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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 Murph Game

Daniel Murphy made an error. You probably noticed.

Murph’s error came in a house-of-horrors eighth inning at Citi Field, a frame that’s an excellent candidate to take up residence in the recesses of your brain, to be hauled out and fumed over at future 3 AMs.

But Murph wasn’t the only thing going bump in the night on what became a Halloween from Hell. Tyler Clippard walked two guys, Jeurys Familia wasn’t sharp, and Terry Collins‘ dropped managerial toast finally started landing butter-side down. And while Yoenis Cespedes was a bystander in the eighth, his night’s resume included striking out twice, fielding another ball with his foot (which led to a Royals run), and somehow managing to get doubled off first down two runs as the trail runner to end a World Series game.

Oh, and let’s please remember that the Kansas City Royals are a pretty damn good baseball team. Give them an inch and before you know it they’ve gobbled up a light-year. The 2015 Mets’ epitaph will probably read KEPT GIVING THE ROYALS INCHES.

Blame Murph if you want, or if you have to. But also remember that without Murph’s mammoth October at the plate, our happy postseason memories probably begin and end with recalling that game where the Mets clobbered the lone lousy starter in the Dodgers’ rotation.

It was the first World Series game I’ve had a chance to attend, and that part was fun … well, at least for the first seven innings. The World Series is terrifying on your couch, with every tiny facet of the game magnified into an omen of disaster or good fortune; from a stadium seat those facets of the game are invisible and the experience is like being strapped to a speeding train. The park is a cauldron of noise and the collective emotion sweeps you up so fast and so thoroughly that you find yourself struggling to judge events like you’re witnessing a normal baseball game. I misjudged fly balls, lost track of whether pitchers were righties or lefties, and basically gave up and held on for dear life.

One note that amused me until it ceased to: Given World Series prices, I assumed our neighbors in the Promenade would include a high proportion of rich front-running jackasses and bored scenesters. Not exactly: Our section loved the Mets, but the intensity of their embrace was more off-their-meds than anything you’d want to emulate — as was their consumption of massive Bud Lights, which caused them to turn on the team with shameful speed after Murph’s error. This wasn’t exactly a rattle-your-jewelry crowd — they would have been a perfect fit for Shea’s upper deck on one of those hotter-than-balls August nights in a 72-win season, the kind of game where you kept your head on a swivel after the third inning because you knew things would turn bad and the cops weren’t climbing all those steps unless they absolutely had to.

On the whole, I might have preferred rich front-running jackasses.

Anyway. It was the Murph Game. I could talk more about how Clippard, Terry, Jeurys and Cespy conspired to make it the Murph Game, but it won’t matter, because it will be remembered as the Murph Game. Similarly, I’d try talking about Michael Conforto‘s two home runs and how much fun it will be to have him in the lineup for a whole year, or look to dissect Steven Matz‘s not-bad-at-all effort on the biggest stage in the sport. But let’s not kid each other — that good stuff went out the window when Eric Hosmer‘s little bouncer went under Murphy’s glove.

The Murph Game. That isn’t fair, but baseball isn’t fair.

If you can do it, press reset. There’s at least one day left in the season — one more day of baseball, which even at its cruelest is better than a day without it. Matt Harvey‘s pitching that game, and he’s pretty good. If the Mets win, they get to play again on Tuesday. Jacob deGrom would pitch that game, and he’s pretty good too. And if the Mets somehow win again, they get to play a third game on Wednesday. Noah Syndergaard would pitch that game, and he’s as good as those other pretty good guys.

It’s not likely, but nothing in the postseason is likely. And it’s better than thinking about winter. Win or lose, we’ll have our annual eternity to do that soon enough.

126 comments to The Murph Game

  • eric1973

    Do you think the decision was incorrect, and that TC made a bad decision?

    • Eric

      Leaving Harvey in after the walk to Cain was a mistake. Remember, when Harvey loses it after 100 pitches, he loses it fast. That’s his history. Giving him 1 batter – the non-tying run – to test the waters was understandable. Testing the waters, finding out Harvey lost his command, then leaving him in to face Hosmer anyway was a mistake.

      • Jonathan

        I think his mistake was putting Familia in in the first place. The man proved on 2 different occasions that KC could beat him in a close game. Putting him in after the walk would have only ended the game sooner.

    • Dennis

      No was a good move leaving him, but as with the others, I disagreed with him staying in after the walk. I just don’t think Collins is a knucklehead.

      • Matt in Richmond

        Collins is decidedly not a knucklehead. So many decisions a manager is faced with could be argued from multiple angles, and really just come down to luck, chance and gut instinct. Collins has taken this team farther than anyone but the most hopeless idealist could have predicted and second guessing his bullpen decisions at this point is Monday morning quarterbacking at its silliest.

