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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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The Long Happy Life of Bartolo Colon

There has to be some Mets fan out there who was called away during the bottom of the fifth and then had something to do in the top of the ninth. If so, sorry man — because the rest of Monday night’s game was about as snoozy as it gets.

There’s something to be said for a lack of drama, though. It’s just fine if the result is Phillie after Phillie looking dismayed as Bartolo Colon adds a mile per hour to his fastball here and subtracts it there and puts the ball exactly where he wants it, which is somewhere other than where the batter was looking. I can’t do better describing the Zen of Bartolo than I did last summer, so go read that. He was as on that day in St. Louis as he was tonight (and got a hit both times), except happily tonight was for much bigger stakes.

The Mets confined their offense to a single inning, with home runs by Michael Conforto (who’s gone from a cameo-as-preview to being done with the minors) and Curtis Granderson accounting for their scoring. And they confined their woes to a single inning, as Jeurys Familia looked more than a little shaky in the ninth. He surrendered singles to Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr, then walked Ryan Howard.

Fortunately, Jeff Francoeur was up next, and Frenchy still has no idea that four balls mean you get to go to first base. He hit into a double play, and Familia then dueled Andres Blanco, who turned in a great at-bat but then struck out on the ninth pitch, which was eye-high.

Not a Mets classic by any means, but a Mets win, which will do very nicely. A couple of hours later the Cardinals ambushed Matt Williams‘s second-line relievers (next time you take issue with Terry Collins‘s bullpen moves, think about the things Williams comes up with) and the Mets’ lead was back to 6.5.

Six and a half and the baseball calendar says September. I still have 7 and 17 branded on some wounded part of my psyche, so the only magic number I care about will come when the Mets’ lead is larger than the number of games they have remaining. We’ll see if they get there, but this a good place to start. We’re guaranteed an exciting month and could get a magical one. Buckle up!

* * *

Here’s the latest episode of I’d Just as Soon Kiss a Mookiee, the greatest Mets/Star Wars podcast in the history of the planet. In this one, Shannon from MetsPolice and I chat with Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, I confess to hating “The Natural,” and much more. Enjoy!

50 comments to The Long Happy Life of Bartolo Colon

  • LA Jake

    “Frenchy still has no idea that four balls mean you get to go to first base.” Fabulous line Mr Fry!

    He is the poster child for guys who don’t understand situational hitting and have no plan at the plate except to swing the bat at anything and everything. Just looked it up and he has walked 262 times in 5,263 plate appearances during 1,334 games across 11 seasons.

  • eric1973

    Great win and all, but no thought given to tomorrow, IN THIS CASE. Why is it ok to overextend Familia, and use him when Colon was still strong and getting stronger? Don’t we need Familia strong for the stretch run and possible playoffs?

    On the other hand, TC takes out effective starters one inning/batter too soon, a lot, sacrificing victories so he can manage innings for the future.

    Every organization does it, and GM’s/Managers/Media/Fans/Bloggers/Commenters appear to be brainwashed by it, so at this point, might as well just agree with everything TC does, and hope to win anyway. Just might do it, too.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Colon said he was tired after 8 and needed to come out. By the way, did you see the Captain come to the mound to talk to Familia a la Uribe a while back?

    • Dennis

      “Every organization does it”

      Very true. That’s why it’s a bit unfair to give Terry a real hard time with it. We watch the Mets every day, so his moves are magnified, but I’m sure if we were in any city and a fan of that team, the same complaints about removing a starter too early would come up. While it’s easy to sit from the comfort of our homes and say the starting pitcher should be kept in (I’m even guilty of that at times as well), we really don’t know what is going on in the dugout. Anyway……6.5 up on September 1 feels good!

  • Eric

    If Familia had lost the lead – and man, that came close – Collins would have been torched. As is, taking out Colon is being questioned.

    Roster expansion will help the middle relief, but the added relievers won’t stop the over-use of Clippard and Familia.

    • Matt in Richmond

      After yesterday, Familia has given up 1 run in a month. It was 90 degrees, Colon is not used to going much over 100 pitches, pitched an inning of relief Sun, and admitted to being tired after 8. There is no controversy here. Collins made the logical move. And oh by the way we won, gained another game in the standings, and just had the most successful month for any Mets team in like 2 decades. Where in the world is all this angst coming from? (Not singling you out, it seems to be rampant)

      • Eric

        Colon’s inning of relief was on Saturday and his pitches were taken out of his throw day.

