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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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Lost Weekend

Something I do when making real-world decisions is ask, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” and then adjusting my plans as needed. (“I could get hit by a car that I won’t know is coming around that corner” = maybe don’t do that, while “the weather means the flight’s canceled and I get there in the morning instead of tonight” = don’t stress about it overmuch.)

Well, what just finished happening in Atlanta was, in fact, the worst thing that could happen, and it sucked. The Mets lost all three games, the NL East lead, the NL East tiebreaker, and barring the kind of derailment that hasn’t happened to the Braves since late May, the division.

Like I said, it sucked.

Lining up two aces and a demi-ace didn’t work, as all three failed to deliver the kind of shutdown performance you’d hoped for. (Which is not the same as the kind of shutdown performance that’s guaranteed, let alone that you’re entitled to.) More damagingly, the Mets’ bats were AWOL when really needed, doing almost zip with runners in scoring position — once again, this team really, really misses Starling Marte.

Meanwhile, the Braves did what they’ve done since Memorial Day; hats off to them, however reluctantly, for doing it. Add Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson to the lengthy roster of Met killers, and could someone please tell Travis d’Arnaud that we all hate Jeff Wilpon too, and that’s enough already? I could break down Sunday night’s game beyond that, but I don’t particularly want to and I doubt you want me to either.’

It sucked, and the Mets go home to play three with the Nats (weather permitting, which is its own little bit of irony) watch the Braves clinch at some point and, I dunno, have some sort of sour, perfunctory celebration of Plan B. It’s about as bittersweet an ending to a ~100-win season as I can imagine, one I have no doubt will leave me muttering and clenching my jaw all the way to Friday.

Ah, but there’s the thing: Friday.

The Mets are going to be part of the playoffs. They will play games beyond No. 162 — even if they somehow lose all three against the Nats and we all greet them with boos in their Game 163.

Does that take any of the sting out of “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

It doesn’t right now, not even a little bit. It won’t when the Braves clinch. It won’t while we’re muttering about failures against the Nats, whether those failures are momentary and ephemeral or conspicuous and decisive.

But come Friday? I think it should. Because the playing field will be reset, the goals will be new and what happened before won’t matter.

Yes, we’ll have a harder road through the playoffs on paper. But I recall looking at a soft September schedule and tallying up likely Ws and Ls, and look how that worked out. No, we won’t be able to line up our top pitchers and have them all rested the way we wanted. But we just lined up our top pitchers, and look how that worked out. And I’m not convinced that rust won’t be a bigger factor than rest — just ask the 2015 Mets about those days off between the Cubs and the Royals.

On Friday everything resets. Focus on that, and not on what might have been. And try not to spend the week letting the gap drive you crazy.

34 comments to Lost Weekend

  • Matt

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince myself by Friday that there’s a reset and what happened before doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned this WAS the first playoff series. They needed just one win to control their destiny and at no point all weekend did a win feel possible.

    If anything, this weekend was big neon sign flashing “Don’t Get Excited For the Playoffs”.

    This hurts like 2007 and 2008 all over again. Another epic collapse, just over a longer span. They’ve got nothing to play for the next three games and could well fall short of that nice round 100 win number. A magical season ending with abject disappointment. The team that showed up this weekend is going to get splattered by the Dodgers, if they manage to squeak by the Padres.

    • Eric

      The 2022 Mets failed their 1st playoff test. The attendance and reaction from fans in Monday’s game and the rest of the National series will be interesting.

      The lack of excitement for the 2015 Yankees when they stumbled into the wildcard game, which the Yankees weakly lost, comes to mind. It may take a return to mid-season form and win in game 1 of the WC series to re-ignite the fan base.

      • DAK442

        I too am curious about the crowd tonight. I’ll be a part of it. When I scooped these up Thursday I couldn’t believe great seats for the likely clincher were readily available and fairly cheap. Sigh.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Cheers Jason. I needed those words of comfort. Lets focus on Friday

  • Curt Emanuel

    If there’s a silver lining – there isn’t but maybe a lining not made of toxic sludge – it’s that we are close enough to elimination to set up for the WC rather than worry about wins and losses vs the Nats.

