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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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‘Old Friends’ Power Rankings

Hey old friends
How do we stay old friends
Who is to say, old friends
How an old friendship survives?

One day chums
Having a laugh a minute
One day comes
And they’re a part of your lives

New friends pour
Through the revolving door
Maybe there’s one, that’s more
If you find one
That’ll do

Stephen Sondheim

1. Noah Syndergaard Juan Lagares
When we saw the schedule for 2022, we circled LAA because we knew it would represent a chance for us to say hello to dear Old Friend Noah Syndergaard Juan Lagares, a distinguished former Met of long standing who was a big part of our team through rough times and good times, including the best times of relatively recent times, the 2015 National League championship season. No doubt when we looked forward to playing the Angels this year, the first Old Friend we thought of was 2016 All-Star Noah Syndergaard 2014 Gold Glove recipient Juan Lagares, who absolutely meets the above description and has actually taken the field versus the Mets in the current series in Anaheim. Lagares may not have excelled for the Angels the way he once did for the Mets, but there he is, showing up like he’s supposed to. When the Angels won on Saturday night, 11-6, it may have been Mike Trout (two homers), Shohei Ohtani (a triple short of the cycle), Jared Walsh (an actual cycle) or Michael Lorenzen (six-and-a-third strong innings) who drew the attention of others, but for us, win or lose, this series was always going to be about catching up with Old Friend Noah Syndergaard Juan Lagares.

2. Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler is the embodiment of what I’ve come to think of as the Old Friends syndrome. I liked Zack Wheeler a lot when he was a Met. I don’t like Zack Wheeler very much as a Phillie. This is through no fault of Zack Wheeler’s, despite it having been his agency — and his free agency — at the root of his decision to sign with a team that plays our team a lot…a decision he reached once our team couldn’t be bothered to retain his services. The rooting process would necessarily turn on Zack, given that uniform he slipped on after leaving the Mets, though I’m surprised how fiercely I prefer he not do well. He’s no longer a Met. He’s a Phillie. He’s also still good at what he does. It seems more complicated than “he spurned us, we scorn him,” but basically that’s how Mettily we roll along. We fancy ourselves loyal to a fault. It’s not our fault Old Friends move on.

3. Travis d’Arnaud
There is a life cycle to Old Friends. It doesn’t always work exactly this way, but it goes more or less something like this:
• I’m sorry to see him leave.
• He’s signed somewhere else — he’ll always be a Met to me.
• He’s trying on his new jersey for the press — he looks so strange in that get-up, but good luck to him.
• When he faces the Mets, I’ll definitely give him a nice hand.
• He sure did well against us…well, I guess he was motivated.
• He seems to have gotten it together…we shouldn’t have let him go.
• He had another great game against us — cut it out already.
• He’s going to the All-Star Game/playing in the postseason/winning an award — eff this guy.
• BOO!
Later, much later, toward the end of his career as he’s barely hanging on, maybe we’ll see his name resurface when he signs a minor league contract and finagles an invitation to Spring Training somewhere and feel good for him. Even later, in retirement, perhaps he’ll drop by as part of a Mets Old Timers Day or similar event and he’ll slip the old jersey back on and we’ll feel all warm and fuzzy once more that this guy was one of ours when he was.
I look forward to that happening with Travis d’Arnaud, starting catcher for the 2015 National League champion Mets, because right now, he’s a fucking Brave. BOO!

4. Steven Matz
Steven, the ur-Long Island product, should have stayed a Met his whole career provided he’d pitched well enough to merit continuation in our ranks and hearts. Matz stopped pitching well as a Met and he was traded. Trades happen. Changes of scenery can help even kids who grew up in Stony Brook. Steven Matz the Blue Jay was wished well. Steven Matz the free agent nearly came home. Steven Matz instead went to St. Louis, the only non-division rival we still sort of believe in our bones is in the NL East, and praised Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and “the best fans in baseball” to the high heavens upon his arrival. He was still a great story in 2015 and an intermittently decent pitcher through 2020. But until further notice, he can go throw to Travis d’Arnaud.

