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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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Try, Try Again

Up they haven’t given, though up they haven’t gotten. After every Mets loss, of which there’ve been myriad, I hear the manager and selected players tell postgame questioners, “Nobody here has given up.” That’s admirable on the surface, implicit in the job description, ineffectual in the final score.

The Mets don’t give up. They come to the ballpark, put on uniforms, more than go through the motions of pitching and hitting, throwing and catching, losing and more losing. Trying your best doesn’t always produce your best in any endeavor. Against the Cubs, Phillies and now Braves over these past six games, it produces nothing.

Unless you count heartache, and that regenerates in abundance.

The one thing the homestanding Mets accomplished Friday night in dropping a 6-2 decision to first-place Atlanta was not blowing a lead. They didn’t blow it because they never had it. They came close to taking one. In the seventh — after Jacob deGrom had pitched well if not as well as Mike Soroka, and Pete Alonso snapped his endless four-game homerless drought — the Mets looked very serious about closing the 3-1 advantage the Braves held on them. Todd Frazier, Dominic Smith and Tomás Nido and strung together singles, scoring Frazier to make it 3-2. Soroka was chased. There was one out. J.D. Davis pinch-hit and singled within the infield to load the bases. Jeff McNeil, batting .342, was up next. Alonso, sitting on 28 home runs, was on deck.

The only thing that could go wrong was the presence of Anthony Swarzak. That’s something we found ourselves thinking in 2018, when Swarzak was a Met. To prevent Swarzak’s direct impact on Met fortunes in 2019, Brodie Van Commission shipped Anthony to Seattle as part of the plot to undermine the season ahead…I mean beef up the bullpen with Edwin Diaz and strengthen the lineup with Robinson Cano. It was a great idea. No matter what Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn grew into, no matter how much Jay Bruce bounced around — even to Philadelphia, where he could haunt us like he never left (yeah, like that would happen) — at least we knew whatever Anthony Swarzak did would be irrelevant to us this year.

Or so we thought we knew. The Mariners tired of Swarzak quickly and traded him to the Braves. Swarzak tired of his Met persona and recovered his talent. Friday night, at Citi Field, he was back to overwhelm our perceptions and two best hitters. McNeil battled. Alonso battled. Of course they battled. These are the Mets, more than any of the Mets, who don’t give up. Alas, McNeil struck out swinging and Alonso lined to Austin Riley in left.

The Mets therefore would not have a lead to hand to their next reliever to blow, but that didn’t stop Robert Gsellman from acting like that was his assignment. In the eighth, Robert created a virtual blown save, loading the bases with two out before serving up a sinker for Johan Camargo to fire as if from a cannon clear to the base of the left field wall. The three Brave runners became three Brave runs and, as happened in games entrusted earlier in the week to Wilmer Font, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz, the game got away.

I’d say, “Welcome to the club, Gazelle Man,” but I’m pretty sure he was already one of their secret society’s officers.

The defeat, illustrated on the cleverly Sheatrofitted scoreboard, may have been the first of the last six to not involve the Mets falling behind from ahead, but it otherwise fit in snugly with the current leitmotif of winnable games that lacked that certain something. The big hit. The clutch pitch. The lucky break. The beatable opponent. It’s not like the Cubs, Phillies or Braves can’t be beaten. It’s that the Mets haven’t been the team that’s proven capable of beating them. This is what leads to Mickey Callaway and his temporary charges to talking afterwards about how close the score was, how good they were at certain aspects of the game, how frustrating the sport can get, how nobody here is giving up.

Except for pretty much everybody who watches them.

Sacrilege on 1969 weekend, perhaps, but the 1969 Mets never lost more than five games in a row, and they cleverly weaved that wrong turn toward futility into their legacy early. The Mets’ longest uninterrupted stretch of doldrums came after they finally reached .500 at 18-18 — the franchise milestone Tom Seaver pointedly informed the press his team considered no milestone at all — and was obliterated immediately by the eleven-game winning streak that catapulted the Mets into winning ways for the rest of the year. Eleven wins in a row is still the club record: matched four times since 1969, but yet to be exceeded.

Pending further notice, 2019 isn’t 1969, though it would be nice to forget that this afternoon when we welcome a slew of our first world champions back to Flushing, weather permitting. Oh weather, not you, too. The forecast is rather grim, and not just because Julio Teheran is pitching for the Braves. It always seems to rain when the Mets plan a day like this. It rained before they retired Mike Piazza’s number, which was the last time the Mets had a day like this. It rained ahead of the 20th anniversary of 1986 and the 40th anniversary of 1969. It rained enough to delay the last day at Shea. Clouds follow the Mets around quite a bit. So do obvious metaphors.

6 comments to Try, Try Again

  • eric1973

    So on days when Cano plays (or should I say, is in the lineup), he has that blotch of pine tar on his shoulder before the game even starts.

    However, when he does not start, and pinch hits later in the game, the uniform is strangely spotless.

    Which leads me to believe he does not even bother taking batting practice before the game.

  • Tim H

    I thought that I would just drop a line while aboard the 7 train heading to the festivities. I have been a fan of the Mets since 1962, was a vendor during 1969 (and 1970), and, today, am taking in a game at Citi Field for the first time since September 2016. “The Game has changed,” and not for the better. You can bet on it — now, literally. Oh, well, it was good while it lasted.

  • JoeyBaguhDonuts

    The baseball literacy, and general literacy, of this page keeps me reading even in lost seasons. Today, there are stories that call deGrom’s three runs allowed in six innings a “quality start,” a term not used here because a 4.50 ERA is low quality, and bullpens frequently have higher ERAs than the starters.

    Full disclosure: in the next room, my lovely is watching Paul Newman argue with Elizabeth Taylor like two cats on a hot tin roof. Hard to be sanguine about the Mets when that brilliance is happening.

  • Anyone notice they’re now closer in the standings to the Marlins than the Nats? Yes, ’69 will be the highlight of ’19.

  • open the gates

    It is beyond question that this Mets team is trying. Very trying.

  • Henry J Lenz

    Nothing could ruin today. Watching from Los Angeles as our Boys of Summer made their entrance. Afterwards, we watched “Frequency” and raised a toast to them all. As Dennis Quaid said “I’ll love Ron Swoboda till the day I die!”