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.

Your Seaver or Your Life

Perhaps you’ve heard or at least heard of the classic Jack Benny bit in which the comic entertainer who cultivated a notorious tightwad persona is held up at gunpoint. The robber makes clear he wants Benny’s wallet, and he wants it now.

“Your money or your life.”

There’s a pause.

The pause extends.

The pause simply will not end.

The robber grows exceedingly impatient.


Benny finally responds.

“I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”

That was basically me as Aaron Nola was rolling up strikeout after strikeout after strikeout after strikeout of the New York Mets in the opener of Friday’s doubledip (so named for Rob Manfred’s commissionership being twice as dippy as Bud Selig’s, which wasn’t thought possible). Nola was unstoppable. Not seemingly unstoppable, but unstoppable. The Mets couldn’t hit him. The Mets couldn’t lay a shred of wood on anything he threw, save for a few foul balls. The record for consecutive strikeouts, established by Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970, was clearly on the endangered species list. With a bullet.

This was where I got to dealmaking, at least in my own head. Would I trade a guaranteed Mets loss in order to keep the strikeout record in the family? Your record or Tom’s record? Would I be OK with the Mets getting flattened by the Nola steamroller as long as we could mix in a popup or a groundout and keep this interloper from laying his hands on one of our most precious heirlooms, a priceless performance that we have been trusted to maintain under a collective Mets fan conservatorship for more than 51 years?

As Nola got up to 7…8…9 strikeouts, I was ready to sign for being no-hit as long as some intermittent fair contact was made. Never mind that the Mets had a hit (along with a hit by pitch) to open the affair before Nola commenced his de facto game of catch with J.T. Realmuto. It felt like a no-hitter. It felt like the wrong side of perfection. It felt hopeless.

In the bottom of the fourth, Michael Conforto came up as prospective consecutive strikeout victim No. 10, the Al Ferrara of the 21st century. Conforto’s job was simple. Don’t strike out, Michael. Can ya do that for me? Can ya do that for all of us? Can ya do that for Tom, who I’m pretty sure ya never met, but ya work at 41 Seaver Way and his number is on your sleeve?

No, Michael Conforto couldn’t do that. He struck out, just as he had in the bottom of the first, just as every batter in between his two at-bats had. With Conforto going down on strikes a second time, Aaron Nola had struck out ten batters in a row. Ten Met batters in a row. Aaron Nola had just tied Tom Seaver’s most sacred record.

My trade offer of an eventual Met loss for something other than another consecutive Met strikeout was no longer valid. Technically, it never was. Fans know that, but don’t acknowledge it in the moment of cosmic bargaining. All I could do was instinctively grit my teeth, grudgingly tip my cap, and cease concocting no-win deals.

A batter later, Pete Alonso put an end to the immediate sacrilege by doubling, halting Nola’s streak at 10 Ks, meaning that for the rest of time — or until later today when Jacob deGrom pitches — the consecutive strikeout record will be referred to as having been set by Tom Seaver in 1970 and tied by Aaron Nola in 2021. Or “the record belongs to Tom Seaver and Aaron Nola”. Or something like that. Shared. Not solely Seaver’s. Seaver and somebody. As if Tom has a peer.

I guess he does, for this, if little else. It’s better than “…broken by Aaron Nola on June 25, 2021.” Most records are meant to be broken. This one wasn’t meant to be touched, yet Nola’s philthy Phillie phingerprints are all over it. He earned it (with help from an egregious called strike three on Dom Smith, but that’s a rabbit hole whose plumbing will cast only more gray area on Great Moments in Mets history). To be disgustingly decent to Aaron Nola, he’s no bum. A man with an accent — Egyptian, I think — who worked at a local gas station would tell my parents that about my sister after she’d recently pulled in to fill up our other car. “Your daughter — she no bum!” It was apparently the highest of high-test compliments the fellas at the Exxon dispensed. That’s as high as I’m willing to go with Nola. He was part of the thrilling three-way Cy Young derby of 2018, the one where he and Jacob and Scherzer headed for the final turn neck and neck and neck until Jake pulled away in the home stretch. Jake still hasn’t looked back.

Until now, that’s what I thought of when I thought of Aaron Nola. Now I think about Tom Seaver, too. If deGrom and Seaver are your company, who am I to begrudge you your half of statistical immortality? To Nola’s credit, he did tell reporters it’s “pretty cool being in a category with Tom.” Indeed, though he should’ve referred to him as Mr. Seaver.