    Thought we were good enough to at least get 1 this weekend. We weren’t. Momentarily not seeing much hope but I expect I will by Friday.

    All season I’ve thought the Braves were better built to win more over 162 games but with our pitching we were better suited to winning a playoff series. Having to recalibrate after this.

    • Eric

      “we are close enough to elimination to set up for the WC rather than worry about wins and losses vs the Nats”

      That’s the thing — tragic number is 1, the Mets aren’t eliminated yet. I don’t see the Mets switching modes until the 1 flips to 0.

      That could happen tonight but the Marlins did just spoil the Brewers. While the Braves are superior to the Brewers, the Marlins might stretch it out. And they only need to stretch it out for 3 games.

      Which is to say, as bad as being swept and losing 6 of the last 7 to the Braves are when they only needed 1 more win for the tiebreaker, it will be just as bad if the Braves do lose out to the Marlins but win the division anyway because the Mets self-eliminated by losing to the Nationals. Worse if the Braves lose out but the Mets lose a game because they switched to playoff prep with the tragic number still at 1.

      So best possibility is the Braves lose out and the Mets win out. 2nd best possibility is the Braves blow out the Marlins early tonight (their game starts 6:40 pm versus Mets 7:10 pm) so the Mets can switch to playoff prep ASAP.

      Of course, the Mets, whose winning MO has been series wins and not sweeps, can well lose 1 to the Nationals while prioritizing winning over playoff prep.

  • eric1973

    It would have been nice to win 1 of these 3 exhibition games, but we didn’t have to be made to look like chumps.

    We lost 6 of the last 7 games we played against Atlanta, and even winning 1 or 2 of them would have put us in the driver’s seat for First Place.

    Our starting pitchers were all total disappointments, and hopefully will flip the switch when the games count again. Lindor looked as if he was swinging a bat twice as heavy as usual, and he needs to get a batting helmet that fits. Go back to the Harpo Marx hairdo, man.

    Our BIG3 is now all set to go on Friday!

  • sturock

    I think they should rest some guys during the series with the Nats and get them ready for Friday. The Mets looked tired– both physically and, I think, mentally– this past weekend. The lack of depth has forced the same guys out there day after day. Give Lindor, Alonso, et al., a couple days off their feet and go into the San Diego series refreshed instead of gassed.

    One more thing: think of how far the Mets have come in the past year. The Braves series sucked because we expect the Mets to win and it’s been a long time since we’ve had that expectation.

  • Lenny65

    It wasn’t so much that they lost, it was how they lost. They weren’t heartbreaking losses that hinged on a few bad beats and unfortunate bounces. They were listless, lifeless losses, with no urgency or immediacy. This whole thing about the Mets being “tired” is itself tiresome. Fact is that they’ve been shuffling around since early September, and I don’t understand it at all.

    • mikeski

      Our top 3 starting pitchers, 2 of whom are considered to be among the best of all time, completely sh*t the bed.

      None of them could hold a lead for even one inning.

      The purported strength of the team.

    • Eric

      “Fact is that they’ve been shuffling around since early September, and I don’t understand it at all.”

      Agreed. We can pinpoint the day. On Friday September 2nd the Mets followed winning the Dodgers series by beating the Nationals like the contender they were. Smooth sailing. The yo-yo began the next day.

      Why the Mets suddenly became a different team that day is a mystery. Marte’s injury had a ripple effect, eg, compelling Canha to play everyday which killed his hitherto professional bat, but we can’t say that event was the turning point since the finger broke on September 6th.

  • CharlieH

    This all felt very 2007 to me.

    • Lenny65

      2007 felt inevitable. You could see it happening, literally everything went wrong and they had a different goat (or goats) every day. They’d score eight runs, and the bullpen would implode. They’d get a good start, and score nothing. This was IMO different. I mean first of all, they did make the post-season, unlike 2007. And it wasn’t so dramatic this time. It was more like a slow fade, with some nice “tease” wins thrown in there to further disorient us.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    One F*cking Game! ONE F*CKING GAME!! That’s all they had to win.

    Well, now we know for sure who the 3rd best team in the NL playoffs is. And it’s one without an unlikely Daniel Murphy in the wings (don’t give me that Vogelbach shit, he’s a lifetime .217 hitter, Murphy was up around .280 when he went nuts) or a sure thing Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup. It’s over, sorry.

