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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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Look at Him — He’s the Catcher Now

The Ages of Lo Duca, Schneider, Santos, Barajas, Thole, Buck, d’Arnaud, Plawecki, Mesoraco and Ramos (to say nothing of the intervals of more than a score of backups) have given way now to The Age of McCann. James McCann, that is, starting backstop for your New York Mets, a franchise that hasn’t fully filled its Piazza-sized hole behind the plate never mind in the lineup since the Greatest Hitting Catcher Ever completed the terms of his seven-year contract on October 2, 2005; took a seven-minute seventh-inning stretch curtain call; and packed his gear for San Diego. Mike would be back to help close Shea in 2008, be inducted into the team Hall of Fame in 2013 and have his number retired in 2016, and the Mets would still be cycling through successors every time Mike dropped by for a ceremonial first pitch. Whoever caught the actual pitches on those days and nights proved to be, at best, a short-timer or inevitable letdown.

McCann isn’t here to make us forget Piazza (fat chance). He’s here to make our pitchers comfortable and us confident. He’s here to get to more balls in the dirt than landed in Wilson Ramos’s sadly flailing grasp. He’s also here to continue riding the defensive and offensive trajectories that transformed him from somebody the Tigers didn’t see the need to keep a couple of years ago to the most attractive free agent catcher this winter this side of J.T. Realmuto.

The Mets believe in the 30-year-old McCann enough to have signed him from the White Sox, where he was an All-Star in 2019 and Gold Glove finalist in 2020, reportedly snagging him for four years at the cost of plenty-sufficient Cohen currency. The Mets fan intermittently immersed in hot stove hype isn’t quite certain why Realmuto wasn’t the prime target, but trusts the Mets will tell us their reasoning soon enough, and trusts even more that heretofore prohibitively priced targets at other positions have been identified and will be sincerely and successfully pursued.

Steve and Alex Cohen were at Citi Field Saturday afternoon as reports lit up Twitter that McCann was becoming a Met. The couple that owns the Mets were out front greeting season ticket holders and distributing last season’s bobbleheads. Nobody got any trinkets last year, as we know. We also know we got little out of Ramos in 2020. Little production, little protection, zero confidence. The Buffalo stampeded opposing pitchers in 2019 and was good enough to shepherd that deGrom fellow toward another Cy Young, so maybe ’20 was just an off year for him the same way it’s been an off year for the bulk of the world. Regardless, Wilson wasn’t coming back in 2021 and we really needed a catcher.

If McCann plays like a more cheerful Charlie O’Brien, a guy who knows what he’s doing while wearing all that equipment and brings over some of his good South Side vibes, that would be minimal. He’s being entrusted to do more, but doesn’t have to be Piazza or, for that matter, Carter with the bat. Just keep the fellas on the mound in their zone; be simpatico with the umps; stay nimble on your feet; place and/or move your mitt precisely where it needs to be; and…geez, that’s a lot. It’s amazing catchers are elevated to Cooperstown mostly based on hitting.

Anyway, thanks for the catcher, Steve and Alex. What else ya got for us? Besides a new GM?

16 comments to Look at Him — He’s the Catcher Now

  • Was Proxy

    Don’t forget Anthony Recker!

  • chuck

    “good South Side vibes?” Like that cretin A.J. Pierzynski? Come on.

    • Referring to McCann having discovered whatever made him a success as a White Sock.

      • chuck

        Yeah, that ain’t helping. Jason Bay. Roberto Alomar. George Foster. The list is endless.

        And I believe that the singular of “Sox” should not be “Sock,” in the same vein that the plural of “RBI” is not “RBIs” or that Keith Jackson had it right when he called short breaks in a college gridiron match “times out.” A sock is a thing that goes missing in a clothes dryer, not a ballplayer. I’ll be happy to be wrong.

  • If you put any stock in player comps, neither Realmuto nor McCann is likely to have much left in the tank after the coming season. Given that, is the one excellent season remaining in Realmuto’s career worth all the extra $$$ he’s likely to get? At least, with McCann, there’s the possibility, however small, that he’s discovered a hitting stroke that might continue. And, if it doesn’t, he can be booted, or relegated to backup, after one season for someone better relatively cheaply.

    • We are no longer on the razor’s edge where a contract backfiring dooms us (“when McCann is off the books, maybe we can get a pitcher”) and that itself looms as a victory, if not exactly the kind we’re aiming for.

  • Seth

    I was really holding out hope for Rene Rivera, but let’s keep an open mind.

  • SkillSets

    Maybe he can give the same vibe as another Chicago South Side catcher who after all was the backstop for one G. Thomas Seaver. #72 in your program ….

    • chuck

      After Seaver’s 300th win (there’s a great quote of Fisk’s from the game), Jerry Reinsdorf showed up on the postgame and gloated about having stolen Seaver from the Mets.

      When I saw the rebroadcast of it this spring I realized I should have started hating Reinsdorf about eight or nine years later than I did.

  • open the gates

    Personally, I’d take Gloomy Charlie O’Brien over pretty much any of the post-Piazza pre-McCann Met catchers with the exception of Paul Lo Duca an d’Arneau’s one solid year. Charlie was way underrated.

  • Daniel Hall

    Good! Tomas Nido being atop the depth chart briefly had me frightened!

    Now get Springer and Bauer.

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    A catcher who can catch and throw the ball. We haven’t really been strong up the middle since 2006.