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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 Damnedest of Things

Most of the time you don’t know. Sometimes you know just enough. Sunday I didn’t definitively know if the Mets were dead and buried at 4-0 after one; were alive and well at 4-4 in the middle of the fourth; had dirt kicked on them at 7-4 at the end of four; had sprung back to life at 7-7 in the top of the seventh; or had a stake driven through their hearts at 8-7 in the bottom of the eighth. I did know this, though: when Mark Canha socked his second home run of the day, the two-run shot that catapulted them ahead, 9-8, in the top of then ninth, I knew — knew — they had to score another run ASAP.

Because no lead is safe at Citizens Bank Park, no bullpen arm was a surefire bet, nobody with a bat in his hands wasn’t dangerous? Yeah, yeah, all that. But specifically because of this:

“If Franco can save this one, he has earned his money for the whole year. Here’s the pitch on the way… Line drive — caught! The game is over! The Mets win it! A line drive to Mario Diaz! And the Mets win the ballgame, they win the damn thing by a score of ten to nine!”

Over the many years I’ve taken it upon myself to track, examine and reflect upon Mets history broadly and granularly, I’ve grown very stringent in assigning relevance to precedent. Just because something happened some way once doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the same way again even if some similarities are in the air, and it doesn’t mean “it’s just like that time…”. Faint echoes are not facsimiles. Not every ball through a first baseman’s legs is Buckner. Not every home run robbed over an outfield fence is Endy. Not every shrug-your-shoulders blowout loss is 26-7. Neither every miracle nor every debacle is created equal. Hence, not every back-and-forth, high-scoring barnburner of a ballgame is a Damn Thing.

But when you’re in Philadelphia, and the pinball counters are reading TILT, and the outcome is in serious doubt late, then — and only then — you have a Damn Thing on your hands.

The phrase, as transcribed above, was burned into our collective fan consciousness by Bob Murphy on the night of July 25, 1990 at Veterans Stadium. The situation that developed in that ninth inning on that Wednesday night in the City of Brotherly Love and Utley Disgust, unfolded differently from the scenario unfolding in the same Pennsylvania burg 32 summers later. The 1990 Mets were up, 10-3, in the ninth. All they had to do was not allow seven or more runs before they could record three outs. They almost didn’t achieve this very doable baseline goal. Wally Whitehurst, then Julio Machado, then John Franco not only left the door ajar, they pushed the door wide open. That’s how a 10-3 laugher tightened into a 10-9 heartstopper. Finally, the game came down to Tom Nieto on third, Tommy Herr at bat and a sizzling liner to short, blessedly snagged by Mario Diaz.

Who’s to say what’s a Damn Thing? This guy!

The Mets, Murph reported, won the damn thing by a score of ten to nine. Since that night of “natural reaction” and “honest emotion” (“ball” was usually as far as Bob went with four-letter words), every large lead that threatens to get away but doesn’t might deserve a nod in the Damn Thing direction, but to my strict judgment, circumstances demand a 10-9 final for the label to begin to stick. Entering Sunday, the Mets had followed up the classic Damn Thing of July 25, 1990, with eleven more 10-9 victories (none since a Cincinnati matinee in 2011), but only two of those happened in Philadelphia. The other nine? Evocative by their score, but not Damn Things. The pair in Philadelphia?

Damn Things. One on July 7, 2008, one on September 12, 2009. They were damn special things in their moment, but they’re not Mets-famous like July 25, 1990. Bob Murphy made the mold that night. Then the mold was stored for rare future use.

It seemed worth carefully removing from storage Sunday evening in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. It seemed worth understanding that the 9-8 lead Canha had provided would not be enough. It could not be enough. Not in that town. Not against that opponent. Not when 9-8 could be tied by one run scoring in a place and on a day when one run was absolutely know-in-your-bones gonna score come the bottom of the ninth. Therefore, once I got done jumping up and down and screaming loud and louder after Mark went outta da pa(r)k, I implored the Mets to score another run in the top of the ninth. I implore the Mets to score runs in every inning every game, and they are selective in pretending to hear me, but this wasn’t negotiable. Go ahead, 10-8, or suffer the consequences.

Sometimes you know just enough. Sometimes Brandon Nimmo does just enough. Brandon — we’ve known and loved him since 2016, Ken Davidoff reminds us in an engaging profile of an engaging player — knew enough to lift one extra baseball into the Citizens Bank bleachers in the ninth inning, putting us ahead, 10-8, just as I requested.

So thank you, Brandon Nimmo, who probably wouldn’t let “damn’ cross his lips if a child was within 398 feet of the sound of the crack of his bat. That was the distance of Nimmo’s so-called insurance run. It went damn far, not just far enough over the fence but far toward pushing us into the win column.

