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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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You Can't Outguess Baseball

Let me take you back a little ways, to a not-long-ago iteration of the National League wild-card chase. The Diamondbacks were destiny’s new darlings, winning night after night and all set up for a run at the postseason, with the easiest schedule of any of the remaining contenders.

As for the Mets, they were dead and buried — grievously wounded by a sweep at home courtesy of the Cubs, then given the coup de grace by the Nationals and their own bullpen, which somehow blew a six-run lead in the ninth.

Except for the part where the Diamondbacks rolled into Citi Field, lost two tight games to the Mets, and then got absolutely stomped in the last two.

The fourth game, a Thursday matinee, was another Mets laugher. This time, your multiple-homer Met was Juan Lagares, whose third-inning grand slam made it 6-0 Mets. Todd Frazier homered yet again. So did the revitalized Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido and Michael Conforto, who reached the 30-homer plateau for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met, keeping the ball down against the D-Backs and forcing them to play patty-cake with the infield. Even the soft underbelly of the bullpen — and honestly, it’s mostly soft underbelly — held up its end.

Oh, and during the game Pete Alonso shaved the dopey mustache he should never have grown in the first place.

The Diamondbacks were one of the other wild-card contenders the Mets needed to lose on Thursday, and they took care of that themselves. Unfortunately, there was no other help coming. The Cubs overcome a frantic ninth to beat the Padres, the Brewers beat the Marlins, and the Phillies outslugged the Braves. That’s another victory for Time, which always wins.

The Dodgers, the league’s best team by a considerable margin, now come to town for three games with the Mets and no pressing business on their agenda except staying healthy for the playoffs. The Cubs and Brewers have both been cruelly shorn of star players, with Javy Baez and Christian Yelich out for the season. The Phillies keep hanging around. The Diamondbacks’ hopes just took a fusillade below the waterline, but we said that about ourselves not so long ago.

You’re probably expecting analysis — strength of schedule, if Team X wins this many games how many games does Team Y need to win, and so forth. But I’m not going to do that. Because re-read the above.

You can’t outguess baseball.

Make that your mantra for the rest of September. Hell, get it tattooed on your arm.

You can’t outguess baseball.

Sometimes Juan Lagares hits a grand slam. Sometimes the hot team turns to ice and gets the broom. The next 16 games will make sense in retrospect, but not as we go. It’ll just be a frantic ride for all involved, with emotions soaring and crashing, hopes extinguished and flickering back to life.

Which honestly, is what September baseball ought to be. Hold on, soak it in … and don’t try to outguess any of it.

11 comments to You Can’t Outguess Baseball

  • 9th String Catcher

    Never more so than this season. When they were supposed to win, they lost. When they were down for the count, they got back up again. When they were looking good, they lost 6 straight. Manager makes mistakes routinely, yet channels some inner Tony Robbins thing and gets inspired performances. It would be easy to predict the Dodgers running roughshod over these guys, but that’s why you play the games. Because baseball.


  • Matt in DE

    Yesterday, a friend commented “that aged well” on a Facebook post of mine declaring the Mets dead after the series loss to the Phillies.

    The only way to respond to that was to declare that the Mets’ season can only be compared to an interpretive dance for manic depression (not to make light of a serious mental health condition).

    At least we are getting meaningful baseball in September.


  • Tim H

    Jason, I just tried to outguess baseball. I couldn’t do it.

  • Seth

    My favorite part of last night:

    Gary: “Juan has never hit a grand slam in his career.”
    Juan: Hits grand slam.

    Gary: “Juan has never hit 2 home runs in a game in his career.”
    Juan: Hits second home run.

    This is why Gary is the best…

    • Matt in NH

      My favorite part of yesterday:

      How Gary’s voiced cracked when he called Lagares’s grand slam. He and Howie are consummate professionals, but I love hearing the genuine passion in their voices.

    • Left Coast Jerry

      Funny thing about Gary forecasting Juan’s two home runs. Back in the days when Luis Castillo was on the roster, it seems every time he came to the plate when an opposing pitcher needed a strikeout, Gary would always say how Castillo is one of the toughest players in the league to strike out. And invariably, Castillo would strike out.

      More recently Gary would provide the same information about Jeff McNeil and Joe Panik. And it usually ended the same way. I’ve come to name it the Gary Cohen kiss of death.

      Perhaps, after yesterday, it’s suddenly turned into the Gary Cohen kiss of life. I hope it continues that way for a long time.

  • Jack Strawb

    Love your sense of humor about the game, and particularly about this team. The other night I was thinking–play Ramos into the ground? Doesn’t matter! Since when has the August heat done anything other than improve an old catcher’s work and let him play more frequently than Bench or Ivan Rodriguez or Carlton Fisk had in this phase of their careers, or set a new personal high in games played?

    –Play Todd Frazier 60 straight? He’ll survive–even thrive!

    –Keep throwing Diaz out there as closer for 2 months after he’s shown he hasn’t got it this year? You’ll still contend! Of course you will!

    –Move Alonso back in the order after the ASB and have Cano hit behind him when the Mets were playing half a lineup each night, ensuring Pete would see about one hittable pitch per game? Np, the gods will afflict Robbie’s hamstring and save you from yourselves!

    –Play Nimmo, last season’s best, everyday player, regularly after a serious neck injury and send him to the IL for months rather than perhaps just weeks? Pfft. The 2nd wildcard and a weak NL will make you look much better than you really are!

    –After getting Stroman, deal away your starting pitching depth solely in order to get out from under Vargas’s 2020 2m buyout–even though a lot of your rotation is approaching their previous IP limits, even though you dealt away Vargas to a division and wildcard opponent with a terrible rotation, and even though Matz, outpitched by Vargas since 2017 and in 2019, could have been the extra, Lugo-like arm you desperately needed in the pen? Bah! Since when has laughing at the baseball Gods ever meant they’d do other than laugh right along with you!

    There are a dozen more like this but the Mets are still in it, somehow. Amazing.

  • Jim

    This piece reminded me of one of my favorite columns by Jason, a recap of the Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 game as the Mets approached that fateful weekend with the Marlins and a pending Northeaster.

    As our intrepid reporter observed back then:

    And so. We have survived. Survived to confront, yet again, who we are. It’s daunting, no question. We’ve got no bullpen, we don’t know who the hell will start Saturday, we don’t know if we’ll even get to play Friday. Or Saturday. Or even Sunday. Our enemies include Marlins, Phillies, Brewers, wind, rain, 2007 and ourselves. But what the hell. We’ve come this far, haven’t we?

  • mikeL

    yes, in spite of everything, our team sticks around like a pesky cold.
    we must have all expected a tailspin so many times, and pretty recently. yes mediocre division but the mets are a unique, maybe magical quantity.

    originally dreaded these games after who-knows-what against d’backs.

    now i want the mets to continue making their ‘superiors’ look feable. failing that win w/o wasting the two arms!

    —as i type davis blasted a kershaw fastball—

    before i could type:

    again, I BELIEVE.


  • Dr. Louis Verardo

    I love that the Mets are playing meaningful baseball games in September, so you’re right: let’s focus on today’s game.

    My older brother John (a huge Yankee fan) called me from the West Coast immediately after the last out of our fourth straight win over the Diamondbacks to congratulate me on my team being in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. MLB Network is tracking the NL Wild Card race nightly on its broadcast, often as the lead item on its show. Here in New York, our team has captured the back page feature of The Daily News, The New York Post, and Newsday.

    It is good to be a Mets fan…

    Let’s go Mets!