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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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Mickey’s Microcosms

The 2018 Mets season took place in miniature in the northern suburbs of Atlanta on Tuesday. It takes place in miniature most days wherever the Mets happen to be.

Somebody was injured.

Then it rained.

Things started well anyway.

Somebody else was injured.

Things looked like they might be OK.

A lack of depth began to tell.

Things took a turn for the worse, but maybe they’d hold.

The manager couldn’t quite make the right move.

Things went completely to hell.

That’s really all you need to know, but for the detail junkies among us…

Noah Syndergaard was announced midday as going on the disabled list from out of the blue with a strained ligament in his right index finger (allegedly not that serious; we’ll see). Thor’s DL assignment meant the roster was down to 25 from the 26 who were on hand for the day-night doubleheader Monday. Gerson Bautista was the extra man for that hyperextended occasion. He’d gone unused and was ticketed to return to Las Vegas. Instead the Mets kept him around and optioned P.J. Conlon, whose status as the luckiest of rabbit’s feet (two ragged starts, two wins in spite of him) didn’t hide the fact that he wasn’t going to be of any aid Tuesday. With the roster thus down to 24, the Mets didn’t make any further moves because their Triple-A team is a continent away and they basically have no helpful, healthy arms ready to go from anywhere.

Undermanned for Tuesday and underwhelming for the very immediate future — Jason Vargas is slated to go on short rest Wednesday and Seth Lugo, last seen blowing a win for Jacob deGrom Monday, is supposed to rejoin the rotation Thursday — the Mets went to work after waiting out a 41-minute weather delay at the most ironically named ballpark in major league history. Brandon Nimmo, apparent grandson of Ron Hunt, got himself hit with a pitch, stole second, stole third and came home on Jose Bautista’s double.

Jose Bautista is on the Mets, if you haven’t been paying uninterrupted attention. I pay lots of attention and I keep forgetting.

While Anibal Sanchez’s return from six weeks out (other teams have injuries?) proceeded bumpily, Steven Matz couldn’t have been much sharper. Finally, some consistency from the Long Island lefty. No Brave runs in the first. No Brave runs in the second. Sanchez proved delightfully easy pickin’s in the third, as Nimmo singled and Asdrubal Cabrera homered. The Mets’ 3-0 lead was handled with care by Matz in the bottom of the inning. In the fourth, Adrian Gonzalez homered to lead off, putting the New Yorkers up, 4-0. Sanchez was clearly wobbling. Why, even Matz doubled.

What is it they say about all good DHless deeds? Matz discomfited his left middle finger on one of his swings before the double. It began to throb. He couldn’t pitch and departed the game.

Mickey Callaway went to his perpetually depleted bullpen, searching for a magic formula that would make a four-run lead stand up across six innings. Paul Sewald was his first choice to come in cold. Paul pitched like it, giving up two runs in the fourth. Cabrera did him a solid with a leadoff homer off Braves reliever Matt Wisler in the fifth, however, and Sewald gave Callaway a perfect second inning. The Mets were ahead, 5-2. Then 6-2, once Nimmo doubled in Amed Rosario Speedwagon from first base in the top of the sixth. It was a four-run lead again and only four defensive innings remained. Heck, Sewald, 0-9 lifetime, might even wrangle his first MLB win via scorer’s discretion.

Talk about getting ahead of oneself.

Jerry Blevins, who used to have a role when he pitched, came on in the bottom of the sixth. He retired the Braves without giving up a run. In the bottom of the seventh, though, Nick Markakis doubled in Freddie Freeman, which seems to happen every twenty minutes in Mets-Braves games, to make it 6-3. Jacob Rhame replaced Blevins with two out and ferried the Mets to the eighth.

Wisler was still pitching for home team. He had settled in, while the Mets’ bats fit a nap into their busy schedule. Seven up, seven down since Nimmo’s RBI double in the sixth. The score stayed 6-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth.

It emerged 6-6 going to the top of the ninth. Rhame was methodically then ostentatiously ambushed, the last of the onslaught executed in broad SunTrust nightlight by Ender Inciarte, a killer of all things Met since the otherwise successful 2016 Wild Card hunt, which seems so long ago now. Rhame stayed in there getting whacked around presumably because Callaway had nobody else. Lugo, remember, had been rebranded a starter for Thursday. Robles pitched three the night before. Familia pitched two. Gsellman first wasn’t, then was available. He was gonna be the closer, because when you have a 6-3 lead, you have to have a closer in mind.

The Mets didn’t need have a lead by the ninth. They did have a semblance of a rally going when, with Dan Winkler on for Matt Wisler, Rosario singled to lead off and Nimmo helpfully got himself plunked again. Cabrera, he of the two home runs earlier, was up with two on and nobody out. Could it get any better for the Mets?

Of course not. This is the 2018 Mets in microcosm. We know it might appear hopeful at the beginning, but it doesn’t get any better as it goes on. Asdrubal (who for some reason attempted a bunt) struck out. Luis Guillorme pinch-hit into a fielder’s choice, removing Nimmo from the basepaths. With Amed on third and Luis on first, Michael Conforto struck out.

Remember Bautista? Not Jose the outfielder/third baseman, but Gerson the rookie reliever? The guy who was in Atlanta only because an additional body was permitted Monday and the Mets didn’t have enough bodies by Tuesday? Foreshadowing! With one out, young Gerson gave up a bullet of a home run to Johan Camargo. The Mets lost, 7-6. The result was miserable, the process was terrible, the rotation was asunder, the bullpen in more tatters than usual and a half-dozen runs proved inadequate.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the big picture and most of the small ones on a practically daily basis.

