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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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Now Rob Manfred Has Also Messed Up the Air

The Mets have now played the Mariners 16 times in their history, but such a matchup will always feel a bit like a videogame showdown with a weird little cousin. “You want to be the Mariners? C’mon, really? It’s the AL West — I don’t know any of those names. Hell, half of them look made up.”

Still, a surprising (at least to me) 103 Mets have also been Mariners, going back to original M’s Leroy Stanton, Doc Medich and Tommy Moore. Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, inevitably, are the most famous members of Club M&M, though for fans of a certain age John Olerud will always the one who hurts the most. And some recent Met discards have had success out in Seattle, most notably Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald.

A bunch of Mariners possibly fictitious and apparently real showed up at Citi Field Friday night, minus former Met prospect Jarred Kelenic and his .140 batting average, to face Max Scherzer and the Mets. What followed was a taut, entertaining and ultimately frustrating game.

Scherzer put on what we’ve come to take for granted as his usual show — doing unspeakable things to hitters with his four top-flight pitches, stalking around in the dugout with his performatively terrible hair, and putting his team in position to win. He saved the best for last: After walking new Seattle import Mike Ford on a 3-2 changeup that sure looked like it dented the bottom of the strike zone, a more-infuriated-than-usual Scherzer went back to work with the bases loaded and one out against Steven Souza Jr., one of those Mariners I’m not sure wasn’t invented by a EA Sports intern. Scherzer’s final pitch of the night was a slider that Souza spanked to Eduardo Escobar who converted it into a tidy 5-4-3 double play.

That just meant the game was tied, though — the Mariners had broken through for a lone run against Scherzer in the fourth, when chaos avatar and outfield provocateur Jesse Winker slashed a cutter that got too much plate for an RBI single. Meanwhile, the Mets were stymied by Marco Gonzales, a soft-tossing lefty who kept changing the eye levels of their hitters, allowing him to throw 88 MPH fastballs past them up high. It was an impressive performance — Buck Showalter would probably call Gonzales a low-heart-beat guy — marred only by the fact that it came in service of the wrong team.

Drew Smith replaced Scherzer and hit his first bump of the season, losing the strike zone and then (it turned out) the game on an RBI single to Ty France. The guy on the long side of that score? None other than Paul Sewald, about whom my feelings are somehow complicated in a single direction. Sewald was ill-used as well as unlucky as a Met, forced to work against his strengths, and became immediately more effective under a different coaching regimen. Good for him. But still — that was Paul Sewald out there. Doughty but doomed Paul Sewald, Jonah of the RMS Bullpen, forever tricking you with stretches of mild competence until he hung another slider and reminded you who he was and apparently always would be.

Sewald didn’t hang a slider Tuesday night, but he did leave a fastball in the middle of the plate to Pete Alonso in the eighth. Alonso tattooed it. He demolished it. He vaporized it. The only problem was that the ball shed about 50 feet of expected trajectory in flight, somehow coming down in a Mariner glove on the warning track.

The same thing had happened to Jeff McNeil against Gonzales — a home run transmuted into a long out.

Now, a rational person would blame the fact that the Mets and Mariners were playing in conditions typically found at the bottom of an aquarium, with every ball leaving the bat with a wet blanket over it. But I am not at the moment a rational person — not after watching Paul Fucking Sewald, who lost his 14 first fucking decisions as a Met, pick up the fucking win in his debut as a Citi Field opponent. Of course he did, because baseball is relentlessly weird, but get in my way during this rant and I’ll go Full Scherzer on you.

No, I choose to blame the ball, which Rob Manfred has apparently dictated should now have a core of lead instead of springy stuff. Or perhaps Manfred has messed up the Earth’s very atmosphere as part of his endless quest to inflict additional problems on baseball while doing nothing to address its actual ones. I mean, I wouldn’t put it past him.

It’s also possible that the Mets just dropped a close game because stuff happens. But I’d rather blame Manfred.

7 comments to Now Rob Manfred Has Also Messed Up the Air

  • Greg Mitchell

    Hard to offer doubts about a 22-12 team but when do we get concerned about the hitting (dead ball or not)? Have been carried by starting pitching but heralded arrivals Escobar has been truly awful at bat, Marte shown flashes but take a look at that b.a. and slugging pct., Canha good on base but no pop… Dom and J.D. below Mendoza line and also no pop, McCann another zero–and no one in minors to replace him (and Alvarez at .213). And when do we notice that “the new” Lindor now has exact same line as last year and is fielding much worse? Yeah, I know, we are six games in front but we are 34 games in and now can expect no production from catching position….

    • Eric

      After last year’s 103 days in first place before finishing 11.5 games out, a 6 game lead, 34 games in, is no shield to criticism. No less when the worrisome signs look distressingly familiar.

      I like that Marte, Canha, and Escobar are veteran all-around pros. But like Cuddyer did, veterans in their early-mid 30s sometimes fall off a cliff. The drop in their hitting makes me worry they’re veterans who are a little too far past age 30 and can’t rejuvenate with Cano’s PEDs. And not just hitting. Marte’s ratio of caught stealing is worrying.

      Without the juiced ball, Smith and Davis’s power seem to be warning track. Davis is at least making contact, just not getting hits. Smith is frustrating. Like I rooted for Lagares, I want Smith to hit well enough to keep his glove on the field.

      A broken bone on a catcher’s glove hand does does not augur well for his defense or offense.

  • Eric

    Olerud is my all-time favorite Met.

    The at-bat of the game was Marte striking out with runners on 2nd and 3rd. How did he swing through that Sewald pitch? It reminded me of Addison Reed throwing what looked like straight just-okay stuff over the heart of the plate and hitters swinging through it.

    Scherzer was deGromed. I prefer fewer home runs in principle, but that’s easier to say when the Mets are knocking in runs without them. The offense has been regressing with holes widening up and down the line-up. The new Mets need to pick it back up.

    I’m starting to think maybe the Mets should have held onto Cano longer.

  • Eric

    This question has been somewhat precluded for this series by the Mariners sending down Kelenic, but I’ll ask it anyway:

    Worse trade — top OF prospect Kelenic et al for Diaz and Cano? Or, top OF prospect Crow-Armstrong for half-year rental Baez and bullpen filler Williams?

  • Seth

    The problem is we’ve been through this offensive malaise last year, so we are understandably worried that it could re-emerge, 22-12 record and all.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Gimenez hitting .328 for Cleveland with OPS of .913 which would lead Mets and far far above Lindor and all the imports. Still just 23. And not making 34 million a year for next decade.