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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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Until Somebody Gets Hurt

Prescience wasn’t required to sense it might happen and obliviousness didn’t necessarily obscure your senses if you were reveling in what was going on before it happened. I was between the top and the bottom of the ninth inning of the final game contested within Pool D of the World Baseball Classic, Puerto Rico playing the Dominican Republic Wednesday night. Puerto Rico had Edwin Diaz coming into pitch to preserve a three-run lead for the team representing his homeland. My affinity for Edwin Diaz has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a Puerto Rican and everything to do with the fact that he’s a New York Met. Since 2019, I have hoped Edwin Diaz would nail down saves. Since 2021, I have believed Edwin Diaz would nail down saves. In 2022, confidence morphed into certainty, with his entrance into any given game accompanied by scintillating ceremony underscoring just what a lock he had become. Diaz’s saves weren’t merely competitive necessities. They were events. They were reasons to almost not mind being ahead by three runs rather than four.

It’s outstanding that Diaz is about to pitch an inning even if it isn’t for the Mets, I decided Wednesday night, as long as he doesn’t get hurt. I thought this the way I might instinctively plan my journey on the edge of a crosswalk if no cars are coming in either direction, looking left, looking right, keeping alert to the possibility that a vehicle might appear from almost out of nowhere, and being ready to act accordingly in case it does. I’ve made it safely across every crosswalk I’ve ever encountered by routinely preparing for the worst.

Diaz came into the game for Team Puerto Rico, making me a Team Puerto Rico fan. The PA system at the ballpark in Miami blared his music during commercial break, but the producers of the broadcast airing the game understood they wouldn’t be getting the most out of an Edwin Diaz appearance if they didn’t indulge a version of the hubbub that exalts his entrance at Citi Field. Returned from the commercial, they showed him trotting in to “Narco,” and how excited it gets his fans, in this case those waving flags for Puerto Rico, but also any stray Mets fans who happened to be on hand, or, I suppose, fans of ritual and excellence.

No ritual is better in the contemporary game than Sugar coming in as Timmy Trumpet blows his horn. No reliever is better than Edwin Diaz, home or away. The announcers said as much. They talked about Diaz the way non-Mets announcers not long ago trumpeted Jacob deGrom or non-Nets announcers went on about Kevin Durant or, decades earlier, network voices describing NFL games emphasized no defensive player on the field was better, perhaps in the history of professional football, than Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants. The Nets of the ABA weren’t on national television all that much, but when they were, such singular praise was heaped on Dr. J, Julius Erving, the way it was on TV and magazine covers and every kind of media extant when Dr. K, Dwight Gooden, and Tom Terrific, Tom Seaver, reigned supreme. When you root for a team and the consensus out there that one of your guys is the best at what he does, it delivers a chill straight up your spine. The good kind.

Seaver died in 2020; I’m still getting over it. Gooden tested positive for cocaine in 1987; I’m still getting over that, too. Erving had to be sold to Philadelphia to allow the Nets to finance their way into the NBA 47 years ago; I’ll let you know when I’m over that. LT’s long since retired. KD’s in Phoenix. DeGrom is a Texas Ranger. Wednesday night, I could still count Diaz in the realm of greatness I could call my own. His impact might not have been the same as those others, his presence in games limited to very specific innings on very specific occasions, but he has shot into their sphere. After 2022, he wasn’t part of the debate of who was best at his position. There was no serious debate. When it came to closers, there was Edwin Diaz and there was everybody else.

I was hyped up on “Narco”. I was hyped up on Team Puerto Rico vanquishing its regional rival, never mind that I had nothing against Team Dominican Republic. PR had Diaz, DR didn’t. I was hyped up on Diaz laying down a 1-2-3 ninth. Just don’t get hurt, and this will be a kick. Not a Mets kick, exactly, and not a game in the standings that mean anything to me, but a pretty good kick for the middle of March. But, needless to day, just don’t get hurt. That kind of kick we can do without.

