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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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That Familiar Feeling

Well, those were some complicated feelings to open with.

Your capsule summary: Jacob deGrom was terrific, the Mets’ offense looked like the kind of patient, relentless machine that will chew opponents up, and the team even played some solid defense. Well, until the offense whiffed on multiple knockout blows, deGrom departed having thrown just 77 pitches, the new and supposedly improved bullpen coughed up the lead in part because the defense turned shoddy, and the Mets’ hitters tried to come scrambling back only to have the game end with a Pete Alonso bullet that we all tried to will up and over the fence but that wound up thudding into Bryce Harper‘s glove.

Yeah, that was a lot.

I get being careful with your franchise pitcher, what with the long layoff since last he pitched, the desire to skip a fifth starter before the next time he pitches, and most of all the shadowy uncertainty about workloads and stresses in the wake of 2020. I get it, yet the outcome was an all too familiar script: a lead too small that became a lead lost, and the best pitcher of his generation sitting numbly in the dugout trying not to fume. Funny how the Mets can change the calendar and their ownership and their attitude and yet we all wind up sighing again about watching them take an errant step and then THWAP! grimace at a pratfall that became a cliche years ago. The Mets being the Mets, of course they had to follow the slapstick with a plucky but doomed attempt at a comeback, one that left you feeling simultaneously better and worse about the whole thing. That’s another movie we’ve seen before.

And of course baseball will remind you that only a fool thinks he has it solved. The Mets brought in Miguel Castro to relieve deGrom, the same Miguel Castro who made you mutter and pace after his acquisition in 2020, and he acquitted himself perfectly well. Then they turned to Trevor May and Aaron Loup, veterans brought in to show that Things Are Changing Around Here, and neither man could get out of his own way. Last year the Phillies’ bullpen was as merry a band of arsonists as ever burned down a season; this year a pen that looks no more promising on paper keeps running through the rain without getting wet. Middle relief is spaghetti against a wall, but the whole thing was ridiculous nonetheless.

But you know what? Opening Day is its own reward, even an agonizingly delayed Opening Day that ends with an irritating loss. Win or lose, it’s the day life settles back into its familiar contours, the rhythms and routines of fandom get happily rediscovered, and we once again let ourselves live and die — in miniature, mind you — based on the outcome of an exhibition we can’t control. It’s a crazy thing to do, but it’s so much fun that we return year after year, signing up to do it again.

The Mets lost, and I had more fun watching them lose than I had doing the vast majority of whatever the hell I did during the usual forgettable smudge of winter. I mean, did you see Kevin Pillar field that ball off the top of the fence and fire it to Jeff McNeil who fired it to J.D. Davis just ahead of a very surprised Rhys Hoskins? Did you see Francisco Lindor glide across the grass as he made that flip to McNeil at second? Did you have fun guessing along with deGrom and James McCann as they sized up Harper for deGrom’s final pitches, showing him that slider and then moving his eyeline out and out until he was lunging for a fastball he couldn’t catch? Did you hear Alonso connect and think maybe, just maybe … even if it was only for that split-second before you knew better?

It was agonizing. It was also great fun. When it ended, my first thought was: My heart can’t take 162 like that.

And then, right on its heels, came another thought: When’s the next one?

15 comments to That Familiar Feeling

  • CharlieH

    Remember Billy Wagner and the whole “Who owns ‘Enter Sandman?’” palaver? And then how he gave up a walkoff HR to Ryan Zimmerman in game 2 of the season? #LOLMets #AmIright?

    Remember 2006?

    1 of 162. I’d feel a whole lot worse about it if this were September 15th rather than April 5th.

    Go get ‘em tomorrow.

  • Daniel Hall

    31st Jake W blown by a hapless bullpen in his career, said … if someone has to get a “Get out of Jail Free” card for slaying an inept reliever or three, it’s gotta be him.

    Will be a few more days before I get to see the Mets live and in color for the first time in a game that actually counts (thanks, Gnats). But from what I saw on the “highlights” they looked vintage 2018 rather than 2015.

    I hear Matzie had a fine outing with the Bluebirds…

  • eric1973

    Similar crap as last year.
    But only if you care about winning.

    Robot Rojas very questionable managing, taking Jake out after 6.

