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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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The Joys of Not Losing

The Mets played a baseball game in Cincinnati Monday night — and, for the first time in eight days, ended the night as winners.

That’s the unalloyed good news. The rest, well, it’s a matter of perspective.

The Mets hit the baseball with authority, something they hadn’t done in quite some time. Michael Conforto — who may be injured, rusty, slumping, unlucky, or some combination of those things — hit the second pitch from Homer Bailey into the nearly empty left-field seats. Jay Bruce homered. So did Adrian Gonzalez — twice. Amed Rosario had a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly, which is close enough.

It seems cruel to squint at such welcome events, particularly after so lengthy an absence of themt. But Bailey hasn’t been an effective big-league pitcher since 2014, the Reds hit three home runs of their own, and after an initial flurry of scoring the Mets did a depressing number of lunkheaded things on the basepaths and in the coaching boxes. And if the Mets have become a tire fire, the Reds are an underground blaze eating away at a coal seam below an abandoned town. The scoreboard says the Mets won, 7-6; it gets closer to the heart of the matter to suggest the Reds proved better at losing.

But hey, Yoenis Cespedes played and didn’t seem to damage anything. And we got a chance to see the 1,050th Met in club history, in the person of Irish-born lefty P.J. Conlon.

I had no particular awareness of Conlon beyond hazy spring-training memories and knowing he’d ascended the prospect ranks high enough to be considered Potentially Useful, which sounds snarky but is actually high praise given the pitiless filter of minor-league ball. Viewed with more careful attention, Conlon is a lefty chucker with Rube Goldberg mechanics that hide the ball while making the team physician blanch — he looks like a shoulder and/or elbow injury waiting to happen. He doesn’t throw hard and never did, but that meant he arrived having had to outthink hitters he couldn’t overpower, learning to change speeds and live on the edges of the strike zone.

Conlon did that for a while, until the Reds got a longer look at him and started centering balls. I suspect that one-game scouting report may describe his career — a few trips through the league and the ubiquity of video may well make that deceptive delivery less mysterious. I’d love to be wrong, of course; even if I’m not, it’s always fun seeing a big-league debut. Conlon looked like there wasn’t enough air out there, and his every move was cheered by a large rooting section featuring his parents, well-wishers (one kissing a prayer card in particularly tense moments) and jubilantly displayed Irish flags.

Conlon wasn’t around enough to give those folks the reward of a win, but he did collect his first hit. Which, it turns out, hastened his departure — he jammed his thumb, couldn’t feel his pitches, and was pulled in the fourth.

And honestly, can you imagine a more perfect introduction to life as a Met than that?

10 comments to The Joys of Not Losing

  • Jacobs27

    To be fair to Conlon, I think a healthy Cespedes catches one if not both of those doubles that he pulled up on in the 4th. The Irishman could’ve had a much cleaner line.

    • Pete In Iowa

      My thoughts exactly. I really hope this injury doesn’t reduce Cespedes to the non-hustling, half hearted player he has been on many occasions since the Mets picked him up. To be honest, I’ve been more impressed by his hustle in the field and on the basepaths this year than by any other aspect of the 2018 club. I hope he gets back to 100% soon. He can be one of the best players in the league if he has the desire/hustle to be.

  • Daniel Hall

    Homer Bailey’s career trajectory is truly harveian. Oh well, sometimes you gotta find a guy that can’t get out of the way quick enough and make him disappear between the front wheels.

    So glad the Mets finally pulled a W out of somebody, anybody. C’mon boys – let’s make it three!

  • LeClerc

    I’ll take it.

    But what was Glen Sherlock thinking ?

    • Jacobs27

      Yeah, what happened to taking the extra base and putting pressure on the defense? You can try to rationalize playing it conservative there with none out, but I thought the new team philosophy was to be aggressive. If not then, when?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    They barely beat the worst team in Baseball. Conforto hit a pop fly home run in the best hitters park in baseball. The worst 3rd base coach in baseball didn’t allow the worst 25th man in baseball to do the one thing he is still able to do, a little, run the bases. Happy Days are not here again.

  • Gil

    I’d make a positive comment about winning a baseball game and having our bats come alive behind a 3A pitcher making his debut but dont want to bring any sunshine to the rainy parade here.

    2 more v the Reds and then 3 with Philly. Important little stretch here.

    Keep the faith, Men, Ya Gotta believe.

  • Pete In Iowa

    I agree Jason, something is up with Conforto. I’ve never seen a big league hitter so consistently LATE on almost every ball he hits. Has he hit ONE ball with authority to right field all season? I don’t recall one.
    Is it possible his shoulder injury is causing him to drop the bat down and lose all quickness with the bat? I’ve noticed teams are exploiting this by busting him inside with fastballs quite often in his AB’s.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Remember, Conforto was expected to play first game this season…about now. He hit a few dingers off minor leaguers in spring training and team fell for it. Probably is late for good reasons.

    I predicted Cespedes would not play more than 120 games this year, which is bad enough, but even worse is that he may only go all out half the time due to nagging injuries.