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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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Missing the Good Part

Should it be your desire, I’m sure you can get one of those inspirational signs for your den/game room/what-have-you that proclaims BASEBALL IS LIFE, and while I might disagree with the chosen vehicle of expression, I’m with you on the message. But the fact is that sometimes life, or at least the non-baseball part of it, gets in the way.

I’m in Virginia visiting my mom, and yesterday we had a chance to sneak in an extra visit to my dad in his assisted-living home. So my mom, my son and I left the Mets and Joey Lucchesi trailing the Padres, 1-0, the one having come on a leadoff Tommy Pham home run.

That didn’t seem insurmountable, not with Lucchesi having settled down and pitched into the fourth with few other blemishes, so we decided to hope for the best. Off we went for our visit, returning to find … the Mets up 2-1! Joshua pulled up to divine the source of the good news — a Jose Peraza homer — while I furrowed my boy in mild concern at what was happening in front of me. The Mets led, but the Padres had runners on second and third and Jeurys Familia had thrown an awful lot of pitches.

Still, the first pitch I’d seen was an evil slider just below the bottom of the zone, one that Profar had swung over to bring the count to 1-2. If Familia could coax one more swing like that, the Mets would be out of the jam and conceivably on their way to a heartening sweep of a team they might see in October.

If you were watching, well, you know that things turned out differently, and we’d wound up missing the entire good part of the game and witnessing only the dregs. Life does that to you sometimes, though I doubt anyone’s going to turn that into a placard broadcasting cheerful wisdom.

Profar refused to fish for any of Familia’s sliders out of the strike zone and drew a walk. Luis Rojas stuck with a clearly spent Familia, who walked Pham on four pitches to tie the game. Rojas chose Jacob Barnes to face Fernando Tatis Jr.; Barnes’s fourth pitch was a cutter that did very little cutting, and Tatis demolished it. The competitive part of the ballgame was over, leaving nothing but a few curiosities: Pete Alonso got hit in the helmet with an errant pitch but seems to be fine (whew); Tomas Nido went into the books as the 178th third baseman in team history, seeing no action except heckling from Francisco Lindor; and with the bench nonexistent, the last out of the game was made by Robert Gsellman, who looked less than thrilled with the whole thing.

I felt much the same way. Rojas had to navigate some unavailable/gassed relievers, a short bench and the knock-on effects of both problems to the lineup, and he’d thought through how he wanted to solve the resulting riddle. But damned if it didn’t strike me then and now as another case of tree vs. forest: He asked for too much from an exhausted Familia and then chose the last guy in the pen to face one of the deadliest hitters in baseball in a tie game. Spreading out the relief workload may prove wise over the long term, but a game lost is a game that can never be reclaimed, and sometimes just a few of those missed chances mean your October is empty when it could have been full.

Still. The Mets took two of three from the Padres and have now navigated the first 9% of their month from Hell in a manner much to our liking. Here come the Cubs, and I bet the players will tell you they’ll play ’em one day at a time, give it their best shot and the good Lord willing, things will work out. In case you want some wisdom for your wall.

9 comments to Missing the Good Part

  • Greg Mitchell

    You are too kind to Rojas here. As noted in past, he has had a relatively easy time managing pen until now thanks to the record number or rain outs and other days off. And as noted, the true test started this weekend with the brutal daily schedule for the next month. And he flopped quickly. 1) he admits he had short bullpen–but knowing that still pulled Lucchesi after 5 frigging innings and 72 pitches despite striking out side in previous inning and–as Joey said afterward–he felt he had plenty left. He has been ramping up his innings already and needs to go further in future in this stretch. 2) only reason Familia asked to go 2 was Rojas using Diaz previous night with 3-run lead in 9th (after 4-out save the night before). Shades of Terry Collins! 3) And in any case, Familia clearly gassed, should have been lifted earlier, and not with your very worst pitcher who is likely on his way to AAA even as we speak. I really fear Rojas handling of pen in this stretch combined with not letting starters go longer and with Jake a possible no go any given week…

  • Seth

    Diaz has had his failures, but seems to be getting it together. There’s something about the way Familia blows it, that is particularly soul crushing — and has been doing it longer than anyone else in the Mets’ bullpen.

  • Eric

    Another satisfactory start by Lucchesi is good. Wasting that satisfactory start is not good. Maybe he’s finding it so that Peterson will be the only major problem in the rotation, assuming deGrom is okay after all. Maybe next time Lucchesi will get a shot at the 6th inning and 3rd time through the order in a 1 run game when there’s a fragile plan to navigate the last 4 innings.

    Clearly Familia should not have faced Pham. But I also don’t think there was an obviously better alternative in that spot. Use May there and the Mets spend the only 2 upper-class relievers scheduled for the game with 2 innings left for the lower class of the Mets bullpen.

    It doesn’t bode well for this challenging span of games that the bullpen is already stretched thin at the start of the span.

    Just how sore is McKinney’s knee?

    Phillies are suddenly streaking and biting at the Mets’ heels.

  • JJJ

    The whole thing might have pissed me off less if we got just even a modicum of assistance from our so-called “cross town rivals” who have shriveled to a fraction of their former selves lately intimidation-wise.

    As my husband says, “No really. The Yankees REALLY DO suck this year.”

  • Everyone once in a while, I’ll mention something random to my wife along the lines of, “Yeah, that was the game we (I) watched at your friend’s baby shower,” and she’ll be amazed that though I don’t remember where we ate dinner last night, I know this. I feel like Jason’s travel stories mirror this quite nicely.

  • eric1973

    Hope your Dad is ok and happy, Jason. My Dad will be 88 and is ok enough to still be living at home, but he is getting to be a shell of himself. Bad memory and all that. I think he is happy, though a bit quiet nowadays.

    Good Luck…
    And Let’s Go Mets!

  • Daniel Hall

    I am not sure whether that game got away slowly or quickly, or both. The way Familia stashed the bases and walked in the tying run was an incredibly slow, painful drag, and you knew he had nothing left with the bags full and the tying run at the plate (who was that even? I already forgot. It was very inevitable though.) and in a way I applaud Mr. Barnes for blowing up the way he did because he stopped nibbling around on the fringes of the band-aid, and instead ripped it off really quickly instead of another two or three bases-loaded walks and then a dinker for Dom to play into a double…

    Thanks, least-favorite Jacob on the roster.

  • open the gates

    Actually, my least favorite Met Jacob ever would have to be Jacob Rhame. Barnes isn’t even in the same category.

    I was at a game where the Mets were winning by a gazillion runs. They put Jacob R. in in the 9th, because what damage could he possibly do? He proceeded to hit a batter, precipitating a bench clearing brawl. That hitter got the big home run the next day to beat the Mets. Hey, when you can’t lose tonight’s game, lose tomorrow night’s game in advance.

    I’ll stick with Mr. deGrom, thank you very much. No other Jacobs need apply.

  • […] to Contreras, who gave way to old friend Jake Marisnick as pinch-runner. Lugo’s ordeal felt like a terrible repeat of watching a tired Jeurys Familia against the Padres; absent a thoroughly unexpected trade for […]