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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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Long Island...DUCK!

Monday wasn’t a good day for Mets pitchers hailing from Long Island. Long Island’s own Marcus Stroman (LIOMS), heretofore rehabbing his torn calf and presumed to be returning to the Mets’ disturbingly depleted rotation soon, announced in the afternoon he was opting out of 2020 due to his family’s COVID-19 concerns. Come nightfall, Long Island’s own Steven Matz (LIOSM) opted out of competitive pitching versus the Washington Nationals, giving up eight earned runs in four-and-a-third innings, a harrowing echo of last week when he was strafed for five earned runs in three innings in D.C.

Maybe somebody should check on Frank Viola from East Meadow, Pete Harnisch from Commack, Hank Webb from Farmingdale, Ray Searage from Freeport, John Lannan from Long Beach, Paul Gibson from Southampton and John Pacella, who was born in Brooklyn but graduated from Connetquot High School in Bohemia (no word whether his mortarboard fell off as he accepted his diploma). Like Stroman, none will be pitching the rest of this season. Like Matz, all would be advised not to.

I can’t blame Stroman of Medford for taking a good, long look around Major League Baseball not to mention the country it’s played in and taking a pandemic pass. If he calculated the declaration of his decision for it to coincide with the accrual of enough service time for him to qualify for free agency, well, gosh, whoever heard of a baseball team manipulating a player’s calendar to gain a financial advantage? I liked Stroman fine when he pitched for the Mets, which was eleven starts last year and none at all since. I don’t know in retrospect that I loved giving two pitching prospects to the Blue Jays for what turned out to be a grand total of eleven starts, but that slight sum couldn’t have been foreseen entering 2020. Nothing much could have been foreseen entering 2020.

Matz of Stony Brook is a sympathetic figure, too. Always comes across as polite and sincere. His Tru32 foundation admirably supports first responders. He has a sandwich named after him at a deli in East Setauket and we all remember his grandpa going nuts at his smash debut. Once upon a time, Steven could hit as well as he could pitch. Now he doesn’t get to hit at all and his ERA should only be somebody’s slugging percentage. Based on his last two starts, it might be the Nats’ versus Matz.

The most dynamic pitcher the Mets offered up versus the defending world champs, albeit as a ninth-inning human sacrifice, was Luis Guillorme. He’s not from Long Island and he’s not a pitcher. Well, he is now. One bullpen-preserving frame hurled (because a ten-man relief corps apparently isn’t enormous enough to survive a blowout), one earned run average of 0.00. Andrés Giménez may have Luis’s path to playing time blocked in the infield, but no way Guillorme doesn’t rate the call over Paul Sewald the next night we’re en route to a 16-4 rout.

This, therefore, is what 2020 has come to. Seventeen games in, we’ve had a position player pitch, yet our National League franchise hasn’t had a pitcher hit.

Guillorme’s catcher was Ali Sanchez, who came in to relieve subdued birthday celebrant Wilson Ramos when the score was a million to nothing or whatever it was by then. Sanchez became the fifteenth new Met of the year, which is almost as many runs as the Washingtonians walloped. We doff our mask to Met No. 1,106 for coming into our world under the bleakest of circumstances and presumably coming back for more.

And, hey, since it wasn’t close anyway, why not a hat tip amid the offensive onslaught from the other side to modestly beloved alumnus Asdrubal Cabrera, who went 4-for-4 with two homers, two doubles and five runs batted in? Asdrubal was a Met longer than Marcus, not as long as Steven. For a spell he was one of my favorites, thus I can’t get utterly sore that he has apparently taken the ex-Met Met-killer baton from Adeiny Hechavarria, who took it from Daniel Murphy, who took it from Justin Turner. All of them in recent years have come back to Citi Field to rake against the Mets and each of them has socked balls into Long Island Sound. The splash was loud enough to wake the Stromans and the Matzes all the way out in Suffolk County.

9 comments to Long Island…DUCK!

  • Daniel Hall

    Some observations from the relative safety of six time zones away.

    1) The Mets have no rotation left besides “Nine Fingers” deGrom and thus no hope either. They might well tuck in behind the Marlins this year.

