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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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A Day to Fly the Colors

By definition, a Sunday afternoon spent beating a pair of American League All-Stars en route to winning by five is time well spent.

That’s what the Mets did on July 4, racking up four runs in 3 1/3 innings off All-Star Gerrit Cole, whose situations were as sticky as his grip might no longer be, and then pounding All-Star Aroldis Chapman in an inning that went from tense to celebratory to anticlimactic in a hurry.

The Mets jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a first-inning home run by Dom Smith, which would have been a mere flyout in a park sized for adults, but hey, we didn’t set the dimensions. In the bottom of the second, though, a Francisco Lindor error turned a double play into two extra runners and the Yankees put up a three-spot against Marcus Stroman. That could count as an alibi, except Stroman’s location was poor on a number of key pitches and his stuff was missing its usual crackle — he recorded no Ks against a lineup not exactly bristling with high-average hitters.

The Mets were screwed out of a potential comeback in the top of the third, when they challenged a blown call on Brandon Nimmo at first only to have the replay-review umps insist that Nimmo was indeed out when he was clearly safe. Since things eventually turned out OK, I’ll spare you two or three indignant, venom-spitting paragraphs and instead simply note that baseball’s greatest tragedy is it has to be entrusted to the dick-self-stepper-onners who run MLB.

After the Yankees tacked on another run to make it 4-1, the Mets rose up in indignation against Cole in the fourth: Michael Conforto singled, Jeff McNeil singled, Billy McKinney walked, Tomas Nido singled in a run and Nimmo singled to drive Cole from the mound and cut the deficit to a single run.

The hits from Nido and Nimmo were excellent to see because they wounded the Yankees, which goes without saying, but even more appreciated because they were hard, clean singles over the infield rather than do-or-die uppercuts aimed at the farthest reaches of the ballpark — any road to victory is worth walking, but the Mets played the kind of relentless, uptempo game that’s been seen too rarely in 2021, and it was a welcome change.

Lindor snuck a ball through the infield to tie the score against Jonathan Loaisiga, though some bad baserunning by Nimmo helped damp a potential rally. (Honestly, Brandon — you’re not going first to third when there’s a catcher on the bases in front of you and Aaron Judge patrolling right field.) Loaisiga then held the Mets at bay and in the bottom of the 5th disaster loomed as some addled strike-zone judgment and a Stroman wild pitch (which fortunately didn’t decapitate Luke Voit) let DJ LeMahieu scamper home with the go-ahead run.

The top of the seventh was handed to Chapman, who had the recipe for success in his pocket: throw fastballs above the zone to Pete Alonso, who’d spent much of the afternoon swinging underneath them and then looking agonized about having done so yet again. On a 1-2 count, Chapman inexplicably opted for a slider that caught too much plate; Pete swung from his heels and walloped it over the left-field fence, leaving Chapman with his hands on his head and Aaron Boone staring at the field with the expression of a man trying to pass a kidney stone after four hours at the DMV.

It got worse: Chapman hit Conforto, walked McNeil (who ground out a terrific eight-pitch AB) and exited to boos, replaced by Lucas Luetge. Enter a parade of Mets pinch-hitters: Luetge walked Kevin Pillar, fanned James McCann and faced Jose Peraza with the bases loaded and one out.

Peraza drove a 2-2 slider to the left-field wall, over the head of Tim Locastro … and into the glove of a fucking idiot in a Conforto jersey who reached a good two feet below the top of the wall, turning Peraza’s drive into a ground-rule double and costing the Mets a run. I hope said fucking idiot was banned from all future baseball games and had RUN TIMO RUN tattooed on his forehead as a reminder that he is and always will be a fucking idiot, no doubt birthed of fucking-idiot stock and a lead-pipe cinch to bring yet more fucking idiots into a world that would be a better place without them.

(And what kind of flashback do you think Tony Tarasco had over in the first-base coaching box?)

Fortunately for our wanna-be Bartman, Luetge then served up a hit to Nimmo that it made it 9-5 Mets, followed by a Lindor single that scored Nimmo. The eruption buried the Yankees, who went down on eight pitches against Seth Lugo to give the Mets the game and the series.

(The schedule indicates a second game was played, but I cannot confirm this and so shall commit no further pixels to what might or might not have happened later in the evening.)

Look, it would be foolhardy to assume a two-day flurry of hits and runs have transformed the Mets’ hitters from meek to mighty; Sunday’s first game was a disorienting mix of patient, successful ABs and frantic ones built around swing paths aimed at the moon. One way for a team to look better is to run into a team that’s far more of a mess; that can be confused for actually being better but isn’t necessarily the same.

Still, six-run final innings will play well against anybody, and they play particularly well when they come against the Yankees, in their skeleton-friezed mausoleum, and on George Steinbrenner’s birthday. Hell, those are the kind of fireworks that make you want to put your hand over your heart and wave a flag, regardless of the date on the calendar.

19 comments to A Day to Fly the Colors

  • Andrew

    I haven’t looked at the spin rate numbers, but isn’t it time to question whether Stroman, like Cole and many others, has been neutralized by the no-sticky-stuff rule? Seems like Marcus has been downright pedestrian since the rule change.

  • open the gates

    I am invoking the “no true Scotsman” defense, as follows: No true Met fan would act in as idiotic and game-ruining a fashion as the dude in the Conforto shirt, so he had to be Jeffrey Maier in disguise. (Hey, the guy obviously knows his way around that part of Yankee Stadium.)

