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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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Más Tomás

I went off to California for a week and while I was out there the Mets underwent some renovations, to say the very least.

Deep breath.

I’d barely registered the arrival of Jake Hager before he got his first big-league hit and then was subtracted from the roster. The minorly heralded Khalil Lee arrived, swung and missed a whole bunch, then collected his first hit when the Mets sorely needed it. Just before Lee’s arrival came that of speedy, skinny Johneshwy Fargas, who recorded his first hit and a marvelous catch or two but had joined the ranks of the battered before I returned. Cameron Maybin showed up, and he isn’t new but his first Mets hit will be, and it’s taking long enough that one suspects a contributing factor is that Maybin is, well, old. Brandon Drury joined the team and hit a rousing home run in a losing cause about half an hour after I stepped off a plane at JFK; Wilfredo Tovar returned but almost counts as new because his first orange-and-blue go-round was a long time ago and not particularly memorable. Yennsy Diaz showed up, and he was the guy for which I had no Holy Books card, a situation typically remedied by popping over to eBay — except Yennsy Diaz cards are few, far between and oddly expensive. He’ll probably have a Syracuse card in a month or so, so I decided to improvise — an effort that caught the latest Met’s eye on Twitter, and won his approval, or at least his good-natured acceptance.

That’s a lot for one road trip!

Yennsy Diaz custom cardI doubt six new Mets in seven days is any kind of record, what with Midnight Massacres and September call-ups and all, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it is a club mark for late May. The Mets have already used 23 new players this season, tied for the fourth-most they’ve used in a Citi Field season, and again, it’s only May, which makes you wonder if the non-’62 club record of 35 is safe.

You know what? Give it a week — after Tuesday night’s game they swung a dog-and-cat deal with the Brewers for Billy McKinney, a recently DFA’ed but presumably ambulatory corner outfielder. He’ll be No. 24 on the list of arrivals, if not in our hearts.

While I was away, the Mets went 3-3, which isn’t bad for a team getting shorn of one or two players a night. But we all knew it was doubtful that they could keep treading water with lineups more suited to a split-squad game in March than a regular-season affair two months after that. So it was a relief to see at least one casualty return to the battlefield — and a greater relief by far to have that returnee be the best pitcher on the planet.

Jacob deGrom only pitched five innings Tuesday, caution being what it is, but he was scintillating even by deGrom standards. He gave up a Ryan McMahon homer, but the blemish seemed to annoy him, and goad him into honing his slider into a magic trick that started at the hands of Rockies hitters before diving at their back feet. Couple that with a 100 MPH fastball and the competition hardly seemed fair. The Mets, meanwhile, had clearly ordered their makeshift lineup to be aggressive, seeking to maximize the few opportunities that could be generated. This strategy might have worked except for dastardly replay review, which revealed Jonathan Villar momentarily losing contact with third base as he stole it and deGrom ever so slightly lifting a foot above second in the act of stretching a single into a double.

Give me a moment, please.

OK. This is not what replay review is for, and every sentient baseball fan knows it. Replay review should be for correcting gross injustices (such as those umpires now routinely inflict on teams at first base) and for settling game-turning calls where someone’s safe or out by a whisper and the naked eye can only guess. Instead, replay review has become a wretched pantopticon that makes federal cases out of ticky-tack violations, setting technology against not only decades of sound judgment but also the very laws of momentum. It’s absurd — and not just when it goes against the forces of good.

Baseball could stop the madness with a simple remedy that would also curtail a related run of insanity: take challenges out of the game. Smart, reasonably observant folks are already watching all the games at MLB’s nerve center in New York, with umpires nearby. Instead of challenges, go to a centralized system where a potentially wrong call triggers a yellow light from New York, long enough for a quick review and — if necessary — an umpire’s appraisal. Take the teams understandably hunting for the slightest advantage out of the equation and there will be a lot less searching for slivers of light between the bottom of feet and the top of bases, or pondering whether a ball surrounded by a first baseman’s mitt is in said mitt or only about to be. Fix the obviously mistaken and the impossible to judge but critical, ignore the rest, and move on.

The Mets had no choice to move on; deGrom departed with his usual farcical no-decision and the game came down to the bullpens. But then we got a reminder that good things can happen, even to the Mets.

Tomás Nido didn’t make much of an impression when he arrived as the final new Met of 2017 (he was merely the 17th new Met that year, by the way). About two minutes after recording his first hit, he got tagged out some 25 feet shy of home plate to end a game against the Cubs, which isn’t exactly what you want fans to recall years later. He won a game a couple of years ago, walking off the Pirates with a homer in the 13th inning, but mostly attracted the kind of attention backup catchers attract, which is to be observed arriving from or departing to Triple-A and to have people wonder about your job security. Last year Nido hit a little more than we were used to, but a bout with COVID-19 scotched any chance of making a further impression, and early this year he struggled for playing time behind expensive new arrival James McCann.

