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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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When All is Ces and Done

As Metsian sequences of events go, the one that unfolded in the top of the first Friday night at Nationals Park was among the Metsiest of 2017. Asdrubal Cabrera was on first base, Yoenis Cespedes was on second, Dominic Smith was batting. Smith singled up the middle. Cespedes came around to score. Except Smith’s ball struck second base umpire Andy Fletcher, rendering it dead, meaning Cespedes had to go back to third.

And Cespedes was clearly hobbling rather than running between third and home, and thus had to leave the game.

And his replacement was Matt Reynolds, not an outfielder, because the Mets were playing with no outfielders in reserve a day after Michael Conforto’s season ended from injury.

And the next two batters, Travis d’Arnaud and Amed Rosario, struck out to leave the bases loaded.

And it happened against the Nationals, the Mets’ nominal archrivals, who entered action approximately a jillion games ahead of the Mets in the National League East.

And the Mets were wearing silly-looking uniforms while being yet again foiled and yet again injured.

The only elements that separated all this from being totally typical of how this season has gone were: a) the Mets had actually scored a run and taken a lead; b) Jacob deGrom was coming to the mound to skillfully protect the lead; and c) the Nationals’ uniforms looked just as silly.

In the opening game of Players Weekend, the depleted Mets in their Little League homage uniforms outlasted the disinterested Nats in their Little League homage uniforms, save for Cespedes, who didn’t last the first inning, straining the hamstring in the leg in which he hadn’t strained his hamstring before. There went Yoenis’s opportunity to display his MLB-approved nickname LA POTENCIA on his back for more than half an inning. For those of you who aren’t versed en Español, LA POTENCIA doesn’t translate to loose-limbed.

ROY HOBBLED would have been more reflective of what happened to Ces Friday and what too often happens to Ces once he challenges the basepaths to a race. What a pity, not so much in terms of what becomes of the Mets’ chances, which haven’t been seen since their likeness was emblazoned on the side of a milk carton ages ago, but because Cespedes had gotten all facets of his game in gear recently. Yoenis Cespedes at full tilt is a sight to behold. Now, likely, it will be a sight to remember until next spring, pending diagnosis, rehab and how soon he inevitably tightens up again.

Funny — or Metsian — how this season has reduced the franchise’s centerpiece player to a liability waiting to happen. Yo doesn’t always help his own cause, though from outside his carefully constructed shell you can’t always tell whether he’s calculating the discretion/valor quotient and being cleverly cautious with his valuable anatomy, or if his mind has gone on a little in-game road trip. Cespedes seems to march to his own drummer. Or hobble to it. When he’s going all out, he’s spectacular. When he opens up, he’s not bad, either. Earlier this week, David Lennon reported in Newsday that Ces, along with Cabrera and Jose Reyes, called a hitters-only meeting, instructing their callow teammates to, in so many words, get their cabezas out of their extremos traseros, no matter the standings. Eleven months ago, these three literally led the Mets to a Wild Card. In this case, they were attempting to lead them through the figurative wilderness.

Through his ever present interpreter, Cespedes explained to Lennon the overriding message he and his more experienced colleagues attempted to deliver: “We understand what the team’s situation is, and how it’s not necessarily our year. But these games are very important, because we’re here to play, to try to win, and the fans spend their money to see us.” It’s what you like to hear veterans say in any language.

What the Mets will have to do, until the next wave of Quadruple-A reinforcements is shuttled in from points far west, is get by with an outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares and pot luck. Can’t speak for the forthcoming mystery guest (Travis Taijeron, come on down!), but the other two members of the Elton John Brigade — they’re still standing — acquitted themselves nicely Friday night. Nimmo hustled to first three times, twice on walks. He’s worked out a celebratory routine for having extracted bases on balls. Tom Goodwin’s experience hiding his eye roll probably comes in handy. Lagares issued one of his periodic reminders that he exists and then some, singling, doubling and stealing twice. The Mets actually stole bases by the plural. Two for Juan, one for Brandon, who’d never tried it before. The Little League-styled jerseys may have imbued certain of these Mets with a sense of discovery. You mean we’re allowed to run from first to second and second to third WITHOUT waiting for one of the other guys to get a hit? Wow!

The comfortingly familiar came in the form of deGrom resuming his road to 17 wins by picking up his 14th. It was a performance commensurate with how we usually react when he is on. Jake — or JAKE, per his sanctioned stitched nickname — overwhelmed whichever Nationals Dusty Baker chose to use after a long overnight trip from Houston, as if that’s our problem. DeGrom went seven-and-two-thirds, scattered five hits and struck out ten. Jerry “GORDO” Blevins reprised his kudos-inspiring role as queller of all things Murph when, at the only sign of trouble, in the eighth, he replaced Jacob and neutralized his former teammate turned Dan the Man Musial.

The Mets’ 4-1 lead reached the bottom of the ninth in the hands of AJ Ramos, who promptly made it a 4-2 lead via a leadoff home run to Adam Lind. JUNIOR then attempted to no-decision JAKE. Ramos had no command and no clue. Despite the activation of Jeurys Familia (a Met coming back from an injury?), Terry Collins adhered to the old adage about sticking with your temporary closer who clearly doesn’t have it. My guess, based on having watched Ramos closely twice lately, is that he didn’t care for the Little League jerseys. Seriously, when he pitched effectively at Citi Field, his top button was unbuttoned, his undershirt appeared sheer and his necklace and tattoos were prominent. I think if this guy could pitch bare chested, he would.

