The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

All About First Place

I recently found myself in a store called Healthy Alternatives, an establishment that bills itself as a “holistic center and specialty shop”. Amid all the doodads and potions designed to reduce a person’s stress hung a sign:

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

The attribution was “Unknown,” but I assume whoever was quoted had been watching the National League East take shape this winter.

So much for reducing stress.

The Washington Nationals are shooting for the moon, perhaps another planet. They are the Scott Kelly of our division, planning for an extended stay in the stratosphere. They just laid in a supply of Max Scherzer, for heaven’s sake. They have more stellar starting pitching than Neil Armstrong had Tang. You almost get the idea that standing pat isn’t good enough for them.

The moon may seem a prohibitive destination in a division crowded at its crown by the Nationals, but the Miami Marlins, situated somewhere south of Cape Canaveral, don’t seem averse to attempting liftoff. We are conditioned to assume the Marlins are destined to implode on the launch pad and then sell the charred remains of Giancarlo Stanton’s Louisville Sluggers for parts, but as Jonah Keri outlines, they’re trying to be a real baseball team these days. A real contending baseball team. One that builds from a foundation of promise and adds to it.

The Marlins may not win a division title, but they’re trying. For that matter, because nothing is guaranteed, the Nationals may not win a division title, but they’re trying. If you try and fail, then at least there’s a potential fallback position within the space of the National League. There’s the Wild Card. There’s two of them, even.

On the other hand, shoot for a Wild Card and miss, what do you land among? The Phillies and Braves, probably.

There are the teams who are trying to win a lot. There are the teams who are hoping to win enough. There are a few who are taking a raincheck for now. The Phillies and Braves are raincheckers, though I’ve lived long enough to never trust that the Braves can’t make trouble. The Nationals and Marlins are aiming at a lot of wins. The Mets? They seem to hope that “enough” will be enough.

Blame the World Champion San Francisco Giants (touring a Metropolis near you) for making enough look adequate and making adequate look easy. How many games did the Giants win last season? Fewer than the Nationals. Then they proceeded to beat the Nationals, along with everybody who else who blocked their path to ultimate enlightenment. Lesson generally derived: What’s the point of winning a surfeit of games when you don’t need the extras to go all the way?

Lesson that should be derived: Try to win as much as you can because you’re probably not going to have everything turn out as you wish and you could thus use the cushion for when things go wrong.

The Giants were a powerhouse in 2014 before they became merely a house. They were in first place by 10 games on June 8, yet vacated first place before August dawned and finished six behind the Dodgers and a tiebreaker in back of the Pirates. Conversely, it took the Nationals a little while to rev up their power. Washington started June under .500 and in third place behind the Braves and the Marlins. They took the division by 17 games anyway. When it mattered most, each team had the requisite number of wins to gain entry into the playoffs. But I never got the impression that the bare minimum was either side’s goal.

The Mets give me every impression that if they have a goal, it is to invest the bare minimum of resources to gain the bare minimum of wins that will get them to what we shall call the Big Five Tournament. They signed Michael Cuddyer in November. They showed off Michael Cuddyer on Thursday. In between…not much. Not much for a team that went 79-83 and needs what went wrong last year to go much better this year and what went right last year to not go terribly wrong this year.

If that process works, then we’ll all enjoy watching the first postseason pitch thrown in Flushing since Adam Wainwright’s curveball of October 18, 2006, on that 62%-larger scoreboard the Mets seem so excited about. If that process doesn’t work, can we really be surprised?

7 comments to All About First Place

  • Inside Pitcher

    I may never forgive you for putting that song into my head….

  • Kevin from Flushing

    I’m reminded of the post-2000 World Series attitude: “why sign Hampton? We got to the World Series didn’t we? Mission accomplished! Isn’t that enough for now?”

    • nestornajwa

      January, 2001. The Mets were holding press conferences to announce they would NOT be acquiring A-Rod, after years of hearing how A-Rod was just dying to play for his favorite boyhood team. There was a fleeting rumor about making a trade for Manny Ramirez. Hampton was off to Denver and its world-class school system. 2001 wasn’t looking good. That month, I attended a huge black-tie event in a large auditorium. After an unbearable hour or two (cash bar, very few chairs, awful music blaring), I convinced my wife and my friends to adjourn to more civilized environs. So I dove into the roiling feeding-frenzy that was the coat-check line (January, remember), armed with 6 tickets and an NFL-quality swim move to get near the front. Just as I was getting close enough to thrust the tickets into the face of the coat people, my friend Tim grabbed the back of my collar and began shouting at me excitedly. The only word I could make out above the din was “Mets”. With no further warning, I found myself nose-to-nose with Bobby Valentine. Shocked, I wordlessly extended my right hand, which Bobby gripped like a vise and shook while Tim screamed about my Mets devotion in Bobby’s ear. Still flabbergasted, I blurted out the only thought in my head: “Bobby, are we getting ANYBODY?” The big smile vanished and I felt a sudden shooting pain in my crotch. Bobby Valentine, incumbent manager of the NL Champion New York Mets, had punched me in the groin. Because the crowd was so thick, nobody saw it. But boy howdy, I felt it; Bobby V. is an incredibly strong man — thank goodness he missed the precise target. Then the grin returned and he said “We’re WORKING ON IT!” Tim snapped a quick photo and Bobby vanished into the crowd. I have a nice picture on my mantle of Bobby grinning and me grimacing, both dressed in tuxedos.

      And those were the good old days of Mets hot stove.

  • Daniel Hall

    To be fair, that scoreboard announcement is written so well and gets you all hyped, I don’t even mind that our only meaningful offseason addition is frighteningly close to 40, probably will hit like Mr. Granderson, and the Mets aren’t going to win 82 (let alone 90, or enough) this year, either.

    Heck! I want a scoreboard like that in my yard!

  • BlackCountryMet

    You know, I’d LOVE us to sign a shortstop. Every day, I wake up, check the overnight news, to see if we’ve signed a shortstop. I believe, we WILL sign a shortstop. But if we don’t, we’ll win 87 games this season and lets see where that gets us. Huge payroll ain’t everything, ask the Dodgers and the team from The Bronx

  • Dave

    Yeah, anyone with half a brain and enough money to own a baseball team could look at the Mets and see that the obvious necessary position upgrade was at scoreboard. I hear that the scoreboard’s projected WAR will be about 4.9 with this 62% enhancement, making it one of the most productive scoreboards in MLB. A lot of people have it as the trendy pick for several postseason scoreboard awards.

    Maybe they turn 79-83 into 83-79. Alderson’s pace of rebuilding would work just fine, were it not for the unfortunate fact that – and I’ve done the research and can confirm this – all of the other teams are trying to improve too. That’s the part that really sucks.

    And I saw Michael Cuddyer on TV the other night. He doesn’t look like a middle of the lineup hitter, he looks like the neighborhood Dad who loads the kids into the Jeep Grand Cherokee to go get ice cream. My Dad lived to be 75 and the Mets’ 2015 RF’er has more gray hair than he did. Yikes.

  • Lenny65

    Clendenon, Staub, Hernandez, Carter, Ojeda, Cone, Piazza, Ventura, Hampton, Martinez, Delgado. All additions to “pretty good” Mets teams that eventually (or immediately) helped them get over the hump and into the playoffs. I don’t like the notion that we can either have a good farm system OR help right now, as we know it’s just another excuse to avoid spending money. I’ll tell you this, with the somewhat higher-than-usual expectations going into this season, a bad start could be totally disastrous and NO fun AT ALL.