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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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Help! I'm Starting to Not Like Baseball!

The Mets lost and it was excruciating on so many levels.

They weren’t even playing the Phillies, really; rather, they were playing the lesser half of the Phillies, shorn of Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura. It didn’t matter. They probably would have lost to a bunch of Norristown tykes who barely topped four feet and were wearing blue jeans below t-shirts that said PHILLIES and had a local deli’s name on the back.

Mets pitchers gave up a grand total of two runs. Those runs scored, unbelievably, on a strikeout with two outs. A strikeout of the opposing pitcher. You cannot make this shit up.

You’d like to be making up the report that Marcus Stroman — wonderful after his bobble last time around — departed early because of a tight hamstring. But that was all too real — Steve Cohen himself said so, and I figure he ought to know.

A game that was already a farce degenerated further in the eighth, when the Phillies put on a show of performative high dudgeon about perceived Met misdeeds. First came Jose Alvarado, who found the plate in the nick of time to fan Dom Smith on pretty much the only good pitch he’d made all inning. Alvarado wasn’t happy a little while ago when Smith wasn’t happy about Alvarado hitting Michael Conforto; having struck Smith out, he struttingly invited the defeated Met to talk about their differences, causing the benches to empty and mill about and the bullpens to rush in, not that bullpens actually rush — they more huff and puff dutifully but unhappily about the whole thing. To the disgust of Ron Darling, the Mets didn’t start throwing haymakers; I thought that was less choosing pacifism than being baffled about the whole thing. Why would anyone try to wake up an opponent already so thoroughly asleep that you’re tempted to hold a mirror up to the batters’ mouths?

An inning later, Miguel Castro came inside to Rhys Hoskins with a pair of pitches. I doubt they were meant to hit anyone — they looked like sinkers that didn’t sink — but Hoskins, whom we’ve seen be touchy before, took loud exception. Cue more emptying, milling and dutiful reliever huffing and puffing, at which point I suggested the two bullpens simply brawl in the outfield to save each other the time and exertion. Nothing happened, largely because Francisco Lindor practically draped himself over Castro, keeping him out of further trouble — Lindor’s leadership remains All-Star quality even as his bat is stuck below replacement level. Somehow I found myself missing Larry Bowa. By that point Bowa would have stripped naked, lit himself on fire and become a superheated meteor of chaos racing around the field combusting everything within range; what we got instead was a bunch of posturing and chippiness that was both embarrassingly shrill and deeply stupid.

And beneath all that, there was something worse: Friday night’s game was another very 2021 ballgame, which is to say it was very long and very boring. The Mets and Phillies combined for three runs and nine hits, which isn’t much but somehow took three hours and twenty minutes. I’ve said before that I don’t like gimmicks like the three-batter rule or ghost runners, to say nothing of tinkering with 60 feet, six inches, but there are too many unwatchable games these days. Something has to change, not for the young future generations that baseball’s deeply concerned about unless it involves scheduling postseason games that generation can actually stay up to watch, but for old generations like mine, fans who love baseball but find it increasingly clunky and slothful and deeply dull.

After the game’s merciful death rattle, Darling grimly said the Mets needed to view Friday night as rock bottom, put April behind them and come out firing in May. Which would be nice. But I’ve watched my share of fundamentally bad teams, teams in danger of mistaking buzzards’ luck for their own character, and teams that will be OK once they stop getting in their own way. I don’t know which category the 2021 Mets belong in, not yet, but I have learned this much: There’s no surer way to make yourself miserable than to declare a certain debacle is rock bottom. All too often, you’ve got plenty of falling left.

16 comments to Help! I’m Starting to Not Like Baseball!

  • Daniel Hall

    Luis, I need a day off.

    Anti-baseball to the n-th degree. I thought we got rid of Wilson Ramos, too.

    Adding to the abundant misery for me personally was that I made the grim mistake – my own fault really – of watching this (on the heel of the anemic Red Sox series) while playing OOTP and drawing my conclusions after yesterday’s 1-6 week against the actual contenders in my Raccoons’ own division, which I thought we’d have a shot at, just like the Mets shot their own jaw off before the season. Three sad deals, six major leaguers, for prospects (two even ranked attractively) while the Mets racked up the oh-for-a-million with runners in scoring position. In some way I have it better. I don’t have a .190 hitter with north of $300 million on the ******* books.

