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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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Sometimes It's Simple

Baseball is a game played nine to a side, with wheeling motion and shifting fielding assignments and set plays and so much else. But each play starts not with nine people doing multiple things, but with one person doing one thing: The pitcher takes the ball and throws it in the direction of home plate.

When the pitcher does that ineffectively, it leads to a whole lot of stuff happening. When he does it effectively, things are much simpler.

Clayton Kershaw‘s really good at throwing a baseball in the direction of home plate.

Last Friday, in Game 1 of the NLDS, Kershaw was merely pretty good at that; Tuesday night, in Game 4, he was a whole lot better. The difference, as noted by David Wright, was that on Friday Kershaw didn’t have very good command of his curveball. The Mets could basically ignore that pitch and did so, driving up Kershaw’s pitch count, trying to force him to throw fastballs in hitters’ counts, and hunting mistakes. On Tuesday Kershaw had the fastball, curve and slider all working, which neutralized the plan that had worked four days earlier. The Mets did their best but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Everything else about Tuesday night’s game was a footnote. Steven Matz was pretty good for a guy who hadn’t thrown a pitch in anger in nearly three weeks, but wound up undone by one unfortunate inning. In the third, Matz hung a curve to Kershaw for a one-out hit, got the second out on a fielder’s choice, surrendered a single to Howie Kendrick, was nicked for a run on a bloop that Adrian Gonzalez sent into no-man’s land, and then elevated a change-up in the strike zone that former friend Justin Turner whacked down the left-field line, where Yoenis Cespedes played it like a man trying to pick up a spitting cat. Two bad pitches; three runs, no other damage. Those kind of innings happen to everybody; when they happen to you against Clayton Kershaw you’re probably going to lose.

The Mets tried to break through against Kershaw in the seventh, turning Citi Field into a cauldron of noise — including both of your bloggers, sitting side by side in the Promenade thanks to kindly reader Larry Arnold, where we were screaming and twirling orange rally towels for all we were worth.

Whatever happens come Thursday, October has provided gratifying proof that Citi Field can indeed get its roar on if the faithful are given something to roar about. Kudos, also, to the Mets for tidying up aspects of their operation that have too often been shabby. On both Monday and Tuesday security lines moved quickly, the maroon jackets were professional and cordial, and the Mets did an admirable job showcasing their own history, with flashbacks to previous postseasons, listings of Opening Day lineups through the ages (with accompanying yearbook covers), and Rusty Staub, John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Charles and Ron Swoboda as visiting dignitaries.

On Tuesday night Swoboda and his wife appeared on the Kiss Cam with a note congratulating them on their 50th anniversary, which was good attention to detail; better was seeing Charles and Swoboda introduced to the strains of “Heart,” the Damn Yankees chestnut sung … let’s say enthusiastically by the Miracle Mets on the Ed Sullivan Show in October 1969. That was so deft a historically minded touch that I asked Greg if he’d been freelancing for the Mets and was keeping mum about it. (For the record, he denied it.)

But back to the seventh. Kershaw fumbled a Cespedes bleeder for a leadoff single, followed by Travis d’Arnaud fouling out and Lucas Duda hitting the first pitch on the screws — but lining it to the center fielder. Wilmer Flores worked a 2-0 count and scorched a ball towards third, where it spun Turner around. Plenty of times such hot shots eat up a third baseman, leaving the ball bounding into the outfield and sending runners flying around the bases. This wasn’t one of those times; Turner smothered the ball, took a moment to reorient himself and threw Wilmer out.

In the eighth, Curtis Granderson worked a two-out walk against Chris Hatcher, followed by Wright walking against Kenley Jansen, followed by Daniel Murphy working the count to 3-2. That sent the volume in the park zooming again, and the ball Murph hit looked good off the bat. But it was all angle and no anger; when it came down in Yasiel Puig‘s glove it was like someone had unplugged Citi Field’s speakers. We slumped in our seats and waited and trudged off to a ferociously overcrowded 7 train.

And now we’ll wait until Thursday. The Mets have a game to play, with Jacob deGrom taking on Zack Greinke. If they lose, a heartening and exhilarating season will come to an end sooner than we would have wished; if they win, more baseball awaits us and them.

That’s simple too.

59 comments to Sometimes It’s Simple

  • Daniel Hall

    Ugh, can I just go back to bed? I don’t want to do any things today … just close my eyes and let the replay of the bottom 2nd through 4th from Monday run in an infinite loop inside my head, for the next … 40-some hours.

