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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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Better Met Than Never

It’s a small detail from a big night, no more than a leaf on a tree in the forest of delight that emanated from Chavez Ravine Thursday night as the New York Mets defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2, to advance to the National League Championship Series. But the detail tells us a little something.

Get out your scorecards and note these plays:

Bottom of the third: Kike Hernandez out (2), 1-6-3.

Bottom of the seventh: Howie Kendrick out, 1-3.

Bottom of the eighth: Andre Ethier out, 1-3.

Those were four of 27 outs, all of them recorded because three different Met pitchers handled their position cleanly. SIMPLE TASK COMPLETED will never be mistaken for clickbait.

Yet if you can remember all the way back to 2014, this was a Met problem. Met pitchers made throws to bases adventures. In October of 2015, in the biggest game the Mets played in nine years, it was all very routine. No ball was flung down a line, none sailed into center.

Small detail, but a larger story. The Mets, who we would have had a hard time imagining playing for such high stakes one October ago, got better at various aspects of their trade. Their pitchers got better at fielding their position. Their second baseman got better at thinking while in motion. Their manager got better at deciding who should be on the mound when.

The Mets got better and better as 2015 progressed and now they are at the precipice of proving themselves best in their league.

You might have expected it, but you probably didn’t. For the longest time — in general and specifically within the cauldron of a hyperstressful deciding NLDS game — you more likely expected the worst, not so much from a reflexively fatalistic point of view, but just because the Mets of recent vintage have so rarely inspired confidence.

Do you doubt them now?

You might, and that’s your prerogative. It was easy to doubt them not that many hours ago when most of them were going down in orderly procession against Zack Greinke, the starting pitcher who had posted the lowest regular-season ERA baseball had seen since the prime of young Doc Gooden. The Mets had just lost to his even more accomplished rotationmate Clayton Kershaw. It was brick wall after brick wall where Dodger pitching was concerned. The Mets were simply to going to bang their heads against it until you couldn’t stand the pain.

Or so, perhaps, you thought. And, really, you were 88.88% right if you did. Greinke absolutely dominated eight of the nine batters in the Mets lineup. They were all but uniformly helpless against him. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom, our best hope, was distressingly ordinary. DeGrom was the All-Star who had struck out the side on ten pitches, the ace who overshadowed Kershaw in Game One. To the naked eye in the first inning in Game Five, he was a Matsuzaka or Harang, some journeyman attempting to eat up innings while we dealt with the indigestion. We learned to deal with that brand of acid reflux at the tail end of all those Terry Collins Septembers to which he had grown numbly accustomed as the 2010s approached mid-decade.

This was not one of those nights that permitted that sort of performance. Collins doesn’t manage that kind of team anymore. And deGrom isn’t that kind of pitcher, even if he appeared to pitch like one. He did eat up innings, as it turned out. The first one wasn’t very tasty — two runs allowed to the Dodgers, negating an early 1-0 Mets lead — and he was eternally plagued by baserunners.

Yet the baserunners were halted in their tracks.

• First and second in the first, two runs in, deGrom strikes out the next two.

• First and second in the second, two more Ks.

• First and second in the third, deGrom gets that double play ball, which he fired perfectly to Wilmer Flores, who relayed it to Lucas Duda.

• A runner makes it to third in the fourth, but deGrom strikes out Corey Seager to end the threat.

Justin Turner, .526-hitting virus for whom there was no known cure, doubles with one out in the fifth, but he goes no further.

DeGrom looked as if he would go no further than the second inning. It would have been an understandable hook for Collins to deploy. There was no wiggle room in a Game Five. Appropriately enough, Collins decided not to wiggle. He went with his best pitcher. He stuck with deGrom. His faith was rewarded.

In the meantime, Greinke toyed with every Met but one. But sometimes one is all it takes.

