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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 Gotta Conceive

Three days ago, a thrilling game against the Dodgers would have ended a bit differently. Rather than Juan Uribe staring out at Kenley Jansen, it would have been Eric Campbell or Darrell Ceciliani or Johnny Monell or John Mayberry Jr. or someone else we’ve written about more often in sorrow than in celebration.

That isn’t fair. Perhaps Ceciliani would have hit a long drive into the seats, or Campbell would have … oh, screw it. We know better, don’t we?

It was Uribe who got an 0-2 pitch that arrived at a greater elevation than Jansen had planned, and Uribe who sent it arcing off the top of the wall — short of a home run by a disappointingly slim margin, tall enough of a double to send disappointment packing and Curtis Granderson scampering home.

I was listening on At Bat up at my folks’ summer place in Maine, and Uribe’s bat hitting ball made The Sound — a crack that causes heads to pop up from whatever’s occupied them and people in the next room come to see what the fuss is.

I’ve been coming to this house on the Sheepscot River since 1980, first with my folks and now when multiple family schedules allow. There’s no TV up here, so games are followed by radio. For years that meant WFAN, with a signal that would yaw and pitch and wail while the sun was up and then strengthen once darkness had fallen, which in late July means the sixth inning or so.

New technologies began elbowing over-the-air radio aside nearly two decades ago — my parents still remind me of the night I listened to a Valentine-era Mets’ radio feed via AOL dial-up, none of us knowing that I’d accidentally picked a long-distance number and so was paying north of a dollar a minute to hear a leisurely run-of-the-mill summer game. Now I don’t even know WOR’s call letters — At Bat simply fetches the bits from whereever they reside in Digital Land and brings them to me. (The concept of a long-distance call no longer exists, but I am doing damage to my data plan.)

I’ve listened to enough over-the-air radio under questionable conditions to glean information from the smallest snippets of context: a sudden acceleration in the rhythm of the announcers’ voices, or chatter where the flow of the game would normally have yielded silence.

Digital connections, though, don’t erode. They vanish — you’re either listening to the game or fiddling with a setting. Though this can lead to oddities of its own: Driving up on Friday, Emily and I were listening to At Bat through our rental car’s sound system, and when we hit a cell dead zone the car would helpfully cue up the first song stored on the iPhone, at impressive volume.

That first song turned out to be, I kid you not, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” by Ella Fitzgerald.

That’s a fine song — I’d be happy to hear it instead of “Piano Man,” though I’d also say that about the Mets playing three minutes of a car alarm — but it will now be forever linked in my mind with wanting to hear the Mets but not being able to.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon was spent sitting in the dining room watching the rain in the trees and listening to Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke strike people out. You could hear the buzz of the Citi Field crowd handing out huzzahs to deGrom and heralding Michael Conforto for standing still at the best possible time … until things went awry for Jeurys Familia, whose misadventures stopped the party and left Josh Lewin and Wayne Randazzo narrating over a disconsolate hush.

I sighed and accepted what had happened — Familia won’t always be effective and Uribe won’t always smother what comes his way, though going forward he will now expect his closer’s occasional quick-pitch.

Familia faltered, but Jenrry Mejia held the line against Joc Pederson an inning later, chasing and capturing a key strikeout to keep the game tied. And then, in the bottom of the 10th, we were reminded that the Mets have finally rearmed, first with Conforto’s summoning to the field of battle and then with the import of Uribe and Kelly Johnson, neither of whom will be the Least Consequential Met when revealed later today.

Should he choose to write one (which he won’t), Sandy Alderson would produce a great tell-all book about his time as GM of the Mets. What was he told about the Wilpons’ finances at various points, and how did he respond? Why, after having to make nonsensical pronouncements about payroll, did he choose another tour of duty? Why did the team play with 24 guys so many times? Was the Mets’ long undermanned slog through the summer of 2015 a product of a slow-to-develop trade market, the owners’ pockets being sewn shut, or Sandy’s own … for now let’s call it “patience?” Did that patience turn into stubbornness in the face of repeated bad luck and fan/media yowling for action?

Whatever the case, the narrative in Panic City had become a new breed of toxic in recent weeks, with fans bemoaning that a division was there for the taking but the Mets seemed willfully determined not to put in a claim on it.

