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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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A Reminder That Style Points Don't Exist

Saturday night’s Mets win over the Pirates had a certain family resemblance to Friday night’s win: smothering starting pitching, enough offense to secure the victory, not enough offense to feel secure about said victory.

The margin was more comfortable, to be sure, but once again the Mets proved curiously allergic to the tack-on hit that would have made the rest of the game a formality: Eduardo Escobar‘s three-run homer started the scoring, but the remaining two runs came on bases-loaded walks to Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso.

But a critical thing to internalize as a baseball fan (and keep remembering every time you forget it) is that there are no style points. Wins don’t come with asterisks to indicate a whew or a meh, just as losses aren’t classified differently if an awww or an attaboy is involved. You win or you lose, full stop.

So let’s review:

  • The key words up there are smothering starting pitching. If you get that night after night, most other flaws will prove forgivable. Chris Bassitt was terrific as he so often is, using his Saberhagenesque arsenal to carve up the Pirates. His line looks uneventful, but Bassitt fanned hitters with runners on to finish the third, fourth and sixth innings. (His obliteration of Ke’Bryan Hayes to finish his start was particularly cruel.) To cite an antique, now derided stat that remains stubbornly dear to my heart, Bassitt now has 14 wins with a little season left to run, and he’s in good company: Carlos Carrasco has 15 and Taijuan Walker has 12, with the two-headed, oft-sidelined beast of Scherzer/deGrom combining for 14 more.
  • An Alonso bases-loaded walk may not feel like thunder for the highlight reel, but just a week or so ago he was clearly out of sorts at the plate, with the greatest impacts coming from his bat meeting his knee while steam came out of his ears. Alonso not expanding the zone and taking what pitchers give him instead of chasing unobtainable heroics is the foundation for what we all want, even if it means he only trots only a quarter of the distance we have in mind. (More antique stats: He’s also still on pace to break the Mets’ single-season RBI record, though at current rates he’d edge it rather than obliterating it. Style points again!)

The Mets beat the Pirates. That’s what matters. Hopefully they’ll beat them again in a few hours. That matters too. The mechanics of a win’s construction are fun to dissect, whether giddily or with a side of fretfulness, but they’re of secondary importance to whether or not there’s something to dissect in the first place.

4 comments to A Reminder That Style Points Don’t Exist

  • open the gates

    Funny thing: last week, fans were complaining that the Mets were only winning laughers: “Can’t these guys show some character and win some close games?” This week, the same fans were complaining about the close games: “Can’t the Mets blow it open and give us some laughers? Can’t they just seal the deal early?” Sheesh. I would point those Met fans to the very same team 12 months ago and advise them to count their blessings.

  • Eric

    The Mets have been 8-7 since the Dodgers series. If as expected the Mets had won every September series against sub-.500 teams with no sweeps, consistent with the Mets MO all season until September, they’d be 11-4. The Braves are 10-4 in September.

    After today’s game, the Mets have 5 series remaining. If the Mets have returned to form winning series against all comers but not sweeping them, that’s a 10-4 or 9-5 record after today. That includes winning the Braves series, which would secure the tie breaker.

    Would that be enough to beat the Braves? I’m not hopeful. The problem is the Braves have been sweeping sub-.500 teams, Giants excepted.

    The Mets needed to win the Nationals and Cubs series to maintain a step on the Braves’ winning pace. Instead the Mets fumbled away the needed cushion.

    To compensate for their failure, the Mets needed help from the Phillies that hasn’t come. I had hoped the Phillies would make a stand with their thinning lead in the wildcard race on the line, but they’re being steamrolled by the Braves. If the Phillies don’t make a stand in their remaining 5 games with the Braves, the Braves look poised to steamroll every other team left on their schedule besides the Mets.

    Now the Mets need help from the sub-.500 teams on the Braves remaining schedule which seems unlikely. Without that help, the Mets need to sweep series, not just win them, as well as win the Braves series in order to win the division.

    The offense needs to stay awake to do that.

  • Eric

    To Jason’s points, I’ll add that Peterson’s outing out of the bullpen was promising, home run notwithstanding, given his poor last start and previous relief outings.

    Starters’ outings, even the smothering ones, are shorter in the playoffs, and the Mets’ best starters aren’t rubber-armed to begin with. So the middle relievers are likely to called on for 9-plus outs most playoff games, not to mention the need for a reliable lefty besides Rodriguez. Peterson can be critical in both relief roles, assuming he won’t be needed to cover for one of the fragile veteran Mets starters.

  • eric1973

    Beware of those who say wins don’t mean anything. You can always find someone who says Tom Seaver stinks.

    Doesn’t mean they’re right.