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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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Losses and Tangents

The Mets last week lost a game started by Steven Matz, 25-4. Five days later, because Matz was injured, they started Corey Oswalt in his place. Matz is out with a mild flexor pronator strain, a phrase known primarily to:

1) Medical professionals who treat mild flexor pronator strains;

2) Their patients who are diagnosed with mild flexor pronator strains;

3) Mets fans.

Oswalt pitched much better than Matz did last Tuesday. Oswalt also pitches much better than Jason Vargas any day of the week. Yet Oswalt is considered to start only when somebody is injured.

Despite Oswalt pitching well, the Mets lost, 5-4. That looks much better than 25-4, but it is still a loss. I wouldn’t discourage Oswalt from continuing to pitch well, nor the Mets from keeping their margins of defeat reasonable, but the real key to success for the team is not losing. This is a fundamental of baseball of which the Mets are likely aware, but given how infrequently they win, posting an occasional reminder seems necessary.

Congratulations to Austin Jackson for homering and for having a name that encompasses two state capitals, the only Met ever to be able to say that. He’s also the only major leaguer ever to be able to say that, but I’m not concerned with everybody else’s minutiae, only ours. We’ve had Jacksons first-named Al, Roy Lee and Darrin, and we’ve had a Todd first-named Jackson. They all might have felt at home visiting the capital of Mississippi, but Texas is a whole other identity. Al Jackson, who hails from Waco, could tell you that.

The Al in Al Jackson is short for Alvin Jackson, and Nolan Ryan grew up in Alvin, Tex. Dallas Green was born in Newport, Del. Neither Dallas nor Newport is a state capital. Also, Al Jackson was commonly referred to as Little Al, and half of that can get you to Little Rock, Ark., not as long a schlep from Jackson, Miss, as it would be from Austin, Tex., “schlep” being a word I imagine doesn’t much come up in the region that encompasses those particular states. Maybe it drives down from New York to Delaware on its way to Florida for the winter.

As long as we’re on the subject, let’s hear it for Daryl Boston, Stanley Jefferson (City), Robert Carson (City), Ed Charles(ton) and the three Harrises — Lenny, Willie and Greg — who together at the next Mets alumni celebration could form their own little Harrisburg.

That’s absurd. The Mets celebrate their alumni less frequently than folks around Austin, Jackson and Little Rock say schlep. I’m guessing on the latter, but I’m confident of the former. On the off chance the Mets ever invite the Harrises back en masse, they should keep in mind that Greg A. Harris is ambidextrous and thus could enter the festivities from either dugout.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Mets lost on Sunday. Wilmer Flores ran the bases terribly as he usually does, but I don’t want to get on Wilmer today because today is Wilmer’s birthday. Happy birthday, Wilmer! The cake is over there…yeah, just go ahead…no, don’t hesitate…ah, never mind.

We love our birthday boy, but there was a lot of truth in that old Carnac bit:

“Longer hemlines, shorter haircuts and Wilmer Flores trying to take the extra base.”
“Longer hemlines, shorter haircuts and Wilmer Flores trying to take the extra base.”
“Name three things that are out this season.”

Judging by the vintage of that reference, Wilmer turns 77 rather than 27 today. Also judging by how Wilmer runs.

It’s not Mickey Callaway’s birthday, so I don’t feel badly pointing out he managed Sunday’s game badly. He demonstrates a Vargasish consistency in that respect. There was another of those situations in which he was duped by common sense when making a pitching change. The pitching change itself wasn’t the issue. Mickey didn’t wait for Brian Snitker to announce his pinch-hitter before making his move for Paul Sewald — St. Paul, should he be traded to Minnesota — to face Adam Duvall. You wait so you can force your counterpart to burn a player. Mickey doesn’t wait, so the other manager doesn’t have to burn anybody. Duvall stayed on the bench unburned, allowing Snitker to use him later at a time of his choosing.

Mickey will do all the self-immolating in these parts, thank you very much.

Maybe Mickey wants to show confidence in his pitchers by bringing them into the game as quickly as humanly possible. That’s not what he said later, though that would have been a more plausible explanation than what he did say, which was something about how he can’t worry about how a move he makes in one inning (in this case the seventh) might affect the game in a later inning (say the eighth or ninth). Managers are usually praised for their ability to simultaneously address the situation at hand while keeping in mind the consequences of situations that have yet to unfold. Actually, it’s kind of understood that’s an essential part of managing.

Mickey’s an innovator. He starts Jason Vargas every five days and expects something different to happen.

If the Mets had ever gotten Mike Lansing, I could have mentioned him earlier. But they never did. Devin Mesoarco also homered. I don’t think there’s a state capital with either of his names attached to it. Even if there was, it probably wouldn’t have helped Mickey, who reportedly will be back next season no matter how many games he lights on fire the rest of this season, manage the Mets to a win on Sunday. Little would.

