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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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A Strange One in Smyrna

Win or lose, the 2017 Mets are exhausting.

They didn’t win tonight — Matt Harvey‘s poor location, lousy relief, Freddie Freeman‘s ubiquitous bat and annoyingly good baseball played by Ender Inciarte, Brandon Phillips and Nick Markakis took care of that — but they made it interesting, with Jay Bruce‘s grand slam making it 9-7. Dare I say they … battled? Whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t enough and left me grumbling and grousing about tack-on runs that I’d shrugged off a few innings earlier.

I’m tired, you’re tired, reinjured Travis d’Arnaud is tired, poor Kurt Suzuki is definitely tired. Which means your recapper is going to seek shelter in those friends of the weary, the bullet points:

  • Harvey’s velocity was good — he hit 98 — but his fastball location was horrible and the location on his breaking pitches wasn’t a lot better. I’m inclined to give him a pass because there was a thin line between success and failure — that pitch to Inciarte was a damn good one — and because he’s coming off a complicated, uncertain injury. He’s trying to figure it out and by all accounts working hard to do so.
  • Michael Conforto is a pleasure to watch regardless of the score or the standings. Please don’t let Terry mess him up for a second year in a row. Or Ray Ramirez take him down the tunnel.
  • I still don’t think the Dilson Herrera trade made a lick of sense strategically, but Bruce is welcome to keep making me look foolish for being willing to leave him by the side of the Port St. Lucie highway. That’s one of the pleasures of baseball — you can be wrong and thrilled about it.
  • I don’t have a line as good as this one from friend of the blog David Roth: “Jay Bruce truly became a Met in the moment when he hit a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning of a game the Mets were losing by six.” Yeah, pretty much.
  • I’d record how far Freeman’s home run went, but I can’t get in touch with any of the stewardesses who were assigned to it. Let’s just say it would take an hour or so in Cobb County traffic to retrace its path. If the Braves’ new park is a freaking pinball machine now, what will it be like on a hot night in August?
  • Whoever arranged for that mooing noise on foul balls (or whatever triggers it) should be sent to Gitmo immediately. This is a bipartisan issue around which we can all unite.
  • Every baseball generation brings a new crop of Braves I see in my nightmares. Inciarte and Markakis are just the latest destroyer of dreams.
  • Most observations about umpires can be written off as confirmation bias — hell, most observations can be explained that way — but I’d really like to see some kind of scientifically rigorous review of how many calls were blown at first base before and after replay. Larry Vanover didn’t exactly have a night to remember.

My instinctive dislike for the Braves and most everything around them is tempered, however, when I catch sight of R.A. Dickey or Bartolo Colon in the enemy dugout. Bartolo requires no reminder, but I still find myself shaking my head and smiling at the idea of Dickey ever existing in our baseball universe.

Besides the fact that he was the only Metsian thing worth discussing for a long time, he just seemed made-up, like a collective fever dream of the Mets blogosphere that — come to think of it — was also at its peak then. He dissected the physics of knuckleballs, loved Star Wars and other dorky stuff that I love, read honest-to-God books, and was thoughtful about his sport and himself. He was like a W.P. Kinsella character who heaved himself out of the page, looked around and decided to stay.

One night Greg and I were part of a group of bloggers invited to chat with Dickey in the dugout before a game and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. It wasn’t that I was star-struck, just that Dickey didn’t need any input from me to generate something interesting. I was more than content to watch and listen — and found myself simply and thoroughly happy that somehow, against all odds, he was ours.

The trade to Toronto rankled, not so much for the deal itself (which seemed pretty good at the time and has of course turned out to be a reverse-Fregosi heist) but because Dickey left with the usual anonymously wielded Mets knife in the back, another franchise malady that’s spanned multiple managers and front offices and so … hmm.

I watched him from afar for a bit, mildly mournful that his magic seemed to have evaporated in the foreign realms of turf, Canada and the American League. But that connection faded, as it does, and my first reaction at learning Dickey and Colon would be united against us was annoyance — the amusement and affection took a little longer to arrice.

“I hope they both win 25 and the Braves go 50-112,” I opined at the time. Neither of those things is going to happen, and I neglected to account for how many of those wins would come at our expense. But when a Mets loss is an R.A. Dickey win, it hurts a little less.

34 comments to A Strange One in Smyrna

  • Nashville mets fan

    I sat right behind the Mets dugout tonight, and everyone in the section was perplexed and confused by the mooing. I guess mooing maybe sorta kinda helps you remember to eat Chick Filet and forget about bigoted business owners.

