, where they are hitting .187 so far and this after they hit .219 at home last year, a mark that is tied for worst by any team in at least a decade…I’d need the Elias Bureau to check further back to find a worse average. I can accept that Met fans some times have to be happy with mediocrity, but how can we even remotely accept what is going on with this franchise? So even though you say “we don’t know anything yet”, we do know an awful lot. We know Sandy cannot build an offense or a bullpen. He has some promising young pitching, but seriously, we have been fooled by promise before. We know the owners went into debt to build a stadium smaller than Shea on the model that it would be packed every night and it rarely seems even half filled. Now they built a team that can’t hit at home. We know decent players come here and seem to fail spectacularly and top prospects who struggle cannot be helped and have to be traded. So we do know a lot about the Mets and it is very discouraging.

    • I wouldn’t say I’m looking on the bright side about this year — I don’t think this is an 81-win team, for instance. More the incomplete side. Granderson isn’t a .127 hitter; Farnsworth isn’t a real closer. Both are likely headed to the middle.

      Thinking about the longer-term issues, I increasingly find myself thinking the creation of this roster after they somehow deal with the glut of starting pitching will be D-Day. Even with Harvey’s injury, the Mets have enough good starters that I expect them to deal a decent chunk of that away/turn a few into relievers by this summer, presumably in return for position players. Next year’s roster should look like an 83/85-win team with upside. If it doesn’t, “we’re sticking to the plan” would be awfully hard to swallow.

      The home thing is bizarre. One imagines (warning: not science) it’s some combination of Lousy Hitters Without Power + Park Effects + a Considerable Side of Simple Weirdness, because a causal explanation for a team playing badly at home seems just thoroughly unlikely.

      • Steve D

        I decided to investigate who the Mets have as position players down on the farm…please don’t read the rest of this if you want to be an optimist. It boils down to Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello, who was suspended for ties to Biogenesis. That’s it. Did I miss anyone? So Sandy better pull a rabbit out of the hat on those deals.

        • You did miss a few, actually. There’s Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Dilson Herrera, Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini and Cory Vaughn. None are in the cards for this year, but they’re coming.

          And Sandy has pitching depth from which to deal — the Mets could near the trading deadline with the following potential 2015 starters: Harvey, Colon, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Mejia, Familia, DeGrom, Montero, Syndegaard. If the Mets traded away Niese, Colon, Familia and Montero in July (to name but one potential grouping), the 2015 rotation would still look pretty solid and the return in position players close to the majors could change things in a hurry.

          Sandy’s FA moves have been a mixed bag, but his trades have been pretty solid. Beltran for Wheeler, Dickey for d’Arnaud/Syndegaard and Byrd/Buck for Black/Herrera all look like solid deals or ones with considerable potential.

          We could have more blown UCLs, pitchers who don’t develop, ownership fibs or other problems. But I’m actually hopeful on this point. Hopefully by August we’ll have a better read.

    • chuck

      Please excuse me for this being slightly off topic, and if I’ve said this here before: All Sandy Alderson really needs is for a rich team to hire Steve Phillips as its GM so Sandy could hose him repeatedly.

      • I laughed, but then thought back to Steve showing up on radio and shuddered in horror.

        • Kevin From Flushing

          Yeah! Was Steve the magical third man WOR demanded be brought in? Have we been discussing this and I missed out? The one game I listened to with him he sounded like a college kid taking a broadcasting test.

          • chuck

            When Steve Phillips was still hanging onto his job at ESPN, Hands Reynolds once commented during a A’s game recap “Marco Scutaro – another reason why Steve Philips now works for us.”

            Bob Cane could have learned from those two clowns.

  • Dave

    A Freeman Home Run would be worth six in that other bat sport.