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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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We Don’t Got the Horses Right Here

This was the game we’d been waiting for, the game we’d been dreading, the game we knew in our bones was coming. This was the game that you couldn’t hide inside the supposedly reassuring (and likely temporary) confines of first place. This was the game that came tumbling forcefully out of the closet of Metropolitan anxieties.

This was the game in which the infield defense of our nightmares was on full display, in which organizational depth felt like a pipe dream, in which the bullpen defied management, in which magnificent starting pitching was wasted, in which a last-stand rally crumbled in the face of fundamentally unsound instincts.

This was the game we imagined when we imagined the worst. We imagine the worst quite a lot. “To be a Mets fan is to exist in tension between hope and the muscle memory of much disappointment,” Mets fan and Times columnist Michael Powell wrote in Saturday’s paper. For two days, we had drifted back to hope. Later Saturday, we spiraled into the disappointment we remembered.

There was no certifiable closer to save the day. There was no major league-caliber third baseman to make the day easy to begin with. There was a shortstop who’s a helluva power hitter or perhaps just a helluva power hitter who plays shortstop and he didn’t play it well at the moment it mattered most. The second baseman, a pretty competent fellow at his position normally, didn’t look terribly slick either.

There was Jacob deGrom definitively squelching almost every Brave batter’s run-generating intention for a good, long while, except for Freddie Freeman, which isn’t unusual in these New York-Atlanta matchups. There was Darrell Ceciliani making one hell of a throw to cut down Cameron Maybin, the last villain of Shea, at the plate in the eighth, which would go down as the play of the game in a kinder, gentler game. The Mets had just taken the lead for deGrom in the seventh, finally getting to equally squelchsome Shelby Miller for two runs and old friend Dana Eveland for another. They had survived the comprehensively overmatched — batting average .083; fielding percentage .727 — Danny Muno’s three third base miscues. They had survived Miller’s brilliance amid the Citi Field shadows. They had survived Jack Leathersich’s learning curve and would survive Bobby Parnell’s creakiness. All they needed to make a day of it was to survive the ninth.

They didn’t. Hansel Robles, in for unavailable papa Jeurys Familia, couldn’t keep runners from boarding the bases. Wilmer Flores couldn’t quickly corral a grounder that was neither routine nor impossible to turn into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. Flores’s uncertainty of movement gave Robles one out when he really, really needed two. Maybin, whose cradling of the final out ever at Shea still rankles, singled in the run that transformed a 3-1 Mets win into a 3-2 nailbiter still in progress. Alex Torres was brought on as the next best Terry Collins option. Freeman opted to single to tie the game and ultimately send it to extras.

The Mets provided no offense in the bottoms of the ninth and tenth. In the top of the eleventh, Carlos Torres, starting his second inning, allowed two singles, the second of which clanked of Dilson Herrera’s otherwise steady glove. Fredi Gonzalez asked Jace Peterson to bunt on Torres’s first pitch. He did so badly, but it got the job done because Eric Campbell a) grabbed it before it could bounce foul and b) thought about a play at third from his unwieldly locale between third and home despite no Met fielder being on or heading for third (and Campbell, mind you, was the defensive replacement for Muno). Second and third, nobody out, might as well get it over with. Maybin, of course, singled in the go-ahead run and another for good measure.

It’s 5-3 in the bottom of the eleventh when hope reared its silly head. Earlier defensive stalwart Ceciliani singles. Recent defensive liability Herrera singles. John Mayberry, heating up like June, is the pinch-hitter. The cynical 21st-century Mets fan actually believes something wonderful is about to happen.

It does. For Braves fans. Mayberry lines to Andrelton Simmons. Simmons sees Ceciliani caught in the chasm between second and himself. Simmons tosses to Peterson at second. Ceciliani is nabbed off base for the second out. It basically negates the double play Darrell turned three innings earlier when he fired Freeman’s foulout to Travis d’Arnaud to nail Maybin at home. It might as well have been three weeks earlier. The game ended exactly one pitch later when Juan Lagares grounded to Peterson to force Herrera. There was no redemption. There was just the loss you knew was coming at some point in this season of depletion when the Mets continually trot out a depressing procession of undersized, inexperienced ponies and ask them, while they’re feeling their way around the track, if they can pretty please go win the Belmont. They don’t, natch, because that’s what happens when you don’t have the horses and are lavishly deliberate in reinforcing the paddock with adequate replacements.

It was just one game. But, oof, what a game.

15 comments to We Don’t Got the Horses Right Here

  • mikeL

    thanks greg, you summed it up most perfectly, artfully.
    ceciliani’s beautiful dp-assist at the plate was the endy chavez (06 NLCS)catch of the game…signalling something magical…and then pfft!

    wow yesterday really hurt!

    hopefully this ends the charade of putting overmatched scrubs in the hot corner and waiting…

    some bullpen help too, please.

  • eric1973

    Hansel pitched like Gretel again, and then Charlie Brown was no help after that. Let’s hope TC gave ‘foreshadowing’ a day off as well.

    Parnell has the same uniform number as Doug Sisk had. Now I’m no fan of Parnell, but even I cannot go there, a deep dark place which none of us ever needs to re-visit.

