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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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Missing Things

Sunday was sunny and warm, one of those days where spring tells you that despite recent events, the world will soon be habitable on a more or less regular basis. Emily and I had worked through all manner of errands and items on our separate to-do lists, so we decided that … we could go to a baseball game! Our favorite team plays a scant 8.5 miles from our house (as the trash-hunting pigeon flies, not as the car creeps or the subway goes in and out of service), so why not?

We secured pretty decent Promenade boxes on StubHub and trooped off for our first meaningful date with the 7 train since David Wright said farewell, arriving with a few minutes to spare — a little tight tactically, but accidentally optimized to let us arrow in with the hordes of deGrom bobblehead seekers having finished their business. A big house had come together around us, the Mets were right down there instead of in a distant city or on the other side of a TV screen (and decked out in their proper pinstripes instead of dopey blue motley) and as Zack Wheeler peered in at Wilson Ramos we nodded at each other happily. Back where we belong. We should do this more often.

And the game started, and … huh. It was still a fun day. It was a really fun day, in fact. It just got a little complicated.

An early bit of ironic foreshadowing came with a fan contest held out by the Home Run Apple. Some sunglass’ed Met loyalist was handed a baseball and offered a prize to chuck it through a strike-zone-sized slot 60 feet and change away. I cringed in empathy, since these things tend not to go well, but the fan took the baseball, calmly threw it through the ersatz strike zone and turned back to Fake Alexa or whoever it is who does these things these days, all without a noticeable change of expression.

Honestly, they should have signed him on the spot.

Wheeler left without a Dunkin Donuts gift certificate or whatever it was: he sent pitches here and there and everywhere except where the rule book suggests they belong. He escaped disaster in the first despite throwing six of his first seven pitches for balls, but in the second everything caved in: walk, flyout, single, walk, single, single, double, sac fly and it was 5-0 Nationals with Max Scherzer on the mound and that’s not what anybody had in mind. The crowd had gone from fractious to annoyed to actively hostile (a bit overdone since it was still a nice day) and we decided to go feed ourselves and see what had changed at Citi Field.

One thing I hope isn’t a permanent change is concessions have become the stuff of adventure. We opted for a Pat LaFrieda steak sandwich, but were told sandwiches wouldn’t be available for 10 minutes. That’s an odd thing to hear from a steak-sandwich place, but stuff happens and it’s early.

Then the beer place was out of the beer I wanted. Huh.

So we went to the Nathan’s stand … which had no hot dogs.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three straight failures to perform a relatively straightforward transaction. It was dispiritingly similar to Wheeler’s struggles with home plate, except in that case there was another party trying to actively thwart him. Is that now true for concessions? Did some overeager corporate descendant of Dave Howard decide Mets games would be more exciting if food-service managers tried to secure meat and beer while providers of those things spirited them away to be hoarded in secret boltholes? If that’s what’s happened, could future games feature the less exciting variant where you arrive at a counter and they are able to give you what signage indicates they sell?

With various Plan Bs secured from temporarily functional concessionaires, we returned to our seats and hoped the Mets might have a comeback in them, or at least provide us with some Plan Bs of their own. For a while it was the latter, and it was fun watching Pete Alonso scamper around and seeing what dopey new between-innings events have been cooked up and just sitting back and having baseball be all around us and knowing that this will be the daily routine again for the foreseeable future.

And then, as the sun dipped behind the rim of the stadium behind us and the afternoon grew mildly but not impossibly chilly, Scherzer finally got tired.

Or maybe he got bored, seeing how he was the only person not baffled by a pitcher’s mound. Wheeler had departed, allowing only one more run but letting that last one in on another quartet of walks. Tim Peterson had been no better, walking five and strongly suggesting he needs to become familiar with Syracuse. Luis Avilan‘s lone inning of work had resulted in a three-run bomb from Anthony Rendon. Neither of those gentlemen had thrown more strikes than balls during their tenure and the Mets were down 12-1.

(Oh, and during all that I went to get ice cream and was told the machine wasn’t working. At that point I just laughed.)

And then it was 12-2 thanks to a double by Brandon Nimmo, who didn’t smile but looked less grim than he has so far this year. Scherzer departed, Matt Grace arrived, and a Jeff McNeil singled made it 12-3. Then Alonso walloped a purported sinker to distant lands and it was 12-6.

Look, 12-6 is lipstick-on-a-pig stuff, but you’ll take it when your team’s getting the daylights beat out of it but you’ve shrugged and decided even a ballpark that can’t feed you is better than feeding yourself at home. We decided to go on walkabout for what was left of the game, descending to field level and fetching up at the railing behind whatever they call the Modell’s Zone now. (Is it creeping age or indifference to sponsorship that’s caused me to not remember anything that’s changed ballpark-wise since about 2011? I’m still writing PEPSI PORCH on my checks.)

