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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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A Mets Riddle

So if Jason Vargas pitches well — and I mean “pitches well,” without any ironic amplification, subtle disparagement or other snobby little digs — and the Mets lose anyway, what sound does a Met fan make at 1 in the morning?

If you’re me, it’s a long, drawn-out sigh.

Vargas pitched well. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched better. Ryu was Jacob deGrom 2018 good, and the Mets had no chance. They were beaten basically from the beginning: Vargas’s second pitch became a Chris Taylor liner to left, which J.D. Davis chose to make a valiant but ill-advised dive for. It turned into a triple, Max Muncy doubled Taylor home, and that skinny run was enough for L.A. to win.

Everything else was wishful thinking, followed up with a comical ninth, in which Pete Alonso was actually not hit by a pitch, as every replay on the planet showed. Alonso even sheepishly strolled back to home to retrieve his bat, in effect testifying for the prosecution. In a very MLB 2019 development, the umpires ignored that and him to listen to their fellow umps in Chelsea, who were apparently a bit stir-crazy after midnight and doing Whip-Its, as they confirmed the original erroneous call.

It didn’t matter: Todd Frazier struck out against Kenley Jansen, flinging his bat at the ball he couldn’t hit for good measure, Carlos Gomez flied out, and the Mets had lost.

An old but useful cliche about baseball is that April and May are about figuring out what you have, June and July are about figuring out what you need, and in August and September you go for it. So what do the Mets have? To be honest, I don’t really know. They’re deeply dysfunctional, but they’re also surprisingly fun. (Now there’s a slogan!)

What hasn’t worked? At various points, a fair amount. The starting pitching has been all peaks and chasms, which is a hard-working way to be mediocre. The vaunted closer just had the worst night of his career and has had some other less-than-stellar ones. The defense is atrocious, full stop. The health has been oh-so-Metsian — in addition to everything else, I now get to hold my breath when Michael Conforto, one of my favorite players in many years, smacks into walls. The manager is a serial dunderhead, a problem that won’t be solved by infield drills, team doctors or reversions to the mean.

And yet, well, that starting pitching has had peaks. Some of the spaghetti-at-a-wall arms in the bullpen have stuck. Alonso has been a daily delight. Conforto has unlocked his great potential and been allowed to play unmolested, unless you count the shoulders of teammates. Jeff McNeil has resumed being Jeff McNeil, hitting machine. Amed Rosario has had some baffling defensive lapses but made enormous strides as a hitter. Dom Smith has matured into a truly useful piece of the roster. Davis has outhit his glove. The Mets have squeezed some heroics out of their Proven Veterans™, with Gomez and Rajai Davis playing hero and Adeiny Hechavarria more than filling in for Robinson Cano.

I don’t think that adds up to enough to win anything — too many holes, no faith in the people who’d have to pay for fixing them — but it’s made for an interesting team, one I still want to watch after they rip our hearts out. Or after they’re stymied and expire with a sigh far from home in the middle of the night.

12 comments to A Mets Riddle

  • Seth

    Just curious about Conforto — what does “has unlocked his great potential” actually mean? Possibly I’m off getting a drink during those moments, as I simply have not seen it this season.

  • They’re probably a .500 team. A bit improved over last year, but not a contender. Third place 82-80 record.

  • mikeski

    […]what sound does a Met fan make at 1 in the morning?

    If you’re me, it’s a long, drawn-out sigh.

    For my part, I’ve gone full Moe Szyslak – I’m choking on my own rage here.

  • Deeply dysfunctional but surprisingly fun, that’s very true.

    This is a team that hasn’t been firing on all cylinders since day 1. They’ve stayed at .500 by beating the worst teams, but they have competed with the best. We should have split this series and with a little luck, we might have done better.

    With the exception of the two games vs the Yankees, the next play their next 15 games vs the middle of the pack they currently reside in. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go 10-5, but I would be shocked to see them go 5-10 either.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched better…

    Disagree. Vargas was pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryu was basically pitching against the April 2019 Syracuse Mets.

