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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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Immoral Victories

You know the thing about moral victories in baseball, right? Namely, that they don’t exist. You were down 8-1 and gallantly came back and showed fight and lost 8-7? Here’s a pat on the head, because that’s called a loss.

Well, Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins, because of course it had to be the Marlins, was an immoral victory. The Mets won, but it felt like they’d lost and I was thoroughly mad at them despite the final score.

Jacob deGrom started, because of course this disaster had to involve poor Jacob deGrom, to whom pretty much the exact same thing happened last start. And he was … I don’t know, we’re running out of superlatives for deGrom by now. I could wax lyrical about the power and the command, I could strain myself invoking Seaver and Gooden and Santana, and your eyes would glaze over because you’ve heard it and read it before. Yeah yeah, you’d think, I get it. He was Jacob deGrom. And there it is: He was Jacob deGrom, which in this case meant 14 Ks in seven innings and nary a sweat broken. By now the man is his own superlative.

The Mets followed one of their more embarrassing twin bills in team history by actually scoring runs — first one, then another, then somehow two more, and I actually made the mistake of feeling like the game was safe. Oh ho ho. Ah ha ha. Justin Wilson, normally one of the reliable relievers, came in and promptly gave up three straight singles while getting one out. The last single was a bit unlucky, a little parachute just over Jeff McNeil‘s glove, but the other two came on balls that were supposed to be down and stayed up. Wilson was excused further duty and on came Edwin Diaz, who once upon a time was an elite closer.

“Diaz is gonna fuck this up, isn’t he?” I tweeted, and told myself that was a clever reverse jinx, and in a minute I’d be able to retweet myself mockingly but happily. But my heart wasn’t in it. I figured he really was going to fuck it up, and he did. Diaz fanned Jesus Sanchez, yielded a scorching infield single to Jesus Aguilar that nearly put a baseball-sized hole in J.D. Davis and made the score 4-2, then walked Corey Dickerson to force in a run and make it 4-3.

By now the cardboard cutouts had come to life and were booing — even the dogs were howling for blood in a corrugated way — and Luis Rojas was growing more gray and stooped by the second where he stood morosely in the dugout. It was 4-3, Diaz had already fucked this up, and one skinny bit of further fuckuppery was all that separated deGrom from looking a little stern yet philosophical in his postgame Zoom and being deprived of another win by his teammates’ chronic ineptitude.


Judge: All rise.

[hubbub, rising and what-not]

Judge: Mr. deGrom, you are accused of taking a two-by-four to your co-workers in a disturbing workplace incident. How do you plead?

Lawyer: Your Honor, Mr. deGrom is a New York Met, and we have a short video montage we’d like introduced into evidence.

[said evidence is displayed]

Judge: Case dismissed.

With a 1-1 count on Brian Anderson, Diaz spiked a slider into the dirt and came off the mound a little gimpily. The trainer and Rojas came out, Diaz argued to stay in the game, trainer and Rojas correctly noted that he’d done enough, and he departed with some injury for which I haven’t yet seen a diagnosis, and the nature of which I honestly couldn’t give a shit about.

In 40-odd years as a baseball fan I have (mostly) learned to be reasonable and understand that everyone is trying, injuries and simple buzzard’s luck can affect outcomes, and one should never reach moral conclusions based on the outcome of anything so maddingly fickle as hurled balls and swung bats and lunging gloves. But eventually even the most rational fan has had enough, and I have had enough of Edwin Diaz. The ground is salted. He should become someone else’s problem to fix, or no one’s problem, and I do not particularly care which. Diagnose him with inability to pitch and put him on the 45,000-day IL. Edwino delenda est.

Poor Brad Brach inherited Diaz’s 2-1 count and threw two more balls, walking in yet another run. The walk and the blown save go on Diaz’s ledger, and in this one case baseball’s quirky rules are inarguably fair. Another deGrom masterpiece had been covered in fingerpaint and crayon, and I huffily folded my arms and waited for the rest of the disaster.

