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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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Satisfaction of What’s to Come

In 2022, the Mets finally got the past right. It feels so good to rattle off the roll call of their history-acknowledging triumphs; Nancy Seaver offering her benediction at the reveal of the Tom Seaver Statue on April 15; the retirement of Keith Hernandez’s 17 on July 9; the syncing of Gil Hodges Bobblehead Night with Gil’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 24; and the return of Old Timers Day, which would have been enough to mark August 27 as an orange-and-blue red-letter day for the ages, commemorating as it did sixty years of Mets of baseball by inviting home more than sixty Mets from all ages of the franchise’s existence, yet somehow outdid itself when it placed the cherry of a lifetime upon that Saturday’s sundae and broke the news that No. 24 was now retired for Willie Mays.

The baseball gods smiled at the Mets’ acts of cognizance. The club won its games of April 15, July 9, July 24 and August 27, in each case preserving or extending its lead in the National League East. Had the Mets chosen their fiftieth- rather than their sixtieth-anniversary season to have undertaken each of the above mitzvahs — the only item not in their control was Gil’s election to the Hall (yet they could have handed out a Hodges bobblehead long ago) — the historical conscientiousness would have been most welcome, but it probably wouldn’t have landed as sweetly in 2012 as it did in 2022 for a simple reason: the 2012 Mets were dreadful. They had their moments individually and collectively, and didn’t completely fall apart until the second half kicked in and kicked them, but highlighting your sparkling past while your present presents itself as relentlessly grim is a tough sell. It shouldn’t matter that much, but it does.

I’m convinced each of the commemorative events that made 2022 sing at Citi Field hit its high notes because the 2022 Mets were already in full throat and fine voice. I sat at Shea Stadium for the previous Old Timers Day, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Mets’ world championship. Forgive the use of sports talk radio host affectation when I say there was nobody there. Figuratively nobody. Literally, I’d estimate maybe 5,000 seats were filled for the pregame ceremonies commemorating the signature miracle in baseball history, an accomplishment that belonged to every Mets fan. Alas, most every Mets fan wasn’t moved to stop by and pay homage. This was 1994. The year before had been infamous 1993, the year that gave us a team worse than the notorious Worst Team Money Could Buy from 1992, itself assembled upon the ruins of the 1991 dissipation of the dynasty that never quite materialized after 1986. The 1994 Mets weren’t infamous, but they, too, were a tough sell. The residue of the early ’90s wasn’t coming out in the wash until the end of the ’90s, at least not at the box office. The middle ’90s were an attendance desert. Cleon Jones and Jerry Koosman were at Shea to say hi? Good luck convening a minyan to return the greeting.

Twenty-eight years later, there was nothing contemporary keeping Mets fans away from a celebration of past glories. This was a first-place team, a playoffs-bound team, a team that was operated around the idea it was supposed to compete to win. Not every Mets team has worked that way. Not every Major League Baseball team works that way now. The 2022 Mets were Venn Diagramming the sweet spot of which every serious fan dreams: the circle that extolled its accomplishments from decades gone by; the circle that provided nearly nightly thrills nearly every week this very year; the circle that indicated the days ahead would be at least as fruitful and as meaningful as the days we were in at this very moment.

So much intersection.

I sat up in the left field Promenade on Old Timers Day with a prime view of the recently relocated placards marking the postseason berths and achievements of yore over the highest right field seats. Nine banners for nine Octobers, from that 1969 World Championship through the 2016 Wild Card. Two World Series triumphs; three National League pennants besides; four other playoff appearances earned through division championships or any means necessary. “Good stuff,” was my father’s stock response to things he liked. I liked those nine banners. I liked better the certainty that a tenth would be added as a result of the 2022 season in which we’d been reveling for several months and would be reveling on amid for several more weeks. Great stuff.

There will be something affixed in that space following 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2015 and 2016. It won’t say WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS or NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS or N.L. EAST DIVSION CHAMPIONS or WILD CARD & DIVISION SERIES WINNERS, which is the all-inclusive if hardly reflective of all they meant descriptor applied to the 1999 Mets. It can replicate 2016’s NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD and be technically accurate, though in 2016 winning the Wild Card was pretty much all that could be asked when that Mets team was two games beneath .500 entering play on August 20, sitting 5½ games from the nearest playoff spot. Six weeks later, we had clinched a foothold in the postseason. Anything else would have been gravy. In that year’s Wild Card Game, Madison Bumgarner chose not to dish out what he was serving even a little au jus. Getting left high and dry by the lefty whose own Venn Diagram brought Unbeatable in the Post Season and Untouchable at Citi Field into a thickly drawn circle wasn’t tasty, but the prize we chowed down on for going 27-12 and simply getting as far as we did sated my soul. You can’t win ’em all, but we’d won something that went down as tangible. We lost the Wild Card Game, but we’d won a Wild Card.

