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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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Time to Take Out the Trash

When cleaning up after dinner, I gather momentum. It doesn’t matter that the Mets are playing. It doesn’t matter that the Mets are batting. If I have the garbage together, I want to tie it up and take it to the Dumpster. Might I miss something momentous? Probably. My non-Elias statistics tell me approximately 70% of Met home runs are hit when I step away from the television.

Sure enough, as I briefly left the living room during the fourth inning on Thursday night, the Mets ahead of the Marlins, 3-0, James McCann came to bat at Citi Field. And when I walked through the door again moments later, I was greeted with the following eyewitness report:

“You missed a three-run homer.”

I simultaneously sighed and celebrated before reaching for the rewind button of our remote control to see with my eyes what I hadn’t sensed was remotely possible. Maybe McCann would get a hit, but it hadn’t occurred to me he could hit a home run. I don’t mean merely in that situation. I mean not ever.

But James McCann — “Mac” to his manager and batterymate, I learned from the postgame interviews — is a real big leaguer with a real track record with a real ability to pop one over a fence rather than briefly above an infield. Mac homered once in April. He homered ten times last year. He’s now done it 77 times in his career.

Dispose of the Marlins? You Bette.

If I have cleanup momentum some night soon, I’ll still take out the trash when James McCann is batting, not because I don’t have confidence in the light-hitting catcher occasionally hitting heavier, but because if it worked this time, maybe it will work again. If not fully settling in and focusing my attention on a Mets game until the Mets are leading, 6-0, is what it takes, well, let’s get a 6-0 lead every night like it was Thursday night. I was settled and focused when J.D. Davis, somebody else whose at-bats I wouldn’t let the refuse fester an extra minute for, came up in the fifth with the bases loaded. A base hit, which is what Davis delivered when I was tying up the garbage an inning earlier, would have been nice. The grand slam he unloaded on Jimmy Yacabonis was four times better.

The Mets were on their way to a 10-0 win, produced in large part by the batters in the eight and nine spots in the order and protected mostly by Trevor Williams, the de facto sixth starter in the Mets’ normally five-man rotation. Williams has given the club yeoman relief in 2022 and oh no starting, mostly, except when the Mets score 10 runs. Williams has notched two wins this year, both that ended with finals of Mets 10 somebody else 0. Thursday night he shut out Miami on two hits for seven innings. Trevor is definitely a pitcher who can handle prosperity.

The Mets are looking pretty prosperous themselves again. As late as the ninth inning on Wednesday night in Cincinnati, I was beginning to wonder. They hadn’t hit on Tuesday. They hadn’t hit, at least in the clutch, for eight innings on Wednesday. I could feel myself giving into my lesser angels and wondering WTF is wrong with this team after a half-season of almost never removing my Buck-colored glasses. But then Starling Marte roped a line drive double to left that was just fair; the top of the tenth exploded with timely offense; and the Mets we remembered so fondly from previous weeks and months rematerialized. The bottom of the order and the addendum to the rotation took care of the Marlins. The Cardinals took care of the Braves in eleven with me digging deep, beneath my well of anti-Redbird animus, to urge them on — “c’mon you stupid Cardinals” was my polite suggestion. The lead in the division returned to three-and-a-half. Chris Bassitt, who might want to rethink his communications ethic (inform your team if you test positive for COVID; don’t tell everyone else you don’t plan to), is back. We occasionally lose our grip on our faith. The ballclub for which we root maintains its bedrock belief in its abilities despite our simmering fear. They know there are 162 games. They know they are capable each night.

Don’t throw that out. It’s a good quality to keep around.

Keith Hernandez is the focus of this week’s episode of National League Town. Settle in for a discussion of No. 17 here.

6 comments to Time to Take Out the Trash

  • Seth

    Ha, so McCann’s ABs are known as “garbage time?”

  • Eric

    I was pleased and surprised the Mets beat up on a soft-tossing lefty in Castano who stifled the Mets less than 2 weeks ago. Hopefully, breaking into the Marlins bullpen early helps the rest of the series, though the Marlins relievers who mopped up after Yacabonis didn’t throw many or stressful pitches.

    Besides the big 3 against the Mets, the Braves will be playing 7 against the Nationals until the all-star break. So just holding onto the current division lead or even losing just 1 game off of it into the all-star break would be a win.

    • Eric

      As far as Bassitt, his complaint is that he self-reported and was IL’ed despite feeling well enough to pitch. But by his own admission he can’t say he was asymptomatic. He self-tested for COVID-19 because he was feeling off (abnormally fatigued) to begin with.

      On one hand, maybe Bassitt got sick because other MLB players or personnel are getting sick but aren’t self-reporting. On the other hand, if other MLB people are getting sick and aren’t self-reporting, Bassitt is right that it’s hurting the players and teams that are scrupulously following the protocol.

  • mikeL

    i see i’m in good complany with you greg, i
    quite often miss homers. a shrug and a walk to the kitchen only to see what i missed.
    last night i actually caught both big blasts, but had nonidea mccann’s was with men on base.

    likewise got up for a minute tues after the mets batted in the first, came back to watch max’s return, but he’d already stationed himself in the dugout after 9 pitches. wasn’t ths end of his dominance.

    if that’s what it takes!

    even a hapless team like the nats has to get hot.
    now would be a really good time.
    good time for the mets to finally sweep one too!

  • eric1973

    When I heard you were taking out the trash, I thought you were driving McCann back to Syracuse.