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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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Well, that’s better.

Steven Matz was superb, watching a Chris Carter home run in the first and then allowing next to nothing after that. The Mets, meanwhile, didn’t exactly light up Wily Peralta, but they did enough to win and chase the blues away, at least for a night.

We’ll return to those blues in a minute. (Of course we will, we’re Mets fans.) For now, though, Matz becomes a more and more interesting story. He’s 10-1 in 13 regular-season starts, a beginning that in a different era would have the Mets trying to craft him into a face of the franchise. Instead, he’s almost an afterthought. Which I suppose is understandable: He doesn’t have the star presence of Matt Harvey (or the reversed-polarity epic misery of his current predicament), the jaw-dropping arsenal of Noah Syndergaard, or the track record and TV-friendly locks of Jacob deGrom. Matz is underwhelming to look at, a kid from Long Island who looks a bit like Joe DiMaggio.

Except that kid from Long Island is 10-1. Sure, none of his Matz’s pitches is as lethal as what his moundmates possess, but they’re all pretty good and come with natural movement, he has pinpoint control, he’s left-handed, and he seems to think about what he’s doing out there on the mound. Which is a pretty impressive combination. On Friday afternoon Matz was part of the avalanche of Metsian panic, having been shelved with elbow pain; by late Friday evening he’d become the soothing balm we desperately needed.

Still, it was a respite, not a resurgence. The Mets still look like they’re holding the bats wrong-side up; Wily Peralta’s been a tomato can all season, one of the few guys who’d gladly switch stats with Harvey, and he hung in there into the sixth inning, undone only by a windblown Michael Conforto flyball that flopped into the party deck and left Conforto himself looking mildly startled. Take that away and … well, let’s be glad we don’t have to.

What would change this? A better showing from Harvey would help, obviously — and if you want some optimism, here are two pieces from smart folks suggesting Harvey’s woes may be symptoms of the oldest baseball malady of all, bad luck. More than that, though, some consistent hitting would sure help. The late April Mets could simply bash away their troubles at the plate; the May Mets have been more problem than solution with bats in their hands.

We’ll see — it’s a long season. (Perhaps you’ve heard.) It’s far from crazy to think the luck will even out, guys will seek their historic means, Lucas Duda will go on another of his bipolar baseball rampages, Travis d’Arnaud will return, Neil Walker will find a happy medium between hitting like John Buck and hitting like the other John Buck, and the Mets will find someone (Wilmer Flores?) to partner with David Wright as the captain negotiates uncharted spinal-stenosian territory. Perhaps some of those things will happen but not others. Perhaps none of it will. Sometimes that happens too.

But that’s for the future. For a night, Matz was crisp and the Mets hit enough and we could all exhale. For a night.

18 comments to Respite

  • eric1973

    When it comes to Met pitchers I get amped up to watch, this was my order at the beginning of the season:


    This order is based on juice combined with likeability. Matz has a soothing, calming presence about him, from the very beginning, where he just always seems to be in control of himself. Harvey historically has been a Grade-A jackass, and this year is just a fatter version of Nick Cage, who I don’t much care for either. Hey, maybe that has something to do with it!

    Last year, I thought Harvey was the best pitcher in baseball. He toughed it out, and Collins/Warthen shouldn’t have f’d with him and just left him alone to finish off KC.

    And so what if he’s booed a little. Fans’ opinions don’t matter much to these guys, and the tougher-minded players will say they probably deserve it, just so long as it doesn’t border on the Sisk/Parnell-like hatred.

    This season is beginning to feel similar to last year, with the same cast of characters again on the DL (d’Arnaud, Wright basically), Duda/Granderson performing disappearing acts worthy of David Copperfield, and again seeing just a bit too much of Eric Campbell. (No place for Wilmer Flores when he was healthy? Really?)

    Sandy may again need to perform some trading deadline magic.

    Who’d a thunk that back in April?

  • Daniel Hall

    Matzie! He’s been a silent favorite of mine ever since his debut and the completely bananas game against the Reds and continues to reach the top of the board combined with other developments like the Matt Harvey case where delight has devolved into despair with deterring determination.

    Coincidentally, I’ve seen Peralta two or even three times this season in random day or late afternoon games. The term “tomato can” doesn’t do it justice unless the can has a huge dent in it and has been mislabelled as to containing peas. Not stunned to find out that the wheezing Mets barely squeezed through him…

    Going to catch the Goldilocks tilt tonight and the Norse Horse on Sunday. Somebody better tell the guys that they need to steal three runs from someone again. Three runs PER GAME that is.

  • Bunker23

    Will Travis return? I always got the feeling that Met’s brass was not as high on him as I am.When the kid is on, they roll. No knock on Plawecki, but I felt last year, and this year that D’Arnuad was the “missing ingredient” when times got low, and happened to be present when things heated up.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    For all Wright’s issues, his stats are still much better than Soup, We Love You Wilmer, and The Other Matt. I’m all for Walker to 3rd and a little bit of Dilson in my life. I have a feeling Flores is not long for The Mets, and this time for real.

  • Mikey

    I live in madison so had to endure the brewers telecast. They are ok but we are spoiled with gkr. They sure heaped praise on us as defending nl champs….but when soup made that great play they did not even show a replay of it!