And there we stood for the last two innings, getting a vivid reminder that the Nationals have a bullpen problem. The Mets put runners on first and third with nobody out in the eighth only to have the rally founder when Amed Rosario and Keon Broxton struck out, but then they were right back at it in the ninth against Joe Ross — he hit McNeil, walked Alonso, almost gave up a three-run homer to old friend Travis d’Arnaud and then really did give up one to Michael Conforto — a twisting liner that arced up out of our sight and then came back down to the left of us. Somehow it was 12-9, and we still weren’t winning but that pig was covered with colors and running around squealing about it, and we had to admit that was kind of fun.

You know the rest: Sean Doolittle came in to play stern teacher, putting an end to the tomfoolery and the game (the big meanie) and so we and the other remaining diehards headed back to the subway and whatever it is we do when we aren’t watching baseball. Sitting on the 7 as the ballpark shrank behind us and was lost to sight, I thought to myself that I’d had a pretty good time on an afternoon that featured my team giving up 12 runs and repeatedly refusing to feed me. Imagine what a day at the park could be like if they worked on those things.

8 comments to Missing Things

  • Gil

    We went to celebrate my sons birthday. Alonso’s dinger saved the day for him. My little guy got to run the bases after the game, so I was in the belly of Citi for the 9th and missed Conforto’s dinger.

    Lots of fight in this team – I was glad to see them claw back. Too bad Wheeler was so bad.

    The Jacob deGrom Cy Young Bobblehead also took some sting out of the loss, and seeing our quiet, humble Ace smile and accept one of baseball’s most sought after trophies was awfully cool. tip of the cap to 48. We only wish we had five of him.

  • Roger Tusiani-Eng

    My adventures looking for food on the Promenade level were not much better. We went out looking for food after the 2nd inning and did not make it back to our seats until the start of the 5th. We decided to wait on the Philly Cheese Steak line on the 400 level, all while eyeing the Pat LaFrieda line. After about 30 minutes or so, and very little forward movement, I went to check up closer to the register. Employee said, the meat has to cook. By my estimation, the pile of meat was beyond done. We waited some more to finally see them start to put sandwiches together, when all of a sudden they announced they were out of the cheese and would have to go get some from somewhere. Time to cut our losses, back to the Hot Dog stand closer to right field, waited on line here for about another 15 minutes or so, as hot dogs magically appeared from somewhere in the back, vs. being grilled on the visible hot dog rollers. All in all, a very unimpressive job serving food on the 400 level. We missed an hour of baseball.

  • MetFanMac

    This is the 59th Mets game where the starter walked at least 7 batters (record is 10 by Mike Torrez in 1983) and the first time since Oliver Perez, who did in four straight years 2007-10. Wheeler is the seventh starter to do it without reaching 5 innings (it was accomplished twice by Perez and Bruce Berenyi).
    Peterson is the 24th Met reliever with at least 5 walks in a game (Pete Falcone and Tug McGraw both did it twice), trailing only six pitchers who had 6 or more (record is 7 by Rick Baldwin in 1977) and the first since Mike Bacsik in 2003. He is the 6th Met pitcher — starter or reliever — to do it while recording less than 5 outs.
    The single-game record for walks by Mets pitchers as a whole is 15 on 9/16/72, followed by 14 on 4/12/86 (14 innings), leaving this one in a tie with 5/12/78 (14 innings), 4/7/79, 4/22/83, 7/4/85 (the 19-inning Fourth of July game), 8/21/98, and Opening Day 2003 (the Bacsik game) for third place.
    In addition to all of the above, this game featured five hit batsmen, three wild pitches, a combined thirteen runs off both bullpens, a pop fly turned Little League triple, the complete depletion of the Mets’ bench in a nine-inning game, and an early candidate for Most Bizarre Double Play of the Year. I vote we erase this one from our collective memory — pig lipstick notwithstanding — and move on.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    If either Broxton or Rosario gets a hold of one in the 8th inning, we might very well have been tied after 9 innings. Those were the key at bats, and left me with a feeling of disappointment, even after Conforto’s homer.

  • Dave

    Lucky you picked those seats, because out in left-center just below the 2nd deck overhang and therefore in the shade, it got pretty chilly. So 12-1, an absence of strikes from Mets pitchers, seemingly 28 batters hit by pitches, and too cold, we took our Jakes with the bobbling heads and called it a day despite being pretty sure that what the Nats have instead of a bullpen would make it a much closer game.

    You have what you think is an elite pitching staff and score 9 runs, you expect to win. Oh well.

  • Bob

    When Nathans is out of Hot Dogs, it’s NOT a good sign.

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Daniel Hall

    “(Oh, and during all that I went to get ice cream and was told the machine wasn’t working. At that point I just laughed.)” – A totally sane reaction in these circumstances. I also just laughed off Tim Peterson’s live-action application for Syracuse… or Port St. Lucie… or, for all I care: Tashkent, Uzbekistan. At least I was *well fed*…

    What was worse? Walking 12 and giving up as many runs, or actually rallying to within sneezing distance of Doolittle, but not any further?

    Oh well. Bright(?) sides. At least no Met pitcher took an Anthony Rizzo liner off the head and to my utter disbelief was left in the game to finish the inning. The Pirates did that to Jameson Taillon, probably figuring that the kid had gotten through Tommy John and cancer and that bit of a dent in the skull would only further man him up. Yay, we’re not leading the league in medical malpractice!