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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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All Seven and We’ll Watch Them Fall

The Mets are seven games over .500. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Mets have been seven games over .500 on nineteen separate occasions over the — wait for it — past seven weeks. Seven games over .500 isn’t bad. Ask the Atlanta Braves, who haven’t been as much as one game over .500 all year. They’ve had to settle for four times being the team to pull the Mets back to seven games over .500 after the Mets had dared to scale the win-loss heights to eight games over .500.

Incrementalism is all the rage in the National League East, where .500 is the magnet that pulls the team above it back toward it and repels all team below it to keep their social distance. The Phillies are exactly .500. The Braves are a game below it. Imagine how good seven over looks from their perspective.

But, from our perspective, nine over would have looked even better Thursday afternoon in Flushing. Alas, Atlanta prevented our potential two-game winning streak from taking shape by beating the Mets, 6-3. It was, as losses to the Braves go, expectedly vexing and disturbingly routine. Austin Riley continued to pound New York pitching. Every Brave sooner or later reveals himself the most fiendish Met-killer since Chipper Jones. It’s Riley’s time to put us in the barrel. “Don’t pitch to Austin Riley,” we’ll tell one another, except we also won’t want to pitch to any of Austin Riley’s teammates.

Riley went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, which sounds like his standing order at Leo’s Latticini in Corona. The usual, Mr. R? Others in his ranks Chippered in as well, yet the Mets actually outhit the Braves, 12 to 7. Get the scoreboard columns to switch identities as they might in an absolutely hilarious ’80s comedy co-starring Judge Reinhold — “wait, I’M hits and YOU’RE runs???” — and we’d be cooking nine above tonight.

It doesn’t work that way. Instead it works once in a while that we get a dozen hits and it doesn’t do us a bit of good. According to Baseball-Reference’s Stathead tool, the Mets have played 62 nine-inning games in their 60-season history in which they’ve totaled at least a dozen hits yet haven’t scored more than a trio of runs. It’s not a formula for good fortune. After Thursday’s loss to the four Brave relievers who succeeded a shaky Drew Smyly, the Mets are a lifetime 13-49 when they fail to convert such a windfall of hits into more than a slight breeze’s worth of runs during regulation. (This isn’t counting weirdo extra-inning many-a-hit, barely-a-run marathons, which constitute their own form of bizarreness; gosh, I sort of miss them.)

There were some numbers to like beyond the main number of seven over .500 when nobody else in the division can accomplish that much. For example, Brandon Drury added a 2-for-2 to his previous 6-for-6 and had an 8-for-8 in progress (math rocks!) before finally making an out, leaving him one shy of tying Jose Vizcaino and John Olerud for the franchise record of nine hits in nine consecutive at-bats. Viz and Oly were regulars. Drury strung his perfection together in intermittent appearances. That’s worth eight pats on the back, even if on Thursday Drury’s characteristic lack of dreariness didn’t result in the building of or knocking in any runs.

Pete Alonso, meanwhile, hit a ball 453 feet. It landed in the fair portion of the left field Promenade Boxes, where only Yoenis Cespedes among Mets and Aaron Judge among utterly unwelcome visitors had previously deposited baseballs. Because one runner was on base, the Polar Bear’s Arctic blast counted for two runs. Given how far it traveled, it should have earned quadruple points. Pity the fine home run print doesn’t allow for bonus miles.

For three innings, Taijuan Walker looked as if he could have taken one run and hid. He’d given up neither a run nor a hit. Then he turned flawed to the point of futile. The look on his face as the fourth and fifth got away from him — five runs on a walk and six hits, including homers to Riley and Abraham Almonte — was reminiscent of Nuke LaLoosh during his nearly naked panic dream in Bull Durham. You could see Taijuan knew something was plaguing his pitches but also understood the cure wouldn’t be as simple as borrowing an undergarment from Annie Savoy.

For the silver lining-lovers out there, Miguel Castro continued on his journey back to sharpness with a scoreless sixth; Aaron Loup threw an ale of an eighth; and, making his major league debut, righty Akeem Bostick kept the Braves from inflicting superfluous ninth-inning damage. My scouting report on Akeem Bostick consisted of me learning after I got home from Wednesday night’s game that Akeem Bostick had been situated in the bullpen during Wednesday night’s game, having replaced Jerad Eickhoff on the active roster. Previous Mets to have replaced Jerad Eickhoff on the active roster in 2021 were Thomas Szapucki and Robert Stock. Have you seen Szapucki or Stock lately?

Hopefully Bostick won’t be disappeared to wherever it is pitchers who dare to occupy the flip side of Eickhoff’s DFAs. wind up. He was obviously a happy young man when he tweeted, postgame, “I can FINALLY say ‘I’M A BIG LEAGUER!’” Akeem should indeed shout his newly earned status to the heavens. It’s a very special designation to have earned, even among Mets, a team that has habitually enlisted Jerad Eickhoff to start baseball games.

In 2021, everybody, seemingly, has been a Met. Seriously, check your texts. You, too, may have been called up from Syracuse.

Akeem Bostick is the 35th new Met of the season, tying the “and you are…?” standard set in 1967. He’s the 56th Met to have seen action thus far this season, which matches the total from 2018, and we had to get to the end of September and David Wright’s physically tortured return from spinal stenosis to reach that traffic milestone. And he’s the 1,146th Met overall. For perspective, if you go back about four chronological years, to the final week of July in 2017, the all-time Met roster from 1962 forward weighed in at 1,032 players, or 114 fewer than the current composite number.

