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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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Make it Fast, Make it Urgent

Luis Rojas might as well be loping along with a rod and reel over his shoulder, ambling to the creek down yonder to see if the catfish are biting. That’s how much urgency he seems to commit to managing in a game in the middle of September, a game in which his team’s chances are not so slowly drifting out to sea.

No more than six innings out of an effective Marcus Stroman? No more than one inning from any reliever who’s getting the job done? Freshly recalled rusty Jake Reed in the top of the eleventh? Albert Almora in the bottom of the eleventh with two out and somebody else (anybody else) on the bench?

Well, shoot, if we don’t get ’em this month, I reckon we’ll get ’em next month…or the month after that.

Snuffy Smith in the dugout seems very concerned about preserving his players’ energy for the Rock ‘n’ Jock classic or some such event to be held at a later date. They don’t hold the Rock ‘n’ Jock anymore as far as I know, but you know who excelled in that celebrity softball extravaganza of yore? Roger McDowell. You know who once threw five innings of shutout ball in relief in a must-must-MUST win National League Championship Series Game Six? Roger McDowell. There’s a whole second half of a tremendous documentary about it airing on ESPN tonight. I hope somebody records and shows it to Rojas. He might not believe that pushing a pitcher who is recording out after out was and is not illegal.

I was and am too distracted to delineate all that went wrong in the Mets’ eleven-inning 7-6 loss to the Cardinals from Tuesday night. It went so long I was able to slip away for two hours of much more satisfying viewing and come back and still find nearly two more hours of live baseball. Well, the Cardinals were alive. The Mets’ pulse was barely audible.

Rojas’s decisions were baffling. His explanations were infuriating. His ballclub drifts ever farther from the shores of contention. But, boy, will everybody be well-rested.

23 comments to Make it Fast, Make it Urgent

  • Bruce in Forest Hills

    The last time a Mets manager was allowed to make a decision is when Terry Collins allowed Matt Harvey to pitch the 9th inning in the 2015 World Series. Everything since then has been dictated by the front office. Even Gary Cohen alluded to that last night when he was saying nice things about Terry Collins. The manager’s job, not only in New York, but practically everywhere, is to go by the front-office book, to try to sell that book to the media and to try to sell that book to the players. Managers who don’t see their role that way are usually fired. The Mets front office book has been awful. And everyone, from Sandy Alderson, to everyone Sandy hired, who has had any part of writing, enforcing or selling that book should be fired. And Luis Rojas should be fired, since he definitely lacks the hard power of authority, and apparently lacks the soft power of persuasion, to manipulate the front office into writing a better book.

    • The idea that the manager doesn’t manage as the manager traditionally did (and still does in popular imagination) always creeps into my thoughts, but once you’re deep into the game, you’ve gotta have someone be the “control person,” to use an overly corporate term. Whatever the input and the readouts, it’s Luis’s ball from first pitch to last. Figure out who to give it to and who not to take it away from.

  • Eric

    The Cardinal way and the Met way combined in the Lindor 10th inning DP.

    After a praiseworthy stretch, Familia has been giving up HRs of late.

    I disagreed with Rojas using Almora off the bench with Guillorme left there. Whatever his high draft and former prospect status and the side he hits on, Almora is a Lagares type yet has been a worse hitter than Lagares ever was as a Met.

    Do other teams follow the Mets’ up-down restriction? It’s apparent the performance staff, at least their dictates, outrank the field manager with higher priority than the actual competition at hand, even now with only 2 weeks left in the season and only a post-season span of games left.

    It’s frustrating that the play-offs are not out of reach and the competition has not been pulling away. The Mets have just stalled out on their own with the competition slowly stumbling away.

    I guess the Cardinals will hold onto the 2nd wildcard because they’re the Cardinals, and they’ll scare the Dodgers like no other wildcard candidate would.

  • Seth

    I couldn’t figure out why they decided to forfeit the game in the top of the 11th, but I guess Luis just wanted to go home at that point.

    This was one of those games that the Cards kept trying to give to the Mets (calls going the Mets’ way, Yadier hits into a DP, etc), but the Mets just weren’t taking.

  • sj1357

    The Cardinals’ manager is pulling every available string to find a way to win: changing personnel so he can play five infielders with the winning run on third; sending a starter out to close the game; using mutiple relievers for (gasp!) more than one inning. Rojas, meanwhile, is deploying personnel likes it’s Memorial Day and the team is leading the division by eight games.

    It reminds me of then-Nationals’ manager Matt Williams’ mindless bullpen usage in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, which was an elimination game for the Nats. In the 7th innning, with the score tied, and with his top relievers (Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard) plus Stephen Strasburg available in the bullpen, Williams chose to send in a rookie reliever, Aaron Barrett, who had pitched a total of 10 innings since June. When Barrett promptly walked two batters, Williams’ next choice was the rapidly aging Rafael Soriano, who had been struggling badly throughout the second half of the season. Soriano unsurprisingly allowed what became the winning run to score. Storen, Clippard, and Strasburg all went unused. Season over. Williams’ explanation? The releivers he used were his “seventh inning guys” and therefore were the correct ones to use in the seventh inning. Compelling logic, if you’re nine years old.

    As someone pointed out at the time, there is something profoundly strange about spending $150 million to assemble a top-flight roster of athletes and then entrusting their deployment to someone whose strategic decision-making process is dictated by a handful of idiotic cliches rattling around his brain. Profoundly strange, yet quite common in MLB at that time — and not unheard of now (e.g., Luis Rojas).