    Did the game seem bright on TV? SunTrust has LEDs and it gave the the field a crime scene feel to us.

  • Curt

    Been looking for TDA news. Hoping we see him before pitchers and catchers 2018.

    I seem to recall a sore wrist turning into a broken hamate bone not so long ago – or am I imagining things?

  • LeClerc

    Positives – Conforto and Bruce. Lagares defense.

    Negatives – Arthritic infield defense. Smoker and Salas. D’Arnaud’s wrist is the reason the team is carrying three catchers.

    • Daniel Hall

      … three catchers while the number of frequently used infielders that are at least semi-competent at their most frequently assigned position is zip.

  • sturock

    And they can’t put d’Arnaud on the ten-day DL because…? The ten-day is perfect for something like this. It allows d’Arnaud some healing time and it enables them to bring up a useful body.

  • eric1973

    Hey Jason, looks like we are the ones who got heisted in the Dickey deal.

    Looks like this TDA fellow is hurt again. I am beginning to believe it to be some sort of a pattern.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

  • Matt of n Richmond

    Again, let’s all have the clarity of mind to differentiate between chronic injuries (muscle pulls, strains etc) and something that would literally hurt every human on the planet (slamming a hand into a wooden bat). And yes, he could have been put on the 10 day DL as soon as it happened. Of course, that would have cost us at least one game vs The Nats. Kind of difficult to criticize the team for not putting him on the DL when he was just well enough to take Scherzer deep twice.

  • eric1973

    Regarding injuries, this organization treats every game as if it is #163.

    Hear that, everybody? Sandy says Noah will be back in weeks. Isn’t that great? He must know more than the health experts who say it will be months.

    More folly.

  • Lenny65

    Just speaking as a fan with nothing more to base my opinion on, I’ll be genuinely surprised if we see Syndergaard again in 2017. I’ll likewise be surprised if Steven Matz (and maybe Seth Lugo) ever pitches for the Mets again. Ditto if D’Arnaud plays in 75-100 games this year. Apparently he’s some sort of injury magnet and it’s especially discouraging this year as he’s looked so much better at the plate thus far.

    IMO Harvey merits a pass right now, after what he’s endured it’s a minor miracle he’s out there at all and it’s not realistic to expect him to pick up exactly where he left off. Ditto Wheeler, in fact it’s kind of amazing that he seems to be exactly where he was development-wise before his medical woes began. They’re going to need time and reps. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to make it to the big leagues, endure all that hardship then make it all the way back again and they both merit a lot of admiration for the courage and determination they’ve demonstrated.

    They need to leave Conforto the hell alone and just let him play every day, as right now he’s really the lone beacon of optimism the team has. If things (sigh) continue the way they are right now, perhaps we’ll see what this Rosario kid has to offer this season, as from what I’m hearing there’s not a lot left for him to conquer in the minors.

    • Pete In Iowa

      TdA?? So much better at the plate?? He’s hitting a “solid” .203!
      Frankly, we’re better off with either Rivera or Plawecki behind the plate. There’s no tangible offensive difference among the three and Rivera and Plawecki make TdA look like a Little Leaguer on defense.

      • Lenny65

        .203…well, that ain’t good. I tend to always see (or at least hope for) the upside re: D’Arnaud, perhaps it’s a rose-colored glasses thing. I WANT to like him, maybe it blurs my perspective. He SEEMED LIKE he was doing better, in any event.

  • Greg Mitchell

    As I’ve long said–given the expected rate of starting pitcher injuries, especially younger ones, in the bigs, even before you factor in injury history of Mets starters, the future of the team has been not the “big three” pitchers but the “big three” of Rosario, Conforto, and Smith. If they come through big, they can be relied on without much fear of crippling injuries, for 5 or more years, and the team can scramble for pitching. If they flop, the team is truly dead for a long time.

  • Gil

    The NL East is one good team and a bunch of 11 win vagrants. This is going to be a long year.

  • eric1973

    Hey Curt, only when discussing pregnancies…

    Just heard Flores was just activated. If he starts, I’ll give him til the 6th inning before he gets re-injured. If he does not start, I’ll give him until the 5th, when he impales himself on David Wright’s crown.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    At Citi Field this past Thursday I had to suppress cheers when RA was pitching. I’ve always missed him, but it didn’t really hit me how much I miss him until I saw him pitching in person again.