In 2022, we lost the division before losing the series we were assigned to play in because we lost the division. The Wild Card we won? It was an app that mysteriously showed up on our phone for three days and then disappeared with the next update. Or, to put it in hoary old joke about Chinese food territory, we won 101 games and went to the playoffs, yet a half-hour later, we were still hungry.

For 2022, Faith and Fear in Flushing chooses as its Nikon Camera Player of the Year — an award presented to the entity or concept that best symbolizes, illustrates or transcends the year in Metsdom — Something Short of Satisfaction. My god, it was a great Met season. My god, the Mets did great things this season. My god, it’s so much better being a Mets fan coming out of this season than it’s been in so long.

But we’re not quite satisfied with what we experienced, are we?

Satisfaction may be as elusive a concept as it is a destination. If we define satisfaction as our team having won it all, well, we haven’t been satisfied very often ever, have we? Yet I don’t think you have to have your players get measured for World Series rings to claim satisfaction. In the rafters of my mind, I display placards for close second-place finishes, surprise playoff lunges that sputtered with weeks to go, coming kind of close to .500 and merely being not as bad as I thought the Mets were going to be. I value context and calibration. I can get some satisfaction through any number of avenues.

Yet here I am, sorting through the emotional aftermath of a season that soared higher than projected and produced a postseason, and I feel…not nothing, but not enough. In bottom line territory, the explanation is fairly self-evident: we won 101 games and have no more than a prospective NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD banner to show for it. I endorse the historical reminder that the 2016 version represents because once that season unfolded, that was good stuff. In 2022, we appeared on the verge of something more. Winner of a division. Winner of at least one postseason series. Winner of a flag. Winner of the whole enchilada. Better stuff.

I’m happy that there was a 2022 postseason for the New York Mets, and would prefer the tenth banner in the right field row read NATIONAL LEAGUE POSTSEASON and leave it at that. Some of us would nod with a modicum of understanding that that year up there was really something, and absolutely not nothing (until you begin to pick apart just how lame the Mets’ performance was during two-thirds of their 2022 postseason). Others would not be shy about channeling their inner Nelson Muntz and emitting a loud “HAW-HAW!” at the veritable participation ribbon, as if making the playoffs — when eighteen teams still don’t — isn’t enough of an accomplishment to merit as much as a nod.

The Mets did this to themselves by raising our hopes so propitiously that hopes became expectations. I pinpoint the date when being told that going 101-61 and guaranteeing postseason baseball wasn’t going to be enough. It’s the date to which I can retroactively attach the saddest of all possible words in sports: “if I had told you,” as in “If I had told you that the Mets were going to win 101 games and were going to go to the playoffs, yet it wasn’t going to be particularly satisfying, you probably wouldn’t have believed me.”

It was June 5. The Mets were completing a four-game series at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers stood as the platinum standard. Gotta go through L.A. if you wanna get anywhere in this league. The Mets went West and looked flat after flattening most comers for two months. We fly across country and lose on a Thursday night. Lose on Friday. But spring back to life Saturday. Sunday, thus, looms as the proving ground between a team everybody knew was gonna be there at season’s end and a team we wanted to believe would be there to meet them.

Sunday, June 5, was the grit and the grind that set expectations. Sunday, it turned out, was prevailing behind Trevor Williams as our starter and Adonis Medina as our closer and J.D. Davis driving in the run that positioned Medina for the save. We did it. We won in ten, 5-4. We split with the mighty Dodgers. We had a better record than the mighty Dodgers. We led our division by 8½ mighty games.

The 2022 Mets felt mightier than all that. The 2022 Mets felt as mighty as they had in a generation, probably two. All they had to do, in my mind, was not fall apart on the rest of their California swing (they didn’t) and they’d be poised for greatness. Much of the rest of the year would indeed be a thrill ride, pausing only to reflect on the best of the sixty preceding years. Stop by the statue and tip a cap to No. 41. Leap to your feet and cheer for No. 17. Be overcome by the warmth emanating from Irene Hodges accepting Hall of Fame enshrinement on behalf of her father and be overwhelmed by the sight of Michael Mays repping his father as the Mets stopped futzing around with No. 24. The generations were coming together in 2022. We were having a season for the ages. What could possibly stop it?

The nominees are…

The Atlanta Braves, who never stopped coming.
The San Diego Padres, who lay in wait.
Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who hit the right middle finger of Starling Marte of the New York Mets.
Darin Ruf of the New York Mets, who bore zero resemblance to Darin Ruf of the San Francisco Giants.
This, that and/or the other thing.