Daniel Murphy was responsible for every strand of the Met offense Thursday night. His double to left center brought home Curtis Granderson (who had reached on a replay-reviewed infield single that somehow didn’t award Chase Utley second) in the first. Murph’s extra-base hit so fired up his teammates that they strode to the plate and made eight consecutive outs. They composed the 88.88% of the lineup that couldn’t touch Greinke. When you get the Mets and the Dodgers together in the playoffs, you’re best off not mentioning “88” once, let alone twice.

But quicker than you could say “Orel Hershiser,” Murphy stealthily sparked the Met attack. Never mind that Murphy hardly does anything stealthily. You notice him when he’s succeeding. You really notice him when he’s essentially stepping on rakes, Sideshow Bob-style. You want to love him. Sometimes you merely endure him.

You’ll have nothing but love for Daniel Murphy the rest of your life now…at least until the next rake inevitably takes his measure.

Murphy leads off the fourth by becoming the first Met baserunner since himself. He singles. With one out, Duda walks. That puts Murphy on third.

Second. You mean second.

No, I mean third.

Well, Murphy meant third, because he realized that with the Dodger infielders in one of those obnoxious shifts designed to prevent Duda from singling — as if Lucas (.111) was capable of such a feat in this series — no Dodger would be covering third.

Hence, Murph went for it. He trotted nonchalantly to second when ball four was called and then sprinted to third.

And he was safe.

Holy crap, it was fair to think, Murph just outsmarted an entire baseball team.

So much for the sanctity of the Dodger Way.

Daniel stood on third with less than two out, which in a game of Greinke Versus The World is incredibly valuable. Now the Mets didn’t need one of those base hits they couldn’t get without Murph batting. All they needed was the right kind of out. Outs were a commodity they could manufacture like crazy against Greinke.

Travis d’Arnaud (.158) could be depended upon to make an out…the right kind, to right field. He flied to Ethier deep enough to score the heady Murphy with the tying run. Not sure which was more newsworthy: Greinke allowing a second earned run or Murph meriting being described as heady.

The game wasn’t necessarily won there, but it was kept from being lost. The Dodgers had punched themselves silly. DeGrom played rope-a-dope. Then Murphy parachuted into the ring when nobody was looking.

Still, it was difficult to picture a TKO of Greinke was in the offing. After Murphy stole third and a run, the Mets made five more outs in a row, taking them to the sixth, still tied. If only Murph could come up again and create more magic.

Murph came up again and created more magic. He homered to right on a three-two count. Taking on a pitcher who gave up one-and-two-thirds runs every nine innings during the regular season, Daniel accounted for three earned runs in three plate appearances.

And just like that, the Mets had a lead of 3-2. Except there was no sense of “and just like that” to how they did it. Greinke did almost nothing wrong. He’s as good a pitcher as there is, yet it was his line that read as distressingly ordinary. Sure, he struck out nine in six-and-two-thirds, and when he was Murphless, he was almost flawless, but you can’t dominate only eight members of a nine-Met lineup.

DeGrom? He spent six innings in a slog. Even his one clean frame, the sixth, was nearly undone at its end when Greinke of all batters took him deep to right. Granderson caught that ball, though, and allowed Jacob to go to the dugout with the best so-so outing you’ll ever thank your lucky stars for. Six hits, three walks, impending doom…but only those two runs from the first inning. DeGrom left as a winning pitcher in every sense of the phrase.

He didn’t outpitch Greinke. He outperformed him.

Meanwhile, Collins didn’t panic. He could have pulled deGrom. A different manager might have looked at the odds in the second and done just that. This was lose-and-go-home territory. A fancy switch in which you replace a starting pitcher with another starting pitcher isn’t merely fashionable in October. It is perfectly reasonable.

But it didn’t happen, not until the seventh, when the several-times-warmed Noah Syndergaard was inserted in deGrom’s place. Syndergaard is a rookie and a starter. He had never pitched relief in the majors. He was being told to partake of this exceedingly novel experience in the seventh inning of the fifth game of a five-game playoff series. Syndergaard’s stuff runs rings around that of every pitcher Collins would normally use in a seventh inning, but this seventh inning was unlike all that had preceded them in 2015.

