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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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Monday Night's Alright (For Not Fighting)

I guess it’s just something about San Diego.

Tonight’s Mets game wasn’t that much less stressful than Sunday’s — in fact, it followed the same approximate blueprint — but whereas yesterday I was finger-crossing and pleading while urging Antonio Bastardo on from a continent away, tonight I was sprawled on my couch, occasionally losing track of the count even in tight moments.

Sure, on Sunday Bastardo had a much grimmer fix to escape and a smaller margin for error. But the Dodgers were still right there a swing away from ruining Monday evening, and Bastardo’s command of the strike zone was less than it had been. It’s got to be the venue: as long as it’s not the playoffs, Dodger Stadium feels more like a novelty or a vacation than one of the cauldrons of sportswriting cliche. Maybe it’s the catatonic locals, or the somehow soothing light blue and cream color scheme, or knowing Vin Scully’s on hand ladling out delightfully warm and sweet word caramel. Or maybe it’s that though there are bumps in the night in L.A., in Petco you go to sleep under the bed with an ax, because monsters own the house.

This one looked like a laugher early, with long-ago prodigal son Scott Kazmir struggling to find his change-up and searching for support from the home-plate ump and his defenders. Curtis Granderson whacked Kazmir’s first pitch over the wall and Steven Matz was on the mound for the good guys, which usually guarantees the scoring will come early and often.

Tonight that was only half-true; Kazmir found himself and the Mets started losing track of baseball necessities, with a particularly doofy moment for Yoenis Cespedes taking a run off the board. But Matz was in command on the mound and at the plate, continuing the recent run of pitcher heroics with an RBI double. A day after becoming a Met favorite, Bastardo faltered, though he got a shove off the ledge from a rare error by Juan Lagares. No matter; this time it was Jim Henderson as rescuer and Bastardo as rescuee; Big Canadian Jim fanned Yasiel Puig and got Trayce Thompson to pop up.

As for the confrontation with Chase Utley, well, it came too late in the evening for me to work up more than a vaguely pinched glower. (Though it was entertaining watching Hansel Robles — denied hostile action either via managerial orders or a glance at the scoreboard — clearly hoping for a reason to take offense at something Utley had done.) Look, Utley’s team lost in October and he now has a Thou Shalt Not rule that will bear his name years after he’s retired; if Jacob deGrom wants to bruise him with a fastball on Tuesday that’s fine, but it’s also fine if JdG sees 0-for-4 as vengeance enough.

Utley and the other Dodgers lost, the Nats won but were forbidden by math from intruding on first place (thanks math!), and the Mets kept rolling after the sleepwalking start to their trip. Maybe it was the wee hours talking, but that struck me as more than enough for the night.

12 comments to Monday Night’s Alright (For Not Fighting)

  • Dave R.

    Maybe the Kazmir deal wasn’t so bad.

  • Bob

    According to Vin Scully, the Mets record @ Dodger Stadium since 1984 is 78-74–including last night.

    I was at all Met games here (LA from 1976-2006).
    Matz was great–saw him here July also & he had a W VS Dodgers!
    Lets Go Mets/Matz!

  • Eric

    I liked the 2 RBIs not via HRs (not that there’s anything wrong with HRs). The Lagares drop could have opened the door to bad things, but the middle relief held up again. Another 6-inning start is taxing the bullpen more than I like, though. Familia is settled in. deGrom made Dodger stadium his house in the NLDS and it would be a good setting for him to get back on track.

  • Gio

    The Mets keep rolling. Rotation makes this team nearly losing-streak-proof. HRs and timely hits keep coming. “We win, Nats win” feels like playing defense in the standings rather than feeling like we’re being denied the top spot.

    All is right with the world these days in Mets fandom.

  • Lenny65

    IMO they really haven’t clicked yet. I’m hearing a lot about the Cubs and Gnats and how they’re all that and a bag of chips too, but just wait. Once we really start rolling the NL will be on notice.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I’ll concede that Gary Cohen and Ron Darling know much more about Inside Baseball than I do, but I’ve wondered about similar plays before, and I still don’t see how sliding gets Cespedes to 2nd base any quicker than going in standing up. It’s not a tag play, so there’s no need to factor that in either.

    Not questioning that it was a bonehead play to be caught so far off the base like that, just weather it makes any difference to slide or not to slide. If anything, it seems to me sliding takes an extra millisecond to get oneself in position, rather than just keeping the momentum going on foot.

  • eric1973

    RE: To Slide or Not to Slide:

    How come fielders dive to make shoestring catches at their feet, but we are told that sliding/diving into 1B is slower than running straight through? Isn’t 1B in the same position on the ground as a baseball is, when making that shoestring catch?

    Does that mean that when a fielder dives for a ball, he actually gets there more slowly than if he did not dive or

    Or should all batter/runners start launching themselves toward 1B in order to get there faster?

    • Dave

      Eric – difference is that you can make contact with the base with your foot, so no need to drop to the ground. In fact, your foot is closer to the base to begin with. Fielders dive or go shoestring to make a catch when the ball is getting close to the ground…don’t have the option of using their feet to make the catch.

  • open the gates

    Re the Kazmir trade – I always thought it was overrated in terms of its position on the “Worst Met trades of all time” list. Yeah, there’s no question they traded a stud for a dud, but Kazmir’s actual career didn’t live up to the hype. Even in his prime, I don’t think he would have been more than the #4 or #5 in the current Met rotation. The deal was bad, but not exactly Ryan for Fregosi.

  • eric1973

    Great points, Dave.

    So similar situation in running races, where since the ‘tape’ is chest-high, they lean forward when approaching the finish.

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