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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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Objects in Rearview Mirror Are Farther Than They Appear

The Mets followed two unlikely good nights in which they got lousy, abbreviated starts but hit and relieved their way out of the mess with a thoroughly bad one: no hitting, no relief, and no help on the scoreboard. None of which is ever good, all of which is really bad when the season’s down to a count-them-on-your-fingers number of games.

Of all the damaging developments for the Mets’ recently solid starting pitching, some of which have been self-inflicted and some of which have been lousy luck, Steven Matz‘s disintegration must rank as the most perplexing. Is Matz hurt, as he has been so often during his professional career? Is he oil to Jeremy Hefner‘s water? Is he personally at sea because of a year that has so many of us looking for life jackets?

Whatever the malady or maladies, Matz arrived for duty basically unarmed, missing a few necessary MPH off his fastball and unable to control any of his pitches. He survived the first by giving up only a single run, thanks to some sleight of foot by Todd Frazier, who blocked Freddie Freeman off third, and Austin Riley guessing wrong and locking up on a 3-2 curve that broke over the heart of the plate. But the roof fell in an inning later: Matz threw a sinker to Marcell Ozuna that did no sinking and Ozuna hit it approximately to Portugal.

The Mets were down 5-0, and while big deficits haven’t been fatal this week, the Braves are a lot better than the Phillies. They kept pouring it on, cuffing Matz around over a further two-thirds of an inning, then unloading on Franklyn Kilome and Jared Hughes. The Mets’ lone 1-2-3 inning of the night was turned in by Frazier, who once upon a time pitched a New Jersey team to a Little League championship, as perhaps you’ve heard. Frazier wasn’t throwing pitches that would have received a speeding ticket on the highway, which is something perhaps more Mets should try. Frazier also shouldn’t be on the roster, despite that cannily positioned foot: A 1-2-3 inning from a position player is literally something Luis Guillorme can also do, but Guillorme was renditioned to the Mets’ black site (I may not have this 2020 terminology quite correct) despite a .347 average and being better than Frazier at everything else. The Mets’ Pleistocene belief in Proven Veterans™ is just one of many things I hope vanishes with the departure of Wilpons père et fails.

As it is, the Mets lost when they needed to win, and were left gazing helplessly at the scoreboard as it reported that the Cardinals and Phillies had both swept doubleheaders and the Reds and Brewers had won as well. The Mets aren’t done, at least not mathematically, but if you’re one of the teams they’re chasing, they’re one of those objects in the rearview mirror that’s actually farther than it appears.

* * *

On a brighter note, today is Roger Angell’s 100th birthday, and here’s a tip of the cap and a deep bow to the man without whom we wouldn’t exist.

Angell did more than anyone to impart a love of baseball to me as a child — after I discovered the Mets, I devoured The Summer Game and everything else he wrote. Those books taught me the game’s history, imparted a deep respect for its players, and showed me that baseball seasons form a continuous fabric in which an astute observer can happily spend a lifetime spotting patterns and following threads. He’s also the trailblazer for what we and so many others do in the digital age — Angell started covering baseball for the New Yorker from the dual perspective of professional and partisan, something no one else was doing at the time or had even imagined doing. That double vision is hard to maintain, requiring you to be both clear-eyed and at least reasonably neutral about what happens while also putting your fannish heart out there in all its messiness as part of the chronicle. Should I ever feel that dual focus slipping, all I need to do is go back to my baseball library and see how Angell did it. Which also gives me another chance to dream that once, just once, I’ll manage to write a bit of emotional or physical description that’s half as good as what Angell comes up in each and every column.

4 comments to Objects in Rearview Mirror Are Farther Than They Appear

  • eric1973

    Spent the morning reading Angell’s (separate) articles about Steve Blass and Bob Gibson.

    The Blass article was riveting, from 1975, just after he was released by the Pirates after 1974, as it painfully, and in great detail, recounts every start Blass made after 1973, when he just lost it. How he was benched, went to the minors, and nobody could figure out what was wrong, whether mechanical or mental.

    Don’t think the term ‘Steve Blass Disease’ was even mentioned, as it may not have been coined until after 1975.

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Angell.

  • Lenny65

    For me the season was officially over when they shipped Guillorme down. Demoting extremely useful young players in order to reserve roster spots for old known quantities is not a thing good baseball teams do. While I always liked Toms River NJ native and Little League World Series Champion Todd Frazier, his presence on the 2020 Mets is just baffling and inexplicable.

    In a sick way it’d be a relief to find out that Matz is (sigh) hurt again, as at least there would be some hope that he’s still repairable. The Steven Matz dream (homegrown local kid emerges as dependable 3-4 starter) appears to be over, as he has been Oliver Perez-level awful in 2020. I sincerely do hope he can be salvaged but honestly, it looks pretty sad right now.

  • eric1973

    I saw an old, gray-haired man on the mound for some team the other night, and I thought it was an old timer’s game.

    Then the announcer called him Oliver Perez, and OMG was I shocked!

    I thought he was through when we got rid of him!

  • Daniel Hall

    Next time – and I don’t say we should think about this as a permanent solution for 2021 – but, maybe, let’s just try it. Rather than giving poor Matzie the start and more ghastly third-degree burns from being licked by the flames of the opposing offense, maybe put Matzie at third base and give the ball to Todd Frazier from Toms River. Just one try!

    Meanwhile I can’t wait for Steve Cohen to throw Brodie Dynamite’s personal shit out the window after pinning a termination notice to his forehead.

    Poor Matzie. I really like the guy, but I fear it’s terminal. You see that I like him because every other guy with an ERA twice his uniform number would have me angrily shaking my broadaxe, screaming incoherently that his stupid noggin MUST COME OFF!!!