5. Wilmer Flores
The exception that proves the rule. Wilmer Flores homered off Jacob deGrom as an Arizona Diamondback. Winked at Jake before doing it! Went to San Francisco and makes it his business to try to beat the Mets as a Giant because this is the business Wilmer Flores has chosen. But he’s Wilmer Flores. We love Wilmer Flores. We’ll always love Wilmer Flores. However, should an October outcome boil down to Max Scherzer facing Wilmer Flores this year, whatever Max throws this guy is to be called a strike. We won’t complain when it is.

6. Justin Turner
I’m beginning to think the cavalier non-tendering of the Mets’ Justin-of-all-trades in 2013, after the kid played everywhere and never complained, might have been a mistake.

7. Amed Rosario
It’s not that I miss Amed Rosario playing shortstop for the New York Mets. It’s that I invested four years of my rooting life in Amed Rosario developing into the superstar we were informed he was destined to be. It was coming, I was sure. Then, one January day, he (with other potential infield bright light Andrés Giménez) was sent away to obtain Francisco Lindor. I was now one of those FBI agents on The Sopranos taking down a picture of a suspected mobster from the bulletin board and tossing it into the trash after learning the member of such-and-such crime family was sleeping with the fishes and thus was no longer of use to us. There was no more point to hovering over Rosario’s progress. The only time I check Cleveland Guardian statistics now is when Lindor is in a slump.

8. Oliver Perez
The last member of the 2006 National League East champions still plying his craft in the major leagues as 2022 began, Ollie has recently been sighted pitching for Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League. One win, one loss, one save, forty years of age. Dude got us through six innings of a Game Seven with a little help from his friend Endy. The long, appreciative memory soars over the messiness of 2010 and remembers Ollie just fondly enough to dig his continued life in baseball. Old Timers Day 2026, I am so there for this guy (assuming he’s retired by then).

9. Michael Conforto
When announcers or reporters invoke the phrase “old friend” to refer to a former member of your team who is now out to best your team, I think it’s one of those “bless his heart!” things. People who say “bless his heart!” don’t really want to bless the heart of whoever they’re talking about. In one segment of the country, that attitude is referred to as Minnesota Nice. It’s not as nice as it sounds. When lingering free agent Michael Conforto eventually signs with somebody who isn’t the Mets, I’d like to believe I’ll remember Michael Conforto the 2015 rookie sparkplug who grew into a dangerous hitter and all-around top-notch player and not find some reason to forget he was one of our main guys for a long time. If he puts on a particularly offensive uniform — or finds a way to not be on the field when the Mets come to his new town after talking a big game in advance of that visit — maybe the better angels of his Met past won’t be uppermost in my mind. If the Mets are going badly, maybe we’ll have room for nuance, because an ex-Met tends to look better than a current Met if the current Mets are the pits. If the Mets are going well, we’ll be so enchanted with our new friends that we’ll see everybody who’s not with us as thoroughly against us. We’ve been going well this year and that’s how we treat our Old Friends these days. The nerve of the Wheelers, Matzes and d’Arnauds getting on with their careers! Ah, we’re fans. We oughta make more sense than we do sometimes. In the meantime, amid the exploits of New Friends Mark Canha and Starling Marte, not to mention the first career homer launched late Saturday by fresh face Khalil Lee, when was the last time you considered our outfield and gave more than passing thought to Michael Conforto?

10. Aaron Loup
An Angel teammate of Noah Syndergaard Juan Lagares. When we looked forward to seeing Noah Syndergaard Juan Lagares in Anaheim, it occurred to us we’d reacquaint as well with 2021 MVM front man Aaron Loup. Sure enough, Loup got out a couple of Mets on Saturday night and then presumably retired to his mini-fridge of Busch Light. We won’t begrudge him his refreshment. It’s not like he’s Noah Syndergaard.

NOT RANKED: Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand of the Phillies; Guillermo Heredia, Darren O’Day and Collin McHugh of the Braves; Erasmo Ramirez of the Nationals; Kevin Pillar of the Dodgers; the aforementioned Giménez of the Guardians; Paul Sewald of the Mariners; Stephen Tarpley and Alejandro de Aza of the Long Island Ducks; Robinson Cano of the El Paso Chihuahuas; Matt Harvey of the Orioles (currently serving a sixty-day suspension from Major League Baseball); free agent COO Jeff Wilpon; Noah Syndergaard of the Angels.

