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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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The High Cost of Filling Up

A Mets fan pulls into a gas station — gas prices, huh? The Mets are playing. They’ve just fallen behind at Minute Maid Park, 5-1, on Yordan Alvarez’s second home run of the game. The Mets fan missed the first one. He also missed Alex Bregman’s, which preceded Alvarez’s first in the first. It hasn’t been a bad afternoon to have been away from the game. It’s not a great moment to choose now to get gas, in the macro sense, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

The Mets fan turns off the radio and the engine. He fills up. He pays. And pays. And gets back in the car, turns on the radio and hears starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who’s given up those three home runs, is leaving the game — with the trainer.

Man, they’re not kidding about the high cost of filling up.

Later, the Mets fan learns Carrasco’s lower back tightened, which isn’t the worst thing a Mets fan can hear about a starting pitcher who had to exit alongside a trainer. There’s been worse in 2022. Also, the Mets, though down by four runs to a premium opponent, make a game of it. Every reliever who follows Carrasco — Yoan Lopez, Tommy Hunter, Joely Rodriguez and a cobwebbed Edwin Diaz — keeps the dangerous Astro attack on E. The Mets get to Houston starter Luis Garcia in his third loop around the lineup. It’s the sixth. The Mets fan has driven home, parked and is pinging between radio and television on a dreary Wednesday afternoon. Outside, it’s been drizzling and spritzing. Inside, it’s beginning to sound and look hopeful.

Brandon Nimmo walks, because that’s what Brandon Nimmo does. Starling Marte doubles Nimmo home. Francisco Lindor singles to move Marte to third. The Mets fan isn’t watching, but is listening. He wants to hear Marte score on that single. The ball Lindor hit didn’t land in the right spot for that, he is told. Oh well. Here comes Ryne Stanek to relieve Garcia. Here comes Pete Alonso. Pete’s the potential tying run at the plate. A lot of potential brewing.

Pete lifts a fly ball. It’s enough to score Marte. It’s 5-3. We’re cooking. Aren’t we? These Mets find a way to tie games and win games. It’s only the sixth. A Luis Guillorme double sends Lindor as far as third. A Mark Canha walk, on a three-two pitch, loads the bases. The moment is pregnant with possibility. And you can’t be just a little bit pregnant, right?

Perhaps metaphors, like Mets, won’t carry the day to term. Eduardo Escobar, whose slump paused the evening before for a solo home run, pops up. He also slams his bat to the ground. The bat-slam has more force than the popup. Then Dom Smith, no longer of Syracuse and with a double and run scored to his credit earlier, is the best hope to bust Stanek’s piñata (hey, how did another metaphor get in here?). The candy remains undisturbed as Smith strikes out.

Turns out the Astros have pretty good relief pitching, too. Having missed their golden bases-loaded chance in the sixth, the Mets don’t arrange any opportunities nearly as good versus Hector Neris in the seventh, Old Friend Rafael Montero (who’s come down with a case of Paul Sewald Syndrome, growing reliable in his AL West incarnation) in the eighth or Ryan Pressly in the ninth. There are a couple of dubious balls called strikes by Adam Hamari that went against the Mets, but Rodriguez got a borderline call like that versus Alvarez, so the Mets fan’s criticism of Hamari is selective and a bit insincere.

The Mets lose an aggravating game, 5-3. It’s not their only loss in the last month, but it’s the first one in weeks that’s felt like it coulda/shoulda been a win. The Mets have punctuated their Ws with “you’re gonna lose a third of the time” Ls, mostly. The Mets fan is reminded it sucks to lose a close one. The Mets fan reminds himself that even if the Braves win Wednesday night (and they will), they still maintain a significant barrier to entry atop the NL East; enough off days ahead to cushion the blow of whatever extra rest Carrasco might need (if, in fact, lower back tightness is all that’s ailing Cookie); a trip to Miami, where the Marlins don’t appear to be the Astros; and a general manager who probably has a plethora of phone numbers of other GMs to keep checking on available pitching. The Mets fan also has those encouraging reports out of Binghamton on Max Scherzer, but geez, be careful about bringing Max’s oblique back a minute too soon.

Filling up at the pump in 2022? Not much fun. The Mets in 2022? Not always a joyride.

National League Town? There, the current decade means a Met utilityman who’s busy redefining the genre on a daily basis. Groom your beard and listen in.

5 comments to The High Cost of Filling Up

  • Seth

    Sure seems like our Mets don’t match up well with the Colt 45s… Houston might yet get its revenge for 1986. P.S. Thanks, Dom.

    • 0-6 at the Astrodome in 1969.
      2-4 at the Astrodome in 1986 (regular season — and that’s not even counting Cooter’s).
      Maybe not our kinda town, except when it really, really counts.

  • Eric

    Can’t say anymore that the Braves only beat bad teams while closing ground on the Mets. The race is on, and right now the Mets, while still good, look like the weaker team with injuries and slumps.

    I agree: With the Mets bullpen holding the Astros after knocking out Carrasco, the game felt like a comeback.

    If Escobar hasn’t found his bat by the time McNeil returns, Guillorme needs to take over Escobar’s playing time. Guillorme should be playing every day anyway, like Gimenez. Unlike Gimenez, Lindor doesn’t deserve to play everyday, either. The Mets aren’t scoring by slugging, which means they need a long line-up with at least productive outs.

    I hope Dom Smith hits enough to push Alonso to DH because I want Smith’s glove on the field more than I want Davis’s bat in the line-up.

    I don’t remember Montero throwing that kind of stuff as a Met.

    Carrasco’s back pain is ominous. If it’s what it could be, the Mets are down to Walker and Bassitt and hope. Even so, I agree: Don’t rush Scherzer back. If that means the Mets fall back to a wildcard, so be it.

  • open the gates

    The Montero thing kind of steams me. I mean, when this guy was called up, he was the big deal, and deGrom was a side story. And the Mets gave him multiple chances, and the guy did absolutely nothing. I am so tired of all the late bloomers blooming for someone else. Then again, Houston in particular has some history in that regard (see: Scott, M., circa 1986).