Edwin and his unhittable slider recorded two quick strikeouts, needing only four pitches to retire Ketel Marte, seven to take care of Jean Segura. The third batter, Teoscar Hernandez, hung in there a little longer. Coaxed three balls out of Diaz, though one implied the home plate umpire could use an eye exam. Fouled off three in a row at one point. I was growing just a touch antsy, less from support of my momentary favorite WBC team and more wondering if everything was all right with Diaz. He doesn’t usually need this many pitches. Is he laboring? Then I reminded myself this was one at-bat in a non-Mets game, he was pitching with a lead, he had two outs and stop worrying, nothing unusual is going on here as long as he doesn’t get hurt.

On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, the twenty-first of the half-inning, Diaz froze Hernandez. Strike three. Out three. Reflexively I clapped the resounding clap of satisfaction. Edwin Diaz just sealed a win. I always clap for that. That it wasn’t for the Mets and that it wasn’t in a game that I’m conditioned to consider one that counts was irrelevant to my surge of adrenaline. It’s like the man himself said in the Super Bowl commercial when he confirmed that order for New York Mets tickets: Yes! The closer!

There won’t be any Sugar answering on the bullpen phone, but somebody will pitch ninth innings.

That was fun while it lasted, which is to say until I blinked. I and nobody else had any idea that if you didn’t clap for Edwin Diaz nailing down a save on Wednesday night, you weren’t going to clap for Edwin Diaz nailing down a save for a mighty long time. Because as soon as I unblinked, the announcers were saying something about Diaz being down on the ground amid the Team Puerto Rico celebration and something about him not getting up, and all I could hear after that was myself repeating one word over and over:


Entering Spring Training of 2023, I couldn’t imagine Edwin Diaz not nailing down saves for the New York Mets. My imagination is about to get a workout, and the chill up my spine isn’t pleasant whatsoever.

If you don’t know by now — and if you don’t, I envy you — Edwin Diaz tore his right patellar tendon in the aftermath of Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic. Or is that Pyrrhic victory? If what happened to Diaz could have happened to anybody in that situation, the situation could have only happened in baseball in the middle of March if it happens in the WBC, because baseball success doesn’t usually spur celebration this time of year. One supposes an injury from which a player drops to the ground and can’t rise on his own power could happen turning this way or that, or crossing the street, or finishing stretching, or standing up awkwardly in his rented condo. But it happened in the WBC.

The sublime Tom Verducci wrote a column for Sports Illustrated Thursday morning, after Diaz’s injury became apparent but before his prognosis was announced, declaring, “The people who don’t like the World Baseball Classic generally fall into two buckets: general managers, who are paid to worry, and those who don’t truly love baseball” before lecturing his readers that, despite the mishap that we were about to learn had knocked Diaz out of regulation play for the season ahead, the WBC is great and fun and beneficial for baseball. Had Verducci been on assignment in Dallas on November 22, 1963, perhaps he would have filed copy the next day dismissing the concerns of a shocked nation and instructing us we shouldn’t be down on the beauty and majesty inherent in open-air presidential motorcades just because one was rudely interrupted.

The WBC, right until Team Puerto Rico’s celebration commenced, bordered on delightful when consumed in a vacuum. I was watching on and off. I was interested on and off. If Diaz (or Lindor or Escobar) wasn’t playing, I was more off than on, but I kept tabs. It surely wasn’t essential viewing. Not to me, not to Mets fans with no emotional skin in the game. The WBC is here every few Springs. You can curse its existence, but you can’t curse it out of existence. If nobody showed up to play in it or tuned in to watch it or paid their respective currency to wave a flag at it, maybe it would go away. But it’s here.