The Mets encompassed a damn lot of contributors on Sunday, starting with an unlikely starter whose contribution did not shape up as extraordinary at initial glance. Jose Butto threw the first four innings of the game. It didn’t seem he’d last the first frame. Some major league debuts are electric; witness Brett Baty’s last Wednesday. Most major league debuts speak instead to nerves and inexperience. Butto showed both in falling behind by three runs after three batters and four runs after a first treacherous trip through the Phillie lineup. Butto would be back for the second and the third, calming down and posting consecutive zeroes.

His batterymate got him halfway to even in the second (Michael Perez driving in two and making me wonder what’s so indispensable about each half of Jomás McNido). The batter designated to hit for him edged him closer in the third (Daniel Vogelbach, looking a little tentative on the basepaths but hale and hearty at the plate, delivering an RBI double). His All-Star right fielder completed the preliminary comeback in the fourth (Starling Marte, out there day after day despite at least one leg clearly not operating at 100%, singling in Perez). Butto was, if nothing else, off the hook.

Jose Butto was on the hook again faster than you could say “Thomas Szapucki,” giving up Alec Bohm’s second three-run homer of the game in the fourth, setting the Mets back, 7-4. Most of the contingency starters the Mets have used this season have come through despite little warning or expectation. Butto joined the since-swapped Szapucki in what amounted to self-immolation. Perhaps the Mets shouldn’t try their luck with pitchers whose names at first mention sound like they were made up by middle-schoolers improvising a phony phone call.

Yet Butto ate up four innings on a day when notching twelve of twenty-seven outs was no small feat. Permitting seven earned runs in the process was not optimal, but neither was using a youngster who didn’t appear on anybody’s depth chart until maybe a week ago, or playing eight games in seven days versus your two primary division rivals on the road, the two most recent games having transpired over a span of approximately nine-and-a-half hours that ended barely fourteen hours prior to Sunday’s first pitch. In the week that preceded Butto’s introduction to our awareness, we also suddenly made the acquaintance of (deep breath) Michael Perez, Deven Marrero, R.J. Alvarez, Brett Baty, Sam Clay, Yolmer Sanchez and Rob Zastryzny. And about a minute after Jose Butto gave us the best four innings he was capable of giving us, we met our ninth new Met in seven days.

Everything ends, even a nearly four-and-a-half-hour regulation baseball game.

It was Nate Fisher. I remembered Nate Fisher as the protagonist from one of my two or three favorite TV dramas ever, Six Feet Under. Nate Fisher died toward the end of Six Feet Under, which isn’t a spoiler, because at the end of Six Feet Under, literally every character dies. (And if you haven’t yet watched a show that ceased production in 2005, I think you’re out of the spoiler zone.)

This wasn’t that Nate Fisher. This was the Nate Fisher who I can honestly say I’d never heard of until Saturday, and then tangentially from scrolling Twitter. I wasn’t alone in my unfamiliarity. Mark Canha admitted he looked in from left in the fifth inning and “didn’t even know who this guy was.” Good to know I’m not the only one not poring over the Syracuse roster.

If Fisher is returned to a farm club Upstate soon, it will be for roster crunch reasons only. We’ve seen how callup relievers who get used to what is considered excess are sent down the next day in favor of a fresher arm. Fisher was indeed used to an extent beyond what was probably projected. He pitched the fifth. He pitched the sixth before it was delayed by rain. He pitched the sixth after play resumed. He pitched the seventh. Nate Fisher not only ate innings and recorded outs, he permitted no runs in his major league debut. Oh, and he was out of baseball and working in the financial services industry not too long ago. (Shades of Todd Pratt managing a Domino’s between backup catching gigs.) Fortunately, the Mets made a wise Fisher investment when they signed the lefty in the offseason. There are no Buttoesque qualifiers necessary here. Nate saved the bullpen’s bacon and kept his strangers-are-just-teammates you haven’t yet met viable in a game you might have thought they were out of twice.

Down 4-0? Down 7-4? Down, yes. Out? Not when Mark goes outta da pa(r)k with two runners on in the seventh. Canha was downright ubiquitous in the Mets’ quest to keep coming back, if not alone in making it happen. Every Met, whether they’ve been around for a while or they’ve just arrived, seems to maintain the values system of a hoarder. They never throw away the slightest opportunity to win a game.