    Nice year, but…

  • Jon

    Thinking about “what’s the worst that can happen?” is very good advice, so that you are not blind-sided when the worst happens. But equally foolish is not thinking about the best that can happen. In this case, it’s not miraculously winning the division, that won’t happen, but: winning 100 games, winning the wild card series and giving the Dodgers a run for their money. That can happen, and how likely is it for our Big Three to consecutively fail twice in a row?

  • UpstateNYMfan

    Just really glad to see that no one appears to be applying lipstick to this porcine barn yard stinker. “P-U!” my much younger, much, much less vulgar self would be saying after such a series. First, a word of apology to Mssrs. Swanson and Olson; your good names, I must humbly admit, did not deserve such plosive and fricative-filled besmirching by yours truly. But, seriously; what the heck?! One homer a game, for each of you, every single night?!! Well, I implore the both of you; keep chopping away at your new “1HR/g” clip. At least my Met fan “the stars are aligned against us” paranoia might desist a little (and you might help a few certain Met pitcher psyches too). And to the Mets themselves; please consider a cursory historical review of certain Mets seasons (’98, ’07, and ’08 come to mind, but I’m sure there are others). Not sure the deep-dive in Met season-ending lore will awaken your bats or sharpen your pitch location, but the effort, should, in all likelihood, elevate an increase in the “awareness flow” within the empathetic pathways connecting the Met fan nervous system to the Met player musculoskeletal system. That can’t hurt, right? At least, that’s my hope.

  • Lenny65

    Yup,the Dodgers series. That was the last game before the Mets turned into a pumpkin. I figured OK, it’s a minor letdown after a tense series, but they’ll get over it. But they never did. They’ve been an entirely different team since then. Since that series they’ve been playing like a team just playing out the string. I don’t know what happened or why it’s happening, but it is and it’s obvious. I’ve never felt this kind of dread going into a playoff series. I suppose it’s possible that they’ll suddenly wake up and start playing like that wonderful first place team they were before, but I’m not real confident about it.

  • SNJ

    Since the Dodger series, the Mets have had the second best offense in baseball, by wRC+. Their pitching has been fourth in MLB by FIP. But they scored fewer runs and surrendered more runs than would normally correspond to those rankings. Looking at the data, which tells us more I think than fans’ subjective sense that the team has looked “lifeless,” the story seems to be that the luck that at least slightly favored the Mets most of the season deserted them in September. Certainly it did last night: 8 hits, 2 home runs, and a walk in the first 3 innings and 3 lousy runs to show for it. If Canha’s bouncer had a few RPMs’ less spin and nicked third base, they probably win the game.

    They are the same team they have been all year, minus Marte for now, unfortunately, but with deGrom. With their share of luck, they should beat San Diego. And their chances are better in a 5-game series against the Dodgers than they would have been in the NLCs. Not a silver lining, but maybe pewter?

    • Eric

      I describe it as a yo-yo starting on September 3rd with the game 2 loss to the Nationals because when not losing ‘lifelessly’ to bad teams, the Mets beat up bad teams like a contender. (2 saves for Diaz since August ended.) Jekyll and Hyde. So the aggregate stats look fine.

      The problem is the ‘lifeless’ Mets showed up for the quasi-playoff, playoff preview Braves series.

      Losing the division and possibly falling short of 100 wins are disappointing in their own right of the 6-month, 162-game context. But I do believe the contender version of the Mets is still in them, and as likely as not, the version that made the aggregate September stats respectable will be the one that shows up on Friday. We won’t know until the playoffs begin.

    • Lenny65

      The logical part of my mind understand this, and I’m not disputing what the data indicates. But I know what I’m seeing. The Mets aren’t losing games on unfortunate bounces, one bad pitch, or because one batter is mired in a slump. They are simply not playing well, period, and haven’t been since that Dodgers series. Every one of the three games vs. the Barves was winnable. One nice rally, one three-run dinger, one stellar start, and we might be sitting pretty right now. But these things are just not happening now, not like they were earlier in the year. They weren’t winning all those games due to luck, they were playing fabulously crisp, professional baseball. And right now they are not. And while I obviously hope they come out vs. San Diego in fighting trim, I’m not getting my hopes up until I see it.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    One thing left to root for the next three days. McNeil needs to overtake Freddie Freeman for the batting championship.

