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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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Dreaming Is Free

Even Mets fans get to have good days.

Honestly, Saturday’s doubleheader with the Braves was about as stress-free as a day dealing with the confounding, confounded 2017 Mets has been. You got drama in both games, with Robert Gsellman and then Steven Matz pitching marvelously but being largely matched by Atlanta competition. But then the drama went away — in the matinee it was Yoenis Cespedes making like Kanye, while the nightcap saw Jay Bruce ride to the rescue, with T.J. Rivera and Juan Lagares adding on to keep any Brave scoundrels at bay.

Heck, Steve Gelbs even let us know what was up with The Freeze.

The second game was accounted for in a crisp 2:41, which for modern baseball is like someone pushed the fast-forward button. Credit the pitchers: to go by his jumbo ERA, Matt Wisler only reserves his A game for starts against the Mets, but we’ve seen plenty of them. He used his big curveball to great effect until the fifth, when one of those big curves came up medium and sat obligingly on the plus part of Jay Bruce’s bat, vanishing into those weird office-cube-looking seats out in right field. Karma alert: it was a pretty good reproduction of the home run Bruce struck here more than a month ago, the one that winked out of existence when a driving rain turned an unofficial game into nothing.

Matz claimed he didn’t have his best stuff, but it looked pretty good to me — he was around the plate, aggressive, and let his defense do the work, which isn’t necessarily a wise strategy with this group but was effective for a day. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling — who have evolved into a terrific duo, by the way — noted that Matz has scrapped his slider, which he felt put a lot of strain on his arm. That was part of a discussion of pitching with pain, something that’s been a source of friction between Mets and Matz; it also struck me that Matz may be one of those brainy pitchers who’s better with fewer choices, something Darling would know about. With his fastball, curve and change-up Matz has plenty to get big-league hitters out, so if a slider puts undue strain on what’s proven to be a somewhat fragile arm, why bother with it?

Cespedes returned in the first game, though — where I have heard this before? — he’s still not running 100 precent. Matz made his 2017 debut a couple of hours later, and it was far more than we could have asked for. Seth Lugo returns later today. Zack Wheeler‘s been terrific of late; Matt Harvey‘s been pretty good; Jacob deGrom has enough of a track record that one can hope he’ll turn back into Jacob deGrom. No one can pull Noah Syndergaard out of a hat quite yet, but patience is a virtue, young Mets fans. Meanwhile Wilmer Flores is hitting everything in sight, Michael Conforto keeps finding walks even while hits prove elusive, and Bruce is quietly putting together a very good year.

Record-scratch time: All that still adds up to six games below .500 with the division and wild cards both steep and perilous climbs above us. The bullpen and defense remain execrable, Terry Collins keeps making bizarre decisions or not making obvious ones, and players who no longer merit it keep getting playing time. T.J. Rivera’s reward for his pinch-hit homer was to be sent down, with Jose Reyes and his no-that’s-not-a-typo .257 OBP inexplicably remaining on the roster.

But for a day that’s the caveat and not the headline. If didn’t let yourself dream a little after eight hours of consistently good news, live a little, willya? The Mets won, nothing bad happened, and dreaming is free.

22 comments to Dreaming Is Free

  • Matt in Richmond

    I’m a big fan of Rivera and his upstart story, but he was the obvious choice to go down. When he got a chance to start a stretch of games he was pretty badly exposed. He’s a contact hitter who doesn’t walk, run or have any defensive value. Meanwhile, as much as Reyes has struggled, he’s been damn near flawless at shortstop and with Cabrera’s nightmarish struggles is valuable as a fill in there. He’s also been hitting into a lot of bad luck recently as noted by Ron yesterday and gives us our only speed threat. Rivera should get another chance later and I can definitely see a role for him pinch hitting and spot starting.

    • Pete In Iowa

      For as “exposed” as Rivera has been, he is hitting nearly 70 points higher than Reyes, which would seem to make Jose “naked.”. And he’s the obvious choice to go down?
      Reyes has little to no value any longer. He hasn’t and continues not to hit, doesn’t get on base (his ridiculous 257 OBP takes his speed completely out of play) and is hardly a good defender any more.
      It’s time for him to go. I would much rather see Rivera, or even Reynolds for that matter, on the 25 man roster over him. And it’s not even close.

  • LeClerc

    Now this is what 2017 was supposed to be about.

    Wilmer leading MLB in hitting since the beginning of May.

    TJ being sent down is a mystery. Perhaps too spry to fit in at Doc Collins’ assisted fielding facility?

  • Harvey Poris

    I thought they sent Matt Reynolds down, not TJ

  • Dave

    Leave it to the Mets to spoil an otherwise great day by demoting TJ while continuing to send the ghost of Jose Reyes out onto the field on almost a daily basis. As far as I can tell, Reyes is 0 for his last 250 and is now hitting negative .107.

  • eric1973

    Not to worry, TJ fans. He will be back when the Mets eventually make the correct decision and release Jose. Jose cannot hit, hit for power, run, or field. They are only keeping him for the moment out of respect, and ‘inside-the-box’ thinking. This is how these things go. They take time.

