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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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The Bar Mitzvah Game’s Bar Mitzvah

Some are like summer
Coming back every year
Got your baby
Got your blanket
Got your bucket of beer
I break into a grin
From ear to ear
And suddenly
It’s perfectly clear
That’s why I’m here

James Taylor

The 2023 Mets have assured themselves they will not be the statistical equal of the 2022 Mets, having notched their 62nd loss Tuesday night the season after they didn’t lose more than 61.

Oh well. I think we knew that was a given.

The 2023 Mets are chasing history, albeit in the wrong direction. By notching their 62nd loss of the season, they have fallen never mind however many games behind whoever holds the final Wild Card slot at the moment. They lag 22 games behind the pace of the 2022 Mets at the 2022 Mets’ very same juncture. After 113 games a year ago, the Mets’ record was 73-40. Currently, it is 51-62. The worst dropoff the Mets have ever experienced year-versus-year for an entire season was 22 games, from 1976’s deceptively encouraging 86-76 to 1977’s Seaver-stripped 64-98. If These Mets don’t win 79 of their scheduled 162 games — and it seems quite likely These Mets will not — that means they will have tumbled at least 23 games in one year, a new franchise mark for a fall from grace.

Oh well. I think we know that is a given.

Any more good news from the Department of Sunshine & Lollipops? Hell yes. I went to the game Tuesday night and didn’t much stress the outcome. Early on, I thought it would follow the pattern set the night before, when the Mets blasted the Cubs, 11-2. My evidence was an RBI double Pete Alonso walloped to deepest center field that first scored Jeff McNeil and then scored Pete Alonso because, lo and behold, that wasn’t deepest center field — that was the black backdrop just above and beyond deepest center field. The EnormoVision replay beaming in concert with the crew chief review made it so clear that the double wasn’t the correct call that Pete was circling third base before an umpire circled a finger to signal home run. I was almost disappointed Pete whacked No. 34. It was kind of pleasant to see him drive home a run with something other than a dinger.

Uptown problems, am I right? We were off to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and there was no telling how much more we’d strafe Chicago starter Jameson Taillon. I remembered Taillon’s first start in the majors. It came for the Pirates against us in 2016. Like Pete Alonso, Ty Kelly homered off him. It sticks with me because I wrote a theater review of the evening, treating the Mets at PNC Park as if it were an out-of-town opening. You watch a lot of Mets and you write a lot of Mets, you always look for a new Mets angle.

For Tuesday night, I resort to a hardy perennial: The Ryder and Rob Chasin Game, a.k.a. the Bar Mitzvah Game, also a.k.a. the Bar Mitzvah of the Bar Mitzvah Game. Faith and Fear completists will perhaps recall that in 2009 my wife and I were invited to a Bar Mitzvah of a Mets fan who had just read my book about being a Mets fan. We all study for the haftorah in our own way. The Bar Mitzvah celebration would take place at still new Citi Field in the offseason. How could Stephanie and I say no?

One summer later, the celebration continued. Ryder, 13, and dad Rob asked us to join them at Citi Field for the reason the joint was constructed, an actual ballgame. How could Stephanie and I say no? That was a Tuesday night in August of 2010. Every August that Citi Field has been open to spectators since then, always on a Tuesday night (“my favorite Tuesday of the year,” Rob ranks it), we keep the celebration going. It’s 13 years since August of 2010. As Ryder pointed out to me, the Bar Mitzvah Game is itself eligible to read from the haftorah.

The Bar Mitzvah Game’s attendees aren’t necessarily very good at reading the Mets. That 2-0 lead, defended ably by Carlos Carrasco, did not mature the way Ryder did. Ryder was a kid in middle school when I met him. He’s an accomplished content creator now, held back temporarily only by a Writers Guild of America strike he’s dutybound to honor. He’s still a Mets fan. Nothing holds that back, though he admitted he skipped last week’s 0-6 road trip that wound through Kansas City, Baltimore and Purgatory. “I envy you,” I told him. We spent nine innings immersed in Met talk, occasionally pausing to check in on the Mets building upon their first two runs (which they didn’t) and Carrasco doing his best over five innings to make it stand up (which he did but couldn’t). The Cubs eventually tied the score versus Cookie and went ahead off Drew Smith. Taillon seemed to pitch forever. It was only seven innings. Seemed longer.

The Mets did a little threatening in the eighth — two on — and the ninth — Lindor leading off with a single. The threats proved idle. Alonso lined to deep right for the first out of the ninth, leaving Lindor on first and bringing up Daniel Vogelbach. Ryder and I had been moments earlier bemoaning the stubborn presence of Vogelbach on the 2023 Mets’ roster. In August of 2022, Vogey was the right hitter at the right time for a contender, even if he usually required a pinch-runner to complete his rounds. In August of 2023, we don’t celebrate his designated bat any longer. There’s no Terrance Gore, no Tim Locastro to steer his additional 270 feet from first to home should Vogelbach somehow accomplish the first 90 feet. There is Abraham Almonte, the 34-year-old callup we saw make his Met debut, but Almonte is no pinch-runner. For These Mets, Almonte was Tuesday’s starting right fielder.