Which makes for a fascinating quandary: Do you use your best arm in an unfamiliar circumstance because it’s the most important game of the year?

Answer A is yes, because it’s the best arm you’ve got and the game is too important to screw around.

Answer is B is no, because it’s an unfamiliar circumstance and the game is too important to screw around.

Collins, urged on by Dan Warthen, went with A. After a season when one of the most vexing subplots was “who will relieve in the seventh?” the manager chose someone who had never relieved in the seventh.

The best arm trumped the unfamiliar circumstance. Syndergaard was Syndergaard. Kendrick hit him that 1-3 grounder; Seager struck out; menacing Adrian Gonzalez walked; Turner at last swung and missed.

Noah Syndergaard kept a 3-2 game 3-2. Then he was removed, which at first brush seemed absurd. You have this golden-armed, overpowering 23-year-old who regularly throws a hundred pitches and you sit him after seventeen?

You do. Terry got what he needed from Thor. He got the seventh. Syndergaard let it all hang out. Now it was time for…



Again, they’re doing what they never do. When the Mets go to Jeurys in the eighth with two outs or one out it’s treated as breaking news; you wait for Wolf Blitzer to interview a hologram of Hoyt Wilhelm. That’s during the season. This is during the postseason. With well-rested bullpen professionals (not to mention almost all other starting hands on deck) you pick now to get a jump on closing the door? You ask Familia to get six outs when you never ask Familia to get six outs?

In another era, that was standard procedure. We who lived through that era love to point to it as proof of when firemen were firemen and relievers’ arms were shipped directly from Akron, Ohio, rubber capital of North America. We assumed those days were gone forever.

We stand corrected.

Familia treated the eighth like he treats most ninths. Like they’re no problem. He got his grounder back to the mound, then a liner to left, then (from classic miscreant Jimmy Rollins) a hot grounder to first, smothered and snuffed out by Duda, who was in there for his glove.

Despite all the State Farm and GEICO ads that inundate us every commercial break for six going on seven months, the Mets opted not to invest in a policy. They simply refused to insure their lead with an additional run. The offense had been Murphy and practically nothing but Murphy all night and, really, the entirety of the Dodger affair. There were flashes from others, but several Mets chose the National League Division Series as a great time to fall into or stay in a slump. An enormous part of that was the presence of Kershaw and Greinke, but a few extra runs here and there would have been helpful. Except for Game Three, those runs never came.

With no cushion provided, Familia returned to the mound for the ninth with the same 3-2 lead that had been effect since the sixth. His first assignment was retiring the loathsome Chase Utley, who shouldn’t have been wearing any uniform this week other than an orange jumpsuit. Utley gave a ball a ride to right, but then the ball said, no thanks, I’ll get out here, and fell into Granderson’s glove. Met karma intact, Jeurys reared back and struck out A.J. Ellis and then Kendrick.

Oh, by the way, that was the 27th out. The Mets had won the game and the series, both by a score of 3-2. The next sight you saw was their entire roster forming a ball of human Silly Putty. The next sound you heard was — for the 18th time in franchise history — the spritzing of champagne over everybody and everything orange, blue and otherwise. The next thought you had was “tonight the Dodgers, Saturday the Cubs.”

Then you thought a little more and tried to understand what you had just witnessed over five games, particularly inside the fifth game.

The Mets did not let you down.

The manager made more right moves than wrong ones.

The pitchers threw almost exclusively extraordinary innings.

The second baseman was, after a career that’s come off more as blooper reel than highlight film, a net Met positive.

Nobody particularly screwed up, or at least not enough to blow anything that couldn’t be fixed.

Your New York Mets, who you were not used to seeing in the glowingest of lights and who you quietly assumed you wouldn’t see at this time of year for many Octobers to come, were postseason winners. They had already won a division; now they had won a division series and were sanctioned to pursue a pennant. Four teams in all of the major leagues are still playing baseball. One of them is the Mets.

I’d say, “imagine that,” but you don’t have to imagine. It’s really happening.

