The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

From Lousy to Swell

Here are those caveats you asked me to pick up on my way here:

1) Lousy teams sometimes shake off their lousiness for a spell before reverting to lousy.

2) Lousy teams sometimes encounter lousier teams and take advantage of their lousiness.

3) Lousy teams sometimes rise toward .500 without ever touching the break-even point and thus remain definitively lousy.

So there you have your caveats after a week when the Mets — resolutely sub-.500 through the entire second third of the season — played like they were no more than the least bit lousy. Mostly they played like they were the opposite of lousy.

They were swell.

We all like to fancy ourselves as savvy sumbitches who’ve experienced myriad rodeos, so no way we’ll be duped by a Mets team that has recently stumbled into competition it can serially punch down at. Make no mistake: the Padres, Pirates and White Sox have come off as the scrawny 98-pound weaklings Charles Atlas appealed to in the back of your Archie comics. But who have the Mets modeled themselves after since early April other than Popeye in the scenes before Olive Oyl pours spinach down his gullet? Besides, our institutional memory is layered with images of better Met teams than this getting their comeuppance from below at the worst possible junctures — or have you suddenly forgotten the final weekends of Shea’s final seasons? Your schedule is your schedule. The Mets were scheduled to succeed at the expense of others? Take it up with MLB’s randomization software.

The Mets caught a long overdue break playing who they’ve played. On Thursday afternoon at the badly named ballpark on Chicago’s South Side, they also caught balls in the infield that were ticketed for the outfield. One Met caught a ball while he sproing-g-g-ged off the protective right field netting. The Mets caught and the Mets pitched. Oh boy, did the Mets pitch. Mets who are signed for the long haul and Mets who might have been traded. They’re all Mets right now and they’re all pitching like we envision Mets pitchers pitching when we stare admiringly in the mirror at our bulging seven-game winning streak.

When the Mets win, so our mythology tells us, we win by decisively outpitching the other fellows. That’s largely how we did it on Tuesday before Noah Syndergaard was withdrawn from the annual midsummer swap meet. That’s how we did it on Wednesday as Jacob deGrom reminded us he’s been the bargain of this decade and not a bad bet for the one ahead. And that’s how we did it on Thursday via Zack Wheeler, whose shoulder appeared strong and whose uncertainty was shed. No longer rumored to be headed for a contender, Wheeler threw a game for a team that strangely behaves like it is one. Zack was golden for seven shutout innings en route to a 4-0 victory that pulled the Mets to within four games of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.

Stop giggling, you cynical fucks (one of whom is periodically me). The second Wild Card spot in the National League is a thing and four games out of it plops us squarely within Dusty Springfield territory. We’re wishin’ and hopin’, thinkin’ and prayin’. There’s a jumble of teams less than four games from the second Wild Card spot in the National League, but that’s only half as many jumbles as we peered up at approximately ten minutes ago. We needed to pass a passel of lesser squads and we did that. Now, as we home in on achieving a record that encompasses as many victories as defeats, we take aim at the next cluster. We may not have yet proved ourselves worldbeaters, but you’re gonna tell me that Wild Card bunch in front of us is impenetrable?

If two among the Cubs, the Brewers, the Phillies, the Nationals, the Diamondbacks and the Giants were that good, they would have shoved our sorry 53-55 butts into standings irrelevancy. Yet they haven’t. Instead, by effectively stifling the Padres, the Pirates and the White Sox, we have inflicted ourselves on the edge of their uppercrust caste. With a third of a campaign remaining, we are contenders. Or we are contention cosplay fetishists. We dress up as a team that can pitch with anybody and sits a manageable distance from a playoff position.

That’s kinda hot. As were the Mets when they completed their visit to the White Sox facility on Thursday. Not just Wheeler being Wheeler, but Robinson Cano slugging like the cleanup hitter none of us believes he still is; Wilson Ramos going the other way as if he was born to ignore traffic cops; Amed Rosario reasserting himself as a shortstop as opposed to a nascent center field experiment; and Jeff McNeil — Flying Squirrel! — not letting nylon barriers deter him from his dogged pursuit of putouts. Jeff took away an at-bat from Eloy Jimenez while not costing any spectators in right their beverages or heads. Those nets, like these Mets, can do all sorts of things you didn’t anticipate.