    And Jake only pitched 6, so he does not really deserve the win. He does, however, deserve the Cy Young, because, as we all know, ERA is more important than winning the game.

    Looks like the season’s goal once again is getting Jake another Cy Young, rather than winning a game.

    So I guess we should all be happy!


    And you know what, Robot?
    I saw Wheeler and Matz each throw 90 pitches into the 7th, and guess what, they each WON THE GAME!

  • Wheaties54321

    Great to have another season of Mets baseball kicked off!

    On the bright side…At this point the heft of all the Jake bullpen losses may bolster his HOF case. Each blowup will be counted towards his case.

  • Dave

    Well the best reaction on Twitter (where most of the reactions were very definitely not worthy of being called the best anything) was a meme of Larry David saying “Fuck you, and I’ll see you tomorrow.” When my wife saw it, she texted it to me with the words “this is you.” I did not disagree.

    There is one simple secret to having a good bullpen. That secret is what experts call being very lucky. There is a better-than-OK chance that some highly regarded shutdown setup man who was unhittable last year, even the year or two before that, will suddenly go from lights out to blinded by the light. Let’s hope that in 2021 that distinction does not belong to anyone named, say, May or Lugo or Loup, but we’ve seen this movie before. A regular full season is roughly 1400 innings. A guy who pitches, even very very well, for 75 of them is a small sample size. He might look very good but might in fact not be very good for very long.

    So while I’m sure lots of planning went into who to sign and for how much and who makes the roster and who doesn’t, what we really need to hope for may best be found in a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover.

  • Bob

    It’s deja vu all over again!
    Who would have ever though that the Mets very explosive bullpen would EXPLODE?
    WHO woulda thunk it?

    Let’s see how many Ws deGrom loses this season because the bullpen fails.
    OY VEY!

    Let’s Go Mets

    Yes, I did see Matz, Harvey and Wheeler pitch good games for OTHER teams in past week….sigh…

  • Seth

    An apt summary — sorry, but this game smelled bad from the get-go. I’m having trouble reconciling the current brand of baseball — where you have to completely disassociate the starting pitcher’s performance from the end result. Jacob was great. Mets lost.

    I get it too. But wasn’t it more “baseball-ish” when the starting pitcher, pitching brilliantly, could have a complete game on opening day? Shame that they’re now so delicate.

  • open the gates

    Man, this is the worst season ever! The Mets haven’t won a single game all season! They blew every one of Jacob deGrom’s starts! The bullpen hasn’t even been able to hold a single lead! Every comeback attempt has fallen short! Fire Luis Rojas! Trade Frankie Lindor! Hey Steve Cohen, sell the team back to the Wilpons! This miserable season is…

    One day old.

    Let’s all take a deep breath, shall we?

    LGM. We’ll get ’em next time.

    But yeah, maybe keep deGrom in longer than six when he’s cruising. If that’s not asking too much.

  • Flynn23

    Wait ’til next year.

  • mikeski

    Oh jeez, I just got it: That Familia-r Feeling.

  • Scott M

    Always great to have FAFIF/Jason & Greg back for regular season recaps.
    Agree with Dave on bullpen luck. Some seasons you have it and mostly we don’t.
    Afraid that deGrom will fly the coop when he’s able.(2 more years,I think?)
    At any rate – it’s great to have ball back.
    Any chance of bumping into Jason or Greg for the home opener?

  • mikeL

    pulled after 77 pitches?

    sheesh! : to pull today’s *franchise* on a number associated with the trading of THE Franchise is just wrong. aside from being way too short an outing for a guy who was hitting 102mph early in the game.

    please let the pitchers pitch. use the ‘pen when the starters are getting gassed.

    it’s too early to be annoyed by the return of baseball.

    at least there’s no day off after opening day here.

  • Lenny65

    Blow it up. Trade for prospects. Fire everyone. Sell the damn team. Welcome to Panic City!

  • Eric

    I’ll give the “up downs” sh…tuff a pass 1 turn through the rotation. If it continues past the 1st turn of the rotation that’s a problem. I can’t blame it for this loss since Castro wasn’t scored on in the 7th and that’s as far as deGrom was going. May would have pitched the 8th inning regardless and he gave it up.

  • Eric

    My criticism is starting Nimmo over Smith’s bat in left field with the glove-first centerfielder.