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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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Parts Fulfilling, Sum Inadequate

Pete Alonso’s team record-setting 42nd home run.
Wilson Ramos’s 20th consecutive game with a base hit.
Chris Mazza’s stirrups and how he gets them.

Weave those three uplifting elements into a broader story about a hypothetical magnificent Mets win achieved amid a sizzling Mets playoff chase and you’ve got some late-August iconography for the ages. Isolate them from the actual dispiriting Mets loss in which they we witnessed them, and what you’re left with are three uplifting elements in search of a better mood.

Lest we be overtaken by sullenness, how about a huzzah for Pete? Forty-two huzzahs, to be exact. Fifty-eight seasons of Mets baseball, and we saw something Tuesday night that never crossed our path during the first fifty-seven. Like just about all of Pete’s previous 41 home runs, No. 42, when struck in the fourth inning, was enormous in form and impact. It shot out to right-center like a comet; it crashed into a barrier a couple of planets from home plate; it shoved a couple of fellas of genuine Met renown a respectful notch downward in our statistical annals; and it pushed the Mets ahead of the Cubs, 1-0.

The tingle associated with Alonso surpassing Todd Hundley’s 1996 and Carlos Beltran’s 2006 totals was tangible but, in the scheme of 2019 things, inevitably transient. Marcus Stroman, who pitches brilliantly within innings without pitching many brilliant innings, gave back the lead in the fifth via a double to Victor Caratini — a ball Juan Lagares might have nabbed in midair but center fielder du jour Michael Conforto couldn’t quite track down — and an immediately subsequent two-run home run to Addison Russell. As if to emphasize this was no lone blemish, Stroman allowed another pair of runs the same way in the sixth: a double to Kris Bryant, then a homer to Javy Baez. Marcus has been far more invigorating presence than Jason Vargas ever was, yet barely a whit more effective.

Yu Darvish, meanwhile, went largely unbothered by the Alonso-free portion of the Met lineup the rest of the evening. There was a Conforto leadoff triple in the second that echoed one Daniel Murphy walloped versus the Cubs in during September 2008’s doomed pennant quest in that Murphy never advanced from third, either. There was Ramos producing a pair of singles, chugging along with the longest in-season hitting streak by a Met since Moises Alou dedicated practically his last breaths to warding off the Collapse of 2007 and hit in 30 in a row. But nobody drove in Ramos either time he reached base. For SNY viewers, there was a delightful tidbit reported by Steve Gelbs regarding Mazza’s handsome orange-and-blue striped socks and stirrups, which the journeyman ordered off Amazon because, as a journeyman, he doesn’t believe he can count on any given team’s clubhouse man to provide him just the look he likes.

Whether Mazza (2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) pitching in the eighth inning of a mustish-win game that was still close was a look we cottoned to was another matter. The Mets entered Tuesday night two games behind the Cubs for the Second Wild Card lead. The opportunity to make up serious ground was at hand. Maybe it didn’t matter that Mickey Callaway opted for the …and the rest section of Gilligan’s Bullpen, given that Darvish was mostly impervious to Met attack. Still, it was kind of a weird spot for Mazza’s admirably outfitted ankles to make an appearance

Because these Mets are these Mets, they exhibited a modicum of fight in the ninth inning. J.D. Davis homered off Brandon Kintzler, and you got your hopes up for a half-a-sec, but by then, there were two out and the Mets were down by three and never mind. Cubs 5 Mets 2; margin 3 GB. Alonso’s record, Ramos’s streak, Mazza’s socks and the small favors inherent in losses by the Phillies and Brewers would have to do for feelgood filler in a series opener that, if not a punch to the gut, served as an elbow to the ribs.

Enough with the painful Met-aphors. Enough with the painful Met losses. Win on Wednesday.

19 comments to Parts Fulfilling, Sum Inadequate

  • Daniel Hall

    This was not a mustish-win game. This was a must-win game. But when Conforto tripled, and I howled for joy, and then I watched three Mets come and no Met score, and I howled in agony, I knew that this one probably wasn’t gonna get into the correct column. And a wannabe playoff team has to bring Conforto in. Pitching Mazza, well, uh… it was not the *most* stupid thing to do (Lugo??), so you almost have to be proud o’ Captain Mickey!

    I liked the late but honest relief delivered by Gary Cohen about the boys wearing proper uniforms again – phew!

    Unfortunately, the losing streak might go on. The Mets never score against Hendriks, and they never score *for* Jakeyboy, so that’s the rest of this series covered…..

  • Steve D

    I saw this game from the left field corner, where it is tough to see pitch sequences. I would just tip my cap to Darvish. One could conclude that the Mets have faltered as the competition has improved. This doesn’t have to be our fate, but Noah has to be a stopper tonight, followed by deGrom or I sense this will spiral downward fast. We have to take this series.