Mr. Seaver would likely not begrudge his new junior partner the accomplishment. On the other hand, I can hear the Franchise inserting the needle. Listen, big boy, in my day we went nine. Oh, and on my day with the ten straight strikeouts, I won the game. Also, let it be known, from the office of the conservatorship, Tom Seaver posted a 27-14 record against the Phillies lifetime…and that the Mets beat the Phillies in the 1966 drawing out of a hat for the services to one George Feaver.

On Aaron Nola’s day with the ten straight strikeouts, neither Nola nor the Phillies won the game. Not that game, specifically. As noted, there’d be another game of the “decibet” variety later. The decibet, in case you don’t remember the SNL sketch from Season One (in which case, citing Jack Benny may represent a generation too far to bridge), was the new metric alphabet, introduced to America by Dan Aykroyd as a smilingly efficient bureaucrat in 1976, the year the USA was briefly gripped by metric system fever. The hook was the standard alphabet of 26 letters was now too long and the government would be smushing it down to 10 — or as many San Diego Padres as Tom Seaver had struck out consecutively six years earlier.

LMNO will be condensed to single letters. Incidentally, a boon to those who always had trouble pronouncing LMNO correctly. And “open” would then be “LMNOpen,” as in, “Honey, would you LMNOpen the door?”

Our Manfred-mandated doubleheaders still have the first four innings, just as the decibet started with A, B, C and D, but by the fifth, you’re convinced you’re in the seventh, because my the seventh, you’re effectively in the ninth. Got that? Also, Wednesday is Sundae at Carvel.

The Mets and Phillies honored the legacy of Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and other aces of yore by hardly scoring in Gamelet One. Nobody was throwing balls out of play and passing them to the MLB authenticator for Taijuan Walker, but Walker was magnificent for five innings (experientially seven, but the stats still say five). One run snuck across the plate on his watch, driven in by Nola, whose Bizarro deGrom act was quite unwelcome in Flushing.

Nola’s pitches eventually met Met bats, but they had no useful greetings to return. Joe Girardi removed the man who had just tied Tom Seaver and replaced him with Jose Alvarado with one out in the sixth. Somewhere Tom laughed. “Hey Gil, come look, you’re not gonna believe this.” Alvarado squirmed out of trouble in the sixth, but in the seventh, the first-place Mets lived up to their descriptor by taking advantage of a Phillie error — Luis Guillorme was involved; he always is — with a Francisco Lindor RBI single. This Lindor can play a little, we are learning.

The seventh, having been the spiritual equivalent of the ninth, meant we were going to the eighth, better understood as, in essence, the tenth, which comes with a runner on second no pitcher put there. In circumstances that render numerical labels useless, Seth Lugo proved a strikeout machine in his own right, thus setting up the Mets’ own unearned runner, Lindor, to bring home the winning run following an intentional walk to Alonso and a single by Smith. Dom had convincingly threatened he would bunt, further phlummoxing thoroughly phlummoxable Phillie phielders. (If you don’t do the “ph” thing when Philadelphia’s in town, you’re just not living.)

With the Mets come-from-behind, demi-miraculous 2-1 win in the opener, we felt as unstoppable as Nola. Nola had a swell no-decision for himself, though his team — like Carlton’s Cardinals in 1969 when Steve struck out 19 Mets — lost. Lugo had a win to go with his 3 Ks, just as Seaver did in ’70 when he took care of 19 Padres in all, 10 in a row to end the game. Tom’s records are Tom’s records, no matter who else has a piece of them. And our momentum was our momentum after a thrilling eight-/extra-inning win.

Then came the second game, which presented itself with the same general leitmotif. Like Citi Field lacks a moderately priced tier of seating between the aspirational seats and the upper deck — wherefore art thou, Mezzanine? — these decibet games continue to miss their middle innings. So once again, we had a pitcher’s duel developing, this time David Peterson vs. Matt Moore, and it was as gripping as all get out until, in the sixth, a ball off the bat of Bryce Harper got out and it was 1-0. But wait! The Mets stitched together a nifty little rally off Philly’s bullpen and Philly’s gloves — Luis Guillorme was involved; he always is — and we had a tie and we had an eighth inning masquerading as a tenth. Sadly, we had Lindor and Guillorme not quite handling balls they usually absorb straight into their respective Roombas, and we were a run behind. And, sadder still, we didn’t get it back and had a 2-1 loss to go with our 2-1 win, which indicates intuitively this pair of one-step-up/one-step back games didn’t really have to happen, and if they hadn’t, the consecutive strikeout record would still belong to Seaver and Seaver alone.