    2) You know a guy has infinite credit with me for his riotous MLB debut when he gets incinerated for 8 runs and my first thought is “oh no, the poor thing”. I like Matzie. But he’s not a #2. He’s shown enough nerves and jitters over five seasons and small change that you know he’s at best a #4 that is talked about as little as possible to not amp up the pressure on the boy. In any game, the second he hits a 2-2 on the corner and doesn’t get the call, he’ll throw seven balls all over the place after that, without fail, because his head is gone. That is true now as it was in 2016. The second anybody wrote “and Matz will help deGrom carry the team”, it was all lost.

    3) If that service time thing with Stroman is true, screw that guy. There’s a time and a place even for opting out. When your service clock hits 6.000 that is NOT the time. Somehow that’s worse than Cespedes…

    4) Faithless conduct notwithstanding, somebody’s gonna give him a $200m contract.

    5) Someone find a trade for Rosario and keep Gimenez. Rosario in 2019 was the very worst defensive shortstop in the NL by defensive runs saved, and only Kevin Newman (PIT), Tatis jr. (SD), and Trea Turner (well, Gnats), came even remotely close. The rage that goes through me every time a ball bobbles through the space to the left of second base, and the Mets’ second baseman arrives in the picture sooner than their shortstop… Has he EVER made a dive for a ball? Come the eighth, his uniform is pristinely white. You just casually see him jogging/walking into the picture. And he does not have, say, Tatis’ stick to make up for it.

    6) Gimme Gimenez!

  • It’s not looking good…

    At this point, I’d really like to see Kilome and Smith get some ML innings. Running Oswalt or some has been out there is ridiculous and developing them this year may pay off next year.

    As for Rosario, he is going to lose playing time when Cano comes back, particularly vs. righthanders. I could see Amed getting bounced at the trade deadline.

  • chuck

    I can’t think of Porcello without thinking of porcini mushrooms. When he actally pitches well, he’s actually a fun guy.

    I can’t hear Wacha’s name without thinking of Fozzie Bear. And the above joke is probably not worthy of him. It would certainly elicit heckles form Statler and Waldorf.

    We might as well entertain ourselves for the next six weeks in any way we can.

  • open the gates

    Wow, Stro just couldn’t wait to get the heck outahere, could he? Considering the fact that the Mets traded some big prospects for him, chose him over Zach Wheeler and Jason Vargas and basically annointed him the second starter in Syndergaard’s absence (not to mention that he was sitting on the IL at the time), this opt-out has weasel written all over it. The least he could have done was signed some sort of extension whereby the Mets pay him to continue to opt out while they attempt to negotiate a contract. Look, I get that he’s concerned about Covid. We all are. Frankly, I’m not sure that MLB should be happening at all this year. But Stro doing it this way shows no respect – not for the owners who built their rotation around him, or to the fans (remember us? We’re out there, Marcus, even if you can’t see us in the stands anymore). And this time, he can’t even blame it on the New York public school system. Don’t let the door hit ya, ya bum.

    Wow – was not intending a rant here. And I actually defended the Wilpons against two departing players in a row. Will wonders never cease.

  • Seth

    You can’t get sore at Asdrubal? You forgot the circumstances under which he didn’t become a Met for the 2nd time? The whiny baby was upset that the Mets didn’t call him over the winter, and was still holding that grudge, refusing to sign 6 months later when they did call him. Never mind that he was hurting the fans and his Mets teammates, who had nothing to do with not signing him over the winter. And now he has the nerve to come back and perform well against us?

    • I’d prefer a string of 0-for-4s from him the rest of this series if that helps.

      If a player at some point has made me extraordinarily happy, I can maintain a semblance of residual affection for him in a game the Mets ain’t winning anyway in a season when the Mets aren’t likely going anywhere, posturing in the papers notwithstanding.

      On September 22, 2016, Asdrubal Cabrera made me extraordinarily happy.

  • Harvey Poris

    In 1963, the New York World-Telegram & Sun newspaper ran a daily series called “Meet a Met A Day”. Someone should revive it this year, with 15 new Mets in 17 games so far. They have been averaging about 18-19 a year after 1962. By the way, when they completed the Met profiles, the World-Telegram compiled them in a yearbook type publication called “They’re Our Mets.” It was quite well done.

  • John kelly

    Add Travis to ex-Met killer!

  • open the gates

    Yep, Travis, Hechevarria, Murphy and Turner may give us some bad moments now and again. But Asdrubal will always have the Bat Flipped Round the World. I can’t ever get mad at that guy, no matter what uniform he wears. Same for Murph, for what it’s worth. No one ever gave us a playoff run like he did. He’s good for life in my book.