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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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The Best Possible Outcome

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time
Everybody had a (M)et dream
Everybody saw the sunshine

Lennon and McCartney, more or less

When I left for Citi Field early Sunday afternoon, Buck Showalter was the manager of the New York Mets. Before I arrived at Citi Field a little later Sunday afternoon, Buck Showalter let it be known that he would soon no longer be manager of the New York Mets. As I was leaving Citi Field as Sunday afternoon was morphing into Sunday evening and the National League baseball season in New York was officially over, there seemed to be a tad of confusion as to who exactly decided Buck Showalter wouldn’t any longer be the manager of the New York Mets — did Buck proactively decide to step aside, or was it sternly suggested to the reigning National League Manager of the Year that he should move along to create space for the club’s incoming grand operational poobah’s selection machinations?

Me, I was just trying to go to a ballgame, Closing Day, my twenty-eighth seasonal au revoir in a row (not including 2020), my thirtieth overall. The suddenness and the murkiness of the Buck Showalter exit kind of overshadowed the farewell to the season, as did that lingering ND from Thursday night. It was three days since the Mets and Marlins had their rainy game suspended, the one the Mets led, 1-0, at the end of eight, only to have the Marlins pull in front, 2-1, before the top of the ninth, let alone the bottom of the ninth, could be completed. When I wasn’t joining in the standing ovation for Buck during a sweetly choreographed lineup card exchange while THANK YOU, BUCK beamed from the EnormoVision screen — “there goes Vince Lombardi, having coached his last game for Washington” was the thought that popped into my head as the imminently erstwhile skipper saluted his players who were saluting him — I was continually checking my phone for definitive word of any ruling from MLB as to whether I had witnessed a win, lose or draw versus Miami the other night. With us finishing out the end of our string, and the Marlins being all but set for the postseason, I concluded I’d be comfortable having it called however it would be called. What I really wanted was for it to be called. The string should not be put into the books with a frayed end.

Sunday in New York like it oughta be, managerial dismissal, unresolved record and blowout loss notwithstanding.

So Buck’s drama had some of my attention, as did some combination of the Diamondbacks, the Marlins and Rob Manfred’s minions (the out-of-town scoreboard made clear there was zero reason the proposed delicious four-out scenario would unfold on Monday), the combination of which served to distract me somewhat from the annual communing with finality I relish on Closing Day. That’s too bad, in that we had a perfect shirtsleeve Bobby Darin “Sunday in New York” First of October to sit in the ol’ ballpark one more time in 2023, a reminder that baseball played under sunny skies on a dry field is preferable to all alternatives.

Little was special about the season that was coming to its merciful end on Sunday, and little turned out special about Buck Showalter’s final game as Mets manager, Jose Butto’s six solid innings and Tim Locastro’s no-doubter home run notwithstanding. Yet I looked forward to this Closing Day in particular because of what it represented personally vis-à-vis how the baseball year began, and that element of Game 162/Decision 161 delivered.

Three days before Opening Day, my wife went into the hospital for what I chose to identify in conversation and correspondence as “a medical procedure,” because I didn’t choose to use the word for what the procedure was intended to address. Let’s just say she was diagnosed with that thing Major League Baseball urges everybody to Stand Up To during the World Series. Stephanie stood up to it courageously, and modern medicine (along with health insurance) did the rest. What she had to be operated on for was a version of that thing, a friend who is a researcher in the field told me, that is among the most treatable. You never want to get any form of it, he added, but if you have to get some form of it, this is the one to get.

Sure enough, the procedure played out as doctors described in advance, and the recovery proceeded without incident, which is easy for me to say, as I wasn’t the one recovering. The biggest post-op moment — and, as far as I’m concerned, the biggest victory of 2023 — came the morning of what was supposed to be the Home Opener, the one that got rained out because they thought it was going to rain, but it didn’t. The phrase we heard that day, ten days after surgery, was, “Your labs were better than your biopsy.” It carried the power of a thousand Outta Heres.

Followups have followed, and all has flowed smoothly against the backdrop of the first half becoming the second half and the Mets going nowhere across six months, yet I eagerly anticipated our going to the last Sunday of the year together. I always do, but this time more so and differently. It would have been nice had the Mets put together something more closely resembling a winning effort en route to their 9-1 loss to the playoff-bound Phillies. It would have been nice to have left the park not subject to bulletins from what has been institutionalized as the franchise’s biennial managerial search. It would have been nice to have known for certain if the Mets’ final record is 74-87, 75-87 or 74-88. But mostly it was nice sitting in Section 328 for two-and-a-half hours with who I was sitting with, occasionally clapping, occasionally groaning, constantly aware that in ways that elude the box score, it doesn’t get any better than this.

38 comments to The Best Possible Outcome

  • eric1973

    Wow, Greg, all the Good Luck in the world to your better half, and, as they say (I think), you clearly outkicked your coverage.

    Cohen did a pretty good job saying that Buck was gone no matter what, none of this is his fault, and the new guy brings in his own people.

    After all, it was Cohen who torpedoed the season when many believe we still had a chance.

  • Seth

    All the best healing to Stephanie – sorry to hear it’s been a rough season for you guys. But glad the news is good!

    I really can’t tell whether Buck’s departure is due to his managerial performance, or the need for Stearns to “bring in his own guys.” Sad to see Buck go.