But it doesn’t. Hence, I grit my teeth, I tip my cap, and I take the split. There’s no other deal to be made.

16 comments to Your Seaver or Your Life

  • Eric

    “Never mind that the Mets had two hits to open the games”

    Nitpick: McNeill was hit by a pitch.

    “that’s a rabbit hole whose plumbing will cast only more gray area … Listen, big boy, in my day we went nine. Oh, and on my day with the ten straight strikeouts, I won the game.”

    The 1st part of the qualifier applies to deGrom’s statistical marvel this season. The 2nd part applies to deGrom’s career. What would be the stats of all-timers like Seaver if they had scrupulously avoided pitching while hurting or even tiring like deGrom has this season?

    That Nola tied Seaver’s record is disappointing. That he tied the record against the Mets is upsetting. By the time Nola’s streak reached Walker, I wanted a bunt, even if the ball died in front of home plate and the batter was tagged out standing still in the batter’s box. That Met would have been a hero.

    As for the games, the game 1 win and doubleheader split was lucky. Game 2 was another frustrating waste of a well-pitched game. All the pitchers in both games did well.

    Whereas the Mets bats are shrivelling up with runners in scoring position like last season. The worst culprits are the team’s putative best hitters.

    McNeill is not the same hitter who made such a strong 1st impression. He should not be leading off.

  • dmg

    I like Conforto very much, and hope to see the Mets extend him, but as far as I’m concerned his career will forever carry an asterisk because he couldn’t do the simple thing of defending the Franchise (the team and the player) when it counted. Seriously, this was as low pressure a pressure spot can get: no homer needed, not even a hit. Just make contact. But no.

    I’m taking this personally because I have always taken Seaver’s 10-straight-ks record personally. I usually explain that by saying my seventh-grade class was at Shea that day on a field trip, and leave it at that.

    I rarely tell the rest of the story, which is: I was the only kid not to go to the game, because my father, noting that it was in the middle of the eight days of Passover, wouldn’t let me go. This seemed a rather arbitrary rationale – the one orthodox Jewish kid in our class went, for goodness sakes – but maybe it had to do with me being bar mitzvahed later that year, I don’t know. Since the entire class was going, I just stayed home and watched the game on Channel 9.

    So yes, I saw the record being set – it was a Wednesday afternoon in April, and I think it may have been a getaway day for the Padres – but I wasn’t actually there. (It still rankles, can you tell?) On the other hand, Dad had taken me to Game 5 the previous October, and when I told him that evening what Seaver had accomplished, he winced and told me he was sorry. We both knew it would be a record for a long time.

    This all came rushing back as I watched with increasing alarm as Met after Met flailed helplessly against Nola. Gary rightly speculated whether the players on either team knew about the record, which was set decades before any of them were born. But when he questioned if any fans even knew, I could tell him, oh yeah, this one did.

    • Shanda then, shanda now.

    • ljcmets

      We didn’t live in an area where our class could go to Shea (more like an annual trip to the NYS Capitol, lol) nor were we Orthodox, but I’m pretty sure my Dad would also have kept me home because for the week of Passover, we kept strictly kosher and this was before there was a Hebrew National stand at Shea and it probably would have been closed that week anyway ( pretty sure that was a compromise between my parents). I was the only Jewish kid in my school, and Matzo was an exotic source of mystery to my classmates.

      I had all notifications on my phone turned off as I worked against a deadline so everything blew up as I got into my car, including the most recent text from my husband letting me know that Nola had reached nine. The Mets were batting as I started my commute home which gave me a minute to catch my breath; I could hear Wayne’s and particularly Howie’s concern but I was not bargaining. I was straight out calling for Conforto to step into one and above all for him to stop swinging ( later my husband informed me that Gary had, along the same lines, been calling for a bunt) as it seemed to me that there was a better chance, albeit slim, that Nola would lose the plate than that the Mets could make contact. Before I could blink, Conforto had struck out and I started wondering if anyone in the Mets clubhouse had any sense of occasion and had told him why it was important he not strike out – 51 years is a long time, after all ( Sorry, but the bunt or anything else Conforto could do to preserve that record was in order. I well remember that Randy Hundley bunted to start the top of the ninth of Seaver’s “imperfect game” in 1969 and to my knowledge Tom never said a word about it).