19 comments to Losses and Tangents

  • Seth

    Hey, you forgot about the Leaning Tower of Piazza. Oh wait, never mind…

  • Ray

    Albany things considered, we’ve had a Trenton of suffering that’s only gotten worse this Augusta. Juneau?

  • Harvey Poris

    Most of those guys you listed played like Bob Denver.

  • Mark Mehler

    Wilmer got a birthday cake? Not fair – as I recall, Marv didn’t get one.

  • There’s:

    Gary Carter (Lake) (Iowa)
    Vance Wilson (North Carolina)
    Sammy and Hawk Taylor (Michigan)
    Johnny Stephenson (Michigan)
    J.C. Martin (Tennessee)
    Joe Nolan (Texas)
    Ron Hodges (Alabama)
    Jerry May (Minnesota)
    Ike Hampton (Virginia)
    Butch Benton (Arkansas)
    Ronn Reynolds (Georgia)
    Mike Fitzgerald (Georgia)
    John Gibbons (Alberta, Canada)
    John Stearns County (Minnesota)
    John Bucks County (Pennsylvania)
    Barry Lyons (Georgia)
    Mackey Sasser (Georgia)
    Charlie O’Brien (Texas)
    Kelly Stinnett (Texas)
    Jason Phillips (Wisconsin)
    Jim Tatum (Texas)
    Henry Blanco (Texas)

    Yes, I have way too much time on my hands since those are just the catchers :)

  • Rob D.

    “How he can’t worry about how a move he makes in one inning (in this case the seventh) might affect the game in a later inning”…ISN’T THAT WHAT HE’S PAID TO DO????????????

  • Jacobs27

    It goes without saying, but even when it’s his day, Wilmer sure does seem always stuck in second gear.

    • MetFanMac

      And it certainly hasn’t been our day, our week, our month, or even our year.

      Only the Mets could convert runners on the corners, no outs into man on first, two outs, with the man on first being the one who put the ball in play.

  • eric1973

    See, Baseball does not just only teach you baseball, it teaches you about real life as well.

    We learned about time zones, for example. We remember when Houston and St. Louis started their home games at 830p, LA, SF, and SD started at 1030p, and eventually we figured out why.

    We learned about science, health, and maladies —— yes, even then. We first heard about Sciatica when Tom Seaver pitched with it in 1974, and STILL got over 200 strikeouts. We first heard of a dislocated hip in 1973 when George Theodore got one in his collision with Don Hahn (and also first heard the word ‘collision’ as well).

    And we learned the words to both our National Anthem, as well as the Canadian National Anthem, as Channel 9 always showed the National Anthems, theirs from Jarry Park.

    “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    Great story today about how the media is complicit in not reporting, let alone calling out, the truth in the face of demonstrable absurdity and falsehood. The whitewash viewpoint is, “Sportswriters are in a tough spot, seeing these people every day, hard to do it.” Knock it off. Political, crime, and government reporters cover real news and endure more than seeing Mickey CallaWayOverHisHead around the food table.

  • Daniel Hall

    Wilmer’s problem is that there is that fake position in the AL that would keep him off the field, but they have yet to add the designated runner to actually make him a contributing player. Maybe also, to reduce his risk of injury, a designated bubblegum bubble blower.

  • Curt

    A day late but this is hilarious, plus I’m tied up so I won’t be able to catch the recap from last night. I like how Mickey’s ours. I’m sure we’d owe him money if we cut him lose. So he’s ours.

    Driving in this morning (40 minutes before the office opens so I’m not “technically” typing this on company time) I was thinking, “OK, busy tonight, can’t watch the game but it’s Vargas pitching so that doesn’t matter. Maybe he’ll be bad enough that we’ll finally get rid of him and give Oswalt the spot for the rest of the year.” Then I realized that we’d be on the hook for his salary anyway so he’ll be ours. What’s a few wins when it comes to delaying arbitration eligibility for a young player by a few weeks?

    THEN I had what I thought was a brilliant thought. Say! What if Vargas pitches WELL? Even more magically, what if he does this for say, 3 games in a row? Think some team might like him enough to take on his salary? Then I looked and my hopes were dashed. I had this idea that we owed him for this year with a $2m buyout in 2018. Not so. We owe him $8m/year through next season with a $2m buyout in 2019. No team’s gonna touch that. And we aren’t eating it.

    Jason Vargas is ours. We should embrace him. Somehow. Along with the idea of seeing him over a young pitcher in the same way we’ve embraced seeing Jose Reyes over, well, anyone under the age of 30. So for 2019 I’m looking for Jason Vargas to become the first qualifying pitcher with an ERA over 10. Who’s with me?

  • Did the Mets hire Mickey Callaway because he was a pitching guru (so much for that!), a managerial prodigy (uh, what’s a double switch?) or because he cost so little?
    Alex, I’ll take ‘he cost so little’ for $500.

  • This topic of state capitals is very apropos for the Mets this year. Someone might want to leverage the owners with Tony Montana, because yet another season has gone to Helena handbasket.