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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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Lacking Fizz

If you choose to watch the Mets generate yet another one-run loss, you could do worse than to take it in from up on Carbonation Ridge. That’s the Citi Field section sponsored by a major soft drink concern. When the sponsor pays me to identify it by brand name, I’ll give them a plug.

The Mets pay me in aggravation for my devotion. As if I wouldn’t be hopelessly devoted to their cause for free. At least they made the weather nice Friday night and the perspective from the aforementioned right field corner alluring. When it’s not too hot, too sunny or too windy, I like it up there on the Ridge. I haven’t sat in those seats in many a season, probably because it’s usually too hot, too sunny or too windy. Citi Field suddenly has many a season behind it. Friday night was my 285th game in the “new” ballpark. My record within is 160-125. After 285 games at Shea Stadium, my record there was 160-125. You can’t plan numbers like that.

My record (technically the Mets’ with me in attendance) was saddled with its latest defeat because, well, the Mets don’t seem very good. They didn’t seem very good versus the Cardinals when I watched them on TV earlier in the week and they didn’t seem any better versus the Phillies when I watched from above on Friday. I had nice weather and I had my buddy Dan, who invited me to join him for the aggravation. Aggravation with somebody whose company you enjoy is better than aggravation in a vacuum.

Up on Carbonation Ridge, our fellow Mets fans, without provocation, yelled at Bryce Harper that he sucked. We didn’t join them in loudly and beerily expressing that sentiment, but we did add our voices to a couple of rounds of “Lets Go Mets!” that rose organically. “Let’s Go Mets!” is so invigorating when the scoreboard doesn’t cue the crowd. Just because these things were said, however, didn’t make them so. Bryce Harper, in terms of baseball skills, doesn’t suck. The Mets, in terms of going anywhere, aren’t.

The Mets wore black because that’s now what they do on Fridays at home. I unearthed my black cap from 1999 and ensembled it with a black t-shirt commemorating the address of Shea. I’m a team player. Pete Alonso dreamed of 40,000 black-clad Mets fans creating a blackout effect. No such thing came close to occurring, not even with the complimentary distribution of 20,000 black ALONSO 20 t-shirts. No blackout.

The offense was on brownout, if that helps.

On the out-of-town scoreboard, perhaps in the spirit of a black background, there was a score that went unidentified all night. It indicated No. 99 pitched versus No. 45 for the first several innings. The pitching column was lit and the score was lit, but the spot where the teams are supposed to be posted wasn’t. I went around the majors and couldn’t divine whose game it was tracking. Dan finally figured out it was OUR score — PHI @ NYM — except without the teams being specified. It was right there in the middle of the elsewhere in the National League action despite not being out of town. When you’re a Mets fan, you forever find yourself thinking, “That’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.” Also when you’re a Mets fan, you need to maintain a high bar for strange things lest you wonder why everything around you is forever unhinged. Still, a phantom out-of-town score that reflected the in-our-face game yet refused to tell us exactly that’s what it was…it was, in context, one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

Phantom of the Scoreboard.

No. 99, Taijuan Walker pitched well. Less well than No. 45, Zack Wheeler, who used to work here. Less long than Walker wished. Tai went five. He could’ve gone six. Luis Rojas and the spreadsheets somebody sends him said he couldn’t. Bye Tai. Bye that additional inning of starting pitching that, by domino effect, might have prevented two bullpen runs and therefore made the ultimate difference. Or maybe Rojas, Jeremy Hefner and whoever presses “send” are right, and we just want to blame somebody. Walker finds a way to give up runs, too.

This is the part where it must be noted that it didn’t really matter which Met pitched when because hardly any Met hit at critical junctures. The three Met runs in this 4-3 loss struck Dan and me as reaching the ceiling of Met potential. We found it within us to marvel at Javy Baez (one RBI), feel relief for Michael Conforto (one RBI) and cheer wildly when Kevin Pillar (one RBI) was ruled safe rather than out upon further review when he stretched a single into a double. Chaka Khan and we being told something good via the headsets connected to Chelsea was the highlight of the evening. Plus the weather. And the view. And the nine innings/four hours I got to spend with Dan for the first time since 2017. Oh, and a pregame sausage and onions — hold the peppers. I have one of those a year. Two at most. But none since 2019. Maybe 2018. Many a season at Citi Field. Often it’s what doesn’t show up in the box score that keeps a fella coming back for more.

Hold the aggravation.

13 comments to Lacking Fizz

  • JoeNunz

    So, despite your seats this game wasn’t a “Classic” and without a lead in the 9th you got “Zero Sugar”.

    But at least 35 games over .500 is “The Real Thing”,

  • Iowa Pete

    Yet another game in which Looie the gasbag yanks a starter way too soon.

  • Ken K.

    What’s remarkable about 160-125 in EITHER place is that it’s 160-125. Not, as odds would probably dictate over any random sample of 285 Met games, more or less the opposite. Or do you somehow maybe even a little subconsciously pick teams they are more likely to beat. No, wait, then you wouldn’t have gone last night…

    Nice work. You may very well be in 1st place of all Met fans who have attended 570 or more games, career.

  • Harvey Poris

    Greg’s records are surprising, however, the Mets do have winning records at both venues. At Shea, they were 1,859-1,713 and at Citi 501-494. Now if he had a winning record at the Polo Grounds, that would be Amazin’. The Metsies were 56-105 at there.

  • dmg

    While it’s true a game of baseball contains the possibility of showing us something we’ve never seen before, I’d not included the scoreboard in that calculus. Until last night. Thanks for making an otherwise tedious evening (all the Mets’ limitations on well-worn display) into a memorable one, Greg.

  • eric1973

    Saw the Mets 1986 show last nite, 4 hours straight, and found it Excellent and Exhausting (Greg–Telegenic as usual!). No wonder they did not win in ’87. All were still hungover from ’86. What a bunch of irresponsible underachieving jerks.

    Cashen was right: Nobody let us down more than Strawberry and Gooden. And Cashen was wrong in getting rid of Knight and Mitchell. He did not understand the value of HEART.

    Loved McReynolds. He did something good every day. Straw was right, that McR and Hojo had the attitude of “Whatever.”

    I’ll never forget when Whitey and Pena took Hojo’s bat right out of his hands to check for illegalities, and Hojo just stood there like a little kid.

    Sparky was right when he said:
    “I would not want to be in a foxhole with Howard Johnson.”

    Oh, and on Rojas pinch-hitting Davis for McNeil: Guess Almora and Mazeika were both unavailable. You got a brain too late, Luis.

  • Eric

    Greg, bottom of the 4th inning, did you think Alonso could and should have tagged up and scored on the McNeil out?

    Braves lost again, which I point out to emphasize that the Braves and the Phillies, if they end up using this series to catch up, have not been running away with the division since they pulled ahead of the Mets. It’s a ‘You had to be there’ kind of distinction, but they haven’t been better teams. The Mets have been worse.

  • eric1973

    Rojas says it is “unrealistic” for starters to go 7 or more, and for relievers to go more than 1 inning.

    That is because this is how YOU and your analytics team trained them to perform.

    All YOUR doing, all YOUR nonsense.

  • open the gates

    Re Rojas and his junior analytics team:

    The first Met games I attended as a kid was a doubleheader in ’83. Both games went 12 innings. The first game became a bullpen game because Walt Terrell couldn’t make it out of the first inning. In the second game, an aging Mike Torrez pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball. Jesse Orosco won both games in relief, pitching multiple innings in each games.

    Luis and his geniuses would have lost both games. No question. The Mets manager at the time (I think it was Frank Howard) played to win. These guys play to protect their investments.