The Mets never fell apart. They just stopped coalescing. There really wasn’t that one game with the hair and the tearing of it out from one’s head. Not that one lead that got away in the eighth or ninth. Not that one runner left on third who was the difference between winning and losing. Not that one ball that eluded two gloves and definitively doomed us. The Mets could clinch only so much after two or five months. They seemed so good. They were so good. They just couldn’t keep up all they had to keep up.

Neither could, it should be noted from a postseason perspective, the Atlanta Braves or the San Diego Padres or, for that matter, the mighty Dodgers of Los Angeles. As late as right after Old Timers Day, we took two of three from the Dodgers at Citi Field. That, rather than any regular-season Padres-Phillies series, felt like the NLCS preview. If we couldn’t be as fully convinced about the division title being in hand as we’d been when we’d been to SoCal in early June — the Braves were clinging three back as September dawned — Mets-Dodgers still made sense in our collective gut. On August 31, Jacob deGrom was almost spotless for seven innings, Brandon Nimmo snatched a home run from beyond the center field fence, Adam Ottavino, Edwin Diaz and Timmy Trumpet owned the final innings and the Mets had downed L.A., 2-1, a night after bowing to them, 4-3. In the late-afternoon start of September 1, the Mets continued to not yield. We won, 5-3, behind Chris Bassitt, Trevor May, Diaz and Ottavino. Trumpet had left town, but the melody lingered on. We won the season series. As if we needed more convincing, this more or less convinced us we were set for October.

More or less. We needed more convincing. We always needed more convincing. We won 17 of 20 at one point in high summer and we were likely never 100% convinced that this team that had been in first place nearly nonstop since the first pitch of the season was as absolutely a sure thing as we were convinced it should have been. But it was too late to turn back now. Beating the Dodgers was our leading indicator. Problem was, with thirty games to go and three games separating our tail from the Braves’ fingertips, every series still on the schedule was going to be the moral equivalent of a Dodgers series.

Nobody told the Mets. Having risen to the L.A. challenge so valiantly, they played down to the Nationals and the Pirates and the Cubs and the A’s. Again with the understanding that there is no winning ’em all. Even still. Whether it was not having Starling Marte in right field for a month, or leaning on Darin Ruf at DH, or trying to hot-wire the offense with September callups who weren’t on the immediate radar, or whatever everyday stalwart struck out when you were expecting a base hit, or whatever arm didn’t have quite enough to get the job you expected done, or the cobwebs that gathered on Diaz as save opportunities evaded abundance or some box the meticulous Buck Showalter failed to check, it was a season that was losing rather than gathering steam. The playoffs were still a sure thing. The Mets put a mathematical lock on their postseason reservation on September 19. It was a formality. They chose to sip champagne rather than spray it. The 2022 Mets were the third team in franchise history to spend every single day of its season above .500. The 1985 Mets did that, but missed the playoffs by three games. The 2007 Mets did that, but missed the playoffs by one game. The 2022 Mets did that and ensured they’d be in the playoffs.

Who could ask for more?

We could. How could we not? How could punching a postseason ticket feel like anything more than a pleasant Monday night in Milwaukee when there were greater worlds to conquer, greater stuff to garner, so let’s not toast too heartily lest we be hungover for work on Tuesday? (Hell, we didn’t flinch at Max Scherzer being pulled from a perfect game bid in deference to the greater good.) Thirteen games sat for the taking following the playoff-clinching versus the Brewers. The Mets proceeded to win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose three and win three. No, you can’t win ’em all. But you can win more than seven of thirteen.

The “lose three” was Atlanta. That was the division title in a nutshell. Win one game in Atlanta and we don’t lose one National League East. But we didn’t and we did. That’s how Citi Field gained the privilege of hosting the first ever 4-vs-5 National League Wild Card Series. Home field advantage encompassing all three games was the reward for being better than the other Wild Card qualifiers. Little about it felt rewarding.

Whether they’ve won it all or lost before such an outcome became possible, some postseason Mets teams have felt more magnificent than magical. Conversely, some postseason Mets teams have felt more magical than magnificent. Of course every magnificent Mets team contains an element of magic and every magical Mets team is more magnificent than is fully comprehended. By the end of the 2022 season, the New York Mets, for all their 101 wins, felt neither magnificent nor magical in sufficient quantities. By October 7, Opening Night of the NLWCS, we were left hoping for the best and not knowing what to expect. Then again, we didn’t expect we’d have to start playing postseason baseball until the NLDS began on October 11.

