The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Sing, O Muse, of the Rage of McNeil

From the beginning, I’ve loved watching Jeff McNeil play baseball — somehow never more so than when things don’t go his way.

McNeil responds to any misfortune in an AB — an umpire’s poor judgment, his own excessive haste, a perfectly executed enemy pitch, a great play by a defender, a quirk of fate — with barely concealed fury. Lenny Dykstra, another member of the How Can a Just God Allow Such Atrocities? fraternity, specialized in a post-out “disbelieving, Rumpelstiltskin stamp of rage,” to quote the great Roger Angell; McNeil’s signature is the little whirl after crossing first base and being told he’s not being permitted to stay there, followed by a cold, disbelieving stare, the mouth opening and the guy in the truck hurriedly turning down any on-field mics. (McNeil may single-handedly keep the era of MLB hot-micing everybody and his brother at bay for the duration of his career.)

It’s a bit Dykstra, it’s a bit Al Leiter, and it’s more than a bit hilarious. As with Leiter, you can never be angry with McNeil for failing on the baseball diamond because he’s invariably so much angrier about it than you are; there’s nowhere to escalate, so you just skip ahead to forgiving him. The line in our house is “Why is Jeff McNeil enraged this time?” and there’s never a short list of reasons.

McNeil could have achieved his legend just by being a Daniel Murphy “I hit third” type, but he’s more than that: He’s become an accomplished and versatile fielder almost without anybody noticing, going from “eh, he’ll outhit his mistakes” at second to sure-handed and sound not only there but also in either outfield corner. Unsurprisingly, he’s brought a certain cussedness to those proceedings too: I don’t know the root of the farcical rat/raccoon dispute with Francisco Lindor, but I’d bet it sprang from McNeil taking pride in his own defensive abilities and not appreciating some newcomer from a jumped-up beer league appointing himself as his infield instructor.

2023, though, hasn’t been fun for McNeil. (Or for his fellow Mets, or for us.) The defense has stayed sound, but the power’s been missing and it feels like so many balls that used to drop over the infield or punch through it have wound up in gloves. McNeil’s rage has even cooled to a simmer — not even he can’t maintain a full boil during a season-long bad dream.

Of late, though, McNeil’s looked like he’s woken up and discovered he’s still McNeil. There was the almost homer/almost enemy out double Thursday night, and then Friday night McNeil spanked a two-out single early to drive in Lindor with the Mets’ second run and then iced the game with a three-run homer late, hitting the ball a few critical feet farther than the night before and so keeping Jordan Walker out of the equation.

That was enough to support Joey Lucchesi, who looked superb in his return from the minors and injuries, torturing Paul Goldschmidt with the churve. (We’re only halfway through this series, but so far Goldschmidt is not enjoying himself.) Francisco Alvarez got kudos from Lucchesi for his preparation, which has never waned; he also broke out of his recent funk with an RBI single of his own. Brandon Nimmo cracked a leadoff homer, Tim Locastro and Lindor and Rafael Ortega had two hits each … it was a night where we could be happy for plenty of Mets.

Even Pete Alonso, who fueled a little contretemps when he unthinkingly tossed the first major-league hit from rifle-armed St. Louis shortstop Masyn Winn into the stands, provoking a fusillade of fury from Miles Mikolas (who really needs to calm down) as well as an extended, performative display of dudgeon from the supposed Best Fans in Baseball. All turned out fine: Winn got the ball back following one of those in-stands negotiations, Alonso’s postgame mea culpa was so thoroughly and comically hangdog that it would have convinced Whitey Herzog back in the days of the white-hot Mets-Cards rivalry, and no one cares what Miles Mikolas thinks.

So Cardinals fans got a peek at a promising future during a lost year, the Mets got a victory that can somehow be described as another victory (hey, five out of six) and even Jeff McNeil found no cause for outrage. I’ll call that a good evening.

8 comments to Sing, O Muse, of the Rage of McNeil

  • Seth

    Hopefully the St Louis fans understand that Pete isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, so there was no ill intent.

    • Eric

      Alonso’s throwing accuracy is Duda-like. The easy joke is that he was throwing the ball to the Cardinals dugout and missed.

  • eric1973

    Every time a player throws the ball into the stands, which is around 50 times a game, I always think of this exact situation.