60 comments to Better Met Than Never

  • Art

    My closest friend called me after the 5th inning and said 2 for 13 with RISP. If this was the Mets, you would expect them to lose. But it was the Dodgers and those numbers came back to haunt them. I am just thrilled this magical season continues.

  • Lou from Brazil

    I came back to the States to a Mets team that, although many of the same parts are here when I left, is unrecognizable. I’ve always liked Terry even though he gets an inordinate amount of crap when things don’t work, but he managed perfectly last night. This team is so good, I don’t even know how to handle it. I just suppose I’ll be wearing a ton of blue and orange today and try to contain myself.

  • Steve D

    The Mets largely pulled a Costanza…they did the opposite of every instinct they have. Murphy making the smartest running play in Met history…leaving deGrom in…bringing Syndegaard in relief…taking Syndegaard out of relief after the inning he had…letting Familia pitch 2 innings (and somehow having him bat). I’d like to think some of this was pre-planned, but who cares. The biggest Costanza of all…they did not break our hearts. Now if Duda can lay down a bunt to third…

    • Dennis

      Love it Steve!

      What an incredible night. My oldest son & I were texting each other throughout the entire game. After the final out, mine to him was “Put it in the books!” and his was simply “Amazing”. Nice touch too see Terry hugging and high fiving Mets fans. And was equally nice seeing Rollins and Utley both go down in the 8th & 9th.

  • Dave

    Some fun facts: deGrom threw 105 pitches, each one of them with Justin Turner at 2nd base; the Dodgers play near Hollywood and the Mets play near Corona, yet the Mets get better celebrities at their games; Daniel Murphy really can make himself invisible on the basepaths; who cares about Rollins or Utley; anybody who ever doubts TC’s gut insticts again can go be a Nationals fan.

    Will spend the day pinching myself.

    • Matt in Woodside

      “deGrom threw 105 pitches, each one of them with Justin Turner at 2nd base”

      LOL. Oh man, I needed that. For real, though, 57 pitches with runners in scoring position!? Many props for getting out of all of those jams (and I’ve got to give Collins credit for leaving him in), but I think that game aged me by about five years.

      • Dave

        Sometimes the best pitcher is not the one with the most eye-popping stat line, it’s the one who stares his opponent down and says “I dare you to beat me.” Jake had one game of each in that series.

        And as far as aging goes, yeah, I think last night I went from someone who remembers virtually all of the 1969 season to remembering Willie Mays’ first game.

    • Ed Rising

      I always enjoy looking for celebs in the Dodger crowd and could have sworn it was Barry Williams (Brady Bunch) sitting behind home plate with a pretty blonde woman. But then I figured he’s not that big a celebrity to have such great seats!

  • mikeL

    quite the incredible game last night. un-believable really, but that’s what it is so often about as we follow this team.
    today’s piece captures the game and the team-to-date so beautifully!

    and wolf blitzer interviewing hoyt wilhelm’s hologram?? pure joy!

    yes daniel WAS invisible, TC genius, degrom w/o stuff as gutty as harvey w/o his, thor hammering the first nails, familia vintage gossage. it was beautiful to see TC getting and giving hugs to met fans in the stands after the game.

    beautiful to see OUR guys celebrating in their park.

    yes a pinch-me day is on tap!

    a day off and back into the fire.

    let’s go mets!

  • David Griffey

    That was awesome …hard to criticize anything from last night.I was surprised that TC didn’t let Thor start the eighth only thing that I can think of maybe he was thinking ahead to the cubs series.I feel like a few years ago pitchers would have busted Turner inside so they could have the outside part of the plate.Turner looked like a league mvp not just the fun loving character (decent) ballplayer that he was with the mets. Well during the mid to late seventies into the early eighties the mets-cubs dueled it out every year to see who would finish last in the division until 1984 when they went down to the last week of the season fighting for the title. The cubs prevailed then (no wild card)but it was the Mets that battled the Cards the next season before winning it all in 86…I am happy for both teams it should be a great series GO METS

  • dmg

    fantastic recap of a game so steeped in instant baseball lore. in case anybody missed it — not that anyone here did — de grom just finished wins over kershaw and greinke. and he didn’t even have his best stuff last night.

    and it’s time i acknowledged that maybe collins knows a bit more about what he can get out of the team than i do. because in the biggest game of the season so far, he made a bunch of moves that had me hyperventilating and yet he was right on every. one. of. them.

    epic, epic stuff.