    I’m bottomlessly sad.

  • Wheaties54321

    You know what’s amusing

    How Fans/people/observers underestimate the important of group dynamics – that is how the team (in this case our heroes, The Mets) relates to each other – inside the locker room, in the dugout, etc. If there isn’t a unifying code or set of behaviors and goals they’re all rallied around – something they are ALL pointed at … like dominating or having fun … then it’s easy for anxiety and frustration to settle in.

    I think what I’m saying here is … if Dom doesn’t like the Phillies and doesn’t like the palling around with opponents that seems to define Lindor…then that’s gotta be addressed. Because it may be causing fractions in the group culture. Laugh if you want but this is how high-performing group’s overcome challenges.

    Leadership can solve some of these issues. But only the people in that locker-room know if there’s an issue to resolve in the first place.

    Ok my rant is over.

    It would also be nice and may calm some shit down if the Mets scored 17 runs over the weekend.

    • Wheaties54321:
      Maybe this team lacks a spark plug… someone who gets up, gathers the guys and shouts “ we aren’t taking this sh*t anymore! Let’s go!”
      Successful Mets teams in the past have had “that guy”. A Murphy, Pratt, Ray Knight kinda guy.
      I also think the manager needs to address this; don’t feel Rojas has it in him?

  • Iowa Pete

    For the past 18 months, I have travelled across the country in my RV with the wife. We will continue to do so. In preparation for the trip, we opted for satellite radio to keep posted on things and to listen to Howie and Wayne at most every opportunity. Jason, my man, if you think games have become unwatchable, you ought to tune in and see how unlistenable they are. I’m afraid, much like you, the sport is fast becoming so totally polluted that it is becoming unrecognizable.
    Perhaps based upon the score last night in the other NY team’s game, can a 10-run mercy rule be next??

  • Eric

    I wonder how analytics account for team-wide “anxiety”.

  • greensleeves

    The only catharsis available is reading the perfect pitch of your recap.
    Alvarado’s early fastball right down the middle? What were you thinking, Dom? Lindor is showing early shades of the always smiling, eternally check cashing Bobby Bonilla. Unlike Nimmo, I’m losing my religion. Please don’t let it get late early.

  • Eric

    In terms of his Mets résumé Lindor was given a mammoth forever home contract by the Mets for a hot streak in spring training.

  • Seth

    A very interesting perspective, Jason. I was thinking baseball was starting to not like ME.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Is there any more ridiculous sight in baseball as everybody in the bullpen casually jogging toward home plate when there’s an altercation or a hint of an altercation? As long as they’re messing around with long-established baseball traditions,why not just automatically eject any player who leaves the bullpen when there’s a fight on the field. If nothing else it will save some time.

  • eric1973

    Earlier in the season, I referred to the manager as Robot Rojas. They say the game is not played on paper, and perhaps someone needs to tell him that.

    We had the talent to make the playoffs last year, with all the extra Wildcards, and this year, the Wildcards are all in our rotation. When Stroman came out of the game, I thought maybe it was because he was cold again, like when he came out a couple of weeks ago.

    This team lacks a certain toughness. They all seem to have the same happily bland personality, led by the All-World Vulgarity, Mr. Polar Bear.

    Darling is a real tough talker behind the microphone, but I don’t ever recall him getting in any brawls (except in the bar in Houston) or even throwing inside to protect his teammates, for that matter. Maybe that’s why the teams he was on terrifically underrachieved. I do remember when his feelings were hurt when he gave up 6 runs in the first inning and Davey had the nerve to start warming someone up in the bullpen.

    And Dom now says he wants to meet Alvarado under the stands or in the tunnel. Seems to me you had your chance last night when the guy screamed at you for ten minutes while you did nothing.

    And maybe Harpo Lindor should worry less about his hair and more about not swinging at 3-0 pitches over his head.

    • Seth

      If you are what your W-L record says you are, what evidence do we have that they “had the talent to make the playoffs last year?” Certainly not in the quality of play on the field.

