The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Alternate-Universe Losses

One of the many fun things so far about 2021 is the Mets winning games that in a lot of previous years you’d expect them to lose.

On Tuesday night I was nervous after the Mets took a 3-2 lead and stubbornly refused to extend that to a safe distance, because I was all too aware that those Cubs in the rearview mirror were closer than they appeared. One errant pitch by a scintillating Taijuan Walker, one bit of misfortune for Seth Lugo, and the game would be tied (or worse) before you could say, “Holy Paul Wilson!” The specter of a stabbed-in-the-guts loss was there and I couldn’t muster enough good vibes to exorcise it. Only the Mets could do that.

Which, somehow, they did.

Walker was brilliant, using his two-seamer, slider and sinker to deadly effect against the Cubs, particularly the left-handed hitters, who pulled back from pitch after pitch that seemed aimed at their hips only to buzz into the strike zone. He struck out 12, a career high, and seemed to get better as the game went on, punching out Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Ian Happ on seven pitches in the sixth (hard to do when you strike out two) and needing just 11 to put down Jason Heyward, Sergio Alcantara and Rafael Ortega in the seventh. He had help behind him, too — birthday boy Dom Smith played a superb left field, making an acrobatic catch with a foot scoring the fence and a couple of terrific plays and strong throws to hold Cubs to singles, and Jonathan Villar chipped in a gorgeous play in the fifth, robbing Joc Pederson with a lunging snag of a grounder and on-target throw across the diamond.

Walker now sports a tidy 2.12 ERA and is overshadowed only by the otherworldly Jacob deGrom in the rotation, not bad for a guy whose only contract offer came from the Mets after they came up empty on Jake Odorizzi. Walker’s only 28 but has lived a number of baseball lives already: phenom, Tommy John patient, prospect turned suspect, prodigal son returned on a flier, and finally misfit toy stuck looking for a contract during spring training. To quote Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years, honey — it’s the mileage.” This year it’s all come together: health, talent, hard work, motivation, coaching, and it’s been a joy to watch him pitching with both fire and flare.

Pete Alonso chipped in all three of the Mets’ runs, just missing a grand slam in supplying that third one, but the score somehow felt tighter than a lone skinny run could feel. With Edwin Diaz unavailable, Lugo navigated the eighth with no worries but began to labor in the ninth, surrendering a one-out single 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 Fernando Tatis Jr., pinch-hitter Eric Sogard was about the last guy I wanted to see there — an unflashy, professional veteran pinch-hitter who’d hunt his pitch and refuse to help Lugo. And, indeed, Sogard spanked a 2-2 fastball up the gap in right-center.

Which is where you could see the shadows of all those alternative-universe losses darkening our skies.

The Mets of recent vintage paid scant attention to defense, routinely playing guys out of position, concocting outfields seemingly by lottery, saddling ground-ball pitchers with flyball infields, and failing to outhit their mistakes in the field. This year seemed no different, with J.D. Davis assigned to third and Smith likely to get far too much playing time in left. But the Mets have overhauled their defensive philosophy, Davis’s injury has allowed Villar to emerge as a capable third baseman, the various fill-ins at second have performed admirably, and Smith has put in the hard work to make himself far less of a liability than he once was.

Still, it’s the Mets — the franchise that not so long ago lost its chance to claw back into a World Series because an enemy baserunner made a suicidal dash for home, trusting scouting reports that all but promised the Mets would fuck things up, which they did. Sogard’s ball touched grass and bounded towards the wall and I writhed on the couch saying terrible things.

Except Lugo had diligently thrown over to first multiple times, denying Marisnick an extra step or two.

Except Kevin Pillar cut the ball off and threw it on target to the cutoff man.

Except that cutoff man was Luis Guillorme, who has some of the best instincts I’ve ever seen in an infielder.

Except Guillorme took the ball, spun smoothly and fired it to the plate on a single hop.

