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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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Hijinks Don't Ensue

The Rockies has somehow now been around for 30 years. I was at their first-ever game, which they lost to the Mets at Shea. I watched them beat the Mets behind Dante Bichette in extras at Coors Field’s christening. Since then I’ve seen the Mets play at Coors far too often for my liking. I’ve seen them pound various Rockies incarnations by scores that feel more suited to football; I’ve seen them suffer the same indignities. I’ve marveled at the waterfalls and the conifers in the bullpen, I’ve grimaced at the likes of Todd Helton and Larry Walker, I’ve nodded at that the purple line of seats and Dinger’s antics. And regardless of the score, I’ve braced myself for the moment when the baseball train cars jump the rails and any semblance of a normal game winds up jackknifed and on fire in a ravine.

That’s the Coors Field experience, changed only at the margins by humidors and experiments with ground-ball pitching staffs and all the other tweaks and twerks that have been tried since the Clinton administration. It’s an experience that instills a certain wariness which no score can make completely go away. If the Mets are up six in the middle innings during a Coors Field matinee, you regard the normally welcome three-inning baseball nap with trepidation, because you know you might wake up down two. Same thing with some late-night affair you’re tempted to shut off because the Mets are down five — you might wake up in the morning and be annoyed with yourself when it turns out they won by three.

It can be fun; I’m just not sure, even after all these years, that it fully counts as baseball.

What was most notable about Friday night’s game against the Rockies, I suppose, was what didn’t happen. The Rockies don’t look completely ready for prime time this season but didn’t implode. Max Scherzer has had a, well, rocky season so far but didn’t collapse. Dicey situations abounded in the late innings but the Mets somehow kept the roof intact over their own heads. It was like the trope of the detective noting that the dog didn’t bark, except it turned out nobody got murdered.

Scherzer looked much more like Scherzer than he has in most 2023 games (I’ll note here that I never actually saw him pitch against the Guardians), despite not having enough air around his pitches: He was sweaty and perturbed and his mien middlingly psychopathic, which is to say he was the Scherzer we feared as an opponent and were overjoyed to welcome to our side. For me what’s most fun about Scherzer is he’s about the least balletic Hall of Fame pitcher I can imagine: You’ve seen a hundred slow-motion collages of classic power pitchers rocking and coiling and firing, the graceful movement of their long arms and legs accompanied by elegiac music that makes you want to sigh at a sunset. Footage of Scherzer would never fit in one of those: His mechanics are violent and abrupt, like a machine that looks always on the brink of flying apart. He’d somehow never won a game at Coors, but he has now, giving up a solo homer and nothing else and delivering a performance it’s safe to say both he and the Mete needed.

On the offensive side the Mets let a golden opportunity go by in the third, as Pete Alonso and Brett Baty struck out with the bases loaded, but they did enough elsewhere: Brandon Nimmo was on base five times, Francisco Lindor drove in four, Baty collected two hits. You wondered if it would be enough in the ninth, as Brooks Raley didn’t have it and Eduardo Escobar made what looked like a potential dagger of an error at third behind hastily summoned Adam Ottavino. But the Rockies did the Mets an enormous favor when Colorado newcomer Nolan Jones strayed too far past second on Escobar’s boot, giving the Mets a critical second out and leaving Ottavino to face Mike Moustakas, that once-upon-a-time ruiner of nice things, as the tying run/last hope.

Ottavino hasn’t had the best year so far, but he knows how to pitch at Coors and he goes about his business with a certain fatalism perfectly suited to a middle reliever with a sometimes unreliable breaking stuff, whether or not said reliever pitches at an unwise altitude. Ottavino regarded Moustakos with his usual Eeyore expression, got to work, and erased him with an unhittable cutter. The dog hadn’t barked, hijinks hadn’t ensued, and the Mets had emerged not just alive but also victorious.

4 comments to Hijinks Don’t Ensue

  • Joe D

    Yes, it is true that 5-tool players are quite rare… However, it may be even more rare to have an actual ZERO-tool player on a major league roster.

    Sorry, but I’ve come to the end of the line with Daniel Vogelbach. It’s high time to give those ABs to Vientos or whomever.

    Vogie had a nice cult following here for 15 minutes or so, but it seems to me we are far better off with an actual athlete who can do some athletic things as opposed to an albatross to a 26-man roster.

  • Cobra Joe

    Daniel Vogelbach: The new Bill Pecota or the new Jim Fregosi?

  • Seth

    Well something needs to be done about the Canha/Vogelbach/Pham cartel (aka the Bermuda Triangle), but I’m not sure what.

  • ljcmets

    I never understood the Vogelbach trade and I still don’t, and I wish I could remember the name of the young reliever the Mets traded for him so I could look up his fate. Pham strikes me as typical try-him-out-and-see-what-happens fare, and now we have the answer: next to nothing. They are only a half-step above Darin Ruf. Both could go tomorrow and I wouldn’t blink and would be happy to see Vientios and Baty alternate third base/DH duties.

    I have a soft spot for Canha, who clearly played above his weight last year but who continues to play hard with less positive results.I believe he could be a useful piece in a pennant run as he’s a good base runner, a decent bunter and can hit for power when he gets hot. I’d keep him if I could but unfortunately he’s also the most tradeable of the three.

    On a much brighter note, Jason your earlier hypothesis that Mets players perform better with family in the stands has a new piece of evidence in its favor. I daresay half the state of Wyoming will be at Coors before the weekend is up, probably including Liz Cheney and her father (the only other Wyoming residents I can identify). Brandon is a great player almost all the time, but he’s at another level in Colorado. (He also shaved, no doubt because his mom was in attendance ).Kudos go to the Mets for seeing his potential and nurturing it -now go do the same with all the Baby Mets!