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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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Two-to-One Odds

Brewers 2 Mets 1. Not the outcome of choice in these parts, but a reassuring baseball score for a sunny Thursday afternoon. If you’re gonna lose by a run…well don’t, but if you have to, do it neatly, quickly and move on. Two-one without extra innings implies satisfying efficiency.

Yet this game lingered too long to be filed away so squarely. It lasted just past three hours. Three hours for three runs? Shouldn’t have that been over sooner? For comparison purposes, I sought out a 2-1 game I recall from many moons before: Padres 2 Mets 1. It’s featured toward the end of Mets Yearbook: 1978, wherein mic’d up manager Joe Torre urges Jerry Koosman — “Koozy,” he called him that Wednesday afternoon — on to no avail.

That 2-1 decision, on August 16, 1978, in which the Mets totaled four hits and the Padres nine, took 2:21 to complete at Shea. The most recent 2-1 loss in Mets history, which occurred at Citi Field over 3:02, encompassed the same number of home team hits and two more from the visitors. There were three walks combined in 1978, five in 2017, though one was intentional, which doesn’t require the messy issuing of four balls anymore. There was one error this Thursday, none 39 years ago. Five more batters struck out now (21) as compared to then (16), and batters didn’t stray from the box then as they tend to now. Plus commercials. Always commercials.

A little extra time here, a little extra time there…nah, it doesn’t add up to a fan watching and wondering why the heck one 2-1 loss in which the Mets bat in the bottom of the ninth takes forty-one minutes longer to conduct than the other 2-1 loss in which the Mets bat in the bottom of the ninth.

I suppose a few minutes needed to be devoted in modern time to Terry Collins barking at Fieldin Culbreth. And Culbreth needed a moment to eject Collins. Collins was upset that the umpires reinterpreted an interpretive-to-begin-with call. You rarely see managers strenuously emote at umpires anymore, now that we have video replay review. But this call — stemming from Wilmer Flores getting entangled in the wayward Milwaukee bat boy and thus not catching a foul pop hit by Eric Sogard — fell outside the purview of the crew in Chelsea. All Collins could do was gripe once the call went from out on interference to never mind, just a foul ball that didn’t get caught. All Culbreth could do in response was lend an ear and give a thumb.

So you needed some time for that fourth-inning escapade. Zack Wheeler needed time to make a few more pitches before getting Sogard to ground into an inning-ending double play that eased even if it didn’t erase the irritation surrounding Wilmer and the bat boy (Wilmer and the Bat Boy — coming to ABC this fall!). Also, the Brewer hit just prior to Sogard’s at-bat unfolded in slow motion. Chase Anderson bunted a ball in the air that Travis d’Arnaud didn’t catch and didn’t throw to second, which was the whole idea of not catching it. Travis threw to first, but Chase, the pitcher, beat it out. That seemed to take a while.

A Thursday afternoon shouldn’t be the place to hurry baseball along, but 2-1 works better when paced better. Anderson gave up only three Met singles and one Met walk across 104 pitches that covered seven innings. One-hundred four pitches and no runs allowed sounds like it should get you to the ninth, but Anderson didn’t see the eighth. The Met offense didn’t see the scoreboard until Chase was chased by his manager, Craig Counsell. Flores got even with that benignly clumsy Brewer bat boy (presumably a Met employee not suited to the outfit he was assigned…a lot of that going around Flushing lately) by taking Jacob Barnes deep on the first Brewer pitch not delivered by Anderson. It got out with enough exit ferocity to shave at least a few seconds from time of game.

Think about it: One guy throws 104 pitches and can’t be touched. One guy throws one pitch and the lead he was bequeathed is instantly halved. Then again, Wheeler threw 102 pitches, wasn’t nearly as untouchable as Anderson, yet lasted only two-thirds of an inning less and gave up only two more runs.

Juggling these numbers about doesn’t change the 2-1 equation. Zack gave up one run in the third, another in the fourth, but survived into the seventh thanks to three double plays. Ten hits allowed in 6.1 IP could do you more damage. But three hours in the sun should probably yield more than three runs in all, and ideally the Mets would wind up with more than one of them.

Could have been worse. It was exactly a year earlier, on a Wednesday afternoon, I sat through thirteen innings that required four hours and forty-one minutes and resulted in the same 2-1 loss for the Mets. Well, not the same. No two ballgames, whatever their scores, are precisely the same. I guess that’s why they keep making new ones and we’ll keep watching every one that they make.

