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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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Well Look What We Hooked

So the Mets won two out of three — and could have swept if not for a Gott-forsaken relief appearance — to knock the Marlins off their postseason course, at least temporarily. They’ll now tangle with the Phillies, whose playoff aspirations will be somewhat harder to foil, then host the Marlins, then square off with the Phillies again and then that will be it. Remember the first couple of weeks of the season where you could instantly recall the outcome of every game? This is its mirror image: a few squares left on the calendar, a handful of blanks to be filled in.

There’s some satisfaction in beating the Marlins, of course — my feelings about them have long been clear. But I can’t summon up as much Schadenfreude as I wish I could. Part of that is that playing spoiler is a little too thin a gruel to sustain me, smacking of “if I can’t have this toy nobody can have it.” But never fear, I’m not climbing on that particular soapbox. It’s more that I’ve crossed over to acceptance, and with that has come feeling unhappy that soon enough there will be baseball without any Mets, and soon after that there will be no baseball at all.

And here, near the end, I find myself wanting more, even if it’s not exactly the conclusion to the season we envisioned back in March.

But why not want a little more?

It’s fun watching Mark Vientos absolutely crush two baseballs, on 0-2 counts no less, and wonder what might be if some hitting coach can turn that scorching hard-hit rate into reliable production.

It’s fun seeing how freaking hard Ronny Mauricio makes contact, and to see him materialize in the right spot on the infield, and think about how far he’s come and where he might be headed.

It’s fun seeing Jeff McNeil, that one-man wrecking crew of Marlins hopes, make a jaw-dropping acrobatic play in right to nail Jazz Chisholm Jr. at second base, then finish off the same inning by cutting down Jorge Soler at the plate. McNeil, briefly not displeased with the outcome of a play involving him, all but came off the field blowing smoke off his pistol fingers, and who could blame him?

It’s fun watching Brett Baty, who’s had a trying year to say the very least, connect off Johnny Cueto and remind you that there’s a reason for all the hype. And that 2024 will be a new year and a new start.

It’s fun rooting for Kodai Senga to figure it out on a night when his best stuff wasn’t there and he had to go to pitching improv. A lot went wrong in 2023; signing Senga was something that went very right.

It’s fun watching Drew Smith and Trevor Gott somehow not screw things up. OK, so maybe “fun” isn’t the word I was looking for there. I’m still glad it happened even if I’m not sure how.

When baseball is played crisply and with a little zing it’s so much fun, particularly if you win. And even if you don’t win and even if the baseball’s goopy and soggy — there’s been plenty of that variety chronicled during this season — well, it still has its pleasures. My assignment for myself, as the season’s needle swings with a sigh over to E, is to remember that and cherish what’s left.

4 comments to Well Look What We Hooked

  • Seth

    McNeil — that was impressive, even for a squirrel.

    • mikeski

      I am generally skeptical of any end-of-season carry-over, either on a team or individual level, but it’s good to see McNeil finishing well.

      • Eric

        The bat is year to year (it sucked that we didn’t get to see more of Arraez, the Marlins’ version of McNeil’s bat), but at age 31, McNeil’s outfield defense should carry over for another year or two at least barring a Marte-like physical breakdown. His 2 assists add to the comfort level that if enough Baby Mets stick at 2B and 3B, McNeil will be fine penciled in the outfield next year.

        McNeil is a good role model for the Baby Mets picking up position versatility.

  • Eric

    The schadenfreude is dampened for now because the Marlins aren’t spoiled yet. The Cubs, Reds, and Giants are keeping pace with them. The Mets took 3 of 4 from the Diamondbacks who’ve moved up to the 2nd wildcard since then and lost 2 of 3 to the Reds who are behind the Marlins. Taking 2 of 3 from the Marlins didn’t change the standings much, so no sense yet the Mets have delivered a crippling or knockout blow to the Marlins. That could come the next Mets-Marlins series. If the Mets can chop away the Phillies’ cushion and yank them into the scrum, I think we’ll feel it more because we’ll notice the difference. If the Mets land clearly crippling or knockout blows to the Marlins and/or Phillies in either last series, I think we’ll feel that more.

    In bad Mets seasons, we’ve had consolation prizes of notable individual achievements. Senga finishing his rookie year with an ERA under 3.00 and 200-plus Ks is this year’s consolation prize. Senga’s at 194 Ks now, and Showalter said he’ll have one more start on Wednesday the 27th, against the Marlins again. The last off day is on the 25th, so Senga could have started against the Marlins on the 26th with 5 days rest and then the last day of the season on October 1st against the Phillies on 4 days rest. Two starts should be enough margin for error to compile 6 more strikeouts without his best stuff. But with 1 start left, Senga will need to be sharp to strike out 6 against the same team that he was just able to manage only 3 Ks against.