Which somehow didn’t come. Robinson Cano singled, Billy Hamilton replaced him, Wilson Ramos singled Hamilton in, Brach went back out there and got three outs, though one of them came when Jonathan Villar — who’s an excellent player except when the Mets are involved — slid head-first into McNeil’s foot instead of second base. He was called safe, but a crew-chief review showed he was out, since opponents’ shoes only count as bases on alternate Sundays under 2020’s let’s-all-shrug-and-do-shit COVID rules. It was kind of bullshit, the sort of injustice that one would have just grumbled mildly about in the pre-replay era, but I was willing to take it, and a couple of minutes later Miguel Rojas hit an initially scarily trajectoried but ultimately harmless fly ball and the Mets had somehow won.

The Mets had somehow won, but it sure didn’t feel like they had. Certainly they hadn’t deserved to. I still felt like booing.

The best thing to do, probably, is draw a curtain across this one and never think of it again. It didn’t make any sense, and your insisting it should have won’t make any difference. It’s just baseball, it’ll drive you crazy if you let it, and 2020’s already got that more than covered.

10 comments to Immoral Victories

  • Daniel Hall

    Best post ever. I liked the Latin bit especially.

    Sometimes I am glad they play most of their games in the dead of night for me and I can’t fit it in to watch the game the following day from the archives, either. This sounds like one of those games. The box scores gave me horrors enough in three minutes rather than three hours.

    Am I also already crazy? Sure. Crazy enough to be confused why Villar would silde into McNeil’s foot. Isn’t he on the Mets? (No, he’s not. Only in my day-by-day Mets game. Traded for him with the Red Sox. Long story. Funnily enough Diaz is relatively reliable in my game… Ah, if only…)

    Hey, bright sides. At least the Metsies PLAYED. Nobody else seems to anymore.

  • Steve

    I think my new practice is to stop watching games after DeGrom comes out.

  • open the gates

    Your remarks re Edwin Diaz reminded me of the post-Mets career of one Oliver Perez. You know who turned himself into a pretty decent middle reliever? Oliver Perez. You know who the only active player from the 2006 Mets roster is? Oliver Perez. You know whom I would never have wanted to see on the Mets ever again? Yep. Oliver Perez. Even knowing how he would eventually turn out.

    Same with Mr. Edwin Diaz. Maybe the guy still has an incredible upside. Maybe he actually led a league in saves not long ago, although that seems unimaginable right now. Maybe he’ll eventually become a great closer once again, or a good starting pitcher, or an acceptable middle reliever. Maybe he’ll go the Rick Ankiel route and become a decent hitter for a few years. Maybe he’ll become a good manager, or pitching coach, or peanut vendor. As long as he doesn’t do it for the New York Mets. I’m so done with him.

    And by the way, I loved your “no jury would convict” scenario. Mr. Rojas, please let our Jake pitch a few complete games. Would it really kill him?

    • Daniel Hall

      Well, he had already thrown 104 pitches… Yes, in the olden days they tossed 140 no problem, but show me one active starting pitcher that has ever done that.

    • Seth

      My favorite announcer, Gary Cohen, seems to remember a different Oliver Perez than the rest of us, affectionately calling him “Ollie” and marveling at the wonderful career he’s built for himself. Oh well, sometimes humans tend to block out the bad memories…

  • eric1973

    Well, Jake has already had TJ, so maybe it is worth a shot!

  • Flynn23

    “By now the cardboard cutouts had come to life and were booing.”

    Line of the season. Brilliant.

  • Bob

    When Diaz,comes in, I walk away from TV–would rather watch a barfing contest then watch Diaz trash another DeGrom great performance.

    Just Amazed the Mets managed to win this game.

  • Dave

    In this era of starting pitchers being considered workhorses if they last 6 innings, we’ve come to the conclusion that wins isn’t such a meaningful statistic for them anymore, and can certainly be misleading. Maybe the same can be said for wins for a team.

  • chuck

    Brodie just threw Jeffy under the bus. Oops.

    In the meantime, Dom for MVP. Or at least the Clemente award.