History will show that earning a bye and avoiding the 2022 National League Wild Card Series amounted to no particular advantage in the National League Division Series. The mighty 111-win Dodgers didn’t benefit from not having to play in the newly arranged first round. The irritating 101-win Braves — same total as us! — generated no momentum after their mini-vacation. Both the Dodgers and Braves stand as division winners who exited the playoffs after one lousy win.

The Mets stand as not even that. We did have the one lousy win, which wasn’t lousy when it was achieved, but its satisfaction carried a very quick expiration date. We don’t have a division title from the 2022 season and we don’t have a series win from the 2022 postseason. We have a Wild Card, which was never the idea, and we have 101 wins, which included nine versus Atlanta when we needed ten. We had, I swear, that certain something. Just not enough of it.

In his diary of the 1978 season, Sparky Lyle, who wasn’t relied on nearly as much as when he won the Cy Young in 1977 and could read the writing on the wall regarding his not being around in 1979, warned George Steinbrenner that if he kept bringing in new Yankees who didn’t have the same intestinal fortitude as old Yankees, he was consigning himself to some frustrating finishes. “He’ll have gotten rid of all his winners,” Lyle wrote with Peter Golenbock in The Bronx Zoo, “and he’ll be left with a team of good ballplayers who have never been on winners. He’ll have a hell of a second-place ballclub. He’ll end up having a club like Boston, a team that wins 99 games but no bananas.”

It was a different world in 1978. You either finished first or called it a day. The Yankees and Red Sox each won 99 games and contested a tiebreaker (a.k.a. the Bucky F’in Dent Game) to determine whose day was done. In 2022, the Mets and Braves decided which 101-61 record was superior by interior math, specifically the 10-9 head-to-head advantage that belonged to Atlanta once Atlanta went 3-0 between September 30 and October 2. I thought of the Lyle passage a lot after that truly abominable Truist Park weekend. The aforementioned Red Sox were the epitome of a team that indeed had good ballplayers yet no bananas to show for it. There’ve been other teams whose high quality resonates as hollow in the collective baseball consciousness since then.

• The post-Sparky Lyle Yankees who were almost always good for posting winning records but stopped winning World Series once he was traded to Texas.

• The Jim Leyland Pirates who lost playoff series, superstars and, eventually, their way.

• The Moneyball A’s whose GM’s bleep doesn’t work in October.

• The Twins in years that include October (eighteen consecutive postseason games lost dating to October 6, 2004).

• The stacked Nationals of the 2010s, their reputation for coming up short as heavy favorites and division-winners not erased until they put a Wild Card to optimal use in 2019.

• The mighty Dodgers of the 2010s, their reputation for coming up short not erased until the shortened pandemic season of 2020 built them the limited runway they needed to shed their baggage.

• The stupid Braves from 1996 through 2020, with sixteen delightful postseason eliminations spanning multiple eras and two millennia.

• The modern-day Yankees who are knocked out postseason after postseason like glorious clockwork (ten postseasons since 2010, zero pennants since 2009).

Seasons spent racking up the wins can be fun. They oughta be fun. Little beats the confidence you gain as a fan from knowing your team is more likely to win than lose on any given day or night. When you’ve sucked up your share of 1993s, you know you should cherish their antitheses. But their endings going awry, particularly if it happens again and again, tends to sap the fun right out of those seasons and diminish the luster of the period in which they are set. The satisfaction, too.

The 2022 Mets really were loads of fun. Surely there’s a formula to be calculated that would show each day this season was as much fun per capita as a Mets fan could have hoped for. Just not as much as we’d grown to expect. That doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. There have been wonderful seasons that didn’t exactly pan out but never shook that sense of wonder. This one did. This one failed to satisfy.

Maybe that’s OK. Live through it, learn from it, onward and upward until Excelsior isn’t just an overprized section of seats. Upon his introduction to us in the fall of 2020, the man who owns the team and bankrolls our expectations spitballed “three to five years” as his timeframe for winning a World Series, more an off-the-cuff mission statement than an analytic projection. Next year will be Year Three of the Steve Cohen epoch. Year One was a shakedown cruise in which we sustained a torrent of splashback. Year Two was so, so good in so, so many ways, if so-so when it was over. Year Three will have so, so many new Mets acquired in the name of guaranteeing satisfaction (some acquisitions pending completion as of this writing). And if that doesn’t satisfy the lot of us, there’s always Years Four and Five and the rest, assuming we as fans aren’t going anywhere.