        The controversy is Colon looked strong through 8 innings and Familia had pitched 3 of the prior 4 days, especially a tough inning the game before against the Red Sox. The lead story of the past week-plus was the overtaxed bullpen since the series at Coors Field. In fact, the strained bullpen is the reason that Colon pitched an inning on Saturday in the 1st place. In some of the games, eg, the 5-run leads against the Rockies, it looked like Collins could have stayed away from Familia.

        With all the attention on protecting the young stud starters, Collins seems to be less concerned about protecting the equally important young stud closer who also has an arm-injury history. There’s a long list of short-lived elite closers who responded to heavy use with great seasons but burned out thereafter. We want Familia around for a while to save games for a starting rotation that has legitimate potential to be one of the best, perhaps the best of all time.

        Given the games that middle relievers have thrown away seemingly safe leads and Clippard putting men on base, I could understand Collins not handing over even a 3-run lead to anyone other than his closer.

        But Colon is not one of the young stud starters with an innings limit and he looked strong enough to finish the game. Collins even said if it was last season, he likely would have sent Colon out in the 9th inning. At the time, it looked like a valuable opportunity for Colon throw a CG and give the closer a needed day off, but instead, Collins surrendered to his impulse to use Familia reflexively and only rest him begrudgingly.

        That being said, if Colon told Collins he was gassed, that cuts off the controversy. It was a warm day, Colon is 42, and he was hovering around his season’s track record for pitch count. (107 pitches in his last start was his season high.) Colon has also shown this season that when his game slips, he throws homerun-derby level batting practice. If Colon felt like he was done, then putting in Familia was the right choice.

  • James

    As Matt has said, and Mr. Spock might say, replacing Colon with Familia in the 9th was logical. If Collins had brought in Torres or Robles, then we could definitely have a discussion about his decision making capabilities. But a closer is supposed to, well, close things off at the end of the game. No questions asked.

    I hadn’t heard that Colon was tired, so I initially thought he might stroll on out to the mound for a shot at the endangered complete game shutout. My sole angst was derived from Familia putting on a tightrope performance at a time when letting games slip away hits harder than the clunkers in April — even if losses often add up to have the same effect regardless of when they occur.

    This was a monotonous game, to be sure, but a win is a win — and a Nationals loss is even better. This may be the only time of year I’ll be rooting for the Cardinals to do their we’re-so-good-it’s-almost-boring routine. The more hurdles the Nats have to clear, the less the Mets feel pressured to be perfect in September.

    All told, I’ll be happy if the final three games of the season result in monotonous affairs because the Mets collected a slew of less-than-thrilling victories for a division crown.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Hear hear James! And may I add, live long and prosper.

    • mikeski

      All told, I’ll be happy if the final three games of the season result in monotonous affairs because the Mets collected a slew of less-than-thrilling victories for a division crown.

      Yep. I’m going to the Saturday game and I hope I’m BLANKETED in a division title by then.

  • Steven

    Can somebody please point me to the articles where it said Colon was tired and needed to come out? I saw where he said he was tired from running the bases in the 5th but thinking that was a joke since he jogged around after Granderson’s HR.

      • Eric

        On the flip side, Collins threw gas on the controversy by saying he would have sent Colon out in the same spot last season sans pennant race, implying Colon was fit to pitch the 9th inning. Collins further implied that he used Familia instead simply because it was a regulation save situation in a pennant race.

        But a pennant race doesn’t make Colon unfit to pitch the 9th inning nor does it take away the value of an opportunity to rest a closer who had pitched 3 of the last 4 days, including a tough inning the day before.

        Though if Collins knew Colon was gassed, then that changes the consideration.

        • I suspect Terry didn’t know Colon had told reporters he was tired and was deflecting. Which is simultaneously a bit silly and his job, New York being New York.

          At any rate, Colon said he was tired, and that’s pretty much that.

  • dmg

    i went to sleep with the nats ahead 5-3. imagine my delight to find they’d lost that game.
    i don’t get the carping — colon pitched 8, giving clippard a needed break. (he also pitched a relief inning on saturday.) wasn’t that enough?

  • Dave

    Bats having a little trouble readjusting to a stadium with major league dimensions. Once that happens, we’ll see a little less stress on the pen…4 or 5 run lead leaves more margin for error. If Granderson hadn’t hit that dinger last night – or if Bartolo hadn’t been an onbase machine in front of him – we’d all have to be talked in off the ledge last night in the 9th.

    Looks like the Phils got themselves a pitcher in the Hamels deal, but we’ll deal with that in about 2018.

