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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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The Cobb County Blues

Give this much to the Mets during their current run of troubles: They’re finding new ways to lose.

But then that’s appropriate for the ballpark they were trapped in Thursday night: White Flight Stadium (or whatever the Braves are calling their shameful taxpayer-extorted shrine to suburbia these days) may not quite be the house of horrors that Miami’s Soilmaster Stadium is for the Mets, but it’s awful close. Bad things happen here if you show up wearing orange and blue: walkoff homers, walkoff bunts, inexplicable errors, and a host of other mishaps and mischances.

On Thursday the bad things came early and then they came again late. Jacob deGrom, the Met most resistant to the Cobb County blues, was handed a 1-0 lead but gave up a leadoff triple to Ehire Adrianza, who came home on an Ozzie Albies single. (Adrianza is rapidly ascending the fraternal ranks of Braves Who Are Pains in the Ass.) DeGrom put Austin Riley in an 0-2 count and threw him a four-seamer on the outside edge of the plate — the pitch he wanted and the desired location pretty much dotted.

Riley hit it over the fence for a 3-1 lead, causing deGrom to rail at the cosmos in the relative privacy of the dugout.

(Let’s note here that Riley is another member of the BWAPITA corps.)

It looked like a night where deGrom might have committed the sin of pitching like a mere mortal — in the second, he allowed a leadoff double to Abraham Almonte, who should have scored on Kevan Smith‘s single but only advanced to third. But DeGrom, at this point no doubt stewing, then did what he does best in this park, fanning Ian Anderson, Adrianza and Freddie Freeman to extinguish the threat. From there he was all but unhittable, at one point striking out eight in a row. So much for flirtations with mere mortaldom.

The Mets drew closer thanks to a Dom Smith homer, then tied the game in the top of the ninth with another Smith longball off Will Smith. (It’s obligatory for me to note that the Braves’ pitchers for the night were Anderson, Chris Martin and Smith, three frontmen for a rather strange music festival. Fortunately, the Mets left Kenny Rogers by the side of the road somewhere.)

At this juncture we should consider an age-old baseball-fan quandary: If your team’s down 3-1 on a bleak evening, would you rather they go gentle into the night or claw back furiously only to lose ungently? Because the Mets opted for the latter, and the disaster came quickly.

It started with Seth Lugo, who two nights ago danced through the raindrops and came out dry but wasn’t so lucky this time. To open the Braves’ ninth, Lugo turned a Guillermo Heredia swinging bunt into man on second, nobody out by throwing a ball past Pete Alonso that he should have put in his pocket.

(What did the Mets do to Heredia during his brief time with them to make him such an enthusiastic member of BWAPITA?)

It looked like Lugo might get out of it: He retired Pablo Sandoval, with Heredia crossing to third, and struck out Smith for the second out. Ronald Acuna Jr. was given first base for free, which was only wise, and it looked like the regulation game would come down to Lugo vs. Ender Inciarte, whose BWAPITA credentials are impeccable. Lugo got ahead of Inciarte 0-2 and then tried to pick him off with everything in his arsenal, dotted on the edges of the strike zone. It was an approach that would have retired 90% of enemy batters, but Inciarte turned in a terrific at-bat, somehow resisting a nearly perfect 3-2 sinker just off the outer edge for an eight-pitch walk that loaded the bases.

Then, on the next pitch: fatality with a side of you gotta be kidding me. Freeman — not a member of BWAPITA because that’s reserved for guys who don’t scare the shit out of us in the first place — spanked Lugo’s first pitch off the pitcher’s foot, sending it caroming to Luis Guillorme on the grass in front of third. Guillorme threw it to first, Freeman beat it, and the Mets had lost.

In hindsight, Guillorme’s only play was a force at third — Acuna’s been slowed by injuries and got a bad break off second, and Guillorme might have beaten him to the bag. And yes, Lugo and Luis Rojas were screaming at him to make that play. But they could see what Guillorme couldn’t. Acuna was behind Guillorme as he was charging towards home for the first necessary ingredient of any play — the ball. To make the play at third, you’re asking Guillorme to register that Acuna has gotten a bad break behind him, secure the ball, arrest his homeward momentum, spin, locate third, and beat a by-now-accelerating Acuna to the bag. Guillorme’s one of the best Mets defenders I’ve seen in the last decade, but that’s asking too much even of him. He took the only play he had, and he made it as close as a fielder could. It wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough, and now the Mets get to play the Yankees for what will undoubtedly be three delightful evenings of low-stakes baseball with no additional emotional freight. If things go badly — or even if they go well but you find your anxiety spiking — just remind yourself that at least we’re not in Cobb County anymore.

6 comments to The Cobb County Blues

  • Seth


    – I can’t even articulate how much I hate every other team in the NL East. The next always seems worse than the last.
    – Your stadium-naming skills are awesome.
    – Braves Who Are Pains in the Ass — suggest removal of the “Who.”
    – If not for an uncharacteristic home run from James McCrotch, Mets would have been swept. OK, that last one was unfair, because they didn’t get swept.

  • Jacobs27

    I will say that I found the game engaging, despite the frustrating denouement, BWAPITA, and lots of offensive ineptitude.

    It was pretty cool to see deGrom whip it back in gear. One thing I hadn’t seen him do before this year was noticeably dial back his fastball to get better control. He threw a few mere 97s, and even a 95 mph at one point.

    Man, Jason is right, maybe the Braves should trade for Carlos Santana. Not sure he can pitch, but he’d be a nice addition to their odd musical line up.

  • greensleeves

    Would you rather your team go gently into that good night or claw back furiously only to realize the same results? Truly, this may be the saddest Metsian prose I’ve read in many moons.

    I’m not too old to remember when McNeil actually had a discerning eye at the plate. My wife sets a better table. Come back to us, Jeff. Please.

    • Daniel Hall

      Don’t know whether that’s a greater slight to Jeff McSquirrel or to greensleeves’ wife =)

  • greensleeves

    Heredia sounds like something he might have picked up in the womb.

  • mileL

    heh! funny you mention kenny rogers, jason.
    last night’s bases loaded ending had me feeling like bobby v looked when kenny walked in the run that ended the mets’ post-season run.

    no, it wasn’t the end of this mets post-season run, but rather felt like the end of their run towards the post-season. now would be a really good time to take out their collective angst on the even more troubled yanks.

    and yes, white-flight stadium would be a good and honest name for this replacement of a perfectly good and pretty darn new ballpark.

    an aside: if the mets ever sign ian anderson his walk up music (assuming no NL DH) should be windup. not because he’a a pitcher but because it’s one of the *other* ian anderson’s catchiest, rockiness tunes, hands-down.

    well, it’s back to rainy. hope these games get played. no mets game is still worse than most recent mets games ;0]

    (and so many makeup games are killing what’s left of this team’s mojo)