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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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Finding Their Way, Somehow

Fireworks Night in a lost season is always a bit of an asterisk: There are a lot more spectacle-oriented fans in attendance than one might wish, treating the baseball game like it’s the opening band. They wait with varying degrees of impatience, get in your way in the aisles, and annoy you with their conspicuous lack of interest in what’s happening between the lines. If you’re particularly unlucky, they’re even rooting against the Mets, eager for them to finish up and make way for things that sizzle and boom.

(Not that I was there Friday night — I can think of about a thousand better uses for my money than further subsidizing the 2023 Mets — but I remember Fireworks Nights from lost seasons past, and that shit’s annoying.)

I caught the game on Apple TV, which has that Apple quality of simultaneously feeling it’s arrived from a streamlined future and not being something you asked for. The game looks big and wide and bright, with an admirably readable score bug and information, yet a lot of that information seems like it was written up by someone not particularly well-versed in baseball. I don’t particularly trust being told that Cal Raleigh‘s chance of reaching base has increased from 17% to 22% between pitches and more to the point, I don’t particularly care. The announcers weren’t bad — old friend Wayne Randazzo was leading a booth that I think also included Dontrelle Willis (though, again, I don’t particularly care) — but halfway through I remembered a little-known Apple TV feature and switched the audio feed to Howie Rose and Keith Raab. The feed was in perfect sync — now there’s an actually useful bit of Cupertino wizardry — and I rather enjoyed the over-descriptive feel of radio words and TV images, since “over-descriptive” is pretty much what we do here.

I also enjoyed the game, though I kept thinking I was about not to. Kodai Senga was terrific again, Brandon Nimmo socked a homer to match one from Seattle’s J.P. Crawford, and Ronny Mauricio finally made his big-league debut, with his family in the stands determined to make more noise than 30,000-odd fireworks enthusiasts. Mauricio has gained some bulk since I saw him not so long ago as a gawky bordering on extraterrestrial Brooklyn Cyclone, but he’s still all arms and legs and looks like he could use a daily bag of cheeseburgers. But those long arms are powerful levers: Mauricio’s first AB against Logan Gilbert ended with a line drive that rocketed out to right field at 117 MPH, sizzling over the head of a startled-looking Teoscar Hernandez. Mauricio then showed some capable glovework at second, taking a throw from Jeff McNeil in left and tagging out Julio Rodriguez just short of the bag.

(That 117 MPH double, we were told numerous times, was the hardest-hit ball recorded by a Met this season, a stat that’s simultaneously awesome and better left unscrutinized, because who actually cares?)

Mauricio was joined by Brett Baty, returned from Syracuse (he got a knock) and hit ninth behind Francisco Alvarez and Baty. But the game didn’t come down to any of the Baby Mets. Rather, it turned on an eighth-inning confrontation between Daniel Vogelbach and Andres Munoz with the game tied at 1-1, two outs and Francisco Lindor on third. Vogelbach was down 0-2 to start the AB, but instead of watching close pitches he went into protect mode, spoiling four-seamers and sinkers until Munoz’s ninth offering caught too much plate. Vogelbach ended the best AB of his season with a single spanked between the third baseman and the shortstop, which gave the Mets the lead.

So of course Buck Showalter turned to … Drew Smith?

Yes, that Drew Smith, serial allower of home runs and yet another 2023 example of worrisome Met regression. On my couch I reached for my phone and paired word that Smith was warming up with a copied image of “The Scream,” and on your couch you were probably expressing the same feelings though quite possibly in a different fashion. Smith walked Raleigh to start the ninth; picked off pinch-runner Jose Caballero with several Mariners’ looks of disgust bordering on theatrical; coaxed a flyout from Hernandez; but then allowed a single to Dominic Canzone, whoever that is.

The game came down to Smith and Ty France, with Smith seemingly hell-bent on mumping things up. He threw a trio of four-seam fastballs, all for balls, mixing in a slider that hung horrifyingly … but France somehow missed it. So with the count 3-1 Smith went to all sliders. France somehow missed another hanger, then fouled off two more that weren’t obviously disastrous but still caught too much plate for anyone’s liking. “C’mon, hit it to anybody,” I kept intoning on the couch, though what I was really thinking was, “Don’t hit it to some fan sitting 425 feet away.”

Smith threw his eighth pitch to France, which was another slider, I braced for horror — and this slider was, finally, well-located. France swung through it, the Mets had kicked off the Mauricio era with a good one, and I ignored a bunch of elegantly presented meaninglessness on Apple TV. All’s well that ends well, even if you’re not quite sure how it worked out that way.

9 comments to Finding Their Way, Somehow

  • mikeski

    Before the first pitch to Mauricio, the corner bug said he had a 16% chance of getting on base.

    Before he had ever batted in the Majors.

  • Michael in CT

    Senga reminds me of deGrom in being able to buckle down with men on base and not allowing any damage. Senga is a competitor with no fear and a demonic out pitch. Truly a joy in this frustrating season.

  • eric1973


    Cohen would have given up on him and traded him for a guy we can maybe use in 2030!

  • Joe D

    Excellent points above… if Mauricio is projected to have a .160 on-base percentage, what the fuck is he doing here? For crissakes, Bruce Boisclair had a career OBP of more than double that, .324!

    Outstanding work by Apple analytics; let’s hope Met management was paying attention to the broadcast so we can cut bait on this dud prospect sooner than later.

  • Curt Emanuel

    “That 117 MPH double, we were told numerous times, was the hardest-hit ball recorded by a Met this season, a stat that’s simultaneously awesome and better left unscrutinized, because who actually cares?)”

    Another bit of trivia, apparently this is the hardest hit first hit by a rookie since records of this sort of thing were kept.

    At least I think this is what it said. In a hotel room half-watching replays and a graphic along these lines came up.

  • Bob

    Thanks for the HAPPY RECAP!

    We don’t need no freakin’ Apple TV!
    Excellent to have baby Mets come up together-reminds me a bit of the Mets who were under Davey Johnson in 1983…….

    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Ken K. in NJ.

    If past experience with Met Rookie Phenoms is any indication, by the end of the weekend Mauricio will have decided that he needs to hit every pitch at 117 Miles per Hour. And it will take MLB pitchers all of 25 at bats to figure out that is what he is trying to do.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I’m glad I don’t have or want AppleTV. Listening to Howie was great. Irrelevant numbers flashing across the TV screen are a waste. What would the percentage have been that Drew Smith would hold the lead or that he’d pick off a baserunning before throwing a pitch to the next batter?

    That’s why the games are played on the field and not on a video game console.