Except the catcher waiting for the throw wasn’t Wilson Ramos, who could have subbed for Marv Throneberry in an update of Casey Stengel‘s birthday-cake line, but the surehanded James McCann.

McCann secured the throw, spun on his knees and tagged Marisnick out.

It only seemed like a bad gamble by Cubs third-base coach Willie Harris (who haunted us plenty in his previous life as a player, then did precious little in a brief stint as a Met) because the defensive parts meshed together so perfectly that Marisnick was out by a good four feet. Marisnick’s jump, Pillar’s route, Pillar’s throw, Guillorme’s spin, Guillorme’s throw, McCann’s grab — downgrade any two of those a little bit and Marisnick beats the tag, with the Cubs tying the game and a hit away from taking the lead. How many previous Mets clubs from the last few years would have come up short? All of them? Lots of them?

Well, not this one. And in this universe, that’s all that matters.

11 comments to Alternate-Universe Losses

  • Seth

    It seemed like Marisnick was out by 4 feet, but it looked a lot closer on the replay, which made it seem like not a bad gamble. But yes, everything had to work perfectly on the Mets’ side, which it did. Awesome play.

    • Flynn23

      What a thrilling game-saving play. Kinda sorta but not exactly reminiscent of the Ball on the Wall play. As such, I kept hearing Bob Murphy in my head:

      “The relay throw to the plate they may get him …… HE’S OUT! HE’S OUT AT THE PLATE!”

      I am digging this current universe. Thanks for the happy recap, Jason.

  • Eric

    With the Mets’ penchant for strikeouts, popups, and badly placed grounders with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, I was almost as pleased with Alonso’s sac fly as with a grand slam.

    If Marisnick stops at 3rd, I think Lugo runs out of gas before the Cubs run out of outs.

    I wonder if Glasnow’s explanation for his injury is also why deGrom’s arm barked: increased strain from a tighter, deeper grip on the ball to compensate for taking away the sticky rub. I’m nervous for tonight’s game.

  • Harvey Poris

    Keith said Marisnick ran through Harris’ stop sign.

  • Fred

    I could watch Guillorme play second forever. He’s an incredibly elegant infielder.

  • mikeL

    truly great recap of a truly great and memorable game jason.
    last nite produced the level stress and relief usually reserved for late and post-season.

    and yes, it seems alderson and co. constructed a fine, fine team that required finally a rash of key injuries that served as a sort of worm-hole to this alternative universe…one where i worry about the return of those injured keys!

    last nite’s bang-bang-bang play at the plate points the way forward…
    those game5 misplays-supreme, and the resultant need to bid adieu to the team’s most prolific power hitters has finally been answered (all these years later) – in a team with crisp defense, clutch hitting and a top of the rotation that’s living up to the hype of the former’s staff of aces.

    in this universe the crosstown rivals get described as a dumpster fire as the mets lead and legend grows.

    it all feels right!

  • Richard Porricelli

    Basically how good does a 3rd base coach need to be in this all or nothing day and age in baseball.? I mean it , baserunning is lousy , how many of these guys know the infield fly rule? All you really need is a cool low five hand slap as your free swinging shortstop forgets he struckout 85 times already this season…Nice win , take it anyway..

  • Eric

    Hard to believe the Mets are the only team that offered Walker a contract. He’s a former top prospect with decent results before he got hurt, who had a creditable comeback last season, short schedule notwithstanding, and who’s still relatively young. I can believe the Mets are the only team to offer him a 2-year deal given the still-outstanding questions in his comeback, but the only contract offer at all? Hard to believe.

  • Daniel Hall

    Wilson Ramos, a.k.a. DFA’ed by the ramshackle misfits that is those Tigers. That career went to hell really fast…!

  • Paul

    What about former Mets catcher, Rene Rivera? His Met claim to “fame” was his unique ability to snatch the batting helmet off of a teammate’s head when that Met player returned to the Mets’ dugout after hitting a home run.

    I guess Rene just wanted to get into the act.