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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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We Just Knew

Before the Internet, original thoughts were easier to enjoy. Nowadays, thanks to all manner of instantaneous communication, you realize that clever thing that just occurred to you organically occurred simultaneously to others, perhaps many thousands of others. Gosh, you tell yourself, maybe I’m not so clever or original.

But it doesn’t mean your thought wasn’t right, or at least accurate. Wednesday night, while the Mets breezed along with their fairly comfortable lead in Philadelphia — built on the offensive exploits of Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith and the pitching that’s better than his talking from Jason Vargas — I thought that this lead isn’t safe; that eventually it will be entrusted to the bullpen; and that the bullpen will hand the game over to the Phillies.

I know this wasn’t an original thought. It was expressed widely on social media and electronic message boards and probably published in textbooks used in every Introduction to the Predictable community college class from coast to coast. If you were watching the Mets in the company of an actual human being who had also watched the Mets in 2019, that person would have volunteered the same thought.

The bullpen will blow it. The bullpen always blows it. If I weren’t already a Mets fan, I’d have rooted against that outcome because groupthink is a turnoff and precedent doesn’t necessarily dictate results. For example, it only seemed extremely likely that obtaining a longtime American League All-Star second baseman leaning into the other side of his prime would wind up verging on disaster simply because it had happened before. We didn’t know it for sure even if nearly everybody who knew anything was quick to recite the names “Carlos Baerga” and “Roberto Alomar” before the sentence, “The Mets have acquired Robinson Cano…” was completed.

Sometimes this is too easy. Cano has indeed extended that particular second base narrative (expensively, too!) and the bullpen won’t stop being the bullpen, meaning it won’t stop giving back leads and games.

Wednesday’s culprit was the heretofore revered Seth Lugo. Seth could no wrong in our eyes. Even when he had a bad outing, we shrugged that it wasn’t really on him. We were grateful for his oasis of clear blue competence in a desert of sweltering ineptitude. He was the one reliever who was immune to whatever ails his colleagues. My theory is he used a different bullpen in which to warm up. I guess the Mets forgot to pack his private accommodations. (The MLBPA needs to forward a sternly worded letter of protest to 41 Seaver Way ASAP.)

Lugo being less like Lugo and more like everybody else around him in the seventh inning wasn’t good, and before SNY could show more footage of Philadelphians chowing down on cheesesteaks, the Phillies were tying the Mets. Once the game was tied, we all knew — knew — it would be lost. And it was, 5-4, in the tenth. The last pitch was thrown by Stephen Nogosek, who can consider himself properly indoctrinated. It was driven to deepest center, past former Gold Glove fielder Juan Lagares by Jay Bruce, which might have served as an unforeseen twist if you hadn’t encountered Justin Turner in a Dodgers uniform at any point in this past decade.

Ex-Mets beating the Mets. That’s another one we’re all sure is gonna happen. After an ex-Met did, in fact, beat the Mets, who’s to argue?

The season’s now halfway done statistically and 99% fried competitively. The Mets are 37-44, maybe not quite incredibly crummy in the context of all Met first halves (it’s four games better than last year’s), but surely getting there every time Ricky Bones answers the phone in lieu of Chuck Hernandez. The ranks of incredibly crummy first-half Mets clubs who arose from their morass and made the playoffs is a lonely one. If it cheers your morale a bit, I will share this nugget with you: those 1973 Mets who set the thus far unreplicable example for lousy teams to follow were in last place after 81 games, 11½ behind the Cubs, or a half-game further from the Braves than the Mets are now. After 81 games of their schedule, the 1973 Cubs had the same record the 2019 Braves have at this juncture. The Cubs commenced to falling apart and the NL East dissolved into the mediocrity scramble history would come to recognize it as.

So if the Braves play all day games at home and rely too heavily on aging players, the division might turn so up-for-grabs that a rival buried deep in fourth place that starts to surge could come roaring back in the second half and thrill us to our marrow. The 2019 Braves, however, equipped as they are with lights and fueled as they are by youth, probably don’t fit the 1973 Cub profile. And the 2019 Mets still have the 2019 Mets bullpen, which now includes Seth Lugo succumbing to peer pressure and acting a little too much like one of the gang.