14 comments to Mickey’s Microcosms

  • Tom C.

    At 6-2, I turned to my son and asked him if he felt safe with a 4 run lead. Predictably he said no, and I wholeheartedly agreed with him. Not as bad as a 4 run lead at Coors Field, but this was, after all, the Braves and we’ve seen many a game crumble before our eyes here before. You think it, don’t want to believe it could happen, but almost always it seems to happen to this bunch. LGM

  • Seth

    When the Mets were up 5-2, and Matz was gone, I thought to myself that 5 runs would definitely not be enough. Turns out 6 wasn’t enough. It’s pretty disappointing to be that predictable…

  • Pete In Iowa

    Well Greg, it looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue…..

  • What the Mets are doing to us borders on spousal abuse.

    Can someone explain why Jose Reyes remains part of the starting lineup? And why we have no ready arms in the minors leagues? And why I feel this dread that Brandon Nimmo will resume riding the pine once Yoenis Cespedes returns?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    So, during the middle of the 4th inning commercial break I go down to the basement to look for something. I do have a radio down there but I didn’t even turn it on because I knew I’d be back in front of the TV before the break was over.

    But I did have my phone with me, and I glanced at it on my way back up the stairs. And I saw this:

    P, Sewald.

    I mean, WTF????? You can’t take your eyes off this team even between innings.

  • H mezz shea

    Can we begin to discuss an orderly transition? I sadly say we need new helmsmen at GM and Mgr… pleasant as he is, Mickey is seeming more clueless with each passing loss… did you notice him wandering over the wkend, meandering out as if to inform HP Ump of a line up change only to stop, scratch his head and just slink back to dugout??? TC is in Manhattan chuckling because of the faulty notion that HE was the problem.

  • Jacobs27

    Moment of sad symmetry. The Mets started off 2018 by rising to 10 games over .500. Since, they’ve played to the tune of 10 games under. So it’s a tie season, basically. If yesterday’s microcosm is to continue in macrocosm, what is the seasonal equivalent of getting walked off after coughing up the lead? I would like to mentally prepare.

    Fangraphs still projects the Mets to win 82 games. That’s down now from 88 at the end of the streak, and 84 to begin the year. It also now seems wildly optimistic to me. FiveThirtyEight has us at 77. Unfortunately, that sounds about right. Sigh.

    “…the most ironically named ballpark in major league history.” Brilliant, Greg. So true.

  • eric1973

    So, looks like the players are now managing themselves.

    FAMILIA told Mickey he could not pitch. GSELLMAN told Mickey he could not pitch, or could, or whatever nonsense was going on.

    Where I come from, you pitch when you are told, and more than likely you will exceed expectations.

    • Y’know, as much as we celebrated deGrom waving Callaway back into the dugout on Monday, I was thinking it wasn’t substantively much different from Harvey telling Collins no way he was coming out in Game Five.

      Not that I didn’t sort of celebrate that kind of gumption in the moment.

      Wonder if everybody’s feeling loved as Mickey promised they would throughout the offseason.

  • Unser

    Remember the atrocious defense this blog mentioned yesterday? I count at least five outs that should have been made in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. Instead, fairly routine fly balls, bloops and tailor-made double plays turn into run scoring hits. The bullpen has been awful, but if plays that good major leaguers routinely make were made, they would have taken three of four in Milwaukee and at least two and possible all three of the Atlanta games this week. Why is Conforto playing CF? Put him in left and play Nimmo in center, especially while Cabrera has a bad knee and no ability to reach short pop ups to the outfield.

  • Dave

    Shortly before Matz came down with cirrhosis of the finger or whatever, my wife, upstairs reading a book, asked me if the Mets were winning. I said, “well they are now, but that won’t last.” I go back to the tv room, there’s Sewald. I think, too bad they haven’t started sports gambling in Atlantic City yet, I could make some money betting that this bullpen will lose games. Then again, the oddsmakers know that too. Nobody’s giving you 20-1 on that.

    Go to bed, Mets still up. Get up this morning, see that it didn’t end that way, and that Bautista was the losing pitcher. My first reaction is that he had a position player pitch, because at this point I cannot keep track of who’s on the 25 man roster and I dare anyone who didn’t just refresh a screen to say otherwise. Oy vey.

  • open the gates

    I know it’s become the thing to trash Mickey Callaway these days. (When a team is losing, of course it’s the manager’s fault. When a team is winning, hey these guys are so good they could just as well manage themselves.) But Pete McCarthy of WOR’s Sports Zone made a good point the other day. He said that many of Callaway’s decisions over the course of the year were not wrong or right, but simply could go one way or the other. He compared it to a coin toss, and said that early in the year, every time Mickey called heads it was heads. Lately, though, every time he called heads, it’s come up tails. Although I think that Mickey has made some questionable calls this year, I think there’s truth in what McCarthy was saying.

    • Daniel Hall

      It’s the damn Mets. Everything always comes up damn tails. If someone should know that, it would be the damn Mets manager. I would have expected the damn GM to give him a leaflet with the info when he started the job, but how do we expect anything from Mr. Alderson at all?

      How come Big Sandy has not called dips yet on Hanley Ramirez? Old, washed up guy, no great help to a competing team? Rings familiar?