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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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So Many Little Things

Saturday night’s penultimate Mets game of 2021 had a little moment near the end that will swiftly be forgotten, given the meaninglessness of the contest. Which is only natural. But if things had been different — if, say, the Mets had avoided their August swan dive and been playing for a postseason berth — that little moment would have discussed and remembered and bemoaned for years to come.

The prelude: Carlos Carrasco started and for once wasn’t cuffed around in the first inning. This time, however, he was battered in the middle innings. It’s a shame: Carrasco arrived in New York with expectations that he’d be a rotation mainstay and a fan favorite, but instead he was hurt and then he was bad and we never really got to know him beyond the indignities that first innings brought him. That needn’t be the end of his Mets story, but it sure wasn’t the beginning anyone wanted.

Down 5-0, the Mets fought back to 6-3 going to the top of the ninth, and then things got interesting. James McCann doubled, moving to third on a wild pitch after Luis Guillorme lined out. Kevin Pillar tripled him in, then came in himself on an RBI single by Brandon Nimmo. Hello, the Mets were down by only a run with the tying run on first and one out.

Francisco Lindor — who’d collected his 1,000th hit a little earlier — hit a deep but not actually dangerous fly to center for the second out. Enter Jacob Webb, who walked Michael Conforto, moving Nimmo to second and putting the tying run in scoring position with Pete Alonso at the plate.

And then that little moment happened: Webb spiked his first pitch to Alonso into the dirt, moving the runners to second and third. Now the go-ahead run was in scoring position too.

And so Alonso was intentionally walked, loading the bases and bringing Jonathan Villar to the plate instead.

Webb’s game plan against Villar was both obvious and effective: Show him the fastball, then tease him with changeups right below the strike zone. It’s easy to say, “So don’t swing at those,” except none of us is Villar trying, in a split-second, to tell pitches apart that are designed to look the same. Villar swung over two changeups, took one for a ball that was probably a strike, and hit a little tapper to second for the ballgame.

Two on, two out, Alonso at the plate, and a wild pitch moves the runners up. That’s good! Except wait, it isn’t. In fact it was the furthest thing from good, bringing a less dangerous hitter to the plate and turning Alonso into a helpless observer. A little thing in a game not destined to be remembered, but pennant races have turned on similarly little things in more high-profile games. And what’s a baseball season, except a big sprawling collection of mostly little things?

4 comments to So Many Little Things

  • Greg Pattenaude

    Wasn’t that the perfect snapshot of this season? Maybe the last three seasons? Like a racehorse finally driving to the finish line with no hope of winning only to come up out the money and deceiving folks into believing he’ll come through next time? Or, expecting that Mr. Alonso would have produced in that ultimate “Game Situation”, as Tim McCarver used to describe such spots? Sigh. Anyway, today is the saddest day on the calendar.

  • Dave

    All will be good when Satan’s team, the one that plays in a different outer borough, gets eliminated from the postseason. Unless that doesn’t happen, which will be further proof that dark, evil forces control the universe. It’s not like we haven’t had any evidence supporting that in recent years.

    The Mets’ 2021 season was a big sprawling (although there are plenty of other appropriate adjectives) collection of mostly little things that went terribly, horribly wrong. And a handful of big things that had no better results. Now we get to see how much patience the fabulously wealthy owner has for things that don’t go the way he wants them to. Unfortunately, keeping Alderson on board might indicate more patience than I want him to have.

  • Seth

    I was hoping someone would use the word “penultimate” on Saturday, and you did not disappoint!

  • Eric

    My takeaway from game 161 on the schedule is the Giants lost, thus capping their win total at 107, short of the ’86 Mets’ 108 wins. I know that’s not a record. Still, I feel better every season when no team, except the Mets of course, reaches 108 wins.

    Villar was a markedly worse hitter with RISP this season.