  • Eric

    “Sometimes, he thinks he’s invisible” – David Wright.

    While we were laughing and shaking our heads, Murphy was perfecting ninja baserunning skills that are customized for the play-offs.

    Murphy is in his element. That whole sequence through d’Arnaud’s foul-ball sac fly reinforced that play-off baseball is not like regular-season baseball.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I still am questioning why Syndergaard was pulled after one inning, trusting 6 outs to Familia. It compounded itself in the top of the 9th when the chance to add an insurance run ended with Familia having to come up to bat. Oh well, Cuddyer would have probably struck out as a pinch hitter anyway. But still, not in a million years (or 29 and counting) did I think it would all work out.

    Wowser indeed.

    So, did Collins ever explain why? Was it the 4 warmup sessions, like Darling speculated?

    • Rob E

      Collins said that they decided ahead of time that if they had a chance to get it to Familia in the eighth, they were bringing him in. He said he was the best late game guy they have, he was great all year, he was rested, and he was the best bet.

      I don’t think they were too comfortable with Syndergaard in that role, though he looked great in the seventh. Can’t argue with the result, and it saves Thor an inning heading to the next round.

      • Eric

        Syndergaard has given up HRs in otherwise powerful outings. I’ll take him over Reed and Clippard to bridge. But as soon as Familia is in range, I’ll take his sinking stuff to at least keep the ball in the yard.

    • mikeL

      i didn’t mind familia getting the ball in the eight but DID wonder why he wasn’t brought in on a double-switch that would insure he wouldn’t get an AB unless the mets scored a few insurance runs.
      THAT had me nervous!
      …but that was my only complaint about TCs managing of the game. unlike me, he didn’t panic over degrom’s high-stress inning after high-stress inning.

      hell yess!

      • Dennis

        That’s what my son & I were saying as well. The “what if” scenario where Familia was to come up to bat….which he did. It all worked out fine as he was just filthy in the 8th & 9th.

        • Dave

          When Familia came up to hit, somebody on Twitter made a really good suggestion…try a double steal. Worst thing that would happen would have been out #3, which was going to happen anyway. Best thing that could have happened would have been the catcher throws the ball into the outfield, run scores.

          But the first thing that came to my mind was Orosco’s hit in the 8th inning of game 7 in 86.

      • Rob E

        There was nobody to double-switch with. At that point they had already put in Lagares and taken out Conforto, and Johnson had pinch hit. You’re not going to take out d’Arnaud, Murphy, Wright, Cespedes, or Granderson, and you can’t take out Flores. The only switch they could have made was putting Cuddyer in for Duda, which would have hurt defensively. Duda sucked offensively, but there were some sharp hit balls to 1B last night, and Duda’s defense was important in a game like last night’s.

        • Dennis

          Yeah Rob….that’s true. At that point I wasn’t keeping track of who was left, just the situation. You’re right about Duda’s defense; much more important to keep him in during the 9th in a 1 run game.

      • kdbart

        Who would’ve you switched out? The 3 Met batters in the top of the 8th were Murphy, Cespedes and Duda.

  • Gaze of the Abyss

    DeGrom’s remarkable performance will reverberate for years among the Mets’ young, talented pitchers. If the thought of giving up when they don’t have their stuff ever enters their minds, it will be drowned by the memory of this night. Sometimes guts is stuff.

  • Chad Ochoseis

    You have to respect Terry’s guts. If any of those moves had backfired – if the Dodgers had taken advantage of DeGrom on the ropes, or if Syndergaard couldn’t relieve, or if Familia had blown the 6 out save – you know that Sandy would be holding a press conference Monday morning to announce that “the Mets organization is making a change”.

