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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 Textbook Advises

Ryan Schimpf can blast home runs, but I’m not quite sure what he was doing in the bottom of the 11th, when Wilmer Flores hit a ground ball his way with runners on first and third and one out. James Loney, who moves at the approximate speed of a continental shelf, was the runner on first. Flores, whose foot speed is also best measured in global epochs, was headed that way. Schimpf fielded the ball and did what the textbook advised: get the lead runner at home. But the textbook’s author hadn’t imagined a plodding Pangaea of Mets in the neighborhood. Schimpf threw a Lucas Duda October strike homeward, nearly hitting a startled Neil Walker, and the Mets had won.

I don’t know, maybe Schimpf just wanted to see Styx.

This unexpected turn of events took the sting out of what had been another one of those nights for the Mets. They got off to a decent start, with newly re-returned Jose Reyes walking and scampering to third on a errant throw by the catcher and then scoring on Walker’s single. That looked like it might actually be enough for Jacob deGrom, who made us dream of a no-hitter before Schimpf ruined the fun in the fifth, and then surrendered the skinny lead on a Yangervis Solarte homer in the seventh.

In the bottom of the inning, the Mets did something they’ve rarely do: they picked up the shaggy pitcher who’s reclaimed the title of staff ace. Flores singled, Alejandro De Aza walked, and Travis d’Arnaud was called upon to bunt. One can argue about the wisdom of asking d’Arnaud to do so, but the base-out matrix does make the sac bunt a numerically defensible strategy in that situation — it increases the chance of scoring at least one run in the inning by a small but real 6.6 percent.

Anyway, d’Arnaud laid down a beautiful bunt, Kelly Johnson hit a sac fly, and the Mets seemed to be in business.

Except now it was Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in the usual bind of Mets’ pitchers, needing to be perfect. Reed was, but Familia gave up a two-out blast to Wil Myers. Not so fast, Tommy Shaw and … um, you other current members of Styx. There was free baseball to be played.

Free baseball that somehow went the Mets’ way. Disaster seemed to be in the cards, with Gabriel Ynoa asked to make his big-league debut on a sticky night before a restive crowd that was tired of bad baseball. Shoved out in front of a firing squad, Ynoa earned a whatever-gun salute instead, with his first big-league strikeout capping a 1-2-3 inning. A few minutes later, Schimpf had happened and Ynoa had his first W.

It’s eminently possible Ynoa will never have another win that easy, but hey, they all count. And what’s true for pitchers is true of teams too. Schimpf should have thrown the ball to the shortstop, but he didn’t and the Mets won. When teams are going well we treat wins like that as signs of opportunism and relentlessness, the hallmarks of winning clubs. The Mets aren’t going well, but let’s not poor-mouth an honest-to-goodness victory because of that. They were due having the little black cloud take up residence over someone else’s head for a change.

50 comments to The Textbook Advises

  • Matt in Richmond

    Baseball can sure be hilarious or maddening depending on your point of view. Bruce hit bullets all night and went an ugly 0-5 while Flores hit a collection of broken bat dribblers and soft Little League line drives on his way to collecting 3 hits and the game winning rbi complete with celebratory pie to the face. All that matters in the end is the W I suppose.

    And how about our man d’Arnaud gunning down a runner for the 2nd straight night? Party on people

  • mikeL

    c’mon jason: give JY some!
    he was co-founding the band back when tommy shaw was presumably still in diapers!

    and a win’s a win…

    can’t be too picky nowadays!

  • Steve J

    Stanton may have seriously injured his groin so the Marlins might be in big trouble. The 2nd WC may very well be the team that finishes the season without any more major injuries. With Cespedes due to return Friday and Cabrera getting close as well, if the team can just stay within striking distance until then…

  • eric1973

    Look at it this way:

    —-Team has looked better after TC lashing, and all power to him.

    —-3 teams ahead of us for 2nd WC, sure, but just think of it as being in 4th place in a pennant race, only 2 or 3 GB, and we’re right in the thick of it. Matz has to be great today, like he was last year, and in April this year.

  • open the gates

    I’ve been seeing Ynoa’s name mentioned for a while -it’ll be interesting to see what he does up here. Can’t pronounce his name, but I still can’t pronounce “Jeurys” either. In any case, always good to see a kid get his first ML win under his belt.

    • Gary Cohen originally pronounced our closer’s name HEY-oo-reese and I carefully copied him. Now he says JAY-reese. I have not followed suit, because I am old.

  • Mikey

    Was that the first walk off this season?

  • Ken K. in NJ


    Thanks. I’m never too old to learn.

    Actually, after looking it up, it’s apparently something I should have learned in Sophomore year of High School.

  • Rob E.

    There were a couple of comments earlier in the week about Collins asking d’Arnaud to bunt, and he failed miserably, and of course TC was an idiot for asking a guy who clearly couldn’t bunt to do so. Yesterday, similar situation — they even mentioned that on the broadcast — and this time he lays down a perfect bunt and it turns out to be a key play in the game. I’m sure Collins will get no credit.