    And even then chances are slim, unless Greinke tries to eat a whole water melon in one piece so we can face party time pitching in game five…

  • Ed

    Best chance of Kirk beats up turner and greinke before the game

  • Daniel Hall

    And then Ugly appealed his 2-game suspension, yet didn’t play in the two games he was supposed to be suspended for? Huh?

  • Dave

    From the Faith to the Fear in a span of 22 hours. Earlier in the day, my wife is so confident and giddy that she purchases tickets to NLCS and World Series games, and I make plans to meet up there with a friend who has crossed the ocean to be at CitiField because he doesn’t want to miss this. And then Kershaw.

    Looking towards 2016, no matter what happens tomorrow night, I never want to hear phrases like “6 man rotation” or “extra rest” or “skip a start” ever again. Starting pitchers are, more than any players in any sport, creatures of precise habit. As we have seen the past 2 nights, give them lots of rest, they do not perform well.

    • Daniel Hall

      Well, yeah, but Matz’ens extra rest had reasons other than “conserving” innings.

      • Dave

        Yes, which led me from the start to question whether or not he should have been in the rotation for this series. I think/hope he’s ultimately going to be healthy and be an outstanding major league pitcher. But at this point in his career, at every stage, he has spent more time rehabbing and recuperating than he has pitching. To expect that after half a dozen major league starts scattered over 2 months and then nearly 3 weeks off, he’d be able to pitch effectively in a playoff game may have been asking a bit much. If he were a veteran who had dealt with things before, had a proven track record, I would have been more confident.

    • Eric

      On the other hand, they need to figure out how to deal with irregular breaks if they plan on being mainstays in the post-season.

      Harvey’s extended break was due to starting game 3. Matz started game 4 plus he missed more time because he’s fragile.

    • Eric

      deGrom will be on extra rest, like a 6-man rotation, for game 5. Syndergaard would be on regular rest for game 5 like Greinke.

  • eric1973

    See, this is why HFA is/was important:

    If we lose Game 5, the (virtually) intentional tank job after clinching CAN BE viewed as a big reason why. This is not to say this is valid, of course. However, it will cause regrets, and that is the toughest part about losing…… Regrets on what could have / should have been done.

    • Rob E

      They won a game in LA, and they lost a game in NY. If they are going to step up and be a REALLY good team, they’re going to have to win games on the road, and they’re going to have to beat good pitchers. No excuses. This team has the goods to get that done, and they’ve shown that they CAN do that. I have complete faith in Jake. May the better team win and may the umpires not affect the outcome this time.

      • Dennis

        I agree Rob. Going up against Greinke is tough, but I feel deGrom can match him.

        • mikeski

          Same here. My wife was wailing about Greinke last night AND this morning and I finally said “enough…we have deGrom. He’s pretty good too, y’know.”

  • dykstraw

    that justin turner is terrible. good thing we non tendered him.

    • dmg

      turner is exhibit a in why those “rebuilding” years were so infuriating. he had the goods — or was at least developing them — but needed to be surrounded by other solid pros in the lineup to flourish.

    • Dave

      It’s not like he didn’t get a chance to perform as a Met. He showed flashes of being a useful utility guy, but when he was here I never looked at him and thought he’d be a solid everyday player. Reminds me of Heath Bell. Mets game him every chance to show what he could do, just never did until he went elsewhere.

      • Eric

        Collin McHugh.

        • Rob E

          If you’re going to complain about Turner and McHugh, then give them credit for R.A. Dickey, who they pulled off the scrap heap and converted into d’Arnaud & Syndergaard. This happens to EVERY team. For all the metrics we have, unforecastable stuff still happens. Guys have epiphanies, guys learn new pitches, guys need a change of scenery…it’s part of the game.

          The Dodgers pretty much gave away DEE GORDON before the season (imagine having to deal with HIM now), and Houston gave away J.D. Martinez, so they made moves that don’t look too good also.

      • Exactly. Since I didn’t regret letting Justin Turner go for even a second then, I’m not going to grumble about it now. It’s baseball; sometimes these things happen.

        • Dennis

          THANK YOU Rob & Jason. Fans of EVERY team can grumble about a move that their team made where a player they let go turned out to be productive. It happens.

        • kdbart

          Besides, McHugh is two organizations removed from the Mets. The Mets traded him to the Rockies. He floundered at the AA level for the Rockies and they subsequently got rid of him. Good for him that he found something to help revitalized his career. You can’t hold onto them for forever hoping that they emerge. Then you end up complaining that they held onto them too long and should’ve traded them when they had some value. See Lastings Milledge and Fernando Martinez for that.

