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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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It’s Pitchcraft

When you arouse the need in me
My heart says yes indeed in me
Proceed with what you’re leading me to

Contrary to published reports, Frank Sinatra does not have a cold. He’s never been healthier. To clarify, I don’t mean the Frank Sinatra, but the closest thing contemporary baseball has to him. This iteration of Sinatra, whose right arm almost never delivers a false note, takes his particular stage every fifth day. Or night. Night and day, he is the one. The range. The phrasing. The elegance. The ability to make every number, from 48 to 1.70, his.

You want more numbers to support this assertion that Jacob deGrom pitches like Frank Sinatra sang? Try a career-high 14 strikeouts in seven innings versus the Marlins on Wednesday night following 10 in six innings the last time he performed. Try 13 scoreless innings in these two starts (both victories) as an apropos encore to the way he ended his 2018 tour. Try 26 consecutive quality starts, tying a major league record that previously belonged solely to a legend named Bob Gibson. Try a 1.55 ERA over those 26 outings. Try 237 strikeouts in 185⅔ innings during this span, versus 34 walks. Try a 1.55 ERA from May 18, 2018, through April 3, 2019. It’s been a very good year.

Every number is Jacob deGrom’s, and music would be nowhere without mathematics, but how about just sitting back and soaking him in? An evening with Jacob deGrom might as well be a night on the town with Frank Sinatra and friends providing the soundtrack. Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan…Jake is a pitcher straight out of the Great American Songbook. His outings are popular standards that deserve to be relished across consecutive centuries. Tune into WNYC (93.9 FM in New York City) this Saturday night between eight and midnight when Paul Cavalconte digs deep into the Songbook and tell me watching deGrom pitch doesn’t feel like listening to these American masters at the top of their game.

It would be a harsh exercise in self-denial to limit the selections on any Best of deGrom compilation to a single disc. The artist’s output demands a stream of revised editions crammed with bonus tracks. No way would you want to leave out stuff from Cy After Cy: Live at Marlins Park. It’s already a classic of the genre. The aforementioned fourteen K’s were showstoppers, but the general excellence was as breathtaking as it was satisfying. First there were fastballs and sliders — hard sliders. Breaking balls, too. They all worked to near-perfection. Later, Jake mixed in changeups that you didn’t think would be on the setlist, but oh, how they played. It was as if a top-flight starter called himself in from the bullpen to give the opposing team a different look.

Whatever the Marlins saw, they couldn’t hit. The only letdown to deGrom’s show was that after 114 pitches, he couldn’t be his opening and closing act; maybe Tom Dreesen could throw the first two innings next time. To be fair, how is anybody supposed to follow Jacob deGrom? Mickey Callaway’s ever curious orchestration of the first-place Mets left an unusually robust 6-0 lead in the hands of Luis Avilán, which was fine for the eighth, but not so splendid in the ninth. Avilán and Robert Gsellman conspired to trim the Mets’ advantage to 6-4, necessitating a quick cameo by Edwin Diaz to thankfully convert a save opportunity that minutes earlier seemed absurd. How absurd? More absurd than the idea that one of the six runs scored on deGrom’s behalf occurred because deGrom himself hit a home run.

That wasn’t absurd. That happened in the third inning, via a high fly that soared over the right field fence, traversing a distance balls thrown by deGrom rarely travel. Most nights for most pitchers, the starting pitcher homering would stand as the highlight of the evening. In the context of Jake, this righteous blow against both Trevor Richards and the concept of the universal DH amounted to a pleasant diversion, à la Sinatra going on about ants moving rubber tree plants. Frank came mostly to sing for young lovers in the wee small hours. Jake showed up to set down Marlins.

The best can do it all and do it better than anybody. To paraphrase Dean Martin, it’s Jake’s world, we just live in it.

13 comments to It’s Pitchcraft

  • LeClerc

    Too Marvelous for Words.

  • Greg Mitchell

    DeGrom was not only “jakeing” he was “raking.”

