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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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What Comes After

On Sunday night Edwin Diaz — he of the electric arsenal and its sometimes self-electrocuting results — stood on the mound and stared in at Bryce Harper, probably the league’s MVP and a longtime thorn in the Mets’ side who seemed about the dimensions of a redwood just then. Two outs in the ninth, 3-2 Mets lead, tying run on first.

Diaz threw a fastball, one that caught a lot of plate, Harper connected, and imagine if this game had actually mattered.

If you’re a Phillies fan, it did — they were just a game behind the Braves, and like the Mets, Atlanta has found first place in the National League East to be a crown that sits uneasy. But for us Mets fans, not so much. There was the spring’s injury-plagued failure to achieve escape velocity, early summer’s scuffles and stumbles, August’s plummet and now September’s irrelevancy. When I went to Rome two Fridays ago, the Mets had at least a puncher’s chance of clawing their way back into the division race or chasing down the second wild-card spot; by the time I returned on Saturday, carrying extra pounds and memories of having seen a lot of astonishing art, the Cardinals and Phillies had turned the calendar to 2022.

What was left was a sort of afterimage of contention, marked by the weekend’s games winding up on Fox and ESPN. Saturday’s was a dud, but Sunday night’s game belonging to a national crew was doubly too bad, because it deserved Gary Cohen and Co. instead of ESPN’s broadcast. That was chiefly a showcase for Alex Rodriguez continuing to road-test his eyes/iPad aphorism (it’s not working, A-Rod) and vaguely grouse about players not being robots. As Mets fans, we at least deserved our hometown chroniclers, who would have had a lot to say about Rich Hill‘s canny though abbreviated start; the moment of Harperesque daring/Mets passivity that let the Phils steal their first run; the Mets’ inability to solve Kyle Gibson‘s curveball until Dom Smith caught one and smacked it into the corner to the tie the game; Aaron Loup staring down first Harper and then J.T. Realmuto, with the latter confrontation having not exactly been the plan; Jeff McNeil‘s homer that put the Mets ahead and made us mourn what could have been; Harper’s temporarily game-saving catch on a little duck snort by Kevin Pillar; and finally Diaz’s uncertain navigation of the ninth’s typically troubled waters.

That’s a lengthy chronicle, because it was a damn good game — tidy except when it wasn’t, and marked by riveting confrontations and an appropriately tense endgame. It was all there in the moment that followed Harper connecting: Bryce’s eyes following the ball on an arc to left, first with hope and then with dull dismay; Diaz pointing skyward, but not exactly with the instant confidence accorded a lazy pop-up (or a game-ending homer surrendered by Hansel Robles, but that’s a post for a previous season); and finally McNeil cradling the ball a step from the warning track for the final out.

There’s still some beauty in those afterimages — a last couple of weeks of baseball to squeeze in before playoffs that will go on us without us and then winter’s staring out the window and urging the calendar along. I want to see 13 RBIs for Pete Alonso, a cameo for Noah Syndergaard (and maybe Jose Martinez, because why the hell not), and some more positive signs from Michael Conforto and McNeil and other MIA Mets. Maybe I’ll get those things and maybe I won’t — baseball parcels out its rewards as it sees fit, and it’s singularly uninterested in your wishlist or anyone else’s. Whatever happens, even the dregs of a lost season offers some moments to enjoy. Here’s to two more weeks, and whatever those moments prove to be.

11 comments to What Comes After

  • Eric

    “we at least deserved our hometown chroniclers”

    Wayne Randazzo and guest color commentator Terry Collins did a fine job on the radio. Saturday’s game was a lost opportunity for Gary Cohen to switch to the radio call since Randazzo was out.

    I’m glad the Mets didn’t totally roll over for the Phillies like when the Cardinals used the Mets as a stepping stone to the 2nd wildcard.

    (Speaking of which, all things considered, bigger 2021 letdown: Padres or Mets? The Yankees haven’t entered that debate yet.)

    The Mets started the Phillies series 7 down to the Braves in the loss column and finished the series 7 down. Besides chopping more days off the last fraction of the season, the Mets are now down 4 in the loss column to the Phillies. Which means in the improbable happenstance the Mets close enough ground on the Braves to make the season ender meaningful, that probably also will mean the Phillies take 1st place if the Mets tie or overtake the Braves.

  • Seth

    It’s bad enough to have two games without our commentators, but having that 2 weekends in a row at the end of the season is particularly cruel.

    Also, I’d love to know deGrom’s status before heading into the offseason.

  • Matt in DE

    As the Mets are pretty much toast at this point, as a resident of the Greater-Philadelphia area, the more palatable endgame is the Braves taking the division (again), otherwise, I may have to endure near-2007 levels of crap-catching from friends and co-workers. Probably more like 2008, but still…

    Thank you for these enlightening posts, as always.

  • Seth

    Welcome back from Rome, hope you’re over your “Met-lag.”

  • open the gates

    Playing Out the Orange and Blue String, Chapter 42… welcome back, Jason.

  • eric1973

    Hey Seth, same status as usual! I think he is playing catch in the outfield! He seems to do this every day, even when he was in the rotation.

    What if he actually hurt himself wrestling in the outfield? I think he did that before his latest injury.

    • mikeL

      ….or perhaps the oltherwise low-key degrom angered the baseball gods talking publicly about wanting inner-circle HOF recognition – before even getting through his seemingly magical season, let alone a career!

      i do hope jake can return to form. what *are* the mets without him? (a: we’re soaking in it!)

      yes welcome back jason. you spent the time well!

  • eric1973

    Jake doesn’t have the body type to throw every pitch 100mph. The analytics geniuses should have come up with that, but they only know spreadsheets, not baseball. Rojas and Zack Scott certainly would not know, and now it cost us “the pennant.”

    A baseball guy would have told Jake to tone it down and get your CG victories. For you newbies, and new-stat-mongers, CG means “Complete Game.”

    • mikeL

      brilliant eric!
      i wondered all (first-half) season how one might get jake to tone it down a bit.

      ironically, inducing hard-throwers to go long into games might be the best way to maintain their health and careers.

      imagine if CGs (and firemen who could deliver 3 innings of heat) were valued again?? sign me up!