But McCann hasn’t hit and Nido has, which has meant more playing time and the possibility of moments like Tuesday night’s sixth inning, when Nido walloped a Chi Chi Gonzalez slider over the center-field fence. The umpires signaled that it was in play, leading to Dom Smith belly-flopping across home in the vicinity of a tag while Nido gesticulated unhappily at second and the Mets’ dugout became a Greek chorus of gnashing and wailing.

That really is what replay review is for, but the crew realized the mistake without technological help, sending Nido home and giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

But Nido wasn’t done contributing. In the ninth, Edwin Diaz fanned Charlie Blackmon with a nasty slider, but then walked C.J. Cron to set up a confrontation with McMahon. The slider then turned finicky on Diaz, who knew all too well what McMahon could do with an errant one. On 1-2, Nido called for a slider that could have been called a strike at the bottom of the zone but wasn’t. The next one was high and inside, and Diaz clearly wanted to throw something else. But Nido wasn’t having it, stepping out from behind home plate to make his case. Diaz’s third straight slider was just off the outside corner, an unhittable pitch that McMahon swung through. Five pitches later, Brendan Rodgers had been fanned as well and the Mets had won.

They’d won because Nido connected for a homer and because he coaxed an anxious closer through the toughest out in the enemy lineup — a sequence that reminded me of Rene Rivera playing horse whisperer to a chronically spooked Jeurys Familia. They won despite the Plan E lineup and rumblings of achy elbows in Florida and hand treatments needed in New York and other worrisome tidings.

They won and they’re in first place. For now, one says automatically, but history is made of for nows, isn’t it? Sometimes guys heal up as well as getting hurt. Sometimes backup catchers figure stuff out. Good things can happen, even to the Mets.

18 comments to Más Tomás

  • Daniel Hall

    Mom! I didn’t want McKinneys for dinner! I wanted Johneshwys!


    At least they won. Barely. Against a team that is clearly forsaken and playing out the string in May.

    I don’t even want to start with all the bad rehab news for Syndergaard and J.D. Lowrie……

  • Paul

    The Mets have acquired outfielder Billy McKinney from the Milwaukee Brewers. Wow! I haven’t been this “excited” since former Mets general manager Bob Scheffing acquired catcher Jerry May from the Kansas City Royals in 1973. (Mr. May lasted about three weeks with the Mets.)

  • Fred Burke

    A good win at a time when we needed one. It was a fun game played at a good pace. Great to see Nido growing into his role.

    I wonder. Am I the only one who’s irritated by how slow the Marlins play? Or am I just imagining it?

  • open the gates

    Agree 100% re the instant replay. What’s happening in baseball now is what happens when you allow tech logic to override human logic. And don’t even get me started on that one.

    The emergence of Tomas Nido is the best Met story of the year so far. He’s reminding me a little of Darren Daulton, after years of platooning behind the

  • open the gates

    …plate, finally taking the next step to become one of the better catchers in baseball. Right now, Nido should be the starter, Mazeika should be the backup, and McCann should be…McCanned. Fortunately we have an owner who can afford to eat a bad contract when necessary. If he’s willing.

    (… hate when that happens…)

  • Peter Scarnati

    While I agree with your sentiment on replay 100 percent Jason, I must admit I don’t like your proposed solution, as it will only allow do nothings in some room somewhere continually delay the games over minutia with little change from what we now suffer. Here is what I think:
    I think the NHL has taken the minutia out the replay challenge process by assessing a 2 minute penalty on a team which loses a challenge. I think in MLB, a team should be limited to 10 seconds IMMEDIATELY after a call on the field is made (they should put a clock in expressly for this purpose) to initiate a replay challenge. If they are wrong, the next batter is automatically awarded first base, regardless of the situation (i.e, if the bases are loaded, a run would be forced home). Not so far-fetched when you consider we now start innings with a runner on second and play seven inning games!!! It may sound ridiculous, but it would stop the endless litany of replays on calls which — even upon replay — boil down to nothing more than an opinion which may differ from person to person. AND, more importantly, would likely limit the challenges to obviously missed calls, which, as you correctly point out, is what replay was originally intended to do (in all sports, BTW).
    WOW, pantopticon!! Just beautiful. Certainly the first time — and most likely the last time — I have/will ever read that in a sentence!!