Buck Showalter, having made all the moves a four-man bench will allow, left us wondering who would pinch-run for Vogelbach in a best-case scenario. Our best-case scenario was Vogelbach walking. Daniel saved us and Buck the trouble of remembering if anybody was left to take his place on the basepaths by grounding to Cub closer Adbert Alzolay. Alzolay turned and fired to Dansby Swanson to force Lindor at second. Swanson relayed to Jeimer Candelario at first. He could have sent the ball via Parcel Post. Vogelbach jogged with the resignation of a weary commuter who knew he wasn’t gonna make that train pulling out of the station regardless of how hard he ran after it, so why even bother?

With the third out and the Cubs’ 3-2 win complete, a young man in a PIAZZA 31 jersey two rows below us took his Mets cap and flung it to the ground in absolute disgust. The fact that he was wearing what I would guess was an authentic vintage garment handed down to him made it all the more poignant, because that fellow in 2023 might as well have been me in 1998. In my case, I threw a half-filled soft drink bottle at a wall in the Loge concourse at Shea. Despite having the actual PIAZZA 31 in their lineup, the Mets had just lost an agonizingly frustrating affair to the Expos, the sort of game the 1998 Mets specialized in losing en route to barely missing out on the playoffs. Merengue Night was overtaking the ballpark where my hopes and dreams had been dented yet again. Of course I had to throw something. Of course I couldn’t take it anymore. Of course I took it some more. I’m still taking it. But at this stage of 2023, I’m beyond throwing things, except a few well-observed barbs in print toward Daniel Vogelbach.

And with that, the Bar Mitzvah Game’s Bar Mitzvah had drawn to a close. Rob and Ryder and Stephanie and I had all agreed it was a shame the Mets couldn’t win one for us, but we also agreed it didn’t much matter this year or, really, any years among the thirteen we’ve been doing this. “If we came here to see the Mets win,” I said before we adjourned our minyan until next August, “we would have stopped coming a long time ago.”

5 comments to The Bar Mitzvah Game’s Bar Mitzvah

  • eric1973

    “He could have sent the ball via Parcel Post. Vogelbach jogged with the resignation of a weary commuter who knew he wasn’t gonna make that train pulling out of the station regardless of how hard he ran after it, so why even bother?”

    The line of the year. Wow. Being a Met fan, Ya Gotta Believe that those doors are going to open and close a few times, giving you the chance to make that train.

    I like that plowhorse, and lucky for him, he’s best friends (I guess) with Alonso. That commercial with he and Buck, and thinking about stealing second, is pretty good, and he would have been perfect in the pancake commercial with Polar Bear Pete.

  • Joey G

    It appears that Billy “Wizard of Odds” Eppler has a blind spot in evaluating both DHs as well as relief pitchers (similar to Mr. Lindor’s troubling and chronic blind spot for high heat delivered over the outside portion of the plate). It is time for resignation to pass anger as it relates to the 2023 campaign. As such, bloodlust or other violent acts (including thrown hats or soda cups) would not be de rigeur; however, it is high time for a metaphorical human sacrifice of one Daniel Vogelbach in the form of an unconditional release with an opportunity to seek employment elsewhere. They should also reacquaint Drew “Gopher Ball” Smith with the greater Binghamton area (which I understand is lovely this time of year). Those moves would at least be somewhat cathartic for a number of the faithful (including this one).

  • Eric

    If it helps, Mark Canha for the Brewers since his trade: .172/.250/.207; Tommy Pham for the Diamondbacks since his trade: .118/.250/.118. One extra-base hit (a Canha double) between them. So it’s not like keeping Canha and Pham to play instead of the likes of Ortega, Almonte, and an injured Marte would have made a difference for a Mets offense that was just as bad before the trade deadline. I can’t think of who the Mets could have bought at the trade deadline to make a significant difference, not that Cohen was willing to to deplete the farm system again for the sake of the 2023 team.

    I think it’s understated how much the sharp drop-off in production from Marte since he got hurt last season has hurt the team.

    Can’t blame last night’s loss on the pitching either inasmuch the trades of Robertson and Leone.

  • eric1973

    Nobody knows how anyone would have done if they were not dispatched elsewhere. Canha/Pham may have hit .300 here, or they may have hit .150. The Mets season ended the day Robertson was traded, as the loss of Diaz and then Robertson was not sustainable, and anything anybody does from then on must be viewed in that light.

    Should have just stood pat, and we still had a chance, as I was not trading any of my prized pupils, even though most of them graded D-.

    With Q coming back, Senga pitching like an All-Star, and Scherlander on the comeback, if the core hitters played to the backs of their baseball cards, we had a very very decent chance.

    Too bad the plug was pulled.

    • Eric

      It is conspicuous that on July 27th, the day Robertson was traded to the Marlins, the Mets were 7 games out of the 3rd wildcard. Two weeks later, the Mets have gone 4-8 since trading Robertson, yet they’re still 7 games out.