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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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Time Out Of Mind

The saving grace of a season’s first loss, particularly if it follows the euphoria of a season’s first win, is its inevitability. It was gonna happen sooner or later. Get this unpleasant slice of reality over with since you know darn well you have to and move on. But don’t get it over with the way the Mets got it over with Saturday afternoon in the second game of long-delayed 2020. Cripes, not like that.

One strike from sticking the Braves in the National League East basement for at least one more evening — and ensuring themselves a delightful night alone in the freshly painted division penthouse — the Mets chaired the worst co-op meeting ever, inviting Atlanta to ascend right back to the pack and, in conjunction with other doings in other venues, effecting a five-way tie at the top. It’s too early to start thinking about the standings, of course.


Never mind that the second game of a sixty-game season resonates statistically differently from the second game of 162. Never mind that you most definitely do not want to assist the rival Braves in finding their footing just as they’re about to stumble from the gate but good. Mind a whole lot that Frigging Edwin Diaz, as his friends call him, gave up the home run that, with two out, nobody on, and a 2-1 lead, transformed a win into a tie and, before we knew it (though surely we knew it), a loss.

Diaz in the ninth inning and home runs go together like nausea and throwing up. True, the fastball he threw to Marcell Ozuna, which went o-ZOOM-a over the right-center field fence, wasn’t up. It was described by one and all as a good pitch, a fastball at the outer edge of the plate. Ozuna, however, had to consider it was a great pitch. He certainly did stupendous things with it, so whatever moral victory there was in seeing Diaz almost collect his second consecutive save will not count as a step forward in the Mets’ dawdle-averse playoff push.

At empty Citi Field, even the two-dimensional dogs were howling in disgust.

Funny game, this baseball. Like Diaz, Steven Matz gives up one lousy solo home run, to Adam Duvall in the second, and it turned out notable mostly because it caromed smack off the face of a cardboard cutout of Willow, Jeff McNeil’s adorable pooch in the right field stands. Matz had plenty of innings to make up for that little woof, and he did, pitching his deGrommian best and actually getting supported for it. The inning in which the Mets took the lead, the fifth, was a thing of National League beauty: a Michael Conforto double; an Amed Rosario Speedwagon triple; a hit-by-pitch for ball magnet Brandon Nimmo; and a McNeil sac fly (take that, Duvall). Matz went six very solid, allowing just one other hit and one walk, outpitching Max Fried.

The Met relievers who succeeded Matz and preceded Diaz could have passed the old Rolaids fireman hat around proudly, if that sort of thing was deemed sanitary in 2020. Jeurys Familia maintained the best shape of his life from February; Dellin Betances emerged among us in fine fettle; and Justin Wilson continued to be the lefty of our dreams (Drew Smith also looked sharp in his first post-Tommy John appearance, though by then Citi’s barn door had swung wide open). Their efforts were enough to chase away my early sense that Duvall’s dinger off Willow McNeil’s likeness was a harbinger of doom à la Dion James — also a Brave — taking inadvertent aim at a sadly positioned mourning dove with a pop fly at Shea in April 1987, a season that was never the same once Rafael Santana had to collect a bird’s remains rather than a routine out. Doggone Duvall notwithstanding, the Mets had taken wing and were staying aloft. Our 2-1 lead was holding up and holding up some more, clear to two out in the ninth.

Then it collapsed like a house of Edwin Diaz cards. When the Mets couldn’t recover in the bottom of the ninth, that meant extras, which meant WTF? Oh right, it’s that new rule that makes a mockery of all the old rules. Simply explained, dude stands on second for the Braves, and he is driven in instantly. New York newcomer Hunter Strickland (who should definitely rent rather than buy…and maybe rent by the week rather than the month) ushered in MLB’s insipid innovation presumably exactly as Rob Manfred desired, permitting three quick Brave runs in the top of the tenth. Atlanta didn’t even have to deploy vengeful Adeiny Hechavarria to deliver the crushing blow.

The Mets didn’t respond in kind. They, too, got to have an automatic runner on second, and he indeed scored, but nobody else did, which made the final 5-3 for not us. Hard to miss in the bottom of the tenth, amid a tease of a rally, was erstwhile pinch-runner Eduardo Nuñez serving as designated hitter after Luis Rojas had him take Yoenis Cespedes’s place on the basepaths in the eighth. The burst of speed seemed clever then. In the tenth, with the bases loaded and the situation Cespy-made, Yo’s bat was severely missed. Then again, the DH is an abomination, so maybe karma reaps what we sow.

This loss was just one loss. Unfortunately, it’s the most recent result we have; it was all but chalked up as a win; and whoa, there are only 58 games left in the season. Inevitability can really kill a mood, can’t it?

10 comments to Time Out Of Mind

  • Harvey

    They lost it in the 7th when they had 1st and 3rd with one out and a tough lefty on the mound to face Nimmo. With a bench full of right-hand hitters, Rojas left Nimmo in and predictably he struck out.

  • eric1973

    15, now 16 home runs given up in the 9th inning.

    Maybe he really does stink, which none of us wants to believe, though he had a great first 2 or 3 months last year.

    Each game represents 2.7 games this year, but yesterday’s felt like 10.

    And maybe Polar Bear should concentrate more on Batting and Fielding practice, rather than trying to become a vulgar latter day version of Jerry Robbins.

    Could you ever imagine Tom Seaver or Felix Millan wasting one second on deciding whether to throw Gatorade or do some tap dance when a guy hits a game winning homer?

    Shame on all of us, me included, for eating this up.

    We have become a frivolous nation, which permeates all aspects of society, and this has resulted in causing many of our country’s horrific problems today.

  • eric1973

    Regarding Rojas’ baserunning move — You know, as a second-day manager, you get to try all these things you conjure up while sitting behind your computer, and they all look brilliant at the time.

    Unfortunately, making these moves in reality, rather than virtually, don’t seem to work out as often, and appear ill-advised in hindsight.

    Sometimes it’s better to wave the red flag and sidestep the bull, rather than taking it by the horns.

  • Michael in CT

    Nice : “At empty Citi Field, even the two-dimensional dogs were howling in disgust.” Who let the dogs out, as we used to say?

    What is it with Diaz and home runs? It’s all or nothing with this guy. Ron and Keith were commenting on his improved slider, and his stuff always seems electric, until it doesn’t. I wonder how long they will stick with him in the closer’s role.

  • Seth

    Never mind Edwin Dizzy… scoring 2 runs a game just isn’t going to cut it. Same sh@t, different pandemic.

  • Lenny65

    They can’t allow Diaz to close anymore, plain and simple. Use him in lower leverage situations until he demonstrates an ability to limit those morale-killing game-blowing dingers.

  • The King

    Why do I feel like Charlie Brown?

  • open the gates

    Diaz needs to be on a very short leash, period. We don’t have time to mess around this year. If Jeuris looks like his old self, give him his ninth innings back. And Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo were the two best relievers on the team last year. And yes, it’s a short season – maybe it’s time to revive the musty old tradition of the “complete game”. No time for coddling jittery non-closers.

  • Daniel Hall

    True fact – for reasons unknown, because how can you be at ease in the situation, I fell asleep just as Boom-Boom Diaz came into the game, slumbering off to a wonderful place where the Mets were 2-0 and everything smelled of roses. It was wonderful.

    Waking up sucked the more.

  • […] the pandemic? It’s why the Mets are 2-2 on July 28. Well, Frigging Edwin Diaz is the main reason the Mets aren’t 3-1, but you get my drift. And surely you haven’t forgotten […]