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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 Best 23-27 Team in Baseball

Jules, y’know, honey, this isn’t real. You know what it is? It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them. There was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep ’em going when times got tough, just like you’re making up all of this.

We’re all going through this. It’s our time on the edge.
—Rob Lowe as Billy Hicks

The 1993 Jets were supposed to be better than they were. They’d made big-deal offseason acquisitions. Boomer Esiason. Ronnie Lott. Then they went out and played as the Jets tend to play, losing four of their first six games…after which safety Brian Washington defiantly declared they were “the best 2-4 team in football”. While this pronouncement didn’t go down well in the New York media, it’s difficult to mount an argument regarding a status nobody had previously ever thought of contesting before.

With that in mind, I’m here to tell you that after 50 games, the Mets are the best 23-27 team in baseball. Also, they’re the only 23-27 team in baseball, so that probably makes them the worst of their kind as well. How it is we have thirty baseball teams and only one with this precise record is probably a bigger mystery than how the Mets, at four games under .500, are still something of a playoff contender, but let’s assume the game totals will more or less even out by next Sunday. For now, let’s celebrate the surge that has brought the Mets to their unquestioned position atop the mountain of 23-27 teams in baseball.


Honestly, it’s been pretty invigorating watching this team both not lose and somehow win these past two nights, considering the one undeniable strong suit they thought they had going for them — the upper echelon of their starting rotation — got its asset kicked. Yet they survived the thrashing and battled on, just like a real team with something to play for in the third week of September. Wednesday, it was Cy deGrom and his amazing, colossal, spasming hamstring splattering our time-tested formula for competing all over the Delaware Valley. But then the Met relief corps, under the direction of bullpen coach Nancy Walker, acted as the quicker picker-upper, and the Met offense proceeded to score just enough to wipe Jake’s and our slate clean.

Thursday night, there was another fine mess that had to be absorbed ASAP, this one spilled by the heretofore reliable Seth Lugo. We’ve long considered Seth a competitor to the leading national brands of starters, but sadly he proved too soggy to be of much use. After the Mets had put three on the board in the top of the first, Lugo took to the mound and got supergenerous with the givebacks. A homer to Harper. A homer to Bohm. A homer to Gregorius. A triple to Segura, who usually homers against Met pitching, but that’s OK, because here came Adam Haseley to drive him in.

After one, it was Phillies 4 Mets 3. Before Lugo could slither out of the second, it was Phillies 6 Mets 3, with Bryce bashing another dinger along the way, and did you hear Seth’s hamstring barking? Me, neither, but after an inning-and-two-thirds of this Citizens Band Box horror show, you wouldn’t have blamed Luis Rojas for invoking any malady he could think of and bringing out the hook. Just as deGrom blessedly swears he’s fine after his spasm revelation, Lugo claims he is physically well. He just sucked was all. “I made some bad pitches, but I also made some pitches that got hit, too,” Seth said, shedding absolutely no light on the situation.

Erasmo Ramirez, on the other hand, was nothing but light. Light so bright than no smoke from a distant fire could dim his effect on our fortunes. Like Michael Wacha the night before, Ramirez strolled in and clamped down the Philadelphia chaos. Erasmo for two-and-a-third, followed by Chasen Shreve for two-and-a-third, followed by Jeurys Familia for one-and-a-third. Put all these ones and two and thirds together, and suddenly you’re back in a game you were plummeting from a few full innings before.

In the top of the sixth, the Mets opted to stop being impressed by Phillie starter Aaron Nola and returned to attacking him successfully. Pete Alonso, who was so desperate for a big hit the night before that he tried batting and chewing gum at the same time, regenerated his swing and blew a bubble right in his Nola’s face by launching a bomb to left field. Pete can still do that. He has 12 home runs in this year and, I’m guessing, about 16 hits in all. Still, when he connects, he detonates, and after Jeff McNeil worked out the Mets’ fifth walk of the night off Nola, Joe Girardi replaced his ace with pure dynamite.