    This doesn’t mean he is NOT an idiot, or course, it just debunks one recent “example” of his alleged “bad decision-making.” Sometimes something fails, and the next time, the same exact thing works. It’s not the manager’s fault when players don’t execute, but if you’re going to blame him for that, at least give him some credit when they do.

  • dmg

    fwiw, that d’arnaud bunt had its own folly — mishandled by one padre, double-clutched by a second and they STILL got d’arnaud at first. the mets, piano movers extraordinaire.

    except for reyes. the first-inning run he manufactured should have had “made in 2006” stamped on it, it was that vintage.

    solarte’s homer landed literally three seats from where i was sitting in right field. watching it head my way was a p.o.v. special, like something out of a bugs bunny cartoon, complete with the ball screaming.

    that was a freakin steambath out there. happily left before styx could set up and strum the chords for “mr. roboto.” but they did sing the national anthem — quite well — at the start of the night, so i can say i saw them at citi field.

  • eric1973

    TDA: 9 times out of 10, he’s not going to lay it down properly, so just because it worked, does not mean it was the correct decision. So was it a bad decision last time, just because it did not work? Or were both times good decions, and one worked, and one did not?

    More important that he hits and gets some confidence back, as that’s what he is needed to do.

    And if he makes good throws to 2B, that’s all we can ask of him, whether safe or not. The rest is up to the pitchers.

    • Rob E.

      So it didn’t work because Terry Collins is a terrible manager, and it DID work because it was luck? That’s exactly what I mean when I say that it’s meaningless when all you do is criticize. At that point just say that you hate the guy no matter what he or the team does, good or bad. But saying it was a bad move even when it WORKS and helps them WIN, what’s the point of that? It’s not just that he has to win, he has to do it YOUR way? I mean the collective “you,” not you personally.

      And in retrospect, even though it DID work, you would rather un-do the positive result (and possibly the win) and have him swing away because his confidence was more important than last night’s game? I don’t get that AT ALL. d’Arnaud had a great game last night and part of that was BECAUSE of the bunt. He helped his team win with a play that has been in baseball’s playbook since day 1. Why is that a confidence killer? That’s what winning teams do.

  • eric1973

    Fittingly, on Pride Night at Citi, the Mets finally showed some.

  • Matt in Richmond

    For whatever it’s worth, I’m one that would typically like to see the bunt used very little, but that is a classic situation where you really need someone to get it done. 1st and 2nd, late innings, tie game or down 1. What I have such a hard time wrapping my head around is how can major league players be so incredibly bad at bunting. They do practice right? They are quite well compensated for being professionals and being able to successfully lay down a bunt can be the difference between winning and losing. I’ve never even liked the notion that there are a select few guys that never get asked to bunt no matter what. If a slugger comes to the plate in that scenario, and a good contact hitter is hitting behind him, I’d like to see him bunt rather than strike out. But because he’s a home run hitter you can’t ask him to?

    End of rant.

    • Rob E.

      Totally agree. I don’t know why these guys get a pass for their inability to so something basic. Mickey Mantle used to bunt! The bunt, the hit & run, the stolen base, the squeeze…these are all among the “weapons” you have available to you. To discard them is just weakening your own possibilities. This goes across all of baseball, it’s not just a Met problem. I don’t get it. Except the basic skills we saw years ago are apparently not required now (contact and bat control skills).

  • LeClerc

    Very well done indeed by DeGrom, Walker, and the bullpen minus Jeurys.

    Honorable mention for Reyes and Kelly Johnson.

    Small ball lives !

  • eric1973

    I love TC, and if that rant the other day turns this team around, all credit to him.

    Getting Ces and Cabrera back will help mightily as well.


  • eric1973

    I agree, guys, even Kingman could bunt.

    Today, expectations are very low. That’s probably a societal thing, not just in baseball.

  • Gianni Privacio

    [off topic as usual]

    After Matz yielded a hit in the 7th to end the no-hit bid and Reyes creates a run by hustling in the heat, Keith Hernandez invokes Mirkwood forest. From Wikipedia for those clinging to hope:

    The forest device is used as a mysterious transition from one part of the story to another.

    Later same inning Keith lets on that he has other plans during WS time. Hilarious…yes, the Shmets still manage to be entertaining!

  • Luis

    This year has been bad, but wait till next year. Cespedes opts out, the Mets expect Wright to be able to play well, and Duda, and Bruce. Walker leaves as a FA, Grandy is 36, d’Arnaud still cant throw…that leaves Flores, Reyes, Cabrera (and 2 of those are 30+ and been injured) as the only regulars who are not liabilities (you could count Loney but he will be 33 or so). So they will be Defensively challenged, unable to score and still helmed by TC…

    • Rochester John

      Wow…bummer, man…thanks for that, Luis…

      • Luis

        Sorry. That just hit me last night…Maybe package Bruce and Harvey? for Arenado (as if..)-Duda and some guys for A quality fielding SS, d’Arnaud to first, find a platoon/defensive LH hitting Catcher…I am really not sure how reconstruct this team…

        • Rob E.

          They are two games out of a Wild Card, the Cardinals just lost Matt Holliday, the Marlins just lost Stanton, Cespedes should be back within a week, and deGrom and Matz are looking like aces. That’s THIS year.