    • Eric

      Collins’s moment was the bottom of the third inning, captured beautifully on the WOR broadcast.

      When Collins came out to the mound after Turner doubled, Ethier lined out, Turner took 3rd on deGrom, deGrom walked the slumping Grandal for 1st and 3rd with 1 out, and the pesky Hernandez at bat with Pederson on deck, the indicators all said Collins was pulling deGrom. Syndergaard was even stepping off the bullpen mound.

      I was asking, “What took you so long?!” I could hardly believe when Collins left him in. Instead of pulling deGrom and asking Syndergaard to bail out the team with the DS on the line, Collins instructed his infield to aggressively go after the double play. Then instead of coming out a failure, deGrom induced the 1-6-3 double play to escape.

      • Rob E

        That was one of the ballsiest games I’ve ever seen pitched, and one of the ballsiest managerial calls as well. The first six innings reminded me of the first Rocky movie, where he just gets pummeled for 2/3 of the way and you’re just waiting for the knockout punch, and it never came. deGrom earned his stripes this past week!

      • Lenny65

        Yes! A classic moment in Mets managerial history. TC took a lot of abuse through the years but last night he was magnificent.

  • open the gates

    Never, ever again will I question Daniel Murphy’s baserunning instincts.

    On second thought, that’s clearly not true. But it’s true today.

    Bring on the Cubbies. And Chase, have yourself a lovely winter.

    • Rochester John

      Yes, Chase, have a seat for a while. Let’s not forget, though, he’s still got a little jail time to serve. Let’s hope he serves it against some team other than the Mets. We still would like to see him one more time.

      • Eric

        Utley’s removal of Tejada from the board could have won game 5 for the Dodgers with Flores’s throwing error in the 2nd inning if not for deGrom striking out Seager and Gonzalez.

        Utley lining out in the 9th and the Mets celebrating the DS win on the Dodgers infield doesn’t heal Tejada’s fibula. Not having Tejada may yet cost the Mets in the LCS or (hopefully) the WS down the line.

        Yes, there’s unfinished business with Utley outstanding.

  • Stavros

    “you wait for Wolf Blitzer to interview a hologram of Hoyt Wilhelm” = awesome

  • cleon jones

    Lets go Mets!!!!!!

  • Rusty

    After yesterday’s post, is it now appropriate to refer to Mr. Murphy as “Stealy Dan?”

  • Bob

    Met fan since 1963-Polo Grounds-now in LA–
    Ghosts of 2007 & 1988 are now GONE!
    It’s JUST Amazing!
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • wooferson

    Murphy gets folk hero status at last. Every sabermetric shift geek should bow down at least this once
    to the downside of overloading one side of the field. I long for the day when we can consistently
    neutralize the strategy with slap shots down the empty left side. It took Murph to seize the day and base.
    Bravissimo! to everyone who came up big. Fantasy? I really hope Daniel is rewarded with a decent contract that forever silences his critics. And that CespeTHIS lays off the high stuff against Chicago.

    • mikeL

      yes and hopefully one for the mets. unless duda can step up and show how his streaky displays of power/contact are worth
      the endless stretches of ineptitude, i’d rather see murph awarded 1B.

      seems that duda – and to a lesser extent cespedes are too easily neutralized by elite (ie post-season) pitching.

      dan is both steely and stealy.
      unmatched (by teammates at very least) focus/plate discipline in the highest-pressure settings…and so damn sneaky in front of 50K+ screaming fans!

  • Marc R

    What’s odd is that all of a sudden “Murphy’s Law” has a verrrrrrry different meaning.

  • Michael G.

    Greg — Exquisite post as per usual from the Tolstoy of Mets bloggers. So many deft turns of phrase my head is spinning. Particularly love the bits about the insurance companies and Utley’s turn at bat.

