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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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Trashy Yet Fun

Let’s just make this clear: Saturday afternoon’s Mets-Marlins game was garbage.

The Mets put the leadoff man on in seven of the first eight innings (and eight of nine overall) but somehow managed to be down 3-2 with just five outs remaining. Bartolo Colon was crummy but mostly got away with it because the Marlins couldn’t get out of their own way; Hansel Robles was crummy and yet again did not get away with it.

And then there was the Wilmer FloresKevin Plawecki follies of the second inning: with the Mets down 1-0, the Marlins had the bases loaded with one out. Pitcher Justin Nicolino smacked a sharp grounder to Flores at third. Rather than go for the round-the-horn double play, Flores came home for the force. (He said later he didn’t have a good grip.) An understandably startled Plawecki caught the ball, but his foot was next to home plate rather than on it, as is recommended for force plays. Instead of being out of the inning, the Mets were down 2-0 and Terry Collins looked like a man sentenced to the rack.

Plawecki led off the third, which at least allowed him to escape extended tut-tutting from coaches, and seemed to have redeemed himself with a double … until he got picked off. Before rising and slinking away, Plawecki lowered the bill of his helmet in the dirt and lay there for a moment, perhaps contemplating the void. He then fanned in his next two at-bats, leaving three Mets on base and making me recall Anthony Recker having one of the worst nights I can recall for a catcher in this same hideous ballpark. Not exactly what Plawecki had in mind with Rene Rivera on the verge of snatching away his job.

But if the game wasn’t exactly the stuff of instructional videos, it was also a reminder that garbage baseball can still be kind of fun, the way mainlining Oreos by the glow of late-night TV can seem like a great idea at the time. The Marlins have problems of their own, and allowed their hapless opponents to hang around. In the bottom of the sixth, with runners on second and third and two out, Ichiro Suzuki lashed what seemed certain to be his 2,966th hit to left-center. It was going to be 5-2 Marlins … except Juan Lagares flung himself through the air, looking like a man making a racing dive into the pool, to snatch the ball before it could touch down. Inning over and dreariness averted, somehow.

In the eighth, with the Mets down 3-2, some players badly in need of pick-me-ups came through. Michael Conforto, who had spent the night determinedly ignoring the inside fastballs that have bedeviled him, fought through a tough at-bat and singled up the middle off David Phelps to bring home James Loney and tie the game. With Conforto on second and two out, Matt Reynolds lined Phelps’s first pitch over the head of Miguel Rojas for his first career RBI and a Mets lead.

All of that was fun — and the kind of fun the Mets will need more of to survive this current stretch. (Oh, and they somehow picked up another game on the Nats.) But this being Miami, there of course had to be a scare in the ninth and assorted annoyances at other times.

One of those annoyances was self-inflicted: is sending Jacob deGrom up to pinch-hit really wiser than keeping Rivera idle in case of an injury? Jake entertained himself, which I suppose is nice, but this seems like a case where the premium on the insurance is so high that one should just accept that life comes with risks. (Though given Plawecki’s night he might well have wound up eaten by piranhas leaping out of the Loria fish tank sometime in the 14th.)

The other annoyance is as I type no one’s quite sure how badly Lagares hurt his thumb on that heroic dive. He came out of the game, but further information wasn’t available because there’s no doctor on site at New Soilmaster. I assume this is just more evidence that Jeffrey Loria is a despicable cheapskate whose interests don’t extend to the basic duties expected of a major-league owner. And if that’s not the case I don’t really care, because Loria deserves such suspicions.

The Marlins are a deplorable shell game practiced on the decent people of Miami and all but designed to drive them away from the game, a travesty that Major League Baseball has aided and abetted for decades. Every commissioner can invoke the best interests of the game in taking action; a conservative reading of baseball’s best interests surely includes banishing Loria from any further association with the sport, up to and including wheedling change in a stadium parking lot.

My near-feral hatred for the Marlins (which, to be clear, has nothing to do with their long-suffering, shamefully disenfranchised fans) is well-known here (see other eruptions here and here), but every series against them seems to intensify it until seemingly innocent items of conversation bring up bile. For example, at one point, SNY’s trivia question was to identify the Marlins’ all-time wins leader.

The long answer: “I shall sort through the sordid history of this garish screw job disguised as a franchise and try to remember which starting pitcher was most capable before being sold off as part of a con artist’s cynical teardown.” And such mental gymnastics might or might not have yielded the name Ricky Nolasco.

The short answer: “Who gives a fuck?” Which, given all of the above and so much more, I contend is in fact correct.

12 comments to Trashy Yet Fun

  • Matt in Woodside

    Jeffrey Loria is a sock sniffer.

    Following a hard day’s labor, Loria removes the business socks, the socks of enterprise. He places them gently upon the nightstand. They rest there. They waft in the night. And on the seventh day, he lifts them reverently to his widened and ready nostrils and inhales.

    (Just to be clear there’s several pairs of socks involved in this scenario.)

  • Daniel Hall

    At the rate the field hospital is filling up, Big Sexy might be in for some outfield reps sooner or later…

    And yep, that was another game that whizzed past at the speed of the continental drift.

  • Dennis

    Easily the worst franchise in all of baseball, if not in sports. Horrible looking stadium, ugly uniforms and an ownership that has the balls to sue season ticket holders and vendors.

  • Eric

    Mets appear to be changing into a defense-first, small-ball team with Harvey (fingers crossed) and deGrom coming around and good gloves up the middle at 2B, SS, and C and CF with Rivera and Lagares pushing for more playing time, and reliable gloves at (by reputation, at least) 1B and RF. The formula can work.

    Hopefully, Flores keeps hitting and settles down at 3B and Reynolds keeps producing as a utility infielder and pinch-hitter. After Alderson emptied the pitching side of the minor-league cupboard for last season’s rentals, I’d prefer the Mets not doing that 2 years in a row.

  • eric1973

    Really great to see everyone (and with all the injuries, I mean everyone) chip in for 15 hits and pull this one out. Flores is a major cog here, and if he can man 3B and hit like we know he can, life will be a lot easier for all of us.

  • Harvey

    Mets have now completed exactly one-third of the season. They are 31-23, 2 games better than last year. They trail the Nats by one game (thanks to the Reds). Last year they were 1/2 game behind after 54 games.

    • Eric

      The Nationals losing twice in a row to the Reds has been a gift. I didn’t believe the Mets would gain ground on the Nationals this weekend; I was just hoping they wouldn’t lose ground. Even if they lose a game in the standings today against Jose Fernandez, they’ll have come out ahead and made up for some of the recent bullpen stumbles.

  • Dave

    Given the demographics, I doubt there are many doctors in Florida. So I can understand why the Mets were left just guessing about Lagares’s injury.

    • Stephen Kairys

      Maybe the W’pons can’t afford to pay Florida doctors b/c they spent all their $$$$ on Cespedes? ;)

      • Dennis

        I know everyone still loves to dump on the Wilpon’s, but in a visiting stadium it’s not their responsibility to have a doctor on hand. It has nothing to do what they can or can’t afford. If the Marlins were run like a real MLB team, they would have had one there.

  • eric1973

    The way the Mets are going these days, they should be travelling with their own personal MASH unit. A little meatball surgery courtesy of Hawkeye, Trapper, and even Frank Burns.