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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 Good Stuff

Every year we have a horse-racing party, which is pretty fun. Then, the next day, we have to clean up, which is less fun. You realize just how many bits of chip have been crushed into carpets. You find quarter-glasses of booze in unexpected, even baffling places. All the stuff that got stowed downstairs needs to be put back where it belongs. Garbage has to go to the curb, recycling needs to go to the bins, the dishwasher and the vacuum need to be run repeatedly, the floor has to be mopped, and all day you’re heading up and down the stairs trying to get all these things done in a moderately efficient fashion.

As a kid trekking in to Shea from the wilds of Suffolk County, I learned pretty quickly that the Mets didn’t respect the quirks of my personal calendar. Tom Seaver was not a guarantee to pitch on whatever day my parents agreed to take me to a game. Dave Kingman might not homer. Mike Phillips — my favorite player once Rusty Staub was exiled to Detroit — probably wouldn’t even play.

I got used to this idea back when Jimmy Carter was president. But still, the day after the horse-race party always sees me offer a plea that the Mets rouse themselves to be reasonably entertaining and good company.

Sunday’s game was promising, what with Noah Syndergaard on the mound, the Diamondbacks on the ropes and an unfamiliar sight up there in the sky … why yes, it was the actual sun, returning from its apparent stay on the 10-day DL.

And the early doings were interesting enough, as taken in while hauling trash and pushing mops and trying to figure out if the vacuum cleaner was broken or had just become inadequate for handling its one essential task. Eventually the distinction was ruled to be meaningless; ironically, the vacuum has been DFA’ed for failing to do what the still-employed Jose Reyes now does reliably.

Syndergaard is having a perplexing year, one in which we’re all faintly cross with him but can’t figure out why. He’s being less efficient with his pitches and seems to be lacking that Asgardian something … yet you look at the numbers and see he’s 4-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA, fanning more than a hitter an inning and walking basically nobody. Honestly, Syndergaard’s biggest problem this year has been being a Met — he’s been undone by crap defense, lousy relief and anemic hitting, and could easily be 7-1 with less Metsiness around him. If only the rest of our rotation had such flaws.

At least on the scoreboard, Syndergaard was outdone for a while by Clay Buchholz, last seen throwing a big-league pitch in anger more than a year ago. Buchholz mixed his pitches well and was the recipient of a lone run, the product of consecutive singles from reliable annoyance Jarrod Dyson and Nick Ahmed and a modest little grounder from Jeff Mathis that Wilmer Flores correctly saw couldn’t be turned into an out at home or second. But he went unscathed after that, with Jay Bruce throwing out Mathis at home to prevent further trouble.

Amed Rosario got Syndergaard even with a solo shot in the sixth, but it looked like Noah would once again come away with nothing for his efforts — at least until Asdrubal Cabrera connected as a pinch-hitter off Jorge De La Rosa. That was immediately followed by Rosario’s second homer of the day (and year), and both the Mets and their starter were ticketed for wins.

Cabrera’s having a quietly amazing season, the kind that turns a player from fondly remembered to eternally beloved. I enjoy how furious he gets with himself when he fails to execute the way he believes he can, flinging bats into the earth and stomping toward first with jets of steam whistling out of his ears, like some unholy mingling of Paul Lo Duca, Al Leiter, and primeval human rage. You can’t really be mad at Cabrera for failing at a baseball-related task because he’s already so comically furious with himself. There was no need for any of that today, happily — Cabrera waited for his pitch, unloaded on it, coolly admired the result, trotted 360 feet and returned to a now even more enjoyable day spent mostly off.

Rosario’s offensive outburst, of course, is potentially of greater import — if things go right, he’ll still be stationed on the Citi Field infield when Cabrera’s being chatted up by Steve Gelbs or some successor. The Mets are clearly trying to teach Rosario plate discipline, but he’d mostly processed that as “don’t immediately swing at the first pitch,” pitchers knew it, and Rosario was left with a lot of 0-1 counts and creeping dismay. Not today — he crushed De La Rosa’s get-me-over four-seamer instead of waiting for a better pitch that might never come. (While we’re applauding the youth, props also to Robert Gsellman, who looked thoroughly in command in recording his first career save.)

By the time the afternoon was waning, the house was clean, the Mets had won and hope abounded. That’s a pretty good day.

10 comments to The Good Stuff

  • Jpb

    “ironically, the vacuum has been DFA’ed for failing to do what the still-employed Jose Reyes now does reliably.”

    Heh. I see what you did there..

    • Daniel Hall

      I must applaud this elegant description as well.

      Next I would enjoy to liken Senor Reyes to the second sock of every pair I ever owned.

    • Jacobs27

      I get the frustration with Reyes, and the sense that he’s not justifying his roster spot. I also get there’s something inherently saddening about watching a player who used to be so exciting now so diminished. But personally I’m still inclined to cut him a little slack. If he could produce like he did in the second half last year (.288 BA/.356 OBP) that would be worth it.

  • Curt

    I only have one question, Can the ballkid play 3rd?

  • LeClerc

    After the Homeric heroics, Gsellman was electric.

  • Gil

    I see the faith-and-fear-o-meter is trending back towards faith.

  • Michael in CT

    When are they going to put Gsellman and Lugo in the rotation and Vargas and either Matz or Wheeler in the bullpen?

  • I enjoy how furious he gets with himself when he fails to execute the way he believes he can, flinging bats into the earth and stomping toward first with jets of steam whistling out of his ears…

    For 3 years now, I’ve been saying Asdrubal looks like Harpo Marx without the wig.

  • Stuart Miller

    Apropos of nothing, I think the Mets pitching problems could be fixed by making a trade with a last-place American League team for a pitcher who has lasted at least 7 full innings in four of his seven starts, who has a WHIP under 1.00 and an ERA under 3.00… and who is a good clubhouse presence, who knows the NL East and has shown at least flashes (okay, okay, flash, singular) of power with the bat.

    Sure, he’s dozens of pounds overweight and many years too old, but would you rather be sending Vargas and Wheeler out there or this guy in Texas named Bartolo.

    • Daniel Hall

      I enjoy his seventh spring a lot. I really thought he was done after last year when he got slapped around with two different teams.