  • John

    What a great time to be a Mets fan. By no means do I think we have the division locked (too many scars from ’07/’08!) but with each day I know the window is closing on the Nats. I love the way we beat the Phillies best SP (outside of Nola) and we keep putting pressure on the Nats. I take it one day at a time and enjoy that first thought in the morning when my foggy head reminds me we are 6.5 games up on Sept 1. Don’t wake me up!! Let me dream until October!

  • eric1973

    Hey, nice to see the Captain take the lead from Uribe and get out there to the mound. See, it can help.

  • Ed Rising

    I totally get that Familia was the ‘logical’ choice for the 9th but the Dr. McCoy in me get his blood boiling (Vulcan’s don’t have blood do they?) because I am also concerned about over use of Familia. With a 3 run lead I would have put the new acquisition Addison Reed to start the 9th with Familia stretching if in case we need him. The days of a starter going 9 are apparently few if not over but give Colon credit he did wonderfully and I hope he doesn’t lose his spot should we make it to the playoffs.

  • Rob E

    That move was not logical OR illogical. I didn’t hear that Colon was tired, and I am from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school, so I would have left him in to start the ninth. Of course, nobody does that nowadays unless the guy’s got a no-hitter going, and today’s “groupthink” says you have to bring in your closer at the start of the inning (these are baseball things, not Terry Collins things). Logic from the 40 years of baseball I’ve watched says leave Colon in.

    On the other hand, if we can’t trust Familia with a three-run lead, then September will be LONG, and any post-season will likely be SHORT.

    They won, it was an important game, doubly so in light of Washington’s loss, so I can’t criticize the move. They now have three closers and an expanded pen, which should provide more late-inning maneuverability. Yesterday was kind of a sleepy game compared to the fireworks in Philly, but the job got done. They’re in good shape here, with a deep roster, and nothing glaringly worrisome. Full speed ahead!

    • Eric

      The controversy is not about distrust of Familia. It’s about burning out the only reliever (including Clippard) who we do trust to protect leads late in games when he can be rested with a viable alternative.

  • open the gates

    I don’t really care how “interesting” Familia gets, as long as he has that “S” after his name when the game is over.

    I recall saying the same thing about John Franco back in the day. Of course, Familia’s fastball is more reminiscent of the guy Johnny was traded for.

    On another subject, it’s nice to see the Curtis Granderson we traded for. He’s been kind of lost in the flurry, but he’s having a great year. Guess that reunion with Kevin Long was a good thing after all.

  • eric1973

    Totally agree with Dennis and Rob E.

    Everybody does it now, so what are you gonna do?

    I would have loved seeing Addison in the 9th, but then if things went haywire, none of us could have lived with that.
    If you make the ‘illogical logical’ move, and it does not work out, at least you can sleep at night.

  • eric1973

    Colon in relief on Saturday also served the dual purpose of getting him used to his possible bullpen role in the possible playoffs.

    Would like to see Thor and Matz as starters 3 and 4. The upside there is just too tantalizing.

    • Eric

      Mixed review of his inning in relief.

      Colon’s velocity, movement, and location looked fine coming out of the bullpen, and under play-off intensity, Colon’s cool and savvy will make a difference.

      But for all the positives of his inning, Colon almost gave up a HR to Ortiz.

  • mikeski

    I still have 7 and 17 branded on some wounded part of my psyche[…]

    It’s like a frigging neon sign to me.

    • Eric

      Me, too.

      Some folks will poo-poo the anxiety from the September 2007 collapse saying it was a long time ago and the roster has almost entirely turned over since then.

      But the September 2007 collapse didn’t end in 2007 because the interval since then has been a continuous course. The September 2007 collapse spread into the collapse of the 2008 season and then the team itself. The September 2007 collapse has been the troll under the bridge taking its toll every season for 7+ years.

      The September 2007 collapse toyed with us the last time the team was in contention late in 2008. Until the magic number is 0, the troll lives. It won’t be dead until these Mets kill it by clinching the division.

      • Rob E

        I understand the anxiety, and I understand that it’s not going to go away until they put the troll in the ground.

        But this team is very different than that 2007 team. That team was old except for Reyes and Wright, and not terribly deep. Their bullpen was not good or deep, and their best reliever, Wagner, had a bad second half and had injury issues that September as things crashed down. This roster has much better depth on both sides of the ball, and should be able to compensate if anyone goes down (as they are without Duda right now).

        That horrible past means nothing to the games to come, and except for Wright, none of these guys are connected to it in any way. A September pennant race in Queens…enjoy it, don’t fear it! We’ve certainly paid for it!