    As for the Metropolitans, we see now the heart, soul and guts of this team: Murph, Familia and DeGrom, respectively. And kudos to Travis for that sac fly. So happy for Terry.

    I heard on the FAN that the goat that has jinxed the Cubs since ’45 is named Murphy!

  • NostraDennis

    It brings me great joy to ask this question sincerely: “Chase who?”

    The Cubs series promises to be a great set of ball games. I love Joe Maddon – he used to coach my second-favorite team. It goes without saying that I love Madden far less than I love our Mets.

    The new definition for Murphy’s Law is thus: “If anything can happen, it will happen”. Fits our Murphy to a T.

    • Eric

      The National League Championship Series is a head-on collision of two teams of destiny drenched with mojo. Karma hurricane.

      The Cubs and Mets are a terrific match-up on paper to boot.

  • vertigone

    Soooo…let me get this straight. Justin Turner now looks like a pile of pumpkin guts but hits like a healthy Miguel Cabrera, and Daniel Murphy just carried his team through a playoff series with his HR power and smart baserunning? What a world!

    I was also thinking of how crazy it is that (mostly) season long spare parts like Recker, Campbell, Parnell, etc. are left to watch this postseason madness on TV while minor leaguer Matt Reynolds gets a front row seat and champagne in his eyes. Again, what a world!

    • mikeL

      …a pile of pumpkin guts??
      that’s really funny!

      don’t know if it’s the beard and the bulkier frame, but dude’s looking all grizzled veteran these days.
      happy for his success, given that it didn’t ruin our success.

      murph credited (in addition to jesus) having cespedes behind him in the batting order.

      we’re back to early august, where his mete presence in the order had amounted to more than his actual results.

      if cespedes can break out again and take a few turns at carrying the team, this will be a fun series, if also tense and stressful.

      holy crap, more baseball tomorrow!

    • Mike from Atlanta

      Justin Turner/Kris Kringle. Have they ever been spotted together?

  • Lenny65

    Boy oh boy, everyone’s (well, not us but you know what I mean) is carrying on like the Cubs are some sort of juggernaut who should plow right over the plucky upstart Mets because they dominated us during the regular season. I see.

    Well, way, way back in ancient times, there was this NLCS. The favored team manhandled their NLCS opponent during the regular season and going into that long ago series the favorites were all kinds of cocky. In fact they were practically booking their World Series trip before the series even began. And guess what happened there? It happened in 1988 or so, I believe.

    Anyhow I say bring ’em on, perhaps that quaint little ballpark full of drunks is exactly what guys like Duda and The Captain need to get swinging. The team the Cubs beat up on was washed away in a shortstop’s tears and replaced with THE METS we now know and love. Go get ’em boys, you’ve made us proud!!!

    • Eric

      It’s a good thing. Being the underdog helps the Mets.

      This team’s defining characteristic is their resilience. They bounce back. They perform better when down. I’d be more worried if the pundits were favoring the Mets over the Cubs.

      My bigger worry is the season is catching up to the pitchers and Harvey and deGrom’s flat stuff in games 3 and 5 will be normal the rest of the way. They were running out of gas towards the end of the season. The extra rest down the stretch helped but it can only recharge them so much. The rest of the way, the play will be more intense and taxing, but the team can’t skip any more starts or go to a 6-man rotation to carve out extra rest. Can they muster up their A/A- games for their 1-4 remaining starts in the play-offs?

      • mikeL

        in colon there is insurance.
        that said we indeed need some A games from big 3 (or 4)
        best to get this one wrapped up
        fast, save some for the AL!

  • So proud of deGrom. It’s one thing to have the gas and blow people down. Its another entirely to pitch like a bulldog when you don’t have your good stuff, pitching yourself out of the jams you find yourself in because you couldn’t just blow them away. Harvey did the same in Game 3, but you knew Harvey was a complete pitcher (and pitchers don’t truly return to form until the second year back from TJS). But deGrom, man, he just graduated from phenom to ACE. Not that he wasn’t amazing in Game 1. Not that he hasn’t been amazing since reaching the majors. But Game 5 is the one he’ll carry with him for the rest of his career–the one that proved he’s as good as any of them. Better than most.