    I know this team will come around…they are due for a home run burst and it would be nice to so that in DC next week

  • JohnP FArrell

    I’m still steaming that the Mets gave away the slump-proof Murph. He was always the antidote to the hitting hibernation that the Mets are genetically subject to. I can’ t stand the idea of Herrea as a solution. The Mets should start looking now for a BAT at 3rd. It pains me to say but it is all too obvious that Wright is finished. The team needs for him to gracefully retire.

    Finally, the DiMaggio – Matz look alike line is right on target.

    • Dennis

      While Wright hasn’t always looked great, I don’t think he’s finished at all. Maybe a platoon in the future, 1st base…..who knows. And with 4 years remaining on his contract, being graceful or not, he would be insane to even think about retiring with that much money coming to him.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Greg, 74 hits in 58 innings is not “bad luck.”

    Campbell has started 8 of last 12 games. Enough said. He can take a walk or a HBP but should take a seat, in AAA.

    It’s insane to leave Herrera down on the farm. They need a good part-time bat badly, he has played some 3B, and is dynamic (yes, Vegas is hitter friendly but he already has 8 HR there and can run). Note: Nats about to call up one of best prospects in baseball Trea Turner to vastly improve SS. The Phils have the other star minor league SS prospect, J.P. Crawford, just promoted to AAA. Mets need a partial answer. Maybe they are afraid Herrera will flop and make them look worse on Murph.

    • Jason Fry

      A .385 BABIP for a pitcher with a career mark of .289 often is bad luck. Hope so.

      I think the strategy with Herrera was not to rush him. Either he pushes Walker aside because he’s ready or he gets an extra year and then isn’t coming in as an NLCS MVP’s replacement. Conservative, perhaps, but I don’t think cynical.

  • Matt in Richmond

    It’s kind of amusing to hear all the kvetching about our roster. “How could we let Murph go?” “When are we going to call Dipson up?” And on and on. Equal parts cynicism, pessimism and raw panic are abundant. I would think after last year more people would realize that maybe Sandy knows what he’s doing. I guess for some people, being a fan is believing you’re smarter than the Manager/GM. You’re probably not.

  • eric1973

    Let’s not forget, if ‘so smart’ Sandy gets Gomez last year, there is no Ces, and there is no WS.

    While I do have the utmost confidence in Sandy, as we’ve just proven here, it is better to be lucky than good.

    These GM’s and Managers are no Einsteins, as many lose their jobs due to poor decisionmaking, and some fans really do know a thing or two.

    Please refresh my memory on how Parnell/Wright/Duda are doing.

  • eric1973

    I agree with Dennis, that the only reason Wright will not retire is so he can collect that big fat paycheck.

    I also agree with Dennis, that Wright ought to platoon at 1B with Duda, so that only one position will be all screwed up instead of two.

    Good points, Dennis!

    • Dennis

      Thanks eric! Almost 70 million owed to him over the next 4 years (not including this season)…if you were a major league baseball player, would you retire and give up that big fat paycheck?

      You rip the same guys every year….but the funny thing is that they’re playing baseball at it’s highest level and making millions of dollars…..and you’re not.

  • eric1973

    And they play rather badly while collecting these millions…. Guess we all would love to rip people off like these guys and Michael Cuddyer did.

    Difference is, Cuddyer had the class to retire and Wright has not……………. yet.

    • Dennis

      Well, they’re not the only players in all of MLB making a lot of money and struggling……I’m guessing they all should retire as well?

      How about this for an idea? If the Mets ever have open tryouts, put down the bag of potato chips, get off your couch, bring your softball bat and give it shot. Who knows……you might make the team and have an opportunity to rip the Mets off as well. But would you still post here bad mouthing yourself when you play bad?

  • Matt in Richmond

    Wright is fighting through major physical limitations, and obviously is not the elite player he once was….however, he’s certainly a valuable member of the team. He has an obp pushing .400, 4hrs, is a superb baserunner, first rate leader, and can come through in the clutch (walk off hit tonight). Duda, while also playing through pain, is also extremely valuable. His defense is first rate, he has more power than all but a handful of players in the game, and his mere presence in the lineup makes everyone better. I have no idea why you constantly bad mouth them and Robles, (and boy has he proven you completely wrong.) As a Met fan, it strikes me as bizarre.

    Nice to see Campbell have such a good day. I’ve found the hand wringing over him getting playing time to be excessive. While he won’t wow you with athletic ability or power, he is a serviceable backup/fill in/platoon type guy. He has the versatility to play multiple positions capably and I’ve always liked his approach at the plate. He typically works good ABs and usually makes decent contact. I thought last year he hit into a lot of bad luck, lots of atem balls. I’m not saying I want to see him start 100 games, but I think he might do okay for a little while. Great game tonight.

  • Rob E.

    Wright’s contribution is being colored by what others are/are not contributing right now. He’s clearly not the middle of the lineup guy he used to be, but in the number two spot his high OBP is an asset. Missing Duda, d’Arnaud, and Flores really puts a crimp in the lineup because you are asking guys like Campbell and now Wright to do what they probably can’t. That’s not to say either of them suck, but if you ask Campbell to be a starter for 80 games or ask Wright to be the Wright of 10 years ago, you are asking too much. That’s also not a knock on Alderson for “lack of depth”…they are down two starters and their number one bench player who started last year. And with all this they are 25-18…this is a good team and they will be fine.

    As for the contract, I don’t think Wright will play just to collect the money, and I would guess the contract is insured so both he and the Mets are protected.