        • dmg

          i’m not grumbling. the mets stuck with him longer than i might have.
          but i’m suggesting that he’s an example of a player who needed a better lineup to perform in. (and yes, you can make that argument about most players; it’s just that turner is perhaps the most impressive reminder this year.)

  • mikeL

    didn’t want to see it go to 5.
    more than HFA, saturday nites maiming/loss looms largest. the mets should have won that game, should have had tejada scrapping out long at-bats and maybe drawing that walk that changes the game.

    but be things as they may, the mets need to celebrate in their park, for all of their fans to see.

    let’s go mets.

    • Eric

      The looming chagrin is Philly Dodger Utley’s take-out of Tejada will be the difference in the DS. And then we’ll know the 2007 collapse, though exorcised by the 2015 division title, claimed its (we can hope) last pound of flesh from the Mets, like a hooked shark hauled on deck that snaps off a foot (or a fibula) vicious to the last.

  • Daniel

    We have to face Greinke. But you know what? They’ve got to face deGrom. How’re they gonna hit him?!

    Stop losing the faith.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I’m being philosophical. They’ve come farther than any of us really expected, they didn’t embarrass themselves in the playoffs, and there surely is great hope for the future, Cespedes or not. And now that he’s come back his norms, maybe his price has come down a little.

    And if they lose, I will be able to root for the Cubs to go all the way, and never have to hear about THAT again.

    • dmg

      philosophy can wait until after thursday.

      it will absolutely suck if the utley game is the difference maker between a good season and a glorious one. the problem is that we don’t know what the future holds next season or beyond, but we know the team will surely change from how it is constituted now.

      meanwhile, the best weapon in the mets game 5 arsenal is their own belief in themselves. it looked ugly after they got down 3 on monday night, but they knew they had it in them to come back. (it looked just the same last night; it didn’t happen, but the dodgers are going to get their wins too.)

      i’d much prefer that the series ended monday night as it was supposed to, but we need to remember the team is battle-tested. this game will be very tough, but it can be won. and i like to think the mets are eager to take it, especially beating the pitcher they had all but beaten on saturday night.

  • 9th string catcher

    Guys, come on – forget about that HFA nonsense. In baseball, it mostly comes down to who is on the mound. The Dodgers can win in NY, the Mets can win in LA. In fact, you can say that there’s much more pressure to worry about the other team clinching on your field, causing you to play tight. (Which I expect the Mets to do tomorrow!)

    Let’s get psyched up! This is the stuff that folklore is based on. Backs against the wall, playing against one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in extremely hostile territory. A bunch of young kids, injured veterans and a manager who’s waited his whole life for this moment! A rocky past, an uncertain future – it all comes down to SHOWDOWN IN HOLLYWOOD!


  • mikey

    Dont forget they have to face degrom.

  • EMW

    I do not understand the defeatist attitudes that have been expressed. Simply put, the dodgers had a lot more at stake last night and had to have the win. Although we wanted it and it would have been a great ending at home, we had breathing room. So although last night was disappointing, it was not catastrophic. We are still in the race and there is no reason to give up hope. Stay faithful and don’t throw in the towel prematurely and don’t brace for failure. Kershaw at home for Game 1 didn’t do it for them and they only one Game 2 because of a bad call. We have every reason to think that we can win Game 5.

    As an aside: why didn’t Colon start? He has been solid, seems to stay cool under pressure (he always seems like he is having fun), and although not flashy, he does have his goofyness at times and provides entertainment as well as effective pitching. I got the feeling that Matz was chosen to pitch because of his home-town roots and wouldn’t it be cool if the guy that grew up on Long Island won the final game of the series. I think he should have been pulled as soon as he started to falter. He seemed nervous from the beginning and never seemed to settle down. I think Collins did not want to embarrass him, I think he thought the fans wanted to see a young aspiring star, and I think that more attention was given to keeping Matz in the game than to winning the game. I have nothing against Matz, but he was not the right choice. The dodgers put up their best weapon for Game 4 and we should have too. But we have another chance.

    I think TC should also have taken Duda out – as good as he has been he has been in a hitting slump. Cuddyer was not a good choice as a PH either. I like both these guys, but both have been off their mark. Sometimes you have to overcome loyalties and feelings and focus on winning. I did not think we had that focus last night from early in the game.