That corrosive storyline went away with the arrival of Conforto, Johnson and Uribe. Which won’t deliver the division to the Mets — another bat would be a big help, and an unhappy part of me still expects the Nats to finally find their focus and accelerate away from the rest of the NL East.


As in, but the Mets will soon have Travis d’Arnaud back again, hopefully this time not to be hit by a pitch or a runner or the 10:30 from Woodhaven. As in, but David Wright is beginning baseball activities, that most hopeful of nebulous pronouncements. As in, but some of David’s more underwhelming teammates have ceased baseball activities, at least while wearing blue and orange at the major-league level. As in, but the Mets have survived a 10-game stretch against top teams and now begin an extended period of playing divisional also-rans.

None of this guarantees anything, but there’s an opportunity here — and the Mets are finally acknowledging that it exists, and taking steps to do something about it. After a summer of apparent inaction, that’s more than welcome.

Ya gotta conceive! It may not be a great rallying cry. But it’s a start.

26 comments to Ya Gotta Conceive

  • Shawn B

    A game-winning Uribe!

  • cleon jones

    Sandy FINALLY did something. Wow. The best move was dropping Mayberry. Now keep the rookie playing and now the bench got a little deeper. Lets go Mets!!!!!

    • Dave

      You’re right, Cleon…dropping Mayberry, and even a little bit earlier than they cut bait last year with Chris Young, at least sends the message “.170 isn’t good enough.” Which you would figure would already be a given, but being that Alderson spends every off season trying to find bargain-priced overpeformers for the bench, .170 is something we’ve had to live with. I’m sure Eric Campbell is a good guy, but I hope he’s very nervous right now, and Kirk better realize that his recent success better be sustained lest he shall return to another summer vacation in Vegas.

      Maybe next winter Alderson realizes that the Juan Uribes and Kelly Johnsons of the world are people you can actually start a season with, because, amazingly enough, players get hurt, they need days off, and you don’t want another day’s starting pitchers to be your best options as pinch hitters.

  • open the gates

    Small sample size, but it looks good for Sandy A. right about now. He didn’t make a panic move, didn’t give up major prospects (we hope), and got some guys on the cheap who can help the Mets now. And the kid (again, small sample size) looks like he belongs, as long as he quits playing Yo La Tengo with his fellow outfielders. Here’s hoping that no one reminds Johnson and Uribe that they need to forget how to hit now that they’re on the Mets. So far so good.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Your first paragraph is almost word for word what I was thinking when Uribe got his hit. Except I added Danny Muno but omitted Darrell Ceciliani (whom I had already completely forgotten about).

    BTW, At Bat via usually has a sale on the live streaming video feature sometime during May. That’s when I usually buy it (this year it was a one day sale at $47.99) so I can catch the FSNY games during my annual weeklong visit to Virginia. And during August I’ve seen them drop the price to around $12, also on a one day sale.

  • 9th string catcher

    Love the weekend trade. Of course, you know that these two minor league nobodys will develop into Greg Maddox and Vida Blue, but hey, whaddya gonna do?

    • Eric

      Maybe Alderson convinced the Braves that Gant and Whalen might be the next McHugh or even deGrom because the Mets apparently have a pipeline of pitching where obscure middling prospects become middle-rotation starters and aces.

  • Jon N

    I cut the cord and now it’s back to the stone age for attempting to watch the Metskeez. Because of local blackout I can’t get the game on It sure is interesting watching the British ESPN stream stolen by some website or another. I only have to worry about all my personal information getting stolen from the sketchy websites that offer the streams in beautifully pixelated and buffering formally 1080 HD.

  • Michael G.

    I hope Mr. Familia quickly finds his first-half mojo again so we can be spared the extra-inning agita. (Shades of meltdown-prone closers of yore.) One thing I’ll say for Jeurys — he sometimes bends, as in blows the save, but doesn’t break, as in gives up the lead. In each of his four blown saves, the Mets amazin’ly have come back to win. Two of his four blown saves have come when he’s brought into the 8th to get the third out, as he was yesterday. Terry should use Familia’s BFF Jenrry in those situations, IMHO.

  • Dave

    Note: Wright is beginning “simulated” baseball activities. I’m not sure if that means Wii or Strat-O-Matic.