      Up stepped Pete. I haven’t read any post-game comments by Pete ( too busy watching the Islanders bow out and following Game Two at intermissions and on Gameday ) but if any player on the Mets knew what was going on ( even if it seems the Phillies didn’t) it was Alonso. I well remember Pete’s comment last year after he won the game with a long home run the day after we learned that Tom had passed: “He was a legend, and now he’s a baseball god.” So spot on and I trusted Pete to do anything, including giving up his body if necessary, not to strike out; this was evident as Howie and Wayne called his deliberate, careful at bat, and he was rewarded with a double and a well-deserved ovation from the home crowd, who as Mets fans of course knew what was at stake.

      By the time I entered my house, the Phillies were up 1-0; but the 7th and 8th inning rallies, and the no-decision by Nola, were richly satisfying. That should teach the Phillies not to screw around with Tom Seaver’s memory. Seaver WON his game and he also finished it – all nine innings- and I believe Nola will join Steve Carlton as a “Meh” record-holder footnote in an eventual loss to the Mets. deGrom may someday surpass that record but an even more fitting tribute to Tom would be for Jake to pitch the perfecto that Seaver could not quite reach as a Met, and leave Seaver’s ( and OK, Nola’s) record standing. Not that we can know what will happen in the future, of course.

  • Harvey Poris

    In all the discussions about the Mets not hitting, Pete Alonso seems to get a bye. It is hard to believe that in 24 home games he played in, he has 1, count ’em 1 Home Run and his hitting .209. Think of all those 2-1 and 1-0 losses the Mets have suffered at home and how the Pete of yore might have turned a few around. Yeah, he is doing a bit better on the road, but perhaps instead of going to the HR Derby, he might spend the break trying to get his stroke back.

  • Eric

    Agreed: Poor batting average is bad enough but could be excused as part of a league-wide trend. The bigger concern is where’s the power? Whatever his BA, Pete’s home runs are supposed to be up with the league leaders.

    Alonso and Dom Smith have had just enough hits in key spots to not be the 1st names criticized, but I agree they’re guilty, too. The middle of the Mets order anchored by Pete often seems the weakest part of the order. The Donnie Stevenson approach is not working. Nor is the Hugh Quattlebaum approach for that matter.

    If Alonso isn’t producing runs, then why is he and not Smith the elite first baseman manning first base?

  • eric1973

    Just another reason (albeit not really a good one) not to re-sign Conforto. He couldn’t even touch the ball to preserve Mr. Seaver’s record. Well at least it happened right in front of our eyes, and TO US, and not in some faraway land, like, say, Detroit, where we would have heard about it after it happened.

    Boras is Conforto’s agent, so I will eventually get my wish. Unless Stevie goes crazy again and gives him *$342* million to stay.

  • Seth

    It was upsetting to see the record tired, especially against the Mets – but as you pointed out, Tom is still the only one to strike out 10 and win the game.

  • Lenny65

    Of course I was hoping Jake would be the one to tie Seaver, so that development was quite irksome. In other news the Mets can’t hit a lick. They keep winning games in spite of it, but obviously it’s a huge concern. NO ONE in that lineup has gone on anything even resembling a “tear” yet. Alonso is not hitting homers anymore, Dom and McNeil and Conforto and McCann and Lindor…game after game full of bad Ks and weak tappers to the infield. It’s alarming and inexplicable, at least to me.

  • Richard Porricelli

    If a record ,such as 10 K’s in a row, will be tied or broken , it would happen in this all or nothing day and age. Its no less impressive , but lets face it guys are whiffing like crazy in todays game so badly that they make Dave Kingman look like a contact hitter!!
    Not much of a response in that Phillie dugout for Mr. Nola.Ho hum , I guess its just us old Mets fans that care about our legends and there deeds from the days of yore..
    I thought it was interesting that it happened again in Queens , even appropriate in a way..

  • Daniel Hall

    From here on out, as long as I live, whenever I meet Pete on the street, I’ll buy him a treat. This is a holy oath! Or lightning shall strike me dead!

    Granted, six time zones away, chances are slim, but ya never know!