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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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The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

The Mets, having played interminable games wrecked by terrible relief pitching, at least found a new formula for a loss Saturday night — bad starting pitching coupled with a lack of offense when desperately needed.

Michael Wacha gave up a two-run homer to the increasingly unbearable Marcell Ozuna in the first, then surrendered three straight two-out hits in the second, further hindered by yet another play not quite made in the Mets outfield. That made it 5-0 Braves, more than they would need on a frustrating night for Met hitters in general and Pete Alonso in particular.

In the third, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out; Alonso grounded into a double play. In the fourth, the Mets put runners on first and second with nobody out; Yoenis Cespedes struck out. Dominic Smith walked, potentially reviving the inning; Wilson Ramos struck out and Amed Rosario grounded out. In the fifth, the Mets put the first two runners on again; Alonso struck out, again. Michael Conforto singled to load the bases and bring up Robinson Cano, the only potent bat in the lineup so far this year. He hit a sharp liner, but that was good only for a sacrifice fly that proved the sum total of the offense. (I could go on, as there were other episodes of, well, bat-teasing, but honestly that’s enough to recall.)

The bright spot, if you squint, was that Franklyn Kilome logged four innings in his debut and looked pretty good, particularly once he settled in a bit and the nerves stopped jangling. Kilome came over from Philadelphia when the Mets traded away Asdrubal Cabrera and pretty much immediately needed Tommy John surgery, but on Saturday night his arm looked live and his motion easy. The Mets could certainly use someone like that, given that even the reliable members of the bullpen have turned arsonist.

But I dislike squinting. The Mets could also use better starting pitching, hitters shaking off the rust and guys who can actually play defense. It’s a long list.

The Mets have lost four in a row, which Twitter’s mathletes would like you to know is the equivalent of a 11-game losing streak in this compressed sprint of a season. That neither true nor helpful, but the reality is bad enough: It’s August 2, the Mets are a mess, and so far their only victory of note has come in COVID testing, which isn’t the kind of win to crow about given how quickly and dramatically things can change.

The author Don DeLillo once wrote that “nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage,” a line I love and think is a useful corrective for baseball, where syrupy sepia always threatens to drown the pleasures of the present day.

But if you’re a Met fan who isn’t dissatisfied and at least rage-adjacent, I’m not sure what you’ve been watching for the last few days. So go ahead and get nostalgic. Back when we weren’t sure there’d be a season at all, Greg and I started penning A Met for All Seasons, in which we picked a player for each year of Mets baseball, sifted through our memories of that player, maybe even did a little research, and started typing.

We’re now halfway through that journey, having just chronicled 2001 and Mike Piazza. Before Big Mike, the year and player in the spotlight was 1983 and Darryl Strawberry. We’ve discussed Hall of Famers and 25th men, guys whose uniform numbers will never be worn by a Met again and guys whose uniform numbers are recalled only by the hardest of hardcore fans. So if another key strikeout or another act of bullpen malpractice leaves you fuming — or if an unfortunate test should push the Mets into baseball’s increasingly crowded PPD column — put aside DeLillo’s warning and join us for a stroll through Mets history.

DeLillo followed his line puncturing of nostalgia with another pretty good one: “It’s a settling of grievances between the present and the past.” Fair enough, but I’ve got grievances a-plenty with this particular present, and if current Mets are incapable of settling them, I’ll look to their forebears to soothe me, at least a little.

9 comments to The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

  • Daniel Hall

    The beauty of this game was that the Mets were well behind early, and … uh … yeah. The beauty of trailing by five or six is that even a bases-loaded situation isn’t a chance of an instant turnaround. I found this one less intestine-twisting.

    Oh god, nine games in and we’re ranking losses on the cruelty scale.

  • Andrew

    Howie kept reminding us that the Mets are near the top of the pack in hits this season. It felt like another turn of the screw: while I don’t long for the days (not long ago) of being at the bottom of that pack, it’s really agonizing to watch them hit their way into no run innings and 1 run games. An RBI or 5 would be nice; a dozen less strike-outs or ground outs in clutch situations would be really nice; a pulse increasing home run -by players that are capable of it – with 1,2,or 3 men on base would be heaven right now. It’s still sort of early – LGM!

  • open the gates

    Uhhhh… remind me again why we were so anxious for baseball to restart?