    I’ll be in Maine in a few weeks, maybe when my wife isn’t looking I’ll throw a radio in the car and see if the signal makes it up to Bar Harbor.

    • dmg

      wor’s signal barely makes it into putnam county.

      • rapple

        Exactly. And it’s worse in Dutchess and
        Ulster @ the most inconvenient times…
        Can there be a movement to get them to broadcast on a 50,000 watt station again?
        I’m betting that’s .25 watts for every exasperated and disgruntled listener. Not what Bob Murphy had in mind!

      • DAK442

        It’s not so strong on the south shore of Staten Island. Pretty embarrassing.

  • LA Jake

    Yes, it’s nice to have legit MLB players on the bench. And yes, it was nice to make small moves because even small ones are big with this lineup. And yes, one more big everyday bat would be awesome.

    I will say I find it ridiculous that Sandy Alderson is getting so much credit for making these small deals NOW when the Mets have needed help since May. Larry Brooks even wrote Sandy Alderson 1, Residents of Panic City 0, as though A) The fans weren’t asking for these moves for months and B) Now that he made them we aren’t in favor of them. I know he writes for the Post but seriously.

    Putting my annoyance aside, I wish Familia would never blow a save but I love that the Mets have won every one of the 4 games which it has happened. Essentially, if Familia enters a game with a lead, the Mets win, one way or another. Hopefully this recent stretch of trouble is just a blip.

    The time to feast on inferior teams has arrived. The Mets need to do so, because the Nats have a similar sked. And with SF finally starting to roll, the NL East looks like the Mets best chance to make the postseason. I would’ve thought that impossible at the start of the season, but I don’t now. And who knows, maybe some pressure from the Mets makes the Nats fold. The team that was picked by many to win the World Series and the division in a runaway sure hasn’t shown me much 100 games into the season.

    • otb

      To be fair, the Nats have suffered a lot of injuries, too. Their A-team is starting to return, so their doldrums may soon cease. They may still fulfill the early season predictions.

      After the previous night’s run scoring orgy, the Mets seemed to revert to type. Of course, they had a good excuse in Greinke, so it remains to be seen how they do against non top flight pitching. They did break Greinke’s scoreless inning streak, albeit with a couple of scratch runs, so maybe they have turned a corner with the new additions to the lineup and the bench. I hope so.

    • Eric

      In the loss column, the Mets are 2 behind the Cubs, 3 behind the Nationals, and 4 behind the Giants (and Dodgers).

      3 behind the Nationals with 3 x 3-game series left with the Nationals, including to end the season. That’s all you can ask for in an opportunity.

      Assuming the Nationals pick up their pace, I can’t be upset with the season if the Mets manage to pull even with the Nationals entering the last series or at worst 1 behind. Then give the ball to the young stud starters and play ball.

  • otb

    Amidst all the comments about Uribe, Familia et al, I was struck by the crowd reaction, or lack of reaction, when deGrom came to bat late in the game, a 2 hit shutout in progress. Gary Cohen wondered aloud what was wrong with the fans who should have been giving him a standing ovation. Keith complained about the multiple distractions in today’s ballparks so fans don’t pay attention to the game, and maybe even aren’t at the game to see it. Yes, deGrom did get a proper ovation when he left the game, but dammit, one of the great things about National League baseball, where the pitchers still come to bat, is the opportunity to cheer a pitcher who is doing his job masterfully. Back in Dwight Gooden’s day, the fans still did just that. Too bad, by the way, that deGrom didn’t get a well deserved “W”.

    • Eric

      I didn’t agree with Gary’s complaint and Keith’s reasoning. I thought the restrained cheer for deGrom in his last at bat was suitable.

      Greinke and deGrom were still dueling. The cheer while deGrom was batting was like the scattered cheer for a theater performer during a pause in the middle of a scene.

      The ovation for deGrom when he left the game was right.

  • Michael G.

    And how about the Conforto kid? An RBI in each of his first three games, and four hits in his second game.

  • Eric

    Your opening point isn’t fair, Jason. Including Sunday’s win, the Mets have won 6 and lost 2 in extra-inning games this season. In those games, ahead of Uribe’s game winner, game-winning RBIS were by Mayberry, Flores, Flores again, Duda, and Tejada.