    And I think it is ridiculous to do that anyway.

    However, there is no way for Pete or any other player, in the heat of battle, to realize what is going on.

    So everyone get off his back!

  • Eric

    A slick-fielding shortstop with a rifle arm is one of the more fun things in baseball, and Winn has it. If Winn ever pitches in a blowout, I hope he throws hard instead of the eephus that most position players use when saving the bullpen.

    Goldschmidt has noticeably been off his game this series. Besides the Ks, the game 1 play where he cost the Cardinals a run by jogging home so slowly stands out. The Cardinals were a division winner last year before being beat by the Phillies in the wildcard round. I wonder how much leeway Marmol will be given before Yadier Molina takes over as Cardinals manager.

    The distance to the 3rd wildcard has remarkably stayed at a steady 7 or 7.5 games since the Robertson trade. With the Mets losing games, that’s an argument for standing pat or only partially selling (say, trade Scherzer, Leone, and Canha, but hold onto Verlander, Robertson, and Pham), if not buying, instead of the deep sell-off they did. On the other hand, as Jason writes, “the Mets got a victory that can somehow be described as another victory (hey, five out of six)”, yet despite the winning streak, the Mets are still 7 games back of the 3rd wildcard. That’s the challenge of chasing down 5 teams for 1 wildcard. The Mets-West Giants have stumbled back into the scrum, though. Chasing 6 teams for 2 wildcards is better odds.

    The Yankees are now 7 games back of the 3rd wildcard, just like the Mets. I’m paying attention to the Yankees, Padres, and Angels because their situations were most like the Mets at the trade deadline–expensive struggling win-now teams looking up at the 3rd wildcard–yet they opted to stand pat or buy instead of sell like the Mets did. If one of them succeeds (most likely the Padres), that could have been us. If they all fail, that could have been us.

  • eric1973

    To my way of thinking, you don’t know what would have happened either way. You have to do what you think is right AT THE TIME, and nothing that happens after that would prove that the decision was right or wrong either way.

    We could have gone 20-10 or 10-20 in our next 30, and that would be irrelevant.

    Our Core 4 is hitting very well, now that the season is over, and that does not mean they would be doing the same if we had just stood pat.

  • Loki

    Despite the usual constant negativity from him, in this case I have to agree with eric1973 here. Cohen had no magic ball telling the future and went with probabilities which were not in the favor of holding or buying. Can’t say that if I was in his shoes I wouldn’t do the same, because it makes perfectly logical sense in my head too. What if he didn’t sell off and we lost MORE games than we have so far since Aug 1? What if he traded for the world and they didn’t do any better than they were? It’s easy to play the what if game but it’s a waste of time and effort and often an annoyance because to pretend you know what would have happened otherwise is foolish.

  • eric1973

    Just because he has a ton of money, does not mean he knows what he is doing baseball-wise. I would say, in fact, that most of us have forgotten more baseball than that former Yankee fan will ever know.

    And — Just because he has money (a lot of which was obtained illegally, for which he was fined 1.8 billion), he should not be treated as some great sage.

    Somehow, I think if he had decided instead to go all-in, the same folks would be commending him. Human nature, I guess.

    • Eric

      “Somehow, I think if he had decided instead to go all-in, the same folks would be commending him.”

      That reflects that there were arguments for standing pat or partially selling, buying (the “go all-in” choice), or a deep sell-off.

      In the moment, it’s easy to commend Cohen for the deep sell-off given our disappointment from last September through this season and the proven concept of a strong farm system. We can’t judge yet whether the sell-off has in fact helped establish a strong farm system that’s the foundation of perennial contention for years to come. So we praise the proven concept behind the trades.

      Standing pat or partially selling were the safest choices since even if the Mets fell short this season, they could have run back essentially the same paid-for team next season, with a healed Diaz plus typical off-season additions, while building the farm system remained the same slower lower but unharmed priority. Not much to criticize for staying the course though not much to commend either.

      Buying, or going all in, would have required substantial spending from the farm system, which Cohen is loathe to do again. A lot to criticize if the Mets had set back the farm system and fallen short of the play-offs anyway, but a lot to commend if the Mets made a run to the World Series or even won it all as a result. The Mets would have needed to win something significant for Cohen to be commended for going all-in.