          As for 2017, Cespedes didn’t leave yet, and neither did Walker. Since they already have $25 million committed to Cespedes next year, if he DID leave (or Walker), that would give them some money to get someone else. It’s not as if Cespedes and/or Walker leaves and they just play without a left fielder or 2B.

          Come on, man! They picked themselves up off the mat a little this weekend. Enjoy it!

    • Matt in Richmond

      No Luis, you are not. Fortunately we have a guy with a pretty remarkable track record that does know what he is doing. His name is Sandy, and in case you forgot, he put together the team that nearly won the World Series last year. Your bizarre diagnosis notwithstanding the future is bright for the New York Metropolitans.

      • Luis

        I have great respect for Alderson, but STILL cannot fathom why he traded for Bruce….

        • Greg Mitchell

          …and good to recall that he is also the man who trade for Carlos Gomez, which some of us mocked at the time–even before he went on to hit .220 the rest of last year and all of this year–and was recently released. If that trade went through would you still be defending Sandy now?

  • Eric

    Most of the reasons for hope this season have been stripped away, except … give me deGrom starting the WC game on the road and I like those odds.

  • Steve D

    The future will be truly bright when the Mets can develop more than one star hitter per decade (on average). I’m patient…I have waited 55 years, not all while alive ;).

  • Dennis

    It really is amazing by some of things being posted. Two out of a wild card with a large amount of injuries and so many keep repeating the same negative comments. And this after two great wins this weekend!

  • eric1973

    Jay Bruce is a million times better than Grandy. No visual evidence yet as a Met, however.

    Is Ty Kelly more deserving of a roster spot than Nimmo? Nimmo ‘turned the world on with his smile,’ but I guess the Mets ‘hate spunk.’

    • Steve D

      You do realize that Jay Bruce hit .222 between 2014 and 2015, with no pressure on him in Cincy. That’s what I expect from him and I will be pleasantly surprised with any upside.

    • Eric

      Too many lefty bats. Ty Kelly is a switch hitter.

  • eric1973

    Dennis, I’m with you. If Cespedes comes back at full strength, with our pitching staff, relievers included, we could be the favorites.

  • Matt in Richmond

    I think the main thing working against Nimmo right now is he’s left handed and Kelly is a switch hitter that is actually hitting pretty well right handed.

    No GM bats 1.000, but I will definitely take the job Sandy has done over anyone else we’ve had for the past 15 years or so. I remember earlier this year tons of people mocked the Loney pick up, tons of people mocked the Reyes pick up. Considering he gave up virtually nothing for them, how are those moves looking right now?

  • Schimpf's Brain Cramp

    Yes, rejoice in a fantastic two-game win streak for the first time this century. And ignore the first victory came because I was not bright enough to turn an easy double play. But really, good for you guys to beat my pathetic team. Heck, I wouldn’t even be on a major league roster if we didn’t have a fire sale at the trade deadline.

    Best of luck in the desert against the team that would set a record for stolen bases if it played in the same division as the Mets. Oh and here’s a tip…if one guy is hot at the plate during the series and another guy is cold, I say sack up and challenge the guy who is hitting well. Otherwise Hope Solo will accuse your team of using strategy in your favor which is clearly the cowardly way.

    • Dennis

      More negative comments from what must be a closet Yankees or Phillies fan.

      • Steve D

        Now your comment is negative…this guy is a hilarious Met fan. Keep it coming!

        • Dennis

          I don’t know…..sounds like most of the others who always have something to complain about. But to each his own.

          • Steve D

            I understand if you want to be optimistic, negativity would get on your nerves. Negativity is the foundation of New York National League Baseball. They called the Dodgers the Bums. They lost every year but one. Are the Mets much different? We have had one stretch, 1984-1988, where this team was to be feared for an extended period. We have five World Series appearances…five years out of 55…the math says on average, once a decade. Nothing about ownership, GM, the farm system, the manager, current roster tells me that is about to change. May as well have fun with it.

  • Mikey

    I can be as pessimistic as most, but even I am hopeful that Ces will ignite this team….just by being in the lineup. has he even been in the lineup with Bruce yet? and Bruce was leading the league in RBI when we got him. of course now he looks like a lot of the rest of our lineup, but he’s a pro and can catch fire at any time. I think it was a good move.

    now, as for this series in AZ. is there a limit to how many times we can throw over to first? because I would do that every single time until we pick the guy off.

  • eric1973

    As Ronnie says, just hold the ball a beat more or a beat less before you pitch it.

    Sounds simple enough to stop the SBs.

  • Wheeler's Elbow

    Mookie Betts produced more runs (8) yesterday against the Diamondbacks than the Mets did in an entire three game set (5). Hopefully the Amazins can channel their inner Mookies and be productive in the desert.

    As to the stolen base problem, the Mets 1st basemen should tie the Diamondbacks baserunners shoelaces together so they trip and fall.

  • Jacobs27

    You know, Mr. Elbow, I think you’re on to something. The textbook may not advise it, but this might be a job for the hidden ball trick!