It doesn’t really matter who Girardi brings in from the Phillie bullpen. They’re all potentially explosive to the touch. Blake Parker was ol’ Joe’s choice. Andrés Giménez patiently ignored the ticking device and took a walk. Soon enough, though, Brandon Nimmo lit the fuse: tripling in both McNeil and Giménez and tying a game that appeared lost in the second. Except these are the Mets in Philadelphia, where few leads sit undisturbed for long. The only thing more common than games there getting tied and untied is the SNY shot of cheesesteaks sizzling. And because the SNY camera crew is not in attendance on the road this year, we didn’t even get that.

The 6-6 tie stayed in effect until the ninth when another Phillie reliever burst into flaming wreckage. Brandon Workman threw. Brandon Nimmo swung. We had a Brandon new pair of roller skates and Nimmo was the Brandon new key. Our Wyoming Walloper blasted it so far that he didn’t even bother sprinting to first, which may be a Nimmo first.

“The guys had two choices,” Nimmo would say later. “Give up, or keep fighting. The guys chose to keep fighting.” God, I love that inspirational introspection when it comes out of the mouths of Mets. As the Mother Superior in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure might have put it, “Oh, Brandon, you are an inspiration to us all!” To which the next several hitters in the Mets lineup essentially replied, “We’ll say! We’re going to start a paper route right now.”

Read all about it: Michael Conforto singled; one out later, Dom Smith tripled; immediately thereafter, Robinson Cano homered. It was a bounty of runs, indeed. By the time Cano extended the Met lead to four, Garrett Cleavinger had replaced Brandon Workman, but it barely mattered. Phillie pitching provided the gravy for this delicious dish of savory offense piled over a steaming bed of scoreless innings. With no cheesesteaks in evidence, the Mets had to find another way to feast. Ramirez. Shreve. Familia. Justin Wilson in and out of a little trouble but ultimately unscathed. And, at 10-6 and with no save opportunity in sight (unless he created one for somebody else), Edwin Diaz came in and finished the job. The job got tense — Sugar may have been on third-day fumes — but it got done. The Mets emerged from a series they couldn’t lose by winning it. DeGrom was no good. Lugo was lousy. Yet the Mets took two of three to become…

23-27 TEAM

Which gets them…what? Maybe nothing. Probably nothing. They inched a little closer to something than they were 24 hours earlier (which is about how long this game took), but there are still a few too many bodies between them and whatever it is they’re trying to grab, which, by the way, can be defined as the second-best sub-second place record in the National League, a status nobody had ever thought of contesting before. Talk about an inspiration to us all.

That said, when a camera briefly spotted Todd Frazier looking pleased with the outcome, I thought to myself, “I wonder if they’d put him on the postseason roster,” a postseason roster we’ll make up because we think we need it to keep us going. Maybe we do.

6 comments to The Best 23-27 Team in Baseball

  • mikeL

    i feel a bit like a cardboard fan at home, cursing at the tv half-heartedly as diaz threatens to cough up the ninth inning bounty of cushion – and it didn’t *feel* like a 10-6 win but this is what we’ve all signed up for and received more often than not.
    we can’t have easy things.

  • I’ve tried my best to fool myself into believing this all means something but it’s just not working. If the Mets make the post-season they’ll still be a mediocre-at-best team. Same goes for the World Series. Am I really the only one who thinks this is all a sham?

  • Seth

    Excellent Nancy Walker reference, Greg. What’s next, a Joe Gerard/Joe Girardi joke? :-)

  • open the gates

    When Joe G. said he expected a “workmanlike effort” from his relief corps, that was clearly not what he had in mind. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my absolutely final awful baseball joke of the year. Shana Tova to all my fellow Tribe members, and everyone else as well.

  • […] So Seth Lugo faced the Phillies last week and let’s just say it didn’t go well. […]