I’m not. When the 2022 NLWCS ended with a whimper, I couldn’t see myself getting excited about 2023 for a while. A while has passed. I’m excited. Not out of my mind excited, but adequately anticipant. Your team’s owner goes out and secures who he’s secured — let’s continue to pencil in Carlos Correa until notified something’s really wrong with his leg or his negotiations — to go with keeping who he’s kept and you owe it to yourself to look forward to Spring Training. You can’t buy a pennant, but you can certainly shop aggressively for one.

Yes, we have some bananas. We’ve also rocketed ahead of where we were as a franchise and a people from before Steve Cohen. After that 2016 Wild Card, we endured a miserable 2017; a miserable 2018; a miserable first half of 2019; a second-half surge in 2019 that was so satisfying you can be forgiven for forgetting we didn’t actually win anything (you don’t necessarily have to win anything to feel satisfied); and a miserable sixty-game 2020 that pretty much wiped away the 2019 vibe and, in retrospect, lasted sixty games too long. Then along came Cohen and a new general manager every other week and a manager who didn’t yet know what he was doing and a cast with roles yet to be optimally filled.

We’re way beyond those gray days as we pivot from 2022 to 2023. That’s satisfying in its own right. Knowing 2023 has a legitimate chance to be better than plenty good 2022 is also satisfying. It can’t recontextualize 2022 until it plays out. Maybe in a year’s time we’ll be satisfied that 2022 served as the 101-win, Wild Card as consolation prize, early playoff elimination steppingstone to definitive higher ground. But we’ll need 2023 or maybe a year to be named later in order to recalibrate our takeaway. As the final dates on the 2022 calendar are crossed off, maybe the closest thing to satisfaction we can divine from the season that didn’t live up to our expectations is to be mined from what Tony Soprano told his family by candlelight at Artie Bucco’s restaurant in the middle of the intense storm that closed Season One of The Sopranos: “If you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments — like this — that were good.”

Season Sixty-One of the Mets had more than a few of those.


1980: The Magic*
2005: The WFAN broadcast team of Gary Cohen and Howie Rose
2006: Shea Stadium
2007: Uncertainty
2008: The 162-Game Schedule
2009: Two Hands
2010: Realization
2011: Commitment
2012: No-Hitter Nomenclature
2013: Harvey Days
2014: The Dudafly Effect
2015: Precedent — Or The Lack Thereof
2016: The Home Run
2017: The Disabled List
2018: The Last Days of David Wright
2019: Our Kids
2020: Distance (Nikon Mini)
2021: Trajectories

*Manufacturers Hanover Trust Player of the Year

National League Town is revisiting its extensive 2022 wish list for the Mets Hall of Fame. Listen here or on the podcast platform of your choice.

5 comments to Satisfaction of What’s to Come

  • Seth

    Excellent piece of writing, and so great to read during the holidays. If you think about it, there were signs of non-coalescence all season, and it wasn’t just Met fan pessimism. They never had a big losing streak, but never had a long winning streak either. There were various moments of serious concern and lack of consistent hitting even in mid-season. I don’t know, maybe Astros fans experienced the same thing, but there was a nagging feeling of failure from about July onwards. Maybe the Braves had something to do with it. Happy new year, all!

  • Dave

    A very good synopsis of an almost satisfying season, one that can be compared to a marathoner who has a nice lead for 25 miles, which is great until you Google the exact distance of a marathon. As far as commemorative banners go, I cringe at the sight of the ones that say, in so many words, “well, second place is nothing to be ashamed of,” but I suppose that standard has been set and we’ll see one for 2022.

    Of course whether 2022 is the equivalent of 1985 – coming up short one last time before everything clicks – or 1988 – you had your chance and you blew it – remains to be seen. Time, as it always does, will tell.

  • Bob

    Another excellent article!
    You wrote what I’ve been thinking about for several months now.
    All season, I dreaded that last series with the barfs.
    Having been thru 1998 ending the way it did, it still haunted me–for good fuc&^ing reason it seems.
    But as you point out the many good things, The reunion at Old Timers Day and the retiring of Kieth’s number & Willie Mays 24 is great!

    Thank you Greg.

  • eric1973

    Some things aren’t so satisfying regarding last year, such as the lowering of standards by retiring Keith’s number. They should have put a microphone in the rafters rather than a 17, as he and his teams just did not do enough back then.

    And the Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes album for last season’s team could have easily been ‘Wake up Everybody,’ as the team did not play up to their capabilities in September.

    Very excited about the upcoming season, and I would like for the Correa deal to not go through. Besides looking like pigs at a trough, this guy seems to be really injured, so instead maybe 3 years with an opt-out after two just might be the way to go.

  • Seth

    No participation trophies for the 2022 Mets. It’s World Series or bust. 2022 = bust.