  • Daniel Hall

    Sadly gone are the times where offenders like the “fucking idiot” were immediately stoned to death by the surrounding, stunned onlookers. These days, you get high-fives. Won’t anybody think of the children?? (Fine technique on the catch though, sure beats whatever the Yanks’ Tumbleweed Sanchez does behind the dish, or for a Mets example, Wilson Ramos, who got his crap thrown out the window by the Tigers recently. *The Tigers*.)

    Also, Nimmo seems to have gotten baserunning advice from Daniel Murphy. I was slightly aghast when he was slapped out for failing to retreat to second base and muttered several times to myself “but that’s Nido ahead of him? isn’t it? where the heck does he think he’s gonna go? that’s Nido …!” And Lindor made a Murph play on D. I miss Murph. But not necessarily those parts of Murph.

    I approve of the post ending where it does. I saw two games of the series. The Mets went 2-0. I’m good.

  • Paul

    Jason, don’t hold back. Tell us what you really think of that “expletive-deleted” idiot in the Michael Conforto shirt, who interfered on that Jose Persia fly ball.

  • Eric

    I’m starting to worry about Stroman. No more sticky stuff? His erratic pitches of late point to that. I think it’s more likely he’s pitching hurt. Since Stroman left his Braves start early, his pitching has dropped off significantly in his next 2 starts. I think if he was a sticky stuff abuser, his pitching would have dropped off before that. Maybe not pitching last season is catching up to him. Whether it’s IL or creative scheduling around the all-star break, I think the Mets should find a way to give Stroman extra days off. Tough to do though since there’s no starting depth right now.

    Another big hit from Peraza.

    The game 1 win felt big, but it was still only 1 game. The clumped together Braves, Nationals, and Phillies are still 1 bad week from catching the Mets.

    As Jason points out, there was a mix of good and bad signs from the Mets hitting. As the game 2 comedown showed, they’re not out of the woods yet as an offense that can be relied on to carry a diminished pitching staff. Brewers pitching will be a big test.

  • greensleeves

    Such salty language, Mr. Fry! :)
    Interesting to note Gary and Keith seemed to excuse this cretin for his intrusion based on the Yankee LF’s clear distance from the ball. I didn’t get this particular behavioral allowance at all. Did I mishear their remarks?

  • open the gates

    Howie was not so forgiving. And understandably so. The cretin caused one of Howie’s all-time great grand slam calls to go for naught. I was almost as annoyed by that as I was by what he did.

  • open the gates

    Oh, and by the way. Tim Locastro and Tony Tarasco. Coincidence? I think so.

  • Stuart Cohn

    Tony Tarasco is Mets’ first base coach who played RF for Baltimore during the Jeffrey Maier incident. I think that’s who Jason is referring to here.

  • Stuart Cohn

    Hey openthe gates, sorry I misread your comment…

  • Eric

    The fan may have believed that catching the ball turned a possible out or at best a double into a grand slam HR.

    I don’t think fans should be allowed to be close enough to fair territory to reach over and down the wall like that.

  • Bob

    Agree completely about that shmuck who interfered with fly ball at LF wall.
    No doubt he is proud of the stupid move and he should be banned from any Baseball game @ Citi Field for years.
    What a horses ass this guy is–including the clowns who cheered him on.

    On a positive note, it was very good to win 2 of 3 at that sewer in the Bronx!

  • Left Coast Jerry

    It was a day for fucking idiots from the one in the Conforto jersey to the two idiots in the ESPN booth for the second game. Matt Vasgerjian referred to the 2000 World Series as “the penultimate Subway Series.” Hey, Matt. Penultimate means next to the last. You’ve been a broadcast journalist for at least 30 years. You’re as much a fucking idiot as the guy in the Conforto jersey. Only difference is that ESPN actually pays you to be fucking idiot.

  • eric1973

    Just saw the Brew Crew lineup, and their Batting Averages are worse than ours!

    Holy God!

    And that first Yankee game was the best game of the season. If we could have swept 3, we really could have knocked them out.

  • open the gates

    One last observation before I turn my attention to tonight’s game: it really boggles the imagination that Aroldis Chapman is an All Star and Edwin Diaz isn’t. And I used to despise Edwin, but he’s come all the way back, and all credit to him. Meanwhile, Chapman is Diaz circa 2019 right about now, yet he’s the All Star. Go figure.

  • Daniel Hall

    That the Mets have ONE All Star (you know, the token bum that all ho-hum teams get, apparently) and yet lead that division tells you a lot about the 2021 NL East, a.k.a. The Great Disappointment.

  • open the gates

    Daniel – Hey, if the Mets had a “token bum” like Jacob deGrom every year, I wouldn’t complain too much. But I hear you. Truth is, I remember the Mets basically were the 1987 All Star team. Didn’t help them in September. It’s not really that important.

    • Daniel Hall

      I was more looking at other teams’ token bums, like Eduardo Escobar (.766 OPS). Don’t get me wrong. I am sure he is a fine person. All I’m saying is the Snakes don’t seem to have many players with two legs and two arms, and he’s the best of them?? If I had more time I would compile a list of all players that deserve the nomination more than Escobar. The list might not contain many Mets (but Johneshwy Fargas for sure!), but would be substantial.

      I will gladly take October baseball over stuffing the NL’s lineup in a meaningless showcase.

  • eric1973

    Thank Goodness the game is meaningless. It was not too long ago that ‘This Time It Counts!’

    Nobody played, managed, or chose players like they cared, casting integrity on the WS, in terms of home field advantage, and therefore overall WS integrity as well.