    • Eric

      Managing to limit the damage at the higher level of the play-offs with Greinke pitching well across the way was impressive, but it wasn’t the 1st time deGrom pitched well without his best stuff. deGrom similarly limited damage during the regular season in some starts where he didn’t have it. In some other starts he didn’t have it, he was raked.

  • Since it was a foul ball, I am really surprised more wasn’t made of Ethier’s decision to catch the ball and concede the tying run rather than let it drop with a slumping hitter at the plate.

  • eric1973

    Mets-Cubs is a rivalry for the ages, so get your black cats and brushback pitches ready. This is a rivalry that is sorely missed. The NL East was so much fun back then, with the Cards, Cubs, and Pirates. Funny how they all made it this year.

    All props to TC who made gutsy calls all the way through. We knew we had nothing in pen, so he called on Thor, instead of relying on ‘this is what we’ve done all year.’

    Who ya gonna call?

    • Dennis

      I agree eric….loved the old NL East from when it was created in 69 to 92 (before expansion and the Marlins polluted it).

  • That’s the best article ever written about anything.

  • eric1973

    Dennis, TBS sucked so much, they almost missed the final pitch. They were busy showing crowd reactions, and then all of a sudden, the ball was coming out of Familia’s hand.

    Who’s pitching Game 2? I’d say Thor over Matz. Consider yesterday Thor’s ‘throw day,’ and then he can go Game 6 also. And Matz in Game 4, and then Matz can relieve in 6 and 7.

  • Daniel Hall

    Going Harvey – Syndergaard – deGrom – Matz and then from the start again keeps the most people on regular rest, and I’d be in for that. Plus it puts deGrom into a Game 7, and who’s not in for that? If the series goes long again, and the Mets pull through, Harvey would then start the World Series. In my head it sounds very reasonable.

  • Mikey

    I wondered that too about the foul ball….but bill ripken in the postgame said it was too close to being fair and ethier did the right thing taking the out…if that went fair can you imagine the uproar?

    The sweet revenge for game 2 was extra sweet.

    Greg you are a god among men in sports journalism…an absolute joy to read

    Holy hell its gonna be loud tonite…let me hear you guys at citi from here in wisconsin

  • Ed Rising

    Just a few thoughts:

    Celebrity watching at Dodger Stadium: Looked like Barry Williams (Brady Bunch) was sitting behind home plate. But perhaps he isn’t that big a star to get such good seats!

    I truly thought we could beat Greinke going into game 5 but with the Dodgers 2-1 lead I worried that we would not be able to pull it off. Murphy was amazing and despite some of his untimely lapses in defense and base running, I think he is one of the best players we’ve ever had. He has guts and guile and Moxie and you know ‘ya gotta have heart’.

    I’m so glad we beat the Dodgers and Utley and Rollins as like most Mets fans I despise these Phillies in Dodger blue. I don’t understand how Utley’s suspension was held over for a hearing – after the NLDS. I will continue to root for Justin Turner – too much beard and what the heck was he sucking on during the game? That was disgusting – but no less than players who spit tobacco or even sunflower seeds. Good for him to find himself as a hitter and starting third basemen.

    Finally, Greg, this was a wonderful column filled with creative references making it entertaining. It’s gotta be a long season for you and Jason too – so thanks and looking forward to you having to write a lot more this postseason!

    Lets Go Mets!

  • eric1973

    Great to see Duda finally benched, but:

    Michael Cuddyer should be voted “Player Most likely to Hit into a Quadruple Play.”

  • Jason

    Greg, I have been reading FAFIF and the other blogs for years (from New Hampshire) but have never commented anywhere. This is an excellent piece. Thanks to you and Jason for your writings. Let’s Go Mets!

  • […] recently as two weeks ago. These days, they’re all decorated postseason veterans, having already won one series; the first two games in a second series; and the chance to return to New York as champions of their […]