    • Daniel Hall

      There are problems with your suggestion, andI’d like to just point out two, if I may:

      1) 10 seconds after a call on the field is made, the play might still be going on. Safe at first, and they have caught Guy X in a rundown, ball back and forth, oops, no, throwing error, and now the guy that was safe at first is advancing again, aaand somebody fell over the dugout railing … even when nothing else is happening, 10 seconds is hardly enough to get Angel Hernandez’ attention by hitting him with a bat…

      2) “If they are wrong, the next batter is automatically awarded first base” – we’re still playing Baseball, not Magic the Gathering. Such a convoluted system could easily be abused by challenging a call that went very much against you on defense, because even if Angel Hernandez in the replay center for once manages to watch TV correctly, you might get a chance to, say, with three on and two outs take the bat out of Slugger Joe’s paws and instead bring Biff Whiff to the plate – without the stigma of walking Slugger intentionally with the bases loaded. And maybe Angel Hernandez gives you the third out through sheer incompentence.

      • Andrew

        Just make it 10 seconds from when the ball is dead!

      • Peter Scarnati

        What, having runners on second to start an inning and seven inning games isn’t already Magic The Gathering?
        OK, and as Andrew says, 10 seconds from the end of the play with no monitors for shadowy figures in the bowels of the stadium to look at (remember, we are trying to go after the obvious mistakes).
        Didn’t know there was any stigma attached to telling a guy to go right ahead and take first.

    • Seth

      Please, can we dispense with the free runners already?

  • Havelock Hewes

    Thank you for writing this. You reflected my experience as a met fan – so many new players that you had to make up a baseball card for one – and the player even acknowledged your effort! The Nido stuff was the real drama of the game – he’d seen the great Degrom get burned by McMahon and didn’t let Diaz suffer the same fate. Baseball is more than statistics. Your solution for replays should be adopted immediately. Why go through the challenges and reviews when someone in a replay room could see obvious errors and correct them by contacting the umpires?

  • greensleeves

    Can we finally relegate the well traveled Cameron to the Maybin?
    He’s 0 for 2021 with 11 strikeouts.
    You know, kinda like Lindor.

  • Eric

    I was amused that deGrom the pitching ace defended the ruling despite that deGrom the hitter lost a double over a nitpicking replay. I wonder when a player will get hurt while contorting himself to stay on the bag like deGrom tried to.

    A silver lining of the injuries is the greater possibility of aggressive creative baseball that Analytics perhaps frown upon. Good defense helps too.

    With all the injuries (5th string CFer!) I marvel that the Mets are still in 1st place and above .500. I doubt either will still be after this stretch of games. My hope now is the Mets are in arm’s reach of contention when (if) the roster is restored to reasonable shape.

    I would try leading off Lindor and batting Villar 2nd. If that fix fails, then move Lindor down in the line-up. He can’t be benched with this roster.

    With Edwin Diaz especially, and with the mostly solid pitching overall this season so far, I wonder how much credit goes to the catching upgrade of McCann and Nido. With Nido, a good defensive catcher who learns how to hit is a good formula, and a homegrown Met maturing into a legitimate big-league starter is preferred.

    McKinney was a 1st round pick and a well-regarded prospect once upon a time, so maybe the Mets win the lottery with him. Sort of the opposite of the all-stars who forget how to hit upon joining the Mets.

  • Bob

    Some good news–Last night, Steven Matz beat the evil ones in that billion $ sewer in the Bronx!

    Mazel Tov!!

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • open the gates

    Did you all catch Luis Guillorme’s juggling act on the bench? At least he has a career to fall back on if the, you know, baseball thing doesn’t work out.

  • Daniel Hall

    Good news – nobody got hurt on Wednesday!

  • Nick D

    The replay on that kind of play drives me crazy. What happened to the ‘spirit of the rule’? Isn’t that a thing?

    I love your idea, of it all running through the central MLB offices and removing challenges, but not sure it’s practicable, yet.

    Someone suggested another one, at least for that ‘momentum’ play, which is: consider the area above the base all safe space, like air rights over a building. Once you occupy that space, you’re safe. Wouldn’t catch the ones where you slide past second base (but you probably shouldn’t do that anyway) but it would remove the absurdity of player’s spikes momentarily leaving contact after sliding in causing him to be called out.

    While we’re at it, no runner on second in extra innings, and cut the 7-inning double header stuff, and no Universal DH, and yeah yeah yeah, get off my lawn…

  • mikeL

    you spoke too soon.
    dominic smith.
    watching that awkward slide on nido’s (wasn’t it a) homer(?) slide i couldn’t help but remember the one that ended wilmer’s season to neck injury. nothing do severe but could we be seeing ‘and then there were two (a more a propos title for genesis’ 1998 ‘calling all stations?)
    maybe he’ll be better after being day to day but these are the 2021 mets…