  • mikeL

    perfect description greg – of rojas’ inexplicable managerial sleep-walking – and post-game sleep-talking.
    i’m STILL mad as hell at his recent 10th inning moves to pinch hit *for* pillar. and put almora in CF, fresh off a long IL stint.

    could the front office – awful as they are – *really* be dictating such obviously poor decisions over and over and over??

    could it be a sort of scheme out of ‘The Natural’ to assure the team’s failure? what to make cohen sell the team back to the

    who knows? but i do know that rojas is THE most infuriatingly awful manager imaginable incarnate. we could have had girardi – or dusty baker….or anyone with a pulse – if front offices these days actually wanted that.

    this team has been handed unlikely opportunity after opportunity to control its destiny…and is clearly uninterested.
    and sandy’s apparently coming back to boot…so no substantial change of rotten culture on the horizon.

  • Eric

    If the Mets want to hire Girardi, they may get a 2nd chance to do that sooner than later. The Phillies have underwhelmed with him nearly as much as the Mets.

  • Mike from Atlanta

    All valid comments but what’s the point? The offseason can’t come soon enough so we can hit the refresh button. All I know is I’m going to sit back and enjoy parts 3-4 of Once Upon a Time in Queens tonight and revel in the glory of 1986. This goofy team can’t take away that!

  • eric1973

    I missed Rojas’ explanations last night, but I have already heard them ad nauseum:

    “Matchup! Matchup! Matchup!”

    This is the most dumbest manager we have ever had. Go back to the workout room and work on your ridiculous-looking muscles.

    Rojas thinks Almora has a better chance to drive in the run than Guillorme, just like last week when he thought Mazeika had a better chance to get a hit than JD Davis.

    And then late in the game we get pitchers who are minor leaguers, and guys just off the IL, who only their mothers have ever heard of.

    And we should have seen the last of Familia a week ago. Did Rojas actually think he would hold that lead?

    It boggles the mind, it really does.

  • open the gates

    I remember when Davey Johnson used to take on the front office with impunity – and they listened to him. Guys like Frank Cashen, who had already won a championship in Baltimore, listened to a then-rookie manager because Davey a) was familiar with the players, b) had incredible instincts, and c) they trusted him. Rojas is like Davey in that he grew through the system with the homegrown guys, and they seem to like and respect him. That’s where the similarities end. Luis is a corporate hack through and through, and goes by the book as if it were the Bible. His act has gotten very old very fast. I wish we could have a guy like Davey next year to manage the team, but they don’t make managers like that anymore.

  • rich porricelli

    No time anymore for managers to grow into there job , especially in NY.. Will Rojas be better then he is now going forward ? He will definitely need better then minor league talent , underachieving stars and vet retreads..Team is just sleep walking at this point one foot on a ball field and the other on a sandy beach…

  • Harvey

    Since August 13th, the Mets are 2-14 in one-run games. Better in-game and bullpen management would have surely salvaged a few of them, enough to have kept the Mets close or ahead in the wild card or even the division leader race. Charlie Dressen used to tell his Brooklyn team to keep ’em close, he will think of something. Rojas only thinks of ways to lose.

  • Seth

    I don’t know what’s happened to McNeil, but looking at his at-bats last night, you can’t deny he’s hitting into some unbelievable bad luck. I’m not saying that luck will turn, but it sure seems like he can’t buy a break. There are plenty of 4-3’s, but also a lot of hard-hit balls right at someone.

  • Joey G

    In regard to Mr. McNeil (aka the “Flying Squirrel” or in Le Parc Jarry, “écureuil volant”), it is not bad luck that the defense is set to his predictable hitting tendencies and he therefore keeps hitting balls hard right at people. We all know that doing exactly the same thing and expecting a different result is a form of insanity. As noted baseball scholar “Wee Willie” Keller used to say (as repeated ad naseaum by Ralph Kiner), “keep your eye on the ball and hit ’em where they ain’t.” If Jeff would like to solidify his career beyond utility infielder status, he would be well served to take that advice and go the other way, rather then continuously be exasperated by fate’s cruel hand on his (mostly pulled) line drives. Where is Phil Cavaretta when we need him?!

    • mikeL

      ..,that’s similar to the advice for folks starting to skining in the trees: look at the spaces *between* the trees. look at the trees and your body will surely follow.

      pretty basic, and liberating concepts.

      it’s hard to believe the mets fired chili and then hired a hitting coach that seemed only to re-enforce the bad habits of his charges.

      “can’t hit the fastball”
      enough said

  • John Farrell

    I’ve been a soft supporter of Rojas all season. But the selection of Almora over Guillorme was as dumb as any managerial decision I can remember.I assume Rojas just wrote his resignation. Too bad I had thought the guy was much better.

  • eric1973

    I just missed the Rojas interview on SNY with Evan and Carton, and apparently, Rojas just said that he manages no differently in September than he does in April.

    Hey, John Farrell, I accept his resignation. Steve Cohen has gotta make it happen.

    • mikeL

      that must be the extent of luis’ outside-the-box ‘thinking’

      and explains so much.

      (is he senile? i’d actually settle for a simply retarded replacement at this point)

  • Lenny65

    Uh yeah, you “coddle” your guys and keep them sound FOR September games, not IN September games. In September you gotta leave it all out there, as they say. And we’re not talking about pushing, say, deGrom past 130 pitches here or something equally risky.

  • Can you imagine anyone second guessing Rojas if he’d used Guillorme instead of Almora in that situation and Luis had, say, struck out? Thing is, I can’t. I mean, people love to complain and consensus is always difficult, but I can’t even conceive of anyone arguing with that decision, because it’s almost impossible to make the case that Almora had a better chance of extending that inning than Guillorme.

  • eric1973

    And Almora was just sent down, so in the most critical games of the season, Rojas is relying on virtual minor leaguers.

  • Daniel

    He really left it all out in the bullpen and dugout

  • SteveK

    Maybe he’s resting players for the Arizona Fall League?