    Just a novice’s opinions.

    • I’m with Ed the self-described novice who intrinsically gets what being a Mets fan is as if he’s been doing it his entire life. We have an All-Star starting pitcher going for our division champions in a game that has yet to be played in a series that is tied. It’s a perfectly reasonable playoff scenario. It’s the same one that faces the Dodgers.

      We invoke the phrase so often that we may take it for granted: You Gotta Believe. Think about what that means, and if you can divine its true spirit, then Believe for real.

      Ain’t gonna cost ya nothing but a little Faith.

    • Eric

      A game 5 showdown was expected. The expected winning formula was a split of the first 2 against the Dodgers aces, win the 3rd with Harvey, then split the last 2 against the Dodgers aces. That’s where we are now. The Dodgers’ winning formula is to sweep one of those splits and that’s where they are now.

      Reaching the expected winner-take-all game 5 is disappointing now only because the Mets had a real chance to sweep the 1st 2 games and thus the series. Except Syndergaard tired in the 7th rather than bridge to Familia, Murphy didn’t throw clean to Tejada which allowed Utley to change the course of the series with his chop block, and the Mets relievers failed to hold the tie.

      Colon has been a competent reliever, which makes him more reliable than other Mets middle relief and shows he has a future in that role if he hangs it up as a full-time starter, but he hasn’t been unhittable out of the bullpen, either. I don’t think it’s more likely Colon’s wiles would have dueled Kershaw to a draw than Matz’s talent would have. We were hoping Matz would pitch more like deGrom game 1 than Harvey game 3, but Matz’s 3 runs over 5 innings is about what we would have expected for a Colon start.

  • Eric

    Shadows in play for the pitchers’ duel.

    5:07 pm PT start. Sunset 6:19 pm.

  • BlackCountryMet

    It’s NEVER simple is it? 2 weeks ago purchased tickets at vastly inflated prices for games 1 & 3 at Citi via StubHub, a game 2 ticket is mine via a VERY nice chap off twitter. Obviously, unable to book a flight till I know whether we’ve actually made it. The deciding game is now likely to finish between 4&5 am English time Friday leaving me 1hr to book the flight and get a taxi to airport to leave at 08 45. The corresponding flight a day later is twice the cost! I’m very much hoping this madness will be necessary.

    Last night, Matz was OK, one slightly bad inning and Kershaw demonstrated why he’s paid the big bucks. We didn’t have a great deal of chances but I don’t think we really lost due to poor play either. Conforto should probably have come in rather than Cuddyer but its easy to be wise after the event

  • Dan F

    I was at the Mets – Dodgers game July 26 with the same pitching matchup, deGrom vs. Greinke. deGrom threw 7 2/3 innings of 2 hit shutout ball before Familia blew the save, and the Mets broke Greinke’s scoreless innings streak with 2 scratch runs. And this was before Cespedes arrived. I have faith deGrom can and will do it again, no fear!

  • Mike from Atlanta

    Let’s take a big step back for perspective. If in March you had asked me who would be playing the Dodgers in game 5 of the NDS and spotted me the _ETS, I wouldn’t have been able to answer the question correctly. I’m elated that the season has gone the way it has regardless of the outcome of Thursday but I’m not losing faith. Although last night was disappointing, it’s far from over. We have the one pitcher we want on the mound and even though Greinke has been nearly untouchable, strange things tend to happen in high pressure games. Expect the unexpected! I like our chances.

  • John

    I would love the Mets to do what the Dodgers have done in Game 3 and 4…that is jump to a 3-0 lead early in the game. To do that our hitters need to get on base…since Greinke didn’t give up a walk last game we need to get hits/HR. Mets are due to hit a HR with ppl on base right?!?

    The hitters that need to heat up are Wright, Duda and TDA. With Conforto and Flores now in the lineup we will have our strongest batting order. We also hit better on the road than at home. I have faith we will win but the O needs to support Jake early! LGM!!!

  • Bob

    Met fan since Polo Grounds living in LA for 40 years–
    First thing I do this AM is to completely destroy my LA Times Sports section so I don’t have to look at pictures that rat bastard punk Dodger pitcher…makes me very angry…..
    Too bad we could not have finished this series in Queens.
    Leave it to Mets (& Chase Utley & umps–they should all drop dead)to travel another 10 hours & 6,000 miles to try to beat one of best pitchers in NL. Reminds me a bit of 1986 when we clinched in Houston VS Astro pitching.

