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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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Sharing Horizons Not So New to Us

Despite indications it might never happen in the course of a year that had only just begun, in their seventh game of 2023, the Mets (3-4) fell below .500 for the first time. So much for white lace and promises.

In their 61st game of 2023, the Mets (30-31) fell below .500 for what turned out to be — if you’ll excuse the expression — good. Watchin’ the signs along way told you there’d be no return above the break-even point.

In their 153rd game of 2023, in which they were defeated by the Phillies in Philadelphia, 5-4, the Mets (71-82) made it official that they’d finish with a losing record.

And yes, we’ve just continued…to lose.

Eleven times over the past fifteen years, the Mets have lost more games in a season than they’ve won. By that very specific metric, this has been the worst fifteen-year period ever in Mets baseball, an enterprise that has been around long enough to contain multiple, overlapping fifteen-year periods and legendary amounts of losing. One wouldn’t intuitively think to measure the Mets by fifteen-year periods, except here we are, having finished under .500 for the eleventh time since 2009.

Which is to say this all feels a bit too familiar.

These past fifteen seasons have included four Septembers that have been more fun than not to blog during: 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2022. Those were the four seasons when the Mets finished with a winning record. This takes into account that the Mets’ bid for a Wild Card fell short in 2019 and the division lead was slipping away as 2022 wound down. Yet in both seasons they were a winning team overall. Until you’ve continuously covered, from an advocacy perspective, a ballclub that spends its Septembers almost never in a position to win more than it loses, you come to value the Septembers when the opposite is the case. A year like 2019, with no playoffs to show for a spirited second-half sprint, and a year like 2022, when a gaudy regular-season record isn’t quite good enough to clinch a division title, are, by comparison to what has otherwise been the norm in these parts, the stuff of a golden age. When you’re dealt years like 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and now 2023, the pennant run of 2015 and the followup surge to one night of the postseason in 2016 shimmer as if emblematic of a mythic dynasty — particularly as one remembers the practically unyielding doldrums preceding that two-year interlude in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Still here, though.

Still mining silver linings, like thinking it was encouraging that almost if not every time they fell behind Thursday night, the Mets came back to tie the Phils.

Still getting excited over the latest prospect who shows a little pop, like Mark Vientos homering again.

Still taking solace in a veteran hitting his stride when he earlier appeared unmoored from his previous form, like 2B-LF-RF Jeff McNeil continuing to play everywhere and hit everything (single, double, triple, a couple of runs, a couple of ribbies, even a stolen base).

Still tuning in whenever the Mets play, wherever they air or stream.

Still planning another trip or two to the ballpark to soak up the last of this next-to-last-place team’s endeavors before they end.

Still reading explanations and gleaning rationalizations for what went wrong this time.

Still writing about the experience for anybody who’s still interested more days than not.

Four winning seasons in the past fifteen. Three that have included extensions of the year beyond was what initially scheduled. One that has gone as far as participation in a World Series. No world championships in any of these fifteen seasons, nor any of the fifteen seasons before these, plus none in however many preceded those until you count back to 1986, which is as close to today as 1949 was to 1986 in 1986. Thirteen winning records in the twenty-two seasons spanning 1987 to 2008. We blogged the last four of those. A couple of Septembers therein admittedly tested the concept of fun with winning records, but any way you cut or collapse it, over .500 is over .500.

In a matter of days, perhaps hours, the losing-record 2023 Mets will also be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, another formality. At that moment, the “haven’t won since…” clock ticks forward to 38 years, and the 2024/1986 temporal relationship analogizes to 1986/1948. The Cleveland franchise won its most recent world championship in 1948. By 1986, they had waited forever. By next year, their fans will therefore have waited two forevers, meaning we’ll have one under our belt. But, after a while, unless you keep count, you lose count, because when you lose more often than you win so often, it all feels like forever. Fifteen Septembers with eleven seasons concluding on the wrong side of .500 is enough losing to last you a lifetime that you devote to a ballclub that probably doesn’t mean to devote itself to losing, yet there they are, finishing another year when they’ve done exactly that.

And here you are reminding yourself and anybody else who shares your wavelength that first pitch tonight from Citizens Bank Park is at 7:05 PM on Apple TV+.

I’m also reminding you to listen to the latest episode of National League Town, which includes a paean to dashed expectations; a milestone-anniversary remembrance of one of the losing years among the eleven referenced above; and a tribute to someone we lost too soon. Believe it or not, it’s cheerier than it sounds.

13 comments to Sharing Horizons Not So New to Us

  • Seth

    Never mind nice things, we can never even have mediocre things.

    Looking at other teams that manage to consistently win, I can only conclude that this is a poorly managed, coached, and staffed franchise. And their talent evaluation leaves much to be desired. There are other franchises that are better at this. Too bad for us.

  • Eric

    Elimination from the lowly 3rd wildcard race will be depressing. The perennial losing with short-lived upswings is why I’m okay with Cohen’s decision to trade the short-term veterans for prospects, in order to push the Mets to become more like MLB’s perennial contenders, instead of buying or standing pat at the trade deadline to chase the 3rd wildcard. As you point out, this core of Mets hasn’t won despite some ‘silver lining’ individual achievements along the way.

    As a counterpoint, the current 7-game winning streak by the Padres is interesting because they did not sell off despite virtually the same record as the Mets at the trade deadline. At the start of their current winning streak, the Padres were 68-78, same as the Mets. Now the Padres are 4 games out of the 3rd wildcard with 9 to play, a weak remaining schedule, and the 4 teams in front of them struggling.

