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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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Ready, Steady, Go!

Taijuan Walker looked to be experiencing back discomfort on the mound and in the dugout throughout Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. He pitched seven shutout innings while fielding his position like an athlete who happens to be the pitcher. We should all experience such discomfort. “A little tight, nothing serious,” was Tai’s postgame self-diagnosis.

The National League East race is also nothing serious, with the Mets at the moment leading the pack by 6½ games. It’s not even a little tight. Your first-place New York Mets continue to reign over their division with the greatest of ease, though I’m sure it’s not as easy as it’s appeared playing ten series to date in 2022 and losing none of them. The closest thing to a complaint one could muster is there hasn’t been a Met winning streak that’s exceeded three games. There also hasn’t been a losing streak that’s exceeded two games, and there’s been only one of those. So you’ll forgive the complaints department if they hear your gripe; shut their window; and knock off early for the week.

The matinee victory that bumped the Mets up to 22-11 was mostly methodical. They didn’t hit a ton, but they got on base effectively and crossed the plate enough so that sweating wasn’t in the forecast. Thanks primarily to three ribbies from Mark Canha (two in the first on a single, one on a solo homer in the ninth), the Mets filled the runs column sufficiently. Thanks to Walker achieving adequate looseness, they were covered for run prevention. And thanks to the Nationals traversing the bases without regard for likely outcomes, we can add a sparkling web gem to the season’s developing highlight reel.

We’d call the defining defensive play of the season thus far a breathtaking double play, except the official scorer says it was a pair of outs that just happened to occur in the wake of the same batted ball. However you scored it, the Nationals got lost in the agate type. In the fourth, Juan Soto was on second after a leadoff double. Josh Bell grounded sharply to the third base side. Soto, having heard Bell, responded like Pavlov’s baserunner and took off for third, salivating for the treat he was convinced awaited him. Luis Guillorme noticed and chased Soto back toward second, tossing the ball to Francisco Lindor like Luis does everything — professionally. Soto responded with a 180 toward third. Lindor calmly beat him there with a throw to a fundamentally sound Walker. Prodigy Juan tried to take the pitcher out with a slide that would have fit better during Washington Commanders blocking drills. Whatever sport Soto was playing, he reached neither the end zone nor the bag. One out.

But wait! Taijuan saw Bell making for second and alertly threw over. This part wasn’t pretty until it was. Walker wound up flinging the ball into right field, but maybe that was intrinsic to some greater plan, for Bell, not satisfied by simply replacing Soto on second, took his own shot at third. Unfortunately for Josh, Starling Marte, not satisfied to be a spectator, backed up the throw, grabbed it, and whipped it in to Lindor, who had Bell beat by the approximate length of the Washington Monument if you were to lay it on its side. Speaking of notably placed statuary in the nation’s capital, Soto was still loitering facedown in the dirt in front of third while Francisco was tagging his wayward teammate. The Nationals entered the day 11-21. Maybe the three-year plunge from winning the World Series to/through the NL East basement is taking its toll on Washington’s wunderkind.

You really wanna mark those two outs 5-6-1-9-6, but, for the record, it was 5-6-1, then 9-6. However it gets put into the books, it was paving the way for the rest of the game to arrive there eventually. Seth Lugo pitched the eighth without incident. Soto got a shred of revenge by taking Edwin Diaz deep in the ninth, but at that instant, there was a four-run lead, there was nobody on base, there were two out, and not even the tableau of the most menacing of Nats homering off our formerly beleaguered closer in what used to be his personal house of horrors could ruin a pleasant afternoon. The Mets finished their Acela jaunt with a 4-1 win, having taken four of six from the Phillies and Nationals, with last weekend’s rain the only truly vexing opponent they encountered along the way. Next, in a vagary of Interleague scheduling, they welcome the Seattle Mariners to Citi Field for the very first time.

These Mets seem to engage in the business of the unprecedented quite often of late.

7 comments to Ready, Steady, Go!

  • Eric

    I can’t credit the Mets for the 4th inning play. Soto had no business running to 3rd base on a sharp grounder straight at Guillorme. Then Soto just laid on the bag with Bell running up behind him. It looked like Soto thought DiSarcina was telling him to slide into 3rd base, not Bell. Then Soto argued with the umpire about something. I don’t recall a worse sequence of baserunning.

    Megill must have been tipping his pitches. I don’t think a team as bad as the Nationals could have hit him that hard otherwise.

  • open the gates

    I credit the Mets for the play. Last August’s team would have found a way to mess up the play somehow, then one of the relievers would have served up a grand slam to some Washington scrub, and the next day we’d all be talking about how the Mets can’t even take advantage of an absolute gift from the baseball deities. Good heads-up play shouldn’t be taken for granted, even in the majors.

    Have to say, it’s such a pleasure seeing a Mets team playing fundamentally sound baseball. This play is just the tip of the iceberg. This run didn’t happen by accident. All credit to the new skipper and his coaches.

  • Dave

    Good teams take advantage of opponents’ mistakes; in recent years we’ve seen too many examples of the Mets failing to do so. Yes, that baserunning by the Nats deserves a soundtrack of Yackety Sax, but every Met involved in the play was positioned perfectly, especially Marte…many/most OF’ers see a rundown play and say to themselves “eh, I can sit this one out.”

    Everyone says that Showalter pays more attention to detail than anyone in the game, and it’s been evident. Part of the reason this team is winning is because they’re doing the little things right. #GoodFundies!

  • Seth

    Love the way Taijuan basically put Soto down with a quick elbow — I realize it was mostly self-defense, but that was a great move.

  • 9th string catcher

    The team is just solid all around. I think the biggest change for this team as opposed to 2021 is the BB IQ. Defensively, Canha and Marte are almost always well positioned, alert and quick. Escobar isn’t hitting much but probably the most reliable fielder I’ve seen there in decades. And you do not want to run on McCann.

    Offensively, this is a team that can wear pitchers out. Long counts, high OBP, low Ks. Top to bottom, there isn’t an easy out until you get to the catchers, and even then they try to put the ball the other way or in the air when there are guys on base.

    Hope they can keep at it. It’s a very watchable team.

  • Eric

    The 2nd out on the 4th inning play was initiated because Walker made a wild throw from his knees while tangled with Soto when he should have held onto the ball. Bell was popping up from his slide by the time Walker’s throw skipped past 2nd base.

    The only thing Walker did right with the throw was throwing it hard so it reached Marte fast.

    The only Met that deserves praise on the play is Marte. He backed up Walker’s wild throw as neatly as he backed up Nimmo letting the ball bounce past him off the wall.

    But shoddy baserunning played a part in the 2nd out, too. Bell’s snap decision to run to 3rd when the ball skipped past 2nd base is understandable and not nearly as bad as Soto’s decision to go to 3rd base on a sharp grounder in front of him.

    However, a better baserunner would have noted that Marte and his strong arm were backing up Walker’s throw, like a base stealer looks for the centerfielder when a catcher’s throw gets past 2nd base. And Bell is not a base stealer. He’s not fast enough to trust he can take 3rd base on any errant throw into right field. Or, if it’s too much to ask of Bell to turn his head, DiSarcina should have noticed Marte and signaled Bell to stay at 2nd base.