    Look, they finally stumbled into finally making Conforto and Wilmer fulltimers, and this decision is no different.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I’m not a big fan (or for that matter, not at all a fan) of 2017 Jose Reyes, but it makes sense to keep him over TJ. Just because Rivera hit a home run off a meatball in a fly Ball = a home run stadium doesn’t mean he’s a better option.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Edited by moderator.

    Yes Jose got off to a horrific start, but he is still a useful player that has defensive and speed value even when he’s not hitting. He doesn’t strike out (key in certain situations like the game deciding one against Texas the other night), and even his recent 0fer was full of bad luck. I watch nearly every pitch of every game and he had multiple bullet outs during that stretch. Ronnie even mentioned it yesterday. Like I said, TJ will be back, but this was 100% the right move for now.

  • Eric

    Regarding TJ Rivera, his role on the Mets roster is the same as Flores’s role. With Flores raking righties and lefties now, as well as Duda back (with Bruce able to back up at 1B with Cespedes back), Rivera is the odd man out. Rivera is a slight upgrade in the field because he’s a better over-all athlete than Flores, but neither is an elite glove man and both are RH bat-first players.

    Reyes plays shortstop, and he and Cabrera are placeholders until Rosario is called up. I’d like for Reynolds to be given more chances to cover at SS, but I’m not overly frustrated he’s an odd man out.

    I wouldn’t mind keeping Rivera on the Mets as a bench bat, but as long as Flores is firmly gripping the roster role they share, I also don’t mind regular reps for Rivera at AAA in the meantime while Reyes and Cabrera are showcased for potential trades.

    With the injury history of Cabrera, Reyes, and Walker, and non-athletic injury risk of Flores, I expect Rivera will be back soon enough.

    • Eric

      PS: Add Duda’s injury history for a possible opening for Rivera, but Dom Smith may be ready for his big-league call-up if/when Duda is hurt again.

  • Jacobs27

    Man, that was fun. Such a relief watch a couple of games like that.

  • Lenny65

    Seeing Matz back on the hill really made my day. I honestly thought we’d never see him actually pitch for the Mets ever again…and can you blame me? Now please, Steven, go wrap that arm in ice or bubble wrap or whatever until next time around….please.

    • Eric

      Matz has taught us to be wary because his long-lasting injuries aren’t precipitated by bad outings that signal an injury. He pitches well like a 2 bordering on an ace … and then he’s gone again for months-long stretches. We just don’t know when he’ll be back on the DL.

  • Curt

    Rivera going down is something I don’t care for but understand. He has options, Reyes does not – though why he was batting 2nd yesterday is beyond me.

    However releasing Reyes to bring Rosario up is another story. Do we want to win this year or not? Better chance with Rosario than Cabrera at short if his defense is close to what everyone says.

    Let’s face it – the game winning hit Friday isn’t a hit with most shortstops. He had another yesterday, diving for a ball most players gobble up.

    • Eric

      TJ Rivera doesn’t play shortstop. Or rather, he and Flores can play shortstop in a pinch, but preferably not. Rivera’s allotted role is subbing for Duda or Flores and perhaps Walker, rather than Reyes or Cabrera. Reynolds and Rosario are in the Reyes and Cabrera track.

      I’ll understand if Cabrera is put on the trade block, but I hope the Mets find a way to keep him. Between Cabrera and Reyes, if the Mets can choose which one to give up and which one to keep, I’d rather let go of Reyes. Between Cabrera and Walker, I’d rather keep Cabrera, too.

      I believe Cabrera is bogged down by injuries right now, but I believe or at least I hope they’re not chronic injuries. Assuming his body would hold up better with a reduced workload, I like having Cabrera’s baseball smarts and instincts, attitude, professionalism, and all-around game on the team. I wish the Mets had Cabrera at SS in 2015.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Edited by moderator.

    Reyes gets to everything at short–everything within 2 feet of him. Anyone can make the routine play (unless you are totally losing it, see Cabrera). When you let two go by you that an average SS should get, often leading to runs, it doesn’t show up in the boxscore but believe me, the pitchers (and increasingly, the announcers) notice. The Mets have one of the worst “range” inflelds in memory right now, including Flores and Reyes, and Cabrera and Reyes, and Walker and Rivera, and Duda/Flores. But Duda and Flores and sometimes Walker can at least hit. Reyes is a complete waste on every possible level. Flores has had more “tough outs” than anyone–and is still hitting .333.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Edited by moderator.

    Rosario may we’ll be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I hope he is. But he has 11 errors already this season at the minor league level and we all know by now that Las Vegas batting averages are virtually meaningless. We’ve all seen guys with tons of hype come up before they’re truly ready and be huge disappointments. Patience is a virtue in this situation.

  • eric1973

    Matt Harvey is a Free Agent after next year. So it’s not too early to wonder:

    Perhaps he can be signed right now for 3-4 years at a major discount, because he is not that good right now. Otherwise, we wait until next year when he becomes very good again, and we lose him completely.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Thank you for calling out those weird cubicle seats in RF. What’s the attraction to that design? I keep thinking they’re tombstones. They’re also reminiscent of where a vacuum repairman might pick you up if you’re looking to disappear out of New Mexico.