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • mikeL

    yes we should have been able to wrap
    this ulp on monday, but we didn’t lose monday either, at which point defeatism/looking af next year might have been the only proper reaction.
    we have a day to be tense, collect ourselves and get ready for at least one more game.
    yes, looking back, who among us would not have signed up for that?
    that said i do hope duda and d’arnaud can put together some good at-bats. if duda can get hot tomorrow, anything is possible moving forward.
    we should have beaten greinke on saturday.
    tomorrow nite that injustice can be corrected.
    degrom on the mound, thor in the pen, familia ready to close it out. we just need a little aug-tober magic from the batsmen, to keep the lines moving, repeatedly.
    i believe.

    let’s go mets!

  • Eric

    Don’t forget. The defining characteristic of the 2015 Mets in this roller-coaster season, including before the trades, has been resilience. The Mets won the season by defeating opponents across the way while overcoming the LOLMets pulling down from within.

    They had awful losses. This team has been at their best bouncing back. After the game 4 loss, game 5 on the road is set up for a bounce-back game.

    The man on the mound for game 5 is the ace who was called up to be a fill-in for the bullpen as a middling prospect who was aging out. His first start for the Mets was a must-win game for his career to win a 2nd start and perhaps secure a place on the roster. He’s the one for this game.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Siting in the raucous Promenade Reserved Monday night, my friend Ira turned to me and said, “I hope they save some of these runs for [Wednesday] night.” [Big exhale]

    Well, we didn’t score enough, but no matter. With deGrom ready to go tomorrow night, we will win. Let’s go Mets!

  • mikeL

    looking back i’m all the more frustrated that goedell got the nod for the ninth. i feared his letting the dodgers tee off would give them hope in the face of an otherwise crushing defeat. TC seems not to manage in a way that keeps the foot on the neck of the opponent when down… had he put robles out there to give familia rest, it would have made better sense, given that robles has shown himself fearless and mentally tough, if not yet fully polished, late inning guy…but since TC had familia warm and ready, you’ve gotta use him, no??
    i call kendrick’s HR an unnecessary foreshadowing of what the dodgers could do the following evening.
    boy do i wish game 5 was tonite!
    i hope our guys are loose and pumped!

    • Dave

      Goedell’s outing was the equivalent of a basketball coach emptying the end of the bench for garbage time. I don’t think it helped the Dodgers’ confidence much knowing that they cut the lead down to single digits in the 9th against the Mets’ 12th pitcher. And now Goedell likely goes down in the record books with an ERA of infinity for this series, that’s something you don’t see every day.

      I think a day off between games 4 and 5 works in the Mets’ favor, a day to clear their heads. I suspect a lot of fans could use a day off too, I know I could.

  • vertigone

    Whoa, Gary Cohen lays down some truth with Joe and Evan today.

    “Murph is a lovable guy, but I think he’s a net negative, and I’ve always felt that way.”

    • sturock

      That’s a heavy statement. I’m enjoying His Murphness during the playoffs because I think he’s going to be gone next season. Yes, the Mets need a better glove at 2B and a smarter baserunner rounding the sacks, but Murphy is a hell of a hitter and he possesses those “intangibles” that make for fan favorites. Show a little more respect, Gary!

  • eric1973

    Guys need to be ready to swing at the first pitch, as that may be the best they’re gonna get. Don’t just automatically take Strike One! Worked for Grandy!

  • Tom C.

    For those who remember the ’86 NLCS vs. Houston, last night reminded me of Game 4 at Shea when Mike Scuff completely dominated us in a very similar game. What happened next? A thrilling, extra-inning win in Game 5 in a real pitchers duel (Gooden vs. Ryan). We can do this! LGM

  • eric1973

    Hey eric1973,

    Fat lotta good HFA did us yesterday!

  • Steve D

    I am very familiar with Greinke and I am confident he is going to choke tomorrow. I am more scared of the Cubs right now.

  • Dave

    We don’t need Grienke to choke. We just need deGrom to pitch up to his abilities. So much more satisfying to root for success than for failure.

    • Eric

      Of course, Greinke choking means 2 runs.

      Now, if the Dodgers as a team would collectively choke tomorrow like the Rangers choked today, that wouldn’t hurt.

  • Eric

    Collins confirms Syndergaard and Harvey available out of the pen for game 5. No mention of Matz being available tomorrow. He threw 85 pitches yesterday. On a normal rotation schedule, Matz would be doing some bullpen session work tomorrow, though not at full intensity.