  • Steve D

    The bad decision, as Verducci said, was leaving him in after the walk. He was obviously too amped up and would never be able to get a breaking ball over. Think of it this way…you were going to take a guy out purely because you thought he was tired…and after the walk, the inning becomes more lengthy and stressful…your own logic should surely say take him out then. A good throw by Duda and it is all moot anyway.
    Familia came up big…let’s get a walk off and we can wake up happy.

  • eric1973

    Gotta admit, I’m with TC on this one. Thought process is it’s just a walk, no big deal.

  • KingofSC

    The time is Wright!

  • eric1973

    True, Wright and Duda did what they did, but if Wright is playing closer to 3B, Flores can look to third to hold him there. Defensive positioning perhaps to blame, rather than these 2 folks. Wright can look to third, but can’t throw it there to hold him.

    • Eric

      Wright came over from 3B to cut in front of Flores and field the ball, which yes, also helped Hosmer take a running lead, along with Wright’s slow throw.

  • Steve D

    Why is it when the Mets break our hearts, they then have to stomp on them?

  • eric1973

    Oh well…

    Would have been nice to see Uribe pinch hitting for Ces with the 0-2 count, after the knee thing, when the hitting had a chance to do some damage.

    Ces wore out his welcome. Golf before the games, and soccer during the games.

    • Eric

      I guess Cespedes talked his way back into the AB like Harvey talked his way into the 9th inning.

    • Matt in Richmond

      I’ve disagreed with you on just about everything, but I’ll give you that one. Cespedes should have been pinch hit for there, if for no other reason than the fact that he couldn’t run and a grounder would have been an automatic dp. Also, great line “golf before the games, soccer during the games.”

      • Left Coast Jerry

        After getting virtually no production out of Cespedes for the last 6 weeks or so, I assume the Mets will not attempt to resign him. He can now be a Cespedem for the rest of them.

  • Eric

    The loss with painful lost opportunities can motivate the Mets next season.

  • Daniel Hall

    It saddens by heart to the n-th degree that Daniel Murphy, whom I really, really liked from the time I started watching baseball regularly in ’12, will end his Mets career by butchering the final two games of the World Series.

    • Eric

      Murphy’s WS issues reinforce the justification for letting Murphy go, but the WS also reinforces the justification for keeping him.

      Wright and Duda were, to channel Gary Cohen, ‘net negatives’ in the WS, which is to say, even if his successor at 2B is ready to take over, Murphy would be an important insurance policy for 1B and 3B again. But at what price?

  • Eric

    Mets bats failed again.

  • Lenny65

    We’ll be contemplating the ifs regarding that 9th inning for a long, long time methinks. Me, I thought Harvey had it in the bag but hey, I don’t get paid to make those decisions either, so what do I know?

    If the Mets had cashed in when they had the bases loaded it wouldn’t have mattered, but of course our struggling clean-up batter fouled a ball off his kneecap and we had to settle for one run off a sac fly instead. Story of the series IMO, KC shut the Mets bats down cold, it was really quite a woeful display. They looked as uncomfortable at the plate as the Cubs looked against us, even worse in fact.

    Great season with a sad and disappointing conclusion. I never really experienced this before, as both previous Mets WS that I remember were more or less “expected”, as expectations were far higher in 86 and 00 than they were going into 2015. It really was an astonishing tear too, the way they took down Washington and then LA and Chicago was just spectacular, a run that rivaled anything I’ve ever seen them do.

    Still though, what a bummer. IF Murphy had kept hitting, IF DW or TDA or Duda or Cespedes or Flores suddenly started raking, IF the bullpen was just a little better…so depressing. Now comes the barrage of “the Royals win the right way” and “boy did Murphy and the Mets choke or what?” hot-takes and opinion pieces, all of which I’m going to have to studiously avoid until March or so. Sigh.

    • Eric

      I’m a fan of the way the Royals play the game – just not when they’re doing it against my favorite team.

      In Cobb vs Ruth, I’ve always favored Cobb.

      • Daniel Hall

        Sorry, son, you can’t pick between Cobb and Ruth for the Mets. You must pick between Mayberry jr. and Reyes.

        Argenis Reyes, that is.

  • Steve D

    When there are this many ifs, just say “it wasn’t meant to be for us this year.” The Royals are a throwback to a time before every player only cared about hitting home runs. Now let’s do what they did…get back there next year and win it.

  • Well said. The Royals are that good! They are like the 86 Mets (without the stars) wtih their “never say never” attitude. Cespedes and Murphy did not show up for this world series. However, without Cespedes, we would have most likely never won the NL East. Without Murphy… we most likely would be one and done with the Dodgers. Baseball is a humbling game. There is always next year…..