When you’re going well, nothing can stop you, not even your missteps, even the steps that loom in your mind as mistakes. For example, J.D. Davis got himself unnecessarily thrown out at third to end an inning. The Mets brushed it off. In between fancy dives and throws, Rosario had a couple of balls elude his extended grasp. The Mets brushed it off. Cano looked like a dead duck trying to score on Ramos’s sixth-inning opposite-field RBI single. He slid home safely anyway. Robbie batted fourth despite ample evidence suggesting he shouldn’t be batting at all. He homered and doubled. Wheeler was precautionarily removed after seven in deference to his recent stay on the IL. Did the bullpen proceed to implode as it has done enough to prevent the Mets from finding their inner contenders until we reached August? Actually, no. Luis Avilán was solid and Jeurys Familia, he who you wouldn’t trust to throw an office birthday party, threw the final two-thirds of the ninth inning without incident.

I know we’ve grown used to lousy. I know we’ve forgotten what swell is like. We need time to acclimate ourselves to the possibilities presented by this sudden proximity to continued competence. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. At best, we keep rolling. At worst, we go back where we came from. It’s not like we don’t know how to get there. Until further notice, we might as well relish the roll.

12 comments to From Lousy to Swell

  • Larry

    Just hoping Jed Lowrie will be ready for the post season roster!

  • Dave

    The Dusty Springfield reference is appropriate, although I was thinking more Talking Heads: “You may ask yourself, how did I get here?” OK, how did *we* get here, but you get my point.

    Experience has left us prepared for anything. As the voice of so many summers would have said, fasten your seatbelts. Unless you’re a Flying Squirrel, we wouldn’t want you so confined.

  • Fitz Cave

    Prior to playing the Padres, Pirates, and White Sox, the Mets had played 99 games…72 against teams with winning records. I believe — using that metric as standard — that qualified as the second hardest schedule in MLB(Seattle). Playing the easier part of their schedule, the Mets are 8-1 so far. And after the three games in Pittsburgh, they play 33 of their final 51 at home. Syndergaard, Wheeler, and hope are not lost.

  • mikeL

    hell yea that’s kinda hot!
    of the teams ahead of us in the WC chase we’ve already caught the lowest-hangef in the loss column…
    keep it rollin’ mets!

  • matt

    “Or we are contention cosplay fetishists. We dress up as a team that can pitch with anybody and sits a manageable distance from a playoff position”

    all the stars for this particular morsel

  • Greg Mitchell

    If Brodie is serious he would, at minimum, pick up another reliever now plus someone who can play some 1B twice a week until Alonso–more “Kong Kingman” than “Polar Bear” since the HR derby–breaks out of massive and killing slump (for which there is no guarantee, if you look at some past HR derby heroes). Dom is out for at least a month and no Nimmo or Lowrie in sight.

    • Eric Bloom

      Frazier and/or Davis could play 1B for a game or two. Cano as well. I wouldn’t be against bringing up Tejada from Syracuse for an additional bat, utility infielder role. Get some extra 2015 mojo back on the team.

      • mikeL

        ^^ i’d almost forgotten ruben was back.
        mojo, but kinda bad mojo…unless he could be called up
        *and* have alonso return the favor to mr utley in the form of his now famous first base brick wall of death play.

        (or we could call that play ‘hot rails to hell’ in honor of your namesake ;0)

        we have conforto mojo, noah and degrom and matz mojo…and the very special wheeler-not-rehabbing mojo-PLUS.

        jeez…other than lagaras, i think that’s it from the ’15 team.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I’m not too thrilled with McNeil’s Fosbury Flop into the netting. Too many things can go wrong. Spikes can be caught, netting can be separated from it’s anchoring (how is it anchored anyway?), his momentum could carry him head first into a railing even if he is in the netting. And probably other bad stuff I (or MLB) haven’t even thought of yet.

    Please Jeff, no.

    Not to mention, kids, don’t try this at home.

  • argman

    Does McNeil become our second “Rocky” now that he is a flying squirrel?