17 comments to Two-to-One Odds

  • sturock

    >No two ballgames, whatever their scores, are precisely the same. I guess that’s why they keep making new ones and we’ll keep watching every one that they make.<

    Ain't that the truth?

    Great piece, Greg!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Probably fewer pitching changes in that 1978 game too, but I think the worst culprit is how long so many pitchers take between pitches. One of the devices I use when I’m playing back archived games has a 30 second fast forward feature. You press the button once and it skips ahead 30 seconds. I don’t use it that often because as slow as they are, most pitchers, particularly starters, come in under that time, although often not by much. But some relievers take longer, particularly with men on base. In some of the more tedious games, when things start bogging down I will use that button over and over and not miss a single pitch. Think about it. That means an 8 pitch at bat would take over 4 minutes. For one AB! And I used to watch Braves games back in the 90s when they were on TBS and Maddux would pitch complete games that would finish in UNDER 2 hours.

    • Five pitchers were used in the 1978 game, six yesterday, but the same number of mid-inning pitching changes: two. Roger Craig actually did a whole mess of National League managing: three pinch-hitters and a pinch-runner. Torre deployed Kranepool to bat for Foli in the bottom of the ninth to make the last out (well, to get a hit, but he didn’t).

  • Daniel Hall

    Just like the game felt like it took six hours, the 2-0 score felt more like 7-0 the longer the Mets were poking feebly at Anderson’s stuff.

    Still surprised the consecutive terrible breaks in the fourth inning didn’t immediately escalate into an 8-spot on the board.

    Although I did get to yell nasty stuff at d’Arnaud for whatever it was he was doing, so I got my money’s worth even before Terry did…

    • Matt in Woodside

      I was at work and didn’t see the game live, but they showed the replay of d’Arnaud not throwing to second like, five times on Sports Night. Wasn’t it obvious from the replay that he COULDN’T throw to second because Duda was directly in the line of sight (to second) when he picked up the ball? I’m not blaming Duda, either. We’re talking about a split second with the two of them running toward a popup bunt. Duda tried to crouch (also blindingly obvious on the replay!), but it wasn’t in time. The guys on the Daily News panel were yelling about it like d’Arnaud was an idiot, or Duda is a ghost or something.

    • Left Coast Jerry

      I’m with you, Daniel. Even after Wilmer hit the home run, I felt the Mets had no chance of winning the game. The hitters just looked listless.

  • LeClerc

    After the strenuous affair on Tuesday night, the Mets settled down for a replenishing two day nap.

    They should be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the game tonight.

    Shouldn’t they?

  • eric1973

    Wilmer and the Bat boy?
    Sounds like it ought to be on HBO rather than ABC.

  • Jerryk

    Play Flores!

  • Greg Mitchell

    For all the talk of the Reyes “revival” he hit all of .215 since May 1 with the usual horrendous on base pct. Wilmer led league in hitting for the month and is now hitting .276 vs. rightiies. Nuff said.

  • Gil

    We need the DL guys back.

  • Greg Mitchell

    As we ponder Alderson’s overall Mets performance, don’t be afraid to factor in what they’d be like today minus Ces, Flores and Wheeler–and with Carlos Gomez (his usual .246 right now).

    I won’t even mention Daniel Murphy.

  • Matt in Richmond

    [W]hen I think of Sandy what stands out is the summer of 2015. We had injuries galore and the offense was scuffling. Fans were [demanding] he make moves immediately, which he could have but would have overspent. Instead he bided his time, picked up Uribe and Johnson at the perfect time (along with Yo) giving up virtually nothing and the team made the World Series.

    Edited by moderator.

  • Lenny65

    Is there any word regarding Rosario and his possible promotion? I understand his contractual eligibility is a big factor, when does that finally play out? IMO a sharp glove man who can get on base would be the balm the Mets middle IF needs…like badly.

  • Greg Mitchell

    The “contract eligible” factor is a club’s choice or not, depending on how badly they want to win in any year. The Dodgers, for example, promoted their hottest prospect, Bellinger, way ahead of schedule back in April due to OF injuries, and will lose that year on contract. And he has gone on to be their best player and save their season. Rosario might have bombed, or hit .350 (vs. Reyes .195 and injured Cebrera) and the Mets might be at .500. We’ll never know. But it was Mets’ choice.