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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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An Elder Statesman Exits

The Mets’ flaccid, meaningless loss to the Marlins was prelude to the real news of the day: the trade of Curtis Granderson and cash to the Dodgers for the curious return of a player to be named later … or cash.

The sheer Wilponitude of that transaction is irritating — to my admittedly inexpert eye this looks like a fancy way of not being willing to say “salary dump,” but we can vent about that another day. Granderson immediately leaps up 33 games in the standings and joins a clubhouse making October plans. I wish him the best in those endeavors — as, I suspect, do all his teammates and every other Mets fan.

Granderson wasn’t an MVP or a transformative player, arriving in Flushing with his best years behind him. But his on-field performance repeatedly surprised you, and the surprises were invariably to the upside. As for his off-field performance, “MVP” would indeed be the word — Granderson showed everyone what a fundamentally good person he was, whether it was raising money for charity, taking young teammates aside for conversations, or showing up with ice cream for Mets employees whose workplaces were desks instead of warning tracks and basepaths.

Granderson’s arrival on a four-year deal was something of a head-scratcher, with the prevailing wisdom that the Mets could expect two decent years and expect to swallow two lousy ones, then say farewell to a 36-year-old player. But Granderson was … well, “consistently inconsistent” might approximate it. The man would spent April and May looking like he had a giant fork in his back, then rouse himself in the warmth and prove impossible to get out. He alternated amazing funks with runs of excellence, and when each campaign was over you were surprised to find him having turned in much the same performance, and a pretty good one at that. While the batting average was never particularly robust, his early exit robs him of the certainty of hitting 20 homers in each of his four Met seasons. He helped carry the Mets to last year’s unlikely play-in game (and kept them alive with a tremendous catch in dead center) and was superb in the World Series the year before that. In the field, he played right when his arm dictated he should have been playing left, which wasn’t his fault; asked to switch to center, he acquitted himself better than anyone expected.

And hey, his final act as a Met was a grand slam against the Yankees. That’s got to count for something, right?

* * *

While pondering a departure, spare a moment for a non-arrival. The Mets called up Kevin McGowan and then sent him down without a pitch thrown in anger, making McGowan — provisionally — the 10th ghost in club history and the third to never play a big-league game for another franchise.

That “provisionally” is important here. McGowan is just 25 and might well return in September, or sooner if more veterans depart the club and payroll. Two years ago, Matt Reynolds was the Mets’ first postseason ghost, waiting until 2016 to escape baseball ectoplasm. But escape he did.

Still, funny things happen in baseball, and there are all number of ways for the likelihood of another shot to curdle into possibility, non-impossibility and then nothing. Just ask Terrel Hansen, who went back to Tidewater as a 25-year-old in 1992 and retired in 1999 after playing for three more organizations, in the Mexican League and in independent ball. Or there’s Billy Cotton, who was called up in September ’72 and — according to legend — got as far as the on-deck circle only to see the batter in front of him hit into an inning-ending double play. I’ve never been able to verify that story and hope it isn’t true, but what’s indisputable is that Cotton retired after ’74, never having returned to the big leagues.

Here’s hoping McGowan avoids such a fate. We’re Mets fans — we’ve got enough things that go bump in the night as it is.

12 comments to An Elder Statesman Exits

  • Curt

    When I read about the trade it bothered me – completely unexpectedly. I thought I’d be happy, so long as the player from whatever land it is where baseball players who do not yet have a name reside, waiting for inclusion in a trade, is decent. Our outfield should be Lagares, Cespedes, Conforto. And now it can be. But Granderson was such a good guy, good citizen, good professional – I doubt he ever responded to a baseball-related question with “I don’t care.”

    As for the game, the top of the 6th was entertaining with first Nimmo and then Flores trying for their version of the Ziegfeld Follies. Flexen pitched like he has the past few games – better than most Met pitchers, enough to put a giant “?” following the question asking if he can be a quality major leaguer. The rest of the game was a “meh.”

    Was hoping McGowan would get the chance to at least throw a pitch. He has big hair. We’ve had pretty decent luck with big hair guys the last few years.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    This news definitely gives me a little bit of a reason to root for the Dodgers in the Post Season, or more to the point, at least pay attention to the Post Season.

    OK, so, has there been any other player whose last Met At Bat was a Grand Slam?

  • LeClerc

    Granderson was the Mets’ Most Valuable Human Being.

    A healthy contrast to the pouters and prima donnas.

  • eric1973

    Grandy’s Met batting average was .239, and that was a highly accurate representation of his time here.

    And that he was traded on Roberto Clemente’s Birthday is a highly accurate representation of the high quality guy he is.

    Good luck to him in the playoffs.

    I thought it was important to finish in second place as a good launching point into 2018 for the young guys who are left, but now that seems a pipedream.

    And these salary dumps won’t even cover the meal money these guys get, so combined with getting NO good players or prospects in return, this is just more Met nonsense.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Good guy Curtis Granderson is now a teammate of inherently evil Chase Utley. Isn’t that like Dudley Do-Right in the same clubhouse with Snidely Whiplash?

  • MetFanMac

    And now they’ve let Rene Rivera go to the Cubs on waivers. That’s a move of unusual ineptitude even for the Wilpons.

    • Curt

      That one had to be by design. I suspect they contacted the Cubs with a, “What will you give us for him if we revoke?” And the answer was, “Nothing” so they let him go to save a few $$$. Doesn’t bother me much. Plawecki’s been hitting in Vegas, maybe this time he’ll do it in the Majors.

  • I don’t know about Billy Cotton, but Hansen (who was only up for 2 days) was set to pinch hit. He picked out a bat, got ready to head to the on deck circle and….Torborg changed his mind, told him to sit down, and let Mackey Sasser bat for himself.

  • Eric

    Granderson was his best as a Met in 2015 when the team was its best. The WeLoveLucasDuda Instagram was fun.

    I’m rooting for all the recently ex-Mets, though several of them play for division rivals.

    Once the Mets fell out of the race, the pending free agents leaving the team was expected. Better to lose with the younger players for the sake of development than eke out a few more meaningless wins with veterans who are set to leave regardless. Getting back so little in return for them, though, was unexpected. There was hardly any cupboard restocking at all.

  • Joe41

    What does it say when we root for all the guys the Mets let go in the last month? We fans matter. When you own a major league club, you have a responsibility. There is a moral imperative to try and make your money through winning. It’s why you have the antitrust exemption that allows you to print money – just don’t get stupid and make the rest of us suffer because you let a thief near the press. I don’t want this… behavior… part of my Mets tradition. Wilpons 1, Mets 0.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    One thing about Grandy forgotten in history: when the Royals won Game 1 w the sac fly in extra innings, Curtis made the play WAYYYY closer than any of us thought possible. I’ll miss him.