    As concerns may grow a bit for the pen, however, I have an assignment for someone, as I am too lazy. Remember when Sandy gave up on that season awhile back and traded all of our semi-valuable pieces (Bruce, Grandy, Walker and on and on) for “promising” young relievers, one after another. We got at least five this way, and then more (Wahl in Familia trade and Kilome for Cabrera). Are ANY of them contributing or still holding any promise in majors or even AAA? If I’m right it’s almost scandalous…

  • JoeyBaguhDonuts

    Greg M, those were scandalous accounting transactions to cut expenses.

    It’s like singin’ to empty tables
    Or a gallery full of ghosts
    There’s nothing out front but memories
    And a lot of transparent folks

    • Greg Mitchell

      True that, but other teams often manage to secure a decent prospect in the “bargain.” And many if not most of those players had decent value when traded. Sandy clearly swung and missed in his judgement of those arms.

  • Greg

    And a 1.40 ERA in his last 30 starts. Completely sick.

  • NostraDennis

    So, in this make-believe ballroom scenario, which Met is Sarah Vaughn? I vote Brandon Nimmo.

    Oh, the Phillies finally lost, too. Hooray.

  • eric1973

    Nothing better than Opening Day at home in sole possession of First Place!

    You can tell that Mickey wanted Avilan to close it out, and wanted no part of Gsellman or Diaz. He rightfully waited as long as he could, as we all were very disappointed, especially in Gsellman.

    Addition soon of D’Arnaud as a 3rd catcher will allow for TDA to pinch hit when necessary, or allow for Mickey to pinch run for Ramos, which will be very necessary on more than a few ocassions.

  • ToBeDetermined

    You must remember this
    A pitch is just a pitch….

    No. No it isn’t. Not when it’s a deGrom pitch.

    As Time Goes By, we’ll start to realize how extraordinary it is that we’re taking this sustained excellence as almost routine. But that’s what it has become.

    (Aside: Is there any type of radio Paul Cavalconte doesn’t excel at? Pop standards on WNYC and the old WNEW-AM, classical on WQXR, AAA/ecclectic on WFUV. In the past, rock on WLIR and WRXP, smooth jazz on WQCD, news on that brief attempt on 101.9 FM with call letters I don’ recall. I suspect if you stuck him in the Mets booth on a day when Howie or Wayne was away, he’d do a creditable job…)

    • That is indeed a capable, veteran broadcaster, and he’s so at home with this stuff. I thought I’d miss Jonathan Schwartz, and while I do occasionally tune into his online show (definitely on Super Bowl Sunday for the Salute to Baseball), I find Paul’s presentation a delight twice every weekend, pending the Mets’ schedule.

  • Pete In Iowa

    I have been a baseball fan since the mid-1960’s. I caught the tail end of Koufax and watched Gibson and others for many years. I simply have never seen anything like the way deGrom has pitched over the past year and one-half plus (this run of his really began about 1/2 way through the 17 campaign).
    It simply is a joy to watch and here’s hoping we get to see a good deal more, as unlikely as that may be.

  • Michael in CT

    I’m curious as to whether Jake’s 2018 season would be considered the best in Mets history, better than Gooden’s in ’85 or any of Seaver’s best years. I think you can make an argument that it was the best, despite just 10 wins, looking at ERA, strikeouts, walks, homers allowed, consecutive starts with three runs or less etc. Greg, Jason, anybody?

    • The case I’d make for it is he never had even one truly bad start. He had to leave one game early for injury, another because they didn’t want to push him after the injury and there was one non-quality start that was perfectly fine. And that was it. From May 18 on, he was mostly unhittable. Gooden ’85 certainly kicked into another gear as the season wore on, but he had a few so-so starts here and there. Seaver in ’71 climbed to another level over the final couple of months. DeGrom did it longest and most impenetrably.

      The case against (and what a nice issue to split hairs over) is Jake does not pitch in the era of complete games. There’s something different about being expected to go no more than seven versus what those guys did. And unlike Doc in ’85 and Seaver in ’69 and ’73 (and to a lesser extent in ’75 if not ’71) there was no playoff race pressure. Take that as you will.

      Jake ’19…this could be good, though I have to point out Doc in ’86 and Seaver in ’70 seemed unbeatable at the outset and their spells eventually wore off.

  • […] that, we’ll have to rely on the previous 26 starts when No. 48 was thepersonification of beautiful music and the comprehension that one ugly outing is a blip, not a trend. They don’t take action on […]