The first Canha homer, the three-run iteration, brought the Mets to 7-7 in the seventh, completing the second preliminary comeback of Sunday. Like the first one, it proved transitory and inconclusive. Fisher had done his duty. Buck Showalter turned to a more familiar reliever, Trevor May, for the eighth. A familiar nightmare, Jean Segura, made the move regrettable, pinch-hitting the home run that put the Phillies up, 8-7. Combine that latest twist/turn with some mounting frustration (the Mets spent all weekend hitting home runs just foul and seemingly leaving two runners on base per inning as if they intended to present themselves as the most generous of tippers), and maybe, you thought, this wasn’t really a 2022 Mets kind of day.

But of course it was. Because the Mets hoard every sliver of every opportunity; and Jeff McNeil doubled to lead off the top of the ninth versus well-worn David Robertson; and Canha took Robertson very deep to left, the 2022 Mets slipped ahead of the 2022 Phillies, 9-8. That was very helpful and very hopeful.

And it clearly wasn’t going to be enough, as noted above. Damn Thing, right? That’s why what Nimmo did by homering off Tyler Cyr (speaking of relievers making big league debuts), putting the Mets up, 10-8, was so crucial, transcending any policy offered by the likes of GEICO, Progressive, Allstate or Liberty Mutual.

The Mets had their so-called insurance run, yet “insurance” doesn’t begin to describe what the Mets needed heading into the bottom of the ninth, and it didn’t matter that trumpets were blowing in from the visitors’ bullpen. The Mets had a thoroughly rested Edwin Diaz, the best reliever in the universe this year, ready to preserve the victory. For twenty-one consecutive appearances, Edwin hadn’t given up a run. Twenty-two in ’22 would have been appropriate.

It was also going to be not possible. Not on this Sunday. Not with the Damn Thing circling Citizens Bank, a lovely structure that for all its red bricks and natural grass nonetheless harbors the rusty nails spirit of the Vet from down the block. It gets instinctively edgy in South Philadelphia when the ninth inning rolls around. The most elite of relievers wasn’t about to simply shoo away the dephlated Phillies. You could take all the precautions — gloveman Sanchez was in for Baty as the 183rd third baseman in Mets history — but you couldn’t avoid trouble. You just had to contain it.

Edwin and the Mets barely contained the threat. J.T. Realmuto singled. Nick Castellanos singled. Bryson Stott’s scary fly ball to deep right pushed Realmuto to third. Nick Maton’s less scary but effective fly to deep center scored Realmuto. Mets 10 Phillies 9. If that was the final, that would have been fine. We still had a ways to go. Segura walked, which was simultaneously discouraging and preferable to Segura homering. Castellanos was now on second.


This game was already in its fifth hour, not counting the 46-minute rain delay, and it was still in regulation. The Mets had pounded out sixteen hits, seven of which were of the extra-base stripe; collected five walks; featured an unknown rookie tossing three scoreless innings; unfurled what could accurately be described as clutch baseball heroics (both Canha’s go-ahead homer and the bat flip that celebrated it); and executed impressive defensive interludes destined to be obscured by the more obvious offensive fireworks. And the Phillies weren’t exactly spectators. Until the ninth, they never trailed. If this game didn’t have everything, it was bulging with inventory adequate to withstand a disruption to the supply chain. All it required was resolution. From the perspective of the Mets fan, what it really needed was some Sugar poured on it immediately.

Diaz was now facing pinch-hitter Darick Hall. The last time I noticed Darick Hall, he was pitching to save the Phillies’ pen on Saturday afternoon. That seemed months ago. The Phillies’ pen got expended exponentially as the weekend wound on. Same for the Mets’. The notion that Edwin’s was a fresh arm seemed absurd as he worked Hall to one-and-two. On his twenty-first pitch, Diaz threw a fastball that Hall let pass. He probably should’ve tried swinging, as it was called strike three. After four hours and twenty-six minutes, the Mets had prevailed by a score of ten to nine. It was the longest nine-inning win through which the Mets had ever persevered. Whether it was the most uproarious, most lunatic, most emblematic 2022 Mets win accomplished amidst a campaign constructed of chronic winning, you can decide.

Was it the damnedest of Damn Things? I don’t know, but it was up there.

16 comments to The Damnedest of Things

  • Curt Emanuel

    Nice way to come back to NY. Good recap. I liked this.

    “This was the Nate Fisher who I can honestly say I’d never heard of until Saturday, and then tangentially from scrolling Twitter. I wasn’t alone in my unfamiliarity. Mark Canha admitted he looked in from left in the fifth inning and “didn’t even know who this guy was.”

    I’ve been googling players’ names all weekend when they show up.

    Though apparently if you walked into a certain bank in Omaha, Fisher might seem more familiar. Adds new meaning to the term Farm System. Where’d he come from? Oh, we grabbed him off a street in Nebraska.