In 1973, there was no Wild Card. Today there are two of them. The Mets do not sit an inconceivable distance from one. They’re only 5½ in back of the baseball equivalent of a dollar and a dream. The problem is that there is a plethora of would-be contenders sitting on top of them. In ’73, we had to pass five teams. Forty-six years later, there are literally only five teams we don’t have to pass: the three division leaders plus the Giants and Marlins. Everybody else is an obstacle to our prospective success. You know, like our bullpen and Robinson Cano.

On the other hand, Jeff McNeil is batting .351, Pete Alonso has 27 home runs and nobody’s audibly threatened violence against anybody in the Mets clubhouse since Sunday. What the hell, eighty-one games of baseball remain, or eighty-one more than winter brings. If we can’t all think good Mets thoughts together, here’s to the isolated contrarians out there who can.

33 comments to We Just Knew

  • Greg Mitchell

    So, as many of us feared, Mickey leaving Lugo in for 42 pitches on Sunday not only likely cost us that game but also last night. We love Seth, an over-achiever, but as much as you want to say, why are they babying him?, in this case you have to accept (though Mickey only does at times) that due to arm issues he can only go one inning at a time maybe once in three days. Sadly.

    And Nogosek is one of very few actually young and actually maybe prospect RPs in AAA and of course he has been awful, also. So: so much for that dream.

  • Seth

    “nobody’s audibly threatened violence against anybody in the Mets clubhouse since Sunday”

    Not true, it happened in my house last night.

  • eric1973

    Since we are still on the Vargas apology kick, still being demanded by SNY’s Andy Martino/Gary Apple, and David Lennon, how about Mickey apologizing TO Vargas and TO the fans for taking him out too soon and for blowing yet another ballgame.

    Hope to NOT see you tomorrow, Mickey.

  • LeClerc

    What a revoltin’ development !

  • Ken K. in NJ

    …The MLBPA needs to forward a sternly worded letter of protest to 41 Seaver Way ASAP.

    My immediate orignal thought, and since I’m not on Twitter I have no idea if anyone else has had this thought but, I wondered what would happen to the first day or two of letters that are sent to that address? Did the street renaming arm of the City Government notify the mail deleivering arm of the Feberal Government??

    Also, I’ve noticed this trend on your blog before but never thught to ask about it. Have you guys ever tracked the number of comments on each post vs. the caliber of play of the team? Anecdotal, but it seems to me that comments (and I assume traffic) are way up when things are falling apart by the day. I noticed it last June as well.

    And by the way, the commments as well as your own commentary is much more fun during these times. Thanks to all.

    • It seems highly likely mail will go undelivered regardless of precautions, but I assume, based on all the politicians who were on hand and thanked that the paperwork was cc’d to the proper channels.

      Or as the local postman might say, “Seaver Way? What the hell is that?”

      Actually, from what I’ve seen, the Mets simply use Citi Field as a mailing address.

      As for comments, I’m waiting for the one that expresses, “Things are going well and I just wanted to affirm that this is good,” or words to that effect.

  • K. Lastima

    I’m undecided between which question to ask, so I’ll ask both:

    Did someone move the Mets bullpen to the Dominican Republic?

    Can someone move the Mets bullpen to the Dominican Republic?

  • Jacobs27

    I wasn’t around for 1973, so it really does feel like the stuff of legend.

    For reference, the 2015 Mets were 41-40 through 81 games, but only 3.5 games back. The 2016 unit was 44-37 and 5 back.

    This year is not those years. Not an original thought either, granted. Also not an original thought, I bet: Juan Lagares really isn’t getting to balls like he used to… Not only has he stopped hitting entirely this year, but he’s letting a distressing number of fly balls get over his head. What a bummer.

  • Pete In Iowa

    When Cano feebly popped out (on his way to yet another Oh-fer from the 3 hole) to left with 2nd and 3rd to end the sixth, I said to the wife, “I think we really needed those two runs.”
    And so it goes….
    There really was no reason to pull Vargas when he was. Geez Mickey, the guy just had your back on Sunday. Where’s the love?? The Mick can’t even figure THAT out!
    Not only is it horrible when the bully blows every game, but as soon as they flush the lead, our offense totally shuts down too. Anyone else notice that?
    In 2019, Lagares has no redeeming quality. Can’t field anymore and if what he does at the plate is called hitting…… Might as well speed up the Rosario experiment in center. At this point what do we have to lose?