    Planned Parenthood needs to send some pamphlets and calendars to Tejada and Familia, letting them know what times of the year they need to keep their junk in their own trunk.

    Has Danny Muno ever actually played baseball before?

  • Dave

    I’ve been rebutted on this point a few times on Twitter, but one Familia does not a good bullpen make. And Familia with a new familia, that’s a real problem. Best plan for now would be 8 innings from the starter, then either a non-save situation or birth control.

    And speaking of offspring, the Freemans want to know if Citi is a boy’s name or a girl’s name.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    And the WTFs just keep on coming’. They’ve just claimed Nieuwenhuis off waivers from the Angels.

  • Michael G.

    Familia’s brilliance this season — in contrast with the long litany of bullpen disasters of years past, from Benitez to Heilman — underscores the irreplaceable nature of a dominant closer. Just ask the Yankees circa 1996-2014. Take Rivera out of the equation, and what would you have had? A lot less for Jeter to hang his hat on. In the age of incomplete-game starting pitchers, the biggest reason the Mets have flirted with relevance so far is Familia. He needs the occasional day off, but right now there’s nobody else who can step in and do his job, as we saw so painfully yesterday.

  • mikeL

    yes familia is the most confidence-inspiring mets closer i can think of since tug mcgraw. he should ask for a raise when he gets back, extra mouth to feed and all.

    dave and eric, thanks for the laughs.

    “has danny muno ever actually played baseball before” touche!

  • Rob E

    Terrible loss, definite gut punch, it SUCKED, but when you look at the guys involved, let’s just write that off as the cost of tuition to Baseball School.

    It wasn’t Familia coughing it up, and it wasn’t Lagares dropping fly balls. It was a rookie with 13 major league innings in the first save opportunity of his life, and a backup to the backup (with 20 ML at bats) playing out of position at 3B (who didn’t actually cost us any runs, but if you want to blame him for running up deGrom’s pitch count, have at it). And for whatever mistakes Flores, Herrera, and Ceciliani might have made, they deserve some slack too. What I saw from Ceciliani yesterday I liked a LOT. If you want something positive to take away, there it is. And to be fair, Freeman, Maybin, and Simmons kind of “brought it” yesterday.

    So blame if you will, rue if you must (you’ve earned that!), but hold off on that leap from the ledge; what happened yesterday is NOT something that has happened many times in 2015. Today is another day.

  • BornAMet

    A game like yesterday is particularly vexing because it would have given us a series win, which has been hard to come by since last month (what have we won, 1 of our last 10 3-game series?)

    So 2 questions that were never asked of the manager — Leathersich was given a miracle 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, why do you bring in Parnell? Creaky as he may be, he IS generally considered a ‘closer’. He’s the only guy in your bullpen to have saved games in the 9th before. Why not bring him out in the 9th and test him there, over the inconsistent Robles and Alex Torres, whom Ron even mentioned is not a lefty-specialist, though no one seems to have let Collins know.

    Question 2 – Braves management got it right in the top of the 11th — you get your first two men aboard, you bunt them into scoring position. We had the same opportunity in the bottom of the inning. Guess what happens when you don’t use that strategy, at least with the intention of tying the game… you get a double play. This game was demoralizing because you have to win the ‘gifts’ if you want to make the playoffs. Or else you better get angry and fight like hell now…

  • Mike D.

    Rob. E has it exactly right. Have we become so miserable as a fan base that we can’t even enjoy a soft first place in a weak division? You’d think we were in last and 20 games under. Between the hangover from collapses that happened 8 and 7 years ago now, to post-Madoff derangement syndrome to post-Yankee dynasty derangement syndrome, it often feels like Mets fans have forgotten how to be fans. And to think I chose this franchise as a kid because I loved the contrast between the pure love fans showed the franchise in ’84 and ’85 and Steinbrenner apologizing to the city for ONLY winning 100 games and ONLY winning the pennant — and firing the manager to boot. Sigh.

    • Dave

      But reference the quote from the Times…”…the muscle memory of much disappointment.” I think it’s very understandable that many Mets fans live in fear of the other shoe that they feel is about to drop. That’s not a sign of not loving the team or not being passionate about it…just that the Mets invoke a wide range of emotions in their real fans. Kind of like how those closest to you – your spouse, your kids, your significant other, your parents – may well be the people who make you both the happiest and the most angry or frustrated. And that’s still a million miles away from the “we apologize for not winning the Series” arrogance of that team in the Bronx, almost the polar opposite.

      But this clinging onto first place as the weather is getting very summer-like is showing us all something, no denying that.

  • BlondiesJake

    Yes, BornAMet, considering the Mets as a team are a horrific bunting team, and with a struggling pitcher giving up back-to-back hits, the Mets should give up an out with a sacrifice in the bottom of 11th. Really? REALLY?

  • mikeL

    “And speaking of offspring, the Freemans want to know if Citi is a boy’s name or a girl’s name”

    sorry to have not quoted this earlier…damm funny!

    and what a comeback today!

  • open the gates

    Yep, Rob E. Today was definitely another day. Good call. Tomorrow maybe you should buy some lottery tickets.

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