    Phillies using Robertson sure seemed like a bad idea. I don’t know the pitch count but the 6-out save he had Saturday was not routine.

    Taking 3 of 4 feels a lot different than a split after taking the 1st 2.

    • Jacobs27

      Re: using Robertson again, yeah, that really felt like desperation move. Good for him for being available, but it’s just malpractice to put your closer right back out there after getting six tough outs the night before.

      Of course the rookie that followed him didn’t look ready for prime time, unlike Nate Fisher, who may not be back from the dead, but tossing three scoreless in those conditions really was a miracle.

  • Jacobs27

    That game was a triumph, a triumph I tell you! And definitely not the most revolting display I’ve ever witnessed, that’s as far.

    Maybe it’s the “Damn Thing” or this being our last game this year in the city of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and Greg invoking one of his favorite dramas, but I thought I’d mention that I just saw they’re doing a newz reimagined production of 1776. I expect, as a fan of the original, I will feel like important things are lost in this new take, but I am intrigued by efforts to take the old and make it new. Baseball does it all the time, as chronicled here.

  • Matt in DE

    It was a good win, did not realize that the game went that long. Then again, I left my parents in NJ after the 4th, and was back home in DE to see the 7th inning on…speed limits on the Turnpike may or may not have been observed.

  • Ray

    I totally missed the Nate Fisher namecheck, but once you jogged the memory, I did remember that SFU itself had two of them. Just like our Bobs Miller and Bobbies of Jonesing. You might have missed the first Nate, but the bus didn’t. It ran over his new hearse in the opening scene of the pilot episode. Still, much like with these Mets, that little inconvenience wasn’t going to keep Nathaniel Senior (or “Late Nate” as some recapping service at the time called him) from putting in a series-long performance. His ghost, played in death as in life by the amazing Richard Jenkins, proceeded to haunt his son for the remainder of its long run.

    Not to be outdone in death, Senior’s younger son David went on to an even more gruesome project named Dexter, where he was haunted by HIS father’s ghost for the entire series. At this point, I’m waiting for Harrison Morgan to be called up from Binghamton when the rosters expand on September 1.

  • open the gates

    With everything the Mets gave us in 2022, they were lacking two things: a Bench Mob and a Damn Thing. And now they gave us both. This season continues to delight in ways both new and old.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Nice touch on WCBS by playing “They win the damn thing 10 to 9” at the end of the game.

    I can’t remember a series where they won three out of four and it felt like they lost three out of four.

    And speaking of Broadcaster quotes, I hope there’s not a “That’s Baseball” Yankee sweep coming up. One out of two I’ll allow, I need a rest from hanging on every game.

  • Curt Emanuel

    Been wondering who’d be our fill-in starter when we needed a 6th rotation arm. I’ve been figuring on Peterson taking Carrasco’s spot. Now thinking Fisher could be that 6th person – 10 of his 12 Syracuse appearances were as a starter. To me, Trevor has really established himself as an effective innings-eater when we need early relief. Though I guess after last night Fisher has shown he can do that too in a smaller sample size.

  • Eric

    To be kind to Butto, Bohm’s 2nd 3-run home run was opposite field barely fair, and Butto finished the 4th inning strong. It wasn’t a glowing 1st MLB start, but he showed signs that he can be a serviceable MLB pitcher with more development.

    After a promising start, Baty has looked worse and worse hitting and fielding. Still, I have a feeling he’ll play well in Yankee stadium, weather permitting, with a shot or two over the short porch in right.

    Now that the Mets are done dominating a good team in the Phillies and shoved them backwards in the division race, I want them to help the Mets in the Phillies’ remaining 7 games versus the Braves.

  • Surly Duff

    After he hit his go-ahead homer, Segura celebrated like it was 2008. I’m pretty sure he thought it was the ninth and he had a walk-off.

    Turns out, premature exuberance can inspire the other team if you’re not careful. And exuberance is always premature at Citizens Bank Park.

    • Eric

      If Canha was one-upping Segura, then imagine Stott or Maton’s celebration if their warning track fly-outs had been a game-winner off Diaz like it was 2019.

  • Greg Mitchell

    With Baty’s sudden decline (could bounce back tonight) I will note that Vientos is killing it again in AAA, 4 hits yesterday after several days of HRs and doubles. He is a monster–at bat.

    Let the Trevor May ______ (your word here) jokes begin…..

  • Left Coast Jerry

    As soon as the game ended yesterday, all I could think of was Steve Martin, as in wild and crazy.

    Also wondering, if Nate Fisher becomes a mainstay of the Mets staff, will he earn the nickname the Undertaker?

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