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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 Grinding Down

The Mets played one of their more discouraging games of 2020 on Tuesday night, one that left me so dispirited and annoyed that I decided this morning everyone would be better off reliving the misadventures of Paul Sewald, Jonah, than revisiting what had happened more recently.

Fighting for their lives against the Phillies, the Mets … never really seemed to be in it. Rick Porcello pitched tolerably, briefly losing his way in the fourth for two runs and then making a mistake against Didi Gregorius in the fifth for two more. Which wasn’t great, but it was better than Porcello’s been for too much of the season. And given the Mets’ offensive firepower and the Phils’ flammable bullpen, four runs shouldn’t have been insurmountable. Except they were — the team left 12 men on base, turned 11 hits into just one skinny run (and that came on a Brandon Nimmo solo shot), and failed repeatedly in the clutch. Which you could feel the whole time — it was almost as if you could sense guys tightening up as they came to the plate, squeezing the bat until sawdust shot out from between their fingers.

Wilson Ramos was the biggest offender: inning-ending grounder back to Jake Arrieta in the second with runners on second and third, K in the fourth, inning-ending GIDP on JoJo Romero‘s first pitch with runners on second and third in the sixth. But the Buffalo had company: Pete Alonso flied to center with the bases loaded to end the third, flied to right with one on and none out in the sixth, and fouled to the catcher with one on and one out in the eighth. Alonso is popping everything up and spent large chunks of the game hanging miserably on the dugout railing, looking like the woebegone protagonist of approximately 70,000 country songs featuring deceased dogs, vamoosed wives and busted barns. Jeff McNeil made a boneheaded play to short-circuit the eighth, getting tagged out at third when he a) didn’t need to advance, b) a run was going to score, and c) Jean Segura had no play except for the one McNeil gift-wrapped for him.

It was that kind of night. Afterwards, Luis Rojas talked about poor-quality at-bats and McNeil’s lack of awareness, and Ramos said something that everyone trying to work through COVID can sympathize with: “I’m overthinking every night because I have nothing to do.”

True … except 29 other teams are dealing with the same problem, and a bunch of them have a better chance to make the playoffs despite having less talent than the Mets. And hey, fairness to the other guys on the field: The Phils’ bullpen stood up, at least for one night, and Joe Girardi came up aces with the decision to send Adam Haseley up as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, which seemed overeager at the time but gave his team the win.

There’s no way the Mets should be behind the Marlins or Giants, but the standings say they are, and that’s the only judgment that matters. The Mets are rapidly running out of time to change that judgment, and they’ve given little indication that they’re capable of forcing a different one.

3 comments to The Grinding Down

  • Seth

    Not sure what Ramos means by “I have nothing to do.” Does that mean outside the ballpark? Because it seems he has plenty to do between the lines — he just hasn’t done it.

    The problem with this season is everything is magnified. There just isn’t time to work out slumps/issues. I fear for 2021 as well.

  • Daniel Hall

    Deceased dogs, yeah, that’s the comparison that I never found with Sad Pete. I thank you a lot for making me chuckle at least once per post. I really need that. It’s usually the only chuckle of the day for me…….

    baseball-reference says these miserable Mets have used 46 players in 48 games. I would have guessed more. They had all the Billy Hamiltons nobody ever wanted to see out there…

    Oh what could have been. In my day-by-day play of the 2020 Mets schedule-as-intended in OOTP, the Mets are 98-53, tied for best record in MLB, up 6 1/2 on Philly, and look like winners. However, that was without Thor, Stroman, and Lowrie (a surprisingly competent #2 hitter with all limbs attached, it turns out!) disappearing into thin air, and without Pete losing all his boom (44 HR, leading NL), with Matzie and Porcello being at least semi-competent, and with Senor Diaz 2018-reliable in the ninth. (It has nothing to do with me managing the bunch, I am routinely crummy at the game. Although, since I also fill in as GM, “routinely crummy” still beats Brodie Dynamite’s performance rating… Turns out, even somebody as nondescript as *Jacob Stallings* can markedly improve the Mets at catcher…)

  • open the gates

    I’m starting to see this season as 1979 redux, in the sense that the only positive on the horizon is that ownership is (hopefully) about to change. At least we don’t have Richie Hebner glowering at us from third, and Jeffy W has yet to ride around the stadium mounted on a mule. Otherwise, all I can say is, thank God it’s almost over. Steve C, stay the course, my man. We need you.