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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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Only One Thing Missing

The Mets played a ridiculously entertaining game Saturday night, once that saw them come back from three runs down and again from four runs down, one that featured a DJ Stewart homer and a Mark Vientos moonshot and a Francisco Lindor screen-rattler, and one that turned, as so many games do, on Daniel Vogelbach using his speed.

Honestly, everything about it was fun except for the final score, which featured an 8 and a 7 in places we wished had been reversed.

(An admission here: Emily and I were at dinner in Torrington, Conn., while the Mets fell behind the first two times, meaning I reported for duty with the forces of good down 7-3. This means that the portion of the game I saw was a 4-1 Mets victory, which unfortunately doesn’t count but made for more pleasurable watching. I highly recommend this as viewing strategy, should you find a way of reliably accessing it.)

Adam Ottavino giving up what turned out to be a fatal homer to J.P. Crawford does not count as one of the entertaining parts: Ottavino is another example of a 2023 Met who’s regressed, though I find it a bit harder to grouse about Ottavino’s backsliding than what we’ve seen from various teammates. Ottavino is a reliever and so knows perfectly well that a good season doesn’t guarantee another good season any more than a bad season is a life sentence. Relievers are spaghetti hurled against a wall; Ottavino stuck the horizontal landing beautifully in 2022, but a lot of 2023 dinners involving him have wound up with pasta on the floor. That’s just the way it goes, which is why the man invariably looks grim and slightly weary on the mound — he’s seen some shit and knows he’ll see some more of it before he’s through.

For a second straight night, Vogelbach was at the center of the game. This time, he led off the bottom of the ninth by spanking a Justin Topa changeup into the left-center gap. Vogelbach rumbled around first, saw the ball on the warning track and shifted into … well, second gear in an effort to reach that base ahead of the throw. It didn’t work: He was tagged out a good foot and a half shy of the promised land.

This was, of course, unfortunate! Vogelbach’s time at first after a single and a more conservative decision would have lasted just long enough for Tim Locastro to replace him on the bag; Locastro might have been on second after a steal (the equivalent of a double if you’re scoring at home and even if you’re scoring in the middle of the desert, looking up the barrel of an abandoned nuclear silo or while peering at the heartbreakingly beautiful blue curve of the Earth from a space station) when Stewart rapped a single up the middle, and that in all likelihood would have tied the game.

After the Mets had lost, various commentators tut-tutted at Vogelbach for pushing beyond his limitations and forcing the issue. And this is indubitably correct … but nevertheless I must protest. On Friday night Vogelbach won a game for the Mets by being aggressive in a situation where we’ve often seen him be passive: He went into protect mode and fouled off a number of close pitches instead of expecting the umpire’s sense of the strike zone to align with his own. He was aggressive again Saturday night in a situation where it was going to take a perfect relay to get him; as it happened, the Mariners made a perfect relay.

You know what? So be it. The Mets tried to play spoiler for a second straight night and almost pulled it off with nine innings of scratching and clawing, playing never say die baseball at the tail end of a season we can’t wait to shovel dirt onto. They played highly watchable baseball after a spring and summer in which too many games bordered on unbearable to witness,. I’ll take that every time — even if the final score winds up not to my liking.

7 comments to Only One Thing Missing

  • Scott M

    Man, Jason-‘your past few recaps have really nailed the way I feel about this team. We all had high hopes pre WBC then Diaz went down, injured Verlander, indifferent/stupid ball until the inevitable self implosion of Big Trades led us to our current state of trying to enjoy what’s left, remaining as loyal as possible while – as Mets fans are won’t to do- looking hopefully towards the future.
    Also, I can never get enough of your Adam O descriptions of his world weary reliever demeanor

  • Peter Scarnati

    Well observed Jason.
    As I stated in this space shortly after the trade deadline — I’ll be listening to the remaining games as simply baseball games — nothing more, nothing less.
    That’s exactly what I’ve done and I’ll be damned if many of them, especially lately, have been most enjoyable purely as baseball games!
    In a season such as this, I’ll take it.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Correct me if I am wrong: For all those saying “DJ Stewart playing for his spot on the Mets next year” or “What a great 4th OF next year” or “will easily replace Vogelbach”: None of this is Mets choice, he will be free agent, and is actually
    “playing for a spot” on any team. Might sign with Cubs and hit 30 dingers. Unless Cohen signs now, but no reason for Stewart to do that……

  • K. Ladtima

    Why is Vogelsnacks still on this team?

  • Left Coast Jerry

    When I saw Vogelbach heading for second, I yelled at the TV “What are you doing, Fatboy!!” This, of course, came after Ottavino did his best impression of Drew Smith by giving up a home run to the first batter he faced.

    Exciting game. Excellent comebacks. Crappy outcome.

  • Joe D

    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Metville, mighty Vogey has been thrown out…

    …by a considerable margin.

  • dmg

    was at the game, and the evening at citi was highly enjoyable. but yeah, when vogelbach went for 2d, the entire ballpark was aghast. all that was needed was for crawford greeting ottavino with a down-the-right-field-line homer that i couldn’t even see from my seats (along the right-field line) but needed only the crowd reaction to know. oof.
    these days, my son and i just enjoy the game – at one point, we each murmured how much we love baseball, and chances to see it in queens will be shutting down soon enough.