FOR A FURTHER DISCUSSION OF OLD FRIENDS: Listen to the current episode of National League Town.

16 comments to ‘Old Friends’ Power Rankings

  • Eric

    I habitually look up Lindor’s stats at or Baseball Reference and then immediately look up Gimenez’s stats for comparison, starting with their ages. I don’t care about their salaries or controllability in the age of Cohen, but Cohen can’t pay Lindor enough to become as young and on the rise as Gimenez.

    The curse of Wilmer Flores is David Wright cutting in front of him to steal the play when Wright should have been running back to (or at least looking back at) 3rd base to hold the runner, and then throwing a stenosis-induced lollipop to 1st base, which rushed a panicked Duda into throwing home wildly. If Flores fields that ball, Harvey wins game 5 followed by deGrom game 6, Syndergaard game 7.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Anyone else getting worried out there? Carrasco and Bassitt have been mainly awful for past 3 weeks and Walker (and now Megil and Peterson) always a question. The bullpen, as many feared, is now an outright disaster, beyond Diaz and (maybe) Smith (who has taken some lumps himself in the past month). I have posted here on the surprisingly wonderful efforts of our young relievers but they all went kaput within 3 days this week: Nogosek, Holderman (now also on DL), and Reed. Medina got sent down again. Lugo not reliable as in days of yore. Shreve bad. I presume only reason Rodriquez still on staff is to try to justify the laughable Castro deal–and he’s never been a lefty specialist anyway and walks 5 guys per 9 innings.

    If front office waits until mid-July to trade for a top lefty and another addition we may be 3 games behind the Braves–again–by then.

    • Worried? No. Concerned? Always.

    • Eric

      Yes, I’m worried.

      Mets are in 1st place by 5 games. Last year at game 61, the Mets were in 1st place by 5.5 games.

      Last year, the Mets were in 1st game by 5 games as late as game 104. They fell into a tie for 1st place at game 110. At game 116, they fell out of 1st place for good.

      So after the hot start to this season, the Mets are in no better position than they were at the same point last season. Worse, the white-hot Braves started their perennial run to the top of the division much earlier this year. Plus the Phillies climbed back to .500 and the Marlins are rising fast, too, though they thankfully both lost today.

    • Seth

      The last time I WASN’T worried was March 27, when deGrom and Scherzer pitched in the same spring training game.

  • Dave

    Great list. I would have included “Cash Considerations” in the penultimate spot under Not Ranked.

  • open the gates

    Great list, except I never considered Jeff Wilpon to be a friend. More like a rich acquaintance’s bratty kid.

    Maybe we can also think about the “old friends” who are still getting a piece of every Met ticket despite never having played a single game in this millennium. I’m thinking, of course, of Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen. I’m sure they have friendly thoughts every time they cash Steve Cohen’s checks.

  • eric1973

    Hey Greg,
    Not a Day Goes By,
    that I am not concerned.

  • Curt Emanuel

    Wilmer was my biggest worry out of that group. I was afraid he’d be the next ex-Met who breaks out to start raking for 30 HRs and 100 RBIs on a regular basis. The short Arizona season raised my anxiety – batting close to .320? TDA did the same that year for Atlanta but he was less of a worry for me – as with Turner, I thought we’d given him opportunities, if he broke out so be it (though if we weren’t going to trade him during that offseason, more patience early in 2019 would have been nice).

    Fortunately both have pretty much maintained their status as useful, occasionally dangerous, but not star players. I’m good with this. I wish both well – somewhat.

  • Bruce From Forest Hills

    Great article. But unlike you, I think about Michael Conforto all the time. Especially when I saw Pete Alonzo on the ground after being hit by Yu Darvish. The Mets will need Michael Conforto, or someone just like him, before it’s all done. They still have 15 games left against the Braves. Hopefully, the Mets can get the same sort of power infusion at this year’s trade deadline that the Braves got in 2021

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