      Ron knows the game really well and his analysis is sometimes interesting to listen to, but let’s not forget he was basically a .500 pitcher.

  • ljcmets

    I can’t even blame the players for the pace of the game. The conditions were so brutal it is a miracle someone – either on the field or in the stands – did not get injured by flying debris. The pitching on both teams was excellent but what a terrible night to be a hitter. Aside from the possibility that any pitch could sail right at your head, it looked to me, despite what Gary and Ron said, that any fly ball to the outfield was being held up by the wind. And it must have been brutally cold as well. Even in those conditions there was a lot of excellent defense by both teams too (aside from the egregious passed ball).

    I am bored more than usual by the games thus far this season as well. I’m wondering if part of the reason is the lack of SNY cameras at the away games. Gary’s said more than a few times that they don’t control the cameras/angles/replays and I think it must make it much harder to call the game. Given all the action, official and extracurricular, of last night’s game I wanted numerous angles and replays that were simply not there.

    None of which excuses Alvarado. Either he simply can’t control his pitching, or he can’t control his emotions, or both. No matter what, that makes him dangerous given his ability to throw a blazing fastball that could go anywhere. He definitely taunted Smith after striking him out, and then invited him to take him on. Smith showed unbelievable restraint under those conditions. I love Ron but he lives by the code of 1986, not today. We may miss those days but they’re gone forever. A full-fledged fight might have been more interesting to watch, or at least might have kept us awake, but I admire both Dom and then Lindor for trying to cool things down.

    Speaking of which, it’s the 35th anniversary (it seems impossible) of the 1986 Mets, who as much as they took on the world together in pugilistic fashion, were known for feisty clubhouse disagreements and even at times fisticuffs. Maybe THAT’s the answer here – and then they can close ranks and take on all comers like their predecessors.

  • Bob

    Had to watch/listen to Filthy TV Broadcast–could not get SNY last night and MLB Channel carried the Filthy Broadcast.
    Kruk & the other guy could hardly stop giggling/laughing when the Met “batters” were doing their “let’s step on our own dick routine” with RISP.
    Quite revolting to have to see/hear that.
    And now I’m getting visions of Bobby Bonilla smirking as he counts money Mets paid him for years and years as I see our 341 million guy Lindor…so far he has 1 HR and 3 RBIs! UGH.
    Well, after last season and the off-season moves Mets made, I hoped this would not be as bad a team at hitting with RISP as last year.
    I was wrong–so far (only one month has passed) the Mets are even WORSE than last season!
    As my Father would say to me about Mets in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966…”boy do they stink”.
    Well it’s early in season and let’s hope this turns around for our Mets!
    Let’s Go Mets!
    Bob in LA

  • eric1973

    I think our hitters are not playing up to their talent, hence their record, and fans’ subsequent gnashing of teeth.

    If one subscribes to the (very legitimate) notion that there is nothing anyone can do about anything, and everything goes in cycles, then we and the team can all watch and hope things turn around, and see what our record is at the end of the year, and that’s that.

    But the disappointment arises because we think there IS something that can be done to help make these guys play up to their talent. And we think that Lindor, Conforto, McNeil, Dom, McCann, etc, are better than this, and that therefore the record should be better.

    And that it should have been better last year as well. The talent tells me they should have made the playoffs. Their record says they did not deserve it.

    Flynn, Taveras, and Brian Giles hitting .200 is a bit different than what is going on today.

    • Bob

      Flynn, Taveras, and Brian Giles hitting .200 is a bit different than what is going on today.

      I agree!
      Those guys were a lot cheaper!
      I’m starting to think that Al Moran, Ed Kranepool, Marv Throneberry, Tim Harkness & Ron Hunt would be an improvement!

  • Richard Porricelli

    I would love to respond to some of the above posts , but I cant understand what the hell you guys are talking about..I know your not happy right now, who is ? The pitching will undoubtedly falter when we start hitting..Hang in there , this team will get it together..
    Important to win tonight , I think..Stop the bleeding and the whining. I agree with one post that referend to the pace of last nights game ( many games for that matter ) as being painfully slow and dull..Baseball today guys..