    Now, those extra-inning wins were mostly due to clutch pitching covering for futile hitting, but still.

    Good starts for Uribe and Johnson. They’re noticeable upgrades. Best get what we can out of them before their Chipper Jones Bravesness rubs off and they’re coated with Jason Bay Metsiness. Uribe reminds me of a more expressive infield version of Marlon Byrd. Too bad the Mets didn’t get him earlier in the season. Uribe fits right in as a missing piece.

    Good start for Conforto. The rookie looked overmatched against Greinke, but the walk in the 9th was a good sign. Staying in just enough for the HBP and RBI was a good sign, too. It’s about time for the ‘book’ to start coming out on Conforto, and we’ll see how the rookie adjusts. He needs to learn how to call off the SS on pop-ups and give way to the CF on fly balls in the gap.

    Is Plawecki hitting a wall? It looks like d’Arnaud will be coming back, likely for the Nationals series, at a good time to dial down Plawecki’s usage. If the Mets don’t make another move, d’Arnaud may be enough added hitting to carry the team for the stretch run.

    Asked and answered again: deGrom is an ace. He outdueled Greinke. Sure, Greinke wasn’t quite as sharp as he was during his no-runs streak, including oudueling Scherzer in his previous start, but Greinke still pitched well enough to win. deGrom was simply better than the best pitcher in baseball.

    Harvey said after the 15-2 blowout that he feels like his slider is coming back. If Harvey is transitioning from command-issues TJ-recovering Harvey to something like 2013 Happy Harvey Day Harvey, deGrom-Harvey rivals Greinke-Kershaw.

    It’s hard to believe deGrom was only called up as an older middling prospect to fill in for Gonzalez Germen in the bullpen and only started as a fill-in for Dillon Gee. Underestimating the staying power of a Collin McHugh is one thing. Underestimating the prospects of one of the handful of the best pitchers in baseball is something else.

    Jeurys Familia’s slippage is becoming concerning. His command in the 9th inning was the poorest I’ve seen it in a while. He couldn’t locate his fastballs and it looked like he didn’t trust his slider at all, which has been his put-away pitch. The pitches hit off him – hard – were down the middle.

    The Mets can’t afford their bullpen falling apart just as their hitting is shored up. Good job by Mejia stranding Rollins at 3rd base. That was close.

    • Dave

      I agree about Familia, starting to concern me, and he’s never been a closer for a full season at any level. There are Tyler Clippard rumors floating around, and having Mejia helps. Not saying that this is “take his job away” serious, but a plan B is needed just in case this becomes more than a little temporary roadbump.

  • Steve D

    Glad Sandy finally did SOMETHING…he acquired two journeymen that are at least better than what we were playing and called up Conforto. It’s got to be better than it was. If he were to add a big bat here, you could seriously believe they have a shot to do something. Not getting too carried away as they lit up a AAA pitcher and deGrom outdueled Greinke. I want to see them win the next two series at home and get on a roll.

    • Eric

      Is d’Arnaud enough, with the assumption he won’t fall back on the DL? Or d’Arnaud + big bat?

      • Steve D

        How about Wheeler and Plawecki for JD Martinez on Detroit?

        • Eric


          JD Martinez is entering his prime at age 27/28. Reasonable contract. Top-10 MLB power bat. Not known for speed and defense, but doesn’t hurt you as a corner outfielder. Assuming d’Arnaud stays healthy, which we can’t do in real life, makes Plawecki hypothetically expendable.

          Tough to give up Wheeler, but he won’t pitch until June/July 2016 and can’t be counted on to be on track until 2017. In 2 seasons before his TJ surgery, Wheeler showed off elite stuff, but didn’t harness it quickly like Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, and even Matz did. Assuming his stuff comes back, Wheeler may be a 2/3-level starter, which would be very good, but not a 5th ace.

          Assuming d’Arnaud stays healthy, making Plawecki expendable, it’s tempting, but I don’t do it. I’ll ride out the season with Granderson and Conforto in the corner outfield positions and assume a healthy d’Arnaud means a hitting d’Arnaud. Assuming Wheeler recovers from his TJ surgery on the expected schedule, his trade value should rise next off-season or as a trade chip in 2017.