  • Matt in Richmond

    A bunch of you speak as if the last 2 years didn’t happen. To say the future of the team is not the “big three” pitchers, I mean, by many measures they’ve ALREADY been a triumphant success. Sure it’d be great if they all pitched for 15 years injury free, but that’s not terribly realistic. They did take us to an improbable World Series and followed it up with a playoff run. At many points during the last 2 seasons people were throwing dirt on this team, declaring them done, calling for management’s head, etc only to have all their hyperbolic rantings rendered foolish by the grit and resiliency of this team. If anyone was paying attention, I would think some lessons may have been learned. It’s only the beginning of May. We just took 2-3 from the Nats, beating their best 2 pitchers. We split the first 2 on the road with a Braves team that came in red hot. Yo will be back. Ditto Wilmer and Lucas. Management has shown the willingness and intelligence to go out into the market and make savvy (not hasty) moves. I’d wait a little longer before lighting the funeral pyre.

    • Dennis

      See…..that’s the problem Matt. Most aren’t happy unless they have reason to complain. It’s only May 3, but as usual, everyone acts as if it’s September 3 and there are only 25 games left. How many had this team written off this same time last year?

    • Lenny65

      Hey it’s baseball and like Joaquín Andújar said, youneverknow. Complaining about the Mets is second nature at this point in my life. And sometimes it even seems to help. I’ve been banging away on Jose Reyes all year and suddenly he’s almost sort of useful again, so there is that. Stranger things have indeed happened and one nice winning streak would go a long way toward chasing the misery and woe away for a while. Like they say, it’s why they play the games.

    • Pete In Iowa

      Triumphant success? How many Championships has this “triumphant success” captured?
      Look, I like these guys as much as anyone else, but the bottom line is Championships. Each year, one team has “triumphant success” and then there are the other 29. And if you’re in the other 29, it really doesn’t matter where you happen to be. Fact is, all of the other 29 have fallen short of the ONLY goal. May be stone cold, but it’s the truth.
      I’ve been waiting 30 years for “triumphant success.” I’m getting older and frankly, I’m getting tired of waiting.

  • Matt in Richmond

    I agree Dennis and it makes me shake my head. I have always loved this team for being the ANTI Yankees, but if our fans start acting as entitled as that bunch it’ll break my heart. This past few years fall into one of the 2 or 3 greatest stectches of Mets baseball in my lifetime. I can’t fathom where the extreme negativity comes from.

    • Dennis

      And don’t forget Matt….Terry Collins is the most incompetent manager in MLB history and is responsible for every loss as well.

  • Greg Mitchell

    So tonight Mets up early BUT I have never seen two absolutely atrocious baserunning gaffes within 3 inning–Walker losing track of outs and tagged out, possibly costing runs–then Jose walking slowly back to second and on pop up and tagged out–incredible. Yet Jose left in game, even though many a manager will pull a player for just failing to run out a pop up or grounder. Veteran leadership. Your comments?

  • eric1973

    If I may, on their behalf:
    Hey, it happens to all teams. Stick with these guys, their MVP trophies are currently on order. They should have kept Eric O’Flaherty. Rash decision in getting rid of him!

    • Dennis

      So eric….since the subject was Walker and Reyes, should they both be released? And who should they be replaced with on the roster?

  • eric1973

    In all seriousness, there’s probably nothing you can or should do about it, but you can’t act like it is ok. And you can’t think it is ok.

  • Matt in Richmond

    I don’t condone lazy baserunning, but neither am I a proponent of managers making a big show out of benching a guy for not running out a grounder. In my opinion that kind of thing is usually more about the manager drawing attention to himself than any kind of tangible team benefit. A more mature way to handle those kinds of things is behind the scenes. Like Keith said, I doubt Neil will ever forget how many outs there are again, and I’d be stunned to see Jose lollygag like that again anytime soon. These are grown men not little kids. At any rate, thank goodness Jose stayed in the game to clutch out with the 2 out bases clearing double. Atlanta was only down 4 at the time and wasting a bases loaded no out situation would have given them momentum and left the game very much in doubt. Huge hit. And 16 runs with no homers. How about them apples?

  • eric1973

    Would have never believed 16 runs and no homers. As they said, Sherlock is gunshy. Since getting Bruce thrown out at the plate a couple weeks ago, he stops everyone at third, and when he waved TJ Rivera home, he was out easily, until the catcher did not catch the ball.

  • open the gates

    1) Jose Reyes commits a horrific baserunning gaffe.

    2) To the chagrin of some fans, Terry Collins doesn’t immediately shame Jose and pull him out of the game. (Bring back Wally!)

    3) Reyes goes on to have the best offensive game of his career.

    Methinks the manager isn’t as dumb as some people think.