  • Bob

    Over last 10 seasons, Mets have had 2 seasons at/over .500,-2015 & 2016..
    All the other seasons have been STINKERS!


    Let’s Go Mets!

  • eric1973

    Conforto is a walking concussion who cannot seem to stay off the IR, and I cringe whenever he gets near the outfield wall, the foul wall, or another teammate.

    He’s probably the next guy to get injured while horsing around after someone homers or scores a run.

    BTW, is doing all that childish celebrating really all that much fun?
    Isn’t it enough fun just to score a run without having to then make a fool of yourself?

  • Daniel Hall

    The good thing about the pitching matchup was that I expected nothing, and in some ways got more than I would have dared to ask for.

    “They’re deeply dysfunctional, but they’re also surprisingly fun. (Now there’s a slogan!)” – Shouldn’t that me the motto of the ’62 Mets?

    “The manager is a serial dunderhead, a problem that won’t be solved by infield drills, team doctors or reversions to the mean.” – Well, technically the team doctor could be bribed into declaring him unfit for service, no? Somehow? Can we – … can we start a fund towards that? Please? No?

  • The version of SNY we receive in The Garden State must differ from that you city dwellers receive because I find this team unusually unwatchable, much worse than their .500 record would indicate. Yes, Alonso’s been good, McNeil’s been good, Seth’s been good … but the rest of the team is frustrating at best, dispiriting generally. This from a diehard back to ’65.

    Amed has made some marginal improvements offensively but he has a way to go before he becomes playable for a winning team. Conforto is good in a streaky, .245, 25-30 HR way, yet I can’t help feeling we were sold much more. The pitching? Well, you have to actually do it, over and over, to be considered, you know, good.

    I think the pervasive problem is the boneheaded refusal of ownership and management to understand the concept of sunk costs. Yes, all teams make bad personnel decisions, but the functional ones cut loose their losses and move on. The nickel-and-diming ones hold on to their failures for dear life, until the contracts run their years-too-long course. I dread having to witness Baerga/Alomar redux for the coming years.

    • Fitz Cave

      Why the Mets are mediocre: Underperforming Assets

      Cespedes $29 million (keeping in the fine tradition…)
      Cano $19 million (I knew he would underperform, but a .658 OPS and -0.3 dWAR is really another underperformance level unto itself. Can’t wait to see what the next four years bring.)
      Wright $15 million (thank goodness for insurance)
      Lagaras $9 million (.526 OPS and -0.1 dWAR makes him a Cano protégé)
      Frazier $9 million (recent hot streak doesn’t mean .691 OPS is good for $9 million)
      deGrom $9 million (Technically not underperforming but it’s really $17 million if you were to count his $10 million signing bonus entirely towards 2019. He will likely revert back to the mean — I pray)
      Lowrie $8.5 million (who?)
      Vargas $8 million (has 2nd best ERA (3.57 — Matz 1st at 3.55) as a starter amongst Mets starters, but less than 4.5 innings per start is not worth $8 million)
      Ramos $7.25 million (league average .722 OPS and worst than expected defense qualifies him for this list)
      Familia $6.66 million (he does hold the record for 2nd most consecutive saves opportunities converted? right?)
      Syndergaard $6 million (his 94 mph slider is on vacation with Familia’s 96 mph splitter)
      Wilson $5 million (that’s ~$536K for each inning at a 4.82 ERA rate)

      So that’s $131.41 million, or 82% of the $160.44 million (headline number) payroll, for 1.4 WAR (-0.2 WAR and 76% of payroll if deGrom is removed from the equation).

      Keep in mind that Dominic Smith has a 1.1 WAR in 58 plate appearances.
      Well played Sandy and Brody! Well played.

  • Daniel Hall

    Can someone explain to this numbhead here how Rosario keeps batting leadoff with a .297 OBP? It’s almost we don’t care about scoring. Even J.D. Davis would make more sense in the #1 slot.

    …and playing shortstop.