        • Good advice. Joy, not fear!

          But yep, as you put it, the fear will remain until the troll’s in the ground. The Curse of Luis Ayala, maybe.

          • mikeski

            “[…]forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

            N.B. – Kang has his own IMDB page, because of course he does.

      • James

        It’s easy to forget that the September 2007 collapse was historic because the Mets came apart AND the Phillies and Rockies caught fire at the very end. The system has to work both ways. So the Nationals have to play above .500 for the month in combination with the Mets drastically underperforming. That’s certainly not an impossibility, but the Nationals have shown no signs of getting on a roll like the Phillies did through August and September 2007.

        Plus, we don’t have Brian Lawrence starting any of our meaningful games in September, or Scott Schoeneweis and Luis Ayala tag-teaming on late-inning meltdowns.

        One of the benefits of winning the division will be finally putting to rest the discussions of whether the Mets can ever escape the shadows cast by 2007 and 2008. Not that I’m at all accusing you of fear mongering, Eric; the Mets just need to get over that hump.

        • Eric

          The Nationals are already playing better and their schedule is soft after the Cardinals.

          There will be little opportunity to gain ground on the Nationals after their Cardinals series except for the head-to-head games, but that prospect cuts both ways.

          The Mets won’t be able to coast to the play-offs. They’ll need to hold off the Nationals who I expect to make a charge.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    For those who didn’t see the 9th inning of last night’s Nats-Cards game, Trevor Rosenthal had a 9th inning rivaling Famila’s. Here’s a recap:

    Jayson Werth leads off with a single.
    Anthony Rendon singles, sending Werth to second.
    Bryce Harper comes to bat as the tying run.
    The first pitch to Harper gets by Molina, hits the wall and bounces right back to Molina. Werth sees the rebound and heads back to second. Rendon was running with his head down (or head up his ass, as the case may be) and is caught in no man’s land. Molina runs at him and actually tags him on the basepath between first and second. I don’t think I have ever seen a catcher make an unassisted putout between first and second in over 60 years as a player, umpire, and fan.
    Harper ends up drawing a walk.
    Now Ryan Zimmerman comes to bat as the tying run.
    Zimmerman pops up to first.
    Clint Robinson strikes out. Cards win. Nats lose. Somehow, Rosenthal escapes with a scoreless inning despite two hits, a walk, and an almost wild pitch. His inning was at least as scary as Familia’s.

    That said, with the heavy lifting Familia has done in the last two games, I expect to see either Clippard or Reed closing tonight, if the need arises.

    • Eric

      Rosenthal just got back from paternity leave, so maybe he was a bit rusty.

      Despite Rendon’s mistake on an odd play, efforts like that by the Nationals are why I don’t count them out. They still have a veteran team with good pitching and a long line-up with good hitters who grind at-bats.

      The Nationals are playing well. Against a lesser team, the Nationals win that game, and after the Cardinals – other than the Mets – they only face lesser teams the rest of the way.

      • Rob E

        The Nationals are a better team than they have shown, and it would be wrong to write them off. But the Mets are pretty good, too, and the only misstep they’ve had since the trade deadline was that Pittsburgh series. Even when they’ve stumbled, they’ve been resilient and have avoided long losing streaks.

        And when Matz comes back they’ll probably be deeper than they’ve been all year. Not a done deal by any means, history has shown that anything can happen, and the head-to-head games will be huge, but this is all we could have wished for for Sept. 1. Unlike the 2007 team, this team has guys that will pull us through. I’ve seen fear for 131 games, but I have faith in this team!

        • Dennis

          And unlike 2007, this Mets starting pitching is so much better than that team.

        • Eric

          Yep. 1st place, 20-8 August, emphatic 9.5-game flip since Familia spit the bit against the Padres on July 30 – it was a great month to be a Mets fan.

          But yeah, the fear is there. It’s been a roller-coaster season, and the hope is that the August climb won’t turn out to be followed by a September dive.

      • Steven

        I can see what you’re saying about the Nats but I view it differently. Despite St Louis trying multiple times to give the game away, the Nats not only didn’t take it, but then made amazingly stupid mistakes to kill themselves.

        And that’s been the story of the Nats’ season…the NL East was there through July for their taking but they failed to do so and now they have been losing games thanks to a leaky bullpen, spotty hitting, stupid baserunning plays and a manager worse than Collins.

