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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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Things Learned Along the Way

There has to be a Met fan out there who got stuck with an uncooperative schedule and plopped down on the couch or in the stands after the first inning.

Sorry pal — you missed a lot.

You missed David Wright walloping a pitch over the Great Wall of Flushing, followed two batters later by Yoenis Cespedes unloading, followed by Lucas Duda hitting a tracer off the face of whatever they’re calling the Pepsi Porch now. Boom boom boom — 16 pitches, three home runs, and poor Mike Foltynewicz was stuck out there worrying that the next batter might leave him lying on his back surrounded by clothing like Charlie Brown.

Hokusai might have been inspired to paint Three Views of Met Fury, as every home run was different: Wright’s was a majestically clubbed rain-bringer, Cespedes’s an almost perfect mathematical arc ending in the stands, and Duda’s one of his signature inside-out line drives, less a parabola than a straight line between bat and whatever it dented.

That was pretty much it if your tastes ran to offense, but the pitching side offered more subtle pleasures, as it belonged to Bartolo Colon.

If the Mets were transformed into the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, Bartolo would be Charlie Watts, keeping time with a bemused smirk as his flashier bandmates strutted and preened in the spotlight. He’s imperturbable when things go badly and calm to the point of bland when things go well. You get the impression he’s not particularly thrilled by the raucous applause that greets his dislodged helmets and thunderous routes to cover first, but he’s willing to shrug it off. Let those who only see that much feel they got their money’s worth; he’ll be putting on a quietly amazing display for those who know what to look for.

Colon threw 99 pitches Monday; 92 of them were fastballs. (Tip to SNY’s Nelson Figueroa for the postgame note.) Granted, with Bartolo a fastball is less a single pitch than an ongoing improvisation for speed, movement and location. But still, 92 out of 99? That’s crazy — in an era of specialization and expanding arsenals, Colon succeeds with a basic formula that long-gone generations of pitchers would greet with a nod. (So too with recently departed ones — Monday’s victory was Colon’s 220th, pushing him past Pedro Martinez to become the second-winningest Dominican starter.)

There’s a story about Cy Young I assume is apocryphal but worth telling anyway. Some painfully young reporter came up to him after a loss and started asking questions that were clearly stretching for gravitas and meaning, causing a weary Young to give the kid the side eye and harrumph, “Son, I’ve lost more games than you’ve seen.”

If Colon hasn’t heard that one, I imagine he’d appreciate it. He’s started 472 big-league games, which means he’s seen everything baseball can do to a pitcher: losing 1-0 despite unhittable stuff, winning 11-6 with nothing, seeing games barfed away on errors or sabotaged by bad luck, falling into a win because of the other team’s misfortune or lousy weather, and so on. And yeah, he’s undoubtedly seen teammates beat the tar out of some newcomer so he winds up batting in the first and then cruises through however many innings his body allows.

You can’t surprise him any longer, so he goes out and pitches, sizing up the opposing lineup, trying out what he has, and then tinkering from there. Colon knows sometimes his assortment of fastballs will be disobedient and drift over the fat part of the plate, leading to bad things. He knows even punchless teams can cluster hits and walk away with a victory — just as he knows they’re more likely to scatter them and wind up with nothing. By now he’s seen it all, even if you haven’t. Your mouth may be hanging open in disbelief, but Bartolo’s reaction will probably be a blink-and-you-missed-it smile or a little shrug — oh right, this again. And then he’ll get on with it, like he has so many times before.

11 comments to Things Learned Along the Way

  • Stearns dude

    If Bart is Charlie, Duda is definitely Bill Wyman

  • argman

    Love the ode to Bart. He is someone we must appreciate while he is still around, a unique only-in-baseball athlete. In their own way, his starts are just as compelling as those of the young studs.

  • Rob E.

    When they signed him after the 2013 season, I thought they were nuts giving $20 million to a 40-year-old coming off an “obviously” over-his-head year. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He is an absolute pleasure to watch even in the middle of all the studs, and I think he’s been an important mentor and stabilizer not just to the starters, but to guys like Familia and Robles. He’s earned every penny, and a warm, fuzzy place in Mets history.

    I wonder how many teams regret not picking up on waivers late in ’14.

  • open the gates

    Always great fun to see an older athlete outfox the young whippersnappers. If he were a southpaw, he’d be called a “crafty lefthander”. And he’s about to turn 43! More power to him.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Bartolo when Zack Wheeler is cleared for action.

  • Will in Central NJ

    I recall the 2013-14 offseason when Bartolo Colon was signed. I remember that the Mets’ front office could’ve alternatively signed LHP Scott Kazmir that same offseason to fill the same role, but they didn’t, apparently out of concern about Kazmir’s health, makeup, or a combination of both. Colon went on to deliver on the mound, and perhaps also in the clubhouse with Jeurys Familia and other young pitching prospects.

    Amazingly, Colon (career record of 220-155, 3.95 ERA, 1.302 WHIP) is now roughly analogous to old pal Jerry Koosman, who cobbled together a 222-209 record to go with a 1.259 WHIP and a 3.36 ERA. For those of us who hold Kooz in high esteem, Colon is in the conversation for a similar level of high regard.

  • Dave

    Fast forward to #MetsTwitter in 2023, when the main topic of conversation will be how the Mets blew it by not signing Colon that winter.

  • eric1973

    Kooz was never suspended for taking PED.

  • Berdj Rassam

    Yes, me too, I totally agree.

  • I’m with RobE in saying I thought the front office was crazy to give the “Big Sexy” $20 mil after the 2013 season. Once again, Sandy showed that he knows more about the game than I do. Don’t know how long he can keep it up, but it looks like he can still sign another contract after this year.