    As for Alonso, love that we can add a true homegrown superstar to a very small list over more than 50 years. I heard him interviewed after the game and I just didn’t hear certain words that I was looking for…that the record was great, but would rather do it in a win. Maybe he went on to say that later and I know he wants to win. I’ll give him a pass, but this guy has to be the face of the franchise going forward and this message must be clear. Please don’t let this instant success go to his head, or the sum will often be inadequate.

  • Made in the Shea-de

    It is so bizarre. More than any pitcher I can remember, Stroman does seem to look great within innings without pitching well over the whole of them. In some way, it’s different even from Steven Matz, who tends to pitch well overall in a game while having one meltdown inning that dooms him. It should be the same… but it’s different.

  • mikeL

    ugh, what a crappy week’s-end-into-week’s-beginning!

    hard to even hit the sports pages since friday nite.

    *TONITE* the mets can get back on track, find a new dose of mojo to replace the one that reached empty, and motor to the finish.



  • Greg Mitchell

    How’s that Brodie a genius for bringing in Stroman working out? Has not pitched one good game yet and far worse than frigging Jason Vargas for us. You can look it up. And Brodie’s failure to pick up major league reliever beyond Brach (now pitching down to his 6 ERA again) while others bolstered still killing us as the Mazzas and Sewalds (not to mention Diaz and Familia) still pitching key innings. And the immortal Rajai Davis still a big bat off the bench. Not to mention Todd Frazier playing down to norm.

    • Jacobs27

      Jason who?

      Stroman may be struggling a bit to put it together, but I would take him over Vargas any day of the week. I miss him not the slightest, bro.

      • I’m in if we’re forming Bros Who Don’t Miss Vargas. I have faith that Stroman has a stronger (than August) September in him, frustrations notwithstanding. My professional opinion is he needs to take a deep breath.

  • mikeL

    ^^^ yup, was just thinking the mets could have still had vargas AND kay, the latter to bolster the ‘pen as he gets his MLB feet wet. vargas’ slower stuff seemed to keep most line-ups more off-balance…oh well.

    lagares needs to play CF every day, conforto shouldn’t need to carry the weighf of playing out of position – and having it blow up as it did last nite.

    let JD play some 3B and mcneil some 2B

    • All the talk beforehand suggested infield defense was the priority with Stroman pitching. Quite a few of his patented ground balls really took off in the air to deep center. I missed Lagares’s glove, too. Hard to say his absence was the absolute difference but it didn’t help.

  • George Armonaitis

    Frazier needs to come out of the lineup. His occasional blast of heroics is not carrying his glove. Lagares needs to be in centerfield.

    McNeill is not that bad at third.

    There is a month left in the season, we can not afford a bad bullpen. Move a starter into the pen, and if you juggle just right, you might only need five starts from the emergency starter you can call from the pen.

    To accomplish, select Ervin Santana from Syracuse, and move Wheeler to the pen. His stamina is lacking. Short spurts with his electric stuff might carry us through.

  • open the gates

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think a few more huzzahs for young Mr. Alonso’s accomplishment are in order. Of course, the pennant race, the modest ineffectiveness of Stroman, the dumb trades and non-trades, the various interchangeable Quad-A bullpen journeymen (not to mention the not unimpressive current offensive run of Wilson Ramos and the sartorial decisions of young Whathisname, the latest QABJ) are all noteworthy in the here and now. But it just seems to me that the accomplishment of hitting more home runs in a season than any Met ever, including some guys named Strawberry and Kingman and Piazza and Wright, and the accomplishment of actually doing it as a rookie, should not be overshadowed by all the other stuff. Seems like we may be looking back at this post and comments when Pete is about to be enshrined in the HoF (hopefully, and hopefully as a Met), and thinking “Forest for the trees, guys…” By the way, this is not a complaint, just an observation.

    • I’m comfortable in having tracked and celebrated Alonso’s road to 42 at recurring intervals this season — as recently as when he hit No. 41 Saturday night and, for that matter, in the first paragraphs of this very post — that I don’t think his record has been short-shrifted here. I also know from experience that talking up happy happenings in the wake of dismaying defeats tends to strike an off note, especially when the game was lost was a big game. I think we’ll show up fine in the context of Pete’s Cooperstown weekend.

      Besides, you don’t know what we have planned for when Pete hits No. 43, No. 44, No. 45…

    • OTOH, when Carlos Beltran is inducted in the HOF, historians will find nada in the contemporary FAFIF archives pertaining to his tying Hundley’s record of 41. Pedro was trying to get himself ready for the playoffs (to no avail) and the Mets were snapping out of an offensive funk, which is what had our anxieties in a low roar that week. We were very much on the Carlos for MVP bandwagon when September 2006 started, but he incurred an injury in Houston (where those dopes cheered) and his home run pace slowed, allowing his total to get obscured in the shuffle.

      No blog here when Hundley passed Strawberry and Campanella, but I assure you I wrote some very enthusiastic e-mails.

  • open the gates

    I hear you. Hopefully, the Mets will be able to right their ship yet again and sail into the postseason. In which case, the unpleasant aspects of this game will become just a footnote to Alonso’s achievement. Here’s hoping.