    Where have you gone, Alex Rodriguez? Met Nation turns its J-Lo eyes to you…

  • Cleon Jones

    We got bad quickly this season.

  • Seth

    It happens every year — takes about 3 months for the Mets to really get going. That could be a problem this year.

  • ljcmets

    You know, I had adjusted to life without the Mets. I felt a pang at the end of March, but really I was too busy and working on adrenalin (a little bit involved in response efforts) to think too much about it. (My husband missed the Stanley Cup playoffs much more than I missed the Mets and is now binging hockey round-the-clock ). When MLB began floating plans for resumption of the season in May, I was sure – positive! – that I had no interest in a shortened season with a DH in the National League, extra innings beginning with a runner already in scoring position, no fans, a ridiculous playoff scheme, cardboard cutouts and the absolute impossibility of keeping players, umps, staff and service personnel safe from the virus. What an atrocity, I thought. I won’t watch at all, because the championship will be meaningless.

    And yet…the comfort and familiarity of the day-to-day rhythm of baseball; looking forward to watching the game each night with my husband; heating up the grill at 6 PM; summer dinner at game time; fresh berries at 9 PM; getting away from the constant barrage of bad news on every front; and most of all, Gary, Keith, and Ron, and Howie and Wayne (even sitting in that darkened, creepy stadium – I sure hope the Mets sprung for some security) drew me back in like a moth to a flame. And up until the last two games, it worked. I had tricked myself into caring, even though this game looked nothing like the baseball I knew.

    And now? Last night the game was on, but I was barely paying attention. As soon as Wacha gave up that home run, I busied myself with other things – playing with our new dog, the Sunday crossword, loading the dishwasher, cleaning out a drawer, shopping online, etc. On and on it went, inning after inning of mind-numbing baseball, played against the backdrop of the pandemic raging across the country and almost certain to rapidly spread throughout MLB. When I heard the news about Eduardo Rodriguez, out for the season with a serious heart condition as a result of COVID-19, I stopped wondering whether the Mets could turn around their season. In fact, I was sure that the season should be halted if not abandoned altogether.

    The Mets are scheduled to go to DC and then play the Marlins at Citi next weekend. I hope they don’t…way too risky for both teams and everyone else involved. Ironically, the Marlins may be mostly through their infectious period by then, but how can they field a team with half their starting lineup infected and/or quarantining? Who’s to say some other team – the Cardinals, who have a mini-cluster at the very least, or the Nationals, who I hope never left DC for Miami this weekend – won’t be stricken, and what impact will that have on the Mets and everyone else?

    Sure I’ll put the Mets on for as long as they play. I am still finding comfort in the normalcy of it all, which I guess includes the Mets being…the Mets. But I may have stopped caring (we’ll see – a win for deGrom, Alonso on a hot streak, that kid Gimenez – may yet change my mind) and whatever my personal needs or feelings may be, with so many games cancelled and now seven-inning doubleheaders, many of which will probably never be played, this season is again meaningless to me. Of what value will that trophy be if more players wind up like Eduardo Rodriguez? What if that happens to DeGrom or Alonso or Gimenez or GKR or anyone else Mets fans care about?

    I’m a big fan of Thornton Wilder, and his Pulitzer-winning surrealist and satirical play set during World War II, The Skin of our Teeth. One line resonates with this situation: “Don’t forget that a few years ago we came through the Depression by the skin of our teeth! One more tight squeeze like that and where will be?” All the while, the characters are slowly coming to the realization that they are already in that “tight squeeze,” that things are moving too rapidly for them, and that (quite literally in the play’s world) near-Armageddon is upon them. I won’t get into the play’s application to anything outside of baseball, and I love baseball, but one more “tight squeeze” like Eduardo Rodriguez or the Marlins and where will we be? Shut it down, MLB. It’s not worth it.

  • Cleon Jones

    Now Cespedes quits the team. This is a strange season.

  • open the gates

    Re Ces departure, here’s my initial reaction: I’m not, to say the least, a fan of the Wilpons (see my last comment). That said, they had every right to restructure Yo’s contract as they did, given his last three years (it would be farcical to call them “seasons”). And in the end, it was Cespedes who out-unclassed the Wilpons, which takes some doing. By going AWOL and leaving his brand new manager out to dry, he lost any claim to fan sympathy. Thanks for the memories, bub, but at this point, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.