  • Seth

    Yisgadal Vayiskadash Shmei Rabbah

    It’s 1987, 1988, 2007, 2008, and 2021 all wrapped up in one sad burrito of sorrow.

  • ljcmets

    I don’t expect there to be many people at the Nats series for any number of reasons: cold weather, Yom Kippur, the Nats have the worst record in baseball, etc. but most importantly the team and the fans know that barring a miracle, the division is gone. But perhaps we all could use a break, for rest and reflection.Even the Nats have to know these games are superfluous and I expect them to have a letdown too.

    Our non-platoon players – Nimmo, Alonso, Lindor should sit at least 2 of these three games unless something individual is at stake, e.g. McNeill should play until the batting title is decided one way or the other and perhaps Alonso can DH to keep after the league RBI title. Let our call-ups play, and run out the string.

    100 wins does not matter anymore. If lightening should strike tonight and tomorrow Jake should be able to go on Wednesday and I’m perfectly fine with Max or Bassitt opening the playoffs on Friday. But I know how unlikely it is that the Mets win out and the Braves don’t win again this season. I fully expect the Braves to take care of the Marlins tonight.

    I totally agree with UpstateNYMfan that a review of the past is a good thing but to those suggestions of seasons unfulfilled -to which I would add 1988 and 2006- the team needs to know the flip side of our history -the playoff triumphs, not just tribulations, of 1973, 1999 and 2015. (It can’t be all doom and gloom). And nothing can compete with 1969 and 1986 to let the players strengthen their resolve and get ready to compete. Those teams were gifted with luck, but they also made their own, and in the end it was glorious. What does this team want as their legacy? It’s right in front of them again.

  • Rudin1113

    I know we should feel otherwise, but it really feels like we’re going to the NIT. And to think, we thought we had it all wrapped up Wednesday night when we eked out a win against the Marlins after a lifeless loss the previous night. All the while the Braves somehow lost a baseball to the Nats—little did we know they were merely looking ahead to the weekend series. Fool’s gold if there ever was fool’s gold.

  • ljcmets

    If you’re going to the NIT, WIn the NIT! Take what you’re offered and write your own history.

  • Eric

    The rain tonight and predicted for tomorrow and lesser extent Wednesday is interesting as far as making up rain-outs with 1 day between the regular season and WC round. One, the Mets aren’t eliminated yet. Two, the Mets may fall short of 100 wins if the games aren’t made up. Three, possible loss of valuable reps for the rookies, auditioning pitchers, and IL returnees.

    • Seth

      I’m trying to care, I really am. But all the air has gone out of my care balloon with a big FZZZZZZZZZZZZZ sound.

      • Rudin1113

        A sympathetic co-worker (who’s also a Yankee fan) said “What if the order of the wins and losses was flipped and the Mets were storming to a 100-loss season after a so-so start, falling juuuust a little short of the division title?” Interesting hypothesis—it’s the same reason why I don’t look back fondly on the June 2000 game when the Mets came back vs. Atlanta with a 10-run inning and Piazza grand slam. After all, I spent the large majority of the evening in abject despair.

      • Eric

        I thought today about how the Braves series and this season would be remembered by us if there were no wildcard. If the Mets lose the WC series like they did the Braves series, then we might remember the Braves series and this season that way anyway.

        And, what was the Braves series like for the child fans who’ve had a formative experience following the Mets winning this season? My formative experience was the 1986 season, so even as the Mets fell short in 1987, 1988, and thereafter, the baseline of my Mets fandom is a paid-off championship. Not a season-turning failure like the Braves series. For their sake, I hope the Mets recover and at least win the WC series.

        Braves got shut out by the Marlins tonight. 1 down. 5 to go. Cruel hope.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Noted without comment: After Jake, Max and Bassitt all flop, HOF quartet from Miami–Luzardo, Brigham, Hoeing, and Bleier–totally shut down the Braves, on four hits.

  • eric1973

    And the Mets are very good at sweeping doubleheaders!