Eventually, Ramos got it together and squirmed out of his self-created mess, preserving a good Met result amid another bad Met development. We win the game. We lose the Yo. We understand what the team’s situation is, and how it’s not necessarily our year. Boy, do we ever.

9 comments to When All is Ces and Done

  • LeClerc

    A great performance by deGrom.

    Nimmo, Reynolds, Smith, Lagares, and, yes, even formerly petulant disgruntled employee Cabrera provided the offense necessary to win.

    Early in the season – pre-hamstring agonistes – I watched an ESPN video sequence where Cespedes lifted some ridiculously heavy free weights and told Jessica Mendoza his intention was to win the 2017 NL MVP. That was then.

    Now Yoenis is free to play with his car collection and limp around the golf course. TC can join him on the links during the off-season.

  • ljcmets

    Please, MLB, stop with the alternate uniforms! I don’t get to more than one game every few years and when I do I want to see the classic Mets uniforms….not blue, not black, not orange jerseys; not camo, not stars-and-stripes, not pink or baby blue. The only ones I can tolerate are the throwbacks and the homages to the nearly forgotten Negro leagues. The nicknames were a nice touch (it’s a long season, especially if you’re the Mets in 2017 – a little whimsy is OK) but put them on the back of the “classic road greys” ( as per Howie Rose ) and not the Bad News Bears. Ugh!

  • Curt

    4-2 was how I expected the Mets to win about 3/4 of the 90-or-so wins I expected this year. But when you are left with only one of the initial 5 starters on the team . . .

    Ces had just tied Wilmer for the team RBI lead in the Mets-who-are-neither-injured-or-playing-for-someone-else category. With 42. I’d say it’s clear sailing for Flores except there are a bunch of folks in the 36-39 range. In my, if it’s going to be a bad season let’s make it REALLY bad I’m half hoping none of the group reaches 50. Wilmer looks to have a clear edge in the HR race, same category. In fact, the team triple crown among those who remain ambulatory is within reach with, say, .260-18-52. Impressive (300 PA minimum – on this team looking for the MLB rule on that would be foolish).

    Dunno what Cespedes has for a pre-game stretching routine. Whatever it is, he should do something else.

    Every time TDA swings the bat my hope that he can ever be a real MLB impact player edges a tick lower.

    But Murph grabbed an 0-fer. Take whatever victories you can get.

    Seeing Taijeron in a Mets uni (even glow-in-the-dark ones) has been a hope of mine since the start of the year – that he’d at least get a September cup of coffee. Every year he puts up big numbers in Vegas and every year I read about holes in his swing and how smart people don’t think his performance would translate to the majors. This is his 7th season in the minors so you had to figure on his leaving the organization. I’m hoping for a pleasant 35-game surprise.

  • Eric

    For me, the signature moment for Cespedes’s season is when the gold glover attempted a typical slide catch in left field and somehow his back foot dug deep into the turf like a disaster-movie asteroid blowing up the Earth. He was lucky not to tear something on that play.

    The silver lining of the injuries on top of the trades is an interesting longer look at younger players and not-so-young players we’ve heard about but haven’t seen much. TJ Rivera performed well. Maybe similarly regarded Taijeron, prodigious strike outs and all, will play up, too.

    Reynolds isn’t an outfielder, but he’s being groomed to be a 6-position utility player, so outfield time isn’t wasted on him.

    Lagares showed again why he’s so tantalizing. Elite centerfielder. Sound, fast baserunner. If he could just figure out how to reach base at an average rate, he’d be an everyday player who can nudge up to borderline all-star.

    Ramos is a veteran closer and the designated closer for now, so SOP was to sink or swim with him in the 9th, but it was still good he kept cool enough to pull out of his own jam, even if he was lucky.

    It’s fitting that deGrom doesn’t have a nickname and isn’t interested in one. “deGrominant” suits us, his fans, fine, though.

  • Greg Mitchell

    How’s that Cespedes for three more season at $28 million each working out? Recall how Mets were saddled with Johan for three useless seasons, breaking their bank. At least in Johan’s case when he was signed he was healthy and–aside from the usual serious worries surrounding any longterm contract for any pitcher–seemed like a good investment. Until, in my view, the no-hitter bid wrecked him for good. Ces had a worrisome history of leg issues when signed and most nights is just a slugger with average speed and range in outfield thanks to injuries or fears of injuries. And sluggers are a time a dozen nowadays (hello, Scooter Gennett). You might say, well, the Mets should spend more money, but as you may have heard, attendance has plunged year at Citifield so they are not going to be in any mood for that. So dream on if you are dreaming of Jay Bruce back in the orange and blue….

  • eric1973

    At this point, would anyone really object to bringing up Tebow to distract us all from the injuries? He looks pretty bulked up with no flexibility, and so fits right in.

  • Eric

    Cabrera and Reyes starting today. Reynolds, Cecchini, and Smith on the bench. Why?

  • Joe41

    The Mets are on pace to win 71 games. A pace established with guys like Bruce and Grandy in the lineup. (Both of whom are tearing it up, and they deserve the success). I wonder what pace the Wilpons are on for profitability? Another Madoff payment is due, don’t you know.