        I’m not saying it will be easy but I expect the Mets to keep the Nats at arm’s length the remainder of the year. With the arrivals of Johnson, Uribe and then Cespedes via trade plus the returns of d’Arnaud, Cuddyer and Wright from the DL, the offense is more than capable of scoring bunches of runs. With the arrivals of Clippard and now Reed via trade, plus the return of Matz and Parnell from the DL, the pitching should remain very good. There’s really no reason to expect this team won’t continue to win the majority of its games down the stretch.

        But even if the Mets go 16-15 the rest of the way (winning all 3-game series vs sub-.500 teams but not sweeping any of them, splitting two 4-game series vs sub-.500 teams, losing 2 of 3 to the Yankees and splitting 6 games with the Nats), they would finish 89-63. The Nats would have gone 3-3 vs the Mets in head-to-head games and therefore would need to go 20-6 in their other 26 games to just tie the Mets.

        I’m not sure which I find more unlikely…the Mets winning just 16 of their final 31 games or the Nats winning 23 of their final 32 games during that same time span. Either way, I have visions of the postseason dancing in my head.

        • Eric

          The Nationals won their prior 4 series before the Cardinals series, so they are back on track.

          The Nationals made mistakes, but they wouldn’t have cost them the game against a lesser team. Their comeback would have been enough and they likely would have tacked on. The Cardinals’ comeback was typical for how they’ve been beating teams all season. On paper, they should not be dominant, but they just pick up what they need.

          After the Phillies and Cardinals, the head-to-head games are key (obviously).

          If the Mets just win 2 of the 6 games, that would be unnerving, but they should be able to absorb the setback in the standings. But if the Mets get swept or just win 1 of 6 against the Nationals, that’s close.

          Other than the 2 series against the Mets, the Nationals have a soft schedule the rest of the way. I don’t expect them to lose ground against their other opponents. After the Nationals are done with the Cardinals, I expect the Mets will be preserving their lead rather than growing it the rest of the way, and the Mets still have the Yankees series.

          Now be may be the last chance to add cushion to absorb the Nationals run I believe is coming. If the Mets can pad their lead with another game or even two games versus the Phillies while the Nationals play the Cardinals, that would be welcome.

  • Steve D

    One move ensured the end off the Nationals this year…when they acquired Papelbon and replaced Storen as closer. Storen had been 29 for 31 in saves. I am not an expert on their clubhouse, but in an article I read about Tyler Clippard, he was pretty tight with Storen. I think Storen is a popular guy and Papelbon, not so much. But what kind of message do you send your team, when even if you perform your job at an elite level, you can lose it at any time. I said right then the Nats are done.

  • Eric

    Curtis Granderson, RF
    Yoenis Cespedes, CF
    Daniel Murphy, 2B
    David Wright, 3B
    Michael Conforto, LF
    Michael Cuddyer, 1B
    Travis d’Arnaud, C
    Ruben Tejada, SS
    Jonathon Niese, LHP

    I might bat Cespedes clean-up and Wright 2nd, but other than that, I admire this line-up. Too bad Duda’s hurt, but Cuddyer is hitting well.

    I look forward to seeing what they do in take-2 against Harang. It’d be good to take this one with Nola up tomorrow.

  • eric1973

    This roster expansion thing is TC’s dream. He gets to use all his true faves in the same game:
    Maybe even Robles, if we’re lucky

    Mets were down 2 runs, not 200.
    Will be, though.

    • Eric

      Yes, bringing in Parnell then lefty Parnell despite having just closed the game to 6-4 was a disconcerting choice by Collins.

      More so with roster expansion, those 2 need to look for their pre-TJ surgery games on someone’s AAA roster, not in close games of a pennant race.

  • Steven

    September is the a nightmare for those of us who don’t like how TC handles the bullpen.

  • Steve D

    I would not trust Niese to start a playoff game. deGrom and Harvey are given. Syndegaard would be great out of the pen I think. Matz is very inexperienced. I may be in the minority, but I pitch the proven veteran….Colon. He will not be flustered at least.

    • Eric

      That’s now 1 not-good start (Pirates) followed by 3 awful starts for Niese.

      No need for a bad spot starter down the stretch when one of your regulars falls apart.

  • Eric

    1 inning, 8 runs (6 earned), 3 Hs, 0 K, 4 BB.

    3 innings, 0 runs, 0 H, 4 K, 0 BB.

    Collins needs to redo his bullpen depth chart.

    And thank you, Cardinals. What a scary team. Lost opportunity to push the lead out to 7 games in the loss column – 1 more than the head-to-head games – but at least the Nationals matched another Mets loss.