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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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Lightning Crashes

When your team picks up a player or three at the trade deadline, you bank on capturing lightning in a bottle. Maybe three bottles. An arm or two to get you over. A quick bat attached to some quicker legs and surer hands. Come on over and lift us up. Yesterday we were strangers. Today we are comrades. Tomorrow…who knows?

The current version of tomorrow has arrived with resounding silence. That invigorating spate of Hot Stove arrivals and corresponding departures suddenly halted, a cacophonous crescendo transforming instantly into a locked out void. In the hours before Major League Baseball latched the door on the Major League Baseball Players Association, we were so busy virtually embracing our four fresh potential impact players that we barely had a breath to spare to note the au revoirs of those who had gained our devotion briefly, maybe longer.

Rich Hill, acquired (a great baseball word) from the Rays on July 23, signed with the Red Sox — one year, $5 million. He’s signed with the Red Sox seven times in a professional career that’s spanned nearly two decades. It’s as if Hill and Boston have one of those sitcom marriages that leads inevitably to a compulsory episode of “let’s renew our vows,” and the network keeps rerunning it. Hill has pitched for more than one out of every three major league teams. We were his eleventh. He made twelve starts for us. Most of them were competent. None was lengthy. One was a win for him, his last. I felt good that Rich got on the board for us. I wouldn’t have minded having him back so we could receive one of his five-inning specials every five days, but didn’t expect it. Hill will turn 42 when Spring Training is supposed to be in progress. Even our youthless movement has its limits.

Javy Baez, acquired from the Cubs on July 30, signed with the Tigers. I saw a picture of Baez trying on his Detroit cap. The look on his face suggested a thought bubble of “oh, so that’s what that D stands for.” Upon making the acquaintance of ye olde English logo, Javy said, “I’m really excited to be a Tiger now,” which probably syncs up with his excitement to accept six years for $140 million. I found myself excited when Javy hit, ran and fielded as a Met. I’d hoped he’d stick around, especially since getting him acquired required the trading of the previous season’s first-round draft pick. A couple of months with Baez flashing his ability in the middle infield turned the thought of second base without him rather drab. The striking out that he’s done most of his career? The bit with the thumbs down? I defer to Carly Simon’s approach regarding her bad news boyfriend Jesse: “I can easily change my mind about you.” That’s what happened with Javy. Like good ol’ Rich, he didn’t lead us to the playoffs after the deadline, but it was, in its way, a fun fling.

Marcus Stroman, acquired from the Blue Jays on July 28, 2019, signed with the Cubs. Marcus did stick around, long enough so that you forgot he was brought in as a difference-maker for a playoff push that didn’t push all the way through. Stroman was tantalizing in talent in ’19, and if he didn’t pitch the Mets to the Wild Card, he surely wasn’t the reason they fell short. Then came a COVID opt-out, which could have ended his stay at Citi, given that his contract was expiring in 2020, but the Mets made him a qualifying offer and Marcus smartly accepted. After a year of inactivity, he was the most active of Mets starters: 33 games, 179 innings and an ERA that ticked barely above 3. While deGrom went down and Walker blew up, Stroman stood sturdy. I found myself convinced as 2021 proceeded that Marcus was mostly using the Mets as a marketing platform for his brand, but once you realize franchises use players as a marketing platform for their brand, well, touché. A rotation that included deGrom, Scherzer, Stroman and others would have been more promising than whatever 2022 holds without him, but I never had the sense Marcus wasn’t going to test his worth (three years, $71 million) and discover it elsewhere — and I didn’t get the inkling that the hometown kid and the hometown team were meant to last. He was from Long Island and he succeeded in New York, but attachments are lately becoming more and more detachable.

Syndergaard, Loup, these three, all outta here! in a matter of weeks. Yet life, if not further offseason activity, is scheduled to go on. Compelling evidence of such a transitory existence could definitely make you pause to mull the comings and goings of people set against the mysterious backdrops of time and place had we not acquired those swell new Mets who will magically slide into our affections and replace the departed five in our concerns. We have Scherzer and Marte and Escobar and Canha. Chances are strong we’ll grow attached to these four, at least for a while, as soon as MLB reopens its doors and allows us the chance to legitimately latch on.

10 comments to Lightning Crashes

  • eric1973

    These deletions are NOTHING compared to what my Oklahoma Sooners are going through!


    (Editor’s Note: I have no connection to the state of Oklahoma. Born and bred Brooklynite, who happened to fall in love with Barry Switzer, Thomas Lott, Elvis Peacock, and the Wishbone offense.)

  • eric1973

    And as for Javy, to paraphrase Carly:

    I won’t cut fresh flowers for you, and I WON’T wait by the phone for you.

  • Seth

    Most of this will make very little difference if the team can’t find a way to cut down on the injuries next year. And it wasn’t just in 2021, it’s been an ongoing problem. If a month into the season, the important parts start going on the IL as they did this year, we are sunk unless they add significant depth. “Bench mob” is a cute moniker, not a winning strategy.

  • Dave

    I’m pretty sure Hill actually works for a temp agency who can provide you with an Unspectacular But Reliable Veteran Starter (c) for your short-term needs. Same agency that once sent us Aaron Harang. So there was no reason to expect him to stick around.

    But losing Baez and Stro hurts, loved watching them. Yes, signing Max is great, but this team would’ve been better with those two.

  • Paul Hadsall

    I was hoping Marcus Stroman would be back, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Here’s hoping the Mets can still add some rotation pieces before the season starts.

  • Eric

    I had hoped Long Island’s Own Marcus Stroman would re-up with the Mets. The Mets need more pitchers and they’re losing more pitchers than they’re gaining.

    By the way, Matt Harvey is a free agent.

  • Harvey

    Pitching? There’s always Jered Eickhoff.

  • open the gates

    If MLB winds up hiring replacement players a la ’95, you can bet that Eickhoff will be the ace of the Mets staff.

    As of now, it appears that the Mets rotation is deGrom, Scherzer, and… what weather-related word rhymes with “Scherzer”?

  • Paul from Brooklyn

    GIL IS IN! GIL IS IN!!!!!!!!!!!!LGM! GIL IS IN!