    • Orange and blue through and through

      Since BVW is so fond of DFA, it appears that the outfielder formerly performing as Lagares has to go. No bat, less glove, time to go.

  • 9th string catcher

    Can we stop calling him Cano and start calling him Canot?

  • Steve D

    Welcome to rock bottom.

  • Pete In Iowa

    Well. What do you know. Five runs in the ninth off Diaz.
    Groundhog Day……

    • Steve D

      Aren’t you sick of stars coming to the Mets, only to immediately turn into bums?

      • Pete In Iowa

        At this point Steve, I’m just plain ol’ sick of the Mets.

      • DAK442

        Have the Mets ever acquired a star who performed to his norm, let alone got better? I don’t need to recount all the Bays and Alomars… think about the successes! Gary Carter was never as great as he was in Montreal. Keith was great, but he never hit .340 or won an MVP. Even Mike Piazza, our best acquisition ever, didn’t have those monster years he had in LA. We are cursed.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Come on, give him a break, Diaz has only lost 5 games and blown 4 saves in half a season….Now we’ll hear the usual “didn’t pitch enough to stay sharp.” Or “heading to IL.” Booing this weekend for most of team and manager will be brutal..

  • Orange and blue through and through

    After that rousing 9th inning rally, the natural, no-brainer thing to do was to bring in Edwin Diaz. What a sudden, unexpected burst of euphoria that top of the 9th was! Diaz threw 34 pitches in that flaming bag of shit one-third of an inning! Don’t expect to see him (hopefully) until probably Sunday.
    When Segura hit that game-winning homerun, only one word kept flashing before my eyes; Un-fucking-believable!

  • Richard Porricelli

    lol..I’ve seen this for more years then I can remember..

  • K. Lastima

    It’s almost as if hiring an agent as GM would not be a good idea.

    • Steve D

      I am laughing hysterically. I thought it might be novel, outside the box thinking at first. Then realized it was Jeff Wilpon’s idea, so concluded it would be a disaster.

      BTW, does anyone have a list of CAA manager clients so we can speculate on the next victim to manage this lack of franchise?

  • Alright, this is beyond a bad joke or usual Mets tragedy — 5 runs given up in the 9th by a relief pitcher who was supposed to be one of the best. Ahhh! I’m done till at least post All Star break. Life naturally brings enough suffering, I don’t need to bring more on by following this team into the pit.

    If Mets fans had the collective will it would be wonderful to boycott the team until the Wilpons sell to somebody that gives a damn about building a winning team. But they don’t; they’ve got lots of heart, which is what enables us to continue to engage in this perpetual self-punishment. Too bad.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I have an idea. Let Diaz play 2nd base and bat 3rd, while Cano goes to the bullpen to close games. It can’t be any worse than what they’re doing now.

  • Lenny65

    The real tragedy of this season is that if the Mets just had two or three reliable relief pitchers they’d be within reach of actual wild card contention. Sure, we’d still be saddled with the dreadful Cano, Ramos’ terrible defense, what’s left of Juan Lagares and etc. but cut those twenty blown saves in half and 2019 would be shaping up as, at the very least, a moderately interesting season. The new ball, under-use, over-use…whatever…but the ol’ “eye test” says Diaz is destined to have his own statue in the rotunda of the Shitty Mets Relief Pitcher Hall Of Fame, right next to the entrance of the Tim Burke wing. At this point it doesn’t matter who they give the “closer” job to, anyone is better than this guy.

  • JoeyBaguhDonuts

    Maybe the Mets should trade for bullpen to help Gas Can Familia. Maybe they should or should have traded for a closer and demote Edwin Diaztruction. The Mets don’t deserve much attention, but aren’t the Wilponzi obligated to at least try? There is something morally reprehensible in dumping good players at this point just to put saved money directly into an owner’s pocket. It certainly defies the spirit of the antitrust exemption that allows the creation of all that wealth.

  • DeeDub

    Syndergaard was lights out at Brooklyn the other night. Brooklyn. Consider that for a moment and let us pray the Wilponzis sell this team

  • David Marcus

    Your articles always absolutely nail the tragicomedy that is Mets baseball. Thank you for these gems!