Meaning? Meaning approximately 10% of all players who’ve ever been Mets have debuted as Mets in the just the past four years. It’s a revolving door whose spin won’t pause, either, because on Friday night, we will belatedly welcome January acquisition Carlos Carrasco to the Citi Field mound, where we anticipate he will be resplendent in home white pants and home black jersey. In donning said Black Friday ensemble, Carrasco will become the 1,147th Met overall. Also, by the time the man known as Cookie throws his first Met pitch (hopefully not a cookie), a little something called the trade deadline will have passed, so it is not out of the question — and may very well be in our best interests — that we will have found some more bodies to immediately don the black, white, orange and blue as we strive to get eight games over .500 without immediately slipping back to seven.

We’ll root for ’em all, whoever they are. And if they don’t get the job done, we’ll assume somebody will go out and get us some more.

10 comments to All Seven and We’ll Watch Them Fall

  • Greg Mitchell

    Mets better pick up one if not two starting pitchers today and a reliever–Walker, I fear, is finished as positive contributor this year–whether due to injury, too many innings already hurled, or no sticky substance. Has been pitiful now for a month. Stroman also way past last year’s innings (which were zero). As for Carrasco: virtually a bullpen game tonight as he will be lucky if he gets through 3 innings.

  • Seth

    I wonder why there have been so many new Mets in the last 4 years. Does it indicate less staying power? Injury issues? It’s perplexing. Another reason I fear, is that so many Mets have not played up to expectations, and needed to be replaced.

  • open the gates

    This year, in particular, the ridiculous amount of injuries probably accounts for the huge influx of new Mets. Also there’s the Brodie factor – in two years, Van Wagenen gutted the minor league system so badly that it will probably take the new guys a few years to fix it.

    In any case, my heart goes out to Jason, who’s probably having a hell of a time with his Holy Books this year.

  • Eric

    The Mets division lead feels tenuous because they haven’t played well enough to deserve 1st place. Except the rest of the NLE’s play deserves it less — so far. That can change in a week.

    Bench mob clutch magic, pitching, and defense (a lot of it from the replacements) have carried the paper-tiger offense. Now the chronically RISP-LOB, lesser defensive, slower regulars are mostly whole, and they still can’t hit curveballs and are still not scoring. At the same time, much of the 1st half’s stalwart pitching is wearing out or outright injured.

    Supposedly now, injured starting pitchers are coming back, but given the protracted difficulty of their recoveries, I’ll be skeptical until they prove they can carry the load the rest of the way.

    Question marks abound. Yet the Mets are somehow still muddling in 1st place. I just don’t think they can muddle like this for 2+ more months and make it into the playoffs. If the Mets stay status quo, another NLE team needs only improve slightly to take away the NLE’s 1 ticket to the playoffs.

  • Dave

    While the Mets haven’t lost anyone (yet) to gardening accidents or spontaneous human combustion, the roster changes are reminiscent of Spinal Tap drummers.

  • chuck

    Well, I’m surprised that Baty, Marucio and Alvarez are still in the system, and JD and Dom are still on the team. I know nothing about the pitcher they got.

  • Eric

    Phillies and Braves beefed up. Nationals bowed out.

    DeGrom pushed back 2 more weeks and mysterious nature of his injuries puts the rest of his once-historic season in doubt. Perhaps the remainder of his career peak, too, given his age.

    No good pitcher was picked up at the trade deadline to compensate for deGrom’s growing unavailability. (Williams doesn’t count.)

    As for Baez, I dunno. Good D and power. Really bad OBP and Ks. He humiliated that Pirates 1B. I’ll evaluate Baez as a Met, but I am biased towards Guillorme, aka Turner Take Two.

  • mikeL

    what a horribly lifeless performance
    i can *almost* remember when dom and conforto could hit
    the mets are the team i hate to love these days

    ps: had not yet heard that update on jake.

  • Eric

    Forearm tightness graduating to elbow inflammation … Yet supposedly no structural damage like a torn UCL.

    I wonder if the bad news on deGrom put the kibosh on trades after Baez. Or at least reduced the spending limits. Given the Mets’ needs and many transactions by other teams, including the Braves and Phillies, it’s surprising the Mets made only the one trade.

  • Paul

    I found it interesting that Met shortstop Francisco Lindor supposedly urged Sandy Alderson to go out and trade for his good friend, Chicago Cub shortstop Javier Baez. What happens if Javier Baez plays like the second coming of Honus Wagner or Luis Aparicio while Lindor is recuperating from his injury? I don’t mean to rub it in, but Lindor, during his first disappointing year here, is more likely to remind Mets fans of Mike Phillips or Luis Alvarado rather than Jose Reyes or Bud Harrelson. If Baez really lights it up in the Big Apple, won’t the colorfully-coiffed Francisco Lindor hear even more boos from the Citi-Field faithful, the likes of which haven’t been heard since the late Jim Fregosi was “serenaded” by the “slightly” perturbed Shea faithful in 1972?

    And what of the player traded to Chicago in exchange for Javier Baez, former Mets first-round draft pick Pete Crow-Armstrong, he of the absolutely unpretentious hyphenated surname? I remember young Mr. Crow-Armstrong stressing that he was glad to be selected and signed by the New York Mets because they apparently valued “diversity,” “inclusion” and “respect for women” in their organization.

    Well, I hope Mr. Crow-Armstrong enjoys playing for his new team, which hired and promoted baseball executive Jared Porter from within their organization, regardless of Porter’s somewhat questionable “relationship” with a female sports reporter during Porter’s time in the Windy City. Thankfully, Mets team owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson acted quickly and decisively to end the Jared Porter imbroglio in the Mets’ front office.