  • Dave

    We all stand for Stephanie.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Glad to hear Stephanie is still doing well! LGM

  • ljcmets

    Yesterday’s beautiful Sunday afternoon at the park for you and Stephanie is the memory I’m bringing forward from this miserable Mets season. It is so hard to care about something as silly as (to quote Roger Angell) the random flight of a ball. But to have something silly to care about -with someone you care about-is the best. Long life and good health to both of you.

  • Ken K. in NJ.

    Well, that’s wonderful news Greg. So happy for you both.

    As for Buck. Understandable he was let go. His BA and OPB was way down from 2022, he couldn’t get anybody out in Middle Relief, and his stint at the top of the rotation was a bust.

    No, wait, none of that was him…

  • Seth

    I think the misery that was 2023 has obscured the fact that 2022 was an abject failure due to the September collapse. 2023 makes 2022 seem like it was a great season, but it wasn’t. Was this Buck’s fault? I doubt it, but the nature of the business is that the manager usually pays the price.

    • Eric

      Good point. The 101 wins are often cited to label the 2022 season, but the Jekyll and Hyde turn in September with no recovery in the playoffs, while probably not enough by itself to get a manager fired, did cast doubt on Showalter given his career postseason record. Following up the 2022 choke by picking up the 2023 season from the 2022 season-ending Braves and Padres losses rather than the 2022 Mets through August made it easy to let him go.

      If the Mets had been successful this year, whether that means winning the division or even just a wildcard, winning the pennant, maybe even winning the World Series, makes for an interesting hypothetical regarding Showalter if we assume Stearns would have been hired with the same power to hire and fire the manager regardless.

  • mikeski

    Stephanie’s long-term extension > keeping Buck around.

  • Shea

    Thanks for another great year of reading, Greg. LGM!

  • Seth

    “…did Buck proactively decide to step aside, or was it sternly suggested to the reigning National League Manager of the Year that he should move along…”

    I am thinking it was “Stearnly” suggested.

  • Curt Emanuel


    Great to hear about Stephanie’s recovery. Best wishes to her – and you – for continued good health. Life is about making memories. Glad the two of you will continue making them together.

    Thank you to you and Jay for another great year of reading/reporting.

    I notice that espn lists our final record as 75-87 so that seems settled.

    • Appreciate the good thoughts, Curt.

      Re the final record, MLB changed it to 75-87 for a couple of hours this morning before changing it back to 74-87, so ESPN may have gone rogue.

  • Curt Emanuel

    Mlb tv was listing a 1:05 Mets-Marlins game scheduled for today. I didn’t tune in.

  • Henry J Lenz

    Good news for you and your better half. Thanks for a nice season of reading. Buck as a lame duck next season would not be ideal anyway..

  • eric1973

    I liked our other Stearns better.

    This move was telegraphed the day Stearns was hired a month ago. Even though I said at the time, in this space, to welcome Stearns-Counsell, this still came as a very big surprise to me, though not really sure it should have been.

  • Bob

    Most important thing is your better half Stephanie is doing so well!
    Most excellent, we need all the Met fans we have.
    And it sounds like your sunny Sunday at the ballpark with your amazing partner in Orange & Blue is a message from the Baseball Gods, that together, you & Stepahnie will enjoy many Mets wins in the future!
    Everything else will work out with Mets.
    We’ll see.
    You should both Live Long & Prosper!
    Let’s Go Mets

  • Eric

    A date with your girl at a Mets game is not something to take for granted.

    Not much to take away from the game, except that it’s fitting that the season ended on a game featuring a bullpen blowup and an RISP LOB with a man on 3rd, no outs, and the middle of the order leaving him stranded. Speaking of Mauricio, I have high hopes for him 2nd only to Alvarez among the Baby Mets. Mauricio looks like a natural baseball player with tools, in contrast to Amed Rosario, who had similar tools but no natural feel for baseball.

    I’m surprised that there’s no resolution yet for game 159. Is MLB just going to leave the game suspended in perpetuity? According to the rules, it should be called as an 8-inning, 1-0 Mets win. Adding the win, or a loss for that matter, won’t affect either the Marlins’ playoff seed or the Mets’ draft lottery seed.

    The details are dissimilar to what happened to the Mets last year, but the Rangers reminded me of it by losing a division lead late that seemed secure and settling for a wildcard. When they’re not in 1st place, perennial contenders like the Astros, Braves, Rays, and Dodgers are dogged chasers. Sometimes they catch up like the 2023 Astros and 2022 Braves. Sometimes they fall a bit short like the 2023 Rays and 2019 Dodgers. But they’re consistently relentless, a trait I hope the new management instills in the Mets.

    • mikeski

      When they’re not in 1st place, perennial contenders like the Astros, Braves, Rays, and Dodgers are dogged chasers.

      I would add the Cardinals to this list, this year notwithstanding. My feeling is, it’s the Cardinals, they’ll be back pretty quick.

  • Roger Tusiani-Eng


    Thank you to you and Stephanie for your continued attendance and insight into all things Metsie. Continued health and well being to Stephanie! LGM! 2024 is just around the corner!

  • Nick D

    A miserable and forgettable year with the happiest of recaps! Here’s to the health of Stephanie! Alice Trillin like she oughta be…

    Onward to our new era! Stearns a perennial all-star for sure….

  • DAK442

    All the best to Stephanie and you.

    As for the Mets, this game, this season, the new leadership, the kids not named Alvarez… meh.

  • JerseyJack

    Greg ….. here’s to continued good news to you & yours and to a successful Mets 2024 !