  • mikeski

    Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ blue (and orange)
    Sometimes I’d like to quit
    No one ever seems to hit
    Pitchers unwound
    Defense only sometimes sound
    Rainy days and Mets games always get me down

  • Dave

    If by about a third of the way into the season anybody thought this team would finish over the mediocrity of .500, you were watching better games than I was. In other words, last night’s loss #82 was a mere inevitable formality.

    And as a Jets fan, the misery and underachieving has just begun. If this is all to try my soul, consider my soul all tried out.

  • Harvey

    To make it worse, the Yankees haven’t had a losing season since 1992. They might this year, however.

  • eric1973

    To make these even worser, the Yankees might NOT finish under .500

    Hey Mikeski, GREAT song parody!

    And we were eliminated from the WC the day we traded Robertson. On that day, the starting pitching was just coming together and the starting lineup hopefully would have played up to the backs of the bb cards.

  • Lenny65

    Now I’m not a Met, nor do I work in the front office, so I don’t know what really goes on behind closed doors. Like every other fan, I can only guess, assume, postulate and etc. I don’t know Tommy Pham, and I have no idea whether he knows what he’s talking about or not.

    However, that said, it really does make a lot of sense. The Mets faded very badly in 2022, and failed to close the deal, and they came out of the gate in 2023 with no urgency at all. So you have to wonder, are they really unprepared? Are they “working hard” enough? Are they being sufficiently motivated, prodded, and/or pushed?

    Again, I don’t know, but I do know that 2023 was one of the most demoralizing Mets seasons I’ve ever witnessed. It wasn’t even like they were failing in some kind of memorable, spectacular way, like in 2007/08. It just sucked. And whatever caused that has to be identified, and remedied.

    • Eric

      The weird thing is that for most of last season, the Mets made their mark as a smart, even clever, fundamentally sound team. With largely the same group, the Mets have been sloppy this season.

  • Was Proxy

    I took my son to 2 games in Port St. Lucie in March and they lost both and hit only 3 balls out of the infield in 48 hours. “It’s only spring training” or not … The uneasy feeling I got never did leave.

  • Blair M. Schirmer

    “And yes, we’ve just continued…to lose.”

    —-Well… not quite. Or not entirely. Until today the depleted Mets had played .500 ball for a quarter of a season.

    What went wrong seems abundantly clear. Other than the obvious flaws in how the team was built, selling in advance of the Deadline rather than adding, say, a real DH, a couple of good bullpen arms including a solid setup man, a #4 caliber starter to remove Cookie from the pitching staff, and a respectable #5 to limit the innings Peterson and Megill would soil*—was almost obviously foolish.

    All of these additions, particularly with Cohen able to eat money as if it were jellybeans, wouldn’t have cost a prospect in the Mets’ top 15, more probably not even one in their top 20. Quintana looked good and was rounding into form. Verlander was rounding into Cy Young form. Senga had been virtually unhittable for two months. Scherzer was MOR competent. Add two more back end starters, buying yourself the rest a 6-man rotation offers, and you might not even have to limp into the postseason.

    *The Rays would have recognized before either left the minors that neither Peterson nor Megill were more than 3-inning pitchers. The Mets? They’re still bumbling around, wondering if either of the 28 year olds has figured things out yet. (Short answer: They haven’t. They won’t. They aren’t durable enough. Their development was hindered by a shortsighted Mets organization that allowed neither of the two to have even one successful season in the upper minors before being thrown into the breach.) Consider, as well, that in competent 3-inning stints each would have had significant value in August and September, fleshing out a slightly short pen even after useful Deadline additions had been made, or combining for a start rather than forcing us to endure an exhausting ‘bullpen game.’

    • Eric

      “Verlander was rounding into Cy Young form. … Scherzer was MOR competent.”

      What does “MOR” stand for? If Verlander was rounding into Cy Young form as a Met, his progress plateaued with the Astros. His Astros stat lines look like a reliable Colon-type 4th starter, also like a former ace whose performance might fall off a cliff next year if he doesn’t go on PEDs like Cano tried to do. Scherzer performed for the Rangers a lot like he performed for the Mets: vintage mixed with bad in big games mixed with injury.

      “All of these additions, particularly with Cohen able to eat money as if it were jellybeans, wouldn’t have cost a prospect in the Mets’ top 15, more probably not even one in their top 20.”

      It’s hard to imagine the Mets checking off your sensible but long deadline shopping list with “real”, “good”, and “respectable” MLB players, i.e., next-level better than the lot they acquired last year, while holding onto all the promising prospects. Cohen’s willingness to extravagantly eat salary can only expand negotiation options so much, more so given the 3rd wildcard making for fewer sellers. It’s evident that the Baez, Crow-Armstrong trade was formative for Cohen. The Mets needed to be in a better place as a contender by the trade deadline for Cohen to approve trading away promising prospects for a rental again.

      “a real DH”

      This is an interesting item on the shopping list since the Mets traded away Canha and Pham who fit the bill of ‘professional hitters’ the team would acquire as “a real DH”. Which goes to show the Mets RISP LOB problem has been persistent for a while no matter the offense on paper. I can’t think of a player the Mets realistically might have traded for to cure that problem. Has any team’s trade deadline addition made a Cespedes-like impact? Has any available hitter on a trade deadline seller who stayed put gone on a tear?

  • Rumble

    Demoralizing record. Devastating reality. Amazing [not Mets] writing, Greg.