Diaz isn’t. There won’t be any trumpets blowing come this Opening Day or any day with Mets baseball in 2023. The torn patellar tendon timeline suggests eight months of recovery await. Unless the World Series is rained out a whole bunch, that means “get well, Edwin,” is all the cheering we can do for him. As for the fate of our potential presence deep into the next postseason, the realistic goal of the Mets who signed Diaz as soon as they could once last season ended, the Mets will still play nine-inning games, will still have leads of between one and three runs in some of those games’ ninth innings and will still need a pitcher to pitch those ninth innings. Somebody among the professionals employed by the New York Mets, currently or eventually, will emerge. He may not be “the closer,” but that will be the job at hand. Somebody’s music will play, some iteration of ceremony will materialize, some saves will be put in the books, some save opportunities will go awry. The Mets’ particular superpower of making their fans as sure as fans can be that we’re absolutely gonna hold on to win a close game will not be activated. Outs, however, will happen.

Uncertainty, too, but that’s baseball.

Take your mind off Edwin Diaz’s torn right patellar tendon with a new episode of National League Town. It’s about some good things that have come along in baseball through the years. I don’t believe the WBC is mentioned.

10 comments to Until Somebody Gets Hurt

  • eric1973

    I was watching live, and before the injury, he just couldn’t get that 3rd out, causing him to throw 21 pitches in that 9th inning.

    So I was already cringing with each additional pitch.

    Then after the 3rd out, I put on the USA game, already underway, but something made me turn back….

    If they didn’t jump around like that, it wouldn’t have happened. Quite possible his brother was the first one jumping around near him, and could have been the culprit, causing him to go on that crying jag.

  • open the gates

    Two things really infuriate me about this. More, really, but these two in particular. One, this was not an injury that occurred as the game was being played. It was during a post game celebration. Two, as one of the Met podcasters pointed out, it was a celebration of a freaking pool victory. No championship had yet been won. That’s what has deprived us of the best reliever we’ve ever had.

    Looking to the future: if any major league teams ever again allow their players to participate in this event – and who would blame them if they don’t? – they should send representatives to each team their players are on to make sure these kind of shenanigans never, ever happen again. Every one of these guys is a multimillion dollar investment for a major league team. This cannot happen again.

    Wishing Sugar a speedy recovery. As speedy as possible.

    PS – Verducci is an idiot. Guess Mrs. Lincoln should have just enjoyed the play.

  • mikeL

    nice writeup greg.
    i’ve not been following the WBC, was just hoping all our guys would come back unscathed.
    verducci: dumbass comment.
    we who love baseball and baseball teams are very much on the same page as our GMs, worrying about the health of our prized players.
    i wonder how much MLB loves its players. this reminds me of those opening days in japan and hoping the travel/time change etc didn’t mess up the mets players’ at the starting gate. but here affecting the entire league.
    can’t the MLB grow the sport by featuring top prospects, giving those players the opportunity to play meaningful, well-attended games before their seasons begin?
    on this old, win now team this is a really sad and unnecessary loss.
    here’s hoping the rest of our guys come back in one piece.

  • Seth

    And also, I’m not buying the “it’s important because we’re representing our country” line. Are they not representing their country every time they take the field in an MLB game? Did Roberto Clemente not represent his country? Wow — I’m sad to hear that reaching the pinnacle of athletic achievement through hard work and dedication is not representing one’s home country. Very sad.

  • Kranepool

    In theory, the WBC is a good idea and helps grow the sport worldwide, blah blah blah — but don’t play it in March. The vast majority of players are obviously not ready. Hold the tournament in, say, November, in domed stadiums in Japan and the U.S. I’m also wondering how the hell this injury happened. Did somebody stomp on Sugar? It’s infuriating, and yet another example of the baseball gods telling us Mets fans that we can’t have nice things.

  • dmg

    it took a bit but i realized: diaz got hurt on the ides of march.

  • Seth

    There’s no way to sugarcoat this, unfortunately. Sorry, too soon?

  • JerseyJack

    If they must play this WBC tourney , let the counties select from minor leaguers/ college players – Not highly paid MLBers !

  • […] of the year before it begins, sharing never-too-soon honors with Edwin Diaz, who told Eppler in the dark hour the Mets weren’t expecting to arrive on March 15, “Don’t worry. This is going to be fine.” […]